Bring your board members into grassroots fundraising

Grassroots Your Giving Tuesday

There is no better time than giving season to get board members fundraising for you! They are some of your biggest advocates and have a clear personal connection to your cause, so invite them in to create contribution forms and make pitches to their networks about why your cause is so important! As your board members become grassroots organizers for your cause, they’ll help new donors build a strong relationship with your organization for the long term.

And we know your board members are busy: You can directly involve them in your important Giving Tuesday efforts without asking them to make a heavy lift. In fact, you have the tools to make fundraising actionable, accessible, and fun for them! Here are a few ways for you to make taking action easy.

1. Give folks peer-to-peer fundraising tools they can use in seconds

Your organization’s stakeholders can create their own fundraising pages on AB Charities in seconds to fundraise on your behalf. We call these pages community forms! Community forms put supporters in the driver’s seat and allow folks to mobilize their own networks to give.

Your board members can include personalized pitches on their community forms that explain in their own words why their friends, family, and professional networks should donate to your nonprofit this year-end. You can also encourage supporters to add a goal thermometer to the form that tracks either the number of donors or dollars raised, which adds urgency and excitement!

We know your board members juggle many priorities, so to make it as easy as possible for them to begin fundraising, consider customizing forms for them yourself. With AB Charities, you can send board members a link to create a community form that you’ve already set up with a design and donation pitch.

landingpage

All your board members have to do is create a custom web address and click the “Get Started” button. Then they’ll be brought to their personal form that they can customize and share with their networks!

Looking to make it even easier than a few clicks for your busiest board members? You can make the custom web addresses for your stakeholders and then send each one their specific community form link!

You can also make fundraising a friendly competition among your board. Check on who’s raising the most by heading to the “Contribution Forms” tab of your Dashboard menu. Then click the “Community Forms” tab, where you’ll see all the community forms raising on your behalf, along with their contributions and dollars raised. Update your board with the current standings to give them a motivational boost and keep the fundraising going!

contributionforms

You can access all of the donor data from these forms by following these instructions!

2. Pre-write fundraising emails your board members can quickly send off

Now it’s time for your board members to share their community forms with their networks! Doing as much prep work as possible lowers your board’s barrier to action.

Write fundraising emails that your board members can send to their networks to ask for donations! Following some guidelines for crafting a successful fundraising email, you can write an email from your stakeholders’ point of view that explains why they support your cause and asks people to invest in your important work by donating! Your board members can take this pre-written email, add their community form link and signature, and send it off to the personal inboxes of friends, family, and colleagues.

It’s go time!
There are a little under 30 days until Giving Tuesday, so it’s the perfect time to empower your biggest stakeholders to become digital organizers themselves! You have the tools and strategies to make peer-to-peer fundraising on your behalf so easy and motivating that any board member can begin introducing your cause to their communities. You’re ready to rally your supporters around year-end fundraising now to ensure your work continues far into the future.

P.S. If you need to discuss board engagement strategies or have questions, now’s the time to give our nonprofit fundraising experts a call! We’re always happy to talk digital tactics that work for you.

Grow your email list now for success later

Grassroots Your Giving Tuesday

When you have a passionate grassroots community and a fundraising strategy in place to engage folks, your fundraising success doesn’t have to depend on going viral on social media. This is where your email program is key. Through email, shift your focus for giving season to bringing more people into your movement and starting long-term relationships with supporters. To do this, you’ll need to put time and energy into growing your email list!

Adding new sign-ups to your list not only increases how many people will receive your Giving Tuesday fundraising asks — you’re also building a powerful grassroots base ready to support you on any Tuesday. Growing a healthy and engaged email list takes time, but our team has your back. We break down the basics, do’s, and beware’s of list building so you can get started now.

Tactics for building your email list

On your website:

  • The barebones: Make sure there’s an easy-to-find place to sign up for your email list on your website. All you need to collect is name and email to make signing up super easy!

  • To level up for giving season, add a pop-up on your website asking people to opt-in for updates.

  • Does your nonprofit have a blog for sharing your work? Place a subscription button at the bottom of your blog posts, asking “Do you want to receive important updates like this in your inbox?”

On social media:

  • Cultivate your social media presence and give followers different ways to engage! You can encourage followers to sign up for email updates, or host swag giveaways and ask folks for their email.

  • Try running ads on Twitter and Facebook asking folks to take an action, like signing a petition or joining your movement. When people click, you’ll ask them to provide some basic information like their first name and email to join your list.

In person:

  • For tablings and other year-end events, be prepared with a sign-in sheet to collect legible emails.

  • When people buy tickets online for your event, include a way to subscribe to your list for email updates. Better yet, when you sell tickets using AB Charities, your event’s contribution form automatically collects email addresses so you can communicate with them.

  • Use Entry Mode for in-person donation asks, so you can easily collect gifts one after another on a single tablet and automatically collect emails with each donation!

Through email:

  • Tandem Fundraising: Partner with an organization related to your cause to coalition-build and introduce each other’s work across your different lists.

