How to Make Next #GivingTuesday Your Biggest Ever

#GivingTuesday 2017 is behind us and this year's event appears to have once again set astonishing fundraising records. More than $177 million raised from more than 1.64 million gifts.

Did your nonprofit reap the benefits of this enormous, mostly online giving event? If not - or even if you did, but want to see bigger numbers next year - check out the following three tips to help exponentially expand #GivingTuesday (or any online giving day).

Produce more video

No other form of content drives fundraising like video. A 2013 Google study found that 57 percent of donors will give to a nonprofit after watching a video from a nonprofit. If that staggering statistic is even remotely accurate, you should probably be producing more video regardless of how much video you're currently producing.

And it doesn't have to be perfectly polished video. In fact, studies are showing that "authentic" or "amateur" videos perform better in terms of securing gifts.

Video stewardship platform ThankView allows its clients to quickly produce donor thank you videos after a donor makes a pledge over the phone by either using a webcam to record a thank message from the caller (immediately after they hang up) or uploading a more produced video. The results clearly show donors favor the lower quality webcam videos. According to the ThankView stats, webcam videos lead to donors clicking on "Give Now" buttons in emails that feature the webcam videos 15 percent of the time. That click through rate drops to 10 percent when the email includes the more fully produced, uploaded videos.

The lesson? Amazing, high quality video will always have its place. But don't avoid producing and sharing lower quality video that might be shot with a smart phone or webcam. Ultimately, more video attracts more donors and results in more gifts given.

Also - don't neglect Facebook Live. The Facebook algorithms reward Live videos more than any other form of non-promoted content. Facebook Live requires a well conceived and coordinated effort, but the views are worth it. Need some tips for producing a donor-grabbing Facebook Live? Check out our free webinar here.

Find and Empower Your Online Ambassadors

Emails from online ambassadors are 312 times more effective at securing a gift than the otherwise identical email sent with the organization as the "sender." (Blackbaud, 2015) Especially for those under 40, our peers heavily influence our philanthropy.

But it's not as easy as it sounds.

First, you have to find your influencers. If you have an email list of any size whatsoever (think 5,000+ donors) it's worth it to use a vendor to help you identify your influencers. (Groundwork offers this service along with many others) A review of ScaleFunder giving days has found that the average online ambassador brings in $125 during an online giving day. Similarly, Groundwork has witnessed major donor ambassadors raise more than $60,000 in a single day. (Not to mention a bundle of new major donor prospects) Most ambassador identification technology is under $10,000, making the ROI incredible.

Once you find your ambassadors, now you need a clever engagement plan. Leveraging ambassador-friendly events is one sure-fire way to increase participation in the program. Online giving days are a great example of events that perfectly fit the peer-to-peer model. So are alumni reunions, #GivingTuesday, national awareness days ...anything influencers might naturally be talking about online. Find the event that matches your mission and invite ambassadors to join your volunteer social media sharing program around that event.

Then, get out of the way and let your online ambassadors drive the fundraising and communications activity. Only interject to offer suggested posts. And ALWAYS be ready to recognize and thank your ambassadors for their service! Increasingly, we're seeing ambassadors encouraged to continue sharing the more they are thanked for their digital advocacy.

Build or Buy a Great Online Giving Platform

Online fundraising is two equal parts strategy and technology. You can have great tech, but with no strategy driving donors to that technology you'll find limited success. Similarly, putting a massive effort behind marketing with a giving tool that barely functions and inspires zero trust is a little like the Fyre Festival - all hype and no substance.

Bad online giving day technology is a little like the food at Fyre Festival - all hype and no substance.

Bad online giving day technology is a little like the food at Fyre Festival - all hype and no substance.

Invest in technology and strategy, build a great content marketing strategy, then find and empower your online ambassadors. It's a simple template that requires smart execution. Do all three and you'll have your biggest #GivingTuesday ever in 2018!

Ask us how to build a record-breaking #GivingTuesday or online giving day by clicking here.

