Category: Investor Strategy

6 Tips to be at the Top of Your Fundraising Game

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With an increasing number of nonprofits entering the scene, there’s a lot of competition for the limited amount of attention and resources out there. In this environment, you need to stay at the top of your game to make the most out of all the available opportunities.  

Here are a few tips to help your nonprofit achieve your fundraising goals.

Mobile Giving

In this digital age, most people don’t have the time or energy to look out for a nonprofit to make a donation. Adopting mobile giving, allowing donors to give on the go, will make it really smooth and simple for them. You want to make it as easy as possible to give.

The simpler it is, the more donations you get. The donor retention rates would go up too because donors would find it easy to give again and again. 

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is all about reach. With the various platforms and the different communication channels that it has on offer, your organization can reach tons of different audiences. 

Tailor your message around whichever platform you choose. This is a low cost and high impact way of marketing yourself. 

Share a great story

People associate a passion with stories more than any data you could give them. By conveying great stories about your cause, people will be more motivated to give. If you associate passionate emotions with the cause, donors who care would be more than happy to contribute.

Keep your donors in the loop

Let your donors know about the status of your fundraising efforts. Keep them in the loop with a newsletter or just by reaching out to them. Show them the link between their act of giving and the difference it’s making. This can build their trust in your nonprofit and make them a long-term supporter.

Involve your supporters and volunteers 

Ask all your supporters and volunteers to share your messages on their individual social media accounts. This would help to spread your word to an even larger number of people.

Donor Management Software

Donor management software is one way to streamline your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. It can take over a lot of things like tracking of funds, accounting, and data analytics, etc. This would leave you with more time to build relationships with your donors and focus on your campaign. 

Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind for successful fundraising for nonprofits.

The post 6 Tips to be at the Top of Your Fundraising Game appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.

How to Optimize Instagram for Nonprofits

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Instagram is, without a doubt, one of the best platforms for marketing brands. Since 2010, it has grown tremendously from a simple photo-sharing app to a platform where businesses and nonprofits alike get to share their stories and advocacies. Through the app, brands have been able to effectively gain a loyal following with the help of perfectly filtered photos and compelling captions.

With the rise of peer-to-peer fundraising and donation drives hosted on social networking apps, coupled with Instagram’s staggering 1 billion monthly active user base, there is no doubt that nonprofits need to sign-up for an account ASAP. 

Through images and mixed visual media, you can communicate your cause and update your followers in the most powerful way. Here are eight essential Instagram tips for nonprofits.


Sign up for an Instagram Business Account 

Unlike a regular Instagram profile, an Instagram Business Account allows you access to essential data such as post-performance, impressions, and information about your followers. This is helpful when it comes to building your strategy and figuring out what type of content works best for you. 

Having a Business Account also allows you to have call-to-action buttons such as “Contact” and “Directions”. CTA buttons like these are particularly beneficial for nonprofits because you want to make it easy for interested donors to get in touch. If you have an event, for example, you can add a “Buy Tickets” button just below your bio. 


@humanesociety added convenient CTA buttons just below their bio.

Another crucial feature of an Instagram Business Account is the ability to boost content with just a tap. If you’re launching a campaign on Instagram, for example, you can boost a preview or teaser of your campaign video to reach people beyond your followers. Giving your audience a bite-sized version of your full content will keep them wanting more. If they are interested, they will have to go to your profile to view the full-length video.

Curate Your Photos 

Instagram is all about visuals, and you know what they say about the number of words a photo is worth. To stand out among the sea of brands on Instagram, your organization must have a profile that represents itself accurately through the images you post and the kind of language you use.


With 127 million followers to date, National Geographic has certainly mastered the art of Instagram. Their secret? Raw unfiltered images by over 100 contributing photographers. Instead of going with uniformity, the differing angles and subjects of their photos keep their grid dynamic and striking. 

If you are successful in establishing a cohesive aesthetic, followers can easily associate your posts with you at a glance. One way of doing this is by having an identifiable photography style or filter. 

Planning your grid in advance is the key to creating a successful brand on Instagram. While simply posting beautiful photos can work for personal Instagram accounts, brands should have a general idea of how their next nine photos will look like as a grid.

One simple way to get creative with your grid is by alternating between a still photo and a solid-colored image with typography. This way your Instagram feed will look consistent, and followers can anticipate what you’re posting next. Other brands like combining three to nine photos to reveal one giant masterpiece such as panoramic views and skylines. 

Create Captivating Captions

While photos or any other visual media will always be the heart of every Instagram post, content does not stop at great photos. Captions are an excellent way to tell the story behind each photo


Alongside their powerful photos, @UNICEF updates their followers through detailed captions.

if you want to emphasize a particular message, you can also place text directly on an image. This works for campaigns, quotes, and other situations where a still photo is just not enough. To do this, try using a photo editing app like Instasize. Instasize allows you to choose from a variety of stylized fonts that you can easily add to an image and upload straight to your feed. 

Take Advantage of Stories and Highlights

Instagram Stories is a great tool for brands to document certain events that are happening in real-time, share behind-the-scenes moments, and showcase company culture. As stories expire in 24 hours, you can save your favorites to your highlights so that anyone who visits your profile can find them. 

Stories also allow you to ask questions and start polls. This is a simple way to gather user-generated content and interact with your followers. TED, for example, often does this by asking yes or no questions to learn more about their followers. 

Engaging with your followers can be as personal as a live Q&A or as simple as a multiple-choice question. To make your followers feel like their opinion matters, you can ask them certain things like where your next fundraiser should be or if they’re interested in a certain topic. To keep it fun and engaging, make sure to add stickers and GIFs. 


@habitatforhumanity makes sure to add important stories to their highlights.