  • Peer-to-peer power: When a supporter creates their own fundraising page and shares it with their network, you’re reaching people who may not already be involved with your nonprofit. You’re receiving new donations and adding more people to your email list!

Once you add new sign-ups to your list, send them welcome emails introducing your organization and work so they hear from you before you make your first fundraising ask. This way, you’re nurturing and engaging a community for the long haul! And as your list grows, make sure to keep your list clean. Fix easy typos like @gnail.com and let go of inactive subscribers, which affect whether your emails will land in spam or “Promotions.”

Quick takeaways:

Do: Start building your email list now for success much later!
Beware: Overlooking the time it takes to grow an online community that gives year-end and year-round.

Do: Promote signing up for your email list wherever you can. (Don’t be shy!)
Beware: Stopping at promoting — have a plan to welcome and engage new supporters on your list!

Do: Reach out to us for help! We love talking about digital strategy that fits your nonprofit and are excited to help you grassroots your Giving Tuesday so the momentum doesn’t end on December 3.

Grassroots Your Giving Tuesday!

Giving Tuesday (December 3rd) is a little less than 90 days away — so now is the perfect time to buckle in and start thinking about your nonprofit’s plans to maximize your end-of-year fundraising. With $400 million raised online in the U.S. in 2018, Giving Tuesday is one of the largest days of global charitable giving.

But the grassroots momentum shouldn’t start and stop on December 3rd! As you focus on your year-end game plan, prioritize building a small-dollar fundraising program that will empower tens of thousands of people who want to support advocacy work and set you up for future success far after the end of the year. By taking the time to grow your network and grassroots your Giving Tuesday now, you’ll be ready to connect with passionate supporters this giving season and engage them in years to come as sustainers and vocal ambassadors of your cause.

Our team’s got you covered! We’re a nonprofit ourselves, and we’re excited to help you build a stronger fundraising program and have a more successful giving season with the help of small-dollar donors.

We’ve put together all the end-of-year advice and checklists you’ll need so you can easily follow along to grassroots your Giving Tuesday. For the rest of the year, our team’s focus is making sure you’re ready to encourage supporters to give and join your movement. Each week we’ll deliver the best strategies you need straight to your inbox, so you’ll have a toolbox full of concrete, specific tactics to use during giving season. By the time December 3rd arrives (and far after that), you’ll be ready to raise more money for your cause and reach more supporters.

Here’s your checklist to get your #GrassrootsYourGivingTuesday planning started (and a preview of the tips and tricks we’ll be sending over the next couple months!).


Grassroots Your Giving Tuesday Checklist:

1. Sketch out your organization’s theme for the giving season.
□ Choose a theme for your year-end fundraising campaign that reflects the mission of your organization and that you can weave into your communications this giving season.
□ Nail your theory of change: Explain the problem you are looking to solve, and tell donors how they can help be part of the solution. Your work is important, and you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared to explain why when the time comes.

2. Plan your fundraising strategy and timeline.
□ Create a content calendar and establish your timeline for sending emails and posting social media ads.
□ Make sure your fundraising strategy hits multiple channels. You’ll want to run ads on Facebook and Twitter to boost your content, but the vast majority of online donations still comes from email.

3. Build your email list so you have a large network excited to see your future content!
□ Add a pop-up to your website asking people to join your email list and receive important updates from your nonprofit.
□ Prepare your social media ads that encourage supporters to sign up for your email list.
□ Make sure you’re ready to collect emails of attendees at your fall events!

4. Loop in your stakeholders.
□ Explain how your board members can help mobilize their own networks this giving season.
□ Utilize ActBlue community forms to engage your advocates as fundraising champions this end-of-year!

5. Polish your contribution forms and website.
□ Make sure you’ve optimized your site, so when people land on your homepage, they now see a pop-up encouraging them to pitch in this giving season. And if you do not use a pop-up, make sure your donate button is prominent on your website.
□ Do you have a branding on your contribution form? Take some time to clean up your form’s design so it encourages people to give, but isn’t distracting. A couple quick changes can make a huge difference!
□ Make sure your contribution form is optimized for mobile (our forms are mobile-optimized and accept Apple Pay and PayPal!).

6. At last, prepare for post-Giving Tuesday!
□ Pat yourself on the back, take a deep breath, and treat yourself!
□ Come up with a plan to thank your amazing donors and involve them in your organization’s work for the next year.
□ Establish an email series that welcomes new donors who pitched in during end-of-year fundraising to your movement. You can keep your new donors engaged and build a community of excited advocates for your cause!


We’re excited to meet you in your inbox each week with the best practices you can rely on, and we’ll be posting our top tips for fundraisers on Twitter (so give us a wave!). And we’re always just a call away to talk digital strategy that fits your nonprofit — hop on a one-on-one strategy call with us if you have any questions or need a good joke to keep you moving this giving season.

