January 7, 2013

7 ways to increase your nonprofit’s donations

Photo by zizzybaloobah on Flickr

Make donating simple, say thank you & showcase your results to keep donations coming

Target audience: Nonprofits, fundraisers, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises.

John HaydonAcquiring a new donor is more expensive than keeping a current donor.

Most nonprofits know this, but it seems like most of them spend a larger amount of their resources on acquiring new donors instead of keeping their current donors happy.

Plus, the lifetime dollar value of a happy donor is way more than the value of a donor who only gives once. Continue reading

June 26, 2012

4 strategies for online fundraising campaigns

Target audience: Nonprofits, fund-raisers, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises.

John HaydonIn mid-June, Razoo conducted the Twive and Receive national fundraising campaign in which 162 nonprofits competed to win a share of $30,000 in prize money. The Ellie Fund, based in Boston, won first prize for raising more than $53,000 in 24 hours!

Joe Waters and I worked with Julie Nations, executive director of the Ellie Fund, to pull off what we thought was impossible.

We put our heads together to employ the following strategies:

Don’t make it about the money

1The Ellie Fund isn’t in the business of begging. If we talked about the fundraising targets or how close we were to winning, we’d surely come across the wrong way sooner than later. Money is not the way to engage potential supporters, especially when we’re talking about $15,000 in prize money. The likelihood of winning was very low, and we knew it. And if we knew it, so would potential donors.

Create a compelling story

2When we first started working on the campaign, we concluded pretty quickly that talking about a match would get old very quickly. The chance of winning $15,000 would not be an effective story, and we knew it. We needed to uncover the bigger story — the one that matters.

Eventually, we decided to tell the untold story of breast cancer: how families and kids are affected in addition to women.

Our message was that these kids are superheroes – a team of Avengers who exhibited the superpowers of Love, Smarts, Action and Truth. Hugh MacLeod was generous enough to create a logo for the campaign, shown at top. Continue reading

September 13, 2011

Social fundraising tools: Our top 5 picks

charity hands


Give2Gether, Rally, Razoo, Fundly offer nonprofits a new way to support causes

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, fund-raisers, NGOs, social media managers, donors, bloggers, social cause advocates.

This article is part of a series focused on social fundraising.

Guest post by Janet Fouts
Social Media Coach

There’s a new breed of fundraising tools out there that can help organizations with “social fundraising.” These tools leverage the social networks of donors, supporters and organizations to substantially increase the revenue raised as well as the long-term benefits of becoming a part of the fabric of your donors’ social media networks. They focus not just on large donations but on the collective power of micro-donations, which are often repeated and shared with friends.

These applications — which offer people a way to help spread the word about a cause through their social networks and their friends’ networks — arrive with a dazzling array of services and fee structures. Where to start? As the fall “giving season” gets underway, nonprofits are looking at another tight-fisted year. It’s more important than ever today to optimize platforms for donations and offer a way for your supporters to donate on as many platforms as possible.

Here’s a quick breakdown of five applications we like. See the table at bottom for a snapshot comparison of features. Which have you used? Add your experience, feedback and suggestions in the comments, please!


Give2GetherGive2gether leverages social networks all on one page. When your organization builds its main page, a template is created that includes the donor list for the overall initiative, and the “Champion Pages” can also be created as sub-sites by anyone raising funds for your cause. Funds go directly to the organization and to fundraisers for your cause so that your champions never have to worry about funds transfers, etc.

Both organization and champion pages allow users to see at a glance which of their friends have liked or donated to the page, tweet or post to Facebook with their own call to action, and keep tabs on how things are going.

Give2gether also integrates a mass email service with templates you can custom-design for calls to action, as well as create updates and donor thank-yous customized to your nonprofit’s messaging, look and feel.

If what you’re looking for is a mini-site to offer as much data as possible to potential donors complete with ways for them to customize it minimally and share with their friends, this could be a good option.


RazooSo far Razoo is probably the most progressive of all of these sites. It allows you to create team fundraising pages as well as pages at the organizational level. You can accept donations on your own website rather than on their site using an embeddable widget that donors can also use to embed on their own sites with a click. It also offers template-driven event pages you can use for individual fundraising events.