Don’t forget to use hashtags and boost important stories so other Instagram users can discover your organization without having to click or search for your profile. 

Make Yourself Discoverable

Think about your profile as your organization’s homepage. It’s where all pertinent information about you can be found, and you only have 150 characters to do so ― use it wisely. Of course one of the first ways to go about this is by using your organization’s complete name followed by a short description of your cause. You also want to use keywords that are associated with your page so that when people search for them, you will be one of the profiles that pop up. 


The New York Public Library keeps their Instagram bio short and sweet with a link that leads to their website.

Instagram allows you to post one link on your bio, which more often than not, should be a link to your website. If you have an active campaign, however, you might want to direct your followers to a special landing page. There are also third-party tools such as Leadpages that allow you to post multiple links at a time if needed. 

Change Up Your Grid

Instagram will always be associated with photos, but this doesn’t mean you should limit your posts to just that. Today, you can add videos, infographics, and even illustrations if you want to. By coming up with different types of visual content, your followers are more likely to look forward to your next post. So try changing up your content to figure out what works and what doesn’t. 


@pencilsofpromise makes it a point to change it up with a combination of typography, videos, and still images. 

Get Followed by People Who Matter 

If you already have a certain target demographic in mind, make sure to anchor your content to those people. This means posting images and crafting call-to-actions that would attract your chosen audience. 

Remember: your follower count means nothing if it doesn’t reflect in your engagement. 


@themuseumofmodernart’s has a significantly large and active following.

Now with close to five million followers and tens of thousands of likes per post, it’s clear that the people behind @themuseumofmodernart know what their followers like. The MoMA often uses branded hashtags, which when clicked, lead to more related images. 

To connect with the right people, post follow ads that should appear on your target audience’s timeline as they scroll through it. Use hashtags to be discoverable and to get more profile visits. 

For instance, the British Heart Foundation was able to get young female runners to join their upcoming marathon using targeted messaging and boosted posts. By understanding their target demographic, they were able to get more than 10% of marathon sign-ups through Instagram alone. 

To find insights into your Instagram audience, simply tap on “Insights” and select “Audience”. There you’ll see statistics on your audience such as gender, age range and location. Building a following on Instagram is initially a challenge for smaller organizations, but as long as you understand your audience and have great content, the numbers will follow. 

Get Funding Through Stickers and Buttons

Fifty-five percent of people who engage with causes on social media are inspired to take action. 

Knowing that, it’s now a matter of getting your cause out there. As a nonprofit, raising funds is a critical part of staying afloat. Thankfully, Instagram has designed simple ways for charities to receive donations without having to leave the app.  

Now, aside from the “Contact” and “Get Directions” buttons, you also have the option to add a “Donate” button to your profile. After pressing on the button, followers can simply select the amount they want to contribute. 

Just this year, a donation sticker has been added to the arsenal of stickers found in the stories tab. Any U.S. Nonprofit can do this by signing up to accept donations via Facebook and connecting it to their Instagram account. Organizations like the American Cancer Society, No Kid Hungry and the Wounded Warrior Project have already successfully done so. 

@nokidhungry was one of the first foundations to use the Donate Sticker. 

To announce the release of the sticker, No Kid Hungry created an announcement on their stories and added a simple tutorial, which is now available in their highlights.

With an average of 2-7% engagements on each post, Instagram is considered the most engaged social platform for brands. This makes the photo-sharing app a great touchpoint for nonprofits to reach out and interact with their followers. So, add that donate sticker, and let the good you’re doing be known ― a billion are watching. 


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Parental Involvement Now That My Daughter Has Gone to College

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Parental involvement has been a term widely used and positively viewed in K-12 education. For years now, we have read a multitude of research correlating strong parental involvement with positive outcomes in elementary and high school. These positive effects include higher standardized test scores, higher self-esteem, reduced substance use, better high school completion rates, positive social/emotional outcomes, and aspirations for college. In fact, parental in­volvement in education has been proven to be more important to children’s academic success than fam­ily’s socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, or educational background.

I was an engaged parent and remember many evenings during my daughter Sofia’s elementary and high school years attending school events, conferences, meetings, volunteering in her classroom and in other areas of the school, helping to organize events, being a homeroom parent, organizing holiday parties for her class, and chaperoning more field trips than I care to remember. By doing this, I felt I was supporting my daughter’s success and getting to know the people I trusted her care and education to, and they were getting to know me as well. It felt like a win-win.

Parental Involvement in College blog: My daughter Sofia and I at her college
How would my involvement as a parent change after my daughter Sofia enrolled at college?

This fall, I took Sofia to college for her first year. I was humbled to meet parents who flew and drove from every corner of the United States (some of them with very limited resources) to move their children into their residence hall. I was touched by a dad’s willingness to help me unload boxes from the car, from the mom across the hallway who helped me carry empty boxes to the recycling station, and to the family who spoke broken English but was happy to share their garbage bags with us. I participated in parent orientation programs, presentations by the president and others, and got to know a few administrators.

But what is my role now that Sofia has enrolled at college? Even after her first term, I’m not completely sure. I know I am not alone, thousands of parents are wondering exactly the same things. What is my role now? Is there a place for me? How can I support my son or daughter? How can I support her college experience? And, how can I help the college?

What research tells us about parental involvement in college

Across the country colleges are welcoming families in many different ways and fostering parental involvement in college in ways that are positive for the students, the families, and most importantly for the institutions themselves. Nearly all the parents of high school students whom RNL surveyed in 2019 thought that college was the most important thing their children should be doing after high school, and nearly all of them were dedicated to making sure their children went to college. It is clear that parents support their children’s postsecondary plans and dreams as much as they supported their success through the elementary to high school years.

