How to create a nonprofit video on a tiny budget.

Animoto is one of my favorite tools.  Yes, I am aware that it has been available for some time, but it just keeps getting better and easier to use.

I am speaking as the keynote for Habitat for Humanity on Monday.  One of the tips I am recommending is using video to entice and engage volunteers.  I decided to make a quick example rather than just a recommendation.


Not even joking this video took me 6 minutes to make on Animoto.  I know it is not the world’s greatest video, but seriously…6 minutes.

All you need to do is drag 5-10 pictures to the desktop, add your logo, and a few text clips. Presto, you have a volunteer video.

If you have very limited time and budget, this is going to change your life.

Take-away: Video is great for your site, for engagement, and your budget using Animoto, so start creating.

New Donor Survey

As some of you know, I had the pleasure of working for Abila.  Their latest survey is great. I am reposting this article from Nonprofit Times so you can all learn from it.  Nice work Abila!

By NPT Staff – April 14, 2016

Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of donors indicate that organizational content has bearing on their decision of whether or not to donate. Common reasons for not donating because of content include messages being too vague (35 percent); programming featured that the donor is not interested in (25 percent); and, dull and boring messaging (24 percent).

The data is from Abila’s Donor Loyalty Survey. The Austin, Texas-based software provider’s survey is based on responses from 1,136 donors who have made at least one donation during the past 12 months. For the full survey results, visit

The survey revealed that donors prefer messaging to be short and sweet. Three-quarters prefer a short, self-contained email with no links, while a two or three paragraph letter or article (73 percent), email with links to other articles (65 percent) and YouTube videos less than two minutes long (60 percent) are also popular.

Videos longer than 10 minutes (36 percent) and podcasts (31 percent) are the least preferred content types. Posts to Facebook are favored compared to Twitter posts 53 percent to 37 percent.

Three is a useful number for content producers to keep in mind. At the three-minute mark in videos, the minority of donors, 45 percent, is still paying close attention. Similarly, just 44 percent of donors are still reading written content intently at three paragraphs. Attentions continue to wane as the minutes and paragraphs accumulate.

Short videos are identified in the report as the most likely medium to spur action, be easily understood and convey a powerful story. Brief letters or articles do best in communicating information and are the most likely to keep donors engaged with the organization.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • The younger the donor, the more they want to hear from an organization. The vast majority of Millennials, 72 percent, want to be communicated with at least monthly, while 33 percent would like to be reached out to at least once a week. Gen Xers, 62 percent and 26 percent, Baby Boomers, 48 percent and 11 percent, and Matures 34 percent and 16 percent, prefer less frequent messaging;
  • Personalizing messages can be effective, but might also stand at the top of a slippery slope. Personalization increases engagement for 71 percent of donors, while 15 percent of donors are creeped out by such efforts – becoming less engaged;
  • Religious, 45 percent, and health, 45 percent, causes are the most preferred subsectors followed by social services, 43 percent, animal welfare, 41 percent, children’s charities, 35 percent, and education, 31 percent. Interest in religious causes is falling off among younger donors, failing to make it into the top three causes among Millennials and Gen Xers despite topping the list for Baby Boomers and Matures. Social services top the priority list for Millennials and Gen Xers, while health-related causes made the top three in all four age groups; and,
  • Donors want to see their money going directly to those in need. A whopping 92 percent of donors are happy or fine with funds going directly to service. Lobbying is the least popular expenditure among donors, with 44 percent of donors indicating that they are disappointed or angered if their contributions are being used that way.

Organizational messaging can drive donors to action or bore them to tears, the difference drastically affecting willingness to provide support.

Conflict of Interest Policy: Do you have one?

Do you have a Conflict of Interest Policy’s?  If not, it’s time.  A comprehensive policy will protect your organization, and its leaders if it is current and up to date with the organization’s needs.

