Category: Investor Strategy

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

No Comments Investor Strategy

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.

The post Lindsay LaShell : How to Get the Most from Your 2020 Giving Tuesday Campaign appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.

Omnichannel Engagement on Your Giving Day

No Comments Investor Strategy

In previous posts we have discussed the importance of giving day, the keys to a great giving day, and what we learned from running our first RNL-sponsored giving day at the RNL National Conference. This last post in our series covers omnichannel engagement on your giving day and the recommended tools that you should be using on your big day.

The Importance of a Great Giving Day Platform

Your giving day platform plays a huge role in the success of
a giving day. It impacts how you amplify your message, how donors react and
give, and how you track your results. However, we find that institutions that
don’t choose a platform that truly embraces the purpose of a giving day inevitably
underperform and don’t live up to their real potential.

There are plenty of platforms out there that really embrace
the importance of giving day and do a great job of showing off their special
day. However, there are just as many that don’t do a great job of highlighting
the importance of the event.

This is why we have designed the RNL Giving Day platform to provide all the tools necessary to promote, amplify, and manage your giving day. Our campus partners experience improvements in their results when they move from a single page or crowdfunding project approach to our sophisticated, donor-friendly solution. You are investing a lot of time and money on your giving day, it’s important that you don’t just choose a solution because they are the most budget friendly because you’ll likely receive results that reflect your investment.

Giving Day Omnichannel Engagement: Key Channels

Texting: Engage and warm your audience

One of the most effective and most popular new additions to
giving day is the texting channel. There are many text use cases on the market
today, but RNL has found that the peer-to-peer mode of communication is much
more effective and efficient than a text to give.

Think about what we spoke about above in regards to the
purpose of giving and how you are going to drive participation. You’re not
going to accomplish that goal by sending a boring text that is 100% focused on
asking for money. Here’s the cadence we have seen work well:

1. Send a warming message that is focused on engagement and
the purpose of your giving day sent a few weeks before the start of your giving

2. The second message should be on the day of giving,
reminding your donor base where they can find the giving day page and why they
should make a gift.

We’ve seen a lot of success with this method from both a response rate perspective (17% response rate at a large public school) and very few unsubscribes. In fact, one school only had 13 people unsubscribe from the texting channel while sending nearly 20,000 messages throughout the two-week process. Your donors want to be texted and want you to communicate with them this way, which is why we would highly recommend you add this channel to your mix this upcoming year.

Digital Engagement: Building awareness and engagement through social media and digital ads

Social media and digital ads should be a huge part of your
giving day plans. Utilizing retargeting ads on your giving day pages, targeted
banner ads for donors who are going to be engaged with your giving day, and geo-fencing
your community during the big day are great ways to ensure you have a great
digital reach.

As we mentioned above, having a strong ambassador program is key to your social outreach and making sure the larger community is aware of what is going on and what they should be getting involved in. Also, feel free to share all of that engaging content that you created across your social channels. Make sure DOD’s and campus leadership are sharing project pages and challenges that are relevant to them and their networks. This will help potential donors find the areas they are interested in and increase the likelihood of making a donation.

Phone & Student Engagement Staff: Making personal connections that lead to gifts

The phone channel is really important during the day of giving. Not only should you be calling from dawn until dusk attempting to raise money but you should also use your student staff for other ways as well. Calling to thank donors, writing thank you cards, creating videos to post on social media, etc. There are so many ways to put this group to work outside of calling for donations, which you should be doing without question. If you have the right platform you should be able to upload all of these donations into your giving day to make sure your donors who make a gift through the phone aren’t missing out on the action.

Email and Mail: Creative uses for traditional channels

Communication through these channels is still vital but
think outside the box. You shouldn’t be providing your donors with the same old
boring content. Think about utilizing postcards, handwritten notes, and really
cool print promotional pieces that explain and promote your giving day.

You can accomplish the same thing by utilizing some of that engaging content via email. We’ve always found that emails that include video increase opens and click through rates so utilize that content that you spent so much time creating to drive donor traffic and engagement.

Talk to RNL About Giving Day Omnichannel Engagement

RNL believes in a true omnichannel effort in your yearly fundraising plan and we believe in doing so on giving day as well. If you’d like to learn more about how RNL can provide a true omnichannel effort on your giving day, talk with our fundraising experts to discuss strategies and solutions.

The post Omnichannel Engagement on Your Giving Day appeared first on Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

Antionette Kerr : How I Became a Self-Care Radical

No Comments Investor Strategy

The elders in my family set high standards for what “hard work” felt and looked like. They subscribed to the adage that people of color (especially women of color) had to work “twice as hard” in business to prove themselves. I deeply respect my family’s wisdom. I credit them for my fierce work ethic, which fit right in with the “do more with less” mindset of nonprofit work, but as I rose through the ranks of nonprofit leadership, I wasn’t quite prepared for the toll it took on my mental, physical and spiritual well-being.

