How to Improve your Crowdfunding Campaign

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Crowdfunding has become a widely popular tool for nonprofits and startups to utilize in raising capital for their organizations. Through online marketing, many of these individuals are able to leverage social media platforms in order to build a strong and collective support through family members, friends, businesses, and other people willing to help you reach your financial goals. Unlike traditional approaches where you would need to pitch an overall business plan and strategies to a limited yet wealthy pool of investors and institutions, crowdfunding sites allows organizations to meet their financial goals in an easy and timely manner.  

As great as these sites are, it is important that you are able to create a strong and marketable platform for your users. Just creating a site and writing a few sentences is not enough to gain traction, let alone for a nonprofit organization. Think about the brand of your organization. Ask yourself what you want them to take away when they see your organization’s profile page. These overarching questions will allow you frame your crowdfunding site in a more engaging way. Just because you are not meeting with these people does not mean you cannot engage with them on an emotional level.

To help you with this, I have tailored four vital tips in improving your crowdfunding campaigns. Be sure to optimize these areas.

Image Friendly and Interface Layout

When it comes to the landing page of your crowdfunding site, you want to make sure you have a combination of strong and attractive images and background color that brands the mission and identity of your nonprofit organization. Make sure your images are high quality and representative of what you want to showcase. In addition, be cautious of using extreme colors. You want to make sure the overall interface with your crowdfunding profile is easy on the eye. This will keep potential donors more on your page.

Featured Media

To establish a stronger emotional appeal, try creating a multimedia video presentation. Stay between the two-to-five minute marker. This will allow your viewers to understand your nonprofits goals and what they can do to help. In addition, try and play to the emotional side of your organization. People tend to donate mostly because of sentiment and connection than to the overall program itself.

The Balance of Information

On your page, you want to make sure you meet a balance of the amount of content you are putting on your page. First and foremost, you are still selling a pitch. Make sure your language is tailored in having your visitors ‘donate.’ Also provide a strong background of your organization and its mission. Lastly, make sure they understand where the money is going. Many donors have a sense of pride knowing they are giving to an organization that can help benefit the lives of other people. Showcase what you plan to do and how their efforts will help impact an individual. This type of emotional appeal can make a huge difference later on in reaching your fundraising goals.

Social Media Marketing

Remember, these campaigns require a strong amount of marketing effort on your end. Make sure you feature your crowdfunding campaign throughout a variety of social media platforms. Understand that some will allow for better viewing and traffic. Try and leverage Facebook and Twitter since both have a high concentration of engagement for these particular campaigns. Lastly, make sure you schedule this multiple times with a new message. The more organic and sincere you are, the better.

Seven Tips for Establishing your Nonprofit on Twitter

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Social media is a powerful marketing tool to drive up engagement for any nonprofit. But to do this effectively, it is imperative that you understand the time and consistency that will be required to brand and raise awareness for your organization.

For Twitter, understand that you are limited to a number of characters. Because of these restrictions, it is imperative that you find specific tactics where you can optimize your nonprofit organization. To help you, I have provided seven helpful tips in establishing your nonprofit organization’s presence on Twitter.

  1. Optimize the Profile Page

For Twitter, you want to make sure you have all of the backend logistics filled out. This means having photos, a background image, a short bio, and your nonprofit organizations site all filled out within the ‘settings’ and ‘editing’ of your nonprofit organization’s Twitter page. To do this, be purposeful. Ask yourself what you want your viewers to see and what you want them to take away from your Twitter page.

  1. Produce Strong Content and Tweets

Staying consistent with posting will play a large role in how people view your site. It can even be the reason why some people may follow your nonprofit organization’s Twitter page. Make sure you are not just consistent about how many times you Tweet a month, but the type of content you Tweet online.

  1. Build a Strong Following and Followers Background

To not be viewed as spam, make sure you continue to grow your followers everyday. This requires stronger engagement on your account.

  1. Hashtags

Make sure you utilize hashtags in your Twitter messages. Try going beyond the generic ones used in your industry and start personalizing some of your hashtags for your organization.

  1. Tweet at People

Twitter is a Web 2.0 social media property. Its overall intended use is to engage and network with other users. Make sure you are Tweeting at other organizations and people with your Tweets.

  1. Display Photos and Videos

Remember, social media tends to be more image and video friendly for engagement. Make sure you utilize marketable photos and videos that adhere to your nonprofit’s mission.

