Monday, December 11, 2006

American Express, Guidestar and You

Have you thought about setting up online giving on your website but haven't gotten around to it? Not sure if it is worth the investment? Don't want to share the donor contibution with the merchant fee? Well guess what - the good news is you may get some of those "I want to give but only with the convenience of my credit card and online" donors anyway. But make sure they can find you and like what they see and that part is free.

By now almost all of you have heard about Guidestar and whether or not you like it is a different topic. For those of you who haven't heard of them make sure you check out their website - and I mean very thoroughly.

Guidestar has every nonprofit that files a 990 in its database. In fact it has your 990 and all of the information on it in their database. Anyone can search Guidestar and find this info - they don't have to show up at your fron door and ask for it. Donor advised funds like those at Fidelity use the Guidestar database as its source of legitimate charitable organizations that funds can be distributed too.

But there is something new. At least I just found out about it. American Express sent me an email letting me know that I could make charitable donations and charge them to my American Express card. I clicked through and found that the database they use is Guidestar. I typed in several organizations that came up and then one that didn't. I tried narrowing to the name and zipcode - no deal. Finally I tried a search on "human services" and the zipcode of the organization. There it was with a hyphen. I checked the envelope and newsletter of the organization - no hyphen.

My advice to all of you is to go to Guidestar and check yourself out. Search in different ways. Make sure you are under the right category. If you are really human services, you shouldn't be under hospitals just because you serve a client base with a particular illness.

Next bit of advice - scrutinze your 990 this year. It is not just a tax form anymore, it is potentially a marketing document. When you make a short list of your programs on the 990 - spell them out, list the most important first, eliminate old programs and make sure you state the specific constituency you serve. For example instead of "Day care" is it really "Early childhood development and day care for inner city children"

If someone gets one of these emails from American Express and thinks of your organization as one it might give to in this spontaneous way you want to make sure they can find you on the list and your services sound like something they would want to give too.

Online giving is still small but it is growing and even small nonprofits should not brush it aside and not give it any attention.


Marion Conway Consulting

Friday, December 08, 2006

Great Nonprofit Blogs

I have been visiting other nonprofit blogs and I found that there are some great places that you will want to bookmark and visit once in awhile. A year ago when I checked out other blogs about nonprofits it was very slim pickins. Today there are quite a number of good ones. You can find them by googling the topic words you are interested in and the word "blog." Here are just a few that I have visited recently and found to be chuck full of great information, statistics, links to articles, etc.

This site has great infomation about donors and donor development.

Donor In Site

This site, another favorite of mine, provides advice such as - visit your own website and time how long it takes to figure out how to and to complete making a donation. This may sound basic but for too many nonprofits this is not as easy as it should be.

Donor Power Blog

The content on this site is a bit (well more than a bit) dry but it is straightforward and timely. IRS rulings, congressional goings-on and more abound.

Nonprofit Law Blog

This is just a sampling to wet your appetite. Check out the blogs on any topic you'd like. There really is a goldmine of information about what's happening in the Nonprofit sector.

Marion Conway Consulting

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Online Giving - New Major Study Realease Findings

Network for Good has released a study of $100 million in donations from over 23,000 individual donors. The report entitled "The Young and the Generous" provides key insights such as:
Online givers are young (38-39 years old) and generous, giving several times more than offline donors on average.
Virtually all of online givers (96%) have given to charity before, but a sizable proportion (38%) is new to online philanthropy.
Online giving is tracking to the trends of online shopping and banking - it is growing rapidly - and it is the avenue of choice for donors during disasters.
Most people give online during the week, during business hours.
Top searches are disaster related, plus "children," "cancer," and "homeless."
Small organizations benefit from listings on aggregation sites; at Network for Good, half of dollars go to small-medium sized charities.
People say they give online because it's easier than writing a check and a fast way to respond to disasters.

I can post a lot more about this subject and I cover it much more extensively in my Technology Planning, Funding and Resources workshop.

if you would like me to post more infomation on online giving for nonprofits, either send me an email or leave a comment for this post.

You can read and download the whole report at:

Network for Good - The Young and the Generous

Marion Conway Consulting