There are important opportunities for institutions to regularly gather satisfaction feedback from currently enrolled students and their parents. The RNL Parent Satisfaction Inventory asks parents to indicate how important and how satisfied they are on a series of items about the student experience both inside and outside of the classroom.

Results from the 19,746 parents completing the Parent
Satisfaction Inventory at 37 four-year private and public institutions
indicated that:

  • 88 percent participated in orientation activities.
  • 31 percent communicate with their child at least once a day, with an additional 47 percent connecting with the student multiple times a week.
  • Phone (44 percent) and text (42 percent) were the most popular methods for communication between parents and students.
  • The security of their children is top of mind for parents, with 98 percent saying it is important that the campus is safe and secure and 97 percent indicating it is important for security staff to respond quickly in emergencies.
  • Parents are also concerned about faculty and advisors caring about students as individuals and students getting access to the classes they need with few conflicts. 
  • Another key issues for parents, and for students, is the perception of the tuition paid being a worthwhile investment. 

How can you increase parental involvement in the college process?

2019 Parent Engagement Report

In our continued search for answers in how RNL can help our campus partners figure out the right balance to parental involvement in college, we worked our partner CampusESP as well as TeenLife to produce a detailed study: the 2019 Parents’ Role in College Planning Report.

I recommend downloading the report and learning more about the expectations and experiences of parents of college students. You can also learn more about our partner CampusESP and how their platform for parent engagement can help you turn parents into enrollment advocates.

While you check out our research, I hope you will think about how you can help parents like me become positively engaged and be part of their children’s and your institutional success!

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Focusing on Quality Service in Higher Education for a Competitive Advantage

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For many years, I and my colleagues at RNL have worked with colleges to improve quality service in higher education. Much of this work has focused around improving the student experience, but a recent conversation with my sister illustrated how important the issue is for student recruitment and parent engagement as well.

During a visit with her (we live nearly 700 miles apart and see each other just a handful of times each year), she shared three different negative quality service experiences with colleges she had in the last month. Usually one to respond with kindness and move on when faced with a negative experience, this time my sister was visibly upset and still bristling about it several weeks later. I tell you this because the next big purchase my sister, and her daughter, are shopping for is a best fit college. I can assure you that 1) my sister will not leave her expectations for service at home when she and her daughter visit campus and interact with faculty and staff, and 2) like any child, my niece shares her parent’s expectations, and has a few of her own. In other words, my sister and niece’s perceptions of any intuition are going to be shaped by the quality of service they receive. Is your campus focusing on quality service as a competitive advantage?

We all intuitively understand the importance of public image in recruiting and retaining students. Campuses strive to create a positive image in many ways, through the physical appearance of the buildings, by the condition of the grounds, with adequate signs for visitors, through their web and social media presence, and through their graduates. The biggest part of the image, however, comes from the people who make up the educational community. Although prospective and current students may be attracted by new buildings or a first-rate academic program, they won’t return unless the people—the faculty, administrators, staff, and coaches involved in those programs—contribute to their education, academically and socially. The way that faculty, administrators, and staff act is critical to conveying an overall image of value and quality.

In addition, research with our Student Satisfaction Inventory tells us that items related to campus climate influence student satisfaction and ultimately student retention. Campus climate items include

  • Most students feel a sense of belonging here.
  • I feel a sense of pride about my campus.
  • It is an enjoyable experience to be a student on this campus.
  • Students are made to feel welcome on this campus.
  • I generally know what’s happening on campus.

Focusing on quality service will enhance the campus public image and student satisfaction with campus climate, and thus overall enrollment. When I reflect on what my sister was really upset about, it boils down to communication, follow through, and service recovery. I’ve detailed a few strategies for these areas below. Are the frontline staff, supervisors, faculty, and administrators on your campus using these and other strategies, insights, and skills for ensuring excellent quality service?

Mastering the art of positive communication

Body language, smiling, and appearance all create lasting impressions during service interactions.

Talking isn’t the same as getting your message across. The words we say are only a small part of how we communicate. Applying these simple techniques can minimize communication breakdowns with students and families.

  1. Communication means keeping students and families informed, using language they can understand, and then listening to them.
  2. Consistent positive communication is the key to quality service and includes being genuine, specific, timely, and sincere.
  3. Actions also leave lasting impressions. Body language — a smile or making eye contact—is an important art of face-to-face communication.
  4. Remembering and using a person’s name sends a strong positive message of acknowledgement.
  5. Listening which includes anticipating, reading between the lies, asking questions, getting involved, caring about students and their needs is a key component of communication.

Electronic communication is a powerful force in our lives too. Check out our 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report to learn how digital engagement and communication shapes the way students choose a college.

Giving your professional best in the campus workplace

Quality Service in Higher Education
Staff members trained in quality service become valuable resources for recruitment and retention as well as productivity, and teamwork.

Every staff member is working to serve students in one way or another. Campuses need caring, dedicated people to succeed in today’s competitive environment. Students and families can be served better by improving performance by staff, administrators, and faculty. Giving other people value will result in providing quality service. Some areas for focus can include:

  1. Providing quality service to internal and external constituents in every contact.
  2. Empowering staff to act and including them in decision-making.
  3. Teaching students and families to be intelligent consumers of campus programs and services.
  4. Building teamwork within and among departments.
  5. Partnering with your team and other administrators in improving systems as well as identifying and solving problems.
  6. Creating a learning environment in the classroom that focuses on individual student needs.
  7. Being timely and accurate with grades and academic feedback.
  8. Being an advocate for student-centered course scheduling-offering courses that students need at the frequency and times they can take them.
  9. Delivering on promises. When you agree to provide something to another person, provide it. People resent having promises broken; it is worse than not addressing a problem in the first place.

Making service recovery a priority

When it comes to quality service in higher education, every moment of the student’s and family’s experience is a big event. Service recovery helps us restore the student’s and family’s positive feelings toward us and our institution. Handling most issues involves six simple steps.