Tips from our nonprofit fundraising experts

At AB Charities, we love helping other nonprofits fundraise better by building small-dollar donor bases to sustain their work. Who exactly are we? We’re a team of fundraising experts passionate about talking nonprofit digital strategy and answering any technical questions about making the most of AB Charities accounts and our platform. Our grassroots fundraising platform gives nonprofits of all sizes access to easy, modern tools like mobile-optimized contribution forms and a saved payment universe of over 7 million ActBlue Express users who can give to you with a single click. And as a nonprofit ourselves, we know the stresses that come with raising funds for important advocacy work. It’s a huge reason why we’re usually on the road doing face-to-face trainings and making small-dollar fundraising less intimidating (and less lonely). And we don’t want to stop there: We’re bringing our top digital fundraising tips to you right here!


Adri

Adri

Nonprofit Outreach Manager
Gemini

Top online fundraising tip for nonprofits
Focus on building your recurring donor base! Recurring donors will be more invested in your organization and mission and are more likely to take other actions like signing petitions, volunteering, and encouraging their networks to donate to your organization. Having a strong recurring program also helps organizations budget, and this additional source of revenue allows for more flexibility to run programs and cover things like overhead costs!

Top tip for using AB Charities
Don’t be afraid to ask us for help! Our team is happy to help you create brandings for your forms, help you access donor information, and give demos to teach your team how to get the most out of your AB Charities account. We’re all passionate about empowering organizations to run strong, successful digital fundraising programs, because we understand how important your work is. We want you to have all the tools and skills you need in order to not only sustain but grow your organizations and expand your impact.


Kiersten

Kiersten

Nonprofit Outreach Director
Virgo

Top online fundraising tip for nonprofits
Mobile is becoming extremely common as a way for supporters to engage with your nonprofit and donate! Make sure your donation forms are optimized for mobile (we have Apple Pay and PayPal on our forms!) so supporters can donate via mobile no matter where they are. This is especially true for supporters who may not have internet access or who have mobile networks like 3G with slower page load times. Big picture, make it easy for a supporter to give no matter their device! They already want to support you, and you’ve empowered them to take action — so you’ll want your fundraising platform to make it as easy as possible for them to give.

Top tip for using AB Charities
Chat with us! We’re here, and we want to help. There are a ton of optimizations that you can make to your contribution form to help increase your one-time and recurring donations.


Selah

Selah

Nonprofit Outreach Associate
Aries

Top online fundraising tip for nonprofits
Take some time to nail a theory of change in your fundraising emails! Your donors will always be asking themselves “Why give now? What will my contribution do?” So it’s critical to: highlight the problem your nonprofit is looking to solve, explain what the solution is, and emphasize that donors are a key part of the solution — in this case, a specific sum of small-dollar donations. A (simplified) example might look like: “Our organization works hard every day to improve road safety here in our community, and we need your help. Our free brake light clinic is all set to reduce the chance of car accidents on Main Street: but we still need to get the word out! Just $50.00 will cover the costs of printing flyers that we’ll be posting up around town. Can you pitch in $5.00 today to close this gap and make a change? If 10 people chip in, we’ll be ready to hit the streets!”

A clearly articulated theory of change that answers the right questions goes further than you might imagine in composing an effective ask. Not only will you add an honest sense of urgency to your emails, but you’ll make it clear that donors are part of your team, and you’re getting things done together! It also goes a long way in developing a healthy relationship with your small-dollar donors, building trust, and displaying your nonprofit’s accountability and transparency.

Top tip for using AB Charities
Once you’ve built trust and rapport with your donors through your fantastic emails (featuring your well-written theory of change, of course), AB Charities features some excellent tools for building a sustainers program of recurring donors. Our unlimited, customizable forms have features that encourage supporters to commit to feasible, long-lasting gifts, and we make it easy to pull donor data and build a cohort of engaged supporters who give regularly.

You can also use AB Charities to send a personalized contribution form to your most committed donors to build and steward long-term donor relationships that much more effectively!


We’re a team of dedicated nonprofit fundraising experts who love brainstorming digital strategy that fits your nonprofit and making fundraising all about big numbers and big laughs! You can always give us a wave on Twitter. And if you have any questions about our tips above or making the most of AB Charities, hop on a one-on-one strategy call with us!

Making summer matter as a nonprofit fundraiser

Summer is an incredible time for your nonprofit to sharpen all parts of your online fundraising program so you’re keeping up with best practices and setting yourself up for a strong end-of-year. The pace of life might seem to slow down with the warmth, but small-dollar donors are ready to take action for causes and organizations in need no matter the time of year. This summer is only halfway over, and small-dollar donors have already raised $1.3 million for groups helping parents and children separated at the border. And you can see in our 2018 cycle in review that the number of new donors has skyrocketed at critical moments throughout the summer months.

August is traditionally thought of as sleepy, but there are strategies you can implement now to make the most of summer. Keep reading for high-impact steps to build a robust, streamlined program before the fall and set yourself up for big fundraising rewards.

