Major Donor Microsites - Personalized Digital for Big Gifts [WEBINAR]

Cultivating prospects in new and effective ways … filling your pipeline with warm prospects and donors … and of most importantly, securing six- and seven-figure gifts…

All of the above are true for Groundwork Digital’s partners thanks to robust, digital major donor engagement strategies. Specifically, the addition of “major donor microsites” to our digital offerings has helped unlock significant giving at every level.

Curious? Great! That’s why we recorded our “Major Donor Microsites - Personalized Digital for Big Gifts” webinar originally delivered on April 18, 2019. Watch the full recording here…

Can we help you build major donor microsites? Email me at or click the button below to send me your contact info …and let’s talk!

Major Donor Microsites - Personalized Digital for Big Gifts WEBINAR

Coffee is great.

It powers us through the day, tastes yummy, and gives us a great excuse to email our major gift prospects and meet the monthly contact quotas.

But modern major gift prospects do more than drink coffee. They read emails, view websites, and post to Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram. (Often while drinking coffee)

Groundwork Digital’s partners know this about modern major donors. That’s why we’ve started building personalized major donor microsites, full of content that speaks directly to the donors and what matters most to them. Powered by video, these major donor microsites can plug into any step of the major gifts process, from cultivation, to solicitation, to stewardship.

On Thursday April 18 at 1pm ET/10am PT, learn how you can build video-powered major donor microsites into your major gifts program. Click here to register.

Major donor microsites offer everything from exciting, new stewardship opportunities to a pipeline building mechanism when those microsites are placed in the hands of major donor online ambassadors.

And don’t worry, you can still grab coffee with a prospect …while showing them their personalized microsite. 

See you on April 18th!

Agile Video Fundraising for Acquisition and Retention

Digital fundraising success is reliant upon a combination of timely and relevant content, creative concepts, healthy email lists, and video.

That’s right - nothing converts traffic into donors like powerful, timely video.

Groundwork Digital’s partners are discovering this key to fundraising success and now we want to share those tactics with you. Below is our full webinar, with Q and A, originally delivered on April 2, 2019, that outlines how to build an “Agile Video Fundraising” program…

Are you ready for increased new donor acquisition and improved donor retention across all giving levels and segments? Then you’re ready to rebalance your budget to include agile video fundraising. Click below to send us your contact info and we’ll be in touch shortly with a free consultation.

Nonprofit email is down - keep your email up with these tactics

You may have heard - nonprofit fundraising email had a bad December.

M+R surveyed 23 organizations and found December 2018 email revenue was down 18% for the median. (For more stats, click here)

This downward trend in email performance fits the larger, still developing narrative that small-gift fundraising is falling on hard times. Whether uncertainty in the economy, the new tax law, email overload, or something else, our work as fundraisers appears to be getting more difficult.

But the news is not all bad - especially for those nonprofits who have a deep understanding of digital. For example, email response rates are up 26% and revenue up 2% for those who reduced email list size. This approach to email hygiene is critical if we want to beat spam filters and actually connect with those we email.

Which is why conducting a robust and ongoing email hygiene program is one of our two key tactics for beating the odds with email.

Improving email tactic #1

We have to be comfortable “breaking up” with our email connections who have ghosted our outreach attempts. When we send emails that are ignored (not opened) by a large swath of the recipients, our ability to reach ALL of our list members is severely damaged. Inbox providers like Gmail and Yahoo punish those who send to unresponsive lists by sending more of our emails to spam more consistently. (Sound interesting? Read more on email spam flagging here)

So if you want to stay out of spam folders, ditch those who don’t open what you’re sending. One easy way to do this is the “break up” email. You might literally use a subject like “It’s us, not you” or something else to playfully suggest

“hey, we get it, you’re not that into us. That’s OK. We’re going to remove you from a lot of future emails unless you click below and let us know you want to stay together.”

The last piece is key. Give the email recipient the chance to stay with you. If they’re reading that email, it means they’ve opened it (the whole point, really) and they are paying attention. In fact, this can be a great data refreshing exercise, because you can request new information when the person re opts in to your email program. Provide a link to an OPTIONAL data form that can pull new email addresses, social media account info, phone numbers, volunteer interest, etc.

And keep redoing this process every six months. Remove those who don’t open the “Break up email.” Because remember - recent stats say smaller email lists actually raise more revenue.

Improving email tactic #2

Make people glad they opened and clicked on your email. Give them content that reminds them why they followed you in the first place.

It’s not easy, but a robust video program coupled with a resource-intensive online ambassador program leads to annual fund AND seven figure fundraising success. Many of Groundwork’s partners have unlocked six figure gifts through these tactics while also injecting an energetic burst of new, warm major gift prospects.

To enjoy game-changing digital fundraising success requires content. Did you know that 72% said they stopped giving due to “poor, vague, or irrelevant” content? (Source: Abila Donor Loyalty Study) 3/4 of your donor churn can be fixed by fixing content.

