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Stay relevant after elections with these 5 tips.

Nonprofits, social good, and politically affiliated organizations attract support in cycles. Charities earn most of their donations at the end of the end of the year, while political organizations attract the bulk of their support during election years. However, operations continue year-round and require year-round support. 

To fundraise smarter, create a sustainable base of supporters by staying in touch all year. Research shows that attracting new donors costs approximately ten times more than maintaining current ones. This means starting from scratch at the beginning of each election cycle hurts your organization’s fundraising efforts. It’s more cost-effective than letting supporter relationships slip.

This doesn’t just apply to donors. Whether they’re answering phones, researching potential donors, or canvasing the streets, volunteers help your organization function. Recruiting and training a new group every election cycle is a waste of time and resources. Manage and re-recruit past volunteers to build a knowledgeable base of advocates who can work on behalf of your organization during both on and off seasons. 

At Grassroots Unwired, we’re experts in helping grassroots nonprofit and political organizations make the most of their relationships with supporters. Our canvassing and event software solutions are all built around our belief that strong relationships are what drive powerful change.

To help you create and maintain these relationships year-round, we’ve compiled five tips for cultivating consistent support from both donors and volunteers:

  1. Keep Your Organization’s Website Up to Date
  2. Stay Active on Multiple Online Channels
  3. Empower Your Volunteers Through Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
  4. Create High Quality Branded Merchandise
  5. Offer Volunteers Resources and Opportunities all Year

Human resources are some of your organization’s greatest assets, and they often require the simplest maintenance. As we move forward in 2021, you can still make the most of our recent election year momentum. Build relationships with supporters and stay vigilant for opportunities to show your base that your mission never takes a break. 

1. Keep Your Organization’s Website Up to Date

Your website is the face of your organization. If your organization has a news page or blog, update it regularly, and if you don’t have a news page or blog, consider getting one. After elections, supporters’ attention can drift, but a steady posting schedule signals that your organization is active while also providing quality content to your supporters about your work. 

Even if news is slow, don’t neglect basic website maintenance. Here are a few ways to improve your visitors’ experience when they visit your homepage:

  1. Clear Navigation. Almost every nonprofit website has a few keypages: mission statement, contact information, and a donation form. Create obvious and easy-to-use menus so your supporters can find what they’re looking for in as few clicks as possible. 
  1. Fast Loading Times. Speed matters more than you think. 47% of people expect web pages to load in under two seconds. Ensure there is nothing slowing down your website. Uncompressed images and unnecessary link redirects are a few obvious suspects, and researching a caching method that works for your website can also reduce waiting times. 
  1. Mobile Adaptability. Make sure that your website will be viewable for your supporters to stay updated even when they’re away from their desktops. Minimize scrolling and design elements that may clutter the screen so key elements will be visible and easy to navigate to. 

If your website needs an update or more sophisticated features, consider hiring a consultant. Web design specialists will know how to create visuals for the web, and some even specialize in specific website types, such as website builders just for political campaigns. Do your research ahead of time to figure out what your organization needs and what service makes the most sense for your website. 

2. Stay Active on Multiple Online Channels

Technology is your best friend for keeping in touch with your supporters. Regular updates will keep your organization in the back of your supporters’ minds even when election season finishes and they aren’t actively participating in events, pitching in for your canvassing efforts, or otherwise engaging in person. Online communication is also a low-cost investment, meaning you can hit post or send to remind your supporters about your organization without breaking the bank. 

However, different supporters watch different platforms for activity, making it necessary to diversify your organization’s outreach approach. 

Social Media

While social media has a low bar to entry, don’t start posting without a strategy. Create a formal social media plan with a timeline of posts, an index of appropriate post types, and knowledge about what strategies work best on what websites. 

Not all social media is created equal. Many nonprofits use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay in touch with current supporters and attract new ones. Consider these suggestions for tailoring your content to the context of each platform:

  • Facebook. Almost all social media platforms prefer short form content, but if you do have a long story or report to share with your supporters, Facebook is the place to do it. You’ll still have limited time to convince someone scrolling through their feed to read your post, so consider starting off with an eye-catching header image. 
  • Twitter. With its strict word limit, Twitter is all about quick, snappy updates. Twitter also rewards interactive content that attracts responses, making it a good place to post supporter shoutouts or polls.
  • Instagram. If you have high-quality pictures of your work, put them on your Instagram. Take lots of pictures during busy times so you’ll have a pool to pull from during lulls in activity. Attractive graphic designs can also serve in a pinch. 

Invest in the platforms your supporters are already on. Volunteers advocating on behalf of your organization will likely use their social media as their main platforms. Even if you don’t have the time to devote to a comprehensive strategy, creating a semi-active account your volunteers can link to will make marketing outreach smoother on both your and their ends.  

Email

No matter what other approaches your organization is using, you’ll need email. Regular emails will keep you in contact with your supporters by delivering thank you messages, newsletters, and fundraising letters. 

You can improve your email strategies to build relationships with volunteers both when they are and aren’t actively working for your organization. Personalize emails to reference past and current projects your volunteers have worked on and never forget to address them by name. Small touches like these will let your volunteers know that your organization recognizes and appreciates their contributions, which might convince them to lend a hand the next time things get busy. 

3. Empower Your Volunteers Through Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

During election cycles, your organization and volunteers coordinate schedules to meet campaign targets. After election season, your volunteers might keep different hours than your organization. Encouraging your volunteers to advocate for your organization individually can lead to connections and marketing strategies unobtainable if you’re directing their every move. 

Establish guidelines for branding and appropriate messages, then let your volunteers speak directly with their friends, family, and social media followers about your organization. 

While face-to-face marketing currently isn’t practical, your volunteers can still make personal connections online. For example, Grassroots Unwired has virtual canvassing software for political campaigns. This lends itself to giving more independence to your volunteers by letting them log-in from anywhere and engage supporters in video chats at any time. If your organization specialized in canvassing, check out this guide for strategies to employ when election season starts up again. 

Keep track of your volunteer’s efforts through regular check-ins and software with real time reporting. This way your volunteers will customize their approach to advocating for your organization while also providing feedback around what is and isn’t working. 

Also, never forget to thank your volunteers for all their work!

4. Create High-Quality Branded Merchandise

Branded merchandise benefits both your organization and your supporters all year round. Your supporters get t-shirts and sweaters as additions to their wardrobes, and your organization gets free advertising whenever they wear your merchandise in public. 

Designing high-quality merchandise will also be worth it in the long run for everyone. Your supporters will use and wear products that last longer, giving them more opportunities to show them off. Creative designs attract more attention, and out of the box merchandise ideas can spark conversations that lead back to your organization and the work you do. 

Shop around before investing in a store or supplier. Some online stores offer more opportunities for different organizations. For example, some suppliers give discounts to nonprofits while others like Bonfire let political campaigns collect donor information during checkout. 

5. Offer Volunteers Resources and Opportunities all Year

While it’s unlikely you’ll always have active projects for volunteers, create online resources for volunteers to engage with to keep them interested in your organization during down periods. Find opportunities to create evergreen materials, content your volunteers can interact with at any time without ever being irrelevant. 

A few examples of evergreen content are:

  1. E-learning courses. Your volunteers are interested in your field, so give them opportunities to learn more. Some courses on how to be a better volunteer are always appropriate, but additional knowledge will give your volunteers a better understanding about the implications of their efforts, leading to more investment in your organization’s mission.
  2. Entertaining videos. If your organization has or plans to launch events that will result in funny or interesting videos, be sure to save the produced content and urge your supporters to share their creations with you. Compilations of past events are fun to rewatch and highly shareable.

Inspire loyalty in your volunteers by making them feel like they’re part of your organization no matter what time of year it is. Pointing them towards activities to keep them interested can inspire volunteer retention and allow your organization to build long-lasting relationships with a strong core of reliable supporters. 


While your organization has busy seasons, it should never have an off season. Retaining your volunteers and donors will always be easier than attracting entirely new ones. Keep the lines of communication open all year long, let your volunteers advocate on behalf of your organization, and always say thank you to all your supporters for sticking around. 

David in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In today’s society, digital communications have become the norm. This doesn’t mean that direct mail is dead! Nonprofits looking to stand out from their competition incorporate both virtual and direct mail marketing into their strategies. 

When you implement direct mail marketing, your team is sending a fundraising appeal to a potential or existing supporter’s mailbox. These are effective for asking for a donation, announcing an event, or reporting on progress toward your goal.

Our GivingMail nonprofit fundraising overview confirms that physical mail should be a main component of your multi-channel marketing strategy. The biggest benefit of sending a letter is the chance to motivate donors with a story about your cause. If your team is still on the fence about sending direct mail, consider the following facts:

  • Direct mail can have a median ROI of 29%. 
  • People remember print better than digital communications. 
  • Direct mail can be combined with digital strategies. 
  • 70% of donors feel more valued with direct mail. 

With this compelling information, your team has all of the right reasons to implement direct mail into your next fundraising strategy. Let’s dive in!

Direct mail can have a median ROI of 29%. (source)

Direct mail is absolutely worth it when you use it as a working part of a well-defined marketing strategy—especially when you consider it has one of the highest ROI of any fundraising channel..