Build:

1. Your email list.

Summer’s the perfect season for taking your organizing outside and adding emails to your list. With the warmer days finally here, think about hosting events that bring supporters together for your cause and build a sense of community that can translate into a strong base of grassroots donors. From a house party to a rally, cook-out competition to a bike-a-thon, outdoor events are great opportunities to collect emails on paper or digitally. You can sell tickets, collect free RSVPs, or do a combination of both using event forms on AB Charities. And just because you’re hosting an event doesn’t mean you can’t make a face-to-face donation ask! AB Charities makes it easy for you to collect donations at events with our Entry Mode feature, so multiple people can easily make secure donations on the same device. We’ve also made sure our contribution forms are optimized for mobile — it’s why this past quarter, over 50% of contributions made through our platform came from mobile devices!

Rural Utah Project Event

2. Your recurring donor base.

Invest time into building a strong recurring program while Giving Tuesday and other deadlines are still months away. Recurring gifts give you the amazing flexibility to budget for the future! And by nurturing a solid community of monthly supporters now, you’ll gain the superpower to plan for the big events and campaigns for your cause later in the year. You can begin by asking for monthly gifts of *smaller* amounts than one-time donations. You can also turn on our Smart Recurring feature, which encourages donors making a one-time contribution to make an additional, lower monthly gift.

Here’s a pro-tip: If you have inexpensive gifts like stickers to give supporters, you can ask people to make a monthly donation to receive a sticker. A simple email that says “Where should we send your sticker?” and includes a donation ask can build your recurring program!

Polish:

1. Your open rates.

Let go of inactive subscribers in your email list to boost your open and donation rates. Your emails are some of your most important communications with your supporters, and creative and authentic emails can build meaningful relationships with your base that raise more money in the long term. Metrics like open rates also affect whether your emails end up in Gmail’s Promotions tab or spam, so you’ll want to take your open rates seriously!

2. Your email targeting.

If you haven’t yet, segment your email list into groups of supporters organized by donor behavior. It’s easier than ever to group people by previous donation sizes using AB Charities’ tools for data on donor segments. Once you clean up your list and prepare your targeting, you can send more intentional, personalized emails that meet your donors where they’re at. And it’s this kind of detail in knowing your donors’ behavior that improves your fundraising results!

3. Your forms with A/B testing.

A/B tests are a great way for you to identify the most successful parts of your contribution form so you can make optimized forms that raise the most money. Our A/B Test Tool makes it super easy for you to run head-to-head tests on your forms, including comparing different form titles and ask language. Does a simple branding or fancier one connect with your supporters more? After testing various form versions, you’ll be left with a powerful baseline for all future forms you make!

Nourish!

While the sun’s shining, grow your relationships with your supporters through cultivation emails that aim to engage (and not just fundraise). Whether surveys, newsletters, or updates on your nonprofit’s work, sending compelling content builds trust and engagement with your list. Do you have swag and merchandise that are perfect for your supporters to sport in the summer? Try hosting a giveaway where you ask supporters to enter a contest to win sunglasses, hats, totes, or water bottles that show their grassroots pride!

Summer’s the perfect time to take big actions that can build up your grassroots fundraising. Don’t let the slow pace of these months fool you, and get started on strengthening all parts of your digital program with our tips. Still wondering where to begin? One of your first high-impact actions can be hopping on a one-on-one call with our team to talk through strategies that work for your nonprofit. We’re always happy to chat and answer any questions you have!

How to retain (and love) your grassroots donors

One of the smartest and most exciting strategies your organization can implement right now is prioritizing existing donors! Reaching fundraising goals can be much more than finding *new* donors. Making donor retention a key part of your fundraising program helps you build strong, lasting relationships with your incredible supporters that lead to more money raised over the long term. Your small-dollar donors are your most passionate advocates and investors in your mission, so treat them as the valued stakeholders they are! And donor retention doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some tips for showing your supporters some love and motivating them to stay in this movement with you.

Start off on the right foot with a welcome email series

Welcome emails are a great way to show people who are new to your email list that they’re part of something bigger! These emails are the foundation on which you’ll build relationships with grassroots supporters, so you’ll want to put in the time to craft content that makes people want to stick around and take action.

What’s the anatomy of a strong welcome email series? From the get go, the content of your welcome emails should reiterate that by joining your list, supporters are joining a community of critical participants for your cause, like this welcome email from Sunrise does:

Sunrise Welcome Email

Let your supporters know how they can begin taking specific actions, whether it’s donating, signing a petition, volunteering, or sharing on social media. Sunrise provides links for action steps to make participating as easy as possible.

You can set a precedent for honest, respectful communication by laying out to subscribers what kinds of emails you’ll send their way, like Grist does below. Additionally, think about giving supporters an easy way to unsubscribe from your email list or linking to subscription preferences like Grist does. (Giving an easy opt-out from the start also keeps your list healthy and clean from inactive subscribers, and your future self might just thank you later).

Grist Welcome Email

Make appreciation your bread and butter

Make it a point to say “thank you!” Appreciate your small-dollar donors by letting them know they’re an irreplaceable part of your larger mission. You can immediately begin showing donors your appreciation by automating donation receipts that acknowledge gifts. AB Charities already sends automated receipts to donors for you, but you can (and should) customize the “thank you” text in these receipts. With automated, customized receipts, you ensure every grassroots gift is acknowledged and every donor leaves the giving process feeling special and important to your cause.

