Tag: fundraising campaign

With the light still with us to mid-evening and the pumpkin spice barely dusted, it’s hard to think about the negative wind chill and frantic fundraising that is coming in December. But as one of Big Duck’s resident fundraising mavens, year-end campaign season–often dubbed “a nonprofit’s most financially rewarding time of the year”–is always on my mind. So why do I want it on yours? Well, it’s really never too early to get started, and I want to help make it easy—so let’s focus on the tools you already have: your brand and your donors.

Use your brand strategy to guide your fundraising

If you’ve read Brandraising, or attended one of our sessions at the NTC, you know that the heart of your brand strategy is positioning and personality. Positioning is the big idea that you hope supporters associate with your organization. It’s also what sets you apart. Personality is the set of attributes or feelings you want people to associate with your organization. With your organization’s positioning and personality in hand, you can develop or judge different creative themes for your fundraising campaign.

Farra Trompeter quote: By tailoring your approach to the people who already know you, you celebrate how they have helped you accomplish your victories and invite them to continue partnering with you.Because your year-end fundraising should be an extension of your work year-round, these communications should feel like an extension of your usual communications. Yes, your year-end campaign should be special, and this may be a time of year where you invest more time and money into what you send out. But if your year-end fundraising does not sound, look, and feel like you, your current donors may be confused and less likely to give. Use year-end fundraising to accentuate your incredible work and reinforce what they already know– and love– about you.

As you develop the campaign theme and roadmap to connect all campaign elements, don’t forget to start by breaking down your fundraising goals into SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) objectives. Once you have crafted those objectives (download this handy worksheet), it’s easier to hone in on the strategies and tactics that will achieve them.

Appeal to your core donors – and acknowledge them too

Fundraising campaigns typically focus on renewing or appealing to existing donors, reinstating lapsed donors, and/or acquiring new donors. For year-end fundraising campaigns, we often recommend organizations focus first on renewing past supporters, either recent or lapsed, rather than running a major acquisition campaign to get new supporters. That’s because less than one of out of every three new donors renew their support (based on the latest data from Fundraising Effectiveness Project summarized by Bloomerang)–but when they do, they are 15% more likely to keep on giving–so the value of a donor retained can be far greater than that of one acquired.

By tailoring your approach to year-end fundraising to the people who already know you, you celebrate how they have helped you accomplish your victories and invite them to continue partnering with you into the future.

As we enter the season of giving, be sure to give donors other actions to take beyond giving and remember to say ‘thank you’ to all of your supporters. This can be a great time to make phone calls, send handwritten notes, post a video message or thanks, and let donors know that you love them. Not sure what to say on a thank you call? Try this thank you call guide so that staff, board members, and volunteers go into each call with a game plan.

If you do want to acquire new donors through your year-end appeals, consider running a mini-campaign for #GivingTuesday. While some organizations just send out one email on #GivingTuesday, many nonprofits find success sending out multiple emails before, during, and after that day, as well as posting on social media channels and their website. If you acquire new donors on #GivingTuesday be sure to engage them once they give via a welcome series or a more segmented approach in your follow-up communications.

Still hungry for more tips?

My colleague, Ally Dommu, Big Duck’s director of strategy, shares these five high-value tips that you can put in place now and test before year-end season.

Auctions can excite donors and raise funds fast, and that makes them an ideal way to engage your base of support while hitting your fundraising goals.

Experienced fundraisers know that collecting key fundraising metrics is a valuable part of any fundraising event. When collected during a fundraising auction, this data can help guide your organization’s future events and greatly refine your understanding of your donor base.

With smart planning and some adaptive digital tools, you can host an online or live charity auction for any level of donor. Thoughtfully planning your auction and considering your exact goals well ahead of time will ensure a successful event that boosts engagement and raises funds.

1. Use targeting in your auction strategy

Segmenting your donor base is never a bad idea. In fact, it’s the first step in targeting your auction strategy.

