Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Is Your Donation Page Ready for Prime Time?

We are fast approaching year-end - that time of year that all fundraisers dream about and dread!

Like retailers, we know that a HUGE chunk of revenue is going to drop from the sky or not.  Manage your campaigns correctly and you're set.  Falter or make a misstep and you can break your annual budget.  It's a nail-biter!

You can't control the economy.  You can't know what disaster, natural or man-made, is going to impact fall fundraising results.

You can get your donation page ready for prime time.  Do it now!

My frolleagues, Alia McKee and Mark Rovner of SeaChange Strategies and Eric Rardin of Care2, wrote this GREAT and FUNNY white paper to help you do some basic usability testing and whip your donation page into shape.

Download and read The 2010 Procrastinator's Guide to Year-End Fundraising today.  (It's a year-oldy but goody.)  In particular, focus on the 11 deadly sins of donate page design.  Here are some highlights.
  • Make sure that your donation form doesn't exceed one page.
  • Don't make me give you my first-born to donate.  In other words, kill any unnecessary fields.  The more information you require the more you kill your conversion rate.
  • Make your donation form about giving and nothing else.  Don't give me options to volunteer, read your mission statement, or watch a video.  Call me crazy but your donation form should be about DONATING!
  • Provide contact information on your form, including a telephone number, in case something goes wrong. 
  • Put a link to your privacy policy.  No one will read it but it will make your donors feel more secure.
  • Showcase your Charity Navigator or BBB Wise Giving Alliance charity seal if you have one.  This gives you street cred.
  • Include an "ask string" or alternative giving levels and make the default gift higher than your average gift in an effort to upgrade donors.
  • Consider including "impact donation labels" or concrete information on what donors "get" at each giving level next to suggested donation amounts.
  • TEST the user experience with three colleagues or friends.  (This is an EXCELLENT idea and will help uncover the majority of problems with your current form.)
Year-end giving is not for the faint-hearted.  Use every opportunity to get it right.  Specifically, spend time next month optimizing your donation form.  You'll be glad you did!



Sunday, September 25, 2011

Technology Can't Help You

  • Should you purchase new fundraising software?
  • Should you upgrade your blog to Wordpress?
  • Should you integrate peer-to-peer fundraising into your website?
The answer is, "Yes and No."

If your donation page is non-existent or your website looks like it was created in 2000, then you definitely need to upgrade your stuff.

However, technology ALONE will never help you raise more friends or funds. 

Unless you LEARN how to INSPIRE your donors and ENGAGE them in your work, you'll never raise more money.  It doesn't matter if you have the slickest website, the fanciest fan page or both!

At the end of the day, fundraising is all about INSPIRING OTHERS and building and nurturing RELATIONSHIPS. This can only happen when you write great appeals, thank people for their contributions, explain how their gifts make a difference, show them the impact of their donations, and bring more people into the fold.

Sure technology can FACILITATE connections and make your job easier (sometimes!).  It can also help you save money.  But no technology can make you a better writer or make you love your job more than you already don't or do. 

Want to raise more money this holiday season?

Invest in a staff or board member who ENJOYS connecting with other people, knows how to fundraise and loves to write.

Good luck!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Being Generous

Being generous.  It's insanely hard to do.

I don't know about you but I beat myself up every day for being so self-absorbed.

  • Am I making the right decisions at work?  
  • Will I ever lose those five pounds?
  • Why didn't I mail the bills on time?
  • Why didn't my husband go grocery shopping on Sunday?
  • How am I ever going to pick up my daughter from school on time and exercise as planned?

If I am mindful enough to STOP all of the chatter, I realize that this narcissism prevents me from SEEING the world anew and recognizing all of the things that ARE GOING WELL.  It also leads me away from helping others.

How can I step outside of myself; how can I quiet my mind long enough to FOCUS on others?

There are simply more important things to pay attention to, including:
  • The child who goes to sleep every night without food.
  • The elderly woman who is dying a slow death without family near.
  • The family that has no place to call home.
Help me break through my malaise - this self-imposed, self-indulgent way of being in the world, that leaves me feeling isolated, upset, and unnecessarily unfulfilled.

I can do better.  You can do better.  We can set aside our private, petty concerns and do something bigger in the world!

Maybe I won't lose 5 pounds.  Maybe I'll never get to the bus stop on time.  Maybe dinner will ALWAYS start out frozen!

Who cares?

We are SO MUCH MORE than our petty little minds would have us believe.

No one is waiting for me to be perfect.  Everyone is hoping that I will show up, smile, pay attention and do the best that I can.

XO, jocelyn

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Must Read for You!