Saying “thank you” after someone donates is important, but appreciating your supporters in all pieces of communication for sticking with you is just as important. Keep gratitude and respect at the crux of your fundraising program by thanking supporters in every email you send. Whether a fundraising email or a newsletter, a line at the end saying “thank you” shows people they’re part of your work — and your organization knows it!

Go beyond asking for money

When a big goal of your program is building lasting relationships with donors, send non-fundraising emails that share high-quality, approachable, and timely content with your supporters. Your emails should aim to engage people so they want to stay on your list, hear from you, and invest in your cause for the long term. Many of your emails can be cultivation emails — non-fundraising emails meant to share compelling content — so you’re not only sending hard fundraising asks. With thoughtful cultivation emails, you can engage folks as partners in the fight for your cause rather than solely as piggy banks.

Try sending cultivation emails entirely dedicated to saying “thank you.” Do you have exciting numbers and accomplishments to share? You can use a thank you email as a moment to emphasize the impact of gifts and express appreciation for your donors’ actions. And you don’t have to sacrifice fundraising, either — leave an easy donate button at the bottom of the email for people who are compelled to give. Here’s an example of a great thank you email from United We Dream:

United We Dream Thank You Email

Another possible way to engage supporters is asking for their input and opinions to let them know their voices are central to your movement. Many organizations send surveys, but Friends of the Earth checked in with their list by asking people if they could make a special volunteer call to discuss advancing climate change legislation:

Friends of the Earth Volunteer Call Email

Be ready to support donors who need help

An enjoyable giving process also means having the donor support to quickly solve donation problems. Make sure you have the infrastructure to address the needs and concerns of donors. That’s why AB Charities has a dedicated donor support team that spends one-on-one time with donors having trouble. Your fundraising platform should also offer tools for frictionless donations. For example, AB Charities has a free integration with Account Updater to automatically update credit card numbers so recurring donations don’t stop even when cards are lost or expired!

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to begin building lasting relationships with small-dollar donors passionate about powering your work and sustaining your movement for the long haul. Relationship management can feel intimidating, so our team is always happy to jump on a one-on-one call with you to help your organization retain (and love) your donors!

Need more hours in the day? Press pause to be more productive.

This is a guest post written by Janice Chan, who often writes for our friends at Wethos over at The Wethos Collective blog. In over a decade in the nonprofit sector, Janice has written fundraising appeals and grant proposals, led social media outreach, managed volunteers, executed rollout plans, managed donor and program databases, and learned the hard way that changing to a new website host means you’d better make sure that donation form still works!

wethos

Feeling burned out? I know this sounds counterintuitive, but put aside your to-do list for 30 minutes. Turn off your notifications, hide your phone, if need be, hide yourself in a conference room where your coworkers can’t find you. (Okay, maybe tell one person who understands the true meaning of the word emergency. You know, in case there is a fire or something.)

Then use that 30 minutes to brainstorm ways that you can get more hours back in your day. It takes time to make time. What would make it easier/less frustrating to do your job? Review everything currently on your to-do list and ask yourself these three questions.

Do you actually need to do this?

The quickest way to get back time is to go down your list and ask, of each item, “What will be lost by NOT doing this?”

At the micro level, this can be steps in a process. One low-lift example: Can you streamline an approval process? Maybe certain people only need to sign off if certain criteria are in play.

At micro and macro levels, re-evaluate wants vs. needs — just as you would with your budget. Maybe you want to run more events to attract new donors, but maybe what you really need to do is focus on continuing to build relationships with grassroots donors. Or maybe you want to revamp your website, but what you really need is a better digital strategy. Perhaps it is worth engaging a team of digital strategists to help you assess what items will have the most impact.

Do you need to do this?

Are you the only person who can do this? It can be scary to let go of things that you’re good at, or that you’ve always done. At the same time, it can be incredibly freeing not to shoulder a particular responsibility all by your lonesome. For example, to go on vacation and know that other people can handle things.

As you go down your list, consider whether any of these items could be good growth opportunities for a colleague. Or, perhaps, it is a tedious task that needs to be done but could be a little more evenly distributed than it currently is. What’s holding you back from delegating? Another low-lift strategy would be writing up a how-to guide (which is also important knowledge management, should you ever win the Powerball) or taking a screencast or training others. Ensuring organizational continuity is always time well spent now to free up your time later on.

Remember to leverage all the people on your team. For example, is your board fundraising? If not, perhaps it’s time to talk to board members about expectations.

Trying to figure out something new? Your nonprofit is probably not the first organization to tackle this challenge. For example, your cause is suddenly thrust into the news and the spotlight, and you need to come up with a fundraising plan yesterday! Or, you could take a page from these best practices in rapid response fundraising from AB Charities.

Is heavier lifting required?