At a time when HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) transitions threatened most aspects of our funding, I said “yes” to more than 12 local and state boards while serving as an executive director of an affordable housing nonprofit and vice president of our state coalition. It was well-known in the community, with family, friends and even clients, that I was stressed and overworked. I took observations like “You work too hard” as a compliment rather than a warning.

I burned out by year six with the leadership role, and after a series of life-threatening medical scares, I had to make major lifestyle shift. In 2012, I applied for and was the youngest person to receive an award from the Z. Smith Reynolds Sabbatical Foundation (ZSR). This amazing program has supported more than 140 executive directors who needed time away from their organizations for self-care and self-reflection. It seemed like a bold move to admit I needed time away from work (or to let my ego think of the staff handling things without me), but a doctor warned me that if I continued ignoring my physical and mental health, I might not make it to my next trip to the emergency room. After my sabbatical, I was able to return to my organization with tools and with this radical notion that self-care is critical to an agency’s collective success.

The following year, I joined the ZSR’s foundation selection committee and along the way read more than 300 nonprofit leaders’ stories and interviewed more than 40 applicants. I began noticing patterns in what nonprofit leaders were experiencing, many of which were deeply rooted in the nonprofit industrial complex. I’ve also started to recognize the “myths” that keep people from valuing self-care. Often these things trickle through to staff.

From office sanctuaries, mindfulness rooms, mini-sabbaticals, to redefining what “hard work” looks like, there are soft skills that can help foster a culture of self-care. I am eager to share this at this year’s Cause Camp as part of the theme DISRUPTION. In many ways, I consider self-care as being a radical notion for self-sacrificing nonprofit leaders. It reminds me of the revolutionary writer Audre Lorde’s perspective, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

 Disclaimer: I don’t consider myself an “expert” in self-care, but as a revolutionary, I am highly motivated to share what I’ve learned along the way.

See you in Lincoln!

Antionette Kerr will speak at Cause Camp 2020.

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

*Early Bird pricing available until January 31, 2020.

The post Antionette Kerr : How I Became a Self-Care Radical appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.

Understanding Why And How People Give

No Comments Investor Strategy

This post is sponsored by GoFundMe

If you’re involved in nonprofit work, you’ve probably thought a lot about what motivates people to donate their hard-earned income to a charitable cause. While much has changed in the nonprofit realm over the last 20 years, the underlying reasons for donating to charity are essentially the same. But exactly how people give and the methods they use have shifted and evolved as nonprofits have taken their fundraising online. 

Mobile giving, peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding have redefined the giving landscape in new and exciting ways. In order to tap into donors’ generosity, you first need to understand what motivates them so you can tailor your fundraising methods accordingly. 

The evolution of online giving and new patterns in generosity  

Charitable giving was never the same after nonprofits first took their fundraising efforts online. And online giving has continued to redefine the way people give and the methods nonprofits use to fundraise. Organizations swapped out direct mail requests for email marketing campaigns and fundraising galas for virtual fundraising drives that required almost no overhead. It became effortless to reach thousands of supporters around the globe with just a few clicks of the mouse. 

In 2012, the Giving Tuesday movement ignited a new wave of generosity across the world, raising over $400 million to date and changing end-of-year fundraising strategies for nonprofits everywhere. Now, 54% of donors worldwide actually prefer to give online with a debit or credit card, so it’s no surprise that the crowdfunding market is expected to grow 89.72 billion from 2018 to 2022—and with it, new avenues to encourage generosity.

What motivates donors to give? 

Whether it’s to feel good about oneself or to support a cause that hits close to home, there are many reasons why people support a charity. Below are three major reasons that compel people to open their wallets. 

They can see the impact of their gift

It’s critical to show and tell your donors exactly how their financial support is making an impact. Otherwise, donors may feel like they’re tossing their money into a black hole. This especially matters to millennials, who said the most important factor in their charitable giving was knowing how their gifts would make a difference. It’s likely that this will be just as important to Gen Zers, who will make up 36% of the global workforce by 2020

They are moved by an individual’s story

When pushing out a new marketing campaign, don’t forget about the power of one. In other words, highlight an individual who has benefitted from your mission and tell their story—people are more moved by stories than pie charts, after all.

Studies have shown that people are more likely to donate when they connect with a specific individual’s story instead of being fed data about a large group of people in need. Focusing on a single individual who represents a larger group or issue also helps reduce compassion collapse. This phenomenon is a lack of empathy that can occur when we’re faced with an overwhelming number of people in need and fail to understand the needs on an individual level. 

They’re just waiting to be asked

One study revealed that for more than 85% of charitable donations, people donated simply because they were asked to. This reveals what most of us probably already know: sometimes all we need is a small nudge to move us in the right direction, especially when it comes to parting with our money. Other studies have revealed that the request size can also make a difference. People were much more willing to comply with a donation request when they were asked to give a small amount, such as $5. 

Four ways to harness generosity online

Keeping in mind the points above, let’s dive into three ways your nonprofit can ensure your online presence will encourage generosity among supporters. 