Are you searching for best practices in how to manage your Twitter, Facebook and Flickr communities?

Interested in benchmarking some of the nonprofits that are innovating with social media and mobile advocacy and fundraising?

Trying to get the basics - website, email and DonateNow campaigns - in shape for year-end?

Order a copy of Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits by Heather Mansfield today! 

Heather is a GREAT resource for nonprofit marketers, fundraisers and communicators. 
She been in the sector for years and has coached hundreds of nonprofits on how to master the Web.  You can find out more about her and her webinars at Diosa Communications.  She's also listed on Twitter's Top People to Follow.

This is a REALLY useful book.  I particularly liked the tips at the end of each chapter which share concrete examples of nonprofit excellence and provide detailed checklists on more resources to research.



P.S.  Full disclosure, my company - Network for Good - is featured prominently in the first section of the book but I'd tell you about it anyway because I think it's an excellent resource.

Friday, September 9, 2011

7 Reasons I'm Not Going to Donate to Your Nonprofit

  1. I've never heard of you.
  2. I don't really understand what you do.
  3. I'm not clear how my gift will make a difference.
  4. No one else gives to you or I can't tell if they do.
  5. I can't find your donation form.
  6. It's hard to use your donation form.
  7. You haven't asked.
Can you turn these objections around?
  1. Start to build a presence for your org and even more importantly for the people who work in your org on social sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Get your name out there!
  2. Nail your "elevator speech" on your website in ONE SENTENCE.  And provide concrete examples of what you've accomplished thus far.
  3. "Merchandise your mission" by providing me with concrete examples of what my $25, $50 or $100 gift will do.  This doesn't mean that you have to restrict my gift to these activities but it does mean that you will help me understand what my gift can do.
  4. Provide testimonials from OTHER donors and funders on your site.  Show who else has given, how much and why.
  5. Put your donate button on EVERY page of your website.
  6. Require the minimum amount of information necessary for me to make a donation.
  7. ASK for my support!


      Tuesday, September 6, 2011

      Economy Got You Down? Focus on Retention.

      A new study by Durham + Company, reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy shows that the continuing BAD news on the economy is making donors more cautious about fall giving.

      According to the study, "two-thirds of donors plan to cut back on charitable giving due to economic woes."  :(

      This is BAD news for all of us, especially since we are heading into "year-end," the most important time of the year for charitable giving.

      Unfortunately, there is nothing that you can do about the economy.

      However, you can (and should) think carefully about your year-end fundraising approach.
      1. Be sure to stay in close contact with all of your donors and express your gratitude for their support.
      2. Be sure to be VERY CLEAR about how their hard earned dollars are making a difference in the world.
      3. Validate your donors' financial concerns AND make a solid case for why their support is still critical.
      4. Realize that retention is the name of the game.  
      You know this, but it is SO much harder (and expensive) to acquire a new donor than it is to keep a current one.  Don't ignore acquisition but DO pump up your retention game

      According to a survey by the Agitator, there are three key components to a great retention strategy.
      1. Employing a high quality acknowledgement and thank you process.
      2. Being willing to invest in non-donor communications.
      3. Making sure that the second 'ask' makes reference to the donor's initial giving preferences.
      You can read more here.

      What are your strategies for maximizing retention and winning in a down economy?


      Monday, September 5, 2011

      Your Right Questions

      Is there water on Mars?

      Do cows have eyebrows?

      If bananas are a fruit why don't they have seeds?

      What does God look like?

      These are some of the excellent questions I get from my daughter! 

      Questions and questioning provide the fire for life.  Our innate curiosity about how the world works and why it works the way it does can lead to great discoveries.

      The problem is that not all questions are created equal, especially at work!

      For example, as a manager, you should spend less time on "what colors and fonts should we use on our website" and more time on "what are the key performance metrics that will help us to track our failure and success?"

      In other words, one of our key challenges as managers is asking the right questions about our organizations.

      It's not easy.

      Asking the right questions is HARD because:

      1) We get DISTRACTED by quandaries that are easy to solve but unimportant.
      2) Asking leads to answering which leads to accountability, which is scary.
      3) Some of the hardest questions don't have right or wrong answers.  To answer "correctly" we simply have to take a leap of faith. (Also scary.)

      I wish I could tell you Your Right Questions but I can't.

      Your organization is peculiar.  There are some things only you know about your people, plans and processes.

      That said, here are two places to start your Socratic Journey.  Check out The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Nonprofit Organization by management guru, Peter Drucker.  Also, peruse Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution by Robert Simons.  Both of these books will give you a head start in determining which questions SHOULD keep you up at night!