As a nonprofit professional, you have a lot to juggle: administrative tasks, event planning, fundraising asks, and more. But there’s an important component of your team that helps you push through these challenges and raise your level of success.

These are your volunteers.

Your volunteers make up the backbone of your organization. Without their help, many smaller (but still important!) tasks would be delayed or go unfinished altogether, which could significantly slow down your team’s progress. That’s why prioritizing volunteer engagement is essential. So what’s the best way to keep your volunteers engaged? Communication.

Effective volunteer communication keeps the wheels of your organization turning and ensures volunteers are up-to-date with what needs to be done. That’s why we’ve outlined our top strategies for mastering volunteer communications at your nonprofit:

  1. Make use of social media and email.
  2. Leverage your website.
  3. Make a good first impression.
  4. Regularly check in.
  5. Keep your volunteers updated.
  6. Segment your communications.

Keep your wheels turning and your volunteers engaged with the right kind of communication strategy. Let’s get started.

1. Make use of social media and email.

As you prepare to reach out to both potential and current volunteers, there are two top channels to consider: social media and email. Through social media, you can recruit volunteers, and through email, you can keep them directly updated.

But those are just a few of the benefits of using these channels. Let’s dive more specifically into each so you can get the most out of them.

Social Media

Social media can be used to share your recruitment message, but it’s essential that you don’t just post and walk away. According to the InitLive volunteer management guide, it’s helpful to craft a formal social media campaign. This campaign should outline what your message is and include content that is meaningful to your supporters.

Here are some tips as you prepare to engage with your audience:

  • Be brief. Shorter posts get straight to the point and are easier for readers to digest. This will encourage more engagement from your supporters.
  • Don’t feel the need to post all the time. While regular updates are important, you don’t always need to post multiple times a day. In fact, posting too often might turn off some readers.
  • Post new information. Share content that might not be found on your website or blog, which will add value to the post. For example, offer early access to new opportunities or highlight some of your standout volunteers!

As you share your content, make your recruitment link available on your specific posts and in your page description. Then, you should see more volunteers signing up!


Email is also an important element of volunteer communications. Email not only helps recruit new volunteers, but it also serves as a way to keep your current group of volunteers updated (more on that later!).

Use email outreach to give past volunteers exclusive access to your available volunteer positions. You can even encourage them to share volunteer opportunities with their circle of friends, or offer a referral gift as an additional incentive to get the word out.

There are many ways both social media and email outreach can contribute to a solid volunteer communication strategy. Start by sharing meaningful but relevant content that will boost recruitment numbers, and you’ll be on your way to even more engagement.

2. Leverage your website.

Your website is typically the very first place potential volunteers will go to find out about opportunities with your organization. That’s why you should always keep this information up-to-date, especially if you want to recruit successful volunteers.

Your website will allow you to:

  • Post new volunteer opportunities
  • Offer supporters an easy way to sign up for those opportunities
  • Promote your overall mission

When your website prominently features your organization’s mission and includes clear calls-to-action (CTAs), this will make it easy for supporters to navigate their way to your volunteer opportunities and registration. Even more, a clear and intuitive website will ensure that your volunteers have a basic understanding of your goals and what you need from them.

Once you’ve optimized your website to communicate what it is you need from your volunteers, you’ll be in a better position to communicate with them going forward.

3. Make a good first impression.

Volunteers come to your organization because they believe in your mission. That’s why you should take the time to get to know them, to determine the specific appeal that brought them there and help them learn more.

This starts with your registration process. Use volunteer management software that creates an easy sign-up process and helps you sift through each individual’s information to assign them the best possible fit.

This applies whether you’re organizing an event and need to staff it, or you need people to help with data entry. It’s important to find out what skills your volunteers have and what they would enjoy.

When you clearly communicate with your volunteers and understand what is important to them, you’ll pave the way for a good first impression, happier volunteers, and more work that gets done.

4. Regularly check in.

Even after you’ve successfully recruited volunteers and everything seems to be running smoothly, effective communication doesn’t end there. It’s essential that you regularly check in with your volunteers to keep the engagement going.

For example, you can ask:

  • About any challenges that might have come up
  • If they’re enjoying their role
  • If they’d like to try something else to continue or deepen their involvement

Regular check-ins also include recognition. While it’s probably true that your volunteers aren’t doing this specifically for the glory, it’s important to recognize your volunteers to keep them motivated and ensure they feel appreciated.

