Predictive Modelling for Future Peer to Peer Fundraising Events

Predictive Modelling uses “big data” to help predict the future.  It’s the data-driven, more reliable version of a crystal ball.  Last year, I worked with 2017 npExpert Katrina VanHuss at TurnKey P2P to build a model for walking events with no registration fee to give visibility into the future success of your walk based on the event’s current progress to date.


This predictive model can help you with understanding the real-time health of your event to ensure that you will hit your goals by event day. It also gives you earlier visibility into your numbers, so you can take corrective action and set executive expectations.


For traditional events like walks, event participation and total funds raised follow an exponential growth curve when tracked over time.  This growth pattern is relatively similar event to event, regardless of size, which makes it possible for you to use the model to track the real-time health of your event based on the number of days out from your event, the number of people registered and total fundraising (excluding sponsorships.)


Predictive Modeling for Fundraising Events

Predictive Model for Funds Raised & # of Participants based on # of days out from the event

Days until the Event % of participants % of funds raised
120 Days 1% 1%
90 days 20% 6%
60 days 30% 10%
30 days 50% 30%
14 days 64% 60%
7 days 75% 90%


Additionally, you can use this same predictive model to forecast how much money you’ll have in the bank AND how many people will show up when event day gets here.


Here’s the equation:

  • Total # of participants = today’s participant count / % of participants based on # of days out
  • Total expected fundraising = today’s fundraising / % from chart based on # of days out

Example of the predictive model for a peer to peer event:


I’m organising a walk that takes place in the next 30 days.  Today there are 2,000 people registered and £100,000 in fundraising in the bank.  On event day, I want to have 5,000 people at the event and fundraising a total of £250,000.


Based on the chart above at the 30 days out mark, I should have 50% of my total people registered and 30% of my fundraising in the bank.

  • Total # of participants:  2,000 / 50% = 4,000 participants
  • Total expected fundraising:  £250,000 / 30% = £300,000 in fundraising


This means that I can expect that by the time event day gets here, I may fall short on my participation goals, but I can expect to have extra fundraising in the bank.  I should focus on my recruitment strategies. Having this visibility can help you decide where you want to prioritise your limited resources.


This probably goes without saying, but predictive models are not an exact science. We used Blackbaud data to pull together this model specifically for walks without a registration fee and it does help set a good stage for comparison, especially for new events without historical data.


The most accurate predictor of your event is your own historical event data. 

Making a Business case for a new CRM

Getting buy-in from trustees and colleagues can be difficult when it comes to selecting a new CRM. Everyone needs to be on the same page, and in some cases, you aren’t even reading from the same book. The best way to understand others’ needs and to appeal to them is by putting yourself in their position.


Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a good understanding of what you and your other stakeholders need. Now is the time to make a solid case for it. First and foremost, you must stick to your objectives. It may sound obvious, but this is easily overlooked once you’re down into the detail of software functionality! In this infographic, we explore the three main challenges when it comes to investing in technology: Data migration, managing cost and achieving buy-in from your board.


Infographic teaser



Staying laser-focused on your non-profit’s mission is the best way to keep the interest of your senior colleagues and trustees. Think about your key stakeholders and what’s in it for them. What do they stand to gain from a new CRM solution? What about your trustees? What are their drivers and objectives? With any new purchase, the return on investment (ROI) will rightly be scrutinised. In order to keep your project on track, you’ll need to be able to effectively answer any questions that your CEO, trustees and others will have regarding the value of your new investment.


A good vendor will take you through a fully consultative sales process and help you demonstrate how the solution achieves a positive ROI for your organisation. At this point, you should be asking for references to build a clear picture of how the potential technology partner has helped non-profits that are similar to yours.



Download your guide to choosing CRM software

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Follow the step-by-step guide to selecting fundraising and donor management software. Identify your technology requirements, build a business case and find a solution that meets your specific needs.

Data Privacy: Donors know what they want, but don’t know they’re getting it

Over 60% of Charity Supporters Likely to Opt-in if Asked


Data Privacy: Donors know what they want, but don’t know they’re getting it


  • Nearly 80% of Brits think it’s important that they only receive marketing communications when they’ve given explicit consent to receive them
  • Nearly 90% of Brits think it’s important to have a single, simple ‘opt-out’ button to never receive fundraising requests from a specific charity in the future
  • However, of those who regularly engage with a charity, 62% would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ opt-in to future fundraising communications, if asked to do so by the charity


UK charity supporters are becoming more discerning when it comes to their personal data protection; and yet there are signs of encouragement for fundraising teams as GDPR approaches. According to new independent research commissioned by Blackbaud Europe, 80% of adults in the UK only want to receive marketing communications for which they have given explicit consent. Likewise, only 8% think that it’s ‘not important at all’ to only receive marketing communications for which they have given explicit consent.


How important is it that you only receive marketing communications when you’ve given explicit consent?


It may be a reasonable prediction that individuals would be more lenient with their personal data when being contacted about charitable causes as opposed to for-profit sales messages, but the report challenges this assumption. Whilst almost one-fifth (18%) would indeed be more tolerant of being contacted without consent if it was a charity doing it, in actual fact nearly one-third said they’d be less tolerant if it was a charity doing it.


However, despite this growing sensitivity around supporters’ personal data, a massive 62% of individuals who regularly engage with a charity would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ opt-in, if asked to do so by that charity. This is a reason for significant encouragement for fundraising teams who are keen to make sure they can continue to contact the majority of their current supporter base, after May 25th, 2018, using consent as the legal basis. (Remember, it’s not all about consent! Learn more about the six legal bases for processing personal data here.)


If asked by a charity you regularly engage with to ‘opt-in’ to fundraising communications, would you?


Also, whilst the report shows that many Brits do not want to receive fundraising communications they haven’t asked for, nonetheless the majority are not aware of the upcoming changes to legislation. More than three-quarters (77%) of Brits do not know what the GDPR is, and only 1-in-12 (8%) think they know exactly what it is. In other words, the vast majority of consumers do not know that in less than a year, their rights will be greatly strengthened when it comes to data erasure, data portability and – of course – consent.


Do you know what the GDPR is?


It’s interesting to note the differing levels of tolerance when comparing various direct marketing channels. For example, when being contacted by a charity without opt-in consent, telephone marketing is way out in front, with 53% of individuals saying this would be one of the channels that they’re least tolerant of. By contrast, direct mail was only disliked by 16% of individuals. Other channels fell somewhere in between, with SMS listed by 28% of respondents, and Email by 22%.


As regards UK charity regulation, when asked how important it is to them that they have a single, simple ‘opt-out’ button to ensure they never receive fundraising requests from a specific charity in the future, almost 9-in-10 (87%) think it’s important, with over half (56%) thinking it is ‘very important’. What’s fascinating is that when asked separately, only just over 1-in-10 (11%) of Brits have heard of the Fundraising Regulator, and incredibly only 6% have heard of the Fundraising Preference Service.


How important do you think it is that you have a single, simple ‘opt-out’ button to never receive fundraising asks from all charities in the future?


Have you heard of the Fundraising Regulator and/or the Fundraising Preference Service?


Rob Gethen Smith, Director of Customer Engagement for Blackbaud Europe, commented, “There is plenty for UK non-profits to be encouraged by in this report. It is undeniable that UK consumers across the board are becoming more protective of their personal data – and so they should be! Whether in the context of supporting a charity or any other direct marketing, more and more individuals are of the opinion that their person data is theirs to do with as they wish, and this should come as no surprise. However, the fact that over 60% of individuals who donate to, volunteer for, or fundraise for a charity would be likely to actively Opt-In to continue receiving fundraising communications, is hugely encouraging. When GDPR started being widely talked about in the charity sector last year, the fear was that opt-in rates would be in the single digits. On the strength of this report at least, it does not look like this will be the case.


“When it comes to individuals’ tolerance to charities’ direct marketing specifically, in some respects the findings are not surprising. Only 18% would be more tolerant of being contacted without consent by a charity, and I think this shows not only that the poor media coverage of certain organisations over the last couple of years has had an effect, but that consumers want control. Whether opting-in to hear from a favourite consumer brand or to hear about charitable activities, they want total control over the content that comes to them via all channels. Interestingly, young people are more likely to be more tolerant: 28% of under-34’s said they’d be more tolerant of being contacted without consent if it was a charity, whereas only 12% of over 55’s said they would. This may give those non-profits with ageing supporter bases a particular challenge.


“But it’s also an opportunity. What’s really interesting in this report is that consumers know what they want, but they don’t know they’re getting it! With such a small proportion of the survey respondents being aware of the GDPR and the Fundraising Preference Service, there is a big opportunity to educate individuals on their new rights as European citizens, and the new regulations that UK charities operate under. Demonstrating that the UK non-profit sector is responding positively to the negative publicity it has received will go a long way to restoring supporter confidence where needed.