Your ROI relies on the effectiveness of your messaging, so write your mailers with specific goals in mind. Think of how your wording can raise brand and campaign awareness. Try incorporating these tips into your writing:

Send it to the right people. 

Foremost, your letters should be going to the donor segments that are inclined to respond well to your letter. To start this process, you should segment your audience using your donor’s data, paying attention to those who want to receive direct mail vs. those who don’t. You don’t want to waste time and money sending materials to people who are not likely to engage with your appeal.

Hook your reader from the start. 

The opening lines of your fundraising letter will make the difference in whether it’s read or not. In choosing a hook, try catering to your reader’s interests and concerns. Use compelling language and create interest surrounding your topic. Depending on your mission, you’ll be able to open with a line such as:

  • A moving statistic
  • A call to action
  • A question
  • An anecdote

With these, you’ll grab your audience from the start, and increase the chances they’ll want to find out more about your cause and even contribute their own hard-earned dollars.

Speak directly to your reader. 

Focusing on your reader can help increase their likelihood to participate in your cause. Write directly to the recipient and explain why you’re choosing them to be your audience and how their participation can benefit them. Include details about volunteering and giving opportunities and how they can be the hero of your campaign. 

Effectively writing to your reader will involve including inclusive language such as “you”, or “our”. For example, write: “Your support has helped feed X families in need,” rather than “The organization has fed X families in need.” The personal approach is always the more effective option when calling readers to action.

End with a clear call to action. 

Make the point of your letter obvious to readers. Don’t be afraid of conversational calls to action, such as, “What does this mean for you?” or “Here’s how you can get involved.” They’ll feel inclined to help out, and it’ll feel natural and conversational rather than formal. Be sure to include resources for how to give and get involved, and offer a method of contact for questions and concerns they may have after reading your letter.

Speaking to your reader as though they’re the hero of your mission will go a long way in increasing your mail’s ROI. Be sure to make your hook and purpose clear to increased readership and success. For more information on writing for specific campaigns, check out this in-depth fundraising letters template library for your needs. 

People remember print better than digital communications. 

If you need another compelling reason to incorporate mailers into your communication strategy, consider that a study found recall for print advertisements is 70% higher than digital

This recall can benefit your organization by leveraging brand awareness in your community. When your readers recall your organization’s name or logo after seeing it in their mail, this creates an association in their mind. Then, when they see your logo or name as a sponsor of an event or on their social media feed, they’ll recognize you!

For example, if someone reads about your upcoming event in a mailer, then sees an advertisement for it on Facebook, they’ll be more likely to remember the event as they run across it later. This simple association can turn a reader into an active participant in your organization.

GivingMail’s guide to direct mail for nonprofit organizations further explains how to create a physical mailer that will efficiently stick in the minds of your readers. Remember, creating a lasting impression with your letter involves tactful visual components as well as effective wording. However, this doesn’t mean you should rely only on direct mail but rather that you should use it in support of your marketing strategy overall. 

Direct mail can be combined with digital strategies. 

As mentioned before, you can absolutely ask for donations with direct mail fundraising appeals. However, you should also combine your approach and support digital appeals with your direct mail for a well-rounded communication strategy.

In asking for donations in your campaign overall, have one streamlined call to action across every platform so as to not muddle your ask, as well as create a repetitive recall in your reader’s minds when they see your deliverables. This guide suggests  that you use a combination of platforms such as:

  • Email
  • Telemarketing
  • Social media platforms 
  • Websites

All in all, it’s a fantastic idea to support your digital fundraisers with direct mail marketing. And, in turn, to support your donation request letter with digital marketing strategies. This multi-channel approach will ensure more people read your message, increasing your impact. 

70% of donors feel more valued with direct mail. (source

Finally, when direct mail is done well with personalized introductions, well-constructed appeals, and information leveraged from your CRM, you have the potential to show that you care about your supporters for more than their wallets. This helps build your donor relationships and can result in higher donor retention rates. Here’s how:

  • People experience tons of digital marketing. However, the mail someone receives will be paid attention to, as they go through it on a daily basis. 
  • It’s more personalized. Sure, digital marketing costs money to run, but a physical mailer provides value as well. It communicates that the recipient is valued enough to be sent a physical item that costs your organization ink, paper, and postage.

You care about your supporters, and they’ll feel this sentiment when you go the extra mile to mail a letter to their home!


Direct mail surely isn’t dead. Your organization should take advantage of the benefits of sending a mailer. You’ll be sure to stand out from the clutter of digital promotions, effectively communicate your message in a personal way, and help supplement your overall marketing efforts. Get to writing, so that your mission can gain support in a whole new way!

David in Uncategorized | 0 comments

With people and organizations moving to the virtual landscape in the COVID era, there are new ways to empower and engage your supporters. Whether you’re looking to increase virtual event attendance or expand your volunteer base, developing a volunteer management strategy tailored to attracting online engagement is crucial.

In the digital age, effectively promoting your virtual fundraising opportunities is essential for mobilizing people to support your organization’s mission. 

Effectively managing your volunteers has a beneficial payoff for your organization. With a well-planned strategy comes increased engagement, meaningful relationships with your volunteers and community, and boosts to revenue over time. Plus, developing a strong plan will save your team time and expand your events’ turnout. 

Surprisingly, many growing organizations neglect developing a concrete promotional strategy for their volunteer programming. This component is often overlooked due to other priorities taking precedence. Some consider it to take too much time to address, or sometimes volunteer management is an issue not yet on their radar. However, remember that your organization can get ahead and grow your impact by making effective volunteer engagement and management a point of focus. 

Because virtual volunteering is at the forefront of an organization’s recruitment strategies and has staying power, it is a worthwhile endeavor. Digital platforms reach a broad audience regardless of location and can exponentially grow your organization’s reach. However, effectively promoting these opportunities is the challenge, as virtual volunteer involvement is still new for many supporters. 

Here’s what to consider when forming your strategy for promoting volunteer opportunities:

  • Using dedicated volunteer management software.
  • Tapping into the power of peer-to-peer recruiting.
  • Taking a targeted approach to marketing.
  • Promoting new ways for volunteers to grow their impact. 

This year, aim to seek out new ways for your organization to stand out online. Promote your organization’s opportunities strategically while forming meaningful connections with those who support you. Here’s how to promote your nonprofit’s virtual volunteering opportunities to your online audience of supporters. 

Use dedicated volunteer management software.

Anchoring your recruitment efforts with dedicated volunteer management software is a crucial aspect of your growth in the digital age. This software simplifies the management of those who volunteer with and support your mission. It will also provide invaluable data by tracking volunteer engagement. 

With this information, it’ll be easier to refine your marketing strategies over time by showing you what does and doesn’t work to attract and engage new volunteers. The long-term value of investing in management software is beneficial as it helps your organization increase volunteer engagement and retention to better support your cause.

For example, tracking engagement data can help you discover:

  • Which marketing outlets most effectively attract volunteers
  • Trends in volunteer feedback
  • Common characteristics of your most engaged volunteers

With these crucial metrics at your fingertips, your organization has untapped growth potential. Reading into trends and understanding behaviors will help you place your promotional efforts in the right place at the right time.

For instance, if you find that social media is your most effective source for volunteers for a particular type of virtual volunteer opportunity, you can anchor your future outreach strategies with social media. Or, if you find that volunteer sign-ups dropped for a recent event or campaign, you can look back to your marketing strategies to see exactly where your promotional efforts underperformed.

Tap into the power of peer-to-peer recruiting.

Your current volunteers are some of your most valuable assets when it comes to recruiting new volunteers. Provide them with the right tools to recruit volunteers to support your cause! Whether it’s on-the-ground or virtual support, every member is a crucial part of your organization and can act as a powerful ambassador when equipped for the job.

An effective way to gain traction with potential volunteers is through digital communication. This can take many forms on a variety of platforms. Encourage your volunteers to actively share their experiences on their social media platforms and by digital word of mouth; texting.

You want to ensure that your volunteers provide valid links to connect potential supporters with your online pages. Volunteer opportunity networks (like Mobilize) also help with this task too. It provides your volunteers with easy social share buttons and copy-and-paste codes to share via text or email. 

Be sure to include your organization’s social media handles as a point of contact, as well. Here, you might offer a range of engaging content:

  • Testimonials and stories from past volunteers
  • Impact reports and photos or videos of previous volunteer events
  • Volunteer shout-outs
  • The general buzz and conversation around your mission and work

Through social media, potential volunteers can get an accurate and immersive look into what it would be like to volunteer for your organization. Be sure to work these into your broader social media strategies to see the best results over time.

Finally, thank your volunteers for spreading the word. People respond well to appreciation and will be compelled to keep recruiting on your behalf. This directory of thank-you templates from Good United is a handy resource to get started. 

Take a targeted approach to marketing.

In the last year, marketing communication has shifted largely online, especially with people working from home. This sudden change forces nonprofits to rethink communication strategies, especially their approaches to marketing their events and efforts to their volunteers. 

Just as your organization has altered its strategy for communicating with employees internally, make sure your external communication to volunteers is also following today’s best practices. To stand out in a crowded online space, targeting your message specifically to them will be your best bet.