  1. Listening carefully and
    with interest
  2. Putting yourself in the
    student’s / family’s place and responding in a caring way with phrases such as,
    “I see,” “I can understand,” or “I don’t blame you for being upset.
  3. Asking questions in a
    caring, concerned manner and listening attentively to the student’s / family’s
  4. Suggesting one or more
  5. Apologizing.
  6. Solving the problem or
    finding someone who can solve it.

By no means do these three topics cover all aspects of quality service in higher education. Rather, they give you a taste of what might be included in an institution wide quality service initiative: a key enrollment fundamental. A quality service initiative should include a college-wide service strategy, a review of all major service systems, and staff development and training for managers, supervisors, and frontline staff.

My sister is hardly unique in her expectations for service and the fact that those expectations will influence her daughter’s college choice, satisfaction as a student, and eventually alumni loyalty. When my sister and I get together again, I know we’ll discuss their college explorations. I hope I only hear stories of exceptional quality service, feelings of being welcome on campus, support by faculty and academic advisors, and a sense of belonging on every campus!

Create a great quality service experience with your campus visit program

Gen X Parents Webinar

The campus visit is one of the critical points of quality service for higher education. Creating a great experience for parents in particular can help turn them into enrollment influencers for your institution.

Our colleagues at RNL + Render held a webinar specifically on how you can create a great campus visit experience. Listen to their on-demand presentation, The Do’s and Don’ts of Successful Campus Visits for Gen X Parents.

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Adults Returning to College: More Than 3 Million Are Ready to Finish

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Adults Returning to College: 3 Million Ready to Complete Degrees
More than 3 million adults returning to college are considered likely to complete their degrees according to new national research.

A new report by the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC)— Some College, No Degree: A 2019 Snapshot for the Nation and 50 States—shows a significant enrollment opportunity for colleges recruiting adults returning to college. According to the report, there are 36 million American adults with some college but no degree. Of those adults, 10 percent (or more than 3 million) have characteristics of students most likely to return to college and complete their degrees. This helps colleges understand how to best target these individuals. These adults are a prime student population enrollment growth for colleges and universities.

However, adult learners have different expectations, motivations, and decision time frames than traditional undergraduates. The new NSC report profiles key statistics and identifies trends since their first report on this topic in 2013, and uses the records of the 29 million students identified in the 2013 report to determine which characteristics indicate an adult learner is most likely to complete a degree.

9 key findings and characteristics of adults with some college but no degree

1. Eight years out, one-third have still not graduated.Approximately 2 million students annually enroll for the first time, but eight years later, one-third still have no credential in hand. Completion rates haven’t discernibly changed in many years.

2. Most were not enrolled very long. 29 percent of this population only enrolled for a single semester/term, and 61 percent were enrolled for more than one term but less than two years. Only 10 percent were enrolled for 2+ years.

3. Those enrolled for 2+ years are significantly more likely to finish. Among 36 million students with some college credit but no degree (6.6m more than in 2013), the 10 percent with 2+ years of credit are significantly more likely to re-enroll and finish a credential. The report labels them “Potential Completers.”

4. Potential Completers are younger and closer to their last enrollment. Compared with all of the students with some college but no degree, Potential Completers:

  • Are younger today (58 percent under 30, compared with 23 percent of 36 million adults)
  • Were younger when they last enrolled (75 percent under 30, compared with 56 percent of the entire pool)
  • Were enrolled more recently (4.4 years on average, compared with 10.8 for all).

5. Potential Completers well match other racial/ethnic patterns. There are no significant differences among those who return and complete a credential and the general parameters of the American higher education market. However, when looking at those who return to complete a bachelor’s degree, both African American and Hispanic students well out-pace their proportion in the general undergraduate market.

6. Data differ considerably by state.” California, Illinois, Ohio, and Washington have large numbers of Some College, No Degree students, but have less than the national average of 10 percent who are Potential Completers.

New York, North Carolina, and Texas also have large cohorts but exceed the Potential Completers national average with 11 percent.

The states with the largest proportions of Potential Completers are: Delaware (15 percent), Arizona and Mississippi (each 14 percent), and Indiana Hawaii (13 percent for each).

7. Most attended community college. Two-thirds of this population started at or last attended a community college (compared with about 20 percent at four-year publics); the largest share (57 percent) chose to re-enroll at a community college; and the largest share (44 percent) graduated from a community college. Not surprisingly, associate degrees are the most common credential.

8. Those who choose online succeed: Only 4 percent of this population were last enrolled online. Three times that (12 percent or all returning) choose an online program upon reentry, and nearly all of them complete their studies (11 percent of all graduates).

9. Completers are preparing for further study or a business career. The largest share of associate degree completers (40 percent) get their degree in liberal/general studies—a common precursor to a bachelor’s degree—while the largest share of bachelor’s degree completers (23 percent) get their degree in business/management.

Additional takeaways about adults returning to college

This report makes is
clear that colleges seeking to recruit adults returning to college who have
less than two years of college credit will have a difficult time doing so; they
will have a harder time keeping these students enrolled through to completion.
The report also makes clear that while community colleges are the largest source
of the some college, no degree phenomenon, they are also the most popular route
to eventual completion.

Four-year colleges looking
to benefit from this ever-growing population of students may be best advised to
focus on promoting the significant lifelong advantages of completing a
bachelor’s degree in partnership with community colleges in their region. While
they can go directly after these students, doing so may imply that they can
only attract 20 percent of the 10 percent of all “some college, no degree”
population that is most likely to finish.