  1. Track your Engagement

Data is everything. Like your fundraising, you want to make sure how much engagement you are receiving from your Twitter and how that translate to donations and donors.

Leveraging Social Media to Increase Donations for Nonprofits

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Living in the digital age, we cannot help but notice how far social media has grown. Not only do we use these platforms for our personal lives to connect and engage with family members and friends, but also we utilize these properties within our professional lives as well. But even with its daily use, many nonprofit organizations are not leveraging the power of social media and taking advantage of its untapped possibilities for future donors and donations.

While most nonprofit organizations usually tailoring their efforts to a more personable approach such as direct mail, flyers, cold calls, one-on-one sit downs, and other offline marketing tools, online marketing tools, especially those dealing with social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or a company page blog, should be optimized in the best possible way. Why? As such, social media properties allow your organization to double, triple, and even quadruple its exposure. As much as personal approaches and built-in relationships can gain you stronger retention donors, you have to understand that increased awareness and online marketing can also produce strong and effective results.  

The key here is engagement. Like any fundraising relationship, you want to make sure you are targeting the wants and needs of your donor. With off-marketing tools, you are only limiting your organization and your efforts to a specific physical area. To branch out beyond your own personal proximity, I would advise your marketing team to take advantage of social media. For many people, they want to donate. In fact, they look to support various causes they care about. But they cannot do this if you do not give them the option to.

To help with this, I have outlined four easy-to-do practices in utilizing social media to increase donations.

1. Blogging

With the world of journalism becoming more and more reliant on the Internet, it is imperative that you optimize your nonprofit organization’s website by writing and creating rich, organic, and informative blogs. For these blogs, you want to make sure you are discussing the overall niche of your organization and highlighting the mission and goals of your nonprofit. Many donors want to make sure the organization they are donating to is the right one. Be sure to discuss various accomplishments and direct them where they can make that transformative change through monthly or annual donations.

2. Expand your Exposure

We all know the popular social media platforms out there like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To of course optimize these in the best possible way, make sure you are providing daily, if not weekly, updates about your organization. This can be a great platform to showcase your blogs and also share more current event news and press releases about your nonprofit. Make sure you are also connecting with those online. Find various organizations and thought-leaders that are similar to your field. This could eventually lead to a potential partnership in the future.

3. Paid Campaigns

Like anything dealing with business, you may want to consider possible paid promotional campaigns. Much of social media relies on engagement. To help build up your brand and highlight your organization’s mission, paid promotional campaigns for either followers or engagement through Twitter, Facebook, and StumbleUpon could be excellent avenues in spreading your message. Some days, a small investment could push you ten steps forward in the right direction.

4. Photos and Videos

For many social media properties as well as the social media market, photos and videos play an integral role in increasing engagement. Just think about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Through small promotional engagement videos, you are able to market your organization, while increasing your donor pool in other areas of the world. Make sure these image and multi-video campaigns highlight your mission and various efforts in which people can help.

Avoid these Mistakes when Fundraising

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When it comes to nonprofit organizations, it is imperative that you understand how impactful emotional appeal can benefit your fundraising campaigns. Just think about it. Why do you think donate to a particular cause or organization? Why in fact was it initially on their radar?

The answers to many of these questions lie in the case that people feel inherently content when they do some particular act of kindness. As a business leader and fundraising expert with over twenty plus years within the nonprofit and higher education fundraising sector, one of the biggest advice I give to my colleagues and friends is that if you want to spark change, you have to understand their perspectives. Many of these nonprofit organizations make the mistake and assume that the general public already understands the overarching problem that exists within today’s society. Because of this informational gap, their fundraising inherently fails to meet the intended numbers because they have inadvertently removed the emotional and informational impact that aligns with the overall brand identity of their mission.

To prevent you from making fundraising failure, I have highlighted three common mistakes organizations make when it comes to fundraising. Remember, emotions are a power thing. Leveraging that idea within your campaign will always showcase your goals and your mission for a better and brighter future.

Mistake: Assuming everyone already knows the problem

As much as we can think that everyone understands the social and civil injustice that is going on in the world, we have to look at the situation in the donor’s perspective. In their eyes, they can only scratch the surface. Many of these campaigns, especially when it comes to the language and tone of the movement, is usually tailored to those who are experts. As much as we want to showcase a professional knowledgeable image, we need to understand that the rest of the general public is not attuned what we know. Instead, begin tailoring your information in the most simplistic way possible. Highlight the various problems and your organization’s mission and goals to solve the problem and make the world a better place. By having this information tailored for them than for your peers, you will get a much-needed stronger response, especially when it comes to your fundraising.