Depending on the kind of auction you want to host and the level of donor you’d like to engage, you need to consider your organization’s options and tools for organizing and directing the event. For instance:

  • Major donors are more likely to enjoy live auction events. Simplify the entire experience by providing digital tools for mobile bidding.
  • Mid-level donors and members will enjoy live and digital fundraising auction events that foster a sense of community and have lower stakes.
  • Your entire donor base will enjoy online charity auction events, with extended timeframes and a reduced sense of competition.

It’s always important to speak your donors’ language, which includes understanding and anticipating their expectations of any given fundraising event.

The takeaway: Digital auction and bidding tools help you target your charity auction to specific segments of your donor base, increasing engagement and ensuring a successful auction.

2. Tailor your catalog to specific donor levels

Once you’ve thoughtfully adjusted your event strategy and digital toolkit, it’s important that you do the same with your catalog of auction items. Consider these questions:

  • Who are your intended donors for this auction? Just one segment or everyone?
  • Will this charity auction event be live or hosted online?
  • What initially drew your supporters to your organization?
  • What are the goals of your campaign and of this specific event?

Consciously tailoring your catalog to your specific campaign and intended donors ensures your event will be relevant to the interests of those you want to engage. For instance, a high-profile auction might offer items in a higher price range since attendees will be more excited for some friendly competition.

In contrast, auction items for a local school fundraiser need to be suited to a wide range of donor levels. Including some raffle items and events within a more traditional auction would be a great strategy to address this need, and this is why it’s important to invest in versatile school auction software or other tools that can adapt to your needs.

For online auctions, offering items with starting bids higher than your average online donation is the quickest way to lose your donors’ interest.

The takeaway: Offer items that your intended donors will want and can also easily afford. Otherwise, you could alienate your broader donor base or waste your major donors’ interest.

3. Use integrated event software to plan your auction

Using a comprehensive event planning software can make the entire planning process considerably more efficient, saving you time and resources.

For a charity auction of any size, live or online, it’s important that you be able to compile and access information quickly. Keep the entire event running smoothly with functions like:

  • Event website hosting, registration tools, and check-in functions
  • Automated invitation emails and mailing lists
  • Ability to store and process payment and shipping information
  • Online and mobile bidding support

Not only will a strong event management software solution prevent any logistical hiccups in your auction, it’ll also provide you with important analytic reporting that will be invaluable to your future campaigns.

The takeaway: Find event management software that will support online and mobile auctions as well as integrate and process all your data.

4. Consider the broader context of your fundraising campaign

Is your charity auction a standalone fundraising event, or is it part of a broader fundraising campaign?

A larger standalone charity auction is a major fundraising event in and of itself and should be marketed as such. Online auctions and mobile bidding, while also unique events, are a perfect element to configure into your broader social fundraising campaigns.

Think of your different fundraising strategies and the ways that online auction events might be integrated into them:

  • Augment your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Peer-to-peer fundraising pages can provide donors with information on your online auction.
  • Offer special promotions from your sponsors. If your organization is supported by local businesses, offer special discounts or service packages in a special online auction.
  • Use online auctions to promote other fundraising events. For instance, if you’ll be hosting a charity golf tournament, let participants bid on mulligans!
  • Online and mobile bidding tools have made it cheaper and easier to incorporate auction elements into other fundraising strategies, which will boost your overall campaign strategies.

The takeaway: If your overarching campaign involves other digital outlets or fundraising events, brainstorm some ways that an online auction could contribute to overall donor engagement.

5. Promote your auction through targeted outlets

Marketing is an essential part of any successful fundraising event, and it’s crucial to spread the word through channels relevant to your supporters.

Here are some targeted methods that you might use to promote your auction event:

  • A social media campaign to spread awareness among all your followers
  • An email campaign to more specific segments of donors
  • Special promotions or printed material at your other fundraising events
  • A direct mail campaign to all your members

A social media blast would be perfect for a broad online auction event, while targeted email, direct mail, or phone calls might work best for a live charity auction for your more major donors.

Additionally, create a dedicated microsite for your live or online auction events through your event management software or online auction platform. This is the best place to direct supporters for more information and to tease some special items from the auction catalog.

The takeaway: Depending on the type of donors that you’re hoping to engage with your auction event, you should specifically target your marketing strategies to best catch their attention.