Explore more research and solutions for adult learners

Graduate Student and Online Learner Enrollment Management

RNL has several
resources to help you understand the adult and online learner market so you can
identify your best prospects, engage those students, and nurture them toward

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6 Effective Donor Retention Strategies for Small Nonprofits

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Small nonprofits can scarcely afford to lose any donors from one year to the next, given the expensive and time-consuming effort that donor acquisition represents. It can be tempting for small nonprofits to focus heavily on donor acquisition. The logic behind it is that the more donors who give to the nonprofit, the larger the nonprofit becomes. However, this only tells half of the story. 

The logic of acquiring more donors to grow your nonprofit holds true only when you’re able to keep that engagement high over a long period of time. This means that your nonprofit must first master the art of effective donor retention. 

There are several reasons donor retention is so important for nonprofits:

First, it’s much less expensive to ask a donor to give again than to perform enough outreach to acquire a new donor. 

Second, when donors give to your organization over time, they’re more likely to increase their contribution amounts and leave gifts in their will.

Third, retained donors are a more reliable source of referrals, volunteerism and peer-to-peer fundraising for your nonprofit.

As you can see, donor retention is a key part of any nonprofit’s organization strategy. In order to effectively retain more donors, your nonprofit must consider strategies to achieve three main objectives. These objectives are: 

  • Prevent donors from lapsing. 
  • Encourage increased donor engagement.
  • Set your nonprofit up for success in the future. 

Luckily, we’ve already compiled a list of strategies to help your nonprofit achieve these goals. Even if your staff power is low, your nonprofit can take the necessary steps to grow. Let’s jump in to learn more. 

Strategies to Prevent Donors From Lapsing

On average, the recapture rate for lapsed donors is 5%. While it’s not impossible to recapture lapsed donors, it’s incredibly difficult to do. Once a donor stops giving to your nonprofit, more often than not, they’ll never give again. 

That’s why your nonprofit should take the necessary actions to prevent donors from ever lapsing to begin with. This means taking the necessary measures to maintain their trust and engagement with your nonprofit. 

The last thing you want to do is make a silly mistake that causes donors to second-guess their relationship with your nonprofit. Strategically organizing marketing initiatives can help your nonprofit maintain relationships and prevent supporters from lapsing. Our recommended strategies are: recording all of your communications, and providing diverse opportunities for engagement. 

1. Keep records of all of your communications. 

Many nonprofits make the mistake of asking donors to do things they’ve already done or asking them questions they’ve already answered, without ever really taking time to appreciate their support. They too often make them feel a little bit like an ATM.

Your donors are not ATMs!

Keeping track of all of your communications in your nonprofit CRM can help your nonprofit space out, contextualize, and avoid repeating asks. 

You can also use these records to analyze the effectiveness of your outreach. For instance, if you’re using email to ask for donations, you can track the open and click-through rates of supporters and get an idea of how effective they are. 

2. Provide various engagement opportunities.

While we recommend spacing out your fundraising asks, this doesn’t mean halting or limiting communication with your supporters! However, it does mean that it can be more effective to ask for something other than money. 

For example, consider the other campaigns your organization launches. You may choose to ask your supporters for: 

  • Contributions of their time. Volunteers deserve just as much recognition and appreciation as your donors (frequently the groups overlap!) because they are making a donation of time, which is just as valuable. Encourage supporters to sign up to volunteer at your next event or in-office during the busy season. 
  • In-kind donations. Instead of asking for money, provide a list of in-kind donations a supporter can give. Be sure to tell them exactly what these items will be used for and how they will help serve your mission.
  • Advocacy actions. If your nonprofit has an advocacy component, be sure to ask your supporters for help with your advocacy campaigns. Simply signing a petition or calling their legislator on your behalf can help your nonprofit dramatically (every voice matters). Plus, this is an easy way for supporters to contribute without donating money. 
  • Event attendance. Tell supporters about your upcoming events and opportunities to support your cause by attending. Lead them to event registrations. Maybe they’ll even buy merchandise from your nonprofit. 

There’s an infinite number of ways you can provide opportunities to your supporters. Just look at any fundraising idea guide, like this one from Snowball, to get ideas. 

By mixing up your communications and providing many different opportunities to get involved with your nonprofit, you’ll keep supporters on their toes. They’ll feel less like an ATM and more like an integral cog for your nonprofit’s operations.

Strategies to Encourage Increased Engagement

Just keeping your donors interested in what your nonprofit has to say isn’t enough. They should be taking action on the different opportunities you provide to them. 

Encouraging increased engagement from your nonprofit supporters requires effective marketing and personalization in order to cultivate the relationship. 

Relationships are key for encouraging more engagement from your supporters. The two ways we’ll outline to do so include: face-to-face communication and personalized outreach. 

3. Encourage face-to-face communication.

Let your donors get to know you and your nonprofit staff members at the different engagement events and meetings. This is especially important when it comes to major gift opportunities

Major donors especially will want some one-on-one interaction with your nonprofit executives before they provide a large contribution. This allows them to feel closer to the inner workings of your nonprofit and it increases their level of trust in your organization. 

While major donors may receive this face-to-face communication in pre-arranged meetings, your lower-dollar-amount donors will also appreciate some one-on-one time at events and other community get-togethers. 

Make sure to dig into your donor database before meetings or events in order to learn some details about the donors you’re talking to. Take note of their interests so that you can lean on those topics in conversation and create a smooth exchange. 

4. Personalize marketing outreach. 

Just as you personalize your face-to-face conversations by touching on the interests of the supporter, your nonprofit should take care to also personalize your marketing outreach. 

When did you last take the time to read an email that was addressed, “To whom it may concern”? You probably ignore most of these messages, and so do your donors! 

Pull data from your donor database to communicate with supporters on a more personal level. For instance, make sure to: 

  • Use your donor’s preferred recognition name in the salutation. 
  • Mention the last engagement opportunities they took advantage of. 
  • Talk about the impact they’ve helped make toward your mission. 