Look for ways to communicate your appreciation through social media, email blasts, and even through features on your website. Personalize individual outreach as you say thank you and demonstrate the impact your volunteers have made on your overall goals, whether it relates to fundraising, events, or other tasks. If you’re looking for examples of emails that say thanks, check out these templates, which can be adapted to suit any type of supporter.

Case in point: Regularly keeping up with and recognizing your volunteers will help push your organization closer to achieving its mission. Be sure to openly communicate with them to recognize them for a job well done and make sure they feel fulfilled in their role.

5. Keep your volunteers updated.

Something that’s occasionally overlooked is the idea that volunteers should be treated the same way as your nonprofit’s employees. They offer value, just as your staff does. For that reason, volunteers should know about changes in the organization just like employees do.

Keep volunteers informed and let them know about important developments or challenges that have come up at your nonprofit. In turn, this will help raise engagement and make these individuals feel valued.

You can do this by:

  • Inviting volunteers to certain staff meetings
  • Including them in staff email correspondence
  • Communicating key changes that affect their volunteer positions

The more you involve your volunteers in developments at your nonprofit, the more they’ll feel valued and like they’re a part of your team. This can lead to longer-term engagement and retention, and can also help you build stronger relationships with your volunteers as supporters of your organization.

6. Segment your communications.

We’ve talked about how it’s important to communicate with your volunteers in general and keep them in the loop. However, sometimes certain pieces of information don’t apply to all of your volunteers.

Our last crucial tip for communicating with volunteers at your organization is to segment your communications. InitLive’s volunteer engagement guide notes that sending out irrelevant communications to volunteers will waste their time and lead to frustration.

Just as you would tailor your communications to donors in order to maintain a high donor retention rate, you should also segment your communications for different volunteers so they receive information that’s relevant to them. That way, you won’t waste their time with details that don’t apply to their role or shifts.

In order to do this, consider using a volunteer management solution that helps keep your volunteers updated with automated notifications that apply specifically to them. This way, you’ll be able to keep your volunteers informed, but they won’t need to read every single scheduling issue or other memos that have come up from another team.

The more you respect your volunteers’ time, the more they’ll respect your organization and want to stay involved.

Your volunteers help your organization stay on its feet and keep your day-to-day operations running smoothly. That’s why they deserve to be treated as an essential part of your team, and why communicating with them is so important. Once you’ve mastered your communication strategy with your volunteers, they’ll keep coming back to help you reach your goals.

Be sure to keep these tactics in mind as you build up your volunteer base and continue serving your mission. Best of luck!

Sam in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Here's how to create engaging e-learning for your nonprofit's volunteers.

This guest post was contributed by Amy Morrisey, President of Artisan E-Learning.

You’ve just unveiled a new volunteer training e-learning course. The content is based on the in-person training you used before your volunteer workforce moved to home offices and you had to create an effective learning experience while keeping people safe. All is well… until you receive the first batch of feedback from volunteers taking the course.

In that feedback? A high percentage of learners quit the course halfway through, and an even higher percentage received subpar scores on the assessments—clearly indicating they’re unprepared to be passionate ambassadors for your cause.

You were hoping for a high-quality, e-learning course, but your volunteers have tuned-out the experience. Easily a worst-case scenario! So, what can you incorporate into your e-learning courses to prevent this from happening in the future?

Let’s walk through three volunteer training scenarios you may encounter and how you can create engaging e-learning to keep supporters of all types returning.

Scenario 1) You’re preparing volunteers for their first day on the job.

If you’re a nonprofit volunteer coordinator now, you’ve surely been a first-time volunteer at some point in your philanthropic career. So, let’s flash back to your first day on the job.

Were you nervous? Excited? We’d guess a combination of both.

The first day volunteering at an organization is full of new things—new experiences, people, and tasks. It always seems to feel like everyone around you is already up to speed, right? It’s that first day of school feeling, and the faster you can learn the ropes, the better.

Flash forward to your position now, at the other end of this interaction. You want volunteers to learn as much as possible in preparation for their first day, to make sure they’re ready to tackle essential tasks effectively. This is where e-learning comes into play as the solution to reach both your goals and your volunteers’ goals.

With initial volunteer training, you have to cover a massive amount of new information to prepare them for the job. But, you don’t want to overwhelm them and have them disengage from the material as a result. Here are a few tips to create e-learning that’s valuable for first-time volunteers and accomplishes your goals:

  • Avoid information overload. While you may see your nonprofit’s history as valuable, an in-depth history lesson may take up too much space in your volunteers’ already overloaded brains. Focus on information that’s actionable and directly valuable for volunteers, and consider using images of your team at work to tell a compelling (but brief!) story of your history.
  • Cover a variety of volunteer opportunities. Give volunteers a good look at the many positions available to them, so they can discover which area of your organization they’re most interested in working with. Consider using microlearning courses to highlight each unique opportunity.