The IRS says all organizations should have a comprehensive conflict-of-interest policy that follows a traditional legal format.  This is recommend in Part V, Section 5 of IRS Form 1023.   The code asks questions to determine if the organization has procedures on handling conflicts and makes recommendations on creating a conflict-of-interest policy if one does not exist.

The full sample is here, but the overview can be seen below.

Article I: Purpose

Article II: Definitions

  1. Interested Person
  2. Financial Interest

Article III: Procedures

  1. Duty To Disclose
  2. Determining Whether a Conflict of Interest Exists
  3. Procedures for Addressing the Conflict of Interest
  4. Violations of the Conflicts-of-Interest Policy

Article IV: Records of Proceedings

Article V: Compensation

Article VI: Annual Statements

Article VII: Periodic Reviews

Article VIII: Use of Outside Experts

Take-away: At your next Board meeting, make it a point to update or adopt a comprehensive conflict-of-interest policy.

2016: Resolve to Grow Your Network

Each year, roughly one in three Americans resolve to better themselves in some way. A much smaller percentage of people actually make good on those resolutions. While about 75% of people stick to their goals for at least a week, less than half (46%) are still on target six months later, a 2002 study found.

It’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm months after you’ve popped the cork, but it is possible. This year, just follow these simple steps to help build a great network for you and your organization.  Before you know it, you will be celebrating your successes for 2016.

1. Kindle your current network.

Reach out to the people you already know. Send emails or handwritten cards to everyone in your network. Wish them a happy New Year. Make your notes personal, and setup coffee dates to just say hi.  This is a great way to reinforce the relationships you’ve already built.

2. Use social media.

Social media is a great way to build your network, and while I am always blown away when people say they are not on XYZ network, it happens all of the time.  Even if you don’t want to share all of your personal details online, you can use social media networks to research companies and form relationships with other professionals.  Make it a point to post relevant messages about your organization, and comment on people’s pages that you want to meet or build a business relationship with.  Social media is a great way to reinforce face to face meetings, and to meet new people.

3. Attend a networking event.

Leave your comfort zone.  Find your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, or other networking organization and get out there.  I recommend that you select a specific networking event/group, and try to attend it monthly. I have found that when you attend the same type of meeting regularly it will help you get over the awkward first encounter.  You will also very rapidly begin to learn about those who also attend that event, and you will likely end up doing business with them.  Networking really does work if you work it.

4. Always say thank you.

I am a big fan of the thank you.  I recommend that you thank anybody and everybody with whom you interact. It sounds unnecessary but it really does makes a difference. It will set you apart from those that do not take the time to show appreciation. You never know when that tiny little thank you note will be the tip of the iceberg that landed you the big deal, got you that new job, or just made someone feel really great that day.

Take away: No matter what, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” Abraham Lincoln.

Giving Tuesday & Your Year End Campaign

20150929_091403[1]#GivingTuesday is less than two months away. Do you have a plan to add it to your end-of-year fundraising mix?  If not, you should.

I spoke today to a group of great nonprofit professionals today and we discussed campaign strategy, ideas, and how to get started. I think Giving Tuesday is a great way to add a bit of steam to your campaign.  If not, you’re missing a great opportunity to boost your donations.

Last year, the average online gift was $154.18. That’s a big chunk of change!

So, if you want to raise that kind of money, you’ve got to plan it right. Here are my slides from today.  Maybe they will help your organization.

For more details on Giving Tuesday, visit

Take-away:  Get started today.  Dec. 31st will be here before you know it!

Facebook Introduces “Donate Now” Button For Nonprofits: 3 Tips to Make the Most of It

This is a great post—had to share with the Donor Experience 101 crew.

Written by Juliana Nicholson | @

While a strong social following on Facebook is already an immense advantage for nonprofits, those fans are about to become even more valuable. Thanks to the introduction of Facebook’s “Donate Now” button, it’s easier than ever for nonprofits to turn online engagement into meaningful monetary contributions. 