Sometimes it is worth examining the opportunity cost of you doing X, when you could be making a bigger impact in other areas. Maybe you’d like to keep your hand on the wheel, but could get there faster with help, whether it’s extra hands or a particular skill set your team needs support with. There’s no shame in raising your hand — in fact, it requires maturity and confidence to ask for help. It’s what we often encourage others to do.

Admittedly, it can be challenging to ask for help when you’re not sure what you need. Wethos collaborative teams and the AB Charities team are always ready to support you and can even help you figure out what is needed.

Could this be accomplished differently?

We are often so busy getting things done that we forget to pick our heads up and survey the changing landscape — and sometimes we miss things, like technology that might make our jobs and lives easier!

Things you can do this week

Compound time saved with smarter habits

  • Are you asking for every single gift? Learn why you should ask for recurring donations and how AB Charities makes this simple and automatic (for you and your donors).

  • Does this need to be done in the office? Offices can be great for collaboration-heavy projects, but they are full of distractions. When you need to focus on a thinking-heavy project, perhaps it would be better to work off-site.

  • Should this be a meeting or an email or a phone call? Do everybody a favor and make a habit of asking this question regularly!

Invest upfront to multiply your time later

And if it is a thorny project that desperately needs to be tackled? Engaging a collaborative team of experts can help get you over a large one-time hurdle while also providing an opportunity to gain expertise you don’t currently have in-house.

Overwhelmed? Start somewhere, start anywhere — just start!

One pause and one deep breath can lead to another. I wrote this down so that you can come back to the resources and ideas. No need to tackle this all at once. Or alone — the AB Charities team is always available to help you with your digital fundraising, and Wethos collaborative teams are available to support you with a broad range of skill sets.

But now when you get overwhelmed, you can ask those three questions: Do I need to do this, do I alone need to be the one to do this, and could this be done a different way?

This post was written for AB Charities in partnership with Wethos and also appears on The Wethos Collective blog.

Rapid response fundraising: Raising money online for the frontlines

When your cause is in the news, it’s often because of a crisis or a unique moment of focus on your work. That means people will be more tuned in to your cause than at any other time and more likely to make a donation right then and there. With the right digital strategy, you can use these rapid response moments to build a community of grassroots donors that will sustain your work long after your cause is out of the headlines, because we know your work doesn’t end when the moment is over.

So when your cause is thrust into the limelight, how can you meet the moment and give people a way to fight back and make a difference with a donation? First, although social media can help you boost content, it’s often too fleeting to grab attention. The majority of money still comes from fundraising emails, where you can convey a nuanced message and motivate supporters to contribute.

Second, when you develop your plan for rapid response, you should think about prioritizing recurring donations. People who donate during rapid response often become invested supporters who intentionally give again, volunteer, and advocate for your cause beyond the moment. That’s why when your cause hits the news, you should ask for sustaining gifts and grow your base of monthly givers. You’ll want to make sure your fundraising platform has great tools for building a recurring donor program when traffic is high and your capacity is low.

With the right tools and strategy, organizations of all sizes and people of all digital skill levels can build a powerful rapid response fundraising program. Here are some best practices to help you do exactly this:

  • Make your donation ask specific and clear. Tell your supporters why you’re asking them to give right now! Big moments often bring new people into your reach, so emphasize your mission and make sure they understand the work you’re asking them to support.

  • Provide a call to action that empowers supporters to take action (for now and for the long term). Explain why donations are necessary to immediately work to address the issue or respond to the crisis.

  • Make it easy for supporters to choose monthly gifts. You know the work doesn’t end once the media attention is gone. With supporters motivated to contribute to rapid response efforts, make it clear to passionate people why they should consider making a monthly gift to sustain your nonprofit’s mission for the long run. When asking your supporters to make a recurring donation, keep the ask amount lower than a one-time donation to encourage people to commit to feasible, long-lasting gifts.

  • Empower one-time donors to invest in your nonprofit as a sustainer. Not everyone will immediately opt to make a recurring contribution. You can use the Smart Recurring feature on AB Charities to ask donors who make a one-time donation to consider starting a smaller recurring gift. Smart Recurring is a great way to introduce donors to recurring contributions and is perfect for rapid response moments, when supporters galvanized to take action might also want to sustain your work for months.

  • Follow up with supporters who started but didn’t finish their contributions. On AB Charities forms, you can turn on our remarketing feature to automatically send follow-up emails to supporters who landed on your form but didn’t fully complete their contributions. Remarketing increases conversion rates and lets you get the most out of every ask. Customize your remarketing email text to remind supporters one last time why it’s important in this moment to give!

  • Customize your contribution form’s social share so donors can become your vocal ambassadors *in style.* Social share is even more important in rapid response moments: Supporters excited to share they donated can fill their social networks with your compelling images and messaging. By spreading your mission, they act as powerhouse organizers on your behalf and bring more people organically into your movement.

  • Get the creative work done ahead of time. AB Charities makes it really easy for any nonprofit to customize social share graphics with our free template (which you can find here). You can also plan ahead for the inevitable chaos of rapid response moments by making reusable social share settings that can be whipped out for any future form.

