Giving Tuesday–Yes, You Should!

Giving Tuesday is just around the corner and you are probably wondering if it is worth it to participate at this late date.  The answer is, Yes.

Now in its fifth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources.

Visit to learn even more to get tool kits, press releases, and the ever important emails for you to send out.  They have done it all…you just need to go grab it and share it.

Below is a great infographic from Salas lab with just a bit of evidence as to why you should participate.

Take-away: Get busy…it’s really close to giving Tuesday and you don’t want to miss out on this great opportunity.

Strategic Planning for Dummies

How to do organizations create good strategic plans?  The answer is simple…keep it simple.  Strategic plans should be living, breathing, flexible documents.  They should be a benefit to the organization, not a hindrance.  They should be reviewed regularly, and they should be changed.  They are intended to help you grow, not stiffle your organization.

Here is a great simple document that you can use to help you start creating a strategic plan:

Take-away:  After you have created your plan, place your goals in a public space.  This will allow your organization to easily view them, track them, and determine if you are making progress towards accomplishing them.

Top 10 Ways to Kill Your Year-End Fundraising Campaign

It’s time…if you are not already planning your year-end campaign, you better get started.

This year, more than ever, you will need to stand out…everyone is getting it now, so the competition for $$$ is real!

  • They will want to know you are making an impact
  • They will need to be engaged
  • They will need to know it’s worth it

So, let’s help you avoid making some serious mistakes.

1.  It’s not about you!

Make sure you focus on the donor…what is in it for them?

2.  Don’t make a plan.

I’m sure you will remember what you wanted to do in October when December rolls around.  Take a day to actually make a timeline…when are you sending a letter, a postcard or even 2, when are the emails going out, what social media assets are you going to use.  Failure is inevitable if you don’t make a plan!

3.  Be Vague.

It’s important for donors to understand what you need, what you will do with the donation, and the impact it will make.

4.  Use a boring mailer.

Long paragraphs, multiple pages, no white space, and no story is sure to kill a campaign. Another sure-fire killer is using a plain No.10 white envelope.  Consider using over sized postcards..they really stand out in the mail.

5.  Don’t update your web site.

The first place donors considering giving will go, will be your website.  Make sure you have a clear donate now button, and make sure it goes to a page that makes it easy to give to you.  Make sure you share your impact…what have you done this year…why should they give you their $$$?

6. One & done.

As you are planning your campaign, keep in mind that it is a campaign.  That means one mailer or one email is not enough.  One is better than none, but it is not a year-end campaign.  You have to start somewhere, but work to increase your touches each year and adding multiple touch points will help ensure a quality campaign and strong results.

7.  Don’t use social media.


While social media alone does not make an annual campaign,  it sure can boost awareness during that time period.  It can help keep your organization top of mind and in front of prospective donors.

8.  Don’t send your final email during the last two days of December.

The last day of the month is the strongest day of giving for the entire year.  Your year-end campaign needs to have an email component that launches during the last couple of days of the year, and a final push on the last day of the year.

9.  Don’t hand write your thank you notes.

Nothing says thank you like a tax receipt.  A tax receipt is not a thank you.  Make sure you send a hand written thank you.  Enough said!!!

10. Don’t put your hard work to future use.

Most organizations fail to follow-up with new donors and annual donors throughout the year.  Make sure your donors feel like they are a part of the organization even if they only give once per year.  Establish a welcome program and a quarterly campaign that keeps those annual donors in the loop.

Take-away:  Now is the time.  You have a  huge opportunity to grow…MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!

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.