Video Campaigns that Drive Huge End-of-Year Fundraising Results

57 percent of everyone who watches an online video produced by a nonprofit will go on to give to that nonprofit. (Google, 2013)

Keep that in mind, then go look at the number of views you have on some of your strongest Facebook or YouTube videos. And imagine 60 percent of those views becoming donors. Technically, that should be the case.

If only it were that easy ...or maybe it is?

The following are three tips to build a video-driven content strategy that leads to your organization's strongest ever end-of-calendar-year fundraising push.

Facebook Live - do it and do it often in December

Launch an end-of-year Facebook Live telethon. On New Year's Eve or the week before, invite your best supporters who are also digitally active (your online ambassadors) to a special end-of-year party. Be sure there are plenty of food, drinks, and entertainment ...and an experienced Facebook Live crew.

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During this event, conduct several interviews with attendees and have them talk about why they gave back to your organization in the previous year and why they will continue giving in the new year. You might also interview a person or two who has been positively impacted by your mission. This could be a student, a patient, or a dog-in-waiting to be rescued ...you get the idea.

To increase the audience for your Facebook Live, make sure everyone you're interviewing shared the Facebook Live with their friends and family as soon as you go live.

And of course, throughout the Facebook Live event, be sure to frequently remind donors they "can give to support your mission by clicking 'donate now' in the Facebook post.

We call this the "modern Facebook pledge drive." For more details on how to conduct a Facebook pledge drive, click here to watch our webinar

Keep it simple for more video

You might have heard from various digital experts that lower quality, more authentic video is more effective for fundraising. 

At least in some cases, that's true.

According to Thankview, lower-quality, webcam-recorded videos are watched to completion 61 percent of the time, while higher-quality, uploaded videos are watched to completion only 47 percent of the time. More importantly, webcam-recorded videos lead to call-to-action clickthroughs on an email link 15 percent of the time, while uploaded videos only lead to CTA clickthroughs 10 percent of the time. 

If you're sending 10,000 emails, that's an extra 500 people who go to your gift form from the lower-quality video.

That's not to say high quality video doesn't have it's place. (Wait until you see what Groundwork is doing with virtual reality and major donors) But we should never avoid sharing videos with our donors, because we feel the quality is unbecoming of our mission. Can you see the video? Can you hear the video? If you answer "yes" to both and the message is on point, then share that video with your donors and prospects. Especially via year-end appeals. This approach will lead to more video messaging and, ultimately, more gifts.

Sell virtual seats to your holiday season gala

If you've experienced virtual reality, then you are aware of the medium's transformative power. VR can place a person in a different time and space while giving them an emotional experience similar to being present (in the literal sense).

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Imagine using this technology to democratize your high-priced, end-of-year donor galas. Of course, nothing beats the real thing - actually being there - but for $50, a donor can experience the event virtually as opposed to paying $5,000 for a table. Access to watching the speakers, hearing the musicians, enjoying the celebrity keynotes... can all take place from the comfort of home and at a more approachable price point. This gives the annual fund donors unique access to high-end experiences without cheapening the experience for large gift donors, because the large gift donors still have the exclusive benefit of literally being there.

This tactic could also be used as a leadership annual giving tool by moving the $50 up to $500. Especially if you're concerned about cheapening the high-price live gala experience.

Using VR to widen the reach of a gala could be done through Facebook Live or could be recorded and edited for later use. For example, gift officers could carry VR headsets with them to donor visits and allow those who couldn't attend in person to watch the next best thing.

Is your development operation ready to transform your fundraising outcomes with video? Groundwork Digital builds sophisticated digital strategies and produces award-winning videos for clients. Ask us about it by clicking here and completing our contact form.

Digital Multichannel Strategies for EOY: Crowdfunding, Facebook, & Ambassadors to Crush Year End

“Crowdfunding?! Are you crazy?! Donors have their plans set for how they give at EOY! We’d only get new donors that don’t renew!”

Nonprofit fundraisers have a love/hate relationship with crowdfunding. But let’s take a step back and look at crowdfunding as a component to a robust, multi-channel, end-of-calendar-year campaign.

