Thursday, February 28, 2008

Celebrations and Using Your Website for Fundraising

Last night I was leading a Board Orientation for new Board members of the organization where I am Vice President of the Board and Governance Chair. I have a chart on the Board and Fundraising with seven bullet points of basic things Board members should do and the last item is a general, catch all - "Recognize opportunities as they arise"

I described an example of two board members with very different personal styles who sponsored a joint social event and invited their friends. Our Executive Director spoke about our nonprofit and information was available. It was a "friendraiser" for one board member and a "fundraiser" for another. With this the ED jumped it to describe an event that just happened - and that's what I really want to share with you today.

Recently, at a birthday party celebrating a major milestone, the host had a laptop set up to our web site so that people could make donations in his wife’s name as a birthday gift. The guests knew that this was requested rather than birthday gifts. We received over $1000 in contributions. Wow! What an easy, convenient, upbeat way to do fundraising.

I have to say that this is My type of social networking. One of the wonders of the Internet is how connections are made and new relationships are built. We had no idea that this was planned. When our Development officer first saw the online giving on a Saturday night he thought it might be a scam or computer glitch causing this unusual activity level. Not at all. In this case the honoree was the daughter of a long ago board member. People weren't just giving they were making choices on our list of choices and browsing throught the website. Even better! I was particularly excited because I led the plan for us to accept donations online and have been disappointed at its low use. This is the experience of many small nonprofits - being disappointed in the effectiveness of their investment in accepting online donations.

But getting your online donation system up really is an investment in the future - not just in immediate fundraising. Besides the ideas that you have, others will figure out how to use it too.

In Summary:
•Make sure you talk about the role of the Board in fundraising at Board orientation
•Be patient with the impact of receiving online donations
•Technology readiness brings lots of new opportunities – even the ones that don’t originate with us
Marion Conway Consulting

Friday, February 15, 2008

My New Website and the Trials and Tribulations of Getting There

I have a brand new website and I invite you to visit by just clicking on the link at the end of this post.

Today I want to share my own technology story of sadness, defeat, anxiety and triumph. I learned a lot going through this with my website and I thought that I would tell my story here on my blog.

I had not been satisfied with my web host for a long time. My email had become inundated with junk mail and my email address used on the website had been pirated to send spam overseas. The reporting feature frequently said "No data to report" even though Google Analytics reported great data. I submitted a trouble ticket in December, and although they claim to have 48 hour response service, I had not heard anything in two weeks so I called again. The rep explained that the company had been acquired, and the platform was being retired since it was old and riddled with trouble. (Something I already knew.) Soon I would get a letter telling me that the service was being discontinued and I had to make a change by the end of March. At this point there was only one employee maintaining the old system and he was on vacation - that was why there was the delay in answering my trouble ticket. Still I suffered in silence and then the discontinuation of this platform email came. Only then did I spring into action because I had no choice. (Is any of this approach familiar to you?)

I had delayed making a change for a long time. My hosting company was inexpensive and had an easy to use template system. This met the needs of my one person consulting business and I didn't want to spend a lot of time or money on website development or maintenance. And so I succumbed to settling for something that was less than satisfactory and no longer the “good deal” I had signed up for years ago.

I tried GoDaddy and wasn't happy for a bunch of reasons and so I asked about webhosts on the 501TechClub list I participate on and got several useful replies. Larry Velez, at SINU in New York, recommended (Thanks, Larry) and along with other recommendations I tried them out. I found that also had an easy to use template capability and low cost. Although there isn't live support, the support via email has been Outstanding! They also had features that my old host didn't offer like search the site capability. I think my new site looks more professional also.

Then changing my domain host and pointing my existing website name to the new website at squarespace was another adventure in coordination with unlocking my domain name and waiting two days for this and 7 days for that.

But, I am glad to report that my new website hosted by is up now and I am quite happy with it. It is a low cost solution and it is very easy to use. It meets the needs of my one person consulting business. If you are a small nonprofit and don’t have a website yet, this may be all you need to get started. You can do it yourself with an accidental techie and do not need to spend thousands of dollars to have an initial web presence.

Another lesson learned, if you are unhappy with the service you have, don’t be afraid to see what else is out there. It may be time for a change. You don’t have to wait like I did until there isn’t any other choice.

That's the story,




Marion Conway Consulting

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Opportunities to Get Started with Your Technlogy Goals in 2008

If you have technology goals for 2008 here are some good opporunities to get started with free or lost cost events coming soon.

Idealware has a great selection of hour and a half webinars for $40 each. Check the website for more details.
Choosing eNewsletter Software February 7th
Choosing a Low Cost Constituent Database February 14th
10 Common Mistakes in Choosing a Donor Database February 28th

Free webinar from Network for Good
Visit their website and get their newsletter to hear about when these free events are scheduled.
Bring Your e-Newsletter from Snoring to Soaring February 26th

Free Event - Northern NJ "Executive Briefing" offered by eTapestry at the Montclair, NJ Library
eTapestry and Fundraising March 7th
In addition to a presentation about eTapestry there will be two presentations about fundraising - by two well known NJ nonprofit consultants - Maria Semple and Barbara Lawrence. Let me know if you are interested in this and I'll make sure you get the details.

Network for Good

Marion Conway Consulting