Start by refining your email strategies. With email being a cornerstone of digital communication, messages that seem irrelevant or spammy are much more likely to get ignored by your volunteers. Combat this by keeping your end-user in mind. Write your subject lines and openers to acknowledge that they’re people behind the screens, too. Rather than blasting general announcements about new opportunities to all of your supporters, take a more targeted approach when possible. 

There are helpful resources to refer to for tactful audience-centric messaging. This will help make your messages more effective and prevent them from feeling like generic or irrelevant appeals for support. 

These emails can be personalized by direct your users to the most relevant opportunities based on what you already know about them. An example of this could be tracking which types of opportunities a volunteer has engaged with in the past to promote specific future opportunities to them. This will further enhance their relationship with that supporter and encourage them to continue to support your cause.

This messaging practice can further be used to encourage non-volunteers to get involved. When someone donates to a particular campaign, consider how that campaign’s specific messaging and goals motivated them to give. What action words and attention grabbers did they use to reach the end goal of the user donating? Use those insights to determine which types of volunteer opportunities and messaging tactics will be most appealing to them.

Promote new ways for volunteers to grow their impact.

Giving current volunteers ways to grow their impact on your mission is another vital part of effective long-term volunteer management. When you’ve built strategies to retain volunteers over the long haul, also use them to attract new supporters. Beyond expanding your volunteer base, find creative ways to expand their opportunities with your organization. An investment in their engagement is a powerful motivator.

When you expand opportunities for your volunteers, it can look like a variety of methods. For example, you can provide current and potential volunteers with opportunities like:

  • Volunteer grants that can help them boost their impact on your mission through matched donations from their employers.
  • Training programs and additional development opportunities to learn new skills related to your work.
  • Special membership perks for stand-out members, such as long-term volunteers, and those who are proactive in recruiting new volunteers.

By offering ways for volunteers to grow their impact over time, you essentially give them a reason to stick around. In addition to simply offering a range of different volunteering opportunities, Tactics like these are key to engage and retain supporters over the long run, which is itself one of the best ways to market your programming to potential volunteers.

With new and effective methods to promote your organization’s virtual volunteer opportunities, you can grow your reach and impact. Digital platforms have taken precedent with volunteers and organizations alike to recruit, retain, and motivate volunteers. 


It’s crucial to remain at the forefront of effective volunteer management strategies. If strategic volunteer management is a new undertaking for your organization, brush up with Mobilize’s complete guide, which walks through even more marketing and recruiting tips.

Regardless of the exact tactics you roll out, the main idea is to come up with the best ways to effectively inform others of your opportunities, as you want to expand your reach as much as possible. Your organization’s online presence has the potential to reach a broad audience regardless of location. Your impact can grow in exponential ways as you deepen relationships with your supporters. 

Creating your strategy is as simple as using the right volunteer management software to expand your organization’s mission’s reach and impact. Be sure to supplement it with peer-to-peer recruiting and targeted messages. 

With the new year, there is ample opportunity for creative and practical ideas to bolster your digital presence. With this, your organization’s volunteer base will expand and further the impact you have in your community.

David in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Did you know that an average web user spends less than 15 seconds on a web page before they decide to stay or leave?

Nonprofit organizations and their websites are no strangers to this challenge. Getting people to find your website is difficult enough, but getting users and potential supporters to stick around and engage with your offerings is an additional obstacle that is imperative to tackle. 

With online fundraising becoming increasingly popular, your website is more important than ever for capturing leads, displaying engaging and relevant mission information, and facilitating gifts, volunteer activities, and fundraising events. In order to do all of that, you need to design your website in a way that increases site visit length. 

Whether you’re designing a brand new site or undergoing some much needed nonprofit website maintenance, doing everything you can to improve user experience is the key to success—both in fundraising and supporter engagements. This guide will walk through these website design tips to help you get started:

  1. Prioritize and update your content layout
  2. Improve the readability of your pages
  3. Add engaging graphics or images
  4. Incorporate interactive or clickable elements
  5. Optimize your most popular landing pages
  6. Incorporate internal links
  7. Show credibility

Ready to increase the site visit length for your nonprofit website? Let’s begin.

1. Prioritize and update your content layout

Your nonprofit website is likely the first place potential supporters will go to learn about your mission, recent accomplishments, and other information regarding your organization or sector. As soon as the prospect lands on your site, and depending on their goal with your organization, they’ll be looking for and expecting specific, up-to-date content.

For instance, let’s say they want to learn more about your mission and what your nonprofit does. They’ll want easy access to your Mission Statement, About Us, Recent Accomplishments, and News pages. 

On top of that, they’re going to want the most recent information available. If your last news article is dated in 2005, they’ll likely click away and just assume that your organization isn’t active anymore.

To keep them on your site, you need to not only prioritize the content you display, but ensure it is updated. Look at the above the fold area of your website for both mobile and desktop view. Because this is the first thing users see, that is where your most important content should be displayed. Make sure this is being updated as often as needed. 

From there, you also have to keep your website’s design simple with an easy to use navigation system. A good idea is to format your navigation menu so that it is at the top or the side of the page. This is the perfect place to include links to your most popular landing pages, including your online donation page, event calendar, and more. 

Another way to funnel users towards those pages is with prominent button or link calls to action (CTA). Taking insight from Kanopi’s article on content strategy, CTAs are tried and true methods of funnelling users towards their target action in a seamless way. 

2. Improve the readability of your pages

There are always those few outdated websites where the text is too small, the color contrast is not high enough, or the background image is too busy, compromising the readability of the page. 

Your website should be readable for everyone, no matter the device type or even their ability. Here are some general tips to follow:

  • Make sure the font is large enough for easy reading on your laptop or mobile device. However, don’t make the font so large that you force the user to unnecessarily scroll through the page. 
  • Break up large paragraphs into easy to read sections. Use bulleted lists and other formats with ample white space.
  • Ensure that background color and font-color are contrasted enough, with at least a contrast ratio of 4.5:1.
  • Have a team dedicated to spell checking and grammar review.

The above not only ensures that this is readable, but can also help when screen reader devices read the text out loud for those with visual impairments, improving your website’s accessibility. The better the words flow, the easier it is for those listening to understand and engage with the content.

3. Add engaging graphics or images

A large chunk of text is always intimidating. That’s why so many people simply skip the terms and conditions, hitting submit without even taking a closer look at the fine print. You do not want your own nonprofit website to fall into this trap. If a visitor clicks on your homepage and simply sees lines and lines of sentences, it is not the most engaging form of user experience. 

A great way to break up text is to add engaging graphics or images. Humans love looking at images, especially more than reading text. 

Before adding any images to your site, make sure to optimize them. High quality images will have a larger file size, which can also slow down your site speed. It’s worth it to compress them so that they don’t slow down your page load speed. 

On this same thought, that is also why having too many images can actually be detrimental. Having a healthy balance between text and graphics is key. 

4. Incorporate interactive or clickable elements

One key method of increasing site visit length as well as conversions for your nonprofit website is to incorporate interactive or clickable elements. 

For one thing, interactive elements capture the user’s attention and encourage them to stay on your site. This increases their usage of your site which can even lead to data that helps personalize and optimize your website. 

On the other hand, engaging and clickable content is just more fun. Users will remember your site and nonprofit mission better with this enjoyable experience as a core memory.

Incorporating interactive or clickable elements can be as simple as a slideshow of images that users can click through, or be a more engaging experience like a mini game or quiz. 

5. Optimize your most popular landing pages

For most websites, your homepage will be the most popular landing page and receive the most site visits. However, nonprofit organizations are unique in that there are a couple of other core landing pages that will be frequently visited and sought after by current and prospective supporters.

For instance, you should be improving the quality and value of these pages:

  • Online donation pageiATS Payments, a top payment processing tool dedicated to nonprofits, recommends leveraging the top of your online donation page, investing in a secure donation and payment tool, embedding your online donation form, optimizing the page for all devices, as well as other insightful tips. 
  • Event calendar or registration page — Ensure that supporters can click through different events to see which appeal to then, find out all essential information within that page, and even sign up for the event they want.
  • Volunteer opportunity page — If you offer volunteer opportunities, it’s a good idea to provide search and filter options so that users can easily find the opportunities that match up with their skills and interests. 

Optimizing your most popular landing pages ensures that users are having the best experience and can lead to more conversions depending on what the page’s purpose is. 

6. Incorporate internal links

An easy way to keep people on your site is to simply incorporate more internal links. This means linking to appropriate landing pages to leverage key conversion opportunities as well as linking to blog posts or other news articles throughout the site.

You should make it a habit to ensure that each article and page on your site has plenty of internal links. This is in fact the best way to get people to visit those pages and can help reduce your bounce rate, which is the rate of how often people enter your site and then leave without exploring further.

Incorporating internal links can also improve your site’s SEO (or search engine optimization), but only if you’re linking to valuable content. Putting internal links just for the sake of it won’t do much, but with some careful thought and consideration, it can not only encourage visitors to continue engaging with you, but also bring up the overall value of the website. 

7. Show credibility

As soon as someone lands on your site, they’ll likely be looking for reasons to trust or not trust it. Websites with less content or an outdated design is enough to turn your most passionate supporters away. No one wants to risk their data being hacked.

With this in mind, showing credibility is a basic method of establishing that trust with supporters. For instance, adding photos of real people who have been impacted by your organization can make your site appear more trustworthy. 