About Facebook’s “Donate Now” Button

The titan of social media has always been a logical choice for nonprofits, allowing them to connect with supporters in an environment that feels more personal than a website or print brochure does. Today, Facebook took that relationship to the next level, introduing a “Donate Now” call-to-action button option on both link ads and company Pages.

Regarding the update, they said, “Now it’s easier than ever for nonprofits to connect with people who care about their causes and encourage them to contribute through the website of their choice.”

When a user clicks on the button, they see a prompt from Facebook disclaiming that the social site isn’t affiliated with the company collecting donations. From there, the user will likely be routed to a brand’s website to complete their transaction. 

Nonprofits have two options for using the new CTA:

Company Page: The “Donate Now” CTA works much like Facebook’s other buttons (“Book Now,” “Shop Now” and “Contact Us”) in that it can be added to a brand’s company page at any time, and with no cost. When included on a company’s Page, the button appears alongside the “Like” button, on the bottom right corner of the cover photo.

Link Ads: To scale the visibility of the Donate Now CTA, companies can include the button in link ads, and then promote it as they would any other content.

Thinking about including a “Donate Now” button on your page or in your next ad campaign? Here are 3 things to consider.

3 Tips for Using Facebook’s “Donate Now” Button

1) Point The Way

Just placing a button on your Facebook Page doesn’t mean users will automatically start clicking on it. Encourage donations by referencing the “Donate Now” option in your regular posts, and consider creating new dedicated content that makes users aware of the button (and how their donations will be used).

Visual cues can be a big help as well. Consider swapping your cover photo to include new creative that direct the user to the button—arrows, text, or anything else you can dream up.

2) Run Highly Targeted Campaigns 

Just as your wouldn’t ask eveyrone who lands on your website to become a member of your nonprofit or donate to your cause, put your inbound marketing hat on and segment the audience you reach out to for donations.

Avoid wasting ad dollars by targeting your link ads to the users most-likely to donate to your cause. Interest targeting can be a great place to start, as well as behavior, demographics, job title, or connections (friends of people who like your Page already).

Need more inspiration? Look at your current database to identify the traits most similar amongst your most generous donors. Kick things up a notch by leveraging Website Custom Audiences to hone in on users that directly mirror exsisting donors in your system. 

3) Keep Your Content Balanced 

Just because asking for donations is easier than ever for companies on Facebook, it doesn’t mean you can neglect the primary reason most users connect with you to begin with. Remember that content comes first, and that creating a personal connection with your fans will pave the road for longer, more valuable long-term relationships.

Use your page to showcase how donations are used, and feature stories about the lives that previous donations have changed. Giving is still a two-way street. You have to provide an emotion connection before you can expect your fans to provide their credit card info. 

As with any campaign, it will be important to track who is clicking on their donation CTAs to measure what type of ROI is coming from their efforts, be they paid or organic. While no one platform can sustain a campaign alone, this update provides a new channel through which companies can drive incremental donations from social—something I’m sure most nonprofits will really “Like.”

T.E.A.M.S. Make Great Volunteers

Great volunteers are the true key to any successful nonprofit.  Here are some great tips for retaining great volunteers:

TIME- Make sure you start and end projects, meetings, etc…on time.  Volunteers are busy people too.  Be respectful of the time they give you and they will give you more of their time.

EDUCATE- Make sure you take time to educate your volunteers on the organization and how to do the job you have asked them to do.  Make fact sheets with details the volunteers need to be successful at the specific job.  Spend time with your volunteer going over those details.  Having the task in writing and presented verbally will make for better, longer retention of the task and for a happier volunteer.

APPRECIATE- This is easy to say and often left undone.  Thank volunteers in person, in public, and in hand-written thank you notes.  I always say, “You never hear anyone complain about being too appreciated.”

MENTOR- The definition of a mentor is a person that advises and trains.  Your volunteers are your greatest asset.  Invest your time in volunteer mentoring.  Spend time understanding why they are volunteering, what they want to get out of it, and how to make him/her stronger.