Mistake: Ignoring the emotional appeal of your brand

Just because you are a nonprofit organization does not mean people understand the emotional appeal of your mission. In order to connect with your donors and supporters, your branding message should go beyond the shotgun approach. Instead, leverage the emotional appeal that can be a powerful component to your nonprofit brand. Go beyond the private sector branding concept of what is ‘appeal’ and ‘cool’ and focus back on the message. Any type of confusion can compromise future donors and supporters in advocating your message.

Mistake: Selling the brand than highlighting the impact

While various branding and marketing techniques are transferable from the entertainment and private sector to the nonprofit sector, you have to understand the dichotomy that exists between the two. For the entertainment and private sector, their goal is to sell a product in the most profitable way possible. As much as you can think that this approach can increase fundraising donors, you have to understand that, for a nonprofit, you are not selling an item. Instead, you are selling a mission; you are highlighting, educating, and emphasizing a specific problem and invoking your cardinal principles of how your organization is going to solve it. Because your brand is in itself just an idea, you want to make sure you are appealing to the emotions and ideas that the general public can relate to. For them, they know they are not going to use your product outside of topic of discussion. Because of this, you need to think of various fruitful ways that can appeal than the surface level of generosity. Show them that they are the key to a better future. Show them that they are the force for a better life. And most importantly, show them that the change for something greater than themselves.

Three Performance Mistakes to Avoid within the Nonprofit Sector

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Tracking metrics is about making the seemingly intangible tangible and getting better results. No matter what nonprofit you are working for, there will always be room for improvement within the operations of even the most establish organizations. But as much as we want to continue our growth and impact on the world, it is imperative that we avoid some of the most overarching mistakes that can derail a nonprofit organization.

Below, I have highlighted three of the biggest performance mistakes that can overwhelm and falter your mission in an unproductive way. By identifying these areas, you will be able to improve the logistics and operations of your organization and move forward. Let’s face it, most nonprofit organizations generate a ton of donor data. The most challenging part of it is to analyze it in the most efficient and effective way in order for you and your team to improve upon it year after year.

Over Analyzing and Measuring the Data

Far too often, many organizations and businesses have utilized data as their tactical tool in improving the day-to-day operations to help reach their intended goal. While data does play a necessary part within our lives, collecting, aggregating, and analyzing this information again and again can oftentimes overwhelm your staff and eventually compromise the productivity of change. At a glance, data provides any organization with a holistic view on the performance of a company and of an individual. As much as we can focus specifically on the presented data, we want to make sure that information is utilized in the best possible way. For some people, they may just look at this information as a large amount of meaningless numbers. That right there is a huge red flag. To make sure that your staff understands the data, make sure you provide meaning on what this data stands for. In addition, make sure the data is presented in a way that can be easily translated into goal-oriented objectives. That type of streamline communication of numbers to professional development and goals is something that will help improve analyzing the overall strengths and weaknesses of a group than just having the numbers as a whole. Remember, the more meaningful these numbers are to you, the more important they will be to the rest of the group.

Underutilizing your Data

As stated above, your data can provide a holistic view of where you are in reaching your intended goals. For many organizations, the data can be so much that the information can, in itself, seem useless. In the grand scheme of things, you want to make sure you are utilizing all of the information possible. Similar to measuring the data section above, you want to make sure you are able to break the information down in more meaningful sessions. This will allow you to infuse new energy to unknown numbers and create meaningful tactics in how to best improve the operations within the day.

Do Not Over Think the Data

One of the biggest problems you can do for your employees is to overthink the data. Whether you are trying to create a system or over establishing goals, you want to make sure the data in itself can be tangible and realistic for your staff. That being said, the approach in tracking and analyzing the information needs to be done in a meaningful way. Various steps need to outline the importance of your goals and your individual goals for your staff while also translating that information in how they can impact and improve their own personal performance. If there is no intended meaning for the data, this can lead to uncertainty about the numbers. If the numbers however represent a multitude of concepts, this can lead to overthinking the meaning behind the information. To prevent this, make sure there is some type of clear and precise understanding behind the numbers and the following steps it can do in the future.

Switching from For-Profit to Non-Profit

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Switching sectors from for-profit businesses to nonprofit organizations has become increasingly common throughout the past five years. Many of these for-business professionals consider this career switch into the nonprofit world because of their emphasis on charitable missions. The idea to make a meaningful and transitive impact is not alluring, but a possible personal goal as well.

