Tag Archives: social media

#GivingTuesday Update – Development is Not Just Fundraising

#GivingTuesday UpdateOn #GivingTuesday I received 20+ solicitations.

On Wednesday, the following day, I received only 2 #GivingTuesday updates.

Only 2 organizations thought I would care about the results?

Here is a list of excuses I have heard from friends, clients, colleagues, and nonprofits around the world as to why they did not send an email letting donors know how much they raised from something like #GivingTuesday or an event:

  • We only reached 70% of our goal (let me know that and why this effort was important- maybe I will still give)
  • I don’t think anyone would notice if we did or didn’t send a #GivingTuesday update (wrong attitude)
  • We are busy writing our end-of-year letter and that has to be the priority (if #GivingTuesday is not important enough to do well, don’t do it)
  • It didn’t occur to us to do that. (that is no longer a good excuse)
  • We don’t really know exactly how much we raised yet (not confidence boosting)
  • _____your excuse here______

While I admit that I do notice details like follow up because of professional curiosity, I also take note because it shows me which organizations understand development is not just fundraising.

Please, please, please keep in mind:

  1. Development is a year-round process that includes asking, acknowledging, thanking, and stewarding donors.
  2. You should not send out a solicitation until you know how you will acknowledge donations, thank donors 7+ times and whether or not you will follow up with non-respondents.
  3. Number 2 includes online and social media solicitations. Basic development rules still apply.
  4. 7+ ways to thank a donor can include an email to everyone with an update
  5. Development is not brain surgery. In fact, most of it is common sense with a bit of creativity to make it applicable to your nonprofit. Sometimes you are not doing it because you just don’t know that it should be done, but if you have read this far, you now know. Follow up with a #GivingTuesday update (it’s not too late!). Follow up for everything. People can hit delete and they can unsubscribe, but the people who care about you won’t. The people who left you were not going to give to you anyway so let them go and focus on your real prospects and donors.

If you want to learn how Mersky, Jaffe & Associates can improve your development plan and stewardship ideas, email me

Maybe I can start a #GivingTuesdayUpdate as a trend for next year.

Want to read more about #GivingTuesday Results? The Chronicle of Philanthropy has a great article about the amounts raised.

Why Giving to Charity Will Make You Happier Than Buying a $1.6 Billion Lottery Ticket

Giving to Charity vs Lottery TicketMy brother-in-law has said that a lottery ticket is really a stupidity tax. While I know that logically he is right, I buy them from time to time.  Usually, it is when I am in a store that sells lottery tickets and it is over $100 million.  That turns out to be approximately 5 times a year. Yes, I will pay the $10 stupidity tax in exchange for the possibility, hope and fun with which it comes.

This is not the only $10 that I will basically throw away this year. Other times will include:

  • Taking my kids to any place where they win tickets for prizes (recently it was a neon orange inflatable smiley face emoticon for only $40!)
  • Buying bottled water (I try not to but every time I do I think that is one strike against the environment and one strike against my wallet.)
  • That pair of jeans that almost worked but not quite and now it’s too late to return.
  • The lipstick I buy and lose within a week.
  • ________fill in your waste here_______

Then, there are my donations. It is kind of like the lottery – I am giving someone money and getting possibility and hope in return. Sometimes I think it is fun, depending on the nonprofit.

How can you help prospects see that giving to charity = hope, possibility and fun?

One way is to use a social media campaign to offer them the lottery dream of hope and possibility. If they match what they have or would have spent on lottery tickets (a $2 donation is still a small initial gift – but it is still an initial gift). Offer them pictures of the possibilities their “lottery ticket” will provide. And tell them why it feels like winning the lottery for your beneficiaries.

And they will have health benefits too!

As I have referenced before, giving has physical benefits for the donor.  You can explain to every prospect that their gift has the potential to improve their own sleep, digestion, memory, learning, appetite, motivation AND counteract the effects of stress hormones. Yes, you can give them access to 3 naturally-created, feel-good hormones (aka Dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin) for just $25.

Ok, that is more than a lottery ticket. But it is less than an inflatable at skee ball.

Assessing Your Nonprofit’s Donors and Prospects: Annual Fund Segmentation Strategies

Annual fund segmentationSolicitation strategies start with assessing the current situation. Do you treat all your prospects and donors the same? Should you?

Now, more than ever, you should have a development plan for all prospects and a stewardship plan for all donors.

But, you should not plan on having the executive director “meet” with every donor. How can a nonprofit engage each prospect and donor when there are thousands? Annual fund segmentation.

Start annual fund segmentation by considering how they give.