“There’s no doubt that the British public is one of the most committed in the world to supporting social good, and new legislation isn’t going to change that. We just have to be more transparent about what we’re doing with their data, and put more effort into demonstrating the impact of the money they give.”


NB: The research was conducted in collaboration with Censuswide, with 1,164 respondents aged 16+ in GB between 24-25th May 2017.  The survey was conducted from a random sample of UK adults, equally representing age ranges and UK regions. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles. 

To learn about the behavioural science behind increasing opt-in rates, join the Blackbaud webinar on Wednesday 21st June at 2.00pm.

How many people actually see your Facebook posts?


If you’re responsible for your non-profit’s social media, you probably know about how many Facebook fans you have. Your fan count is the simplest way to know how many people see the messages, calls to action, photos, invitations, appeals, and news you post. Or it would be, if that number weren’t hugely misleading.

As you know, Facebook’s ever-mysterious algorithms limit your posts from reaching everyone that likes your page. In fact, most people who like your page don’t see any given post. In the 2017 M+R Benchmarks Study, it was found that on average, a non-profit will reach just 8% of its fans with a post that isn’t promoted. 

We know. It hurts.

You can pay to increase that reach, of course, and that kind of paid promotion can be an effective part of your social media and digital advertising strategy. But the truth is, resources are limited and non-profits do not pay to boost the vast majority of their posts.

But there’s good news, too! A lot folks—45% to be exact—who do see your posts aren’t your fans (yet). As your social media influencers engage with your content (especially when they click “Share”) it pops up in their friends’ news feeds.

So most of the people who follow you don’t see your Facebook posts, and about half the people who do see your posts don’t follow you on Facebook. Non-profits need a better metric than number of fans that more accurately reflects how many users you can expect to reach. Enter the Earned Reach Average, or ERA.

Earned Reach Average (ERA) is the average number of people who see a given post for every Facebook fan you have. 

In the Benchmarks study, the average non-profit had an ERA of .225, meaning for every 1,000 Facebook fans a nonprofit has, their next post will reach about 225 people. So if you’re a completely average organization (though… we know you’re not) with 60,000 fans, a given post will be seen by about 13,500 people (60 x .225=13.5).

It’s good to have fans, the more the merrier. But so much of your Facebook reach comes down to engagement, shares, and being seen by audiences beyond your existing fanbase. If you want to be seen on Facebook, the nature and quality of your content are just as important as the number of Likes you have.

Commission on the Donor Experience


2015 was a year of challenges for the sector, with charities being branded as ‘vultures’ and ‘immoral’ by some sections of the mainstream media. So the charity sector banded together to create the Commission on the Donor Experience with one goal in mind, making meaningful changes to the way that fundraisers work with donors, and create an improved experience for them. The aim of the Commission is to support the transformation of fundraising into a donor-first approach.


The Commission states that donors should be placed at the heart of fundraising. After all, without the generosity of committed donors, where would we be? As an impartial initiative, the Commission is helping this to happen by training and equipping fundraisers to deliver the best practical donor experience.


Split into 28 working groups, the focus is on bringing fundraisers and donors together to make the donor experience better. Blackbaud is thrilled to be a partner and has supported the Commission from the get-go.


Blackbaud has invested in supporting the Commission because we agree that fundraising needs to put donors at the heart of fundraising. As a leading partner of non-profits and a company that is genuinely invested in the success of the sector, Blackbaud will continue to support the initiative throughout.


Recently, the Commission released its beta findings, which give free insight to the 28 areas of fundraising. The community forum encompasses the hard work from all of the Commission’s projects, and rest assured, they have been scrutinised by the most experience of fundraisers to give you accurate, actionable advice.


The recommendations come from some amazing fundraisers; hundreds of people who have contributed to the Commission; people who work for charities and who understand what it takes to make an extraordinary donor experience.


Now, the Commission is broadening its request for feedback. It wants to hear from individuals across the sector ahead of the main launch at IoF Convetion, so take a look now and let them know what you think.

9 Common Donation Page Mistakes

If your online donation form is ineffective, it warrants immediate attention. The occasional mistake is inevitable, but given the high-volume traffic non-profit donation pages receive, it’s crucial that your donation form is optimised to be as strong as possible.

Many supporters prefer to give online on their laptops or mobile devices instead of in person. A poorly designed donation page will make you miss out on these supporters’ donations.

If your donation form needs updating, read on to learn more!

Here are 9 of the most common donation page mistakes:

  1. Hidden Donation Forms
  2. Requiring Donors to Give Too Much Information
  3. Overfilling Your Donation Page
  4. Forgetting Security Certification
  5. Not Being Mobile-Savvy
  6. Avoiding Different Giving Levels
  7. Not Suggesting Recurring Donations
  8. Ignoring Social Media
  9. Failing to Say Thank You

But don’t worry, we know how your non-profit can avoid them!

Mistake 1: hidden donation forms

Mistake #1: Hidden Donation Forms

If your supporters can’t find your donation form on your site, they can’t donate. There’s no way around it. By having a hidden donation form, you’re losing donations left and right.

Your online donation form needs to be centre stage on your site and easy to use!

To further assist your donors with giving, you should:

  • Include links to your donation form in your email blasts. Don’t turn every email into a plea for donations, but some emails should include links to your donation form so donors can give easily and your non-profit receives the donations it deserves.
  • Use social media to your advantage. Most adults are tweeting, posting, and sharing content on social media. Include a link to your donation form in your next Facebook post or tweet so that users can easily find it. You can also include the link in your bio on social media profiles.
  • Making giving easy on your site. No matter how involved a supporter is with your non-profit, if she’s on page 83 of your blog’s archive or just arrived on your homepage, she should be able to donate easily. Place donation buttons on every page to guide supporters to your online form.

Tucking your donation form away under menus and other pages only reduces the amount of donations your non-profit receives.

How to fix it: Include your online donation form in your online communication strategy and make sure donors can easily use your online form!

Common Donation Page Mistake 2: requiring donors to give too much information

Mistake #2: Requiring Donors to Give Too Much Information

If a new prospect arrives on your website, she won’t know a lot about your non-profit right off the bat. But if she finds that her interests align with your mission and she’d like to give to your organisation, she’ll need to be able to find your donation form easily.

Because you know to keep your donation page easily accessible, your online donation form will be easy to find and your prospect will be ready to start the donation process right away.

But instead of landing on a donation page that allows her to donate right away, she has to make an account and fill out information.

No one wants to be greeted by a multitude of fields all marked “Required” on an online form, so limit the number of required fields on your donation form.

We’ve found that adding just one additional field reduces the number of completed donation forms and that adding two or more additional fields will cause your donation count to drastically drop.

If donors have to make an account and fill out their name, address, credit card info, and a security question just to make a donation, they’re far more likely to abandon the process and never end up donating.

Forcing donors to create an account sharply decreases the number of donations that your non-profit could be receiving with your online donation form.

Instead, try giving donors a choice of creating an account or donating as a guest. You can do this in a pop-up window that also explains the benefit of creating an account.

A cluttered donation form won’t appeal to anyone and the bottom line is that you shouldn’t require donors to make an account to donate.


How to fix it: Limit the number of required fields on your donation page for a higher donor conversion rate. Don’t require your donors to create an account to give, but provide them with the option to create a profile to track their donations and involvement.

Common Donation Page Mistakes 3: Overfilling Your Donation Page

Mistake #3: Overfilling Your Donation Page

You donation page should be just that, a donation page.

Your website is where people go to learn about your organisation through success stories, videos, and updates on your projects and events. That content belongs on your website, not your donation page.

Supporters are on your donation page to donate, so don’t distract them by overfilling your donation form with background information on your non-profit.

Follow these points to keep your donation page simple and straightforward:

  • Limit your copy to a few sentences.
  • Only include one image on the page and it should be at the top of the form.
  • Remove sidebar navigation and menus from the page.

Adding too much to your donation form will distract from the donation and encourage traffic to leave the page.

How to fix it: Keep your copy concise and only include one picture on your donation form so that donors aren’t drawn away from giving.

Common Donation Mistake 4: Forgetting Security Certification

Mistake #4: Forgetting Security Certification

When a donor gives online, they are submitting both personal and sensitive information so you should ask yourself, “Does your donation form reassure donors that their data is safe?”

If the answer is no, you could be losing contributions from millennials, gen Xers, baby boomers, and more potential donors!

Make sure that you include the proper security certification logos and comply with PCI Standards (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards), and check that your payment processors are verified. This will reassure donors of your authority and credibility.

Building trust with donors is key for donor retention and your non-profit’s reputation.

How to fix it: Include the proper security certification logos and maintain PCI compliance when it comes to your donation form.