As with any fundraising event, it’s important to put as much planning and forethought into your charity auctions and online auction events as possible. This ensures that both your donors and your organization will get something of value from the event.

By targeting and tailoring every aspect of your event to maximize its relevance and appeal to your supporters, you’ll be sure to host a successful auction and reach your fundraising goals.

Spring has sprung, and we all know what that means—time to start thinking about your GivingTuesday strategy!

If only it were this easy…

Yes, it’s not until November, but if you want your nonprofit’s worthy cause to stand out from the crowd and inspire your supporters, now is the time to start your plans.

Coming up on May 23, Digital Storytelling in Fundraising will help you create compelling narratives to share with your supporters, so that they feel more connected to your work and your mission.

Once you’ve got those creative juices flowing, make sure your plan is powered by data: define the metrics you need to engage donors and increase income with our Data-Driven Fundraising course.

There are many pieces to the fundraising puzzle, and our online courses can help you see the big picture and all the little details. By the time GivingTuesday rolls around this year, you’ll be calm, cool, and collected in the midst of the storm, watching all your hard work and preparation pay off.

There are trees, and there is forest. There are anecdotes, and there is data. There are the pinprick pixels of our individual experiences, and there is the vast picture they paint together of the world we share.

The M+R Benchmarks Study is our annual attempt to bridge that divide. This year, we have collected an extensive array of data points from 154 nonprofit participants. Each of them marks a single digital interaction with a supporter: an email opened, a donation made, a petition signed, a website visited, an ad clicked, a Facebook post liked, or tweet retweeted. All told, these add up to 4,699,299,330 email messages, 527,754,635 web visits, and 11,958,385 donations.

NTEN is proud to partner with M+R once again for the latest Benchmarks report. Explore or download it here.


NTEN is proud to release a digital fundraising workbook designed for nonprofit professionals: Embracing Your Strategic Potential.

Taking you step-by-step through the development of a successful strategy, this workbook helps you craft a plan that includes a single goal, clear objectives, and detailed, measurable tactics. The framework is fit for organizations big and small, and emphasizes collaboration among relevant departments.

Written by digital fundraising consultant and trainer Todd Whitley, this 21-page toolkit will guide you from crafting a strategy through tactical implementation, testing, and review.

Thanks to our sponsor, DonorPerfect, we are able to offer this resource free of charge.

Click on the image and enter your name and email to opt in to NTEN alerts and download the workbook. You can change your email preferences at any time.


Todd Whitley leads our online course, Digital Fundraising Fundamentals, March 14, 2018.

It’s awards season, which means this is your chance to celebrate your own wins and the amazing work of other nonprofit technology professionals.

The Care2 Impact Award recognizes a campaign or initiative in the nonprofit sector that has made an outstanding impact on the field of online advocacy, online fundraising, or both. The winning organization will receive a cash donation of $1,000 from Care2. The runners up will each receive the Care2 Innovation Award; Care2 will make a $200 donation to each of these organizations. The awards will be presented in March at the 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC). Entries close midnight EST on Saturday, February 11. Enter now.

Entries are also open for the DoGooder Video Awards, which celebrates videos that have the power to move people and transform lives. NTEN is proud to partner on this award, and will show the winning videos from last year’s award at the NTC in March. They’re designed to help honor the best work from people or organizations who are using the medium to move the needle for their cause. Entries close Monday, February 13. Find out more.


The digital landscape is changing at a dizzying rate and sometimes it feels like the plans you made yesterday are obsolete by morning. But help is at hand!

For the third year, NTEN is proud to partner with Care2, hjc and Resource Alliance on a report that sets the standard for nonprofit digital planning. But we need your help. The 2017 Digital Outlook Report is powered by responses by nonprofit professionals just like you. The survey will take about 10-15 minutes to complete and you’ll be entered in the drawing for some great prizes.

Take the survey today and be the first to know when the findings are published later this year.


How many emails is the right number to send to your constituents? What kind of fundraising appeals are most effective? These are the questions that keep nonprofit marketing and development staff awake at night.