The goal here is to cover a ton of information for learners while also remaining interesting. Don’t slap a textbook in their hands (or even a long brochure). Use these tips and they’ll come back after the first day as a volunteer!

Scenario 2) You’re tasking volunteers with a complicated but essential task.

Now, consider your progression after that first day of volunteering. As one volunteer shift became two, your first month became your second, and so on… your return was rewarded by an increase in opportunities. But of course, volunteering at a nonprofit isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. For every exciting, constituent-facing task is a less exciting, perhaps even complicated, filing task.

As you continued volunteering, you gained access to more and more of the nonprofit’s operations. You became more essential to their efforts and carried more responsibilities. But, you also learned the hard lesson that sometimes, volunteering for a nonprofit can be dull, complicated, and carry a large learning curve.

Clearly, you overcame these obstacles. And now you can help your volunteers do the same. They’ll continue building their knowledge and adding value to your organization.

Here are a few tips to make a complicated, and perhaps even boring, topic engaging in an e-learning course:

  • Find creative ways to display less-than-exciting content. Ditch the droning webinar and voiceover in favor of something more engaging. Live-action videos, simulations—you name it; get creative! And remember, you can always work with an e-learning content development consultant to assist if you’re struggling to do so.
  • Have learners practice challenging skills. Consider using e-learning games that encourage volunteers to practice through repetition. They can make mistakes and learn from them, without the consequences of slipping up on the job!
  • Use examples to convey complicated topics. Don’t just tell a volunteer what to do—show them. Let’s say they’re learning how to check in individuals at a disaster shelter. Don’t list the steps. Walk them through an example of checking in a family (give the family members names!) and have them learn by doing.

Think of it this way: your nonprofit is incredibly intentional with the stories it shares externally to be both ethical and effective. You should be just as intentional with the stories you share internally—including how you present training to existing volunteers. This isn’t the time to get complacent because they’re already returning regularly. Continue to engage them with valuable content.

Scenario 3) You’re training volunteers with diverse backgrounds.

Lastly, we need to acknowledge the nonprofits that are operating here, there, and everywhere around the globe. If your nonprofit is working with volunteers that speak a variety of languages and are from diverse cultures, this section is for you.

If you’re welcoming volunteers whose native language is something other than English, it’s up to you to create e-learning courses that are accessible for all. Here are a few tips we’ve found for engaging e-learning across cultures:

  • Translate your e-learning courses. If you work at a U.S. based nonprofit but you’re welcoming volunteers from other countries, avoid creating content that caters to a U.S. view. Translate your content to be in the learner’s native language and consider working with a narrator that speaks in an accent familiar to the learner.
  • Provide any information about your location’s culture. Specifically, focus on where your nonprofit’s culture differs from the learner’s. What do volunteers need to know to be successful when giving their time with your organization?
  • Use immersive scenarios. Consider taking things a step further by walking volunteers through a day in the job at the new location, via a scenario.

With these strategies, you’ll provide the needed training to all volunteers, regardless of the language spoken. 

To wrap up, we know that volunteers who tune training out will be ill prepared and unlikely to give their time in the future. Whether you’re conducting onboarding, elevating volunteers’ skills with complicated tasks, or working with supporters from diverse backgrounds—it’s up to you to prepare them with engaging courses.

Use these tips to create courses that keep your volunteers engaged for the duration. And, if you need help implementing them, consider bringing on an e-learning content development firm to help you do so.

Amy Morrisey is the president of Artisan E-Learning.

Amy Morrisey is the President of Artisan E-Learning and serves as Sales & Marketing Manager. Amy started with Artisan as a contract writer/instructional designer. She was our Production Manager for four years and helped the team to double its capacity. As President, she stays focused on maintaining the high standards our clients have grown to expect. She believes that staying close to our clients, our people, and our work is a smart way to do that. One of her favorite things to do in the e-learning world is jump in with a client to write a storyboard that is creative and application-based. Before working with Artisan, Amy spent 17 years in corporate training and development predominantly teaching leadership development and coaching teams and executives. She currently serves on the board of ATD Detroit.

Emma in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This year, the term “virtual fundraising” became a hot topic for nonprofit professionals everywhere. While online giving was on the rise even before 2020, it wasn’t until this year that virtual fundraising became the rule rather than the exception.

Since stay-at-home orders were first put in place, your team has likely learned a lot about how to pursue your mission in a remote landscape. Your team has launched virtual events, engaged with donors online, and continued to raise needed funds.