If you’re in the market for a new nonprofit CRM, Bloomerang’s donor database guide can help you make a decision about which solution will best fit your nonprofit’s specific needs. Then, you can effectively leverage personalized data from individual donor profiles for your marketing outreach. 

Strategies to Set Yourself Up for the Future

Make sure that your nonprofit is not only prepared to engage and reach out to donors now, but also in the future. Specifically, the software you invest in to boost your donor retention rates should apply just as fully now as it will in the years to come. 

Nonprofits tend to have a habit of investing in software solutions that will appeal to their current needs, but that they will quickly outgrow. This means they need to spend all sorts of extra time looking for a new software solution, migrating data, and preparing for the future. 

Avoid this classic mistake! When you invest in software, be sure it will serve both current and future needs. We recommend looking for software that offers: scalable solutions, and valuable integrations. 

5. Look for scalable software. 

We understand that smaller organizations may have difficulty affording the large solutions that bigger nonprofits use to raise money, store donor data and market opportunities. That’s why we recommend smaller organizations look for scalable software. 

Scalable software has the potential to grow with your nonprofit as you grow over time. Instead of investing time and energy setting up a new solution each time you outgrow the functionality of your current solution, you can simply scale up your current solution to expand the functionality. 

This article explains how scalable software can help your nonprofit save money now if you’re worried about investing in a solution that is too big for your organization. Plus, it helps you save in the future! Investing in new solutions is expensive, so you’ll save more by staying with the same software for a longer period of time. This means more time and resources spent engaging with donors!

6. Take advantage of valuable integrations.

When you invest in new software, take into consideration the other solutions they integrate with. These integrations can come in handy for streamlining data from one solution to another. 

For example, when your nonprofit CRM integrates with your fundraising tool, the donor data provided during the donation process is automatically saved in donor profiles in your database. 

Streamlining with integrations has many advantages for nonprofits, including: 

  • Reducing human error. Human error accompanies manual input and transfer of information from one software solution to another. Reducing this will help you save and leverage more accurate information about your donors for the future. 
  • Saving staff members’ time and energy. When you cut back on the time staff members take to manually transfer data from one software solution to the next, you’re creating more time for them to focus on more important matters. They then have more time to reach out to donors or work on projects to support your mission. 

Streamlining as much data as possible through integrations sets your nonprofit up for success in the future. You’ll have more time to focus on engagement activities and developing donor relationships. 

Because software is such an essential part of creating engagement opportunities and developing relationships with your supporters, it’s also an integral part of donor retention. This means, in order to set yourself up for success, your nonprofit should work to ensure your software ecosystem is as effective and efficient as possible. 


Donor retention is key to helping your nonprofit grow. However, it doesn’t come without hard work! Effectively implementing specific strategies like those outlined in this article to help your organization retain more supporters. And, with better retention rates, your nonprofit will see an improved revenue stream in the years to come. Good luck!

The post 6 Effective Donor Retention Strategies for Small Nonprofits appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.

10 Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Annual Giving Team

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Holiday Gifts for Annual Giving

Along with everything we’re doing for the holidays in our personal lives, those of us who have worked in higher education development know that the ramp up to CYE (or Calendar Year End) is intense. And, if you have done things right over the previous six months, it can also be one of the most productive times of the whole academic year.

Despite your carefully crafted appeals in September and your excellent crowdfunding campaigns in October, many donors will only begin the scramble to make their annual gift (and manage their tax burdens) during the last two months of the year, sending gift officers and development staff scurrying.

To recognize the unsung heroes of the Calendar Year End blitz, I made a suggested gift list for those annual giving officers and development staff who deserve some extra recognition this holiday season. VPs take note:

Give them cash

Your annual giving team wants to meet their goals. So, offer to add a little to the CYE mailing budget to add a segment or two. This is a great place to experiment with a new or emerging audience.

Get on the phone

Round up all the development assistants and gift officers one night to make pledge fulfillment calls when student callers are all mysteriously sick during finals week. The personal touch from a staff member will make a big difference.

Book leadership commitments, and boost morale

Reach out to your most involved supporters personally, and secure your trustee/leadership match pledges for you spring Giving Day BEFORE the end of the year. Rather than waiting until the week before the actual event, announce these commitment early at a staff meeting in December and pump up the team as they go into the holiday. Tell your leadership donors about what you are doing and that you want their help. This will make them feel like they are part of an effort, not just cutting a check.

Tech gifts are always appreciated

Explore an AI-powered content management system. These solutions are now less expensive and easier to get started. The personalized communications and solicitations will boost results during the second half of your fiscal year.

Be the example

Complete and turn in your own donor/prospect holiday greetings early, not at 5 PM on the last day of the semester.

Make your gift

And do it in a way that supports the team’s effort. If they are pushing monthly gifts, sign up yourself. If a crowdfunding campaign is nearing it’s deadline, join the effort. These gestures go a long way to boost morale.

Get social

Share the university’s holiday greetings/year end appeal on your social media feeds and help to expand the digital footprint for the appeal.

Make it easy to give

Update your holiday out of office response before you leave with instructions for making an end of year gift.

Show them them they matter

Walk through the office and hug, handshake, or high-five for the die-hard folks who are putting in long hours during the last few days of the year to bring in those crucial end-of-year gifts. A little appreciation for the hard work goes a long way!

Share the holiday “spirits”

Leave a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, or other appropriate holiday treat for the development staff who got stuck with the December 31 mail run.

Let’s talk now or in the new year

Contact RNL

Happy Holidays from RNL. I hope you meet your CYE goal, and you emerge from the holidays with energy to take your donor engagement to the next level.