Survey- Ask your volunteers how you can better your organization and how you can better your volunteer program at least annually.  Unless they say you have a great program, you don’t have a great program.  Take their advice and show them that you are listening.

Take-away:  Keeping, building, and developing good volunteers is actually simple.  Simply build some great “teams.”


Nonprofit Storytelling-Start with Why.

Imagine a world…

Have you seen this?

It is 18 minutes of the best advice I have seen in a long time.  22 million people have seen this video, but I don’t see people using this great advice.

This past week I hosted a workshop in which 50 partners at a local nonprofit worked together to create their own start with why story.  It was amazing.  During the workshop we had a contest for the best pitch. It is no surprise that the winners followed Simon’s advice to the T.

I felt the need to share with my readers because it can truly be organization changing. I just saw it happen.

Take-away:  Watch the video and create your own new story.


7 No Brainer Grant Tips

This past weekend I had the opportunity to sit on a grant review panel.  It was a wonderful opportunity and an eye-opening experience.  I was blown away by the amazing and the lack luster presentations, as such I feel the need to share some tips.

Next time your organization presents for a grant committee; be one of those that are awarded.

  • BE ON TIME- This one should go without saying, but make sure you complete and submit ALL of the information requested on time.  I am amazed by the sheer number of organizations that get disqualified for this simple reason.
  • BE PREPARED- Bring people who can effectively tell your story and answer questions about your financials.  Nothing is worse than not knowing the answer to a question about your organization.  If the committee asked you to work on a program in prior year’s bring the person that knows about that program.
  • BE CLEAR- State why you are there at the beginning of the presentation.  State what you want.
  • BE EFFICIENT- If you have 10 minutes to speak, use 9 and use them effectively to tell your story.
  • BE PRACTICED- Perfect practice does make perfect.  When you get to a grant panel, it should not be the first time you have told your story.
  • BE RESULTS ORIENTED- When you write a resume, you start with what you have done, do the same for your grant and for the panel.
  • BE PASSIONATE- Show the committee your passion.  Why does this grant matter to you and your organization?

Take-away: Be ready next time you apply for a grant.  Grants require an incredible amount of time to prepare, don’t throw away all of your work in the committee review.

25 Simple Ways to Grow Your Email List Written by Andy Pitre

This is a great post- so I am reposting here because I get this question all of the time.  I really love the idea to add an opt in link to everyone’s email signature.  Enjoy this post!

25 Simple Ways to Grow Your Email List

Written by Andy Pitre | @

I have some bad news: Your email marketing database degrades by about 22.5% every yearYour contacts’ email addresses change as they move from one company to another, opt-out of your email communication, or abandon that old AOL address they only use to fill out forms on websites.

As a marketer, it’s your job to make sure you’re constantly adding fresh contacts to your email marketing campaigns so you can keep your numbers moving up and to the right. (But not by purchasing email lists — learn why you should never buy an email list in this post.)

If you’re not working on building your email list already, or you’ve run out of ideas to do so, here are 25 simple ways to grow that email list.

And to learn more about how to build an effective email list, download our ebook about how to optimize your email marketing programs here.

Email List Building: How to Grow Your Email Database for Free

Using Email

1) Create remarkable email content. Your content needs to be amazing if you want people to stay subscribed and forward your emails to their friends, family, and colleagues that aren’t already on your email list.

2) Encourage your current email subscribers to share and forward your emails by includingsocial sharing buttons and an “Email to a Friend” button in your marketing emails. That way, you’ll gain access to fresh networks, friends, and colleagues who might sign up for your list. At the bottom of your emails, include a “Subscribe” CTA as a simple text-based link so that those receiving the forwarded emails can easily opt-in, too.

3) Promote an online contest, like a free giveaway, and have entrants sign up or submit using their email address. (And don’t forget to promote your contest on social!)