But in some cases, it’s possible that you’re relying on band aid fixes or a disconnected network of tools that you’re already starting to outgrow. As we approach a new year, it’s a good opportunity to revisit your virtual fundraising strategy and make improvements.  

To reach your online fundraising goals in 2021, your nonprofit must leverage powerful tools and engagement data throughout every aspect of your strategy. 

At SalsaLabs, we empower nonprofit professionals with software solutions for smarter fundraising, data management, and donor engagement. Based on some of the strategies we’ve seen work well throughout the challenges of COVID-19, we’ve compiled a list of recommendations to elevate your upcoming fundraising efforts:

  1. Use data to better inform your campaigns.
  2. Send targeted communications to supporters.
  3. Utilize marketing automation tools.
  4. Choose unified CRM and fundraising software.

Just because 2020 is almost over doesn’t mean the need for virtual fundraising is going anywhere. Even once in-person interactions are safe again, nonprofits will likely continue to employ virtual engagement tactics because they are so cost-effective, efficient, and widely accessible to supporters. 

With all of these potential benefits, it’s clear why your virtual fundraising strategy needs to be in tip-top shape. Now, let’s dive into how you can make those improvements.

1. Use data to better inform your campaigns.

At the heart of any successful fundraising campaign should be a strong understanding of two main things: your supporters and your past campaigns. 

When you capture, record, and use this relevant and highly informative data, you’ll be better able to plan and execute any fundraiser.

This way, you can make plans based on real knowledge of what will resonate with your supporters rather than on assumptions. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of stereotypes like “older supporters don’t understand social media” and “Millennials can’t stand phone calls,” but these cliches don’t reflect the uniqueness of your supporter base. 

Analyze your existing supporter data and past campaign information to consider questions such as:

  • What types of marketing tend to lead to more first-time engagements? For instance, are you more likely to get more new donors via Google ads or social media?
  • What leads to the highest engagement among your existing supporters?
  • In which ways do your donors prefer to give?
  • When is the best time to send emails or post on social media?

To know the answers to these questions, you need to be recording various metrics-based goals like click-through rate, dollars donated, number of new supporters, and more. When possible, try to track these metrics for different groups of supporters, such as by age group. This will help you determine how, when, and where to tell your story in a way that will resonate most effectively with your target audience.

According to AccuData’s guide to data marketing, data-driven campaigns have up to 5 times the ROI, so this practice is sure to pay off with more revenue for your mission. 

2. Send targeted communications to supporters.

The ability to quickly send a generic email to a mass amount of subscribers is both the beauty and downfall of email.

We’ve likely all received the standard “Dear friend” end-of-year email from a nonprofit. With a line like, “Whether you volunteered with us, donated, or attended an event, we’re grateful for your support,” it’s clear that the organization has no clue who is on the receiving end of the message! This kind of mass email is better than no thank-you at all, but it misses a valuable opportunity to connect more deeply with recipients.

Instead, with segmentation and personalization technology, you’ll be able to send emails that are more relevant and impactful to groups and individuals.

First, creating segments of supporters allows you to address groups based on a particular characteristic. You might choose to create segments based on the following criteria:

  • Engagement type (donor, volunteer, event attendee, peer-to-peer fundraiser)
  • Donation type (major donor, recurring, first-time, year-end)
  • Demographic characteristics (age ranges, location-based, income levels)
  • Interests (loves animals, interest in politics)

These are just a few examples to get you started. You can also create a custom segment based on criteria relevant to your nonprofit. For example, if you work at an animal shelter, you may consider creating segments for whether your supporters are cat people or dog people. Then, when you send your appeal emails, you’ll be able to tug at their heartstrings with the right kind of ask. 

In addition to sending emails that are tailored to different groups, you can also customize the content of the email to each individual. Some email marketing platforms allow you to use data fields to automatically pull data from your CRM and incorporate it into your outgoing emails. 

You could incorporate personalization into your email communications through the following strategies:

  • Tailoring the donation request. Use past data like a recent gift and wealth information to inform your next suggested gift amount. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming more prevalent in donation software and can also automate the task of creating smart ask amounts for your appeals.
  • Using personalized data. Incorporating the supporter’s name, previous gifts or actions, or other details for a personal touch.

Studies have shown that segmentation and personalization can lead to a 760% increase in revenue for email marketers. To take advantage of this, be sure to find an email marketing platform that integrates seamlessly with your donor database.

3. Utilize marketing automation tools.

Once you have an informed, segmented marketing strategy in place, you can rely on automation tools to efficiently drive your efforts forward.