My RNL colleagues and I are also happy to talk with you about how you can meet your goals in 2020. Reach out for a free consultation and let’s figure out how you can make next year your best year of giving ever.

The post 10 Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Annual Giving Team appeared first on Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

5 Crowdfunding Insights for 2019

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Over half of higher education institutions are using crowdfunding to engage supporters and entice new donors. Crowdfunding lets you engage key stakeholders on campus from student groups, faculty and staff, alumni projects, and even within annual giving to provide a menu of time-sensitive campaigns that donors can share with their networks. Using matching campaigns, project champions, and impact updates with videos and social media help make crowdfunding a key 21st-century donor engagement tactic.

RNL recently reviewed 6,100 higher education crowdfunding campaigns totaling $105 million in donations. Here are some key insights from our 2019 Crowdfunding and Giving Day Index. These results are taken from institutions using RNL Crowdfunding and RNL Giving Day powered by the ScaleFunder platform.

Student campaigns remain strong, but advancement office-driven campaigns raise double.

Student group campaign or travel campaigns on average are the quickest in duration and raised about $5,500. Athletics, institutional campaigns, research, and scholarship campaigns raised more than double this amount. Alumni crowdfunding campaigns raised a whopping $84k on average, with much of that coming from major gifts.

Crowdfunding Performance by Type (click for larger size)

2019 Crowdfunding Index: Project Performance by Type

Most campaigns raise half their money offline.

While crowdfunding leads to a lot of online donations, the campaigns with the highest totals had donations that also came from other sources, such as direct mail, phone, and gift officer visits. A big part of this is early adopter giving before a campaign launches and leveraging matching challenges.

It’s not just about student and faculty micro-campaigns.

Institutional campaigns, including fun ways to brand scholarship funds and annual giving, took the largest leap this year. Crowdfunding-style engagement is growing, and we’re learning how to use it for more-and-more types of giving.

Schools are very interested in making donations easy.

This includes integrating smooth payment options like Apple Pay, a featured integration of RNL Digital Giving platforms powered by ScaleFunder.

The average institution raised $83k in their first year.

This means an excellent ROI on leveraging a powerful and complete crowdfunding platform.

Read the report, or see a demo of RNL Crowdfunding

2019 Crowdfunding Highlights
Request a demo of RNL Crowdfunding Powered by the ScaleFunder Plaform
2019 Crowdfunding and Giving Day Index

To get the full story on how this socially-engaged and personalized donation engine continues to change the face of fundraising, read the RNL Crowdfunding and Giving Day Index .

And if you’re ready to take your crowdfunding program to the next level with the solution being used by top programs, request a demo of RNL Crowdfunding Powered by ScaleFunder. You can see how you can excite your alumni and harness their interests and enthusiasm for your institutional philanthropy.

The post 5 Crowdfunding Insights for 2019 appeared first on Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

Heidi Gerbracht : Together in Change

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Heidi Gerbracht will be at Cause Camp 2020 presenting on how diversity, equity, and inclusion are crucial to your organization’s success.

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

As immediate past board Chair of an organization striving to empower women to run and win political office, this quote from Lilla Watson, an indigenous female activist from Australia, has always resonated with me. 

While a few of my identities are marginalized ones, I am white, and benefit every day from the racist system that we live in. Annie’s List also functions within that system, although the organization’s mission is to identify, challenge, and ultimately change unfair systems at their root. In order to do that successfully, we have to be conscious of the ways discrimination and systemic racism against people with various identities intersect. We also have to examine how we may sometimes replicate these systems in our work, and make an ongoing commitment to learning and doing better.

When I became board chair, I wanted to spend my two-year term working on these fundamental issues, in order to build a multiracial coalition that could wield all of our strengths and knowledge in a truly intersectional way to help lift us all up. I can tell you this: I was (relatively) young and inexperienced as a Board Chair, and I made mistakes. But I worked hard to use my mistakes as opportunities to learn, and I’m proud of the real progress we made.

In the last 15 years, Annie’s List has recruited, trained and supported progressive women seeking office at both the state and local levels.  During this time we have raised $15+ million to support these women and have helped them win more than 130 races. As part of its success, Annie’s List had always supported candidates that were women of color, or part of the LGBTQ community, or working class, or a combination of these and other non-dominant identities. 

However, in order to really maximize our successes, our organization needed an overhaul in terms of not recreating unfair systems through our Board membership and procedures, within our staff, and through the way we do our work. The first and most important step was to identify and connect with others on the board and staff who also held this same North Star ― and I was lucky there were many of them. One is our brilliant Executive Director, Royce Brooks, who will be co-presenting with me during Cause Camp 2020. Another important tip is that this work and the organization’s commitment to it must be on-going ― it’s not a one time fix. I’m looking forward to sitting down with Royce and you all at Cause Camp to talk through the details and share all the tips and tools that we learned in the last few years (and are still learning!). 

The reality is that Annie’s List won’t be able to help women get as far if we don’t make a deep and abiding commitment to not just surface-level diversity, but also to real equity and to lifting up and weaving the perspectives, wisdom and knowledge of the most marginalized throughout our work. I believe this is true no matter what your organization’s mission is. Our liberation really is bound together.

Get your tickets today! Early bird pricing available now, register HERE.

*Early Bird pricing available until January 31, 2020.

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Lindsay LaShell : How to Get the Most from Your 2020 Giving Tuesday Campaign

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How to Get the Most from Your 2020 Giving Tuesday Campaign

Yep, you read that right. If you’re thinking about planning your Giving Tuesday campaign this week (it’s December 1, 2019), you’re about a year too late.

Listen, I know you’re busy and dates have a way of sneaking up on you. By reading this now, you’ll give yourself plenty of time to take my advice, reap the benefits and launch a successful Giving Tuesday campaign. Next year. In 2020.