Here are some other quick ways to show credibility:

  • Linking to social profiles
  • Adding trust markers like BBB ratings, awards, certifications, and more
  • Include bios and pictures for your staff members

If you want to increase your online presence and digital fundraising, establishing trust with your supporters is key. One data breach or online hack can damage your reputation for years. To ensure that their website is up to standards, many nonprofit leaders will even turn to tech consultants for help

Wrapping Up

Your website is the online face and virtual office front for your nonprofit and mission. Doing everything you can to keep users engaging with it is essential if you want to increase your online fundraising and further develop those important relationships. Use the above tips to ensure your website is as prepared as it can be for the new year. Good luck!


AUTHOR: ANNE STEFANYK

As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne helps create clarity around project needs, and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions.

Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her thoughtful web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew.

https://twitter.com/Anne_Kanopi

https://www.drupal.org/u/annabella

https://www.linkedin.com/in/annestefanyk/

Guest Blogger in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Virtual Events: 5 Tips You Haven't Thought Of

If you’re like other nonprofits, you’ve probably incorporated virtual events into your organization’s strategy this year. Due to the wide-spread social distancing guidelines, virtual aspects of nonprofits’ strategies have become more prominent and popular throughout the year. While organizations may have been shifting towards more virtual activities anyway, the pandemic guidelines dramatically accelerated the popularity. 

However, because the shift was accelerated so suddenly, many organizations didn’t execute the move to an entirely digitally-focused strategic plan as smoothly as they could’ve done. There were plenty of missed opportunities to get supporters more involved and plenty of room for improvement in future virtual events. 

Whether your nonprofit is planning your first virtual event or you’re just trying to make your next one better than your last, this guide is written for you. 

The way you plan and organize your virtual event is key to gaining traction, getting supporters more involved, raising more funds, and ultimately reaching your goals for the event. In this guide, we’ll cover some tried-and-true tips that you may not have considered when planning your virtual event. Specifically, we’ll cover the following suggestions: 

  1. Decide what you want to accomplish.
  2. Plan ahead and choose a virtual platform. 
  3. Test all of your software. 
  4. Encourage attendees to engage with one another. 
  5. Follow up in a timely manner. 

Ready to get started planning your next event? Let’s dive in. 

1. Decide what you want to accomplish.

When you plan your in-person fundraising events, you expect to accomplish certain goals. Before you start planning, you’d likely decide which of the goals is most important to your organization and make it your main focus for the event. 

Virtual events are the same way! You shouldn’t just throw together a virtual event because it’s what everyone else is doing or because you’ve always had an annual event in the past. Instead, make sure your event has a targeted purpose and that you have effectively planned to see that purpose fulfilled. 

For example, let’s consider a local dog shelter. In the past, they may have hosted an annual adoption event where their main goal is to encourage families to adopt pets. However, secondary goals for the event may have been to raise funds, and increase community awareness. When pivoting to a virtual event, this animal shelter should be sure to keep those same goals in mind and incorporate elements that will accomplish the same purpose. They may: 

  • Include an online adoption board so that virtual attendees can read profiles on the dogs that need to find new homes. They may also host live feeds of puppies playing with one another or push notifications that highlight individual dogs to draw the attention of the audience. This helps fulfill their goal of adoption at the event. 
  • Provide virtual fundraising opportunities. Simply by incorporating a text-to-give platform or an easily accessible online donation page, the dog shelter can easily make fundraising available online. Be sure to set a specific fundraising goal and incorporate a fundraising thermometer to encourage people to give. This helps fulfill the fundraising goal. 
  • Spread the word about the event on various platforms. By marketing the virtual event on social media, on your website, by phone, by word of mouth, and using other communication platforms, the organization can easily tell the community about the event. Without flyers and in-person communication, they should be sure to amp up the virtual marketing to spread awareness. This helps fulfill the goal of increasing community awareness. 

In this example, the dog shelter should ensure they prioritize their goals before diving into how they’ll incorporate them into the virtual event. For your own virtual event, be sure to determine your own goals beforehand, and then prioritize them accordingly. 

Key Takeaway: List out all of the goals and objectives that you want to see from your virtual event, then order them by importance. Your top one will be your main goal for the event, keep this in mind when planning the rest of the event. 

2. Plan ahead and choose a virtual platform.

Now that you’ve identified your primary and secondary goals for your virtual event, it’s time that you brainstorm how you’ll meet those goals. While you should make sure you accomplish the same goals that you would meet at an in-person event, you won’t necessarily accomplish them in the same way. 

Rather, you need to adapt to the virtual environment. Bloomerang’s list of virtual fundraising ideas represents some of the diversity you’ll find in the types of events available to your organization. The type of event you choose to host should reflect your goals for the event and guide the virtual platforms you’ll need. Consider, for instance, the following two organizations: 

A small food bank wants to spread awareness about food insecurity in the community. In order to raise awareness and educate the community about the issues, the food bank decides to host an educational event. They need to invest in registration software so that people can register for the event online. However, they’ll also need video conferencing software for live speeches from experts in the community and forum software to create discussions between attendees. This event will become slightly more complicated and require a number of solutions to accomplish the goals of the food bank. 

A homeless shelter wants to raise funds to purchase clothing for men and women in the community. For this type of virtual event, the goal is a bit easier to achieve with fewer solutions. The shelter might pre-record videos and write social media posts that will display the need in the community. Then, for the duration of the event, they’ll send and post these resources to their supporters. They may also decide to incorporate a product fundraiser where supporters can purchase t-shirts for themselves while simultaneously purchasing one for a homeless man or woman in the community. 

As you’re considering the plans for your event and purchasing the appropriate software to make it happen, be sure to carefully research each solution. The last thing you want is a data breach at your nonprofit

Start your research to choose the best software solutions with resources like software referral lists and reviews to help indicate the top solutions. Be sure to also consider the platform’s other clientele (are there other nonprofits of a similar size and mission?) and what aspects of your goals will be achieved with the investment. 

Key Takeaway: Create plans for your virtual event and identify the software solutions you’ll need to achieve those plans. When you go to invest in new software, look for solutions that combine some of the tools that you (or integrate with one another) need so that you can streamline event activities and collection of event data. 

3. Test all of your software. 

Before the event begins, your nonprofit should make sure that everything works seamlessly for your attendees. Once you’ve found the best solutions, you should test them multiple times to ensure they’ll work the day of the event. 

Run through the event activities yourself and make sure everything is functional. Look specifically to make sure that: 

  • Payment processing is functional for ticketing, donating, and purchasing merchandise items. 
  • All transitions from one event activity to another are intuitive and easily recognizable by event attendees. 
  • Forum discussions and questions are available to attendees and notifications are functional. 
  • Live streaming visuals are high quality and the sound is functional. 

After you’ve tested your software yourself, ask a third-party (volunteer or co-worker) to also run through and test it. They’ll be able to identify comprehension issues that you might overlook and identify opportunities to make the event more intuitive. 

Key Takeaway: Act like an event participant and walk through each step of the event. Purchase a ticket, donate a dollar, post to discussion boards, and watch the various video collateral. Then, ask someone else to do the same thing before the event starts. Be sure to also create a contingency plan for if something becomes dysfunctional during the event itself.

4. Encourage attendees to engage with one another. 

During in-person events, supporters and attendees are able to mingle amongst themselves. They may discuss the event, your organization, or otherwise develop connections that help create an aspect of community within your organization’s support base. 

To encourage this networking and mingling at your virtual event, you need to create and encourage opportunities where attendees can communicate and engage with one another. For example, you might decide to: 

  • Enable chat functionality. Ask questions that will lead to effective discussion between attendees. For instance, you might make a statement then ask if they agree or disagree and why. Try gamifying these opportunities to encourage more people to participate. You might offer bronze, silver, and gold virtual badges depending on the number of times an attendee posts to discussion forums. 
  • Encourage breakout sessions. After informational sessions or educational videos, encourage attendees to join breakout groups where they have a list of set discussion questions that they can use to guide conversation. This encourages interaction between supporters and continuous engagement throughout the event itself.
  • Create social media groups. Social media is a resource that almost everyone can use to network because almost everyone has an account! Encourage attendees to join a Facebook group where they’re allowed to ask questions, share insights, and otherwise connect with one another. 

Consider a virtual gala as an example. In an in-person gala event, the mingling tends to happen at different tables while there might be an ongoing auction in the background. Similarly, you can host a virtual silent auction in the background of an online gala, but you’ll need some specialized tools to do so. 

According to Snowball’s virtual auction guide, it’s challenging to keep supporters engaged if they’re simultaneously checking their item bids and listening to your keynote speaker. To combat this, consider enabling bidding notifications so that supporters always know when they’re outbid. This allows them to pay attention to speakers and other event activities. 

Key Takeaway: Consider your own virtual event plans. Is there a natural place to incorporate community interaction? Ask yourself, “as an attendee, how would I want to get in touch with others?” Then, incorporate those opportunities in your own virtual event plans. 

5. Follow up in a timely manner. 

This tip is probably one that you’ve heard before. It’s a vital step when it comes to any nonprofit event plans, especially when you plan or pivot for the virtual sphere. A timely follow-up is key if you want to express appreciation for the attendee’s participation and invite them to continue engaging with your mission.