In this post we'll break down a multi-channel EOY strategy that includes:

  • Solicitations built on a crowdfunding backbone to appeal to unique donor interests while still filling the general fund coffers
  • Targeted email strategy to get donors to click
  • Peer-to-peer or "online ambassadors"
  • Facebook Ads to expand your EOY campaign's reach to new audiences

Create multiple crowdfunding pages that align with your end of year priorities.

Crowdfunding projects are specific & targeted, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be unrestricted. Dig into what your unrestricted funds do. Say there are 3 main priorities of the fund - create a page for each one! Tell stories of how those priorities have impacted lives of those you serve. Then you get the specificity and transparency of crowdfunding, and an opportunity for your donors to show you the unique reasons they give and why they care.

Once you’ve created those pages…how do you get donors there? We can rely on digital channels for the execution as well.

Create a segmented email plan directing donors to crowdfunding pages.

Donors prefer short emails. Email is no longer the place to tell your story, but a place to incite an action. So how do we convince the donor to give? Those crowdfunding pages you just created!

This page set up give you the room to tell your story in an easy to consume, visual manner. With your unique stories broken out in different pages, you already have the content needed for email. Use the most compelling information in the email in order to inspire the click to the page to learn more. Then segment your donor list and send the individuals to just one of the pages you’ve created.

Identify ambassadors.

Today's fundraising will always be stronger with a peer-to-peer component. Although EOCY projects are more institutional, make sure you have real people champion this project. Consider using really active donors or volunteers. If you have the budget - use a social listening tool to find people who really care about your mission! The best ambassador is one who has supported you in the past and has strong online influence - via social media or good email contacts. Email from the ambassadors is a critical channel alongside your institutional email.

Be active on social media! But don’t rely on organic reach.

Your donors (and potential donors) are on social. Hopefully many of them follow you! But even those who follow you may not see all your posts, depending on their history of engagement with your page. Facebook ads will ensure more people see your posts. At a minimum, consider ads that go out to those who you are already emailing. The ads will act as a marketing reminder to those who have already received your email. If you’re looking to expand your networks, consider Custom Audiences.    

Crowdfunding is more than the reactive campaigns, the restricted campaigns, the campaigns that only bring in mom, dad, and grandma donors of the project teams; it is a structure of giving that provides the story behind the gift that today's donors demand.

We’re at a point where there are multiple digital channels for your fundraising office can leverage. For your EOY campaigns, make sure you’re taking full advantage of all of the digital channels at your fingertips!

Interested in a targeted multi-digital-channel strategy for your EOCY or other upcoming campaigns? Contact us at info@groundworkdigital.com.

EOY Fundraising with Online Ambassadors

Emails sent from online ambassadors perform 312 times better than the exact same email that is sent with the institution as the sender.

Seriously, this 2015 Blackbaud study found ambassador-sent emails convert 25 percent of the time, while the same email sent from the institution converts .08 percent of the time. It almost makes you wonder if we should bother sending e-solicitations from anyone but online ambassadors?

With that in mind, below are three tips for incorporating ambassadors, influencers, and advocates to close out the 2017 calendar year

Set up ambassadors with personal online campaigns

First things first, you need to identify and engage a strong group of online ambassadors. (Online ambassadors are your digitally-focused, social media-active volunteer advocates). Use technology to do this. The cost is almost always $10,000 or less (donor list size dependent) and the return is typically many factors of X above the investment. Our clients are finding Attentive.ly is an effective platform for this work.

You also need an engagement plan for getting the ambassadors on board and energized.

Use video, email, webinars, and live boot camps to fire up this core base of online supporters. Then, connect them to targeted online fundraising campaigns and task them with raising awareness. Either do this en masse or individually, depending on the ambassador (specifics coming up in the next section) 

 

Make it easy to donate a holiday gift list

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Donating a person's birthday is quickly catching on as a hot trend in online fundraising. And Facebook is one of those platforms leading the charge.

The concept is worth considering near the holiday season. "For this Christmas season, please donate to my favorite charity in lieu of gifts..." or "With the new year approaching, I want to be sure this important cause has the funds to advance our goals in 2018, so I'm giving my gift before December 31st." 