  • Are they a Prospect or Donor
  • If a donor, are they
    • Current
    • Once-a-year Donor
    • Monthly Donor
    • Major donor
    • mid-level donor
    • mid-level donor you are trying to upgrade
    • 10-year donor
    • 25+ year donor
    • first time donor
    • LYBUNT
    • PYBUNT
    • Someone who gave to a
      • specific event
      • end-of-year mail or email campaign
      • other mail or email campaigns
      • sponsorship
      • special campaign donor
      • restricted gift donor
      • peer-to-peer campaign on behalf of a friend
      • also a volunteer
    • If a prospect or a donor, are they also a
      • Recent graduate or services beneficiary
      • 10-year alumnus\a
      • 25-year alumnus\a

Additional key points to keep in mind include:

  1. It costs 4.5 times as much for the nonprofit to find a new donor than retain one
  2. Donors don’t usually give a major gift in the first year they give to a nonprofit. Cultivation and stewardship over years (3-5 years minimum) is what will get you to the point you can ask for a major gift. *This assumes they have the capacity and had been stewarded properly during the time since they made their first gift.
  3. When you start accounting for lifetime giving, someone who gave $50/year for 20 years gave $1,000 to your nonprofit. How would you treat someone who gave $1,000?
  4. Break it down specifically for your organization. Should:
  • major donors get more personalized interaction than other donors?
  • monthly donors get a different appeal than once-a-year donors?
  • PYBUNTS or LYBUNTS get the same letter as new prospects?
  • members get the same email as non-members?
  • alumni get same event invitation as prospects?
  • parents get the same Facebook post as the students?
  • ____ get the same ____ as _____ (fill this in for your nonprofit)

Each organization will have its own set of segmentations.

And contrary to popular belief, segmentation was not created to give you more work.  Instead, it gives you more directed work. And a path to raising more money (which is the point, isn’t it?)

It may seem easier to send the same fundraising letter to the 1000+ people on your mailing list and move on.  But what are you moving on to? If you rely on your annual fund to support your organization, this must be a priority for your development team. Even if it is a team of one.

Follow Up and Acknowledgements for #GivingTuesday Gifts

While the competition for #GivingTuesday gifts is fierce, there are a lot of people who decide to give their gifts on that day–especially if they want to promote their giving on social media channels.

Your job is to make giving as easy as possible, and then, follow up in a way that shows your nonprofit is a good investment. Here are a few follow up steps to consider incorporating into your next couple of weeks.

  1. Send an immediate email notification acknowledging the gift.
  2. Send a letter acknowledging the gift by Friday (this year it will be December 4th.) Add a personal note (ideally written by a board member) reflecting your answers to numbers 3 & 4.
  3. Check each name to determine whether this is a first time gift.
  4. Compare repeat gifts to previous years’ giving.
    a. If this is an increased gift, write a personal note thanking them for increasing their support this year on the bottom of the letter
    b. If this is the same gift as last year, write a personal note thanking them for continuing to support the organization that you both love.
    c. If this is a decreased gift, write a note thanking them for their continued support. Then, make sure they still receive a solicitation letter and follow up call in December. Make sure to acknowledge their recent gift and state that you hope they will match their gift from last year of $XXX.
  5. Include all names in a designated section of a January edition of your newsletter

And when #GivingTuesday is over?  Consider incorporating these ideas into your fundraising plan.  The more donors feel appreciated, the more likely they are to give again in the future.

What I Learned About Fundraising Using Social Media This Week- Part 2

Abigail HarmonFor those of you who read my articles each week, you will know that last week, in the Part 1 of this article, I talked about what I learned at a seminar on fundraising using social media.

We did an exercise examining the age demographics of donors and what type of social media we thought they would be accessing. I translated that to mean – meet the donors where they are. A sound strategy on- or off-line.

And then, the secret to successful fundraising on social media, occurred to me. The rules don’t change just because the medium does. So here are my tips:

  1. People still give to organizations that offer a good reason to give to them – not because they saw a tweet, status update or pin. Figure out how social media can further the rest of your marketing channels (like your website) not create new ones -this is especially true if you have limited time to use Facebook or Twitter.
  2. You have created a way of interacting with your donors (tone, language, etc.) – don’t change it to feel more hip or likable – you will sound fake and less worthy of a gift than when you started your social media campaign.
  3. Make sure all of your interactions sound like they are from a real person. Have a sense of humor if appropriate. Be sad or concerned about a current event. Generic posts do not help you anymore than a three-page list of everything your organization has done for the past four months. No one will want to read either.
  4. Social media is meant to be interactive. Repost other people’s articles. Ask questions and listen for responses. Engage with the respondents. Pin images that are similar to the hopes and dreams of your organization.
  5. Be creative. We are still talking about a marketing stream. The bucket challenge will not be re-created by you or any other organization. It was successful because it was creative, hit at slow news cycle and capitalized on the current trends of narcissistic fundraising (that’s what I call the concept of using Facebook or Instagram to show how philanthropic we are while showing off the cute kids or silly images we love to post on social media.) But it started taking flight because it was creative in its concept and use of a variety of media.
  6. Just do it. If you want to fundraise using social media (or your board or donors want you to) you have to just start scheduling it into your week. Each time you do it, it will be easier. I promise.

