April 3, 2012

Charity Blossom: Another step forward for social giving

36 million pages makes it easy for people to find their favorite causes

Target audience: Nonprofits, foundations, NGOs, cause organizations, cause supporters.

Guest post by Janet Fouts
Social Media Coach

You may have read my post here a few months ago about social fundraising, and I wanted to share a new start-up in this category that has a unique twist.

Founded by Wayne Yamamoto and Jason Culverhouse, both of whom have several successful start-ups to their credit, Charity Blossom has listed close to a million nonprofits on their website. The list of charities runs the gamut from huge multi-national organizations like the Red Cross to tiny, very local charities like my favorite, Town Cats, which may not have the bandwidth to set up fundraising pages on their own. Listings on the site give an in-depth background on the charity based on their Form 990 documentation, so donors can make informed choices and even add comments or update some of the information on the charity, upload photos or discuss the charity right on the page. Continue reading

February 7, 2012

5 best practices for email fundraising and marketing

Image by eltoro69 on BigStockPhoto.com

Target audience: Nonprofits, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, cause organizations, businesses, Web publishers, general public.

Guest post by Carla Chadwick
Creative director, SankyNet

carla_chadwickThe email marketing and fundraising landscape keeps evolving, and it’s increasingly vital for nonprofits to develop a comprehensive email strategy. We’ve put together a short guide of email best practices to help you better focus their email fundraising and marketing efforts. It never hurts to keep reminding ourselves to focus on the fundamentals!

Here are five tips to keep in mind for your email marketing and fundraising efforts:

1Frequency: There’s a fine line between sending out enough emails to keep people engaged and relay important information, and sending out too many emails, causing open rates to decrease and unsubscribe rates to increase. While it varies among organizations and audiences, a good starting point is ensuring that each constituent typically receives no more than one email per week.

2Subject line: Subject lines should be short; most standards recommend either 35 or 50 characters maximum (including spaces), and testing has shown that shorter is typically better.

3Styling: Always keep web standards in mind to ensure usability. The number of fonts, text sizes, and colors should be limited for the cleanest user experience. Additionally, all text links should be underlined.

4Images: In an HTML email, it is important to include as much text content as possible — the ratio of text to images is a key factor in triggering spam filters. Ideally, images should be gifs instead of jpgs, and images should be compressed so that they are under 250 kilobytes.

5Social media: Excluding fundraising appeals, we recommend including social media engagement in emails, asking people to “like/follow” the organization or “share/tweet” the email.

Email is still one of the best ways to fund-raise and spread your mission online. What are your suggestions on how nonprofits can do email fundraising better?

Carla Chadwick develops innovative, creative strategies for dozens of nonprofits and oversees SankyNet‘s creative team on a broad spectrum of online marketing, fundraising and branding projects. This article is republished with permission. Learn more about SankyNet’s email fundraising services.
December 2, 2011

StartSomeGood: Grow your social impact

social impact

Expanding online fundraising options for change-makers of all shapes and sizes

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, community organizations, social entrepreneurs, change-makers, activists, organizers.

Guest post by Tom Dawkins
Co-founder, StartSomeGood

The last half-decade has given rise to many exciting advances in the area of online giving and community building. The Obama for America campaign was powered by an unprecedented flood of small donations. Kiva made microfinance something we could all participate in, and Global Giving connected us to development projects around the world.

A variety of platforms, including Causes, Razoo and Jolkona, now allow nonprofits to leverage the power of social networks to aid in their fundraising goals. But not all nonprofits, or even most. Without an U.S.-based 501(c)(3) charity registration, an organization cannot use most of these sites. And while a newer group of “crowdfunding” (we prefer the term peerfunding) websites, including Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, allow fundraising by all kinds of groups, charities, nonprofits, for-profits and unincorporated organizations, none of these are focused on social impact projects. In fact, as stated in its guidelines, Kickstarter specifically prohibits “charity or cause fundraising.”

So despite the seemingly diverse fundraising opportunities now available, a huge number of potential social change-makers as well as for-profit social enterprises, pre-tax deductible nonprofit startups and unincorporated community groups (for example the Occupy movement) are not well-serviced by by those offerings. To address this gap and inspire more people to get involved in creating social impact, we launched StartSomeGood eight months ago. Continue reading

November 17, 2011

How to use microsites to better tell your nonprofit’s story

Voice4Choice microsite
Microsite built for The Center for Reproductive Rights by SankyNet.

