Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wishing You Joy, Pride and a Spirit for Action

Dear Friends,

I wish all of you a joyous holiday season and a blessed New Year. This holiday letter is being posted both at Marion Conway – Nonprofit Consultant and The Grandma Chronicles.

The joy of grandparenting has been a major theme for me this year. Our grandson is now 18 months old and it is a total joy to watch him grow, discover and enjoy life. It really is quite inspirational. And so I enjoy writing about him at The Grandma Chronicles and “shouting out with joy” about all that is going on. It has been fun to watch him experience getting ready for Christmas from decorating to wrapping presents to watching the family room transformed with a Christmas tree and decorations everywhere. I was sort of surprised that the poinsettias by the fireplace went completely unnoticed.

Christmas is a time of reflection and of joy for me. It is a time to be thankful for all our blessings, for appreciating family and friends, and for sharing with others. I have turned down the lights in my office, lit candles in the window and am playing Christmas Chant. The soft light brings a still peace and I have left the hustle bustle of the day with grocery shopping and cooking for tomorrow and I am enjoying this quiet time to write this message.

This past year I have been so proud to be working in the nonprofit community. I’ve seen organizations make it through a rough time, look inside their soul and come out strong. I’ve seen Board and staff working hard and more thoughtfully to make a new path or stay steady on a firm one. Unfortunately layoffs and reduced pay have frequently been necessary at many of the places I worked with this year. The people impacted are in my thoughts and prayers this Christmas.

This year I continued to stay focused especially on smaller nonprofits but I did expand my reach attending two national conferences and presenting at one of them. It was totally wonderful to meet people in person that I have only known online and meeting in person has brought those relationships to a new level. Also, I have been asked to take on new kinds of projects for nonprofits and that has been a growth experience for me.

I look forward to the New Year and a recovering economy. This last couple of weeks our political leaders have shown a new ability to think independently and work together to compromise. None of us are entirely happy with everything, but it is uplifting to see action rather than inaction. It sets a good tone as we start a new year.

Last year I wished you all joy, pride and resilience. This year I wish you joy, pride and a spirit for action. I think that 2011 will be one where action will again be in vogue – a time for trying new ideas - taking new steps. I’m planning on it, and I hope you do too.

Here is the picture of my husband and me with our grandson, Zach that we sent with our Christmas cards.

And Zach alone - picture taken by my husband and used by his parents for their Chritmas card.

Happy Holidays,


Monday, December 13, 2010

Online Giving Study by Network for Good - Relationships and Timing

In my last blog article “Really Simple Year End Fundraising – Make it Good to the Last Drop" one of my suggestions was to send out a short email in the last week of December as a reminder about last minute gifts because New Year’s Eve is the biggest online giving day of the year. That is an important piece of marketing intelligence to have and today's article provides a bunch more marketing intelligence.

Network for Good and True Sense Marketing have just released the findings of a massive online giving study covering $381 million in online giving through Network for Good’s platform, including 3.6 million gifts to 66,470 different nonprofits from 2003-2009. The study has some interesting statistics about online giving. . including that 22% of all online giving through Network for Good takes place in the last two days of the year. That is just incredible.
But there is also information that we can use all year long…… Like online giving by day of the week and time of day.

64% of donors who give online give through a nonprofit’s own website versus through social media such as facebook or other portals such as guidestar. And donors who gave via charity websites started at the highest level and gave the most over time. Having a good website is an essential ingredient for increasing your online giving. If you are considering expanding your presence in social media – your first step should be to get your website in shape.

The major finding of this study is that relationships count online just like they do offline. The study data supports Network for Good’s product of branded giving versus their free generic giving process. The data is overwhelming - The loyalty factor for donors acquired through generic giving pages is 66.7% lower than for donors who give via charity-branded giving pages.

For small charities who are just beginning with online giving I usually recommend that they begin with a generic approach and then once their email list grows and their eNewsletters and website are well coordinated and updated, then they may be ready to switch to the paid branded service such as Network for Good’s branded product.

I suggest you download and read the whole report if you are interested in online giving.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Really Simple Real Year End Fundraising – Make it Good to the Last Drop

Does this sound familiar? It is December and your holiday campaign is well underway. The direct mail appeal has gone out and this year it was coordinated with a very nice eNewsletter. The email list is growing – still not as big as you’d like but it did grow in the last year. Your website now has donate now capability or it has a more established provider that people would actually recognize and trust versus that cheaper clunky one requiring three clicks to donate that you used last year. You’re feeling pretty good about the improvements you made this year and all that remains is to open the envelopes that come in and record donations in your database and pray that this year is better than last. Right? NOT!!

The most lucrative day of the year for online donations is…. guess….New Year’s Eve. Network for Good says that one third of all donations they receive in a year are in December. Large nonprofits know this and have their “real year end” marketing plans in the hopper. Will your small nonprofit be thought about on New Year’s Eve when last they heard from you was the middle of November? Are you on vacation during Christmas week and so you aren’t planning on doing any fundraising then? Now is the time to put all that new technology you’ve been working on to work for you.

Put your “Really Simple Real Year End” campaign together now and be ready to go during the last week of December. Here are a few ideas:

1. Update you website with Holiday news – Picture of holiday celebrations with people you serve, video of gifts being distributed to children, meals served to the homeless, puppies finding a new home, holiday theater performances, art shows, etc.

2. Provide an update on the needs you hope to fill in 2011 on your website. Make it short and concise – people are busy this time of year. Think bullet points.

3. Put these featured holiday messages on the homepage – not buried several clicks away.

4. If your donate now button is in an obscure place or too small to immediately get a reader’s attention, have your webmaster take care of that TODAY. And make sure the donate now button is on every page – your home page is not the only landing page.

5. Sign up and attend the Network for Good free webinar on December 7th - The Final Word on Year-End Fundraising: The 5 Things You Can Still Do to Boost Your December Income. Mark Rovner of Sea Change Strategies is the presenter so this is sure to be worthwhile.

6. Write some facebook updates with pictures now but post them in the week after Christmas – don’t be shy – post more than one. Showing up in your fans newsfeed in the week after Christmas is – as Martha Stewart would say – a good thing.

7. Send a brief email to everyone AFTER Christmas with a reminder that there is still time to make your 2010 donation and it’s the last chance to get a tax deduction this year. Reinforce you key message of what you want to accomplish in 2011 using the bullet points you developed for your website earlier. Have the donate now button prominent in you eNewsletter.

If you will be on vacation during Christmas week, prepare this eNewsletter early, save it as a draft in your email provider database and have it ready to go on December 26th or 27th.

Presto – by doing a few things in the next couple of weeks you can really give your Really Year End campaign a powerful boost and make it good to the last drop.

Please share you ideas in the comments and also let us know how successful your really year end campaign was.