Just like with any fundraising walk or run, be sure you have good technology that allows each donor to easily create their own personal, donation-driving giving pages. 

And be sure you include major donors in this strategy. Finding online ambassadors with major gift potential can lead to campaigns like this one from Marquette: (click here for the story) This is a highly individualized approach to online ambassador fundraising and will be your most lucrative peer-to-peer campaigns when done right.

Overlay social listening on your donor database to learn more about what drives you most capable donors online. Then build a cultivation and solicitation strategy with this new, digitally-acquired information at the forefront. For those major donor prospects whose online behavior profiles suggest a December campaign might be of extra significance to them, consider working with them to offer up a match or challenge that will lead to big gifts at every level to close out the year.

 

“With the new year approaching, I want to be sure this important cause has the funds to advance our goals in 2018, so I’m giving my gift before December 31st.” 

Thanksgiving hashtag drives

#Tweetsgiving still reigns as one of the best examples of a hashtag-based fundraising campaign. In 2008, Epic Change got its start as an organization through a brilliant hashtag campaign. With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, the nascent Epic Change team asked supporters to post tweets stating why the Twitter user is thankful, using the hashtag "#Tweetsgiving."

The campaign went viral with many thousands of Twitter users jumping in on the action. Periodically, a group of ambassadors and Epic Change members would insert tweets with a link to their fundraising page to build a school in Tanzania. Within a few short days, the group raised more than $10,000, had enough to build the school, and laid the groundwork for the Epic Change organization.

The #Tweetsgiving hashtag campaign raised more than $10,000 over Thanksgiving 2008 to build a new school in Tanzania.

The #Tweetsgiving hashtag campaign raised more than $10,000 over Thanksgiving 2008 to build a new school in Tanzania.

 

As this holiday season approaches, consider creating a hashtag to unite your followers in conversation. Or, "hijack" an existing hashtag related to your mission. Using the #GivingTuesday tag, is a widely-known example, although finding something more directly related to your cause, such as "#CleanEnergy," "#EndGunViolence," or "#AdoptaPet" can add thousands of new viewers to your message and donors to your database.

 

Facebook Live - The Modern Pledge Drive [WEBINAR]

Facebook Live is a powerful tool that can instantly drive thousands of attentive viewers to your organization’s mission and message …when it is done well. Content, the right equipment, an energetic host – there are many factors to producing a game-changing Facebook Live event.

Below is Groundwork Digital's webinar, produced in partnership with Mighteor, that outlines how Facebook Live can be used to drive huge results for online fundraising campaigns. Enjoy!

Modern Pledge Drive with Facebook Live

Facebook Live is a powerful tool that can instantly drive thousands of attentive viewers to your organization’s mission and message …when it is done well. Content, the right equipment, an energetic host – there are many factors to producing a game-changing Facebook Live event.

Join Groundwork Digital and Mighteor for a FREE “Facebook Live for Nonprofits” webinar on Wednesday, September 27 at 3pm ET/noon PT. Click here to sign up.

During this webinar, Mighteor Founder Liz Giorgi and Groundwork Founder Justin Ware will cover:

  • How to build an hour-long Facebook Live Pledge Drive that leads to real fundraising results
  • Developing a Facebook Live strategy to enhance your 12-month content marketing plan
  • Plugging Facebook Live into online giving days and #GivingTuesday for record-breaking results

Increasing Digital Donor Retention through Innovative Stewardship

You’ve taken notice and shifted towards engaging and acquiring new donors through digital technology, but have your stewardship practices kept up with evolving trends?

Where can you find the answers to bring your stewardship practice to the 21st century?

On Tuesday, August 22nd, JD Beebe, co-founder & CEO of Thankview, and Rosa Conrad, VP & co-founder of Groundwork Digital will talk how to pair strategy + technology to better steward our digital donors. Walk away from this conversation knowing:

·      Data to track for more personalized communication

·      Enhanced content best practices for stewardship

·      Innovative technologies to provide enhanced donor experience

 

The Next Big "Giving Day"

Hundreds of millions of dollars raised … millions of donors taking part … scores of new supporters engaged … long-time supporters reinvigorated …

Online giving events such as #GivingTuesday and org-specific giving days have changed the face of fundraising.