When you follow up after a virtual event, get the most out of it! Your supporters are probably expecting a thank-you, but they may also be open to other ways to get involved after having a wonderful time at your event. Try incorporating strategies like: 

  • Specifically explaining the impact they had at the event. You might say, “The For-the-Kids virtual event raised over $100,000 this year! Your donation of $100 was key to help us achieve this goal, which will provide medical resources for over 500 kids in the community.” Impact statements like this will help your organization put the thank-you in terms of what has been accomplished. 
  • Provide social media calls-to-action or email subscription options. After sharing their impact, simply ask your event attendees to continue following the story of your organization by keeping in contact with you. This allows them to see any upcoming opportunities you provide and allows them to continue direct interaction with your organization after they receive the email follow-up. 
  • Ask for feedback on the virtual event itself. You will probably need to plan another virtual event in the near future. Therefore, make sure your event planning process is as effective as possible by optimizing it based on the feedback provided by supporters. Send out a short survey to the attendees at your event asking them how they enjoyed the opportunity and if they have any recommendations to make it better in the future. This can also help you determine if the tools and virtual solutions you invested in are doing their job. It also allows your most engaged supporters to make themselves apparent.

By providing an immediate action that your supporters can take after the event, it ensures their engagement with your organization doesn’t end with the event itself. Use your follow-up message as an opportunity to say “thank you” and to further engagement with your supporters. 

Key Takeaway: Draft your follow-up message for your attendees and be sure to encourage them to continue engaging with your mission after the event ends. 


Virtual events are the new norm in the nonprofit world of today. By planning effectively and providing plenty of opportunity for engagement, your organization will be able to reach all of your goals effectively. 

Incorporate these tips into your event planning now. In the future, virtual events won’t go away. Be sure you have the best steps to plan and execute these events so that you can use them both during the pandemic and beyond.

This article was contributed by our friends at Bloomerang.

Author: Steven Shattuck
Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang

This article was contributed by Steven Shattuck, chief engagement officer at Bloomerang.

Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang and Executive Director of Launch Cause. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven is a contributor to “Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition” and volunteers his time on the Project Work Group of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member.

Jamie Angle in Uncategorized | 0 comments

There are plenty of benefits to using nonprofit management software.

The new year is off and running, which for many of us means it’s time to take stock of what’s working and what’s not in our personal and professional lives. It’s a time to reflect, evaluate, and make changes to start 2021 off on the right foot.

That means it’s the perfect time to reevaluate your nonprofit’s operations and donor management strategies. Are they running as smoothly as possible? Are you doing everything you can to maximize virtual fundraising, boost engagement, and further your cause? 

If you’re still sending out email blasts manually, using clunky spreadsheets for donor information, and handing out hard copy volunteer sign-up forms, the answer is definitely no. There’s a better way, one that lets you focus more on your mission, not administrative tasks by using a nonprofit database or constituent relationship management (CRM) system.

Here at Lumaverse, we empower nonprofits to maximize their impact by streamlining formerly tedious and time-consuming administrative duties. The Lumaverse comprehensive CRM for nonprofits—and others like it—allow you to get the most out of your donor data, manage your volunteers like a pro, and launch virtual fundraising campaigns with the push of a button—so you can spend more time doing what really matters. 

So what’s holding you back? Leave messy, incompatible management methods in 2020 and consider making the leap to a single, integrated software system to manage your nonprofit’s relationships. In this article, we’ll go through 3 of the top benefits of making this change: 

  1. Smarter fundraising 
  2. Streamlined volunteer management 
  3. Improved communication with supporters 

Since we’ve all made the shift to virtual-only engagement in the past year, the need for and the benefits of professional-grade software for your nonprofit have only increased. Keep reading to find out what it could do for your organization. 

1. Smarter fundraising

Nonprofit management software gives you access to valuable data analysis tools so you can raise more money. How does it work? Integrations between your platforms allows data to flow from your donation forms, sign-ups, and subscriptions right to your donor database. While manual imports from other platforms are possible, integrations ensure the data is automatically reported, accurate, and up-to-date. 

As the data continuously imports, you’ll be able to analyze information on your current and past donors, which enables you to: 

  • Develop donor profiles to store engagement and data information
  • Segment your donor base by particular characteristics or engagement markers
  • Tailor your fundraising efforts to those specific segments

Let’s break those down. 

As your supporters engage with your organization in various ways—for example, subscribing to your newsletter, donating to your crowdfunding campaign, or volunteering at an event—this information is added to the supporter’s profile. And—and this is key—supporter information is stored and managed in one holistic CRM, not separate databases for members, volunteers, and donors. That gives you a better understanding of how the same person might be interacting with your organization as a member, donor, and/or volunteer. And ultimately, this gives you better insight into what motivates people to donate to your cause.

Donor profiles make it easy to track and analyze your relationships with individual donors. As you keep adding more data to your CRM over time, you’ll be able to generate insights about who your donors are, what motivates them to give, and how you can best grow your relationships with them. 

Segmentation of your donor base saves your organization time by isolating certain commonalities among donors and grouping them based on these characteristics. For example, you could segment your donor base by:

  • Preferred communication method 
  • Event attendance 
  • Volunteer history 
  • Recurring donations 
  • Age brackets
  • Giving capacity 

Segmenting your donors by specific engagement markers like these then allows you to tailor your fundraising efforts to a particular audience. Your nonprofit will avoid spending time and money broadcasting messages to extremely wide audiences, not all of which will be responsive to them. You’ll have better success rates on the personalized campaigns you do launch.  

For instance, if you’re promoting your next campaign or event via direct mail, your CRM should make it easy to segment your donors by their historical responsiveness to this outreach tactic. Focusing your direct mail efforts on this segment saves you time and money, and it boosts the chances that more of your recipients will actually engage with your letter. Then, you can explore other donor segments and communication outlets to ensure thorough but more targeted coverage.

2. Streamlined volunteer management 

Volunteers are a vital part of any nonprofit’s base of supporters. Think of all the tasks, big and small, that might get left on the back burner for weeks—even months!—without the generous help of your supporters who donate their time to your cause. They’re an essential part of what keeps your nonprofit up and running, and as such, it should be a priority to keep them happy and engaged. 

After all, if your volunteers have positive experiences with your organization, they’re likely to engage further and even spread the word about your mission to their friends. Keeping volunteers happy is an investment for the future of your organization—as volunteers become more loyal over time,  they’re more likely to devote more of their resources to you as they mature. 

For example, a young volunteer might volunteer an hour a day, but as she gets older, makes more money, and has more time, maybe she chooses to donate to your organization because she has a history with you. Or maybe she stops volunteering at other organizations and focuses more on yours because you actually thank her, remind her of her upcoming activities, and make it easy to work with you. 

 But if the volunteer sign-up process is confusing, or a volunteer shows up early to box food for your food drive only to be told their shift was accidentally double-booked…that likely won’t be happening. 

Using dedicated volunteer management tools and sign-up software to help track and facilitate your interactions with volunteers will help you avoid these kinds of issues. With volunteer signup tools like SignUpGenius, volunteers sign up for a shift online, data automatically syncs with your calendar, and the software handles volunteer communications like confirmation and reminder emails. 

It’s a win-win: your volunteers’ experience is easy, intuitive, and clear, and you’ll always know if you have enough support at any given event. 

Plus, when your volunteer management and registration tools integrate with your CRM, all that engagement data will seamlessly report to your donor database. That makes it easy to keep track of engagement for future campaigns and reference it when you’re planning a volunteer appreciation activity or event. 

3. Improved communication with supporters 

One of the most important aspects of donor acquisition and retention is communication. If you’re not talking to your donors, odds are they’re not thinking about your organization. That means less engagement and fewer donations. Plus, if you’re not regularly  thanking them for their engagement, they’re likely to feel unappreciated. 

With dedicated donor management software, you can stay on top of virtual fundraising campaigns and send fundraising emails to a specific segment of your donor base. That way, you don’t have to spend hours sifting through contact information and typing in email addresses. You can draft a single email to send to a certain segment of your audience, check a box, and send it off to just that segment, allowing for maximum personalization. 

Messages that feel personal—that recognize something more unique about that specific person, like that they’ve donated before, or they attended your last event—are more likely to connect with the recipient and result in engagement. One of the most fundamental ways to do this is to greet each donor by name in your emails, rather than using a generic greeting. Email tools that integrate with your CRM should be able to easily pull and automatically populate names into your messages.

The time you save from automating the bulk of your thank-you messages could be spent by further personalizing thank-you messages to your top donors, like signing their letters by hand or even calling them to express your gratitude. 

Software also drastically simplifies thanking your supporters and following up over time. It’s easy to set up automated confirmation emails in response to any donation, as well as thank-you emails customized for the type of donation, whether it was a win at a virtual auction, a donation to your virtual fundraiser, or a recurring contribution. 

Thanking your donors and volunteers promptly and genuinely will help you secure long-term support for your cause. Don’t let it fall through the cracks because of poor organization and system incompatibility. 