I know this second article is also longer than I would like, but I did promise to explain the “digital split of 1993” which I referenced last week. (It is probably more of an early 90s digital split but it doesn’t sound nearly as enticing.)

The idea of the digital split of 1993 has no proof, just a simple observation that my husband and I have seen among our friends, relatives and colleagues. Sometime during the early 90s, college students changed from using electric typewriters (some which stored the paper we were writing on tiny disks!) to using computers for each and every paper. Email became an accepted and expected form of communication around the same time. It is the difference between people who see technology as something to learn vs. something that is a part of who they are.

Of course this is a gross generalization. I like technology, but I will never have the same relationship with it that people, just a few years younger do. I suspect my kids will one day reference the divide as pre-social media and post-, but I will let them write that in their own newsletters (or social media outlets) years from now.


What I Learned About Fundraising Using Social Media This Week- Part 1

This week I attended a Synagogue Council/Jvillage Meet up (read: workshop) focused on fundraising using social media. I want to stay current when it comes to how nonprofits can expand their reach – in this case – the use of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and the like. Obviously, I am not alone – it was well attended– so I thought I would share what I learned during the overview of fundraising and the social media focus of JVillage’s presentation.

What I knew before I went:

  • Social Media is not going away so it should be embraced.
  • This is harder for people who entered the workforce prior to 1993 or so (*I will explain this theory in Part 2 of this article)
  • Many people who work in nonprofits have graduated high school before 1993.
  • When short on time, we stay inside our comfort zone and away from embracing new technologies.
  • Twitter is the easiest platform for nonprofits to implement – in fewer than 140 characters (and potentially an image) you can describe an idea or event and link users to your website.
  • Many nonprofits have Facebook pages but have trouble getting “friends” to respond to their posts.
  • There are so many aspects to social media that it feels overwhelming to many mid and small nonprofits.

What I learned:

  • Facebook ideas
    • Consider the type of posts you are putting up. If you write a status update with a relevant article you may receive “likes” and a few “shares” but that is not generating the interaction that everyone seems to be coveting. Instead, pose questions, offer quizzes or try to create group excitement and you might just get it.
    • Ask your core supporters to share their answers or thoughts about you on their personal pages. And ask them to share your questions and quizzes encouraging their friends to join the conversation.
  • Pinterest can be surprisingly useful for nonprofits. I like Pinterest, I post recipes and design ideas. It helped my renovation project in a way that I never would have imagined, but I couldn’t figure out how that would translate to a house of worship.
    • If you want a good example for Pinterest, look up Temple Shalom of Newton. (Full disclosure: they are a client and hosted this event.) They have set up sections for groups within their community (i.e. Families with Young Children, Sisterhood, and Social Action, to Jewish items of a personal interest (e.g., Holidays, Jewish Soul Food (recipes) and Judaica, to Jews around the world (e.g., Cool Jews and Beautiful Temples and Synagogues). It occurred to me that you could use this in incredibly creative ways to help promote a capital campaign. And that a few of your board members are probably on Pinterest already linking to similar items. They might be willing to help you post new ideas.
  • Instagram may be the up and coming social network but many nonprofits are unsure how to use it. Especially synagogues. The truth is that Instagram can be used in ways that are very similar to Pinterest – post a picture of that amazing Passover Kugel with a link to the recipe on your site (or on another site) and people will respond but unless your audience is already using this site – hold off and focus on where your constituency currently is. And revisit it in six months.

What does this all mean? I think the rule of one hour, once a week to schedule your social media for the week is doable for most nonprofits and will keep you current enough to encourage followers. I also think you should get everyone on your team thinking about this and thinking of ways to excite your audience.

Did you notice the major concept missing from what I learned? It is the idea of how to improve fundraising. There was some talk about which platforms your constituents are using and why your nonprofit will NOT be the next water bucket challenge but very little on how to use it to fundraise. As this article is already too long for a quick read which is what I try to provide every week, I have decided to continue it next week with my own thoughts on the subject.


Want to read some of our other articles on similar topics? Here are a couple from the past year:

Should You Be Following Fundraising Trends?

Finding and Keeping Millennial Donors