Common Donation Mistake 5: Not Being Mobile Savvy

Mistake #5: Not Being Mobile-Savvy

91% of British adults own smartphones and the past year has seen a 205% increase in mobile donations.

That’s a percentage you want to be included in.

Don’t rely solely on accepting donations on laptops and desktop computers. You’ll miss out on the contributions from donors who want to give on their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

When formatting for mobile devices, make sure your form isn’t cluttered or prohibitive to the donor’s experience. On the form, include just a brief paragraph explaining your campaign as well as your logo.

You’ll want your mobile-responsive donation page to be even simpler than your donation form for the best user experience possible. Think big, easy-to-click buttons and a vertical layout. Reduce a donor’s need to pinch and zoom!

This seamless experience will give them a quick and secure donation process.

How to fix it: Make a mobile-friendly donation page and keep it simple for a higher donor conversion rate. All the top online donation tools should have options for mobile.

Common Donation Page Mistakes 6: Avoiding Differing Giving Levels

Mistake #6: Avoiding Different Giving Levels

Offering different giving levels on your donation form can result in higher donations in the long run.

How? It all has to do with the psychology of giving.

If a donor lands on your donation page with the intention of donating £25 and you provide an empty field where a donor can give any amount they please, you’ll probably receive the intended £25 from that donor.

But if you offer different giving levels, like £20, £30, £40, and so forth, there’s a greater chance that this specific donor will round up and give £30 instead of down to £20 or filling in an “Other” blank.

And offering different giving amounts with appropriate descriptions allows your organisation to show donors where their donations will go.

That said, along with your preset amounts, you should still include an “Other” field for donors who want to select their own donation amount. Don’t box supporters in.

How to fix it: Give donors different giving levels to help increase donation amounts.

Common Donation Page Mistake 7: Not Suggesting Recurring Donations

Mistake #7: Not Suggesting Recurring Donations.

Donors have busy schedules and giving to your organisation is a small portion of their lives. Help take away the stress of giving by offering recurring donations right on your donation form!

New donors might only want to give once for now, but your loyal donors are likely to give again and again.

Instead of relying on all of your donors’ memories, provide the option of automatic, recurring gifts on your donation pages.

This way, your donors don’t have to fill out a donation form every time they want to give and including this option may convert one-time donors into recurring donors.

How to fix it: Give donors the opportunity to make monthly, quarterly, or yearly gifts to bring in more donations.

Common Donation Page Mistake 8: Ignoring Social Media

Mistake #8: Ignoring Social Media.

If your donors are giving online, they most likely have social media profiles as well. They’re tweeting, posting, and commenting on a regular basis.

This is the time to include social media buttons on your donation page.

Let your donors easily share your donation page on Facebook or Twitter because it will:

  • Let your supporters brag about their generosity a little.
  • Spread the word about your donation page to a broader network.

Not offering social media options on your donation form is a missed opportunity because you’re losing easy shareability. Crowdfunding platforms have jumped on this opportunity, and you should too.

Donors can click the tweet button and share your donation page with little effort so give them that opportunity.

How to fix it: Give donors a way to share your donation page on social media to give your non-profit more exposure.

Common Donation Page Mistake 9: Failing to Say Thank You

Mistake #9: Failing to Say Thank You

You’re not off the hook yet. Just because a donor has made it to your donation page and given to your non-profit does not mean your organisation is done with managing that donor’s experience.

Make sure that your acknowledgement page is just as great as your donation form.

This screen needs to express your gratitude for their donation. Also let them know that they will receive an email confirmation, direct mail acknowledgement, or both shortly.

Then, direct donors to more information about your non-profit like:

  • Upcoming fundraising events
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Updates on current and future projects
  • Social media sites

But just remember, these follow-up links are always secondary to the actual acknowledgement.

Thanking donors is a must.

How to fix it: Your gratitude toward donors should be expressed thoroughly on the acknowledgement page, followed by additional information to involve donors.

Many of your donors will expect to give to your organisation through an online form, so don’t disappoint by having a sub-par donation page. Keep these common mistakes and our solutions in mind for the best results.

Why Instagram Could Be Helpful For Your Non-Profit

Like many non-profits and social enterprise, you may be scratching your head and wondering how an Instagram presence can help you contribute to social good in a creative and heroic way. With all the noise out there, how can you be sure that your efforts are even moving the needle for your cause?

You know that Facebook and Twitter are still major drivers of traffic to your website, but your love affair with Facebook is somewhat diminishing because hardly anyone even sees your posts if you haven’t boosted them (i.e. paid for your posts to be seen). We’re getting report after report of diminishing returns on Facebook posts due to constant changes with the newsfeed algorithm.

It’s time to add something else to the mix—let’s start thinking about the value of Instagram for non-profits. Here are five key things non-profits should know about getting started with Instagram.

1. Instagram is the fastest growing non-profit community engine

In April, Instagram announced it now has 700 million users, with the last 100M growing even more quickly, and 200M are using Instagram stories. The 2017 M&R non-profit Benchmark Study found that for every 1000 email subscribers, organisations can expect to have 39 Instagram followers and that orgs experienced on average a 101% Instagram follower growth in 2016.

Therefore, Instagram = the fastest growing non-profit community engine on social media.

Instagram is here to stay, but for most non-profits, Facebook and Twitter are still the leading referrers of traffic to main websites. Instagram will be a major player for organisations within the next 2-3 years, given its strength in key groups, such as rural locations and most 18-34 year olds, with other demographics likely to follow. It’s also easy to forget that Facebook owns Instagram and has integrated its Ads Manager to run ads on both platforms by default. This opens a new, young, diverse and growing audience to non-profits and NGOs .

Keep up!

2. Engaging with supporters + influencers goes a long way

A little love goes a long way.  Pay attention to what others are doing on Instagram — follow key supporters, peers, influencers, those who inspire you, etc! —and engage with their posts with likes and/or comments! It’s about reciprocity – many of them will help you back.

Interaction (done well) warms people’s hearts. It’s age-old wisdom from Dale Carnegie and other wise people that, if you show interest in others, they will be more interested in you and you’ll be more influential to them. Compile lists of Instagram handles for your team members, key supporters, influencers, and organisations with like-minded causes so that you can easily tag and mention them in your posts.

Along the way, you’ll also learn from these interactions what people are excited about right now and see how you and your mission can fit into the current online conversation in the best way.

3. Visuals will help you build brand awareness

Facebook, which owns Instagram, is putting a lot of emphasis on Instagram, including integrating augmented reality features going beyond Snapchat in coming years. Instagram is not a niche platform anymore — it’s a major player. You need as strong a strategy for Instagram as you do for Facebook and Twitter. This is a challenge because many non-profits are more focused on text than visuals — be the charity who does visuals well! You can only post from your phone (or from Hootsuite on a computer after integrating Instagram), so you’ll want to recruit fun images from and about your team members, and save to your phone.

Your posts, stories, livestreams, and ads on Instagram will help you build awareness — especially with beautiful, colourful, high-definition, authentic images. There are so many easy ways to curate images—from team outings, program activities and events to pictures of your mission in action and those you serve.

4. Incorporate hashtags and mentions

After you’ve written up a snappy post and before hitting Share, type a hashtag sign (#) and start writing words relevant to your post to see what hashtags Instagram recommends. You can collect a list of hashtags that other like-minded organisations and influencers are using.— a platform that helps you identify popular hashtags by keyword area—can be used to find and analyse popular hashtags to help amplify your post and your cause. You’ll make your posts discoverable to people interested in that topic, beyond those who currently follow you. Then sit back and enjoy more engagement with your posts and new followers!

Mention and tag relevant people and organisations to gain more visibility from the people you care about — mentioning someone in your post’s copy sends them a notification, and tagging them makes the post appear in their tagged photos.

5. Use features like Livestream and Instagram Stories

Live videos on Instagram get preference in the Instagram news feed algorithm for display, so give it a try and go live! Once a live video has ended, it’s no longer visible on Instagram (so do it for long enough, like at an event!). And don’t worry about perfection. These videos disappear after the video has ended, so focus on really giving your viewers a behind-the-scenes look into your organization and mission.. See instructions for doing a live video.

Unlike Instagram Live, Instagram stories stay on your feed and your profile for 24 hours, with content grouped together in slideshows. You can choose to upload a video you’ve taken to your Story, so that it’s visible longer than livestreaming is available. If desired, you can also share them as a post to your feed timeline, for even longer enjoyment.

Who’s watching your content? You can check by watching your own story, then swiping up to check out who’s seen each photo and video. See what’s most popular and use that feedback to select what to feature from a particular part of your story, by posting it on your profile.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is the practice by which businesses recruit a person of influence to share the organisation’s messages with the influencer’s own audience, often (but not always) in return for a financial incentive. I look at this as – empowering your advocates. This method is based a core principle of marketing: people are more likely to absorb and act on the recommendation of a friend or individual they trust than that of a brand or organisation.