Invest in video producers. You can hire an in-house team, hire out, or do both. Ultimately, your goal should be at least one new piece of video content per week for social media. The top performing social media videos can then be shared with your email lists. “Hey - this is our most popular video!” subjects with no or a passive fundraising request. This builds trust and engagement with your email audience and boosts open rates to maintain your email program’s overall health. Then, when you need your list, it is healthy and ready to provide conversions during busy events like giving days or end-of-year campaigns.

Next, get your ambassadors involved. Find your top group of about 10 to 50 ambassadors. Personally manage the relationships with these ambassadors and produce content that features the ambassadors. When someone is actually in a video, telling their story about why they support your mission, that ambassador will share that content more aggressively than anything else your org can produce. Plus, you have the added benefit of more authentic content that audiences resonate with.

Content is everything. And good video content is everything times infinity (Statistically speaking). Commit to content your audience wants to see, then email it to them regularly (as well as share across social media).

Email may be down, but a healthy email list combined with robust video engagement can keep your fundraising and engagement numbers up. Good luck!

Want to learn more? Email me at

Two Tactics that Make Ambassador Programs Work

The idea of an “online ambassador” program is simple - find supporters who use social media, send them content to share on your behalf, and voila! …you have yourself an acquisition-driving, retention-boosting, peer-to-peer program.

Well, if I’ve learned anything since launching my first online ambassador program in 2011 with Florida State University, ambassador programs are anything but “simple.” Finding the right ambassadors, incentivizing social media sharing activity, building touch points beyond a giving day … myriad complications make ambassador programs great in theory, but tough in practice.

But there is a formula for ambassador success. Two specific concepts or tactics are showing real promise in the ongoing pursuit of long-term and sustainable ambassador programs:

  • Look inside yourself - build your internal ambassador program first

  • Produce content for ambassadors that features those ambassadors

Internal brand ambassador programs

In The Most Powerful Brand on Earth, authors Susan Emerick and Chris Boudreaux explain how IBM’s internal brand ambassador program outperformed ALL other marketing channels by a factor of 7x. Several other studies have shown that rank-and-file employees are some of the most trusted voices when it comes to advertising and communications.

So we know your staff, faculty, program administrators, doctors, etc. can be effective advocates online and via social media for your mission. Another benefit to building an ambassador program with your internal team? They are a captive audience. You are guaranteed near 100 percent participation when you hold internal ambassador workshops, trainings, and happy hours. Even more importantly, when you send a request to share news and fundraising solicitations, your rate of sharing with internal ambassadors will almost certainly far exceed any external groups (because it’s viewed as part of the job with internal groups).

Making ambassadors the stars of their own show

Content really is everything. In a recent Abila Donor Loyalty survey, 72 percent of respondents said “poor, vague, or irrelevant” content was the reason why they stopped giving.

So yeah, we’re not kidding when we say “content reigns supreme.”

Feature ambassadors in compelling content, such as Facebook Lives.

Feature ambassadors in compelling content, such as Facebook Lives.

Of course, asking ambassadors to produce their own content - regardless of whether they are internal or external ambassadors - is often an exercise in futility. It’s one thing to share a Facebook post. It’s another thing to produce a photo gallery or video on behalf of the organization you support. This is true of both internal and external ambassadors.

To solve this problem, Groundwork Digital is launching “Student Content Teams” with our higher education partners. With Student Content Teams, we are hiring about a half dozen students who fit the ambassador profile and have the on-camera charisma to become social media stars. Then, we work with the students to fill a strategically-aligned content calendar with video that is produced in the students’ voice, while reinforcing development and advancement priorities. This way, we are ensuring the necessary volume of content, while maintaining the authentic voice of students. And giving student ambassadors (and all ambassadors) engaging content to share online.

The ancillary benefit to the “Student Content Team” is the power of creating recognizable names with a small group of students. We know, beyond any doubt, that recognizable names lead to higher email open and conversion rates. With the SCT, we are creating those known names that can be used to communicate with donors throughout the year via email and text message, as well as through social media.

Think of it as a modern version of the phone program. Instead of connecting donors with students over the phone, we make those same connections online, in a more personalized way.

And this is not a concept confined to the world of education. Volunteers and staff, doctors and nurses, program administrators - anyone with on-camera charisma and social media reach can be an effective content team member for a nonprofit organization.

Peer-to-peer is more critical than ever before. It’s also more complicated to effectively deploy. We hope the above recommendations help you launch or grow an online ambassador program in the near future.

Do you still feel like you could use some help growing an ambassador program? Groundwork Digital is here for you. Click the button below and fill out the SUPER short form to ask for a free phone consultation.

The Secrets to Online Giving Day Fundraising Success

Cornell University’s monstrous giving day has grown into the institution’s “number one tool to acquire new donors.”