1. Make your mission statement clear

When was the last time you performed a content audit on your website? Have you updated your “about” page within the last year? Research found that when looking to donate, nine out of 10 millennials will first go to the page on a nonprofit’s website that describes the organization’s mission. Studies revealed that a gift impact statement can be a factor that increases donations. Millennials are now the largest demographic in the US, according to CNN, so it makes sense to consider their giving habits.  

2. Tap into mobile giving

40% of nonprofit website traffic comes from mobile users, according to Charity Navigator, and that figure is likely to rise as we come to rely even more on mobile devices in our day-to-day. It makes sense that the latest evolution in online giving focuses on mobile giving. Is your website optimized for mobile? Have you employed a text-to-give option? Making it as seamless as possible for people to donate on mobile will become increasingly important. 

3. Find a solid peer-to-peer platform

Nonprofit software is nothing new, but not all enterprise software offers an intuitive peer-to-peer option. By empowering your supporters to fundraise on your behalf, you’ll be able to reach new networks and new fundraising goals. Make sure you choose nonprofit fundraising software that is contract-free and doesn’t require subscription fees. 

4. Ask them why they give

Take the guesswork out of the equation and go straight to the source by asking your donors exactly why they were motivated to support your organization in the past. What would they like to hear more about? What would encourage them to give again in the future? These are important questions that can only be answered by reaching out. Sending out a survey will allow you to leverage insights from your most devoted supporters while also demonstrating your commitment to them. 

Use donor motivation and giving insights to make a bigger impact

If nonprofits can truly understand how and why individuals give, they’ll be better equipped to navigate and anticipate current and future giving movements. Data gleaned from studies can reveal helpful altruistic trends, but remember to spend time uncovering why your own donors give back. By tailoring your fundraising campaigns to your supporters’ specific interests and needs, you’ll be able to motivate them to keep giving. 

The post Understanding Why And How People Give appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.

4 Key Steps to Hyper-Personalize Your Donor Engagement

No Comments Investor Strategy

You’ve heard us say before that personalizing the donor experience is the #1 key to success with 21st century donor engagement. When I talk with people about making the transition from “send everything to everyone” to a truly donor-driven communication plan, I often get the response that it seems impossible, or “we’re too small to do that.” But new technology at a radically lower price point is now available to gets over these hurdles so you can hyper-personalize donor engagement quickly and precisely. Here are four steps to get you started.

  1. All your content are belong to us.”* Your campus and associated organizations are already producing a ton of content, from web stories, magazine articles, videos, even social media content. You’ll need to find where all of it lives and get each source catalogued. RSS feeds make this easier, and working with your web team to get a handle on everything that’s being produced and where it lives is crucial.

    *(For those of you who don’t know the meme that inspired this, here’s a little internet history lesson.)

  2. Get your tag on. Each piece of content, from all areas of your campus, needs to be categorized. This includes what it talks about, such as “cancer research” or “social justice.” So an article about internships dealing with corporate responsibility for business students at a pharma company might be tagged with all three of these, and also with “internships.” This multi-categorization of content will be crucial when it’s time to vary content by the interests of the donors you’ve been listening to.
  3. Start listening. Implement one of the powerful, AI-powered automation platforms now as your primary way to engage donors, and start sending communications through it. In days, you’ll start identifying your supporters and tracking what they do to get a better idea of what they care about—what they are clicking on and reading right now—rather than what you’ve coded them in your system by major, previous donations, or what you think they care about.
  4. Let the robots help you scale. You now have an idea of what your donors care about, and you have content ready to match that interest. It’s time to start creating your first personalized communications. This can be as simple as designing a newsletter that drives to your core messages, and also includes several variable blocks of stories and content tailored to what each donor wants. I’ve seen these communications created in about five minutes. My mind was blown.

To hyper-personalize donor engagement at scale, you need automation

RNL QuadWrangle Alumni Engagement

Don’t worry if assembling all your content, tagging everything or listening to donors seems like an impossible thing to start. The best solutions, relying on powerful AI, begin to do these things automatically once you get them started and then pointed in the right place to collect and curate relevant content by donor interests that will fuel your personalized communications. No, the robots are not going to take over our fundraising or communications positions—but they are going to allow for powerful personalization at scale, making it easier for you to focus on creating the best content and fine tuning the messages. The steps above can be completed by many, “average” organizations within 30 days with the right technology and a little help.

We’ve finally reached a point where this powerful personalization technology—linking the tagged content to the interests of the donor that you’re watching over time — is usable by any organization. What used to be reserved for big spenders like Amazon or the big media conglomerates is now in the hands of even “average” donor engagement teams. The user-friendly marketing and content automation solutions that are now available do the heavy lifting of personalization, constantly analyzing and updating data to maximize engagement and response. This lets you spend more time listening to donors and creating content to keep them engaged.

Start engaging more donors through hyper-personalization now

Our AI-powered platform RNL Quadwrangle accomplishes this by making donor engagement easier, faster, and smarter, using the the content resources you already have to get hyper-personalized campaigns created and launched in minutes — yes, minutes.