The five rules of influencer marketing

Whether you’re considering dipping a toe in the waters of influencer marketing or simply want to add further rigour to your current influencer program, your timing couldn’t be better. As the channel matures, many of the challenges and teething problems of the last few years have been solved or improved upon. The relationships between brands and their influencers are becoming less murky and more sophisticated. Best practice approaches have been identified and perfected.

Here are a few rules of thumb to help you get the most out of your influencer marketing program:


  1. Be authentic.

Authenticity is the key to a successful influencer campaign.  Audiences have a nose for when something feels contrived or an influencer is ‘doing it for the money’ so it’s critical to work with people who have a genuine stake in your cause.  One of the reasons influencer marketing and charities are such a good fit is that influencers will often already be vocal about causes they support; this, in turn, makes them easier to identify, the relationship smoother to establish and your message a more natural fit.


  1. Don’t assume bigger is better.

Experience has taught us that going after big-name celebrities or digital influencers with huge fanbases to endorse your cause doesn’t always provide the best ROI. In fact, statistics have shown that niche social influencers with smaller followings tend to enjoy greater engagement with their audience and higher conversion rates, all of which is great news for charities with limited marketing budgets.  We call these individuals micro-influencers or long-tail influencers: their audiences are smaller but highly targeted and more active online.


Where it gets really interesting, however, is when you can start to search for these individuals within your existing donor database. is a social listening software provider created especially with nonprofits in mind. It reveals what people from your database are saying on social media, as well as which issues resonate and why allowing you to identify who your own micro-influencers are and build rich social profiles on those individuals. This offers charities the potential to radically increase the engagement and reach of campaigns by creating tailored outreach to influential and highly engaged individuals from within their own networks.


  1. Choose quality over quantity.

Influencers like to feel valued and expect to be treated as individuals. Even if they provide access to their fans in return for a financial reward, it’s still important that you invest time in the relationship to ensure they are emotionally committed to your cause.


  1. Be strategic.

Before committing to an influencer program, have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, how you’d like to achieve it and how you plan to measure success. Consider how best to use your influencers and what actions you want them to take: is the primary goal sharing your brand’s content with as many people as possible?


  1. Track & measure.

Measuring the success of influencer marketing campaigns has historically been problematic – and continues to be. According to a recent industry survey, 78 percent of marketers said measuring ROI for influencer marketing was their biggest challenge for 2017 – and it’s easy to see why.


So how should brands be measuring success? For starters, introducing a wider range of metrics, such as engagement, audience sentiment and conversions will help to level the playing field and ensure you are measuring more than just fan numbers.  Even easier to incorporate into your campaign are hashtags: they encourage others to join the conversation and make it easy to track.

4 Ways Smart Integrations Can Improve Non-Profit Fundraising Results

For many, the term “automation” conjures up images of Rosie from The Jetsons or computers coming to steal our jobs. In reality, automation just means integrating your cloud apps and is an efficient way to simplify complex tasks and business processes that would otherwise require tedious human effort. For non-profits, automation offers specific benefits in terms of transparency and efficiency. It can simplify your administrative work, allow for a 360-degree view of your organisation, and even help you raise more money.


Here are four reasons your non-profit should consider integrating your apps:

1. More time for your mission

You work at a non-profit because you want to provoke social change, but you spend most of your workday reconciling invoices in your account app. Sound familiar? A non-profit isn’t a business, but it does need to accomplish basic business tasks such as accounting, record keeping, and reporting. Frequently, non-profits dread these tasks because it means devoting less time to work that directly relates to their missions.


With automation, however, you don’t need to worry about checking tedious, repetitive tasks off of your to-do list. Rather than focusing on tasks that keep your organisation running day-to-day, you can focus on tasks that push your organisation further towards its goals.

2. Improved reporting and greater transparency

Running a non-profit involves making strategic choices about your goals. These decisions are more difficult to make when you have inaccurate or inadequate information about your programs or campaigns. In addition to this information block, we already know that non-profits often face unrealistic expectations as written by The Stanford Social Innovation Review:


“The cycle starts with funders’ unrealistic expectations about how much running a charity costs. And results in non-profits’ misrepresenting their costs while skimping on vital systems—acts that feed funders’ skewed beliefs.”


Automation, however, makes aggregating the information non-profits need to make high-level decisions simple, by syncing it between otherwise separate apps. This gives you an instant view of your donations and leads in one place. Automation means you can make better high-level decisions about your goals because at any moment you can view a 360-degree snapshot of the entire organisation.


This 360-degree reporting also means that you can be more transparent with your donors and leadership. By connecting your CRM with your accounting program, it’s much easier to account for every penny spent.

3. Lower cost; higher ROI

Another distinct challenge for non-profits is that, though they aren’t profit-driven, they still need to run efficiently. Donors expect organisations to spend as much of their funding on the mission as possible, minimising other costs. Non-profits are always looking for ways to be both leaner and more efficient – automation can help you accomplish both. Cherrice Browne of Houston, TX based non-profit The R.O.C.K. explains: “The point of having everything integrated and working together is to cut down on the time we spend on activities that don’t help us grow. For example, updating sales reports by hand – it doesn’t make money and it leaves room for error.”


Automation takes tasks that would otherwise require human labour and does them more quickly, more accurately, and more reliably. Instead of paying tens of thousands of pounds per year for a dedicated administrative staff, you can automate many repetitive tasks and allocate resources to new initiatives. By lowering your spending on grunt work and using those funds on higher level tasks, an increase in donations and hitting your KPI’s are sure to follow.

4. More efficient donation campaigns

Non-profits rely heavily on online fundraising campaigns, but raising money can sometimes feel like throwing things at a wall and trying to see what sticks. With automation, you can make sure all your donor information is stored in one place. When you can access donor information more easily, you can craft targeted emails and campaigns that are more likely to result in a donation. This is key for increasing campaign efficiency, as personalised emails deliver six times higher transaction rates.


For example, let’s say an annual donor recently attended a fundraising event for a particular cause. Knowing that she attended the event is valuable information; because she demonstrated an interest in that particular cause, she’s more likely to respond to a campaign about it. With automation, this insight is immediately available in your CRM or Marketing automation tool, and you can use it to craft tailored email campaigns that target donors based on their past behaviours. Additionally, automation enables you to interact with donors at otherwise disparate touchpoints, such as event attendance, membership renewal, and even birthdays.


Automation isn’t just the future of labour; it offers distinct advantages for non-profit organisations. It allows you a 360-degree view of your entire organisation from accounting to lead generation and frees up staff to focus more on your mission and less on administrative work. If you want to run a leaner, more efficient, more accountable organisation, automation is worth considering.

How Non-Profits Can Use Storytelling to Boost Donor Retention

Blackbaud’s 2016 Charitable Giving Report shows us that donor retention for first-time donors is still remarkably low – 29% for offline donors and 21% for online donors. But if donors are retained passed that first year, the retention rate jumps significantly to 60% for offline donors and 58% for online donors. This data shows that new donor retention should be a high priority for non-profit organisations.


According to this most recent Charitable Giving Report, “The non-profit sector is entering a period where sustainable growth depends on embracing best practices in donor engagement, retention, and stewardship.” This is our professional call to action. Now is the time to instate best practices at your organisation and truly develop a great system for donor retention.


So much of fundraising and relationship building is about following up with donors—keeping in touch, reporting impact, keeping them apprised of new happenings and so on. This is where I see a lot of organisations struggle. First, they wonder about the “right” volume of communications to send to donors. Second, they wonder what the content of these communications should be.


My short answer to the question regarding volume of communications to donors is that it needs to be more than you are currently doing. For instance, one email a month to your email list is not that much and more than likely not enough to do the heavy lifting of relationship building. Start by evaluating the volume of your communications to your donor segments—offline and online donors. List out everything someone would have received if they made a gift six months ago. Ask yourself: Is this enough to successfully build a relationship with the donor?


When it comes to the content of donor communications that actually retain donors, we must focus on communicating impact. The best content to accomplish this is stories. Stories show donors their impact in action and clearly demonstrates how, through giving, a donor has helped solve a problem or meet a need.


As you evaluate your donor communications strategy, here are three places that you will want to incorporate stories:

1. Thank You Letters

Thank you letters are often the first touch point a donor receives after making a gift. A great thank you letter should surprise and delight donors, tell them how the gift was used, and tell them a story of impact. This does not have to be a long story. It can be a short paragraph in the letter, but that will be enough to give your donors the warm fuzzies about their philanthropy.