While automation won’t independently drive your marketing strategy to success, it can help to streamline your approach and save time for your team. Automation allows you to reach the right supporter, at the right time, with the right message—without anyone needing to hover over the send button.

Marketing automation is particularly helpful for moving a supporter through a dedicated email pipeline towards a target action (often called a drip email campaign). To give you a better understanding of how this might work at your nonprofit, let’s consider the following two example scenarios.

  1. Sarah signs up for your nonprofit’s newsletter. Over the coming weeks, she receives a “Welcome” series of emails at a pre-specified cadence that include information about your work and mission. The emails stop when Sarah completes the target action of making a donation.
  2. Jackson makes a first-time donation through your online giving page. Your matching gift software finds Jackson’s employer on a list of companies. Jackson receives a series of emails explaining how and why to submit a matching gift request, which stop when the match is secured.

While these target actions are both revenue-based, you can use marketing automation to promote any kind of engagement. For instance, you may want to encourage volunteer sign-ups or advertise registration for your upcoming virtual event.

For nonprofits, automation helps decrease staff time spent on marketing tasks and increases your team’s overall efficiency. Using your limited resources wisely can make a big difference in the success of your campaigns.

4. Choose unified CRM and fundraising software.

While all of the above strategies are helpful, they may be challenging or even impossible without the right technology on your side.

For the most successful virtual fundraising, you’ll want to implement software solutions that integrate with your CRM. You can also opt for a fundraising and CRM suite like Salsa’s donor management software and engagement platform that are built to function together. 

Without a connected system, you may have to rely on manual data entry or spreadsheet imports. Not only does this eat up a lot of valuable time, but it also opens the door for costly errors or omissions. 

Instead, a unified system allows you to trust that all of your supporter interactions and other data are in one place. The ability to see a big-picture overview will help your nonprofit learn more about its supporters, increase engagement, and raise more from your community.

A comprehensive tech stack will transform your virtual fundraising efforts across the board, but to demonstrate just one area of impact, we’ll explore the potential benefits for a peer-to-peer fundraiser. A comprehensive suite of nonprofit tech can:

  • Identify highly-engaged supporters, long-time donors and ambassadors, and invite them to participate with personalized outreach.
  • Send automated coaching emails to targeted groups of participants based on real-time fundraising progress.
  • Sync participant data with existing supporter records in your CRM. 
  • Follow up with new donors to share your gratitude and introduce them to your cause.

As this guide to peer-to-peer fundraising explains, it’s especially helpful to have easy access to performance data while the campaign is occurring. This way, you’ll be able to discover insights on the fly and make changes as needed, rather than having to wait for your next fundraiser. 

While some of these benefits are unique to peer-to-peer fundraising, the advantages of a unified CRM system are applicable to any of your virtual fundraising efforts.

As we move into 2021, nonprofits will continue to rely on virtual fundraising to pursue their missions safely and efficiently. As you prepare next year’s campaigns, make sure you’re relying on data, sending effective and tailored communications, and using a comprehensive and well-integrated database. By following these recommendations, you’ll be prepared to launch your best virtual campaign yet. Good luck!

This guest post was contributed by Hayley Roll, Marketing Analyst at Salsa Labs.

Nancy Schwartz in Uncategorized | 0 comments

As a fundraising leader, two of the most rewarding parts of your job are building meaningful relationships with donors and raising revenue for your mission. Luckily, modern fundraisers are equipped with online tools and digital engagement methods, making it easier than ever to connect with your supporters and collect gifts on the go.

With online fundraising increasing in popularity, this also means that data breaches, hacks, and other forms of fraud can become more prevalent. That’s why investing in the best tools and keeping fraud protection tips in mind is crucial for your organization. One donor data scandal can mar your nonprofit reputation for a good amount of time. 

At iATS Payments, we work with over 14,000 nonprofits to help them process their online gifts safely and securely. We’ve written about online fraud protection for nonprofits before and have compiled some of the essential information and top tips that any fundraising leader needs to protect your online donors in this quick guide. Specifically, we’ll answer the following questions:

  1. What are some common payment scams and risks?
  2. How can you protect your donors from fraud?

Your online donors want to support your mission, but they can’t do so if your tools and giving process are untrustworthy. Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in:

1. What are some common payment scams and risks?

Did you know that 68% of total charitable giving in 2018 in the U.S. came from individual donors, and over half of donors worldwide now prefer to pay online via credit card or debit card? This is extremely convenient since all you need is the card number and some other basic personal information.