It’s time to join the big companies and big charities with the power of user-friendly and accessible AI and marketing automation technology. In the 21st century, being donor-centric means listening. And when you do, you’ll see better results immediately. Schedule a demo of RNL QuadWrangle now and see how you can elevate donor engagement and your fundraising results.

Hyper-personalize donor engagement with RNL QuadWrangle

The post 4 Key Steps to Hyper-Personalize Your Donor Engagement appeared first on Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

How to Reach Beyond Your Typical Donor Base

No Comments Investor Strategy

As we reach the end of 2019, reflections and evaluations are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. What is working well? What could we change? How can we grow and create a larger impact? How can we make next year even better?

One of the best ways to increase your impact is to expand your donor base. But I know it’s easier said than done. Here are some tips that might help you branch out from your current base and create some new buzz about your organization. As the new year inches closer, keep these tips in mind.

Finding new donors requires creating a new market.

Think of your nonprofit as a brand. Each brand has a target audience. So how can you shape your brand to appeal to a new target audience while still keeping your current donors? If you target your marketing efforts, it can be easier to appeal to a wider audience. This means choosing your channels and messages wisely.

Strategize your messages.

Different types of people use different channels of media. So start building a profile of your potential new target and think about where they consume their media. Social media is a great start to get the word out and forge new connections. I would recommend Facebook more than anything. If you’re targeting seasoned nonprofit supporters, direct most of your attention there. Ninety-one percent of nonprofit professionals use Facebook to distribute content. 

But to reach out to other, newer audiences, consider the types of people who regularly use each platform and plan accordingly. Maybe to appeal to a younger generation, focus more on Instagram instead. From there, go all-in. Have your current staff, board members, and supporters act like cheerleaders for your organization. Have them share your page, retweet your content and comment on your posts. 

You should also keep an eye on your competitors. Snoop on their social media pages and pay attention to their messaging trends. Look to see how they’re reaching out to donors. What works? What doesn’t? What can you learn from them?

Start from your circle.

 In general, there are three major types of sales:

  1. Buying a refill, something you’ve already purchased before.
  2. Switching to a new model/brand/style.
  3. Buying something for the first time (this one is very rare).

In the long run, it’s much more beneficial to target a person who is already interested in or familiar with your organization than to reach out to someone completely new. The majority of people don’t buy something unless they know it’ll be worth it. That means having some semblance of prior knowledge about the brand or product. People are more likely to donate to something that someone in their circle already supports than to go out on a limb and find a new organization.

A good tactic to get new donors is to start with your current ones. Ask your board members or dedicated supporters to create a map of their personal circles to find people who would potentially be interested. Start asking them to reach out to these like-minded people. 

From there, you could simply add them to your mailing list and hope they like what they read. Or you could host a dialogue event. Have donors, old and new, come to an event that celebrates your organization. Talk about your mission, programs, ways to get involved, impact and success stories. Eat, drink and be merry. Then come in with the kicker: “we need you.” Make sure to follow up with everyone who attended to get feedback on the effectiveness of the event. If it was a hit, you’ve got them hooked.

The post How to Reach Beyond Your Typical Donor Base appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.

7 Strategies to Adapt to the Changes in NACAC Practices

No Comments Investor Strategy

At the 2020 NACAC annual meeting, the organization made the decision to change its code of NACAC practices, a change with dramatic implications for college student recruitment. I discussed in a previous blog those implications and the greater need for student engagement throughout the entire funnel. In this follow up, I will discuss seven strategies institutions can use to target students more effectively, engage them continuously, and ultimately achieve their enrollment goals in this new recruitment environment.

The longer and more challenging student recruitment funnel

First, it’s important to reiterate why the following strategies will be crucial for college student marketing and recruitment. The changes to NACAC practices create two new realities that will make recruitment more challenging for enrollment managers:

  • Students
    will have more time to make their enrollment decision
    —the concept of the
    May 1 deposit deadline was already being weakened before this change, but now
    students will really have until late in the funnel to decide which college to
  • There
    will be increased competition for students late in the cycle
    —this goes
    hand-in-hand with students having more time to make enrollment decisions. Those
    students will get targeted much later than traditionally they have been, which
    means colleges will both need to secure their “committed” students and also
    keep recruiting as well.

I have been an enrollment professional for 25 years, and one
thing that never changes is that change creates opportunity for campuses that
are proactive and willing to adapt. That will be more necessary than ever now,
but the good news is there are great strategies for colleges and universities
to compete effectively and bring in the classes they want.

1) Strengthen the quality and quantity of your inquiry pool

Laying the foundation for a strong inquiry pool will be one
of the best strategies for staying on track for meeting your goals (and
avoiding some sleepless nights later in the year!). Predictive modeling is one
of the most effective methods for doing this. It enables you to see not only
which students are more likely to enroll—allowing you to prioritize your
recruitment resources much more effectively—but also see which high-scoring
prospects you should add to your inquiry pool at the start. Then, continuing to
manage and monitor your inquiry pool with analytics and data-informed decision
making will keep you moving toward your goals.