This year, NTEN is again teaming up with M+R on its Benchmarks Study: an in-depth look at nonprofit data, strategy, and trends. The study helps nonprofit fundraisers, organizers, and marketers make smart decisions based on the experiences of their peers. But we need your help.

Will you take part in the 11th Benchmarks Study in 2017? By adding your data, you’ll help make Benchmarks more useful. Your investment will be just a few hours of effort to collect and report your data to M+R, which will confidentially roll it up into the final study.

Complete the expression of interest form to take part.

This infographic shows trends in sustaining donors as compared with one-time donors. It is based on data from DonorPerfect.

sustaining donors


As the grand finale to NTEN’s Leading Change Summit, a covey of 15LCS attendees pitched and developed changemaking projects during the Idea Accelerator.

The Summit may have ended, but many of these projects are just getting started. Today, we want to introduce you to “The Change Jar,” an idea pitched by Teresa Peltier.

What is your big idea?
The Change Jar is a microdonation campaign that highlights the importance of public media during the election season, in order to explore new audience networks and test new fundraising models.

The Change Jar will allow the user to chose his or her local public media station, set an automatic microdonation level, select an automatic payment schedule, and connect with his/her preferred payment vendor.

When feeling frustrated by commercial media or inspired by a local station, the user simply opens the app/mobile site, and taps the change jar to add a few cents to the pot. Or, he grabs the change out of his pocket, and drops it into a real-life jar.

On Election Day 2016, community members will automatically send their change to their local station or drop off the value in their jars. They’ll know that when they gave their change, they also helped change the conversation in their community!

How did the idea get started?

Our CEO and our Development Director shared a great story with me a few months back…

One of our listeners felt so frustrated by the negative political messaging he continually heard on commercial media (and so grateful for the respectful, in-depth coverage he heard on public media), that every time he changed the channel away from a negative message, he took the change out of his pocket, and put it in a change jar. He also stressed the importance of public media not accepting underwriting dollars from campaigns and political advocacy groups.

When the election season ended, he donated all the change in that jar to WSKG.

How did the idea evolve during the Idea Accelerator?

I came to the Leading Change Summit with a set of fairly broad strategic ideas. I planned to work on these gradually. Though I looked forward to the opportunity to practice my pitching skills at the Idea Accelerator, I didn’t anticipate offering an exceptionally interesting idea.

However, during the Summit’s opening remarks, I was really inspired by Michael Smith. He came out asking if we were “Fired up!” and I left that night fired up to work on a tangible, community-driven idea. The member story above immediately came to mind.

Throughout the Summit, I tailored my work session choices—pilot programs, systems assessments, continuing engagement—to building the idea and gathered as much feedback from my hub-mates as I could. They were especially helpful in crafting my pitch on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday morning, I came to the Idea Accelerator with a solid inspiration and opened myself to critical feedback from public radio lovers (and haters!). Accelerator helpers not only refined the basic idea, but they also gave inspiration for advanced elements down the line and perspectives on how the app could help any nonprofit fundraise. The experts onhand also provided a lot of guidance—they found all the holes, made sure I had an MVP, and gave me repeated chances to pitch the idea and hear thoughtful feedback. Thanks to the hard work my teammates put in, I even had time to mock up some basic app designs.

The Change Jar Wireframes

Who could use this?
In its original form, The Change Jar app is designed for public media stations who air and produce news content. I’m looking for pilot stations to help WSKG test the app; if you work at a station, please reach out!

However, the concept behind the app and the in-real-life campaign have lessons and models for any nonprofit. I hope that the app has legs beyond this election-specific effort for public media organizations and for other nonprofits who want to reach donors and make change in new ways!

What does this project need?

This project really needs two things:

  1. A great app developer looking to build his or her portfolio or help the public media cause!
  2. More public radio and television stations who want to pilot the app in their local communities!

What’s next for this project?
We hope to launch this project in our local market in Upstate New York as soon as possible. With a group of pilot stations, we can take it further and faster and craft lessons for all of public media. Who knows— maybe someday, you won’t hear your local station asking for donations and offering tote bags; maybe you’ll just tap your Change Jar when you hear something good!