Two events caught my attention recently because of their implications for all of fundraising. The first was a direct-mail appeal letter that provided solid clues about donor trust. The second was publication of a new book about who gives in America. Strategically aware fundraisers can glean valuable opportunities from both.
Donor Relationship Management
There is a new voice being heard on nonprofit Web sites. It’s the voice of Web site visitors stepping up, speaking out and taking part in their own online community spaces — blogs, discussion groups and more — and it’s changing the way nonprofits think about their Web sites, and about their strategic approaches to reach out and engage their constituents and supporters. Many nonprofits have “brochure” Web sites with pages that present read-only information about an organization’s goals, activities and accomplishments. These sites may be attractive and informative, but they don’t actively engage the Web site audience. Because of this, they are giving
Online message boards offer myriad benefits to constituents in search of support, information and community. Key to the success of a message board is a core group of people that can be relied on to keep conversations moving. The Alzheimer’s Association, a voluntary health organization dedicated to finding prevention methods, treatments and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, offers constituents a host of online message boards and chat rooms where they can share their thoughts and experiences, ask colleagues questions, and make friends. The message boards are grouped by topic and include a board for people living with Alzheimer’s disease, a forum for caregivers,
Online message boards can transform your Web presence from a one-sided mouthpiece for your organization to a place for interactive dialogue that allows visitors to communicate with you and with each other. Message boards not only encourage communication, but they foster community and accessibility. Message boards offer a specific location where constituents can gather, allow almost real-time communication and easy navigation through message threads, and archive conversations, writes Susan Tenby, online community manager for TechSoup, online provider of nonprofit technology services that include news and articles, discussion forums, and discounted and donated technology products, in her white paper “Using Message Boards to Build Community.”
What will motivate people to give to my fundraising campaign? This is a question you should be prepared to answer in an instant. It’s a question that demands a ready defense, a solid apologetic. And it’s a question you should ask yourself every time you review a fundraising strategy or creative solution. A few weeks ago, I sat down and reviewed some of the direct-mail appeal packages I had received in my home mailbox. It was quite a mixture of fundraising offers — appeals for political and public policy, humanitarian and social services, religious and cultural causes. Some of the appeals completely missed their
Healthcare institutions certainly have come under fire in the past few years. As new reports emerge about failing emergency rooms, overworked staff at understaffed hospitals, insurance issues, and skyrocketing medical expenses, the challenge to raise funds for nonprofit healthcare groups has never been greater.
Couple this with a lack of public education about the difference between for-profit and nonprofit medical facilities, and this challenge becomes even bigger.
[Editor’s Note: This is the first in a quarterly series of stories that we’re calling “The Leadership Series,” where leaders in the fundraising sector speak to big-picture issues that fundraisers need to think about over and above the day-to-day details of their jobs.]
Creating a campaign centered around the sale of holiday ornaments is a win-win for your organization and your constituents that can help you generate additional revenue and exposure for your cause. The United States Capitol Historical Society, an organization dedicated to promoting the history of our nation’s Capitol and Congress, has designed an annual Capitol-themed holiday tree ornament — which it sells in its gift shop and online — since the 1980s. The society offers discounts on its ornaments to corporate and association sustaining members of 15 percent to 25 percent, depending on their level of membership, says Diana E. Wailes, vice president
The nonprofit sector faces ever-increasing questioning from the government, the media and the public regarding its integrity. Still, charitable giving continues to grow, with Americans leading the way in terms of philanthropy. Jeffrey Solomon, president of The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, says the current charitable climate offers opportunities both in terms of fundraising and accountability for nonprofits. “Both in volunteer time and in contributions, the American public every day demonstrates its faith in the nonprofit sector’s ability to improve the world,” says Solomon, whose organization consists of a family of charitable foundations operating in Canada, Israel and the United States missioned to
Online social networks allow people to come together around shared interests or causes, such as making friends, dating, business networking, hobbies, interests and political discourse. The number of visitors to online social networks has grown exponentially in recent years. In June 2006 alone, MySpace.com had an estimated 55 million visitors. While most social networks attract a very young demographic (the primary age group for MySpace.com is 14 to 34), there are several networks geared toward older individuals; among them is Gather.com, which appeals to audiences such as public radio listeners.