Digital engagement is even more essential after changes in NACAC practices

Digital engagement is also a must today to build your applicant pool. You need the ability to personalize at scale, track results, and drive more students to application completion. Digital also allows you to gather more info on the preferences and expectations of students, so you can tailor content and communications that provide the precise information students need to take action.

Ultimately, this approach helps you gather not only the
right number of applicants, but the right applicants who are more likely to

2) Demonstrate ROI with comprehensive graduate outcomes

Providing outcomes to prospective students and their
families will really separate the enrollment winners in this post-NACAC
environment. If you can tell a student
or parent how your alumni succeed in the job market or post-graduate
placements, you will remove one of the major enrollment reservations for them.

This is not easy to do on your own, however, because of the challenges in acquiring quantifiable data such as labor market data. That’s why RNL has partnered with specialized firms such as Equifax and Emsi to provide that vital data to our campus partners via our new RNL Alumni Outcomes Optimization service.

3) Turn the award letter into an award campaign

According to RNL research, two out of three students say they have some questions about the costs associated with their awards, and one in ten do not fully understand those costs until they receive their bill. The financial aid award needs to not only clearly understood, but also make a compelling case for attending your institution.

RNL has taken a big step in this area by creating the personalized financial aid video, a revolutionary new way to communicate aid awards to students and families. It quickly engages students, informs them about their award, and excites them about enrolling. This is precisely the kind of omnichannel engagement campuses will need to make with their awarding efforts to compete for the students they want to enroll.


4) Manage melt to maximize yield

Campuses already lose one in ten students to melt according to the 2019 Discounting Report, and that could increase after these changes to NACAC practices. In a competitive environment where enrollments are flattening, campuses need to do everything they can to increase yield with the students they have invested so many resources in. We work with our campus partners on yield campaigns that continue to push benefits to attending and building connections to the campus. These campaigns also incorporate the latest and greatest innovations for enrollment yield through the student engagement network provided by our partner Nearpeer and the digital engagement solutions from Conduit.

It should go without saying that, in this environment, the campus visit is more important than ever. Research continually shows that the campus visit is one of the most important tools you have, so make sure you do them well. RNL is proud to have the pre-eminent campus visit consulting firm as part of our family — Render Experiences.

5) Turning parents into enrollment champions

Parent engagement is nothing new, but while many institutions may “reach out” to parents, they are not truly engaging them and harnessing the considerable enrollment influence they have. Three out of four parents say they are very involved with their children’s enrollment decision. Recruit the parents and you take a big step toward enrolling the student. This is why RNL has partnered with CampusESP and added their capabilities to our enrollment solutions. The alumni outcomes I discussed earlier are also critical to engaging parents and convincing them your institution is a worthwhile investment.

6) Increase your enrollment potential for transfer students

Transfer students represent a terrific opportunity for campuses, but many do not nearly do enough to recruit this untapped market. That’s partly because it is a more unpredictable and unknown population, one that tends to make enrollment decisions quickly—all the more reason why a data-driven enrollment strategy is required for a smart and effective transfer student enrollment strategy. Pre-enrollment analytics such as the ones used by RNL can help uncover transfer student markets and qualify your pool so you can act quickly and precisely to enroll these students.

7) Tap into outside expertise and solutions

Enrollment management becomes an increasingly complex
process every year. It includes everything from data management and analytics,
omnichannel communication, digital marketing, AI and marketing automation…more
elements than any institution can manage.

We work with hundreds of colleges and universities every year to ensure that they not only deploy the best innovations in enrollment, but also receive guidance from consultants who have been in their shoes. All of my consulting colleagues are former campus enrollment managers like me who now make it our mission to bring enrollment success to the campuses we serve as strategists. These changes to NACAC practices will make the enrollment environment more challenging, but we know we can guide our campus partners to success.

Talk to us about adapting to these changes in NACAC Practices

Contact RNL

I invite you to contact us for a free consultation and see how we can help you not only adapt to these new enrollment realities, but find new opportunities for success that always appear after changes like this.

The post 7 Strategies to Adapt to the Changes in NACAC Practices appeared first on Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

The Importance of College Student Engagement and Satisfaction for Student and Institutional Success

No Comments Investor Strategy

Student feedback data is a key element for understanding the student experience on campus.Satisfaction instruments and surveys on college student engagement are two ways that institutions capture the perceptions of their students about their experience inside and outside of the classroom.The combination of survey results provides a more complete perspective for institutions to consider.

The Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) from RNL captures how students assess their experience at the institution, both inside and outside of the classroom.The SSI asks students to identify levels of importance and satisfaction with a variety of items including instruction, advising, registration, financial aid, residence life, campus climate, and others. It is administered across all class levels during any time in the academic year, as determined by the institution and is appropriate for students at four-year and two-year colleges.