However, credit and debit card information is also very delicate. If that information somehow gets leaked, it might be targeted by hackers, scam artists, and even identity thieves. Unfortunately, nonprofit organizations are also targeted more because they tend to be not as aware of the necessary payment security measures that for-profit businesses are familiar with.

For instance, the most common card scams that you should be aware of are:

  • ACH fraud or direct debit payments. While this offers donors an easy way to give by connecting the payment tool directly to their bank account, it can also open the channel to fraud. Often, fraudsters will try and steal a bank account routing number through phishing or database hacking. They’ll then contact your organization and say the gift was a mistake and ask for a refund via credit card or check. They might even contact the bank associated with the routing number and claim that your nonprofit withdrew an authorized amount and request another refund. This results in two refunds of the original online gift to the hacker!
  • Donation form fraud. Sometimes scammers use online donation forms to test out different stolen credit card numbers. If one of the stolen card numbers works, the individual will make a false donation and then ask for a refund, similar to how ACH fraud works. 

Online fundraising likely makes up a good chunk of your overall nonprofit revenue. That’s why you must approach the online giving process carefully, considering all the risks and challenges and acknowledging them before they can even happen. This can often be done with the right nonprofit payment tool, along with other best practices. 

2. How can you protect your donors from fraud?

Now that you know about the common scams and hacks that can hamper your online fundraising, it’s time to take steps to reduce those risks. Let’s start off by going over the payment solution you should depend on, and then go over some of our favorite tips and tricks.

Choosing the right payment processor

When your supporters make an online gift, they’re likely entering information in the donation form on your nonprofit’s website. According to our iATS Payments article on donation forms, it’s crucial that you have a dedicated online payment tool to process the gift, collect the necessary donor information, and keep their financial details secure.

To ensure that your nonprofit payment processor is doing all it can to keep your donors safe, it needs the following fraud protection capabilities:

  • PCI compliance or certification. The Payment Card Industry has a set guideline of safety standards that all online payment tools must meet. Whether you’re a nonprofit collecting gifts or a corporation selling a product for profit, PCI compliance is the minimum requirement, with PCI certification as the top security level a tool can have. Learn more about this topic here
  • Security assistance. If you ever have a problem with your payment tool or find that you do have a data breach, you must have a dependable channel for security assistance from the service itself.  
  • Nonprofit experience. There are some general payment processors, like PayPal, which are easy to set up but might not meet the specific needs of nonprofits. These payment tools are considered large aggregators, and often collect your donated funds in a shared merchant account with other clients before it reaches your main bank account. This can result in a time delay in usable funds for your nonprofit and make you more susceptible to large-scale data breaches. Consider investing in a more specialized payment processor made for nonprofit organizations, like iATS Payments

With the right nonprofit payment processor by your side, your organization is better equipped to handle your supporters’ information and ensure that it is secure. For additional ways you can protect your donors from fraud, read on for some best practices. 

Best Practices for Donor Fraud Protection

What else can you do for your nonprofit to better secure your donors’ data and set up the stage for a healthy and long lasting relationship? Here are our top tips:

  • Improve password security. If any of your staff, volunteers, or donors ever have to create an account with a password, those passwords must be as secure as possible. To screen password safety, consider requiring certain character length, specific symbols, numbers, and a mix of upper and lowercase letters. For more information on making your passwords more secure, explore this Swoop article on modern passwords.
  • Keep an eye out for phishing emails. Phishing emails are scams that ask the recipient to click on links or attachments. These are often tricks that result in the recipient’s personal information being hacked or malware being installed into the device. Ensure that you, your staff, and your supporters know the common signs of phishing emails, like having poor grammar or being sent from a misspelled email address. 
  • Implement CVV2 verification or address verification. Often, hackers only have the stolen card numbers/routing information and not any other crucial identifiers. An easy way to monitor for fraudulent donations, whether by ACH debit or donation form, is to ask for the CVV2 number or the donor’s billing address. 

While the above best practices can help with donor fraud protection, remember that investing in a dedicated and secure online payment tool is the first step. How you protect your donors, and your fraud prevention strategies, will likely change over time, so it’s essential to have a solid foundation with a capable nonprofit payment processor.

To summarize, your donors are the most important and driving factors for your cause, so it only makes sense to do all you can to ensure they’re protected. This not only keeps your supporters’ important information safe, but also sets the stage for a reliable and trusting relationship going forward. Make sure to use a dependable nonprofit payment processor that is able to meet all your needs and keep your donors safe. Good luck!