  • Send donors a thank you email! People who give in rapid response moments are often new donors, so you can use this email as an opportunity to turn them into long-term supporters of your organization. And you can go beyond an immediate thank you email! Build meaningful, lasting relationships with your donors by sending additional emails that let them know the impact of their gifts.

The power of rapid response fundraising is that it enables you to capture the energy churning in the news cycle and bottle it up, so you have the supporters and the resources you need to do meaningful work now and in the future. Now that we’ve covered the basics, you’re ready to put your digital tools (and new skills!) to work and fundraise whenever a big moment hits. And you don’t have to do it alone! Our team is always happy to hop on a one-on-one call and help you leverage your AB Charities account to lock down your strategy.

The last-minute tips and tricks you need for giving season

Giving Tuesday (and the end-of-year giving season) is just 9 days away — it’s crunch time, and we know you’ve been hard at work putting plans in place to make this busy time of year a success.

There are SO many ways to get creative and maximize your fundraising during giving season, and we wanted to share some of our favorite tips and tricks to help you hit your goals. Keep reading for some helpful last-minute tactics:

Approach fundraising from several different channels. Running ads on Facebook and Twitter can give your content the boost it needs to reach more folks. But keep in mind: The vast majority of online contributions come in via email. Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to get more folks in the door and on your email list through paid ads on social media. That way you’ll have a bigger list to reach out to for the rest of giving season and the new year.

Add a pop-up to your website asking for a donation. Use this space to provide a quick and compelling reason why you’re fundraising during giving season. That way folks heading to your website can give on the pop-up quickly and easily without even having to search around your homepage for a donate button.

Customize your contribution form… Every contribution form on AB Charities comes automatically mobile-optimized and rigorously tested to get you the highest conversion rates possible. You can take your form one step further by adding specific text and making a special Giving Tuesday branding, so people feel like they’re part of your organization’s big giving day.

…and your social share settings. We frequently hear from donors who are extremely proud of their donations and excited to share that they’ve chipped in, which is why we’ve built social share features right into AB Charities contribution forms. With so many people talking about giving online on Giving Tuesday, it’s absolutely crucial that you add social share content for the big day. You want to put your best foot forward if supporters are sharing links to your contribution forms.

Move your supporters up the ladder of engagement by asking them to help you raise money. Folks who are *already* engaged and supporting you can make an ask of their own personal networks on behalf of your work! Folks who care about your work can provide a new, personal perspective to fundraising asks and make a big difference in helping you hit your goals. With AB Charities it’s easy for your community of supporters to make their own fundraising pages.

Make recurring asks to keep folks engaged and fueling your work throughout the year to come. Recurring contributions are a great way to capture the excitement of giving season and turn it into long-term success. With AB Charities, you can set a deadline at the end of the year so donors can contribute a small amount each week from Giving Tuesday on, or you can set recurring contributions to run indefinitely every month, so you can keep the momentum going into the new year.

Use remarketing on your contribution forms. Enable remarketing on your AB Charities contribution forms and donors who abandon your form before completing it will automatically receive an email thirty minutes following their incomplete donation. This can make a huge difference in maximizing the amount of money you can bring in from a single ask.

Be sure to thank donors and think about ways to follow up and keep them engaged! With AB Charities you can customize the ‘thank you’ text on the automated receipts your donors will get after they’ve contributed. That personal touch can keep the connection going with your supporters and encourage them to come back and give again.

These are just some of the many creative ways you can maximize the money you’re raising this giving season. If you want to talk through your own ideas or ask our nonprofit team about any of the strategies shared here, we’re happy to chat. Reach out at support@actblue.com.

Happy fundraising!

3 strategies to leverage technology creatively in raising money

This is a guest post written by Janice Chan, who often writes for our friends at Wethos over at The Wethos Collective blog. In over a decade in the nonprofit sector, Janice has written fundraising appeals and grant proposals, led social media outreach, managed volunteers, executed rollout plans, managed donor and program databases, and learned the hard way that changing to a new website host means you’d better make sure that donation form still works!

wethos

When you don’t have the resources of a large organization behind you, being creative and adapting quickly is even more critical to making the most of what you have. Good news is that technology keeps making it easier to fail fast and pivot quickly without risking huge investments of time or money. Regardless of where your organization is in terms of technological maturity (or how aligned your use of technology is with your mission), there are strategies you can implement at any stage.

One: Choose platforms that provide a solid start.

If you want to leverage technology creatively, choose an online fundraising platform that provides a solid default along with the ability to customize the look and feel on your own. What does this look like for online fundraising? It means the product is designed with thoughtful consideration for the defaults — both how they support your mission-driven organization and a delightful donor experience.

Most of the time, we don’t give a ton of consideration to our defaults. Like when we reach out to our social networks (and only our social networks) when we need to staff up for a project and miss out on great talent who never knew there was an opportunity.

So take time when choosing a platform because that will be your launch pad. As a nonprofit organization, particularly if you’re a small to mid-sized organization, it is probably important that…

  • Your systems can talk to each other so you can work efficiently.