So what’s the end goal of nonprofit management software? The most immediate benefit is getting the administrative or repetitive manual tasks out of the way so you and your staff can focus on the important work to further your cause. Manual data entry is not the best way to be spending anyone’s time. Instead of pushing information around on spreadsheets, you could be designing your next fundraiser or brainstorming volunteer appreciation ideas to increase engagement

That may sound obvious, but there are reasons organizations hold onto old, inefficient systems: they’ve been in place forever; they’re familiar; it’s perceived as a stress to change systems. While upgrading to professional-grade software is an important investment, working with a unified software system saves you time, boosts results, and helps you more easily identify shortcomings.

Ultimately, you’ll free up time for what really matters: your mission, the people you help, and the community that depends on you. Good luck! 

Guest Blogger in Digital Campaigns, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Your nonprofit's brand identity can help it achieve its mission.

If you were asked to articulate what the term “brand” truly means, how would you answer the question?

Would you choose:

  1. An organization’s logo, fonts, and colors,
  2. The overall graphic design and tone used by an organization,
  3. The essence, soul, or intangible personality of an organization,
  4. The idea held by everyone aware of the organization, or
  5. All of the above

Hopefully, it doesn’t come as a shock to you that the correct answer would be E, all of the above. In our consumer culture, we constantly see brands working to establish their identities and raise awareness of their products and services. But what about brands who aren’t selling anything?

Nonprofit organizations can also reap the benefits of brand building. By cultivating a powerful brand, nonprofits can generate support for their missions, increase fundraising, and foster connections with their communities. 

At Eleven Fifty Seven, we help nonprofits and other organizations bring their brand identities to life, whether through a show-stopping donor wall concept or a broader branded physical environment. Based on our work designing and building branded experiences, we’ve compiled this guide to help you understand the basic principles of building a distinctive nonprofit brand. We’ll cover topics including the following:

  • Benefits of brand development for nonprofits
  • Basic elements of a nonprofit brand
  • Where to implement your brand for maximum impact

Your nonprofit’s brand is a worthy investment of time and resources. When cultivated with intention and used throughout your work, it can be a powerful force to drive your mission forward. Let’s dive in.

Benefits of Brand Development

Before we dive into the logistics of creating and leveraging your brand, it’s important to cover why a strong brand is so critical to the success of a nonprofit.

People interact with brands on a daily basis. In fact, you probably encounter some element of branding during nearly every moment of your day! To stand out in the competition for attention, your nonprofit must establish itself as unique, memorable, and trustworthy.

Some of the most successful nonprofits have very distinctive visual brands and messaging strategies. When considering the top 100 largest nonprofits, you can probably recall the logo or tagline for quite a few groups. 

While it’s easy to call out prominent national brands like Goodwill and Girl Scouts, it’s not only enterprise-level nonprofits who can take advantage of brand power. Branding can also be used by regional and local organizations to build their reputations and connect with the local and  surrounding community.

The advantages of a strong brand can be enjoyed by nonprofits of any size. These advantages include the following: 

  • Create awareness for your cause. An eye-catching brand will help your nonprofit reach a wider audience and generate increased awareness for your mission.
  • Build emotional ties with supporters. When donors can understand the values, ideas, and even the personality associated with your nonprofit, they’ll be able to connect with your cause on a deeper level. 
  • Increase fundraising potential. The above benefits lead to a higher number of highly engaged donors, so building your brand is simply a smart fundraising strategy. A unified brand also helps to create clearer and more cohesive messaging that will resonate with prospective donors.

With a compelling brand, your nonprofit is better-equipped to acquire more donors, fundraise more effectively, and drive your mission forward. With that in mind, let’s explore what elements are important to consider when creating your brand.

Basic Elements of a Nonprofit Brand

While the graphic design components of your nonprofit’s brand are important, these visual elements don’t tell the whole story. Your brand encapsulates the essence of your entire organization. 

As you start conceptualizing your brand, think about what story you want to tell as well as how the story will resonate with your target audience. Then, use the building blocks of your brand to convey that narrative and drive your mission forward.

Consider the following visual and thematic elements that comprise your nonprofit’s overall brand:

  • Logo. Your logo is a cornerstone of your visual brand. It should be memorable and align with the rest of your brand elements. 
  • Colors and typography. This is likely the first place you turn when determining the rest of your graphic elements. Choose colors and typefaces that reflect the spirit of your organization and will look aesthetically appealing in a variety of formats.
  • Tone. What’s the personality behind your nonprofit? Is your voice more serious or more playful? How do you refer to your donors and beneficiaries?
  • Imagery. Besides your logo, you may have other key images like a mascot. Consider the graphic style of any icons you want to fold into your brand as well as the filters applied to photographs.
  • Messaging. How do you talk about your mission? 
  • Text style. Do you follow AP Style or another set of grammar conventions? What’s your stance on the Oxford comma? What’s the proper usage and capitalization of your named programs and campaigns?

While this isn’t a comprehensive list, it should jump-start your thinking on the wide variety of items that go into your organization’s brand. By putting thought into each of these elements from the beginning, you’ll have something to reference when creating future marketing collateral or fundraising appeals. This will ensure all of your work stays consistent and on-brand. New brand considerations may arise as time goes on, but this way you won’t have to continually reinvent the wheel.

As you make all of these decisions, they should be documented in your formal brand guidelines, also known as a brand kit. Make sure these guidelines and graphic assets are accessible to all team members and that there’s a version you can distribute externally when necessary.

Where to Implement Your Brand

Communications

Your communications with external audiences should always be in line with your established brand guidelines. By staying consistent and on-message, you’ll foster a more memorable and trustworthy identity for your supporters.

These communication platforms likely include:

  • Email appeals and newsletters
  • Social media profiles and posts
  • Printed materials such as direct mail, brochures, or flyers
  • Formal documentation like your annual report

While it’s not recommended to replicate identical messaging across a variety of content channels, sticking to a set of brand guidelines facilitates consistent messaging while enabling some flexibility. 

By adhering to your brand across these communication channels, you ensure that each aspect of your broader nonprofit marketing strategy aligns with your organizational goals.

Your nonprofit’s website

Your nonprofit’s website should feature your brand front and center. Every page on your website likely includes your nonprofit’s logo, color, and typography already, but don’t forget to incorporate the more thematic elements of your brand as well.

According to Kanopi Studios, the best nonprofit websites will tell a story of strength and hope. Part of the way to create this narrative is by incorporating the existing mission-related messaging that you defined as part of your brand kit.

Physical items

Placing your brand on physical products unlocks a few powerful benefits. First, your supporters can integrate your brand into their daily lives, show off their affiliation with your peers, and feel more connected to your work. Additionally, this creates increased brand awareness for your organization. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

In the Eleven Fifty Seven guide to donor recognition, we list a few examples of physical tokens of appreciation that range from simple keychains and mugs to high-quality silk and leather goods. If you decide to send out donor thank-you gifts, be sure to clearly delineate which items correspond to which giving levels so you can keep the program consistent.

In addition to working effectively for one-time gifts, branded products are also a perfect way to acknowledge the recurring generosity of supporters who participate in your nonprofit membership program if you have one. 

Your events

If you host a big annual fundraiser, a recurring event, or any kind of one-time event, make sure it aligns with your broader nonprofit brand. Incorporate your nonprofit’s visual identity and messaging throughout the marketing materials and on event day itself.

If you’re hosting a virtual or hybrid event, the hosting platform you choose may be able to include elements of your brand throughout the digital infrastructure.

Your facility

Your nonprofit’s physical space is a blank canvas that you can use to bring your brand to life. By leveraging the power of environmental branding, your organization can create memorable experiences for visitors and strengthen your identity.

This space could include a classic display like a donor recognition wall or focus more broadly on your organization’s mission and values. Graphic elements, text, photographs, and architectural components will come together to create an eye-catching space.

To create an powerful branded environment, look for a design and build partner who will collaborate with your team and prioritize your strategic vision. When crafted with intention, a branded environment is more than just a display of your logo and colors—it’s a representation of your story and your mission.


Your nonprofit’s brand is one of your most critical assets in connecting with supporters. Make sure you’ve invested time and thought into each aspect of your brand, then implement that brand wherever possible throughout your work. By doing so, you raise awareness of your organization and help the world remember what you stand for. Good luck!

This post was contributed by Derrick Spitler at Eleven Fifty Seven.

Derrick has been referred to as a connoisseur, marketing guru and even a prodigy. He began his career with Eleven Fifty Seven as an intern during the Summer of 2019. Since then, Derrick has graduated from The Ohio State University and has joined the team full time working in marketing and business development. He has grown to love the not-for-profit world by seeing the impact made possible through philanthropy.

Guest Blogger in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Initially, you may think that simply asking your donors to support your cause will be enough to reach your fundraising goals. However, in order to truly maximize your fundraising efforts and better engage with the individuals who help fund your mission, direct mail marketing is an immensely transformative option. 

Direct mail appeals are the backbone of communication and fundraising for most nonprofits in the US, and it can be a great way to engage with supporters in a more personal way.

Overall, direct mail is a tried and true method of fundraising for nonprofit organizations, but if you’re still on the fence, here are three reasons to include direct mail in your marketing strategy: 

  1. It has a high ROI for your marketing dollars
  2. It provides an opportunity for powerful storytelling
  3. It pairs well with fundraising opportunities

Now, let’s get into those convincing reasons why you should include direct mail in your fundraising strategy. 