2. Donor Newsletters

Newsletters are such an important piece in donor communications and stewardship. But all too often they are just used to report updates and nothing more substantial. Pivot your organisation’s newsletter to be more donor-centered. Make the whole newsletter about donors and donor impact, which includes telling a variety of stories.

Need some newsletter inspiration? Check out these five non-profit newsletters.

3.  Impact or Gratitude Reports

Many organisations are starting to do special follow-up reports on larger annual campaigns that they run. These reports are impact or gratitude reports that, again, highlight donor impact through stories. They showcase stories of program participants, clients, and beneficiaries of the work. In some cases, they will also tell donor stories to help connect donors to their peers.


No matter where your organisation is at with donor retention, I encourage you to evaluate and upgrade your efforts through story-based content.

How to make your Alumni and Fundraising System part of your Development Team

Using technology and data to enhance your advancement programmes is vital but can initially seem overwhelming. Here are 5 practical ways that you can effectively harness technology that you have at your disposal.


  1. Building a reliable repository of data

    1. Think of your alumni and fundraising system as your colleague who never leaves – your institutional knowledge that isn’t stuck in people’s heads.
    2. It should be safe, secure, robust – and must be easily accessible and queryable, so you can interrogate it for insights.



  1. Grant access beyond the development team

    1. When you can, empower more colleagues to be able to review and improve the data this allows you to gain better information.  To do this you need an easy-to-use, intuitive interface and role-based experience so that you can restrict more sensitive data appropriately.
    2. Take active steps to consolidate spreadsheets and other information into this single system – so you gain a 360° view of your alumni, parents and donors.
    3. Ensure that you have access when on the road – this improves efficiency, removes deadlines and ensures face-to-face meetings are effective.
    4. Harness the power of peer-to-peer networks.  You have alumni and parents who want to help; empower them to fundraise on your behalf.



  1. Driving processes

    1. Your system allows you to effectively control your pipeline of donor meetings and proposals, so you never miss a task or an opportunity.
    2. It also helps you manage events, volunteers and communications – enabling you to test and learn what works best, for example whether a monthly newsletter has a better response rate than a one-off email.
    3. It delivers you step-by-step workflows based on best (and even next) practices.



  1. Automating processes

    1. Wherever possible, schedule data flows, imports, exports and other global changes
    2. Systematise your data quality checks to ensure you’re improving your data continually.  Query lists are a great friend for this!
    3. Use the technology to deliver online giving, events, profile updates, preferences etc – better for all concerned.  Join up your CRM to payments, so the process is optimal both for your alumni and for you.



  1. Providing insight and answers

    1. The right system pushes data to you – so you know where to focus time.
    2. It can also provide built-in analytics – up-to-date with changing circumstances.
    3. Increasingly we need to focus on metrics and outcomes – whether that’s for fundraising, engagement or demonstrating impact.


Your Alumni and Fundraising System has the potential to be the most important member of your Development Team, and one who can grow in responsibility and effectiveness as you grow over time.  So, be open to embracing technology and data as they can be one of your greatest enablers to supporter engagement.

Lowering the Giving Barrier for Millennials

This Post Originally Appeared on NP Engage.

According to the Millennial Impact Report, 72 percent of Millennials are eager to join a non-profit and a little over 50 percent would like to give monthly to a charitable organisation.


When looking at these statistics, it’s clear that Millennials are eager, and would like to contribute. But what’s holding up the action? Why is the ‘Giving Barrier’ so high? Understanding that even small contributions can make an impact, why are we so hesitant to get involved?


Although millennials are clearly seeking a more meaningful life, my hypothesis is that we’d like to do so without seriously inconveniencing ourselves, more so than previous generations. Sound selfish and contradictory? Yes. But, our world of increased stimulation and increasingly instant gratification has taught us these behaviours. And non-profits don’t have to suffer the consequences of that mindset.


As a personal offender of the false ‘I have too much going on’ sentiment, I wondered why I don’t feel that way about the organisations I’m involved in, and why these organisations have my attention, my heart, my time, and my wallet. And most importantly, what the journey to full organisation immersion has looked like.

  1. It was easy to get started: I had just moved to Austin, and wanted to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, but wasn’t sure I had the time. I was getting married, settling into a new life, etc. etc. BBBS offered an option to be a part of a continued giving program. £20/month, that’s it. Easy enough. A few cups of coffee at home as opposed to Starbucks. My monthly ‘thank you’ email served as a reminder of the importance of my gift, and I began to feel like an invaluable part of the organisation (there’s that instant gratification!). Over time, that good feeling remained at the front of my mind, and when I realised how great it felt to make a difference, I decided to take the next step and become a big sister.
  2. There’s always an opportunity to get involved more/in different ways: Whenever I feel the desire to get more involved, there’s always a way. Whether it’s a bowling tournament, joining an event planning committee, or simply sharing my experience with the volunteer management team, BBBS gives so many ways to continue to be involved, with varying levels of complexity/commitment. Whenever I’m ready, they’re ready, and it feels like a true partnership.
  3. Communication and support are consistent: from the beginning of my journey as a contributor and big sister, the communication and support received from this organisation have been consistent and professional. I’ve always clearly understood what my contribution is funding, and my Match Support Specialist is constantly checking in to ensure things are going well. BBBS has developed local partnerships all throughout town (making volunteering easy and more fun), and I consistently receive communications about what’s happening in the organisation. I feel involved, updated, and reminded of the cause I’m contributing to. Disclaimer: understand these communications cost money, and it is much easier said than done, but regardless is valued!
  4. I feel the organisation is invested in me. This organisation recognised that I have an interest in sharing my story and getting deeply involved, and has leveraged that opportunity to speak, build awareness about events, and encourage my friends to contribute, regardless on what level. I feel that they’re invested in me as a volunteer, and I’m certainly incredibly invested in them.


The end result of my experience with this organisation is that I appreciate them (and everyone who works there), I feel fulfilled in my life (check out that selfishness!) and I’m reminded that the contributions of time and money are making a difference.


Every organisation is different. What isn’t different is that it’s easier than we think to get involved. And while it’s not the responsibility of nonprofits to spoon-feed Millennials all the benefits of serving others, there are small things organisations can do to reach us in a more actionable way.


Millennials want to give with ease, but even more than that we crave a sense of purpose. If you can give us a reason to get out from behind our devices, you may help us realise that we have more time and resources to contribute than we think.


And then, true to form, we’ll pick up our devices and humble brag to our friends about our service-mindedness later—influencer marketing for you! A win for us both.

The Art of Impact

View and download the presentations here.


On March 1st, Blackbaud hosted the latest in its ‘The Art of…’ series of evening thought leadership events. ‘The Art of Impact’ was a fascinating evening focused on demonstrating impact and outcomes as a non-profit organisation. The audience of non-profit leaders heard talks from two experts, followed by a lively Q&A.
The speakers:
Matt Stevenson-Dodd has been CEO of Street League since 2010. He’s committed to total transparency in reporting the charities successes – and where they could have done better.
David Hounsell is Head of Impact at fundraising consultancy Aleron, and was formerly Evidence and Impact Director at The Children’s Society.
Here are are some of the highlights from our speakers’ talks:


1) The charity sector is brilliant at storytelling, but…

…many charities could tell their stories more powerfully. A good story needs a good ending – an outcome if you will – and it should be the tangible, real-life impact. Take Kids Company as an (overused) example. A charity that boasted a CEO so full of life she seemed like a fictional character; a charity which spread positive messages through powerful PR and high-profile relationships. But the ignominious collapse and lack of real results hit on an important point in the sector. Sure, we can all spin a story, but when the hard questions are being asked do we have the answers? Or as Warren Buffet once said, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who has been swimming naked.”

2) Is spreading the good news the same thing as spreading the right news?

Charities are quick to come to the conclusion that, for example, they have helped 80% of the people who went through Progamme X, or that over 1,000 16-25 year-olds were positively impacted by their work in the last 12 months. But what about the missing numbers? It’s great to share the positive stories we have, but can we really rebuild trust with the public by acting like all we do is good; that there is never anyone left behind? Street League took a seriously bold step with their last Annual Report, deciding to lead with their shortcomings. Instead of focussing on the hundreds of people they had placed into full-time employment, they led with the 109 people that they couldn’t help this past year. Admittedly, the board was nervous leading with this but agreed it was the right thing to do. Matt explained the consensus that “As a charity, it’s important to be open and honest, show the public that you can improve, and most importantly that you are trying to improve.”