The National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) asks students to identify the amount of time and effort they put into their studies and other educational activities. The NSSE also captures student perceptions on the ways their institution provides resources, organizes the curriculum and encourages students to participate in activities that have been linked to student learning outcomes.The NSSE instrument is administered to first year and senior students only, in the spring of the academic year.The Community College Survey on Student Engagement (CCSSE) is administered to all students at two-year institutions and captures similar experiences as the NSSE.

Using Both the SSI and NSSE/CCSSE on Campus

The satisfaction and engagement instruments capture different aspects of the student experience, but the items on each instrument also support each other.Both assessments provide complementary opportunities to capture a more complete picture of the undergraduate experience to promote student learning, success, and educational attainment. Both instruments help campuses to think about how students interact with the institution.

College student engagement assessments show how students invest their time, the effort they devote to various academic and co-curricular endeavors, and the resulting gains they feel they achieve. Student satisfaction assessments look at satisfaction and the importance students place on various services, programs, and experiences, as well as the relative degree of satisfaction that results from their transactions. Student satisfaction assessments pinpoint areas within the institution that need immediate attention.

College student engagement assessments and student satisfaction assessments share some common characteristics as well.Both surveys examine important elements of the student experience, with engagement assessments focusing more on the academic / classroom dimensions while student satisfaction assessments focus more broadly on the total experience. In addition, both instruments yield information designed to illuminate and improve student and institutional performance.Stronger student retention results from high levels of student engagement and satisfaction.

Assessing both student satisfaction and student engagement is important in order to inform and guide an institution’s retention efforts.Both types of assessments provide timely, systematic, and relevant information on various facets of the undergraduate experience.Both instruments play an important role in crafting retention activities that improve student and institutional performance.

Students Are More Likely to be Satisfied if They are Engaged, and More Likely to be Engaged if they are Satisfied

We explored this topic with three campus presenters in a webinar, Student Satisfaction and Engagement: Using the Data for Student Success. They talked about their use of the RNL Student Satisfaction Inventory along with the National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) at the four-year institutions and the Community College Survey on Student Engagement (CCSSE) at the two-year institution.

Eckerd College (Florida)

MacNeil, executive director of institutional effectiveness, shared that they
found the SSI data to be fast and actionable, while the NSSE results provide
longer range benchmarking for them.
Since the NSSE is focused on the freshman and senior students, Eckerd
College sees the SSI results as helping them to get data in the intervening
years from sophomores and juniors as well.
As they look at the results from both instruments, they consider the
results reflecting the student experience in this manner:

  • SSI: Live, Work (academically), and Play
  • NSSE: Work (academically), Play and Live

Eckerd makes use of regular “listening sessions” with students to gather additional feedback on identified challenge items from the SSI. Jacqueline shared that students have the answers they are looking for and students are excited to share their opinions. She also noted that while there are times when “bad news” needs to be shared with faculty from both survey instruments, the data can lead to useful questions and the opportunity to work with the faculty to identify next steps to be responsive to the survey results.

Cornell College (Iowa)

Bethany Miller, formerly the director of institutional research at Cornell College and the new director of institutional research at Mary Baldwin University in Virginia, focused on her experience with the SSI and NSSE at Cornell and indicated that she is just beginning to work with the data from both instruments at Mary Baldwin as well.At Cornell, Bethany used “Wine, Cheese and Data” presentations to faculty, administrators and staff to share the results and to gather buy in for next steps with the data. She also met with each department to share the data that was relevant to the work those individuals were doing and helped them to identify strategies to raise satisfaction and engagement. She indicated that people on campus want help knowing how to digest and use the data in their work.

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College (Wisconsin)

Mandy Henkel, research analyst in the Department of College Effectiveness, gathers data from their on-ground students with the SSI and CCSSE and from their online students with the RNL Priorities Survey for Online Learners (PSOL).She said that the data from all of the survey instruments make it easier to enact changes based on the results. All of the surveys are aligned with the Higher Learning Commission accreditation criteria, and the results are included in their Institutional Vitality Process which documents key performance indicators. Mandy noted that education and communication are key with the satisfaction and engagement survey results.She also acknowledged that not everyone on campus will understand data results in the same way, so she makes a point of presenting the results in charts and graphs, written paragraphs, specific examples and in bite size chunks, depending on her audience.

Watch the webinar for Student Satisfaction and Engagement

New Resource Available

A new resource is available from RNL which shows how the items on the Student Satisfaction Inventory support and are supported by the items on the National Survey on Student Engagement or the Community College Survey on Student Engagement.To request your copy (please indicate the version for the NSSE or CCSSE and if you want the original Form A SSI or the shorter Form B SSI version), send me an email.

The post The Importance of College Student Engagement and Satisfaction for Student and Institutional Success appeared first on Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

Top 5 Essentials for Your Nonprofit Website

No Comments Investor Strategy

As your nonprofit starts to build a new website, you may immediately run into questions or roadblocks. How should your website be structured? What content do you want to display up front? How should you customize each page?