4) Create multiple email subscriptions types that you use to send more targeted content to specific segments of your marketing personas. Email recipients are more likely to click through emails that have been targeted at them, so if you create multiple, targeted subscription types, you’ll increase the chance that visitors will subscribe to one of them.

5) Reinvigorate a stale email list with an opt-in campaign. Do you have an older list that you think is mostly decayed? Create an engaging opt-in message and send it to your old list encouraging contacts who wish to re-opt-in and promising to remove all contacts who don’t respond. Though it might seem counterintuitive to remove folks from your email lists in order to grow them, emailing only engaged contacts could improve your deliverability and increase the odds of your email getting shared with those outside your current contacts database.

6) Add a link to your employees’ signatures that leads people to a landing page where they can sign up for your mailing list.

With New Content

7) Create a new lead gen offer — like a free ebook or whitepaper — and require visitors to provide their email address in order to download it. (Need ideas? This blog post lists 23 ways to create lead gen content quickly and easily.)

8) Create a free, online tool, or resource and have users sign up with their email address. For example, we’ve created quite a few free tools, like Marketing Grader, to gather email addresses.

Using Social Media

9) Promote one of your lead-gen offers on Twitter. Create a Twitter campaign to promote an ebook or a free resource to your followers that requires an email address to redeem.

10) Use your Facebook Page to promote an offer that requires an email address submission. Promote offers on your Timeline, and be sure to add social sharing buttons to the landing pages and thank-you pages you send them to so you encourage your leads to share those offers.

11) Add a call-to-action button to the top of your Facebook Business Page, like we did below. Link the CTA button to a landing page that requires an email address for access.

12) Publish links to gated offers on your LinkedIn Company Page or in appropriate and relevant LinkedIn group discussions.

13) Use Pinterest to promote offers that require email sign-up. For example, HubSpot created a Pinterest board where we pin the well-designed covers of our marketing ebooks. From this board, we’ve been able to generate new leads and grow our email list.

14) Leverage your company’s YouTube channel. Add calls-to-action and URLs in your videos to encourage people to subscribe to your list, and include links to relevant landing pages in your videos’ text descriptions.

15) Promote offers and email sign-up through your Google+ Page by making use of your Google+ updates and your Google+ “About” section.

On Your Website

16) Link to offers that capture email signups throughout your website. Don’t make people dig around your site to stumble across subscription options. Keep your offers up front, and include calls-to-action on just about every page of your website. Key places to consider are your website’s homepage, the main page of your blog, your ‘About Us’ page, and your ‘Contact Us’ page.

17) When creating content for guest blogging opportunities, include a call-to-action as well as a link for readers to subscribe to your site’s blog or email database in your author byline.

With a Partner

18) Run a promotion on a partner website or email newsletter that targets a new but appropriate audience to collect email addresses from a fresh source.

19) Host a co-marketing offer with a partner — like an ebook or webinar — and ask them to promote the registration to their audience. After it’s released, swap leads.

With Traditional Marketing/Advertising

20) Collect email addresses at offline events like trade shows and import them into your database. Be sure to send these contacts a welcome email that confirms their opt-in to your list. (See #8 in this blog post for tips on sending welcome emails.)

21) Host your own offline, in-person events like meetups, conferences, hackathons, educational panels, etc., and collect registrations online using email addresses.

22) Encourage prospects in a traditional marketing campaign, like direct mail, to opt in to receive email communications instead. Include a shortened URL with UTM parameters to an online signup, and allow readers to opt out of direct mail. You’ll even save some trees in the process!

23) Host an online webinar and collect email addresses at registration.

24) Leverage paid search ads to link to a landing page with and email sign-up.

25) Add a QR code to your print marketing collateral that people can scan to opt in to your email database.

These are all examples of things you can start doing today to increase your business’ email database. Many of them are not complicated or difficult to implement. The key is to attack email list-building from as many angles as possible. As you grow your email list with fresh, opt-in contacts, you’ll be able to nurture them with middle-of-the-funnel offers that allow you to convert early-stage leads into sales-ready leads.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.