3) ‘Outcomes to Impact’ is a journey

David advised the group to be under no illusions that the transition from storytelling to measuring impact is a long journey. But it’s something the private sector does well, continually reaping the benefits of being able to show their impact effectively; the stock market being an obvious example. This kind of thinking would be a significant change in mindset. At The Children’s Society, David was told it would be five years before he saw any real impact. He pointed out that this is what will scare some charities off – why invest valuable money, time and effort into leading a huge shift in mindset and processes to wait five years to see the results – particularly in the current media climate.
Matt gave us his own case study of this journey, at Street League. He explained that being able to show your impact is an ever-changing process, from measuring participation as ‘impact’ to moving onto measuring tangible outcomes. This was the real turning point for Street League, after which they were able to say with utter confidence that they had helped a specific number of people.
– Compare: “14,000 people were helped by Street League over three years, with:
– “14,000 people entered a Street League programme, of whom 11,000 completed the course, 6,000 went on to have a job for six months or longer, and 1,000 were unaccounted for.”
How much more compelling, transparent and – frankly – honest is that?
After ‘Outcomes’, naturally, comes ‘Impact’. This is when Street League really homed-in on who they were helping, to drive better decision making:
1) By researching various socio-economic factors across the UK they came up with measurements. For example, they applied different measurements of success to someone who stays in a job for three months as compared to someone still employed after 12.
2) Second was Big Data, already a buzzword in the jargon dictionary, but something that all non-profits need to harness. Big Data is often misunderstood, but it simply means being able to gather the data that you have and learn from the picture it presents. For example, a charity who focusses on youth unemployment may look at data from the region where they work, and learn whether unemployment has got better or worse. And from that, decide whether it is the right thing to continue to focus effort in that location.
After their talks, David and Matt led a Q&A during which the floor opened up to a discussion. One line from Matt really stood out: “If we as a sector want to see a real change in mindsets and being able to show our impact, we should invest as much money into our measurement teams as we do with our finance teams.” This provoked some debate of course, but the underlying point is a challenge to the whole sector. We aren’t holding impact in the same degree of importance as revenue. It’s all well-and-good to increase revenue by X% for the three years running – but has that actually made any difference?

Retention vs. Acquisition: What the Data Shows About Overall Donor Engagement

When asked by organisations whether their online fundraising programs should focus on donor acquisition or donor retention, I say, “Yes.”

As fundraisers, we don’t have the option of choosing; we must solicit from existing donors while simultaneously growing prospect lists and converting new leads into first-time donors.

Yet time and resources are limited, so from a strategic, data-driven perspective, we have to prioritise where our efforts should lie. We can see from the 2016 Luminate Online Benchmark Report that non-profits are having success in both areas, but that between the two, efforts are skewed toward donor retention.

  • As a whole, the value of an e-mail address is £10.68, down 7% from last year’s £11.49. While a disconcerting drop, this number alone doesn’t speak to retention vs. acquisition efforts. For greater clarity, we must examine the differences and change in giving between first-time donors and repeat donors.
  • Total online revenue from first-time donors in the 2016 report was just about even, down 1%, at £165,586. This made up just over a third (35.92%) of total online giving, which was a decline of 6% from last year. As one might expect, revenue from repeat donors went the opposite direction: up 8% as a total, and up 3% as a share of total online giving.

So we know that repeat donors are giving more dollars, as a subset of donors, than first-time donors, and donate about 2/3 of an organisation’s overall total. But it gets even more interesting when looking at average gift amounts.

  • The average transaction amount for a first-time gift was £84.81. The average transaction amount from a repeat giver is lower, at £76.30. So how can repeat donors have a lower average gift than first-timers but still have a higher total revenue amount? Sustainers. The total transaction amount from sustainers was up 14% compared to the 2015 report, and their share of total online fundraising (11.26%) was up 10%.
  • Overall, total online revenue in the 2016 report was up just under 5% from the previous year. So we see that sustaining revenue was up a larger percentage than overall online revenue, and revenue from repeat donors up was likewise up more, percentage-wise, than overall revenue.

So what does that tell us about donor retention vs. donor acquisition?

It might possibly leave us with a chicken and egg. What is behind the growth in repeat donor revenue and the drop in first-time donor gifts as a share of total revenue? Are nonprofits being more aggressive with renewing lapsed donors, or engaging in more sustaining giving campaigns? Probably both.

But let’s look at two more numbers that are indicative of the overall online engagement picture.

  • Housefile growth was 10%, which is a lower growth rate than years’ past; at the same time, the percentage of constituents on a house-file who are donors was slightly up, to about 14.1%. So a lower rate of house file growth, a smaller percentage of first-time donor revenue of the composite total…yet an increase in the percent of e-mail addresses who give.

It seems clear that it is getting more challenging to bring in new names, and getting these new names to donate. The trends speak to nonprofits doing a better job at renewing donors, taking advantage of the longer-term relationships with existing donors (increases in fundraising appeal open and click-through rates suggest this as well).

Moving forward, it behooves organisations, as they continue to grapple with the donor retention vs. donor acquisition challenge, to better understand the make-up of their own file base. After reviewing the Luminate Benchmark Report data, these are the questions I’d ask of your own organisation:

  • What percent of your file are donors?
  • Last year, how many made their first online gift, and how many renewed a gift from the previous year?
  • Last year, who gave more both in total and average gift, existing donors or first-time donors?
  • Of those who joined your file last year, what percent gave?

Once you answer these questions, you can compare your performance to the benchmarks (both overall and to your specific vertical). More importantly, you’ll then be better equipped to properly allocate time, resources and effort in terms of renewing donors and seeking out new ones. If the rate of growing your list continues to slow, it will become more imperative to properly steward and nurture the constituents you’ve already got.

6 Trends That Will Impact the Charity Sector in 2017

We’re just a few weeks in and already 2017 is shaping up to be a roller coaster of a year.

With the constant changes, innovations, and breaking news impacting the sector, staying focused on the work that matters will be key for all of us. To help us navigate, Blackbaud leaders and industry experts came together to weigh in on what’s coming for the sector and what’s needed to best steer our work through 2017 and beyond.

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Amplify your voice with Facebook ads

By Drew Bernard

Non-profits have a significant advantage on Facebook. The non-profit advantage comes from the fact that content that people engage with on Facebook (like, share, comment on, etc.) gets far more reach and visibility than content that people see but don’t engage with. To be more precise, content that Facebook users want to be seen engaging with does far better on the social network.

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Is your website ready for 2017?

With end of year fast approaching, it’s likely that your non-profit is making plans for 2017. No matter your mission, having a website that inspires action is crucial to the continued advancement of your cause! This begins with understanding your audience and what’s important to them. The experience your organisation provides online must be one that converts. And every pixel counts.

Does your website provide an experience that converts interest into action? Ask yourself these questions to see if a website redesign should be a part of your plans for 2017:

1. Is your website responsive?

Responsive web design started its takeover of the Internet in 2011 and has since become a necessity. Your donors and activists want ALL of your content on EVERY device, and responsive design is the only way to achieve that. If your website is not responsive, it’s time to redesign!

2. Are your images large enough?

Thanks to today’s technology, your website visitors can see more clearly than ever before. Our screens keep getting larger and support higher resolutions and your website should take advantage. Click around on your site and evaluate the sizes of your images. Do you have to squint to see faces? If you want to get down to the pixels, your images should be at least 400 x 250px. You may need to go smaller to display a list page full of thumbnails and teasers, but most of your images should be big and beautiful. Also, for your large banner images, consider filling the full width of the screen. The most common screen width for desktop/laptop computers is 1336px, so you can go pretty wide. Full-width images are a nice way to break up content on your site and add a modern flair.

3. Do you have a lot of nested navigation?

Every site should have a main navigation component, and many sites need a section navigation component to help visitors get to each page within a section. For example, an “Our Work” section may have individual pages describing each type of work your organisation does, or an “About Us” section may have pages for Staff, History, etc. Things start to get complicated when there is even more navigation below that. So in the above example, let’s say your Staff section had even more pages for Executive, Marketing, Development, etc. I’d call that overkill. The trend these days is to have more content on each page rather than have tons of really short pages that users have to click around to find. If your site has a lot of these menus within menus, it’s probably time to redesign.

4. Do you have a lot of old, outdated or infrequently visited pages?

If you’re trying to assess your website needs, a content inventory is always a good place to start. By taking stock of your content, you can get a clear picture of what pages/sections you can retire. A quick way to look at a page’s popularity is to have your Google Analytics account open as you do your inventory. Pull up a list of content and then search for each page as you go, recording the page rank as part of your inventory. This way, you can be sure you don’t get rid of any popular content.

Finally, I’d add that it’s a good idea to redesign your website every 5-7 years. If it’s been longer than that for you, you may want to make it a priority. I hope these questions and tips will get the conversation started at your organisation!

Content Creation: Where are you with your online presence?

I’ve spent many hours working on creating content, on and offline, that you can only hope will be valued and enjoyed by customers, members, donors and the like. It’s great fun to start with a concept and take it right through to completion but most of all I’ve enjoyed producing content to set free online, utilising the new media that is now so readily available at no cost.