Website design is important, and leveraging the right web development features will help you navigate many of these questions. Customizing your website will enable you to effectively tell your nonprofit’s story, so be sure to use a website builder that allows for some creativity and flexibility.

This all comes down to your content management system (CMS). Your CMS should provide you with the tools and functionality to build out the exact website you want, without any confusion or frustration. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top features you should look for in a CMS when building your nonprofit website:

  1. Customizability
  2. Mobile Optimization
  3. Fundraising Software
  4. SEO Tools
  5. Blogging Tools

Making the most of the above features will help boost your online presence and make a great first impression for new site visitors. Let’s get started.


What if your team isn’t experienced in web design and needs a simple, straightforward way to present your content? Look for a CMS with simple customizable features so you can easily create and update your site without any coding experience required.

With a customizable CMS, you’ll be able to take advantage of tools like:

  • Drag-and-drop. Drag-and-drop tools allow you to pick from a set of pre-designed elements and play around with your page’s design without the need to carefully code each component.
  • Live editing tools. Use live editing tools to ensure your live page looks exactly how you want it. Edit your page in real-time on the front end of your website instead of having to guess how it will look from the back end.
  • Images and videos. Featuring compelling visuals on your website can help tell your nonprofit’s story, encourage visitors to explore your website further, and even inspire them to make a donation. Make sure your logo is prominently displayed on each page of your website and take advantage of features like image carousels to avoid overcrowding the space. 
  • Data capture. Add email sign-ups for newsletters or volunteering so you can capture data from your web visitors and keep them engaged with your organization.
  • Social media integrations. Since many of your supporters will likely engage with your nonprofit on social media, make sure your CMS supports social media integrations like live social feeds for Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Customization features can help you portray your nonprofit exactly how you want. Make a positive first impression by creating a professional website that’s easily editable and looks how you envisioned it. From there, you’ll have a solid foundation for building it up.

Mobile Optimization

Most people view websites on their smartphones these days, which means potential donors who visit your website may be viewing it on a smaller screen. That means optimizing your website for mobile is incredibly important, and you need a CMS with mobile-responsive functionality to make it happen.

Here are the top mobile-related features you should look for as you build your website:

  • Mobile responsiveness. Each page of your website should adjust to fit any size screen, whether it’s a tablet, desktop, or smartphone.
  • Mobile forms. Every form on your website, including donation forms, volunteer sign-ups, etc., should adjust for mobile. If your visitors try to make a donation on their smartphone and have to zoom in and out or rotate their device, there’s a chance they’ll abandon the form altogether.
  • Lead capture forms. Pop-ups like lead capture forms should scale for mobile so that visitors don’t become frustrated looking for a way to close the pop-up screen.

Optimizing for mobile users is a good strategy for boosting donations and giving your web visitors a positive experience. Even more, you’ll reach a lot more people, and fewer people will leave due to a negative experience.

Fundraising Software

Your website is already a powerful fundraising tool because it houses all of the information individuals need to learn about your nonprofit and get involved with your cause. For that reason, pick a CMS that makes it easy to engage your supporters and raise funds.

Your CMS should offer:

  • Donation pages. Add an on-site donation page, which is one of the most important elements of your website. Ensure your donation page is easy to navigate and branded to your organization so individuals are more inclined to give. You’ll also want to make sure your donation page is easy to access from anywhere on your website by highlighting it in your navigation menu.
  • eCommerce. Some supporters prefer to give in other ways. Use a CMS that offers eCommerce capabilities so you can set up a store with merchandise (like custom shirts) and offer another way for individuals to support your cause.
  • Event management features. Easily design event registration pages and create an events calendar that’s easy to update. Your CMS should give you the tools to do this so you can keep your supporters updated on important events and collect payment directly through your website.

One of the most important functions of your nonprofit’s website is to fundraise for your cause. You can do this through an on-site donation page or an online store. Your website should also make it easy to register and purchase tickets for your events. From there, follow tips like these to keep your momentum going.

SEO Tools

You’ve probably heard the term search engine optimization (SEO), but do you know how to implement it into your nonprofit’s website? SEO involves optimizing content on your website to help it prominently rank in popular search engines, like Google.

If you’re new to web design, chances are you don’t have a lot of experience in SEO, either. According to Morweb’s guide to nonprofit web development, you should pick a CMS with SEO tools that can help you improve your site’s content and rank better on search engines.

These tools include:

  • Meta title editors. Your meta title is the title search engines display in search results. Make sure your CMS allows you to easily edit your meta title so you can boost click-through rates.
  • Meta description editors. Your meta description is a short description that describes the purpose of your web page and what content they can expect to find there. Your CMS should make it simple to edit your meta description tags.
  • Customizable URLs. Your website’s URLs should also be customizable. URLs that are too long or difficult to read can turn web visitors away. However, if your URL includes the keyword you’re targeting and remains short and simple, you’re more likely to rank and get visitors.

When your CMS allows you to customize content with key SEO elements, your nonprofit’s website will have a higher chance of ranking on search engines and getting more attention from web users. Make sure your CMS offers these features so you can maximize your online presence.