1. Direct mail has a high ROI for your marketing dollars

To put things is in perspective, if you implement direct mail into your campaign strategy, you typically yield a 28% higher conversion rate than a single fundraising channel alone. Direct mail has one of the highest ROI as compared to any other fundraising channels. Therefore, you shouldn’t be hesitant in your choice to implement direct mail strategies because the money you spend on marketing will be made back multiple times over in fundraising revenue. 

In addition to a higher ROI, if executed successfully, direct mail accounts for over 90% of direct response revenue to charities. Furthermore, direct mail’s ability for personalization has the potential to draw your donors in like never before. With more engagement from your donors through direct mail, your marketing campaigns have the potential to garner long-term support and a higher ROI in the long run. 

Overall, direct mail is one of the most transformational tools to implement into your marketing campaign. If you feel that your nonprofit doesn’t have the funds to utilize direct mail, be sure to carefully look over your budget plan for your nonprofit and make note of areas you can reallocate to your marketing dollars. All in all, direct mail is actually an immensely cost-effective strategy that will pay for itself if executed successfully. 

2. Direct mail provides an opportunity for powerful storytelling

As mentioned prior, direct mail provides for more opportunities to personalize your tasks. One way to create a personal and engaging ask is by incorporating storytelling strategies into your fundraising campaign. Stories appeal to the emotional quotient of your members by giving them more to grasp, rather than just a piece of mail. After all, people remember stories way more than they remember facts and figures.

There are many ways to tell a story that effectively appeals to your audience. One way to do so is simply by sharing the history of your nonprofit organization. For example, you can touch on things like the overall brand story, your personal influence behind your nonprofit, and constituent stories that showcase how transformative your organization is. 

Just make sure that when you do share constituent, case studies, and other success stories, you do so in a way that is well-thought-out and ethical. For example, ethical stories take the protagonist’s feelings into consideration, shape the stories in a way that maintains dignity and respect, and does so in a transparent and honest way. 

3. Direct mail pairs well with fundraising opportunities

Not only is direct mail a powerful marketing and fundraising strategy on its own, but it also pairs well with a number of other digital and face-to-face methods as well.

In this case, incorporating a multichannel approach leads to more touchpoints overall. And with more touchpoints, comes more donations! Furthermore, incorporating a multichannel approach will lead to a higher engagement overall between campaigns. This occurs because more channels lead to more encounters with your supporters on multiple platforms. After all, if your donors think about your organization more often, they will likely want to donate more frequently and more generously. 

One example of incorporating direct mail with other channels includes bringing more traffic to your website, alongside your direct mail campaign. To do this, integrate your direct mail and digital strategies by including the URL or QR code driving donors to your online donation page in your direct mailings. Or, you can even include your dedicated mobile giving number and specific trigger words so that donors can quickly and easily text in their gifts!


All in all, direct mail is an immensely transformative tool to implement within your marketing strategy. When you integrate this powerful channel alongside your current marketing strategy, you get to reap benefits such as an increased ROI, powerful storytelling opportunities, and integrated fundraising campaigns. Good luck!

This guest post was contributed by Grant Cobb at GivingMail.

Grant Cobb is a fundraising specialist with over 6 years experience in the nonprofit space. Currently the head of marketing and analytics at GivingMail, he is a huge proponent of data-driven decision making and the push to bring high-level analytics and fundraising to all.

Guest Blogger in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Marketing a virtual nonprofit event is essential for generating the revenue and engagement you need!

2020 proved what we’ve known for a long time – nonprofits are resilient. Virtual events have been an effective option for nonprofits of all sizes for a year that looked very different from others. As we hit the ground running in 2021, virtual events can and should play central roles in your engagement strategies.

Unlike the lesson from “Field of Dreams,” just because a virtual event is built, doesn’t mean that contributors will come or that donations will flood in. To get the word out in today’s virtual world, you have to invest as much into your marketing efforts as you do to your fundraising!

To get the most from your fundraising, your virtual event needs to be marketed effectively before, during, and even after. 

There are a few reasons why this is true. Marketing provides you with an excellent chance to engage with the larger community and your supporters. Also, marketing informs people about what you do, your mission story, and over time, it helps to build your brand awareness. Let’s get started on 3 amazing marketing tips essential to planning and promoting your next virtual event:

  • Recruit ambassadors to help spread the word.
  • Centralize the virtual event experience.
  • Target your messages to particular donor segments.
Recruit ambassadors to help promote your virtual fundraising event.

1. Recruit ambassadors to help spread the word.

If you’re looking for a creative way to generate excitement for your event and reach new donors, we’ve got the perfect strategy for your nonprofit: Ambassador Fundraising.

This new trend harnesses ambassadors, or your most loyal supporters, to spread the word about your virtual event and fundraise before, during, and sometimes after.

Think of it as creating a fundraising army, whose built-in social and professional networks allow you to engage and funnel new volunteers, donors, and activists to your cause. But for it to be successful, you need to choose the right ambassadors for your cause.

Good places to look for ambassadors include:

  •  Board members: Board members are natural ambassadors. They are already committed and dedicated to the success of your nonprofit. They often have large professional networks, making them perfect social fundraisers. Engage them at a new level and watch their contacts turn into participants for your event.
  • Event committee: The people working on the event itself are passionate about the outcome! Tap the most dedicated committee members to become your ambassadors.
  • Volunteers: Volunteers are another reliable source for ambassadors, since they are deeply involved with your cause. They are used to giving their time and talent to your efforts. Target your most active and generous volunteers and ask them to join your ambassador campaign.
  • Micro-Influencers on social media: This is a great place to look if you’re just starting your ambassador program. Look for local personalities with a large network and an active social media presence.
  • Sponsor connections: Ask your sponsors and long-times community partners if they know of potential ambassadors. Call in those favors you have stored up to get great ambassadors working for your team.
  • Honorees at your signature event: Honorees are well-respected members of the community, which makes them the perfect supporters to raise donations before the gala.

Once you find the right ambassadors, the next step is to set them up for success! Outline clear goals, provide the right marketing assets, and let your ambassadors loose. Watch as their new network brings new attendees and donations to your virtual event.

Centralize the virtual event experience to simplify the process of promoting it.

2. Centralize the virtual event experience.

The world of fundraising has changed. Virtual events mean trading ballrooms for family rooms, stages for screens, and in-person entertainment for a new level of online engagement.

Successfully marketing your virtual event depends on your ability to reach and engage donors through a seamless donor experience. That’s why it’s essential to centralize the virtual event experience for your attendees – a one stop shop for them to support your mission virtually.

Tapping into the power of a tool like the OneCause Virtual Event Center takes the virtual experience to the next level. For your nonprofit, it means a centralized destination to point supporters towards with your marketing efforts. For your supporters, it means the ability to:

  • Engage with the event using a single device (mobile, tablet or desktop)
  • Register to effortlessly gain access to the virtual event
  • Consume content before, during, and after the virtual event
  • Explore why supporting the mission of the Nonprofit matters
  • Donate through traditional means (e.g. fund-a-need, live appeal)
  • Bid effortlessly in silent and live auctions without leaving the broadcast (i.e. live stream)
  • Purchase raffle tickets and other fixed price options

Centralizing your attendee’s virtual event experience means a more intuitive user experience during the event, resulting in boosted engagement and revenue.

Creating that sense of a giving community before, during, and after the virtual event – and delivering a delightful, online experience anytime, anywhere – is critical to fundraising success in this new virtual world. By centralizing these efforts, marketing your event is as easy as ever.

Target your promotional messages to specific segments of your donor  base.

3. Target your messages to particular donor segments.

Data is the key to unlocking your virtual event marketing potential! It allows you to engage better with donors and grow at scale (while still being personalized). By targeting your marketing messages to specific donor segments, you can boost engagement and registrations for your virtual event.

How you decide to segment your donors depends on the needs of your organization. Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can segment your donors to help make sure you are connecting with donors where they are.

  • How your donors were acquired
  • Size of gift
  • First time versus returning donor
  • One-time gift versus recurring donations
  • Age/demographics
  • Donor interest

You can even target the way your donors have engaged with your events. For example:

  • New donors who haven’t attended an event before
  • Loyal donors who used to attend events but haven’t virtually yet
  • Lapsed donors who haven’t donated in a while but need to be re-engaged

Figure out what will help you scale your virtual event fundraising while also keeping a personal touch to your efforts and roll with it!

After figuring out how you’re going to segment your donors, the next step is to create marketing messages tailored to their particular motivators. For example, donors who haven’t yet attended virtual events should be clearly shown how your virtual event will work and that your past virtual events have been enjoyable experiences for attendees and impactful for your cause.

Think about taking a multi-channel marketing approach to reaching these segments. Multi-channel marketing refers to using a variety of mediums to spread the word about your event in advance. Reaching a wide audience can be a difficult task. The best way to do so is to diversify your communications!

Use marketing channels such as:

  • Email newsletters
  • Social media networks
  • Text messages
  • Video marketing
  • Direct mail
  • Print handouts
  • Bulletin boards

A tactful multi-channel strategy is key to attaining maximum engagement with your event. But don’t try to do it all at once! Choose 2-3 tactics that work best for your team and your mission and focus your attention there.

Conclusion

In order to cultivate better relationships with your supporters, your organization should be consistent in its outreach, communications, and engagement. A strong marketing strategy for your virtual event will give you what you need to grab and maintain donors’ attention from a distance.