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Taking your website to the next level: Website Usage Reports


Blog No.4 – Website Usage Reports


  • Less than half (49%) of non-profits are utilizing this absolutely essential (and often free!) tool.


Shockingly, not quite half of the organisations that responded to Blackbaud’s State of the Non-Profit Industry (SONI) survey rely on website usage reports. This is shocking for two reasons: first, because these tools are often free to implement and easy to use (see Google Analytics), and second, because 55% of organizations expect an increase in online donations this year, which will only happen if their websites are “sticky.”

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Taking your website to the next level: Electronic Newsletters

The importance of online giving as a growing revenue stream cannot be underestimated. The average online donor gives more initially and has a higher lifetime value than a conventional donor. These 5 posts will cover how not-for-profits can use five web staples to enrich current relationships, establish new relationships, and encourage constituents to interact and give online.

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Taking your website to the next level

The importance of online giving as a growing revenue stream cannot be underestimated. The average online donor gives more initially and has a higher lifetime value than a conventional donor. These 5 posts will cover how not-for-profits can use five web staples to enrich current relationships, establish new relationships, and encourage constituents to interact and give online.

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Gotta Catch ‘Em All: Attracting Millennials to Your Organisation with Pokémon Go

Chances are you’ve heard of Pokémon Go – maybe you’re even playing it right now! In the few weeks since the public release of the app, an estimated 75 million downloads have occurred! Trendswatch 2016 predicts that augmented and virtual realities are going to provide arts and cultural organizations with new ways to make exhibits more accessible. Pokémon Go’s popularity is proof that virtual reality technology isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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How to build trust, be playful and achieve more

Do you ever feel that when you arrive at work, you leave a bit of you at the door that you collect on your way out at the end of the day?


In our desire to be professional, successful and climb the career ladder we have a tendency to leave our authentic selves at the door. And in my experience, the majority of the organisations we work for perpetuate that overly professional culture with the expectation that we do serious work at our desks to achieve serious target-driven KPIs.

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Going Digital? Five Things to Consider Before Making the Move

Let’s face it: as people working, socializing, and communicating in the 21st century, we are almost always connected to the internet. While many of us have “gone digital” in our personal daily life, we can’t always say the same for the organizations where we work. In a world where most people have some kind of smart device, or several smart devices (you know who you are), within arm’s reach at all times, it seems only logical that digital is the best way to reach donors, right? And yet, diving in without a strategy for your digital marketing—or a limited strategy that doesn’t fit holistically with your current marketing channels may not reap the rewards you hoped for.

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How to Build Meaningful Relationships on Social Media Using the 80/20 Rule

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about social media it’s this: It’s all about human connection. Virtually every social media platform was first created for and because of human connections. Facebook was started to connect friends in college and grew to connect families and friends. Twitter began as a way to connect with influencers. Social media gives us the opportunity to show up, be seen, and connect with other people.

However, the question remains, how does a nonprofit connect with real people on social media?

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Email Testing: Four Simple Steps

Are you testing your email messages (subject lines, time and day of send, etc.)? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to improve your results.


Email has a unique advantage over direct mail. You can immediately see what worked and adjust your message on-the-fly, if necessary. And while you may have a hunch about the best day or time to send email, testing validates (or disproves) your theory. It really allows you to make data-driven decisions.

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Most People Don’t Care About Your Cause


As the Marketing Manager at Blackbaud, I have to keep my ear close to the ground when it comes to the latest trends and innovations in the world of marketing. However, anyone – from marketing professionals through to the general consumer – would have had to have been living on Saturn’s smallest moon (Mimas, if you’re wondering) for the last couple of years not to notice the most significant shift in the way that marketing is done these days.

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How Can Your Charity Demonstrate Its Impact?

Over the past few years the terms ‘outcomes’ and ‘impact’ have been heard increasingly across the charity sector and being able to demonstrate them is now vital. Funders, supporters, volunteers, trustees, and a numerous other stakeholders are now, more than ever, interested in the impact your charity has.

Not just what you do but what changes you make as an organisation. So, how do charities demonstrate their impact and why is it important?

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4 Actionable Steps to Make SEO Oh So Easy

Digital technology is increasingly playing a key role in engaging donors, and in 2015, around 7.1% of overall fundraising revenue came from online giving—with a 9.2% growth over 2014. And in the arts and culture nonprofit space, digital fundraising saw a 8.3% increase year over year.

With digital fundraising trends on the rise each year, your online presence is more important than ever.

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8 Tips for Approaching Major Donors – Failure to Prepare is Preparing to Fail

Most major donor prospects will have many calls on their time, but equally we know asking for a major donation isn’t something that can be rushed. How do we manage that tightrope? That’s the magic, the art, the science practiced by Major Gift fundraisers. But of course, lots of organisations aren’t in the position to employ a dedicated Major Gifts fundraising team. With a long and varied to-do list, some will rush in and waste an important opportunity, where others may unintentionally keep a prospect forever at arm’s length for fear of doing just that, while still others may never even spot the prospect in the first place.

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Toddler Syndrome – Why your charity needs it.

“Successful Charities have Data Teams with Toddler Syndrome”

If you have ever spent more than three minutes with a toddler it is extremely likely that they will have asked you the short and sweet question, ‘Why?’

Toddlers are learning about their world, testing boundaries and have no fear or filters when asking questions (I recently overheard a toddler on a bus pointing at a well-built gentleman ask her mum, “Mummy why is that man so FAT?” The mum was mortified, the other people on the bus found it hysterical and embarrassing in equal measure and the well-built gentlemen was apparently deaf).

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Harnessing your Organisation’s Story: The Missing Ingredient in Non-Profit Storytelling

By Vanessa Chase

Although many organisations are telling their stories these days, there still seems to be something missing from their stories. What’s missing is what makes a story truly great – empathy.

Empathy is a special kind of connection that we form with other people. It’s different from sympathy. Sympathy is when someone feels bad for someone else. In fundraising, sympathy manifests itself as donors feeling bad or guilty about an issue

Empathy is when we feel with someone.

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What The Crowd Is Telling Us About P2P Fundraising

Crowdfunding, the practice of financing a cause or project by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, has been around for a long time. When the American Committee for the Statue of Liberty ran out of funds for the statue’s pedestal in 1884, publisher Joseph Pulitzer used the communications platform of the day—newspapers—to urge readers to support the pedestal construction project.

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12 tried and tested tips for effective writing

By Lucy Gower

Whatever your role at your non-profit, you will at some point have to communicate through the written word.

That might be via a direct mailing to supporters, letters to volunteers, a proposal to a company or simply emails to colleagues. There are some common principles that apply to all writing if you want to write fast, effective copy. I’ve summed up the most important ones below.

Start with your audience and write for one person

Don’t try to make your content work for everyone. Draw a pen portrait of one person who is your audience. Think about what they like and what they need. Make sure everything you write is for them.

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How for-profit companies are helping non-profits in the digital age

By Ted Decareau

Technological advances over the last 10 years have changed the way we do everything–from banking to booking our vacations, so it is not surprising that the way we choose to raise and donate money has changed too. New methods such as crowdfunding and social media apps offer a means of utilising the collective power of the public to raise support and funding for projects, no matter how big or small.

Many established non-profit organisations are struggling to stay relevant and gain traction in the modern age due to the extra noise and competition that has arisen through these new forms of fundraising. People today are constantly bombarded with causes and projects that want and need their money. Some are worthy, like saving the oceans or curing malaria, whereas others are a bit silly.

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Making Corporate Fundraising Work as a Small Charity

By The FSI

The corporate sector is full of opportunities for small charities to take advantage of with many companies looking to increase their support for the sector through gifts in kind, expertise and volunteers, and even funds. However, competition is high amongst charities of all sizes for this support.

It is important to remember with this form of fundraising that you will be developing a business relationship with them and will have to highlight the benefits to the company of working with you.

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3 Reasons You’re About to Love Outcomes Measurement

By Michelle DiSabato

As a corporate funder turned consultant, I’ve spent the last decade helping funders make the shift from philanthropy to social, or impact investing.

What is impact investing?

Impact investing means more than simply “doing good.” It means investing with purpose to achieve specific, measurable outcomes and impact. In the impact investing model, when we give to a cause, we should see specific and measureable return in the form of social change.

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Smartphones: blessing or drawback for charitable giving?

By Maria Lamagna

There may be some upside to our smartphone addictions.

Charitable giving has hit record highs in recent years, with Americans giving more than $358 billion in 2014, a 7% increase from 2013, according to National Philanthropic Trust, a public charity that supports donors, foundations and financial institutions, and the numbers for 2015 are on track to be even higher.

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Content Creation: Where are you with your online presence?