Blogging Tools

Will you be posting blog articles on your website? Blogs are an impactful way for nonprofits to communicate the good they’re doing and keep their supporters updated on their progress. But running a blog takes organization, especially when you want it to drive your supporters to take action.

Blogging tools are an important feature that should be part of your CMS. With the right toolkit, you can easily craft your posts and share your content to other channels. These features include:

  • An easy-to-use blog editor. The process of drafting, formatting, and editing your blog posts should be intuitive. Create your posts the way you want so they match your nonprofit’s branding and are tailored for your readers.
  • Scheduling tools. If you’re leveraging an editorial calendar, make sure your CMS allows you to schedule posts so you can ensure they go out at the right time. This will also give your staff time to review posts before they go live and make sure they’re just right.
  • Live previews. As with the rest of your site, it’s important to preview your blog posts before you publish them. Find a CMS that offers a live preview mode so you can make sure your blog posts look exactly how you want them to both on your computer and on mobile before they go live.
  • Social media share icons. Encourage your readers to share your content on other platforms by offering share options for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email etc.

Nonprofit web design takes a lot of planning and organization. Make sure your CMS offers you the tools you need to stay on top of your blog content and communicate exactly what you need to your audience. Keeping your website content current is one of the most essential parts of great web design, and this can set your site up for success. 

Building your nonprofit website doesn’t have to be a daunting task. If you focus on the features that your organization will need, you should end up with the right tools to help you put together a professional and intuitive web design.

Looking for some more guidance? Check out Morweb’s guide to nonprofit web design for some of the top best practices.

The post Top 5 Essentials for Your Nonprofit Website appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.

Genevieve Piturro : The I in INSPIRATION

No Comments Investor Strategy

Inspiration is one of the most humbling feelings we humans can experience. And it was everywhere with the inaugural class of the Find Your Pajamas Nonprofit Business Intensive & Pitch Contest. We assembled on Saturday, September 14th at the beautiful New York City, SOHO offices of our host, Scholastic, Inc.

Almost 20 years ago, a little girl asked me what pajamas were. She inspired me to quit my successful job and start a nonprofit I called the Pajama Program. For 18 of those 20 years, I have led teams of volunteers, leaders, successful boards and executives who fundraise and operate award-winning nonprofits and shared my story. I have to attribute a majority of the success of Pajama Program to the power of the “Human Connection.” Through connecting with my employees and leadership teams on personal human levels, they, in turn, learned how to better connect with the communities we are serving and have been able to grow Pajama Program to 60 chapters throughout the country.

As the founder of the Pajama Program, over the years I was often asked to mentor other entrepreneurs or nonprofit founders, and I found the mentorships to be my most favorite roles. My mentees inspired me! I have met and mentored hundreds of people with unique and heartfelt ideas for nonprofits. Some were inspired to jump off the corporate ladder as I did, and others found ways to help while continuing in their day jobs. Sharing my knowledge with them and seeing their passions kept me inspired just as my story inspired them.

Over time, I realized that there was a need for others like me looking to connect with like-minded nonprofit founders to share frustrations, challenges, build comradery and learn new technology and business skills to take their nonprofits to the next level.

So, we brought founders of 18 nonprofits together with 16 veteran nonprofit founders and leaders for an intimate workshop in September. The biggest takeaway from the event was not how to condense an elevator speech into two minutes or how to send a better marketing email, it was the bold, passionate and unbridled INSPIRATION that the group as a whole gave to each other. This unexpected, fresh and authentic feeling told me that in addition to business tools, nonprofit founders need confidence-boosting skills to help them battle the self-doubt that all entrepreneurs come up against. They needed ways to stay inspired.

Below are my five takeaways from our nonprofit event on how social entrepreneurs and nonprofit founders can create their own INSPIRATION on those days when you are questioning yourself and your mission. It begins with the I. It’s important to remind yourself of these every day to maintain the confidence and strength in pursuing your passions!

  • I have a purpose
  • I can connect with others to share my mission
  • I will see my efforts through to the next step
  • I envision the recipients and community benefiting from my organization
  • I believe that there is a solution to every challenge

By embracing these five sayings― writing them down, posting them on your mirror, reciting them on the commute to the office ―you will regain your sense of purpose and stay the course.

I knew I’d be emotional meeting all of our new nonprofits, but I never imagined how deep my feelings would go. After spending the day together, I could barely find the words to say when I was wrapping up the day and announcing the winner of our pitch contest. What was to be an educational, supportive, encouraging, and yes, fun day too…turned into a WOW event! We took it to levels I never dreamed we’d go. The camaraderie, kinship and spirit of togetherness that started the minute each of the participants walked into the event was immediately palpable.

The words I wanted to say at the end of the day were Thank You. Every nonprofit inspired and motivated me to believe in humanity’s enduring goodness and I am in awe of every single one of them.

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

*Early Bird pricing available until January 31, 2020.

The post Genevieve Piturro : The I in INSPIRATION appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.