Guest Blogger in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Tailoring the Proposal

There’s a saying in the world of grant seeking: “If you’ve met one funder, you’ve met one funder.”


Part of what makes grant-seeking challenging is that every funder wants something different. The essence of what they want is the same—what do you propose to do, what difference will it make, and where do we, the funder, fit in?—but the narrative configurations, space limits, and formats in which they want this information varies greatly.


This means there is no one-size-fits-all approach to requesting grant dollars. To stand a chance of cutting through the competition and getting a grant, it is necessary to tailor a proposal to each funder.


There are two levels of tailoring a grant application: first, tailoring the format to meet every specification of the application guidelines and process. And secondly, tailoring the message to the unique interests and priorities of the funder.

Tailoring the Format


Completing a grant application can feel like a game of jumping through hoops. You may need to squeeze complex answers into painfully few characters…provide letters of support, a logic model, and executive summary…then mail it to the funder, three-copies-double-spaced-paper-clipped-not-stapled.

Coming across a grantmaker with no specified format can feel like a dream, especially since they can be far and few between. Following strict application, instructions is a reality of grant seeking.

Keep in mind that you have choices. If a funder’s specifications strike you as too onerous or time-consuming, step back and weigh whether it’s worth the time and risk to apply. Sometimes, it’s reasonable to calculate that the opportunity cost of applying to a funder exceeds the potential gain.

If you decide to go for it, commit to making sure that your application follows every guideline and instruction. Don’t be tempted to believe that your organization’s relationship to the funder is so solid, or your program so unique, that you can cut corners. Not following directions could land your application straight in the reject pile.

Tailoring the Message


It’s not enough just to adhere to instructions and fit your standard narrative into a funder’s format. Writing a truly compelling proposal requires tailoring your content and message too.


What’s important to keep in mind is that funders don’t exist to fund your organization’s mission. They exist to fulfill their own missions by investing in organizations and projects that bring their priorities and beliefs alive in the world. Grantmakers are looking for proposals that they can take to their boards of trustees and say: “This—this project, this idea—is what we are looking to accomplish.”


Tailoring content to a grantmaker doesn’t mean you should distort the truth, alter your deliverables, or design a project just to please a funder. Rather, it is the work of good writing to consider the reader’s point of view (in this case, the funder’s mission and interests) and to place emphasis on aspects that will excite and activate what the reader cares most about.


Following below are four practical tips for tailoring the message of the proposal to the funder:

Align


Before you write, think. As part of your pre-writing process, brainstorm the unique alignment between your organization’s mission, or the project you’re proposing, and the mission and interests of that funder. This means you should find different alignment for the same project with different funders.


For example, for a proposal written by a food pantry about its community food distribution service:


To a funder whose primary interest is the well-being of children, the alignment is in showing how distributing food benefits families and, ultimately, children. The proposal might emphasize stories about families or highlight statistics about child hunger.


To a funder whose primary interest is ending poverty, the alignment is in showing how addressing food insecurity helps lift people out of poverty. The proposal might include evidence about how this has worked in other communities.

Activate


Once you’ve identified this alignment, articulate it in key places of the application, especially the cover letter and introductory and concluding sections of the narrative. You may literally refer to the funder (e.g. “Like the XYZ Foundation, the ABC Organization believes that no child in our community should be hungry…”) or you may not name them, but “speak to their mission” by using words and ideas that match or imitate the funder’s own word choices and priorities.

Acknowledge


Demonstrate that the grantee understands and appreciates the funder’s vision by acknowledging their leadership and impact. For example: “The ABC Organization is deeply grateful that the XYZ Foundation has been a champion for improving access to healthy, fresh food in Cleveland’s inner city neighborhoods.” Showing gratitude can go a long way.

Attribute


Literally, write the funder into the solution that you propose to help them envision your partnership. Attribute future success to them, should they decide to invest in your organization, in key places of the document: “With generous funding from the XYZ Foundation, ABC Organization will ensure that these children start the school day with a hot, nutritious meal so that they can learn and grow towards better futures.”
Tailoring your proposal format and message is the first step in showing a funder that your organization can be trusted and counted on—and put you one step closer to getting the grant.

Convey the Core Compelling Idea

While facts, figures, data and details are necessary to strengthen a grant proposal, they alone don’t win the grant. What can set your proposal apart is a clear, compelling, and unifying narrative thread that makes clear to the reader how your organization’s work is important, urgent, unique, and deserving of funding.

Keep it Simple

In the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, authors Chip and Dan Heath discuss ideas that manage to stick with the reader. By “sticky,” they write, “we mean that your ideas are understood and remembered, and have a lasting impact—they change your audience’s opinions or behavior.”


The Heath brothers explain that making an idea “stick” starts with keeping it simple, according to this formula:

Simple = Core + Compact
Core: Hone in on the core concept
Compact: Succinctly communicate this core concept

How is this practical in the context of grant writing? Can a grant writer deliver a succinct, simple, core idea when a grant proposal demands so much information?

Make it Memorable

The answer is that a grant writer not only can, but really must, anchor a grant proposal around a core compelling idea to stand a better chance of cutting through the competition for grants.


Consider how the funding process works in many foundations: the program officer reviewing your proposal is also reviewing many others, all that are stuffed with large amounts of information. She or he is responsible to boil down the main ideas of each proposal, to summarize what’s most important for a board of trustees who will decide on funding.


The program officer will likely forget the specific facts and figures they read in your proposal, but what they’re more likely to remember is a sticky core idea. An hour after reading, what is the bottom-line impression or message that you want him or her to remember?

Distinguish What’s Unique

The executive director of the Hunger Network was challenged to demonstrate to funders the organization’s unique contributions as compared to the region’s flagship food bank.


With help from Grants Plus, she hit upon the core compelling idea that sets the Hunger Network apart:


While the food bank is the region’s largest distributor of food, by managing the volunteers who operate area food pantries, the Hunger Network is the region’s nourisher of people. Food awaiting distribution in a box or on a shelf does not feed a community. It is in transferring food to hungry people that it becomes nourishment.


This concept isn’t complicated—rather, it’s because the idea is intentionally simple but powerful that it calls the reader’s attention and is likely to stay in their mind.


That’s just the effect that the Hunger Network’s grant proposals suddenly had on funders, the executive director explained: “The response I was getting from program officers was ‘Oh—now I get it.’”

Work Your Core

The core compelling idea should be distinguishable as the core of every grant proposal you write. When you step back from the details, what will stay with the reader?


Think of the core compelling idea as the overarching theme of your grant application that conveys how your organization makes a powerful difference and what sets it apart. It is the answer to why the funder should want to fund your request, so that through their investment they can see their own mission come alive in the world.


A core compelling idea has these qualities:

  • It is tailored to the funder: Start with recognizing what matters to the funder. Your core compelling idea should vary from one application to another based on the priorities of the specific foundation. Imagine you are a food pantry preparing two grant applications. The first funder’s key concern is child hunger. The second funder’s interest is improving academic outcomes. Your description of your organization and programs will likely be very much the same between the two proposals. But the core compelling idea the proposal is anchored around will be different: for the first funder it should be centered on ending child hunger, and for the second it should make the link between food access and education.
  • It’s simple: A core compelling idea is compact—think around 25 words. A sticky idea starts with being simple. In the example above, about the food pantry applying to the funder concerned with academics, a simple and compact core compelling idea might be: “A child who is hungry at home is a child likely to struggle at school.”
  • It’s declarative: There’s an emphatic energy to the core compelling idea. It shouldn’t just summarize, but declare something of interest and confidently convey a point of view—fitting, since after all, a grant proposal should be a persuasive document.
  • It’s bold: There may be an element of surprise or the unexpected, even a flair for the dramatic, that captures the reader’s attention.
  • It gets repeated: By reinforcing the core compelling idea in different words and different places throughout the proposal, the concept is more likely to stay with the reader. The grant writer of the hypothetical proposal about hunger and academics would want to reiterate in several places why hungry children struggle to learn and how providing access to food can improve academic outcomes.

A core compelling idea is not your organization’s mission statement or a description of what your organization needs. It is a bold and compact statement that declares what’s most important about your organization or project, and is repeated for emphasis throughout the proposal.


Don’t leave it to a busy program officer to deduce and later recall what’s most important from your proposal. Make his or her job easier, and your own chances of funding greater, by making sure your proposal is one that sings clear and true with an unmistakable and unforgettable compelling idea at its core.

This article was contributed by Lauren Steiner, President of Grants Plus

Lauren Steiner is the president and founder of Grants Plus, a national leader in grant seeking consulting. Grants Plus has secured more than $165 million in grant funding for nonprofit organizations around the country since 2007. Under her leadership the company has received many awards for growth and innovation including a 2016 Smart Business: Progressive Organization Award, and a 2016 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award from the American Psychological Association.

Lauren is past president of the Grant Professionals Association Ohio–Northern Chapter as well as an active member and former board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Cleveland Chapter. She was awarded AFP Greater Cleveland’s Outstanding Fundraising Professional award in 2017. She is an active member of the Giving Institute and serves on the editorial review board for Giving USA. Lauren teaches a graduate-level course in philanthropy at the Mandel School of Applied Social Science at Case Western Reserve University.

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