You can send out emails to thank donors, create a personal thank you video, and track reports and donations from your Razoo dashboard or on their iPhone app. You can even register donations made offline so your accounting stays on track, something that can be critical with team fundraisers.

Razoo does not charge a monthly service fee. Instead it takes a flat rate of 2.9% across the board thanks to their partnership with US Bank. Unlike some of the other platforms that deposit funds immediately into your account, Razoo delivers funds once on the 10th of each month either by check or through electronic funds transfer.


Originally launched as a political donation platform called Piryx, Rally focuses on using the social connections of your donors to help spread the word about your cause. Rally lets your individual fund-raisers create their own version of your page and share their stories with their friends. You control the look and feel of the page at the overall template level to keep branding elements intact and then users can add their own call to action, images and information to encourage their fans to donate and help spread the word.

Unlike many fundraising platforms, Rally has its own funds processing capabilities so you don’t pay a processing fee to them and then to the credit card processing company. It also offers multiple platforms from Web-based to mobile in order to reach as many people as possible. Continue reading

September 12, 2011

What social fundraising means for your nonprofit

A look at the growing phenomenon of social media fundraising

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, fundraising executives, social media managers, donors.

This article is part of our series on social fundraising.

Debra AskanaseI’ve been looking forward to the promise of “social media+fundraising” for a while now. There are plenty of fundraising solutions that leverage social media, relying on fundraisers to tweet, share, and post their fundraising pages to their social networks. There are also fundraising solutions that fully rely on and live within a social platform, such as a Facebook fundraising application or a fundraising widget you place on your blog. Then there is the newest evolution: fundraising that innately uses social media as a platform.

In the slide presentation above, I review the three categories of social media fundraising and my thoughts about how social media fundraising has finally arrived in a real way.

Sharing is huge

A report from Share This states that sharing generates more than 10% of all internet traffic. In order of frequency, most people click on links shared within Facebook, followed by “other” (blogs, social bookmarking, etc.), email, and Twitter. Facebook is the largest sharing channel, at 38%, which is why so many online fundraising pages are shared and shared again on Facebook.

sharing stats

Social fundraising is growing

By all definitions, online fundraising is growing. Social fundraising is also growing. Network for Good’s online giving study’s quarterly giving index illustrates that, despite the current poor economic outlook, social giving is still rising. In Q1 and Q2 of 2011, social giving increased (though Q1 giving may have been skewed by Japan tsunami relief fundraising). The 2011 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report of US nonprofit social media fundraising reports that Facebook is the social media platform most nonprofits are using if they are participating in social media fundraising, though it is still a very small percentage who have raised significant money using Facebook.

Online giving growth

Social sharing of fundraising pages yields results: Social media fundraising that leverages social networks

When fundraisers share their fundraising pages to their social networks, giving increases. Blackbaud recently issued a report and created an infographic about the power of peer-to-peer sharing. Blackbaud found that Twitter and Facebook posts convert 0.25% of impressions into donations. It also found that Twitter users increased donations nearly 10x more than those who did not use Twitter. FirstGiving found that for every share to Facebook, 5 people returned to a fundraising page. FirstGiving also found that the value of a share to Facebook was worth $10.87 in donations.

Peer to peer online donation solutions (such as FirstGiving, Razoo, Crowdrise, Donors Choose) where a fundraiser creates a fundraising page and shares that page are increasingly being used by nonprofit organizations, and the culture of online donations is growing. Sometimes these solutions are also called social media fundraising, because they rely so heavily on social media for amplification. These solutions are ideal for leveraging an organization’s base, and increasing donations through personal social network sharing. However, it’s just as important that the nonprofit also have a vibrant social media presence to amplify these efforts and engage with fundraisers.

Giving that relies on or lives exclusively within a social network

Social media fundraising can also be defined as fundraising that happens within a social network, rather than shared to the network. Most examples of these fundraising solutions live within Facebook. Examples include Causes, the What Gives or FirstGiving fundraising tabs that you can add to a Facebook page or profile, fundraising applications developed for a Facebook Page. These fundraising solutions rely on Facebook to thrive: You have to connect using Facebook, and they count on fundraisers sharing with their Facebook friends for amplification. Other examples include Google Checkout for nonprofits on YouTube or fundraising widgets placed on a blog. This type of fundraising is growing, but certainly is not mainstream, and best used where you have a fair number of supporters and know you can energize them. Continue reading

April 26, 2011

15 ways to crowdfund your startup or project



Have you considered asking the community to support your new enterprise?