Unfortunately, most fundraisers are leaving donors and dollars on the table during a giving day. The good news is, the experts at Groundwork Digital have the experience (more than four dozen giving days under our belts) to unlock those donors with proven tactics.

Equally as important, we can help integrate your giving day into a year-round digital fundraising effort that revolutionizes donor engagement for your program.

Raise your giving day to the next level with Groundwork Digital’s Giving Day Elevator package

The Giving Day Elevator package includes:

  • A full-day, on-site workshop to bring your team up to speed on the latest sure-fire tactics for launching an awe-inspiring giving day or #GivingTuesday event
  • Technology consultation to either select the right vendor or adjust your strategy to make the most out of your current online giving technology
  • Content marketing, email, and online ambassador strategic planning
  • Post-event analysis, peer benchmarking, and recommendations for the next 12 months of online fundraising

Groundwork currently offers this Giving Day Elevator package at the discounted price of $10,000. Click “Learn More” and give us you contact info. We'll get in touch to schedule a free, 30-minute consultation to determine if Giving Day Elevator is right for your operation.

Trust in Influencers

The for-profit world has been placing value in peer-to-peer influencers or "online ambassadors" for years. And the results show that trust in ambassadors is paying off for many companies.

In fact, "trust" has a lot to do with why ambassadors are so effective in modern marketing and communications.

Check out this link for some stunning online ambassador statistics

People buy based on what their friends tell them, because of trust. When a relationship starts with trust, it tends to last longer. Consider these stats from the above link:

  • 92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands
  • 74 percent of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions
  • 37 percent better retention is reported for customers acquired through word-of-mouth advertising

What does that mean for donor acquisition? ...and retention? The fact is, online ambassador communication works just as well - maybe better - in the nonprofit world.

In reviewing online ambassador activity that that took place on the ScaleFunder giving day platform in 2016, each ambassador would, on average, raise $125 during a giving day.

Perhaps even more staggering is this 2015 Blackbaud study that found 1 in 4 emails from online ambassadors led to a gift - a whopping 25 percent conversion rate. That's compared to 1 in 1,250 emails from the organization that led to a gift - a paltry .08 percent conversion.

Again, for those keeping score, that's a 25 percent conversion rate for ambassador-sent email versus a .08 conversion rate for emails sent by the organization.

It almost makes you wonder if you should ever send a solicitation email that is not from an online ambassador?

And it works for major donors, too. Check out the video below that details how the higher the price tag (a major gift, for example), the more peer influence impacts the decision.

Now here's the catch - it's not easy. Online ambassador programs are volunteer programs and they require careful and frequent management ...but if you do it right, you have the potential to transform your development operation for the 21st century.

And guess what? Groundwork Digital has built dozens of online ambassador programs. Click the "Contact Groundwork" button below to send us a message and set up a time to talk about how we can help revolutionize your development operation with peer-to-peer fundraising.

 

Giving Days, Major Donors, and Building a Culture of Philanthropy

At large institutions and organizations, the online giving day is a cacophony of activity. Annual giving, marketing, donor relations, the major gifts team, corporate relations... giving days are an all hands on deck extravaganza of fundraising activity.

When done well, that means a giving day can have far-reaching impacts on many aspects of a development operation. For the University of Idaho, during the school's first giving day in 2016, the reach of the giving day extended to major gifts, student giving, and across the advancement team as a lightning rod that stimulated team building.

In the video below, Stacy Rauch - Idaho's Associate Director of Development for Engineering - talks about how her team connected with major donors to secure challenges, engaged team members across campus, and led the communication blitz that led to big fundraising bucks.

Groundwork Digital's team members have built many giving days, like the one detailed in the video above. To find out how Groundwork can help you launch your first giving day or expand your current giving day, click the the button below to schedule a FREE giving day consultation.