Microsites can be a powerful tool for online fundraising and marketing

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, brands, foundations, educators, Web publishers, creative directors.

Guest post by Carla Chadwick
Creative director, SankyNet

carla_chadwickLet’s face it: Nonprofit websites often suffer from multiple personality disorder.

There’s the “program” side that wants to tell you all the amazing ways your programs help save homeless pets, feed the hungry, find cures, protect our children, or empower women. There’s the “events” side that must sell tickets. And don’t forget the “communications” side, whose press releases and news items help raise awareness. While often a complicated web of messaging, it’s a necessary evil when many departments must relay information using a single corporate website.

So as fundraisers, how can we tell the real story – expose the true heart of an organization – when our messaging is only one part of a huge multi-dimensional website? The answer is simple: Create a microsite that allows you to focus on a particular topic, present specific calls to action and, with the help of social media, reach large numbers of people much more quickly than a traditional website.

When done correctly, a microsite can be one of the most powerful storytelling tools available to fundraisers. But don’t take my word for it, here are some examples of wonderful and highly effective microsites.

3 examples of successful nonprofit microsites

Abolish Child Trafficking

ACT microsite

1Covenant House is the largest privately funded agency in the Americas providing food, shelter, crisis care and essential services to homeless and at-risk kids. In an effort to mobilize their existing activists and acquire new ones, Covenant House developed a microsite that digs deep into the issue of domestic child trafficking.

Through the stories of four young victims, the A.C.T. microsite raises awareness of a crisis that affects thousands of American kids each year and issues an urgent call to action. Clear, concise information, bold statistics and striking graphics help further engage the audience and dispel the misconception that human trafficking is a trend confined to foreign soil.

While the content makes a strong case for giving, the main goal of this campaign is to use the broad reach of Facebook, Twitter, email and free infographics to help raise awareness. There is a valuable lesson to be learned in this strategy. Microsites do not have to be used solely for fundraising. Even though microsites cost money to develop, there are times when building a solid warm-prospect list is a legitimate goal that deserves the investment. Continue reading

November 11, 2011

GoodTwo: Give something back to your donors

Online deal offered to donors through GoodTwo by Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk.

Discover an easy way to fundraise by rewarding your donors with online deals

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, businesses, brands, educators, community organizations, fundraising professionals, individuals.

Guest post by Kristen Elworthy
Director of Marketing & Publicity, GoodTwo

It’s a challenge that every nonprofit, school and community organization faces in a soft economy: donor money is more necessary than ever, but many donors are reducing the size of their gifts or the number of organizations they support.

Solution: make it worth the donor’s while to contribute to your cause. GoodTwo is a fundraising platform that rewards donors with great deals and offers from businesses (think online deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial) while also generating donations for fundraisers. We provide a way for fundraisers to connect with their donors by giving something back.

How it works

  • GoodTwo works with a variety of brands across the country to create great offers that have a built-in donation to a cause in each sale.
  • Causes like yours come to www.goodtwo.com and sign up for a free fundraiser. It takes about five minutes to create your GoodTwo page.
  • Select from all of the deals that we have available across the country, based on the ones that your donors would like best.
  • Promote your page using our built-in e-mail, Facebook and Twitter tools. Every time one of your donors buys one of the deals, they save money and you get a donation!

Continue reading

September 29, 2011

How charity: water leads the way in social fundraising

The 2011 September Campaign. Our 5-year-anniversary video from charity: water on Vimeo.


An interview with the nonprofit’s director of digital

Guest post by Beth Kanter

Ifirst came across Paull Young in September 2008 when he launched a birthday campaign as part of charity: water’s September campaign. Fast forward a couple of years, and Paull is following his passion for clean water around the world as the director of digital for charity:water.

charity: water continues to be an innovator in the area of online fundraising. Earlier this month, I stumbled upon their brilliant personalized thank you videos. It got me curious about the overall campaign strategy, how they measure success and learning more about what works. Paull agreed to share his insights in this interview.

Share the organization’s elevator speech.

charity: water provides clean and safe drinking water in the developing world. We direct 100% of money we raise to projects. Every September we launch the September Campaign, an online grassroots fundraising campaign targeting a specific issue. This year is our fifth anniversary, and we’re funding a drilling rig for our partner in Ethiopia that can provide access to clean and safe drinking water to 40,000 people a year. Continue reading