Fundraise Smarter

Creating a Nonprofit Membership Program

Posted by Steven Wesley on Mar 29, 2018 12:18:00 PM


A membership program is one of the most fruitful nonprofit funding models. It allows charity organizations to maintain financial stability and focus on real work instead of chasing money day after day. However, it’s not easy to create a successful membership program.

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Topics: fundraising, nonprofit, membership programs, nonprofit management, fundraising campaigns, nonprofit membership program

The Common Sense Approach to Corporate Fundraising That Nobody Seems to Be Doing

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on May 31, 2016 12:34:00 PM

Last week, we had the great privilege of hosting a webinar with Chris Baylis (here’s the recording on demand if you missed it). Chris is an expert on all things sponsorship, and people eat his presentations up.

I think one of the things that makes his presentations so engaging and interesting to people is this: a lot of what he says is “counter-cultural,” yet common sense at the same time.

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Topics: event sponsorship, fundraising, corporate giving

I Analyzed Data on 458 Nonprofit Zoos and Aquariums. Here’s What I Found.

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Apr 25, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Almost everyone has a distinct memory from their childhood of going to the zoo or aquarium.

There’s something magical about going to this place in your city where you can see and learn about incredible animals from all over the world.  Huge animals with sharp teeth, long tusks, or glowing eyes, right there in front of you.

I asked some of our team members here at WeDidIt about their memories of the zoo or aquarium as kids.


Our CEO Su Sanni has some great memories from the @bronxzoo

A video posted by WeDidItNYC (@wediditnyc) on

Besides playing an important role in education, zoos and aquariums also play an important role in conservation efforts around the world and in their local communities. Look no further than our friends at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, who just this past winter rescued nearly 100 sea turtles in their area suffering from a condition known as “cold stun.”

With over 450 zoos and aquariums across the country, I decided to crunch some data and to learn more about these nonprofits.

Here’s what I found.

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Topics: fundraising, aquariums, zoos

How This Nonprofit Used Emotional Triggers For a 5-Figure Campaign (In Under a Month)

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Feb 29, 2016 1:19:00 PM

Want your next fundraising campaign to be a success?

Nail your emotional response.

Whether it's online, at a gala, or delivered through a street canvasser, it's the most important thing a nonprofit can do to raise funds.

Here’s why:

Emotions are the #1 driver of actions. That mean sharing AND donating.

In everything you do in a campaign, your first priority should be eliciting an emotional response from your audience. And the research shows that high arousal emotions, positive and negative, get the biggest response.

So what kind of emotion should you target?

You could make people mad.

You could make people happy.

Or you could make people sad. Tug on their heartstrings a bit.

I’m here to make the case for a tear-jerker campaign.

Sometimes, a hit “right in the feels” is exactly what we need to hear to force us to open our hearts and wallets and contribute.

But it’s a delicate balance. Going the tear-jerker route can quickly start to feel overly “preachy” or like a guilt-trip to your donor. That’s not what we’re going for.

You have to inject just the right amount of heartbreak, urgency, and hope to pull it off.

I think the best way to do that is by looking at a successful example of a nonprofit that knows how to get an emotional response and breaking down exactly what makes it so effective.

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Topics: fundraising, storytelling

A Conversation With AFP VP Michael Nilsen

Posted by Brooke Binkowski on Oct 5, 2015 3:14:00 PM

Whether you want more donations (and who doesn't?) or looking for people to get your idea off the ground and make it into a reality, sooner or later you're going to come up against the sticky issue of how much information to make public.

Transparency in philanthropy is a deceptively easy idea that can be incredibly complex and intimidating.. The rise of Big Data can obscure just as much as it reveals, so do you just put it all out there or streamline it? Do you let everything hang out? Keep information in your hip pocket? What's a charity to do?

I talked to Michael Nilsen, Vice President of Public Policy with the Association of Fundraising Professionals ( to get some answers.

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Topics: fundraising, fundraising ethics

Finding New Donors with Donor Stories

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Sep 14, 2015 3:47:00 PM

The nonprofit fundraising world is filled with storytelling advice, and for good reason. Telling your nonprofit’s story in a powerful way is a far more effective means of cultivating and finding new donors.

But often times, we stop the story telling at the beneficiaries of our organization. Many fundraisers feel that once they’ve told the story of their nonprofit’s mission, there’s no other story to tell.

However, this overlooks what can be one of your most powerful sources of story telling magic (and one that can help you find new donors as well): your donors’ stories.

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Topics: fundraising, online fundraising, storytelling, finding new donors, donor acquisiiton

Is Buying a Nonprofit Email List Smart?

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Aug 24, 2015 12:55:00 PM

I love sports, especially college sports.

There’s something about the on field struggle that athletes engage in that serves as a microcosm for life. Particularly in regards to college athletics, where the on-field play is still raw and unpolished, often marred by mistakes that teams must then respond to and overcome.

One of my favorite figures in college sports history is John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach. Wooden’s teams won an insane 10 national titles in a 12 year span (and to think I got tired of the Miami Heat after winning 2 in a row).

But he is perhaps best known for his wise, timeless quotes that apply to all areas of life, far beyond basketball.

Even all the way to nonprofit email marketing (No kidding!).

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Topics: fundraising, email fundraising, nonprofit marketing

13 Experts on Engaging Young Donors

Posted by Su Sanni on Jul 15, 2015 11:28:00 AM


You won't find a bigger advocate of social media than me. But even I'll admit that it has a tendency to highlight some less than desirable traits in all of us.

Take for example the way we interact with causes and nonprofits on Facebook and Twitter.

All of us are guilty at times in participating in what I like to call "slacktivism." We change our profile picture, use a hashtag, or post a status supporting some cause or social justice campaign. Then when it comes time to make a donation or take a real action for that cause, well...

...I'll get to it later.

Agh! It's terrible! But those micro actions are so easy to take, and it feels so good doing it, we just can't help ourselves.

So how do you take someone from "slack" to "act"?

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Topics: fundraising, online fundraising, young donors

Do Matching Gifts Work? [Research Findings]

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on May 21, 2015 5:25:00 PM

The other day, I read something in the Chronicle of Philanthropy that, frankly, startled me.

The article stated that “very few” nonprofits utilize research on fundraising when planning their campaigns.

In fact, only half of nonprofits consider the available research when it comes to their fundraising strategies. A majority of nonprofit fundraisers say no one on their team has any formal training or coursework on their resume on even basic research methods, like the use of controls, sample sizes, or randomization.

And yet, it gets worse

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Topics: fundraising, donor research, data-driven fundraising, fundraising science

The Stupid Simple Trick for Getting More Donations Online

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on May 14, 2015 4:36:00 PM

I’m going to tell you the absolute, hands-down, number one, best way to increase your online fundraising efforts. The end-all, be-all tip for internet fundraising success.

Are you ready?

Write this down...

Seriously, grab a pen and notepad, I’ll wait…

Alright, here it is…

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Topics: fundraising, online fundraising

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