But it’s about more than acquisition. In the interview posted below, Cornell’s Nicole Cook, director of marketing and participation, and Andrew Gossen, executive director of digital for alumni affairs and development, share how…

…leaning into why students give has led to massive online fundraising results during Cornell’s more recent giving days.

…giving day has become a tradition at Cornell and therefore is a powerful retention tool.

…leaderboards in certain areas, like athletics and engineering, drive fundraising success at all levels.

…giving day can serve as a laboratory to test tactics and concepts for annual giving, leadership annual giving, and even major gifts.

Intrigued? Check out the video below to help you plan your next giving day…

Need help planning an online giving day? Groundwork Digital’s team has partnered with more than 60 institutions to launch a first giving day or rethink and grow an existing event. Click the button below to contact Groundwork for your giving day needs.

Multi-Channel to Engage the Modern Donor

Groundwork Digital President Justin Ware leads this webinar that introduces innovative new tactics for modern nonprofit fundraising. Originally delivered January 17, 2019, this webinar covers…

  • Building a “Student/Volunteer Content Team”

  • How digital unlocks massive giving from leadership annual and major gift donors

  • Why automation is an absolute must for your constituent engagement programs

In February 2019, Groundwork will be celebrating our two-year anniversary. While building our company, we’ve helped our client partners raise MILLIONS in fundraising from donors in the annual fund to the major gifts program. And we can do the same for you. Click the “Contact Groundwork” button below to request a telephone assessment of your needs and opportunities.

Standing Out From the Email Crowd

Early returns on end-of-year giving suggest numbers are, well, mixed.

As always, there are winners and losers. #GivingTuesday fundraising totals look stronger than ever, while online giving for the end of December is looking light (according to this preliminary report from M+R).

One of the chief concerns around online giving in December (and well beyond December) is the deliverability of email. Email has been the top source for online revenue since we started tracking online revenue numbers. So what now, if email is losing its ability to grab donors and dollars?

The first place many nonprofits turn is volume. While listening to the vocal (and often ill-informed) minority complain about receiving too much email, many fundraisers believe less is more with email.

But that’s probably not true. The problem is not that your nonprofit sends too much email - it's that every other nonprofit sends a ton of email and your nonprofit doesn't have a plan for standing out from the crowd.

So how do you stand out? Well, consider a 2015 study from Blackbaud’s TeamRaiser platform that discovered the following -

  • Emails from a known source (a person who you are familiar with) have a staggering 25 percent gift conversion rate

  • If you remove the known sender and instead use the organization’s name, that conversion rate tumbles to a miserly .08 percent

In other words, emails sent from known senders are 312 times more effective at securing a gift than the exact same email, when the email is sent from an organizational email account ( v., for example)

The vast chasm between the conversion rates of emails sent from a known sender versus those sent by an org makes you wonder - why would we ever send emails from anything other than a known sender?

Well, at Groundwork, we think you should only be sending from known senders. And we have a strategy to ensure you can do that …while also generating tremendously engaging content for all your social media channels.

Introducing the “Student Content Team” (or volunteer content team for all nonprofits that don’t work with a student body). Think of the Student Content Team as the modern version of the phone program. Instead of connecting supporters with student callers over the phone, this new approach builds student personalities via video, email, and social media. The objective is creating a handful of well-known student personalities. So, when you send an email, you send from those well-known students. Since the email recipients recognize the students by name - because the students achieve a micro-celebrity status as Student Content Team stars - the emails are far more likely to be opened and clicked through.

Sound interesting? We think so. And we’ll be talking about this strategy in far more detail during our webinar on Thursday, January 17 at 2pm ET/11am PT.

Click the button below to register for our free “Multi-channel Fundraising to Engage the Modern Donor” webinar…

Increasing Participation with Online Fundraising

Thank you to everyone who joined Adrian Matthys and Justin Ware for our “Increasing Participation with Online Fundraising” webinar on Wednesday, September 26! Below is a full recording of that webinar along with the Q and A at the completion of the webinar.

Still have questions? Would you like to know how you can incorporate digital to increase giving from the annual fund to the major gifts program? Complete the form below and Adrian or Justin will get back to you shortly:

Name *

"Increase Alumni Giving" Webinar

We’ve all heard about the trend of “donor decline.”

And a lot of us have experienced this deflating feeling of fewer donors giving to the institiutions we love and support.

But here’s the thing - it doesn’t have to be this way. All it takes is a little resource reallocation and you can enjoy a development operation with donor participation on the rise - from the annual fund to the major gifts program.

Join Adrian Matthys, from the University of Texas Austin, and Justin Ware, Groundwork Digital president and co-founder, for “Increasing Participation with Online Fundraising” - a free webinar on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 2pm ET/11am PT. Click the button below to sign up: