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.

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.

Your Guide To: Corporate Fundraising

It can be confusing and daunting when thinking about corporate fundraising. You may often find yourself asking questions like: How do I successfully bring a partner on board? What are the expectations of the company? How should I treat our relationship?


These are all valid questions and ones that need to be addressed, but with good planning and clear understanding of your goals, a successful relationship with a corporate entity can be built!


So, without further ado, Here are our top tips for engaging with corporates.


Make Connections

Start by thinking of any companies you may have existing contact with.  Use your extended network (contacts of contacts) and ask for introductions – ‘LinkedIn’ can be useful in identifying indirect relationships you never knew you had.


Identify the right person

Make sure you approach the right person – the store/company Manager or person responsible for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is most usual.  Do some research, find out their name and approach them personally and directly – in smaller businesses, where there is no formal CSR policy, donations are often made at the discretion of the Manager.


Think about what you can offer

Where appropriate, think about what you are prepared to offer in return, such as a public acknowledgement or publicity opportunities.  Most companies give out of self-interest rather than pure altruism, and it is important to remember this when approaching them.  If you are asking for sponsorship, think about why a company would want to be associated with you – this could include positive publicity so bring along any press cuttings or correspondence indicating media interest.  Many smaller local businesses may be unaware of the tax advantages available in connection with charitable gifts, so make sure you are prepared to tell them! 


Prepare an ‘Ask’

A letter outlining what you are doing, what it is you are asking for, and why a company should think about supporting you is often a good starting point.

Follow-up with a telephone call a week or two later, allowing time for the recipient to familiarise themselves with your ‘ask’.  If you are looking for something substantial, this may be a good opportunity to suggest a meeting to discuss how any partnership might work.


Say Thank You!

Remember to say ‘thank you’ and report back on how a company’s support has made a difference.  This not only prepares the ground for any future donations but also helps ensure the reputation of the charity and fundraising in general.


Three Tips for Common-Sense Fundraising

Even if you aren’t a frequent flyer, you probably have an opinion about United Airlines—and it’s likely that recent events regarding forcibly removing a paying passenger to accommodate crew members impacted that opinion. The truth is, when faced with an “urgent need,” common sense often becomes uncommon. Fundraising is certainly not exempt from this problem; we base decisions too often on expediency rather than an analysis of long-term consequences.

Common sense is very uncommon. (Horace Greeley, editor)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines common sense as “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.” As fundraisers, facts are the basis of much of our work, especially with the direct response portion of our program. Yet, despite this abundance of data, fundraising faces serious challenges and many nonprofit organisations are balancing their futures on very shaky foundations.

Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. (Gertrude Stein, author)

Perhaps one challenge is that “sound and prudent” decision-making is rather subjective. I may think I know the best fundraising decision, but too often that is based on my being convinced that what I want to be true is true. In other words, what works for me will work for everyone else.

How can we develop more reliable decision-making to reduce the risk of failure and increase the likelihood of building a cadre of faithful, committed donors? Based on resources providing guidance for developing common sense, here are three tips that I believe are apropos to fundraisers today:

1. Slow down

I lead with this recommendation because it is where I most need to improve. The stupidest mistakes I make – sending an email to the wrong person, for example – happen when I am rushing to finish “just one more thing” before I go to bed. In my hurry to get it done, I create more work cleaning up the fallout the next day. Making decisions when we are tired, angry, scared, or experiencing other strong emotions can negatively affect our judgement. Give common sense a chance to kick in by allowing yourself time to consider the options and the consequences.

2. Know your target audience

“It works for me” is a terrible reason to go in a certain direction, but too often it’s the deciding factor. If you can’t relate to your typical donor, get to know someone who can be a mental surrogate for the donors, and then consider each decision in light of that person. “Will it play in Peoria?” isn’t just an expression that relates to vaudeville; our own common sense will increase if we ask, “Will this decision ‘play’ with our target donor?”

3. Admit mistakes quickly

One of my childhood memories relates to my dad trying to convince my mum that he hadn’t made a wrong turn to the east toward Green Bay, despite seeing the “Home of the Green Bay Packers” along the road. He could keep driving in the direction he was going and make excellent time, but he would never get to Minnesota, which was to the west. It’s great to be cranking out fundraising projects, but if they aren’t resulting in gifts from donors who are growing more and more committed, it’s time to make a course direction. 

What to be a fundraising genius? Cultivate common sense!

Common sense is the genius of humanity. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet)

How To Use a Consultant When Selecting A CRM

By Collette Langley, Business Development Executive, Blackbaud Europe


As a member of a sales team, I work closely with a wide range of IT and Fundraising consultants. When I know a good consultant has been involved in workshopping a non-profit’s requirements or helping in the selection and implementation process, I’m relieved.  To me, it means that the organisation is committed to action, that they have spent some time thinking about what they want to achieve and that they are taking the process seriously.


Investing resource in an external consultant drives an organisation to take the sometimes-daunting first step on the journey of achieving their goals through new technology.


I can also say with confidence that the best consultants know a great deal.  They have been allowed on the inside of a lot of boardrooms; they see all sides of the process; they are in on every conversation and their experience is invaluable to us all.


Benefits of using a consultant:

  • Milestones: Helping you set timescales and sticking to them; not just in the project implementation but also in the selection process itself.  The selection process often overruns, and it’s rarely because the supplier isn’t keen enough! For example, we often work with organisations who don’t have a desired go-live date. It’s a bit like working with someone who doesn’t have financial constraints – sounds great, but in reality, it means the selection process isn’t following any rules, project plan, or selection criteria and things can – and will – overrun.


  • Budget: A consultant is great in helping you define an appropriate budget for your project.  Many organisations will put a call into a number of suppliers to get a feeling for a budget.  But there are so many variables to consider and making sure you’re comparing apples with apples isn’t as easy as you think at first glance.


  • Insight: We are all biased in our opinions. We all think we know what we want out of a system.  But a consultant provides an outsider’s view. A fresh pair of knowledgeable eyes to assimilate your goals and prioritise your requirements, which can bring great benefits.


However, one note of caution. You as the non-profit must remain strong and in control. The wrong consultant, or a lack of direction from you, can muddy the waters, eg. by introducing suppliers that aren’t a good fit, just to make up the numbers or allow comparisons to be made.  This (in my opinion) often happens when an organisation isn’t confident in making a decision.  You may already have a supplier in mind who is a good fit for you, but rather than do due diligence yourself, you introduce a consultant to take you through a process of supplier selection which just leads back to the original supplier.  I recognise this also happens because you may have procurement rules which mean you have to see at least three suppliers and there are merits in this (arse-covering is one!), but you need to be clear why you’re doing it, and remain open to other possibilities the consultant presents.


As with most things in life, communication is key.  There is nothing more disconcerting in my working life than getting one answer from the customer and another from the consultant.  You need to be honest with your consultant and communicate continuously with them throughout the process.  Let’s be honest, when something goes wrong in a project the consultant is the first one to cop it!  All fingers point to them, they were the ones who made the suggestions and guided the decision, it’s easy to blame them and people do (on both sides). It’s a tough job, but both we and you can make it easier and ultimately lead you to making the right technology choice for your organisation.

What’s Really Driving the Increase in Online Giving?

If you’re like most non-profits and charitable organisations you’re seeing growth in online giving. How fast is your online giving growing? 5%? 10%? Maybe 25% or more?

The latest figures from the Blackbaud Index for charitable giving show that online giving continues to grow approximately 7% year over year, while overall giving remains relatively flat, growing only 1-3% per year.

So what’s driving this increase in online giving? Have charities been able to learn from e-commerce sites like Amazon to improve their online donor journey?  Have we finally broken through to millennials with our fundraising efforts?

I’d like to say yes, but unfortunately, I don’t believe that’s the case. Certainly, many non-profits and charitable organisations have made great improvements in the way they conduct their online fundraising. Online donation pages are much better today than they were even a few years ago.


Here are a few examples that indicate why non-profits and charitable organisations need to look a little deeper into online giving data to determine the true source of online donations:

  • For one international development organisation HMA discovered that 91% of their online donations were given by donors who were being mailed regularly in the direct mail program.
  • For a children’s charity, HMA found that 73% of online donations were received from donors who already existed in the direct mail program.
  • And for another national organization, HMA found that while only $12,000 had been given via the specific URL provided on the direct mail pack, an additional $190,000 was given by direct mail donors through the regular website.

You might think that this doesn’t add up. Direct mail donors are old and certainly not keen to give online. And online donors are young millennials— they wouldn’t give through the mail. Right? Well, that’s not what the numbers show us.

Older donors are online

The fastest growing age cohort on Facebook is 65+. In the last year, this group has seen a 30% increase in usage. 62% of online adults 65+ now use Facebook. 47% of online adults 65+ now do their banking online. (Source: Pew Research Center) And it’s these older donors who are also increasingly making donations online as they become more comfortable with technology.


What does this mean for your non-profit or charitable organisation’s fundraising strategy?

Most importantly, it means that to increase your online giving you need to continue to invest in direct mail and other traditional sources of fundraising revenue. Yes, you should be sending regular e-mails. And yes, you should post regular updates to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels. The more integrated the messaging across channels, the better fundraising results you will see. But you shouldn’t re-allocate all of your resources to online just because that’s your fastest growing revenue channel.

You should, however, test the usability of your online donation form. Your online donation form is used by many of your older, traditional donors because it’s convenient for them. Have you ever asked a parent or grandparent to test your online donation form for you? It’s a great exercise. Just ask them to sit down and make an online donation to your organisation. Resist the urge to help them if they struggle to complete the donation. But take notes and make changes if they had any challenges completing the form.

Millennial donors need to be cultivated

If most of the online revenue comes from older donors, how can you cultivate Millennial donors?

Millennials want to make an impact, but often times they don’t have the financial resources to do so. They’ll be happy to share your content through social media and participate in an event to raise money from their friends and family, but they may not yet have the financial resources to make a significant charitable donation.

So rather than focusing on trying to get money from this group, focus instead on engaging them in your cause—give them other ways to get involved. Connect with them through social media. Provide them with ways to share about your mission and the impact your nonprofit or charitable organisation makes. This could include providing a platform for them to create their own peer-to-peer fundraising page.

Most importantly – show them how their support (whether financial or not) has made an impact. Because if you’re able to engage them now and keep them interested in your cause, they’ll be more likely to donate to your organisation in the future.

3 tips to increase online donations from both older and younger donors?

1. Build a well-designed online donation form

Keep your online donation form to 10 fields or less. Ensure it works on mobile phones and tablets. Provide a variety of payment options. And test it on multiple devices to ensure every donor (especially your older donors) will be able to easily complete their online donation.


2. Continue to invest in off-line fundraising programs

Yes, there have been a few purely online campaigns that were successful. The Ice Bucket Challenge is one that I always get asked about. ‘How can we re-create that for our organisation?’ The short answer is that you can’t. ALS didn’t even create the ice bucket challenge, it was created by individuals who cared about the cause. Others got involved and it took off. But if your strategy is to create the next Ice Bucket Challenge you’re almost guaranteed to fail. Instead, brainstorm ways you can genuinely connect with your donors. Provide them with a platform to share content. If you do a good job with that, they’ll help you with your online fundraising.


3. Focus on donor stewardship

Whether it’s an online or offline donation, great donor stewardship is critical. Donors have more choices than ever to whom they can direct their donations, so it’s important that your organisation stands out. Thank donors for every gift they make. Send them their tax receipt promptly. Make thank you calls to ALL donors. And always be sure that donors know what impact their donation has made.

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 to Build a Tribe of Community Fundraisers

Don’t ignore the ‘thinkers’ and talkers’ – they will encourage more ‘doers’ in your community fundraising tribe, says Julie Roberts


Often as fundraisers, we can focus too much just on the ‘doers’ – the actual participants in our community fundraising and events programmes. We can often overlook the social media observers (‘thinkers’) and advocates (‘talkers’) if they themselves don’t give or fundraise. In doing so, however, we are denying ourselves a real opportunity to expand our community fundraising.


Community fundraising is generally seen as a reactive form of fundraising: passionate supporters approaching an organisation and telling them that they want to raise money to help the cause, but in their way and when they want to.

It is always fantastic to have the support of these ‘doers’, but how do you find more of these like-minded, passionate people who love fundraising in their own way? This is a key question I get asked by charities over and over.


Building a tribe

Well, the answer is to build a ‘tribe’; a community of people in which there is a sense of collective purpose and belonging. But how? Well in this day in age the perfect platform is, of course, social media – no geographical barriers, no time barriers and interaction as and when supporters want it.


But you need more than a platform. You need a strong content strategy to engage your potential supporters.


First, let’s think about what you know about these passionate supporters. Start by asking, what’s their key connection? It all starts with your cause. They have come to you because they believe in your mission, your purpose, what you are hoping to achieve as an organisation.


Second, in what way do they want to support your cause? What are the attitudes and beliefs that motivate these individuals to act on behalf of and in support of your charity? Many want to fundraise in an active way, so they feel like they are helping the individual/family that is being immediately affected.


In my experience, the best content engages supporters by highlighting how others are helping your cause to achieve the outcome of your organisation in the same, active form of fundraising.  For example:



Now you need to reach out and find your tribe. You should start by focusing on your warmest supporters, then add additional marketing (links to your social pages, Facebook adverts etc). You’ll soon start to see your tribe grow through their connections.

When I worked at Cancer Council NSW we ran a campaign called Do It For Cancer. The following results are for the first EDM we sent to our warm past community fundraisers to grow our Facebook page. The email was titled ‘Stick up for us and we’ll support you!’


Email sent: 12,877

Emails opened: 2,666

Open rate: 20.7%

Click throughs: 466

Likes received from email: 249

Conversion from click through: 53.4%

Additional likes from the day of email sent: 320

Additional likes from day after email sent: 209


Creating a journey

So, you have created a social media community and now you have great content. But will this, in itself, bring additional doers? For some, yes. Others, however, will need to be taken on a journey within the community. They need to feel that they too could belong to the active pool of supporters. But they need to be convinced. This could be achieved through inspiration for the activity that they could do, the support others have gained from the organisation or the way other people’s networks came to support them. You’ll never truly know what caused someone to register on that day to become a doer. All you need to understand is how to take them on this journey.

To help me explain how the journey comes into play, meet my three key tribe personas: Nelson Mandela, The Poet and Oprah.


Nelson is the doer; the go-getter who is rallying his troops and is actively helping your cause head towards its mission by raising vital funds.


The Poet is the thinker of the tribe. In community fundraising terms, the Poet is the one who will add fun and a creative input to provide inspiration to others.


Oprah is the talker. The one who will comment, share and like posts, and interact with others, spreading messages that bring the content to more people.


Why are these important? All three work alongside each other to spur each other on and in turn help identify and engage your next army of doers. By understanding these community characteristics, you can start to build a real fundraising community.


Start by showcasing your current doers. This is one example of what we used to do on our Facebook page:


This will inspire the thinkers about what potential fundraising ideas they could do. Meanwhile, your talkers will start to talk about the activities of your doers and share the ideas of your thinkers. And in turn, new doers will start to realise how they can support your cause and act.


The bonus ball

Not every single person will become a doer – but they may become a donor for another doer. They could become an advocate for your cause and for these active ways of fundraising. They could be the link to another potential doer for your cause. The list of opportunities is endless.


The insights you’ll gain and additional networks you’ll reach will allow you to create a brand new tribe for your community fundraising programme. Hopefully, one that can be used not just for finding doers, but for finding and making the most of all kinds of new opportunities.


Julie Roberts is the director of More Strategic [] and a passionate community and events expert. She recently spoke at the IoF Yorkshire Conference in February about how she grew the community fundraising programme at Cancer Council NSW [] in Sydney, Australia and turned it into an innovation funnel. If you need help in your community or events programme, email

9 Things to Look for When Evaluating a Grant Proposal

Ensuring that your foundation makes impactful grants to the right non-profit partners starts with a thorough proposal evaluation. A proposal should include more than just the organisation’s mission statement and program description.


To help you better evaluate submissions so that you are set up for success, here are nine items you should look for in any grant proposal:


  • Organisation Background & Experience: Has this organisation run similar programs in the past—similar budgets, focus area, geography? Does their previous experience set them up for success with this new program?


  • The financial health of your organisation: Make sure you take a look at the non-profit’s financial records and ensure that there are no red flags that could indicate this may be an unwise investment.


  • Program Partners: If the non-profit will be working with other partners (whether non-profit, academic, government, even other grantmakers), are these partners experienced in this type of program? Are they subject matter experts or invested in the target community? What specific roles will the partners play, and how will their activities be tracked? If there aren’t other partners, are you comfortable that the one organisation can fully implement the program on its own?


  • Program Description: This should be more than a few sentences with high-level goals. The proposal should include a detailed description of how the program will be executed, how exactly the pieces fit together to achieve the desired outcome, and of the different phases involved in implementing and running the program. Which leads us to number 5…


  • Program Timeline: Of course, even the best-laid plans are subject to change, but the proposal should include a general timeline of when the various parts of the program will be executed, how the program will ultimately come together. This timeline should serve to help you, as the grantmaker, to monitor the progress of the grant and ensure it’s on track with hitting various milestones.


  • Measurement Plan: Has an appropriate plan been laid out to monitor and measure the program outcomes? If appropriate for the grant size, is an experienced independent evaluator involved to administer the outcomes measurement plan? Or if being implemented internally, do the staff tasked with tracking results have the appropriate knowledge and experience to accurately do so?


  • Sustainability Plan: Has the organisation specified a plan to obtain continued funding and/or an ability to self-sustain the program after the grant period has ended? In other words, is the non-profit already thinking about what happens after this grant?


  • Communications Plan: Does the proposal outline an appropriate communications plan as part of the overall program, to promote awareness and gain buy-in from the target population? And separately, does the proposal outline how the organisation will publicise the program, share learnings at conferences and in publications, etc.?


  • Detailed Budget: Does the proposal include a detailed line-item budget? Does the line-item budget include reasonable costs (meaning neither inflated nor underestimated) for personnel and program-related expenses? A detailed budget enables you to be a good steward of your foundation’s grant funds.


In my experience as a former corporate grantmaker, if a grant proposal includes satisfactory responses to these nine elements, that’s a good indicator that the organisation has carefully thought the project through and will be a great grantee partner. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and have a two-way conversation about the application responses—some of my most successful grants resulted from working together to refine the proposal by sharing experience based on past learnings. And make sure that you have the right technology in place that allows you to easily ask for and collect this information in applications. A clear, easy-to-use application form will help set you and your partners up for success from the very beginning.

How to Make Your Mission Heard by the Masses


Advocacy is a way to showcase your organisation’s mission while solving a problem at the same time. With a plan and resources, you can arm your biggest supporters with the tools they need to be stewards for your cause.

But how do you create an advocacy program that actually works? Read our 6 Key Takeaways and start sharing your mission today.


Key Takeaways for Creating Your Own Advocacy Program

  • Identify: What is it that you want your supporters to help spread the word about? This could be anything from helping raise money for a new program, to showcasing a new exhibit.
  • Inform: It’s important that your advocates have all the facts. Those are going to be their strongest weapon. Prepare them with material that outlines the issue and provide any facts and figures.
  • Social: Create a social campaign and draft posts with relevant hashtags that people can easily share with their own networks.
  • Top of Mind: Create a one-pager that outlines your mission, the cause being advocated for, and how others can help.
  • Give Thanks: Without your supporters, sharing your mission can only go so far. It’s with their passion that the word spreads about causes that are important to your organization—and to them. Make sure they know you appreciate everything they do to help advance your cause.


Advocacy in action

If you’ve never had an advocacy program at your organisation, here are a few pointers from the event that you can use as inspiration.

Let’s say you’re a cultural organisation, and want to build advocacy for the institution you support – whether that’s a museum, gallery, theatre or leisure facility. You might want to prepare materials that empower your supporters.


Provide your supporters with:

  • Briefs that outline key issues, such as the economic and social impacts of your organisation. Identify your key concerns so your supporters can spread the word.
  • Snapshots of your fundraising figures, campaigns and initiatives. Inform your supporters about the acitvity your undertaking, and the success it’s having.
  • Tips for speaking with new prospective supporters and institutions. Help your advocates spread your message by writing role play scenarios.
  • Provide highlight packs about the impact your institution has on communities, both locally and further afield. Keep your institution top of your supporter’s minds.


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.

Three Major Components of a Successful Annual Giving Campaign

Over the past six decades, individual donors continue to be the largest philanthropic group. Donations by individuals accounted for £210 billion, more than double the amount of foundations, charitable bequests and corporations combined. Obtaining and sustaining these individual donors is vital to your annual giving campaign. Your annual giving campaign is comprised of strategic development opportunities, helping you meet and exceed your fundraising goals each year. Many different efforts will add to its success, with each step of the campaign requiring donor interactions and stewardship.


You have two main objectives as you develop your annual giving campaign:

  • Strengthen donor or membership relations
  • Sustain operational expenses


Planning a campaign takes preparation and detail. Focus on these action items as you begin to shape the campaign:

  • Set a realistic annual fund goal
  • Analyse your current prospects
  • Develop a team utilising all resources and connections
  • Follow-up and thank you


Your development team should focus on the annual giving campaign until they reach the annual fund goal. Consider these three opportunities to help you meet your goal, maximise exposure, and generate success: fundraising appeals, events, and stewardship.


1. Appeals

Appeals are direct communication pieces to your prospects and donors via print or electronic delivery. They contain powerful content and create exposure for your organisation by educating others on your past, current and future efforts. These solicitations generate awareness of your mission, build relationships, and increase revenue. The most common appeals are Mid-year, Giving Tuesday and the Season of Giving.



While there are many ways you can go about shaping your appeal, highlighting an individual situation or story will have the most impact by enhancing your donors’ understanding and increasing their connection to your cause. Once messaging is complete and you’ve crafted a story, ensure the solicitation is delivered in a simple, informative, connective, and uplifting way.


  • Delivery – Ensure the message is vibrant and concise. Use simple verbiage and keep statistics to a minimum. Statistics are great motivators, but can also alter the voice of an appeal. Readers need to easily understand the message to connect to it. A confused donor will disregard an appeal, resulting in no gift.
  • Mission – The voice of your appeal must prominently support your mission throughout the piece. Your organisation’s mission and objectives should be clear to the reader.
  • Personalisation – Personalisation is key to making your donors feel important and connected to your cause. Simple additions such as the donor’s name, last donation date, and the amount of their last gift can have a lasting impact.
  • Imagery – People naturally look at pictures before reading text. Capitalise on this by using images to tell your story and enhance the donors’ emotions. Select photos that invoke feelings of empathy and joy to develop drive and energy to support your cause.
  • Donor Impact – Donors like to feel connected and valuable to causes they believe in. Focusing on donor impact creates ownership and connection, ultimately increasing giving. Explain how donor support is critical to your mission, and highlight donor impact in your story.
  • Donation Amounts – Engage your donors by showing and telling them how you are utilizing their money. Keep the amount you ask for and explanations simple, and use examples.
  • Convenience– Accessibility is vital; make it easy for your donors to give. Your website should reflect your current campaign, and your donation button or page must be highly visible. Include options, such as recurring gift, so donors have the choice to give again automatically. Direct mail appeals should include a return envelope. It’s no secret that social media is incredibly effective: Don’t forget to include a link that leads directly to your donation page.
  • Execution– Appeals are endorsed by many people in many ways. Leadership and development are the mainstay of appeals, but other staff, board members and volunteers must work collectively to drive the effort.


2. Events

Events are an exciting way to expose your campaign. Hosting an event can be challenging; however, consider these methods to increase success and profitability. Develop different types of events appealing to many levels of donors to maximise attendance.

  • Fun-Allow your guests to be amazed while creating a fun environment. Building experiences that generate a buzz will sustain attendance for your next affair.
  • Creative-Develop a unique atmosphere and treat guests to out-of-the-box encounters that everyone will remember. If possible, include a theme that will heighten the originality and allow guests to get involved.
  • Customize-Be resourceful, and make sure your event is mission-focused. Details, small and large, should mirror your organisation’s purpose, and guests should feel aligned with your message.
  • Committee-Build a committee specifically to increase ticket sales and recognise their efforts on your social media posts, website and printed collateral. Developing a name, such as “Friends of the Festival,” will intensify their purpose, strengthening their drive and increasing exposure. They are your advocates and should feel appreciated.

Every event serves the same purpose: face time with your donors while exposing your mission. Bonding with prospects and donors is imperative, whether it’s formal or informal, to deepening your relationship. Donors tend to let loose at events and become carefree while enjoying the moment. This is your pathway into their world, allowing for an easier stewardship process.


3. Stewardship

Each donor is unique and no two like to be stewarded the same way. Your interaction and communication plan will need to be broad and diverse. Stewardship is the key to successful donor retention. It’s easier to keep a donor than to acquire a new one. Ensure your stewardship plan is impactful through acknowledgement, designation, notes, communication, and low-cost touches.

  • Acknowledgement– Recognise gifts within three days of receiving since a delayed response can be perceived as an insult. Some donors prefer to remain anonymous, while other donors might want the publicity to go toward their company, but one thing is constant: All donor requests should be respected. Acknowledgement levels mostly fall into three categories: major gift, mid-level gift, and lower-level gift. The amount for each category is customised to your organisation’s donor base.
    • Major Gift: Phone call and thank you letter
    • Mid-level Gift: Personalised email and thank you letter
    • Lower-level Gift: Thank you letter with hand written note
  • Designation-Ensure that each donation is used to the fullest intent of the donor. Restricted or unrestricted, it’s imperative to honour the donor’s wishes.
  • Take notes-Every organisation has turnover, but keeping detailed records will guarantee donor satisfaction. Appropriate software will help your development staff succeed.
  • Communication-Keeping donors engaged is simple! To sustain your donors, make sure to follow-up on how their funds were used and remain in communication. When a donor can physically see a difference, they are more likely to give a second time, third time, and eventually become a recurring donor.
  • Low-Cost Touches-Acknowledging milestones in your major donor’s lives is an inexpensive way to keep the connection alive. Send them a birthday card or congratulations on a new family member, for example. Every time you contact your donors, it shouldn’t be about money. Let them know you care and want to share their experiences.

Your annual campaign is your primary route to raising the funds necessary to accomplish your organisation’s mission. With careful planning, other benefits will arise throughout the year. Campaigns expose your mission and lead to greater awareness in your community and in the news. This is your most important campaign of the year – remember to engage your donors and share stories of positive impact.

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.

Can Non-Profits Really Raise Money With 5Ks?

According to the Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study, 5K events are struggling to recruit participants and raise funds. Revenue declined by 13%, participation decreased by 12%, and online fundraising was down 19%. 5Ks have been historically difficult to raise funds through, but they seem to be having a particularly tough go of it lately. Are we as fundraisers failing this group of constituents? Are our runs sub-par? And why can’t we ever seem to get these runners to fundraise?


With the number of people participating in 5Ks decreasing and the number of available events increasing, individual events are seeing significant participant declines, which would explain the 12% decrease we saw in the P2P benchmark report. From a revenue perspective, participants in 5Ks are stereotypically not very good fundraisers. Only 14% of them raise funds online, as compared to 31% of walkers and more than 60% of cyclist and endurance event participants. Let’s look at the top three reasons why this type of event doesn’t inspire as much fundraising as the others.


  1. Walking is not much of a hobby: Most people who participate in a fundraising walk don’t sign up because they really enjoy walking. They sign up because they have a connection to the cause or because someone asked them to. They aren’t fantastic fundraisers, but more than twice as many of them raise money compared to 5K runners.
  2. There is no implicit obligation to fundraise: The majority of cycling and endurance events require a certain level of fundraising to participate. From the minute you sign up, you know you need to raise funds.
  3. There is less of a personal challenge involved: While a 5K would be difficult for many, a 5K is not an intense challenge on the same level as a long-distance cycling event or half-marathon. Those events take more of a commitment both physically and from a fundraising perspective.


To combat this, below are some bold ideas, not for the faint of heart, to bolster the performance of your 5K event.


  • Put “scarcity” to good use: Did you have 200 runners last year? Limit the field this year to 200 runners or less and make sure everyone knows it. The marketing principle of scarcity utilises the appearance of a shortage to sell more. The fear of missing out will push more runners to your race.


  • Generate more funds through registration and upgrades: According to the Benchmark Study, 38% of 5K revenue is derived from registration costs. Other types of events count registration fees as only 6% or less of their income. Rather than maligning this fact, it could be time to exploit it.
    • Increase your registration fee: You can either do this across the board or increase the fee at pre-determined points and advertise the fee schedule, making sure that those signing up on the day of the race pay the most.
    • Charge a premium for upgrades: VIP parking, no wait portaloos, pre- and post-race meals (donated), racing jerseys, and other wearables can all be offered to participants prior to and on the day of the event.
    • By increasing fees and concentrating on upgrades, you do enforce a consumer culture for your event vs. a fundraising culture, but if you’ve been swimming against the fundraising tide for years with your 5K, it might just be time to accept it and generate income any way you can.


  • Utilise a fundraising commitment: After all, you are putting on a safe, fun event for more than just the sake of a good run. You are trying to cure sickness, end hunger, or advocate for the homeless. Your work is important and it takes money to realise your goals. Allow your 5K runners to be a part of the solution and double down on fundraising.


If your 5K is faltering and has been for years, it could be time to take a bold and fearless approach to your event. Could one of these options work for your event?


But what happens when you have an event that is BOTH a walk and a 5K? Chances are, the event was designed to satisfy a larger amount of people. Perhaps it started off with both options in the beginning, or maybe one was added in an attempt to stem losses and/or generate more revenue. The problem with that, to oversimplify, is that runners run and walkers fundraise. As we have already explored, these two types of participants are very different and it is incredibly difficult to make fundraising/marketing decisions for an event that is trying to cater to both. If you are unable to separate the events physically, try to separate them from a marketing perspective. Offer two different website, registration, and communications experiences for each group. At the very least, ask during the registration process if they plan to walk or run and plan your communications to these two groups accordingly.


As we get ready to analyse 2016 P2P events, it will be fascinating to see how 5K data relates to the latest 2016 Running USA study when that is released as well. Stay tuned for the 2016 Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study!

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?

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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5 Years On: How #GivingTuesday Reached Ubiquity

By Susan McPherson, CEO of McPherson Strategies

#GivingTuesday, a global grassroots movement that started out as a mere napkin brainstorm, has reached ubiquity. And for once in my life, I was lucky enough to be in the “room where it happened”—or at least the moment the founders decided to start sharing their vision.

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7 New Year’s Resolutions for your Non-Profit

Well, it’s approaching another new year and we’ve all resolved to get fitter, read more, learn a foreign language or get PADI-certified and go scuba diving with manta rays off the coast of Ecuador.


So before January slips by completely, we thought we’d share with you Blackbaud’s top 7 New Year’s  resolutions that every non-profit should be keeping in order to make 2017 the best year yet for your organisation!

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How to say ‘Thank You’ to your donors

I admit words come easily to me; I’m comfortable talking or writing. (I won’t get into what I’m not so good at—some confessions are best left unsaid). Even though I constantly preach about the importance of the ability to say “thank you,” when I sit down to write another monthly receipt letter I sometimes wonder, “Am I just repeating the same things over and over? What can I say that feels brand new to the person reading it?”

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What is the Cloud?

“The ‘cloud’ is simply a metaphor for the internet. It originates from when the internet was drawn in manuals and graphics surrounded by a cloud shaped bubble.”


So what’s cloud computing then? Cloud computing is when you save and access your computer’s information or programmes over the internet instead of using the memory of your PC or office server. And a cloud based service is any programme you either log into or access over the web – think your Gmail account, Spotify or Netflix.

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Share the Risk and Reap the Rewards

We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.” – W. H. Auden


I’ve spent most of my career in business development and have worked with organizations of all shapes and sizes, both for-profit and not-for-profit. From this vantage point, I’ve observed that leaders of social impact organisations tend to be risk averse. This is because they feel pressure to maximize their time and resources on achieving the immediate needs of program service delivery. Often this pressure is increased when funders restrict resources to specific short-term projects.

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The No Filter Truth About #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is entering its fifth year as a global social media movement inspired by the purpose of giving. According to, “#GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges.”

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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.

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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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Your End-of-Year Giving Plan Starts Today

By Erin Duff

In 2015, the percentage of giving that happened in December held steady for the second straight year at 17.4%, by far the largest month in terms of distribution of giving. Online giving in December increased from 17.8% in 2014 to 19% in 2015, potentially showing the influence of online giving days like #GivingTuesday. Summer may just be wrapping up, but is your organization positioned to make the most of December giving and the feelings of generosity that the holiday season brings?

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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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Practical Considerations as a Small Charity Thinking about CRM

As a small charity considering investing in new software, you have conflicting priorities. You’ll likely have a smaller budget to work with, but still need to deliver on your mission and meet the expectations of your board.  Meeting all these criteria is sometimes very difficult and so many organisations find solutions that fit certain requirements like cost, but with that end up sacrificing quality and service.

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Summary of the 2016 Public Trust and Confidence in Charities Report

The 2016 Public Trust and Confidence in Charities report, commissioned by the Charity Commission, was released last week (downloadable here) and makes for interesting reading.

The report, published every two years, focuses closely on the public’s trust in charities and comes at probably the most important time in its 10-year history. The report systematically explores the root causes of the (mis)trust of charities, comparisons between charities of different size, sector and mission; and awareness of the work that charities do.  It is, however, a little long. So we’ve done the hard miles for you and Given you a nice little summary of the headline findings below…

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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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How to let it go – Embracing the Change

Automating manual or complex processes can involve substantial organisational change. Be it the efficiency saving which allows you to save on staff costs, or the increase in effectiveness which allows your team to reach even more supports with the same effort.


Our previous article, From Manual to Automatic talked about some of the advantages and gave an example where change was going to be particularly tough.

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Fundraisers – Be Positive!

Blackbaud’s Rob Gethen Smith gives his thoughts following this year’s IoF Convention.


The headline message from this year’s IoF convention was, “Let’s be positive!” It’s been a tough year and significant challenges lie ahead, but the fundraising community remains strong and resolved to grow income through creativity, tenacity and by nurturing talent –  and of course by putting our donors first. Indeed these were the key themes of the opening plenary. In memory of Tony Elischer, the panel lead by Ken Burnett gave us 27 great things we could learn from Tony.  Ken summarised the future neatly:  “It’s been a tough year for fundraisers but it is Donors and Fundraisers together who will drive fundraising growth.

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Unlock the Door to the Right Funders with a Powerful Grant Strategy| Part 2

This blog is the second in a three part series that will focus on the tools you need in order to build a comprehensive grants seeking program. Today’s topic will outline a 6 step process to grants research.

You need to fund a project. But, first, you have to identify the right grant maker for the project. Developing a set of project descriptions to guide your funding research can help with this process. With this information, you can also establish an overall grant strategy which will, in turn, guide you in setting up your grants calendar for the next 18 months.

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[1/2] From Manual to Automatic: Efficiency vs Efficacy

“The real barrier to automating processes is human, not technological.”


As a CRM and business consultant, I love the difficult problems. With one project I was working on, the client’s customer service team was overloaded with incoming phone calls from supporters with queries, detail changes and new regular gifts and donations. This, of course, resulted in long waiting times, lost calls, lost donations and unhappy donors.

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How to say ‘no’ to rubbish fundraising ideas

If you work for a charity and are involved in supporting fundraising in any way, then you are a fundraiser and an awesome one at that.

In order to know what fundraising awesomeness looks like, and when you have achieved it, you must have clear measures.

All fundraisers need to know and agree what they are measured on. For example it could be a combination of response rate, average gift, cost to raise a £, $ or €, lifetime value, retention rate … and the list goes on.

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[6/6] Harnessing Social Crowdfunding with Blackbaud’s everydayhero

Peer-to-peer fundraising, coupled with crowdfunding, empowers your Advancement team to reach new first-time donors and amplify your institution’s message


In our previous posts we explored:

1) The importance of online fundraising in your educational institution
2) How to utilise peer-to-peer effectively in crowdfunding
3) Key enablers around social fundraising
4) 10 things to consider before implementing your platform
5) How to position social fundraising in your advancement programme.

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[5/6] Positioning Social Fundraising in Your Advancement Programme

Social fundraising will add more value when placed in your advancement programme to complement your existing initiatives, not to replace them. Certain approaches will work for some audiences but not for others – it is a way to engage your millennial alumni, current students and wider alumni, and be added as an extra channel alongside your other initiatives. It works most successfully with the younger generations because:


1) It’s fun and convenient
2) They can find a project they are most inspired by
3) It inspires them through their peers to give, or motivates them to reach their own networks

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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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[4/6] 10 Things to Consider Before Implementing a Crowdfunding Solution in Your Educational Institution

We have seen how peer-to-peer fundraising can be added to your crowdfunding efforts to reach the wider community and how, when managed in the correct way, this level of social fundraising can help support your advancements teams’ core mission . But there are thousands of solutions to choose from, so knowing what to look for is critical when planning the expansion of your online fundraising.

10 Things to Consider Before Implementing a Crowdfunding Solution in Your Educational Institution

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3 Easy Ways to Amplify Your Welcome Series for New Supporters

By Maureen Wallbeoff – VP of Firefly Partners. She provides a people-focused, collaborative influence to all things Firefly.

Last month we wrote about the 3 steps to creating a Welcome Series to effectively on-board new constituents to your organization. Today in part two, we’ll focus on ways you can kick it up a notch! So you have a welcome series—that’s great. You’re already one step ahead of many other nonprofits. But a one-size fits all welcome series may be leaving out some powerful opportunities to engage. For most organizations, new constituents come in all shapes and sizes. They enter your database from multiple engagement pathways and have wide-ranging experiences (or no experience at all) with your organization.

In a world of Amazon and Google, constituents have come to expect a tailored online experience.

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[3/6] Key Enablers around Social Fundraising in Your Educational Institution

If you think peer-to-peer fundraising is just for charities and crowdfunding is just for students, it’s time to think again. This is a sample of Blackbaud’s upcoming six-part whitepaper: Empowering the Crowd: How to Make Social Fundraising Work for Your Educational Institution.

Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising has captured a lot of attention within the education sector in recent years. We explored these terms in our previous article, Utilising Peer-to-Peer Fundraising in Your Crowdfunding Efforts.

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[2/6]: Utilising Peer-to-Peer Fundraising in Your Crowdfunding Efforts

If you think peer-to-peer fundraising is just for charities and crowdfunding is just for students, it’s time to think again. This is a sample of Blackbaud’s upcoming six-part whitepaper: Empowering the Crowd: How to Make Social Fundraising Work for Your Educational Institution.

As we explored in our last article, The Importance of Online Fundraising in Your Educational Institution, HEs and Schools see the highest year-on-year growth in online fundraising across, yet it still remains only a small percentage of overall giving (3.8% for HEs vs. an industry average of 7.1%). With the growing significance of online giving, we need to harness new technology and terminology, such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P). Both forms of fundraising have been around for several years, but only more recently have captured a lot of attention in the education sector.

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Why are you an awesome fundraiser?

A recurring question in our sector is: what makes fundraising truly great?

Professors Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang looked to answer this question in their report, Great Fundraising, and what they discovered is still very relevant.

Adrian and Jen examined the differences between charities which significantly increased their income year-on-year compared to ones that flat-lined or whose income increased only incrementally.

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[1/6] Schools and H.E’s – You Need to Focus More on Online Fundraising

If you think peer-to-peer fundraising is just for charities and crowdfunding is just for students, it’s time to think again. This is a sample of Blackbaud’s upcoming six-part whitepaper: Empowering the Crowd: How to Make Social Fundraising Work for Your Educational Institution.


Following the recent upsurge in alumni relations teams harnessing the power of social media in building alumni communities, we are now seeing something similar in the online fundraising space at univerisities and schools.

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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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6 Tips for Legacy Fundraising

Gifts in wills should be a part of every fundraising strategy for several key reasons:

  • The return-on-investment is enormous. Occasional correspondence and a few event attendances could lead to a four- or five-figure bequest.
  • People in the UK are often worth more than they think when they pass away. That residuary legacy could turn out to be worth more than they (or your legator) expect.
  • Maintaining a portfolio of legacy pledges can help ensure a long-term pipeline of income for your organisation


So how do you go about setting up a legacy fundraising programme?

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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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Engaging in the Moment: Leveraging Technology for Good

By Andrew Troup

When was the last time you were unexpectedly and unreservedly inspired? How about deeply immersed in an experience— actually present and engaged? What made that moment so special and so memorable?

In today’s world, where our devices seem to blur the lines between personal and professional, it’s easy to lose sight of the actual moment we are living in.

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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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Go figure: Assessing Fundraising Performance in Small Charities

By Janine Edwards, Head of Learning & Business Development, The FSI

One of the key strategic responsibilities of a Trustee Board is to ensure their charity has sufficient resources to pursue its aims and objectives.  Linked to this is the duty of prudence – ensuring that the charity’s funds are used responsibly. When it comes to fundraising, Trustees and staff teams need to ensure they are assessing how much of a return they are getting on the time and resources that are invested in fundraising.

So, with this in mind, what should charity fundraisers, CEOs and Trustees be considering when assessing their fundraising performance?  Janine Edwards from the FSI considers some Do’s and Don’ts.

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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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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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Make Every Trust and Foundation Application Count

By Conchita Garcia, The FSI

We all know how difficult it can be to compete for precious funding, so how can your charity give itself the best possible chance of making a good impression, and make every application count?

Well, one way is to anticipate some of the questions funders may have about your organisation, project or finances, and address these directly in advance.

At the FSI I have the opportunity to meet with hundreds of amazing small charities in our free Trusts and Foundations course and the following tips have been taken from some of the questions I am asked most frequently:

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The art of networking

By Lucy Gower

Pause for a moment and think about what you do when you are deciding to buy something. It might be which smartphone to get, or the best place to eat in your area, where to go on holiday, or which charity to support.

Most of us either ask other people or go online and look at reviews. Whether it’s online, face-to-face or most likely a combination of both, marketers know that a personal recommendation from a trusted source is far more valuable than a company asking customers to ‘Buy the new phone – it’s great!’ or a charity saying ‘We do great work – give to us.’

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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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How to engage your fundraisers with gamification & rewards

By Truman Tang

Bringing some fun into your charitable campaigns via gamification and rewards is a great way to raise awareness for your cause, create an engaging experience for your fundraisers, and turn them into lifelong advocates for your cause.

What is gamification?
To me, gamification isn’t about buying a system and using it to get fundraisers to do things for you. Instead, it’s thinking holistically about your goals and designing a gamified system to support them.

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Six super simple segmentation secrets

By Michele Stender

Have you ever been shopping and run across a piece of clothing that reads “One Size Fits All”? My first reaction is always: false! Specifically when it comes to hats—my head is definitely larger than “all” (Believe me – I’ve tried).  Or have you ever tried to replicate a celebrity hairstyle? I have. Apparently what works for Jennifer Aniston doesn’t quite work for me.

There is rarely an appropriate case for a “one size fits all” approach. We’re all different. We don’t fit into a specific mould. And neither do your donors. 

Remember that when you go to send an email to your entire housefile.

Today, emails are pouring into our inboxes at a rapid pace and most marketers are trying to think of the next clever subject line or incentive to get the best click through and open rates as possible.  And while beautiful content and copy are definitely important, segmenting your donors is key to the success of your overall strategy.

New to segmentation? The worst thing you can do is not segment your audience. How can you do simple segmentation today to build better rapport, reduce unsubscribes, boost response rates and, my personal favourite, create a more engaged supporter?

Below I’ve created subject lines for 6 of the most common segments in your database:

1. Welcome to #teamawesome.

The new donor or potential donor. They just gave their first gift or they showed interest by signing up for your newsletter, so be thoughtful with your follow-up! Engage them with a welcome series—let them know how their support will have impact, tell them where their donation is going, share updates about what’s coming up, and ask them about what matters to them and how they want to make a difference. Your new donor or prospect might just turn into your next major or recurring giver, if you put in the right amount of TLC.

2. We know… You’ve been waiting all year for this.

This is for your yearly gift-giver who has yet to give this year. Let’s hope it’s on their “to do” list, but a little gentle reminder never hurt anyone. Something like “Hey, we appreciate what you do for us every year—we’ve done some incredible things together, haven’t we? We want to keep doing incredible things with you. Your support this year matters to us as much as ever. Will you help us?”

3. Your support is major to our mission.

Your major donor! Don’t lose them by sending blanketed communications. It’s crucial that you truly understand them as individuals: What matters to them and why did they decide to give your organisation? Make them feel special by recognising and acknowledging the impact they’ve helped you create.

4. Thanks for being a superhero every single month.

Recurring donors are some of your most loyal supporters. They have committed to giving to your organisation on a regular basis and deserve updates on how their support is advancing your mission. Consider something like a video newsletter that gives them updates on what’s happening, how you’ve made a difference, and what’s next.

5. We want you back.

For the lapsed donor. Get them back on track by reminding them of the need. Remind them why they gave to you in the first place. Your organisation has been doing some cool stuff and you need their support. Hit them with a compelling story that will draw them in again. Demonstrate to them what would be possible with their support.

6. We get it – it’s time to leave. But was it something we said? 

For your non-opener, this is a sensitive subject. If someone hasn’t opened your email in the past year, they probably won’t open one any time soon. I wonder what would happen if they thought you weren’t going to send them an email any longer.

Obviously, these subject lines are for fun and I don’t actually recommend you using them. But I do think sometimes a little fun may peak interest and intrigue your donors to open, read, and give more. So start segmenting and thinking of clever subject lines (they matter A LOT) to engage your different audience more efficiently!

7 New Year’s Resolutions for your non-profit

Well, it’s another new year and we’ve all resolved to get fitter, read more, learn a foreign language or get PADI-certified and go scuba diving with manta rays off the cost of Ecuador.

So before January slips by completely, we thought we’d share with you our top 7 New Year’s  resolutions that every non-profit should be keeping in order to make 2016 the best year yet for your organisation!

1. Focus on your supporters’ preferences

With a big mood for change in donor preferences, Opt-Out pages will be THE area on your website where donors build trust with an organisation. Charities are under scrutiny to prove they can respect donors’ wishes by synchronising opt-outs with their CRM database.

For loyalty across all kinds of brands, the buzzword is “transparency” – the organisations that handle this well this year will come out with more loyal donors. Read our blog post to find out how to partner with donors rather than simply market at them.

2. Keep your existing donors happy

Each year, organisations watch as up to 80% of new donors fail to support them in Year 2. Why have we become accustomed to losing so many existing donors while spending so much on finding new ones?

Make 2016 the year you commit to retaining the supporters you already have. Make sure your data is accurate, ensure you’re not overloading donors with too many emails, focus on making them feel appreciated, connected to your organisation and informed about how their gift has been used. Read our blog post for some great tips.

3. Improve the health of your data

The start of a new year is the perfect time for a health check on your database. Having clean data can help you to sustain and strengthen relationships with donors, not to mention save on unnecessary costs.

Your donor engagement strategies are only as good as your data, so it’s vital to run updates to determine whether donors have moved, passed away or changed contact information.

Blackbaud can not only clean-up you your data, but also enhance it. Contact us today to get your free data audit!

4. Stop procrastinating – Set up Gift Aid

It is estimated that around £750million in Gift Aid is left unclaimed each year as it can be a complicated process. Make your New Year’s resolution to invest the worthwhile time into setting it up and reap the benefits in the future by claiming 25% more in donations!

And if you can’t find the time in your busy January calendar, let us do the work for you! Watch our pre-recorded webinar to find out about our Gift Aid service or read about it in our Gift Aid blog post.

5. Get your marketing activities in shape with better analytics

‘Analytics’ has become the phrase at the centre of all technology innovation. By analysing your marketing activities, you can set bespoke emails to automatically send based on previous engagement.

So when an individual watches your video, or browses your website for 20 minutes, or fills out a donation form but doesn’t click submit, you know you have an engaged potential donor to target with a well-planned communication. You should also be using Analytics to test email results. Learn about A/B testing in our blog post.

6. Be more social

Research consistently shows that people donate because of the influence of peers, and social media plays a vital role in this.

Building an online brand presence takes time. It’s a two-way tool for communication, finding and building relationships, and ‘overhearing’ what others are saying about themselves and subjects that are important to them. Focus on your relationship goals and over time, if used correctly, social media will be one of your most valued assets.

Read our blog post to find out more about the importance of investing in social media.

7. Learn a new skill – become a blogger!

Blogging is a great way to build expertise, boost SEO and provide useful thought leadership information to your donors and prospects which in time will increase brand loyalty.

Don’t know where to start? Google 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. Read our short blog post for some more great tips on starting your non-profit’s first blog.

Have you thought about Gift Aid?

Have you thought about Gift Aid?

It’s estimated that around £750m in Gift Aid is left unclaimed each year in the UK, so it’s clear that more advice is needed to help charities claim the money they are entitled to.   Over half of charities in the UK do not claim Gift Aid, as it can be a complicated process.

According to a report by nfpSynergy, since Gift Aid was introduced in 1990, only 2% of charitable income is currently made up of Gift Aid Donations.

The report also states that one of the biggest concerns for people signing off on Gift Aid when they make a donation is that they don’t know if they pay enough tax and are scared HMRC could reclaim the gift aid amount directly from them.

But now, to make things easier, charities can register for Gift Aid and can now make claims online.

Out of the 70,000 charities registered for Gift Aid, over 50,000 charities have signed up to Charities Online, HMRC’s web-based facility to claim back tax on donations. The biggest claim made online so far by a single charity has been for £3.7m.
Here at Blackbaud, we also have a  Gift Aid Service to help charities when it comes to making Gift Aid declarations. The service includes:

  • Creating a clear audit trail for peace of mind, allowing easy access to valid Gift Aid Declarations
  • Protecting Gift Aid income received over the years, with minimum exposure with HMRC for repayments or penalties
  • Uncovering missed opportunities
  • Expert advice on how to implement, manage and leverage Gift Aid

The software we use was designed in collaboration with HMRC, and along with our expert team this gives you full confidence in making your Gift Aid claims.

You can read more about our Gift Aid Services by clicking here.


Lesson 1: Running a telethon at an independent school

By Dan Keyworth

Why telethons?

red_phone_for_TelethonTelephone fundraising works: if organised smartly, telethons may become your institution’s main source of recurring income. They are one of the most effective tools for raising donor participation levels, and an invaluable way of building relationships and gathering prospect information for the future. Telethons also have a surprisingly inexpensive cost-to-benefit ratio.

Central to every successful telethon are the callers – the students or recent alumni who embody the raison d’être of your school. It is precisely because they are not professional fundraisers, nor tele-salespersons, that they deliver formidable results. Students make the need for financial support direct, real and alive.

Nearly every call should deliver a positive result, whether financial or otherwise. In a well-run telethon, 30-75% of those reached may make a gift, compared to 0.5-7.5% from a carefully written appeal letter. Good telethon calls allow for much more flexible, personalised conversations: they can inspire non-donors to make their first ever gifts and motivate existing contributors to give more.

Telethons also deliver positive non-financial results. They help engender community among alumni, parents and the student body and provide a platform for stewarding existing supporters and bringing distant alumni closer to the school.

Telethons should not induce guilt – instead they succeed by making it as easy and compelling as possible for each contact to donate. Unlike a mailing campaign, there is the opportunity for dialogue, where the caller can discuss the case for support, answer any queries, and learn if and why the contact may have concerns, before responding personally.

A final result of any telethon is the key new information that can be gathered. Calls help to: improve relationships with your school; identify new prospects; update details and communication preferences; elicit career support and mentoring; identify interest in your legacy programme, and more. Above all, they empower your school with insights into the passions and interests of future major donors and highlight factors that will need to be addressed to fully harness their support.

Resourcing the telethon – and whether to have external support

Many schools decide to hire external consultants to assist in running their telethons. Established consultants know how to train enthusiastic and motivated callers and provide vital extra manpower and specific soft/hardware to aid telethon data management: both may alleviate the risk of your development office becoming over-stretched.

Good consultants can, however, cost upwards of £10,000, depending on the extent of their involvement and their reputation. As a middle option, some schools elect to have just the telethon software component provided externally. Each institution is different: determine the right balance of external support and internal investment required to deliver success at your school.

Telethons require meticulous data management and can create a large amount of paperwork. The right software and hardware can help your telethon to run smoothly and efficiently, whilst also providing you with more real-time insights into progress and areas of growing risk and/or opportunity.

Regardless of the method used, each piece of data requires careful checking before migrating into your primary CRM/contact database.

Crucially, the questions of both software and consultants are a matter of determining whether your school has sufficient resources, manpower and experience to manage all of the aspects of a successful telethon internally.

Whatever options you select, remember that a successful telethon will necessarily generate a substantial demand on your team. You will ultimately be responsible for the cleanliness and utility of the data you hold, and for guiding your institution to the need for a high-quality case for support. Do not hire consultants thinking that they will remove your administration altogether: instead, an excellent consultant will provide you with very useful support and software for your training and calling, share from experience what approaches most commonly work best, and help you to understand and meet the timelines and deadlines involved.

Continue reading with Lesson 2

Lesson 2: Running a telethon at an independent school

By Dan Keyworth

Click here for Lesson 1

Preparing for the telethon
At the outset, determine your goals for the telethon. Sensible planning will ensure that benefits are maximised and expectations are clear. You require the full backing of your school in order to succeed, so bring everyone on board very early on in the planning process.

Make it as straightforward as possible for contacts to give to your school, minimising the time and resources needed for chasing pledge fulfilment and keeping down the unfulfilled pledges at campaign end. Set up the capacity to process credit/debit card donations, either by obtaining a Merchant Service directly from an Acquiring Bank or by registering to a third-party online provider, such as Charities Aid Foundation. In both cases, for a minimal fee you will be able to take single gifts immediately over the phone. You may even be able to process credit/debit card donations directly through your database. Ensure that any payment solutions are certified compliant to PCI DSS standards.

Just as importantly, your office should acquire the facility to accept Paperless Direct Debits (PDD). These enable you to sign up customers for Direct Debit collections over the telephone, internet or face to face. This procedure can take several months but once authorised you will be able to accept regular gift instructions, removing the need to send standing order gift forms in the post to pledgers. To receive Originator status, Automated Direct Debit Instruction Service (AUDDIS) authorisation and PDD authorisation you require a sponsor: if you have BACS to administer your school’s transactions, then your bank may sponsor you to run PDDs through the same software. You will also need to agree wording of your call script, advance notice confirmation letters and giving forms, and to demonstrate that your database is capable of producing the required electronic files to process Direct Debits in this manner. An alternative to BACS, favoured by some schools, is to appoint CAF or another external provider to set up, process and manage PDDs on your behalf.

Once you have a timetable for your telethon, it is imperative to prepare thoroughly. Firstly, ensure that your CRM database is in excellent condition. You require accurate contact details and the ability to effectively segment data. Data cleansing can be time-consuming for many schools, but there are external data enrichment services available which can advance this process.

The next step is to select your contacts. Include a good proportion of your top prospects and previous donors to give your telethon the best chance of success. Aim to contact a relatively consistent mix of donors and non-donors between years, so that you are including some previously unengaged contacts to cultivate new relationships. The benefit of year-on-year consistency also aids reporting post-telethon, so that accurate comparisons can be made between campaigns to determine the most successful techniques.

It is similarly important to know whom to exclude from calling. It is not permissible under law for a school, or any other charity, to make marketing telephone calls to numbers registered with the UK Telephone Preference Scheme (TPS) – a UK-wide ‘do not call’ register – without explicit opt-in consent from an individual for the specific method and purpose for which you wish to contact them.

Ideally, pre-determine ask amounts for each contact. One of the strengths of a telephone call is the ability to negotiate and, to do this, the initial ask amount should be ambitious. Teachers may willingly give £25 per month and investment bankers £1,000 or more per year, but if your callers start with lower ask levels and the contact says yes right away, the callers cannot easily then switch to a higher ask. Unless a contact is in a profession with irregular income, the initial ask should nearly always be for a regular gift.

When determining ask amounts, in addition to obvious employment indicators, try to consider each contact’s wider picture. The ask should reflect both determinants: age, career and residence, but also previous giving history, attachment to specific appeals, previous responses, whether they have made many visits back to the school, and any other relevant factors.

Since your callers will be at the heart of your success, it is important to select the right people. Outstanding callers have been known to raise as much as £30,000+ over a two-week period. What typically works well is to have a balance of loud, outgoing, bubbly ‘chatterers’ and quieter, more reserved and sensitive ‘listeners’. After all, no two contacts are the same and different people prefer different types of conversation.

The final task is preparing the two types of post or email communications (each with variations) that contacts should typically receive as part of a telethon. The first is the notification sent shortly before the telethon to inform contacts that they can expect to receive a call from the school, both to share news and to invite their support. This pre-telethon notification can be a letter, email, postcard etc. The second set of communications are those to be sent to each contact immediately after their telephone call takes place, to follow up what was agreed. Segment these according to the response – e.g. tailoring based on whether the result was a paperless Direct Debit, donation by credit/debit card, pledged regular gift, etc. It is well worth accompanying any letter directly from the school with a tailored thank you card from the individual caller.

Unless they have already made their gift and just need to be thanked, it is usually preferable to enclose a donation form with every follow-up package. Together, the form and follow-up communication should encourage people who said ‘yes’ over the telephone to fulfil pledges; people who were unsure or said ‘no’ to reconsider; and people who did not pick up to add their support to the telethon.

The training

Training will be the most important days in the process. There is a great deal of ground to cover and it will require an attentive group of callers, and informed and well-versed trainers who can create excitement about the campaign.

Perhaps the first task in the training is to address the taboo – to shake out any misconception that this is unwanted cold-calling or telesales and to inspire belief and confidence in the callers. Explain why calling works. If the callers believe they can be successful and have an enjoyable time in the process, then they probably will.

Callers need to be fully aware from the start of the wider picture and they should fully understand exactly why there is a need to fundraise for the school. It is important that the callers understand the telethon’s broad aims. Emphasising the importance of pledges should help to minimise the occurrence of callers missing out on impactful gifts by conceding too readily. Similarly, minimise the likelihood of calls concluding with a maybe by getting them to focus on persuading each contact to pledge an exact/minimum gift amount that is more likely to be fulfilled.

Next, the training should move to the stages of a good call. There is no such thing as a perfect ‘script’ but some key phrases provided by the development office might stand the callers in good stead. Take callers carefully through each stage:

1. The greeting and the reasons for the call
2. Rapport and intelligent listening: Identify possible conversation topics and discuss useful open questions. The callers’ aim is to help contacts to remember that their school is a living, thriving place with real people in it.
3. Building the case for support and making the ask: By listening carefully the callers should be able to match the school’s case for support to the contact’s interests and make the ask in a very natural way that flows on from this rapport.
4. Negotiation and tackling common objections
5. Thank you and closure: Emphasise the need to repeat everything clearly so that neither person is in any doubt as to what has been agreed. This includes confirming the amount and the details of their donation, whether Gift Aid can be applied, whether they are happy for their name to be listed as a donor, and any payment details.

The training should bring out the importance of listening to and understanding why a contact might be saying no and then addressing their concerns thoughtfully and confidently. Each contact should ideally be asked three times – typically at decreasing levels, without ever being rude or forceful. They should not, unless prompted by the contact, ask more than three times within a call.

Finally, conclude training by getting in as much practice as possible. Here is your chance to see how each of the callers copes under pressure – with the supervisors and/or other callers watching them take on a typical call. The primary purpose of these practice conversations should be to inspire confidence and fluency in the pupils, so it is important to give encouragement to them as well as to highlight areas to improve. The more practice calls a caller makes, the better prepared they will be for the real thing.

Click here for Lesson 3

Lesson 3: Running a telethon at an independent school

By Dan Keyworth

Click here for Lesson 1
Click here for Lesson 2

The calling

If the preparation and training have been rigorous, then the calling period itself, whilst busy, should be very enjoyable. Your role will primarily be to supervise the callers, to ensure gifts are processed appropriately and securely, to administer data entry/transfer onto your CRM database, and to ensure that any problems are quickly resolved.

Assign a number of alumni or parents to each caller. Every contact should have his or her own software-based record (or printed record sheet), which lists all details on them which might be of assistance to the caller. Match callers to contacts according to shared passions, interests and experiences. This might include hobbies, sports, clubs and activities; the subjects they studied; their House within the school; their teachers; their background and demographics; and their (intended) study or career paths.

Get the callers on the phone as quickly as possible each evening: they will probably be nervous until the first call, so it is better to encourage them to do this almost straightaway.

There is a delicate balance that needs to be struck between having a fulfilling conversation that is not rushed and ensuring that you do not keep the contact on the telephone for an unnecessarily long time. Typically a call of 15-30 minutes is sufficient, unless the call recipient indicates that they would prefer a briefer or a more in-depth conversation. Similarly, there is a fine balance between getting callers back on the phone quickly after each call is completed: a rule of thumb is that each caller should only be off the phone for 5-10 minutes between completed calls.

After completing a conversation, the caller should immediately note as many relevant details as possible about what was discussed and agreed. Information is power! Good note-taking helps write a more personalised postcard, letter or email to each contact after their conversation, but also makes the job of calling them easier and more enjoyable for future callers.

Your calling software or CRM database should allow you to pull reports on success levels. Initially try to hand out call recipients with low-to-medium ask amounts, in order to inspire confidence in the callers early on. Distribute the bigger ask amounts to specific callers as soon as you are confident that they can handle them; do not leave this process too many days into the telethon, because larger prospects will often be the most difficult to get hold of and may require numerous attempts before being successfully reached.

Identifying your best callers early on is key. It will enable you to match them with the wealthiest or most challenging call recipients, thus ensuring that other callers who are struggling to get good results do not take on your most important prospects.

Nonetheless, do not show a lack of confidence in your weaker callers. It may be that some of your students are better at making affinity or thank you calls, or encouraging support from contacts with low giving potential. Alternatively, they may be able to assist in other ways such as with data-checking, or writing thank you cards. Bear in mind, too, that less successful callers can improve with the right support. Simultaneously, if a caller is receiving few regular gifts, then the caller may be switching to a participation gift ask (e.g. £10-20) too quickly. Extra training can involve focusing on addressing the first no by identifying and responding to the specific objection(s) and then re-asking at half or quarter of the original amount. It can be as simple as sitting them next to another caller who is particularly skilful, and asking them to listen in on that student’s next call.

Always include a proportion of thank you calls in your telethon. Stewardship is a fundamental part of any successful regular giving programme: these calls do not include any ask, so they are also great for a caller who is lacking confidence about the negotiation. The return on investment from these calls will also come through higher renewal and upgrade rates in future years.

As the calling period progresses, ensure that the callers are continually motivated. Start each session with a brief update – use visuals and guest speakers to create excitement, humour and buzz in the calling room. Reward them with prizes for regular gifts, large single gifts and high participation, and spend money on food, drinks and other treats. Chase targets. Let callers know on a daily basis what percentages they are hitting, what causes they are helping, and what the overall running total is. Be supportive and understanding whenever a student has a bad call and make sure they know that they can stop to chat with a supervisor about their experience.

Inevitably, a number of contacts will not be reached because of lack of time, inaccurate phone numbers, or holiday clashes. When working out whom to call next, callers should prioritise renewals, upgrades and wealthy contacts, and de-prioritise those which have thus far resulted in multiple answer phones or reaching other parties instead.



Utilising your earlier preparation of templates, get the lengthy process of generating letters, processing gifts and entering call results and information onto your CRM database underway from day one. The first golden rule is, wherever possible, to follow up each call with a letter or email within 24 hours, whilst the conversation is fresh in the contact’s mind. This maximises the likelihood that a pledger will fulfil their gift and maximises the appreciation that a donor who has already made their donation will feel in response to their thank you.

The caller’s follow-up should be tailored to include any additional information requested; check each one before it is posted to ensure it is personalised and engaging.

The second golden rule is, wherever possible, to enter the updated data from your calling onto your CRM database within 24 hours. This matters, as there may be incoming correspondence from the alumnus in the days after the telethon and you need to know the latest information when responding.

Accuracy is foremost. Each postcard/letter must be carefully checked, with pledged and fulfilled donors prioritised. The call notes gathered must be entered onto the database without errors or offending information, so that it is possible to pull up required information easily. Tempting to record everything in one place for ease will not be helpful in the long run when it comes to effective reporting and segmenting. Remember that this data is amongst the richest and most valuable you will hold, and over time can lead to much more effective mid-level and major giving programmes. At the same time, be aware that contacts can request to see a copy of their own personal data held on your system at any point and UK Data Protection laws obligate us to respond, so it is essential to phrase all updates appropriately.

Produce reports both during and after the telethon to analyse the results. Have sound daily processes and do not forget to flag up important issues and respond to bespoke actions quickly. Your telethon software may be a key asset for this, especially if it has built-in financials and dashboards. You can use these analyses to demonstrate to the governing body the benefits of repeating the process. Remember to report results back to the callers too. Not only do they deserve to hear the fruits of their labour, it should also help them with their CVs and encourage them to participate again in future. Of course, also share the successes of your telethon with your alumni, parents and friends to inspire yet others to give.

Not everyone will fulfil their pledges quickly and some will not fulfil them at all. Credit card gifts and Paperless Direct Debits help keep these to a minimum by enabling supporters to donate immediately over the phone to the caller. But for those who pledged to make their donation at a later date and then do not respond, it is usually necessary to chase them. It is well worth reminding and encouraging these contacts, through letters, emails and/or telephone calls. Only in very rare instances will pledgers complain at this persistence – usually they respond rather apologetically!

Click here for Lesson 2

Lesson 4: Running a telethon at an independent school

By Dan Keyworth

Click here for Lesson 1
Click here for Lesson 2
Click here for Lesson 3


To get the most out of telethons, your institution should invest appropriately and balance the short and longer term objectives. Remember that you are also indirectly educating your pupils and staff to become ambassadors and donors in the future. Of course, there can be no greater springboards to a successful telethon than by having both an inspiring case for support and an active, relevant and engaging alumni relations and parents programme and community already in place at your school.

Think of future years and don’t just go for the quick buck: engage appropriately and target your constituencies to maximise returns over several years’ worth of telethons. This means: investing in longer fulfilling conversations; utilising your larger prospects and donors; incorporating thank you calls as well as solicitations; and cultivating a wide pool of contacts to extend beyond just the current reach and focus of the school. Don’t merely plan for year one; instead try to set good prospects and expectations at the outset for continued investment in year two and onwards.

Above all, aim high: telethons do work and they work best when asks are bold and the cause and targets ambitious and inspiring. Motivate your callers and build up as much team spirit as you can. Similarly, motivate your development office and your governing body. Most of all, motivate your alumni, parents and friends. Promote your telethon in your newsletter or magazine and email bulletins, through social media, and on your website. Report results back to them frequently. Let them know how their gifts are being spent and the impact that they are collectively making. Regular giving is a culture that prospers over time. In order to bring sceptical alumni and parents on board, continually demonstrate that the calls are as much about engagement and sharing impact as they are about fundraising totals. Build the sense of community throughout.

Consider including metrics around relationship-building as part of each telethon, so that this point on engagement is made more clearly. Build metrics around the data enrichment/cleaning and prospect identification benefits too. How many future legacy opportunities arose from the telethon? How many new donors gave £1,000 or more for the first time? How many high-net-worth individuals (CEOs, directors, barristers, investment bankers, surgeons etc) were identified? How many gave more this year than last year? What impact did calling have on event attendees in the six months after? How many new sign-ups for the boat club email list did you obtain? How many new volunteers did you identify for your mentors programme? What other qualitative data on contacts now flagged as prospects did you capture? And so on.

Fundraising does need fine-tuning. There can be a big difference between a badly-run telethon and a well-run one, with your own time investment and any consultant support making a real difference. Enhance the telethon with supporting strategies, perhaps by sending out a personal information form beforehand to gather more up-to-date contact and other helpful details. Make sure to ask for telephone numbers on every event invitation RSVP and gift form too, as that grows your pool for next year. Ensure you collect the accompanying consents: formulate a structured plan for potential touch points where phone and email consent may be obtained, and make your print and online statements simple, prominent, explicit and positive enough that people will opt-in. A comprehensive CRM database is perhaps your greatest tool towards these pursuits – it is vital to preparing for, executing and then following up your telethon, and also for harnessing the longer-term benefits that this investment in personal contact derives for you.

If you follow sensible guidelines then you should expect an excellent rate of return. A typical telethon costs as little as £10,000-£20,000 to run, much of that being wages to callers and software and mailing costs (the telephone bill itself should be relatively low). Donations meanwhile typically reach between £50,000 and £200,000, and in some instances much higher. Above and beyond this there are the priceless non-immediate benefits discussed throughout. With your institution’s backing and good preparation, a well-run telethon will pay dividends many times over.

Missed the beginning? Click here for Lesson 1

What’s your Excuse?

I am still shocked when I speak with people in the not-for-profit world and hear some reason why they are not yet investing time developing their brand and communications with a wider audience in the social media world. It’s usually one or more of the following:

“We’ve tried social media and it didn’t work”

You’ve developed a Facebook page, posted links on your website and haven’t yet delved into the world of Twitter because you didn’t get floods of traffic or any interest after a relatively short period of time on Facebook.

What I would say is you haven’t ‘tried’ social media. It’s not a magical advertising tool and it’s certainly not something that will be developed overnight. Building an online brand takes consistent use and is not a place for posting press releases or news of your events. It’s a two-way tool for communication, finding and building relationships, ‘overhearing’ what others are saying about themselves and subjects that are important to them. Focus on your relationship goals and over time, used correctly, social media can enable the message of what you do to others.

“We’re not tech savvy”

Many smaller not-for-profits have limited resources and skills, you may not even have people in your office who know how to create an account on Twitter. It’s going to be a learning curve but the internet provides a great deal of information on this. Get comfortable with the etiquette, vocab, customs and best ways of working. You’ll learn there really isn’t a lot to it!

“I don’t care about social media”

I’m most interested in the first part of this sentence. You need to care about what’s going on out there, what millions of others have hooked onto – this wonderful world of social media. It’s chit-chat, small talk and profound thoughts, nosiness and careful consideration. This is how humans are engaging in each other’s lives, reaching loved ones from millions of miles away to those the other side of a crowded room. If you can communicate in person, you can communicate through social media – and you should care!

“Our donors really aren’t into Facebook”

Make sure that if you are making this excuse you’re not underestimating your stakeholders!
I hear lots of stories from friends about their parents/grandparents/aunts etc. requesting to be their ‘friend’ on Facebook. These are the older generation, those who didn’t grow up using computers in the classroom or a mobile phone when they left the house as a kid. If a social media strategy isn’t right for your audience now, ok, but your audience are people and people use social media.

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.

What is a CRM system? A quick guide

“Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It often involves using technology to organise, automate and synchronise sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.” Wikipedia

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is not just a database but a strategy; an improvement in the way you manage customers and, in the not-for-profit sector, your donors, contacts and supporters. It can underpin a new fundraising strategy, consolidate disparate IT systems (perhaps even multiple spreadsheets), reduce costs and automate processes as well as improve your knowledge of, and contact with, your donors and supporters. A fundraising CRM system is built with the
not-for-profit in mind, providing tools to make fundraising easier.

Why should I consider a fundraising CRM system?
Perhaps you are having difficulties keeping accurate records of your supporters, spending too much time on administrative tasks, or aren’t able to send out consistent targeted communications to your contacts. To solve these problems it’s always important to get the basics right so you are able to not only sustain, but grow your charity. A fundraising CRM system can help you achieve this.


A fundraising CRM system consists of four parts:
1. Relationship Management
2. Fundraising
3. Marketing and Communications
4. Reporting and Analysis


1. Relationship Management
Recording all your information about a supporter in one place means you are able to draw a 360
degree view of them, which in turn helps you to build a stronger relationship with them over time. A
fundraising CRM system makes seeing the history your not-for-profit has with a supporter quick and
easy, and provides you with the information you need to determine how loyal they are as a donor, or
what their particular interests in your organisation are. Knowing this information will allow you to create
more targeted and personalised messages so you are able to build a better, stronger and longer term
relationship with them.


2. Fundraising
Not-for-profits need to rely less on grants and statutory funding, and diversify through individual giving
and events. A fundraising CRM system manages the end-to-end processes and automated actions
for you, such as integrated online giving pages and gift processing, meaning less time spent on
administration. Keeping an accurate record of Gift Aid and automating monthly giving payments helps
make donor relationships your priority.


3. Marketing and Communications
Sustaining and developing your organisation will mean that supporter relationships need to be
cultivated. Being able to send consistent communications that are targeted and personalised, lays the
foundation for a more loyal supporter, protects your brand and builds trust. By keeping track of the
communications you send to your supporters, you can ensure that duplicate, or mixed messages are
not sent out.


4. Reporting and Analysis
An integrated fundraising CRM system provides quick and easy reporting at the click of a button.
You can also save even more time by scheduling reports to come straight into your inbox. Dashboard
tools provide quick statistics on how much your campaigns have raised, who your top donors are,
and which approaches work best for you. Pre-configured reports allow you to quickly access detailed
campaign analysis, manage your duplicates and much more. With the ability to design your own
reports for review or export, all bases are covered.