Target audience: Social enterprises, nonprofits, volunteer groups, sustainable businesses, community organizations.

Guest post by Kerry Given
Green Marketing TV

Finding funding can be one of the biggest challenges for social entrepreneurs. Fortunately, there is a growing number of options for social entrepreneurs and founders looking for capital to start or expand their social enterprise, startup or nonprofit organization and do more good in the world.

One non-traditional funding opportunity that has seen exponential growth in recent years is the phenomenon of “crowdfunding.” Family and friends have been one of the most common sources of venture funding capital for centuries. Crowdfunding takes this age-old source of venture funding and brings it into the digital age.

Thanks to social media and other forms of modern technology, entrepreneurs are able to build networks of friends, colleagues and like-minded individuals more easily and effectively than ever before. Crowdfunding websites allow entrepreneurs or project leaders to leverage these networks to gain funding.

Typically, entrepreneurs post a request for funding on a crowdfunding site with a detailed project description. Depending on the site, funding may be provided as a loan or a donation. Once the funding request is posted, the entrepreneurs use their networks to spread the word about their project to potential donors through word of mouth, email, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Crowdfunding is not for everyone. The majority of crowdfunding sites fund entrepreneurs on an all-or-nothing basis. If the project is fully funded when the deadline arrives, the money is given to the entrepreneur. If it is not fully funded, it is returned to the donors to keep or donate to another project. So it’s important to have a compelling project or story and to be a skillful marketer and networker to ensure that word about your project reaches enough potential donors to fully fund the project before the deadline. If you’re confident that your social enterprise has what it takes to become a crowdfunding success story, you may find crowdfunding to be the perfect option for your fundraising efforts.

The following is a list of crowdfunding websites that can help your social enterprise, sustainable business or nonprofit organization get off the ground:


33 Needs: Connecting microinvestors & social enterpreneurs

133needs is a recent crowdfunding startup that connects microinvestors with social entrepreneurs who have big ideas in categories such as sustainable food, health, education and the environment. Investors can earn a percentage of revenue in exchange for their support.


AppBackr: Offset app development costs

2A specialty crowdfunding site that may be useful to some social enterprises, AppBackr allows Apple developers to get funding upfront for iPhone, iPod and iPad apps in the concept stage by selling the app wholesale to backers, who receive a percentage of the profits for the apps they have purchased. Many app buyers also assist developers with marketing and promoting their apps to ensure that their investment is fully recouped. With a growing number of social enterprises tapping into the explosive apps market to raise awareness and sell products or services, AppBackr may be a useful tool to help offset app development costs, and even gain some extra promotional help.


Buzzbnk: Supporting a wide range of fields

3Buzzbnk is a crowdfunding platform especially for social enterprises that allow funders to donate either money or time to support social enterprises working in a wide variety of fields. Though based in the UK, it is open to social ventures operating anywhere in the world. Social enterprises must submit their project proposal to Buzzbnk and the Buzzbnk team will work with the social enterprise to help develop appropriate fundraising targets and benefits or rewards to offer funders.


CauseVox: Fundraising pages for nonprofits

4CauseVox offers nonprofit organizations a fully customizable fundraising page that makes collecting money from supporters easy. Supporters can also create their own personalized fundraising pages. Social media integration makes it easy to embed YouTube videos, Flickr slideshows and more.


ProFounder: Investors share in the profits

5ProFounder caters to entrepreneurs – social or otherwise – who are looking for alternative sources of venture capital. ProFounder provides a secure platform where entrepreneurs can raise money from family members, friends and other connections, who then receive a share of the profits when the business they have invested in succeeds. This revenue sharing system is good for investors and good for entrepreneurs, because it doesn’t commit entrepreneurs to making debt payments (potentially with high interest rates) during periods of bad business, only when the business is successful and profitable. Continue reading