The most important thing in this article is a single idea: For most nonprofits, especially small ones, a person’s relationship with your organization will determine how much they give when asked.

Fundraising professionals know that everything hinges on relationships. Who introduced you? How much time have you spent with them? What kind of rapport do you have? Do you know their dog’s name? If you get that right, you bring in the big bucks.  

Yet when it comes to digital fundraising, relationships are forgotten and left to fall by the wayside. Instead there’s just a stranger’s hand, outstretched, saying, “We don’t know each other, but click here to donate now!”

To get great outcomes for your Giving Tuesday campaign, you need to spend the entire year building great relationships.

To set you up for success, let’s look at some common qualities in great interpersonal relationships and understand how they manifest in digital communications between an organization and its audience.

Imagine a good friend. Someone that you trust, that you like, and that you would inconvenience yourself for if they asked you to. My bet is that your relationship with them feels:

  1. Relevant
  2. Respectful
  3. Consistent
  4. Meaningful

If you want to nail Giving Tuesday, you have to nail these four qualities with the people you’re talking to. Now, let’s dig in.

Relevance may feel like a weird way to think about a relationship, but hear me out. The people you are close to now had to become relevant in some way in order to allow the relationship to grow. Maybe they are family. Maybe they sat next to you in fourth grade. Maybe they share a hobby, a neighborhood watering hole, or another close friend. It’s not about how you met, it’s about how your life and theirs are connected in some way. In the same way, these people can move out of your life and lose relevance. You lose touch, you move on, you change, and having sat next to them in Mr. Ross’ class isn’t enough to keep them relevant.

When it comes to translating that to an organization, it’s actually pretty easy. Why is your work relevant to your audience? Maybe it’s a cause they care about, or it’s geographically related to where they are, or maybe you were introduced to them by a good friend. It works the same. Your job is to communicate that relevance, over and over again, all year long so that they feel connected to you.

If I accused you of being disrespectful to your online audiences, you’d probably get a bit defensive, but take a second and imagine yourself on a first date. After a few minutes of small talk, your date asks what you’re doing next Saturday because they are moving and could really use an extra set of hands.

How would that feel? There’s nothing really rude about the request, but it still feels disrespectful, right? If it were me, I’d be like, woah, dude, who are you? I’m over here with a whole life full of hobbies and people, and you think buying me a few pieces of raw fish makes you relevant?

I see nonprofits do this ALL THE TIME, especially on Giving Tuesday. If you are asking people for first-time donations in a social media ad, you are guilty. If you are asking people who have never given you money to tell their friends to give you money, you are guilty. If you are expecting people to read many paragraphs to understand your work on their first visit to your website, you are guilty.

Sure your language may always be appropriate, and you’re probably the most polite nonprofit on the block. You answer emails in a timely manner and you’re always the first to say thank you. But let me ask you this: Have you ever asked for a larger commitment from your audience than is appropriate based on your relationship history?

Rule: To be respectful, your ask of time or money should directly correlate to the time or money your audience has ALREADY given you. 

The longer the relationship, and the more they have engaged with you, the more you can ask of them. If you have literally never done anything but interrupt their social media feed, you have not established a strong enough relationship to respectfully ask them for money. You’re being the person who takes them to sushi and then wants hours of their precious weekend for manual labor. What can you give to them before you ask them to give to you?

Nothing builds great relationships like consistency. I hope you’ve had the sweet stability of a good friend. I’m talking about someone who exercises with you twice a week for months or years in a row, or who always picks up when you call. I hope you have friends who are steadfast and reliable, because they can be a tremendous source of strength, comfort, and service when you need it. 

Of course, we all have those friends who disappear for months at a time, then come around and need a favor. Hopefully, we’ve all outgrown those friends who are truly unpredictable and dramatic. Regardless of the source of inconsistency, we should be honest that our connection to those people is weaker and our willingness to make sacrifices for them is less than those we know we can count on.

And yet… our organizations do the same thing all the time. We let months and months pass in between updates. Our poor donors never know if the email they are going to open will have great news, a party invitation, or some tragic and moving tale designed to open their wallets. Inconsistency breeds mistrust. Even if it’s small and subconscious, you can be sure it is enough to impact the success of an annual fundraising campaign.

Only when a relationship is relevant, respectful and consistent can it become meaningful, and meaningful is where it’s at.

To help you understand what I mean, picture your dental hygienist. I’m sure he or she is a lovely person, and if you can picture them, then it’s likely that they are relevant, respectful, and consistent, so good for you! A healthy mouth is a happy mouth!

But, you probably wouldn’t call that relationship meaningful. To be meaningful, there has to be a deeper connection borne out of mutual concern. Wonderfully, this is the easy part! If you’re talking to the right people, then you know that they care about the problem you are trying to solve. The mutual concern that connects you is the one certain thing you have going for you in a fundraising campaign!

It’s so tempting for organizations to focus only on the meaningful part of their communications and relationship building with donors. It’s easy to think that your people care about your cause, so you can leverage that and turn it into dollars. In the end, you may not have overflowing budgets or sold-out events, but your Giving Tuesday campaigns do okay.

If you want to really see your people show up on Giving Tuesday, see what happens when you show up for them all year long. Consistently and respectfully remind them of your relevance so that they are confident in the meaningful work you are doing and the importance of their contribution to support it.

So how do you start building relevant, respectful, consistent, and meaningful relationships with your people?  If you’re already planning to attend Cause Camp, sign up for my strategic marketing workshop on April 22, 2020, and we’ll hatch a plan together. If you’re interested in learning more about my workshops or agency services, connect with me on LinkedIn. I promise to do my best to stay relevant, respectful, consistent and meaningful!

Get your tickets today! Early bird pricing available now, register HERE.

*Early Bird pricing available until January 31, 2020.

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