While you would think that the transition into this type of work would be easy, the move can, at times, be difficult to adjust in. Many candidates often struggle to frame their own professional experience in a way that makes sense to nonprofit work. In fact, the overall story and transitive skills can be difficult to translate beyond the operational objectives within their for-profit sector. If you are looking to be successful within the non-profit industry, it is imperative that you reflect, analyze, research and prepare any necessary changes within your mentality. To help you with this transition, I have provided some vital tips to get you on your way to do something bigger than yourself.

To start, begin by doing your homework. Make sure you research every organization and program that you are interested in so that you know what you are getting yourself into. Not every nonprofit is going to value and leverage the private sector skills that you bring to the table. Spend some time learning the mission and values that each nonprofit is working towards and how you can become an asset and a key leader when you get the job. In addition, make sure you learn the background of some of their key leaders. Understanding their own personal success stories can help you gain a holistic view of the type of leaders they are looking for within their organization.

In addition to researching the background and history of the nonprofit organization that you are interested in, make sure you analyze your own personal and professional skills. Similar to any job, every organization is looking for something that can help push it to the next level. While handling millions of dollars of accounts or raising an X-amount of cash within one business quarter may seem like a huge accomplishment at other private sector firms, this may not be the same case for nonprofits. For many nonprofits, they are looking for leadership, management, and communication skills. Make sure you analyze your professional resume and highlight particular professional achievements and skills that can be translated to your sought out position. For example, if you are looking to work within their fundraising marketing department, try and highlight any grant writing or fundraising skills that can showcase your talents.

Once you have analyzed your professional experience, make sure you have a strong holistic reason for switching into the nonprofit sector. As much as you can reference how you would like to do good, you have to understand these organizations have heard this answer countless times. If you are looking to be an active leader within the nonprofit sector, especially for director and managerial positions, you need to create a story of self that directs your professional path to theirs. Ask yourself various overarching questions like: Why do you want to leave your current position? What interested you about nonprofit? What interested you about this organization? How can you relate to their mission? Go even as far and network with various members within the organization and ask them their thoughts and reasons for what got them there. Having a strong grasp of these questions will allow you to better internalize the move. This in turn should allow you to translate that to your prospective employers.

Once that is all done and said, the last thing you need to do is to be realistic about the compensation packages these nonprofit organizations are offering. Now, it is a myth that nonprofit organizations do not pay well. For some, you can be looking at six-or-seven-figure positions. But, unlike the for-profit businesses, salary compensation can be significantly lower that what you were making before. Remember, their main goal is not necessary selling their product. Instead, they are trying to enact a change that can eventually impact and shape the world. If you feel like your finances will be unstable taking this type of position, ask yourself if this is the right move. If you are still adamant about the position, go forward and make your change.

Story of Self, How to Tell your Philanthropy’s Story

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Every strong philanthropic organization will tell you that they need to have a persona, a value, and an understanding that can be translated and understood to each of their donors within the general public. While having a nice pitch can get you those little wins, you want to make sure that your story is truly representing the organization’s principles and mission in every one of your calls or presentations. This type of story telling-pitch cannot just enhance your organization’s marketing image, but also improve your fundraising objectives closer to your quarterly goals.

But what does it mean to have a good story? Isn’t a pitch a story in itself?

While that is true, an impactful philanthropic story for any nonprofit can go a long way in changing and shaping the essence of an organization. Simply telling people the problem and asking them to donate is not enough for them to be sold. Instead, it takes a strong commitment in developing a relationship with the crowd to truly steal the show.

In many ways, I call this the story of self. In any philanthropy, you need to establish your identity. While highlighting numbers and grow will play a necessary role in proving your philanthropy’s mission, you also have to be cognizant that you are talking to people. Because of this, you want to make sure you are meaningful and intentional. Having that level of control and confidence is the first step in establishing your presence with the person (or crowd). Once you are able to greet them with an informative background pitch on yourself, you then want to highlight the problem.

When highlighting the problem, the best way to sell it is by tapping into the emotions. At the end of the day, your nonprofit does incredible and meaningful work. But to show them that work, you unveil the true world around them. For any layperson, they are aware that there are various social problems going on in the world. The only difference is that they only know the surface. To enhance their understanding, discuss the ever-growing social problem your organization is fighting against. Go in detail by highlighting a particular story that you know that they can sympathize with. Then drive it home with both the passion and ever-growing facts that this problem can have if we do not stop it today. By organizing your story in that way, you will be able to affectively and informatively highlight the ins-and-outs of your social problem.