Author: Matt Dunne

Driven by his desire to support numerous charitable causes in his home country of Ireland, Matt joined the iATS Payments Team in March 2016 to leverage his entrepreneurial experience in support of the non-profit industry. He empowers partner organizations to provide impartial, accurate, and valuable payment information and knowledge to the Nonprofit community.

Remi in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Improve employee communication for your nonprofit in 2021.

Like any other type of organization, nonprofits need to have a solid human resources strategy in place if they want to achieve long-term success and better reach donors. And a critical aspect of human resources is an organization’s internal culture. 

One of the most important elements of internal culture is communications. How an organization handles internal communications sets the tone for everything else that happens in the organization. With a global pandemic forcing many organizations to work from home, how you communicate with employees, as well as how they communicate with each other, is more important than ever.

With the changes and unprecedented events of this year, you’ve probably already thought about your own internal culture and things you can do to improve it. You might even be thinking about implementing sweeping policy changes to encourage a shift in the way employees communicate with each other. Before you do, remember, less is often more. There’s no need to box yourself into a corner by introducing disruptive or confusing new policies all at once.

As a nonprofit, you’re already familiar with making the most of limited resources, so don’t be afraid to start small. Here are four things you can do to improve your internal culture around communication for 2020 and beyond. Think of them as springboards to other changes you can make down the road:

  1. Adopt a more open approach to discussions of compensation.
  2. Prioritize transparency and engagement in general.
  3. Share internal knowledge and documentation freely.
  4. Connect internal goals to your mission and communicate them.

At Astron Solutions, we provide HR strategy support for nonprofits and small businesses, so we’ve seen firsthand how implementing even a few new best practices into your internal communication strategies can spark a lot of beneficial change over the long run.

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in with a brief discussion of nonprofit employee compensation.

1. Take an open approach to discussions of compensation.

Compensation, how your organization pays and rewards employees for their work, plays a huge role in determining the overall tone of your internal culture. However, this doesn’t simply mean employees are only happier and more engaged when they’re paid higher salaries. 

As you’re well aware, the topic of nonprofit salaries is particularly complex and sometimes controversial. Generally speaking, nonprofits experience much tighter or more inflexible budgets than for-profit businesses of similar sizes, which is why we advocate for the concept of Total Rewards. Essentially, this takes into account both indirect and direct forms of compensation.

Understanding Indirect Compensation

While direct compensation refers to salaries, indirect compensation includes elements like:

  • Benefits, like healthcare, PTO, and retirement savings
  • Your performance management styles
  • How you recognize achievement
  • The work-life balance you promote
  • The quality of your internal culture 

By including culture (which is greatly determined by an organization’s approach to communication) as an element of indirect compensation, nonprofits are able to more accurately examine their compensation strategies and then take a more flexible approach to adjust them. 

This is particularly important when you consider that it’s elements of indirect compensation that tend to be the most important factors in your employee retention rate. Indirect compensation is an integral part of why employees stay engaged with their work. Understanding that will help you better develop strategies for improving it (like by improving internal communication) and help you recognize when you’re falling short. 

Discussing Direct Compensation

However, organizations of all types tend to avoid talking very openly about direct compensation. Employees are rarely aware of exactly why they or their coworkers are paid what they’re paid. This can lead to a lot of easily avoidable confusion, secrecy, and feelings of dissatisfaction. 

As a general best practice, your nonprofit should take an open approach to communicating about compensation with employees. On a one-on-one basis, each employee should clearly understand why they’re paid their particular salary. 

Especially for nonprofits that can’t afford to offer extremely competitive salaries for all staff members, you can foster a more engaged, satisfying work culture by taking an open, realistic approach to direct compensation and paying close attention to the quality of your indirect compensation.

There’s a common misconception that nonprofits have a higher-than-average rate of employee turnover because they don’t or can’t pay their employees well. On average, this isn’t true (learn more here), so it’s important for nonprofits to develop robust compensation strategies like any other type of organization.

2. Prioritize transparency and engagement in general.

Most managers of teams in any type of organization already understand the value of transparency, but it can be very easy to let this priority fall by the wayside under the stresses of day-to-day operations. 

Just as you develop stewardship plans to grow your donors’ investment in your cause, you can easily take steps to do the same for employees! More transparent communication and big-picture views of your operations are great ways to start.

As a nonprofit grows and new processes and policies are built out, not every member of your team will have as much insight into their coworker’s tasks or the priorities of other departments as they once did. In your internal communications and announcements, think carefully about whether you have a good reason not to share particular updates or information. 

Many managers worry that sharing too much information about ongoing activities across the organization will be distracting for team members and risk derailing focus. However, increasing transparency around new strategies and updates can significantly increase engagement.