I’ve spent many hours working on creating content, on and offline, that you can only hope will be valued and enjoyed by customers, members, donors and the like. It’s great fun to start with a concept and take it right through to completion but most of all I’ve enjoyed producing content to set free online, utilising the new media that is now so readily available at no cost.

Reach large or small audiences through a variety of channels. If you have no online strategy, have a think about some small things you can do to get your message out there, which supports your mission and organisation’s values and will be consumed by your supporters.

Here are a few ideas to get you going:


It’s an obvious one and most organisations have them now but so many are done so poorly. The user experience is important. Get a few people, unfamiliar if possible to the site, to test out the user friendliness. Can they find all the information they need? Is it easy to navigate? Do all the links work properly? Is the design and layout attractive to the eye and is there enough content to keep the user on your website? Donation buttons, correct ‘Contact Us’ information and ease of contacting (email address, telephone, social media site links – we’ll come onto that later). The website is the first place people will find you or keep returning to, to get news updates or to donate through. Keep content fresh and accurate.


On Facebook, it’s an organisational page you need and NOT a profile page that individuals have. It’s against Facebook rules to use profiles for organisations, so make the change over if you are using a profile. Again it’s important to have accurate and fresh information on your page. Use stories, links, photos and news to update the content and keep your organisation in your followers minds.


Tweeting is microblogging and posts your tweets in real time. Have conversations with followers in and outside your circle using hashtags (#). For example, Connecting Up (@connectingup) has fortnightly tweetchats on the hashtag #npau where you can join in the conversation and have your say. You’ll find more if you experiment and spend time looking to see what others are doing. If you do that though, look for the larger, multinational organisations who have dedicated digital staff. Search ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ or ‘Twitter Basics’ if you’re just getting started and need help to begin. The more advanced will have Twitter widgets embedded into their webpages to populate the most recent tweets.


For the novice out there, Blackbaud Voice if Blackbaud’s blog about fundraising. A blog is defined by a series of discrete entries or posts. Blogs are often the work of an individual or they can be from a group, usually about a single topic. They’re a form of social networking because visitors can leave messages and comments, and content can be posted to other social media sites. You may want to use it for outreach or opinion forming, branding or public relations.

If your cause has no voice online, a blog is a great way to get started. Advertising your blog URL in your organisation’s email signature can be an easy way to gain followers and get interest in posts. Google search picks up on blog content so keep your posts fresh, relevant and specific. Google also has the search function to be able to search only ‘blogs’ so take a look at a few that exist in your organisation’s mission space and see what others are discussing. To get started there are free blogging sites you can customise, alternatively look at investing and getting the professionals to get you started.

Email Testing – Four Ways to Improve

Are you testing your email messages (subject lines, time and day of send, etc.)? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to improve your results.

Email has a unique advantage over direct mail. You can immediately see what worked and adjust your message on-the-fly, if necessary. And while you may have a hunch about the best day or time to send email, testing validates (or disproves) your theory. It really allows you to make data-driven decisions.

While direct mail may involve considerable effort and planning, an email message may be written a few days (or hours) before being sent. And while it does require a few extra steps, email testing doesn’t have to be time-consuming.

Here are 4 easy ways to get started testing your messages:

1. Subject Lines: Your message is competing against daily deals, close friends, and social media alerts in an inbox. Testing subject lines will help you get by the first round of cuts. It’s also the easiest way to begin testing.

2. Day of the Week: You’ll find different research on the best day to send an email. MailerMailer found Sunday has the best open and click-through rates. eROI indicated Monday. MailChimp found Saturday and Sunday get the most click-throughs. So what’s the best day? Whatever your readers tell you. Use this research as a starting point, but test until you find which day gets your best results.

3. Time of Day: Many studies have found that morning is the best time to send email. MailChimp indicated 6-7am yielded the most click-throughs. MarketingSherpa and eROI found 9am resulted in the highest open and click-through rates. To find your ideal time, test these and other morning time slots to see which is most successful with your audience.

4. Stories Within Appeals (& Other Content): It’s difficult to have success without good content. So, continue testing content until you find what resonates with your readers. In your next email appeal, test two different stories. See which one generates the most click-throughs and conversions. Learn from it and repeat.

Start Testing Today

So, how can you start testing immediately? For your next email, send one subject line to 10% of your list. Send another 10% a different subject line. Wait 48 hours. Send the winning subject line to the rest of your list.

How Should Non-Profits Respond? Responsive Design for Websites

Are you reading this blog on your smartphone? Or maybe on a tablet? So many of us access the internet via different devices, responsive design has become a key concern for anyone with a business, service or cause to promote. Research has shown that 90% of people use multiple device screens daily, and 85% think a mobile site should be as good as or better than the desktop version.

Your website is your window display to the outside world, and it’s vital for your audience to be able to see this at all times.

So what is responsive design?

A responsive website changes its appearance and layout depending on the size of the screen the website is displayed on. It means that if you open a site on your smartphone, you no longer have to wait to load a huge website and then have to zoom in to find the content you need. Navigation is made easier, and the content is shown in the appropriate way for your device.

At a basic level, the website becomes narrower on a table or phone and some features like menus, images and videos will adjust to the new device. Some of the visual trends on your favourite websites may have come about due to new responsive design features. This might include large, engaging images filling the space of the website, collapsing menus, scalable icons, custom fonts, and many other features.

Why should your not-for-profit choose responsive design?

It will improve your SEO
Did you know Google boosts the rankings of mobile-friendly sites in mobile searches? The higher your website charts in search engine rankings, the more people will find it.

It costs less!
Responsive designs costs less than having multiple sites. Though the initial cost can be more, the fluid design ultimately saves on the cost of creating and maintaining multiple sites across multiple URLs for different devices and users.

It’s easy to manage
Responsive designs are easier to maintain than multiple sites for the same reason. There may be a small learning curve depending on the complexity of the design, but there is only one design to manage, not many.

It’s device agnostic
So whatever device your supporters choose to use; phone, tablet, or screen, the site will render in user-friendly manner.

It’ll prepare your website for the future
The fluid way responsive design websites are built helps future proof the site against changing trends and technology.

Is your website responsive? What do you think when you visit a site via your phone and can’t reach the content you need? Add your comments below!

What have you done with my money?

When was the last time you contacted your donors and specifically informed them of how their donation has helped your cause or been put to great use? No doubt you’ll have some heart-warming examples that showcase how successful fundraising has made a difference to an individual, family or a community’s life? Please share this with your donors at least once a year, more if you can, they’re just dying to hear – why wouldn’t they? You are the stewards of their donated hard-earned cash.

Prepare the story by setting the scene

How dire was the situation? What was it that led your organisation to be involved in the case? Get quotes from individuals involved and pictures to really help set the scene, particularly if there’s a great after-shot to go with it.

Your organisation’s involvement

Who? When? Where? Why? Was it all because of one person or a group of people? Allow individuals or these groups to shine when telling the story.

The outcome

The success story. The part that will touch the hearts of your donors and lead to them being proud to be involved in your organisation. The story may well be passed on by word of mouth when chatting with peers.

Remember, be concise.  Don’t ramble on and switch donors off reading it before they even start.


Tell them that continual donations make this work possible. You want to give them the opportunity to give again or give beyond their usual regular contribution and a reason for doing so!
If you able to answer the question ‘What have you done with my money?’ you’ll be able to retain and grow your base rather than see them slip away.

Getting up close & personal with supporters

When you consider commercial companies, it seems obvious that if their brand is strong and recognisable, people are more likely to connect with and then (hopefully) go on to purchase the product. An easily distinguishable identity can help any company stand out from the competition, add value to their offering, and engage with customers. Think about companies like Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Apple – you immediately have an image in your mind of who they are and what their brand represents – because the brand they have created is so strong.

And it doesn’t just apply to the commercial sector – building a brand is just as important for charities to encourage people to engage with what you do.

What is a brand?

A brand is not necessarily what you might think. It’s not your logo, or colours. It’s not even the name, the services or the products that you offer. Your brand is the feeling your supporters have when they think of you. It’s not what you say it is, but what they say it is.

How can you begin to build a brand?

  • Consider tone

Think about the tone of your brand, and maintain it. Whether that’s in advertising, social media, PR, direct marketing or online communications – make sure all your communications reflect the tone of your brand. It may be that your brand has a chatty, informal tone – or maybe you have a more professional or traditional tone. Whatever your tone – just make sure it’s consistent.

  • Remind people who you are

Every organisation should have a brand – but not every organisation remembers to express who they are in all of their communications. You should remind existing supporters who you are and don’t forget to educate new donors on your promise to them.

  • Be honest

Building trust with supporters can be simple if they know exactly what you do and how you do it. Show your supporters the kind of impact they’ve helped you make in the past year, and how you plan on making an even better use of the funds with the success of the next campaign. Make your supporters proud of you, and of the help they’ve given!