  • You have control over a donor’s giving experience and your branding.

  • You can customize, manage, and maintain this without having a full IT team in-house.

  • You can test and evaluate your efforts.

  • And, if you don’t have the time to, you know the system was designed based on rigorous testing of what is most effective.

Even if you are not looking for a new system right now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t look for new opportunities to optimize your current platforms or try new approaches.

Companies release updates and enhance functionality all the time. Even if you unsubscribed from the product updates, your vendor probably has a blog where you can check out any helpful new features you might have missed and get ideas for using them. Maybe you can even reach out to the vendor’s team and discuss what current features could help you accomplish X better! Or, if you’re looking to strategize across multiple channels (and potentially multiple platforms or systems), consider if it’s worth brainstorming with an outside team of strategy and design experts to figure out how to leverage them together to advance your mission.

Two: Test, test, test.

You know what they say about assumptions. So, how do you know that something is a terrible idea? Okay, maybe some you can recognize right as they exit your mouth, but you still need to throw some spaghetti at the wall before you can tell what sticks.

Technology makes it easier to know what’s working and what’s not. Make use of tracking, reference codes, or features that support A/B testing. If you’re wondering what A/B testing is, it is a basic science experiment: take two similar groups of people; give one group version A and the second group version B. Ideally, there would only be one difference between versions A and B – otherwise it gets very difficult to tell which difference is leading to different results (if they are different).

Platforms like AB Charities make it really easy to test different form titles, blurbs, brandings, videos, and more. However, you can test in any channel. Maybe you’re an elephant sanctuary and you want to see whether you get more clicks on a donation link via social media when you share photos vs. videos. While some platforms may allow you to set up different referral links, you can also compare the stats for the different kinds of posts. You’ll want to know which version they clicked on and you’ll need a way to measure the result (e.g. clicking a link, shares, etc.) depending on what outcome you’re hoping to achieve.

How do you decide what to test?

If data isn’t one of your love languages, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. But you know what? Using data to make decisions is something you’re already doing in your daily life. Ever looked at the fuel gauge on your car before getting on the highway and pulled over at the nearest gas station? Congratulations! You’ve made a data-informed decision!

Start with knowing what you would do differently. If one version performs better, what will you keep doing? What would you adjust or stop doing? If it’s not something you could or would change, then find something else to test!

Visualize your data for faster decision-making. Whether your system has dashboards, or you’re making a quick and simple Excel chart, you want to be able to look at your data and immediately know whether action is needed or if you should keep doing what you’re doing because it’s headed in the right direction.

Make adjustments based on what you learn. Dashboards are super useful for checking in to see if you need to change course, but only if you actually make those adjustments. If you’re wondering how you’ll do this on top of everything your team already does, consider adding some temporary capacity. Just as technology allows you to test and pivot quickly without a major investment, bringing on a freelance team allows you to benefit from the insights of specialists without having to add a permanent position (or search for a unicorn!) when you’re trying out new things.

Start small. Start light. Just start. It will be easier to keep the testing and learning and experimenting momentum going once you’ve gotten started and it becomes part of the way you do things.

Three: Remember that it is about the people.

Just because you haven’t met your donors in person doesn’t mean you can’t build a relationship with them. From the updates and acknowledgements you communicate to using social media to empower your supporters to advocate for your cause online, take advantage of the ways in which technology can help us (and our work) transcend borders.

Try out new or unexpected ways to engage with your supporters (and potential supporters).

Grow your network and deepen your connection with current donors.

  • Your supporters are proud to support you! Make it easy for them to spread the word with social share graphics.

  • Speaking of empowering your donors to share the amazing work you’re doing, have you tried peer to peer fundraising yet?

Customize your appeals for different audiences so that they have a great experience.

  • You probably have different versions of thank you letters based on how the gift came in or what it was for, right? If you have very different types of fundraising campaigns, or very varied types of supporters, consider creating different donation forms specific to each audience or appeal for a cohesive experience.

  • Provide more options when people sign up for your email lists. Giving your supporters more control over the content they receive means they’re more likely to hear about what they’re already interested in, and you can better tailor your emails.

Take advantage of viral moments and hot topics.

  • Whether it’s the next ice bucket challenge or current events that suddenly make your work top of mind, you’ll want to be able to take advantage of it. In addition to creating a topical donation form, consider setting up a landing page for new website visitors.

  • Consider whether to add ads (promoted posts on social media, Google AdWords, etc.) to the mix.

And for as much as we’ve talked about people being donors, don’t forget about other people! This includes volunteers who might be able to help you identify great stories to share, non-development colleagues who might have a new idea for you to test out, vendors who want to support your organization with even better tools, or a platform like Wethos, which will match you with a freelance team best suited to help your nonprofit strategize and think creatively about testing ideas or executing what you’ve already learned by leveraging the latest technology.

Just as the future of fundraising relies on getting everyone aboard, the future of work means finding a way to grow your team’s capacity sustainably.

This post was written for AB Charities in partnership with Wethos and also appears on The Wethos Collective blog.