Staff members will be more understanding of changes and feel more invested in new developments when they can contextualize why your organization is pursuing certain projects over others. 

Another strategy you might consider is expanding your training or onboarding process to include overview presentations or shadowing in different departments. Siloing staff members (or even board members) into very specific roles without giving them the chance to see how their work contributes to the bigger picture can contribute to burnout or low engagement.

3. Share internal knowledge and documentation freely.

This relates directly to fostering a more transparent culture of communication in your organization. Organizational history and process documentation can be an invaluable resource for your staff as they make day-to-day decisions and contribute to your nonprofit’s growth.

Internal knowledge and documentation might be intentionally kept siloed or secret. This is typically more common in for-profit businesses than in nonprofits, but you should still avoid this practice in general. Of course, legal and privacy concerns should always be taken into consideration.

If you have no pressing reason to limit the visibility of certain information or documents, though, you should make sure employees are able to easily access and benefit from it. 

If a nonprofit struggles with this strategy, it’s very often because their tech or data structures need improvement. A jumbled (or nonexistent) central database isn’t really benefiting anyone. Consider these strategies:

  • Develop an integrated CRM system. Any new digital or web-based tools your organization uses should ideally integrate with your central database or CRM. A steady flow of data on both your internal operations and donor engagement will give your team a broader and more useful view of the organization as a whole.
  • Look for engaging new tools. If your organization is planning on making new tech investments soon, engaging mobile-based platforms can offer easier access for your staff and more intuitive experiences for donors. Explore DNL OmniMedia’s guide to advocacy apps for an idea of what this looks like in action. 
  • Make use of an intranet network. A secure, internal intranet is a great way to streamline access to documentation across your whole team. You’ll likely need to work with a tech team to build a custom solution, but it’s worth exploring, particularly for larger nonprofits.

Opening up your store of internal knowledge for employees whenever possible is a best practice for any organization. Not only does it communicate trust, but it also increases employee engagement by letting them know that they’re all valuable parts of your organization’s ongoing story. Periodically examine your nonprofit’s tech infrastructure to make sure there aren’t any active barriers to access that could be removed. 

4. Connect internal goals to your mission and communicate them.

As a nonprofit, you have the benefit of being fully guided by your mission, not necessarily by market forces or competing organizations. Chances are your team members have all pursued work in the nonprofit space because they feel personally compelled to contribute to the social good. They’ve all been drawn to your mission in one way or another. 

Fostering that sense of mission buy-in is critical for nonprofit organizations.

Your internal communication style can support mission buy-in by simply being more explicit. Whenever you’re sharing updates about a new goal or development, think about how it ties into your mission, and then explain how they’re related. 

How does each new goal contribute to your overarching mission? Communicate that connection every chance you get. When fully tied into the driving mission, even unexciting internal projects become more engaging for nonprofit employees. 

This is especially important for high-stakes or critical goals, as mission buy-in will likely be a major factor that pushes your team over the finish line.

When it comes to setting internal goals and building structures to motivate your team, working with a compensation consultant or HR expert early on in the development of your nonprofit can have particularly positive long-term impacts. Growth can cause teams to lose focus, and developing a concrete roadmap around your central mission is a smart safeguard.

An organization’s approach to internal communication — transparent or secretive, mission-driven or dull — plays a major role in determining the quality of its culture as a workplace, directly informing employee engagement and retention. 

By implementing one or more of these strategies into how you handle internal communication, you can encourage healthy shifts and growth in your organization’s culture. Take a flexible approach, and find the right fits for your unique mission and team. 

Author: Jennifer C. Loftus, MBA, SPHR, PHRca, GPHR, SHRM-SCP, CCP, CBP, GRP

Jennifer C. Loftus is a Founding Partner of and National Director for Astron Solutions, a compensation consulting firm.  Jennifer has 23 years of experience garnered at organizations including the Hay Group, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Eagle Electric Manufacturing Company, and Harcourt General.  

Jennifer has held volunteer leadership roles with SHRM, New York City SHRM, and WorldatWork. She serves as a subject matter expert to the SHRM Learning System and as a SHRM instructor.  Jennifer is a sought-after speaker for local & national conferences and media outlets.

Jennifer has an MBA in Human Resource Management with highest honors from Pace University and a BS in Accounting summa cum laude from Rutgers University.  

Jennifer holds Adjunct Professor roles with Pace University, Long Island University, and LIM College.

Jennifer received the 2014 Gotham Comedy Foundation’s Lifetime Ambassador of Laughter Award.

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