Once they are able to comprehend the issue, start by introducing your philanthropy’s work and your overall mission. At times, you may require you to spell it out for them. But to showcase the large extent of your nonprofit’s impact is something that can open their eyes. Be specific if you have to. The more detail you can give them, like a personalize story, the better.

Then end it with a close and thank them. Now, for any fundraising campaign, you wan to make sure you have a logistical system that can consolidate all of their personal information. This can be a sign-in sheet, sign-in cards, or a more tech version of the two so that you can contact them even further. Be sure to note how and where they can donate and support your organization.

How to Improve your Fundraising Brand

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In the nonprofit sector, we strive to communicate with donors in the ways that they prefer. In fact, because of how vital branding has become to the overall success of reaching a fundraising goal, many NGOs and nonprofit organizations are transitioning their efforts in improving and reinvigorating their organization’s brand each and everyday. To do this successfully, an organization, first and foremost, needs to understand and comprehend the importance of branding.

To start, branding is not just a logo or a name. Instead, it is the face, the voice, and the reason for your entire organization. In crux of the matter, it is the necessary tool needed to grow and develop your business in both reaching and expanding its fundraising goals and awareness each and every quarter. Because of its importance, one question does come to mind: How can I create and establish a strong, effective, and consistent branding campaign in order help with my organization’s fundraising efforts?

To put it simply, it all comes down to strategy. While NGOs may have a different purpose than for-profit businesses, there are various branding strategies that your organization can utilize in order to market and improve its brand to the general public. Below, I have highlighted five helpful branding tips you can apply for your fundraising campaign. While, these tips may not guarantee financial success, they can help forge new relationships and strengthen ones you already have.

1. Differentiate your Message

When highlighting your message of your nonprofit organization, you want to make sure you are coming across both authentic and professional. Start off by asking yourself WHY people should give and donate to your organization instead of others? That is essentially the question that will drive differentiation. While it is great that there are so many nonprofits trying to tackle various social problems going on in the world, you also have to be cognizant of how their support can impact and transform your entire organization. To help differentiate yourself, start off with your story. Ask yourself how did your organization get there and why you do the work you do.  From there, discuss your methods, your solutions, and most importantly your goal. For this to be affective, make sure you are honest about your work. The more transparent you can be, the stronger and more unique, your message will come across for each and every one of your donors.

2. Personalize your Organization

Believe it or not, many philanthropic organizations are criticized for being dishonest or untrustworthy. For some, it could be because of an image problem. For others, it could be because of a specific situation. Whatever is the case, make sure your philanthropy centralizes their brand in a more personalized humanistic approach. To do this, highlight your stories. For many NGOs, they try to leverage their stories as marketing pitches. Rather than make that mistake, continue to present your work with honest successful stories that include your efforts, your goals, and your overall financial mission. At the end of the day, people who donate want to make sure their money is going to go to something bigger than themselves. Show that their donations are by highlighting those impactful wins.

3. Recruit Volunteers to Brand

Whether you are a thriving NGO conglomeration or a small startup philanthropy, it is incredibly important that you leverage all the help that you can get. With that being said, be sure that your philanthropy is recruiting various volunteers. These volunteers can help market and brand your mission both on the streets and online. One way to make this effective and productive is by creating actionable objectives you would like your volunteers to hit such as putting up fliers, giving speeches, or providing maintenance on various popular social media platforms. By giving them that sense of responsibility and urgency, you will be able to reach an even stronger crowd, while also igniting the passion and work culture for your volunteers.

4. Sympathize your Brand

For any successful philanthropic brand, you want to make sure you are able to tap into the emotions to drive supports and donations your way. This works hand in hand with relating the message to the entire population. To do this affectively, assume the perspective of the donor. Understand what can necessarily impact them to a point where they will donate. This can be driving the perspective of the victim or highlighting the negatives of a natural disaster. Whatever is the case, make sure you leverage emotions as much as possible.

5. Associate your Symbol with your Motto

When we think of Nike, we think, ‘Just Do It.’ When we think of Teach For America, we think of ‘One day, all children will have access to an excellent education.’ For your brand, you want to make sure you can associate your name, your symbol, and your motto as one. To do this affectively, make sure you are able to highlight an appeal image and message that people can understand. Then be consistent. The more frequent you are using the phrase, the better.