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Monthly giving programs are on fundraisers’ radars these days as some nonprofits have found it to be a great source of revenue and engagement. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to switch to it when your nonprofit is already practicing annual giving.

During Fundraising Day in New York 2013, sponsored by the New York City
chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Valerie
Arganbright of Appleby Arganbright and Jason Lott of Human Rights
Campaign, discussed the challenges organizations can face when switching from annual to monthly giving. They warned that adopting a new fundraising method means learning a new way of doing business, which means you should learn the following rules:
  • Asking, who is the business owner for the monthly giving?
  • Deciding how and when revenue will be recognized.
  • A decision about monthly giving as the number one ask and one-time giving as the only other option.
  • Consistent branding.
Arganbright and Lott also said that nonprofits should make the following considerations when evaluating the pros and cons of a monthly giving campaign:
  • Monthly activation rates, particularly by channel;
  • Decline and attrition rates;
  • Average gift of new monthly donors by channel; and,
  • Actual performance against budget.

Head to The NonProfit Times’ website for the full version of this article on Giving Tuesday

DoSomething in New York City sent an email to its mostly youthful
members and supporters asking that they get their parents or anyone
older than age 25 to take a five-question test. The penalty for each
wrong answer is a $10 donation to DoSomething or a nonprofit of the
test-takers choice.

Today is “Giving Tuesday,” the charitable
sector’s answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Approximately 2,200
organizations – both nonprofits and their for-profit supporters – are
pushing Americans to kick-off the holiday season with a donation of cash
or time. Much like store having promotions tied to their brands on
Black Friday, it is up to each participating organization to determine
how they’ll promote the event.

The event’s Twitter hashtag,
#GivingTuesday, was already trending before the close of the business
day on Monday. “We know this is going to be the first day of the giving
season, and we’re excited to see what happens,” said Sol Adler,
executive director of the 92nd Street Y (92Y) in New York City, where
the idea for the day was hatched. “There are two days for spending
(Black Friday and Cyber Monday), so the whole idea is, why not have a
day of giving,” said Melanie Mathos of Charleston, S.C., software firm
Blackbaud, one of the founding partners. “It’s a way to kick off the
giving season, and the timing is great to raise awareness. It embodies
the spirit of the holiday season and will bring greater awareness to
Blackbaud will begin tracking giving on the
Tuesday after Thanksgiving year-over-year, starting with this year
compared to last year. Mathos said Blackbaud’s results should be ready

Though no one organization controls Giving Tuesday, a
mass message of support from about 800,000 people will go out on
Twitter via the Thunderclap platform at 2:30 p.m. (EST). Thunderclap
allows for a large number of social media users to write a message and
share it at the same time.

“One of the interesting things about
Giving Tuesday is it’s an opportunity for experimenting,” said Henry
Timms, 92Y’s deputy executive director of innovation, content and
strategy. “Thunderclap is a chance for people to come together to share
one message.” The 92Y experimented with Google Hangouts, and enlisted
about 800 social media ambassadors to help spread the word between
September and Giving Tuesday.

The 92Y is also driving donations
and volunteering opportunities to itself, according to Adler. “We
secured $150,000 worth of matching grants (for Giving Tuesday donations)
from our board of directors and the general community,” he said. “We’re
also doing a lot of opportunities for volunteering. We’ll have young
kids doing greeting cards for soldiers and homebound elderly, and if you
come down to the 92nd Street Y, a lot of it will be happening in front
of you.”

No one is quite sure how Giving Tuesday will shake
out, since this is the first event and there are a large number of
variables. “This is the first year that a group of retailers and
nonprofits and other folks in social media have pulled together to
encourage the public to give,” said Anne Marie Borrego, director of
media relations for the American Red Cross (ARC), another founding
partner of Giving Tuesday. “We have Black Friday, Small Business
Saturday, Cyber Monday and now Giving Tuesday. It will shine a light on
the importance of giving in the holiday season.”

Every nonprofit manager wants to have a successful annual giving program, but how can you tell if this is the case? Turns out all you have to do is look for the signs.

During the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy’s recent international conference, Ann Thompson-Haas, principal of Oakland, Calif.-based Larkwood Consulting, and Betsy Chapin Taylor, chief development officer at Elranger Health System in Chattanooga, Tenn., presented “The Seven Vital Signs of the Most Successful Annual Giving Program.”

During their presentation, Thompson-Haas and Taylor said that if a nonprofit wants to determine if its annual giving program is in good shape, it should:

  • Clarify the definition and purpose of annual giving and communicate with others whose agreement and participation you need.
  • Work toward and achieve revenue goals while investing enough for long-term return. To enhance revenue, include a personal solicitation, create effective “donor clubs,” and manage costs, including indirect costs.
  • Make donor base development an integral part of the program.
  • Match annual giving methods to varied donor needs and preferred channels of giving.
  • Show your donors you love them more than you need them with strategic communication and stewardship.
  • Find ways for annual, major and planned gifts to work together.
  • Make volunteers your partners – they can be your best advocates and help achieve high performance.

For more than 50 years Giving USA has given what amounts to an annual state of the nonprofit sector. With the uncertain economy we have been living through, the 2012 report was even more anticipated. It was with great relief, then, that giving numbers were found to be pretty healthy last year.

The NonProfit Times analyzed the numbers in this year’s report in an exclusive piece online. According to the piece, giving in the U.S. reached an estimated $298.42 billion in 2011, an increase of around 4 percent from 2010 (when giving was estimated at around $290 billion). Individual giving represented the biggest contributions, at 73 percent or $217.79 billion?
The smallest contributors? Corporations. Corporate giving represented just 5 percent of total giving in the country, or $14.55 billion. This shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise, as a report by the Council on Foundations last month showed that corporate philanthropy had fallen among large companies like Starbucks, Dove, and Cisco.
Of the different sub-sectors of giving, human services and religious giving came out on top. In fact, religiong retained its spot from last year as the largest recipient of giving, at 32 percent or $95.88 billion. Yet, interestingly enough, that number was actually a decline of 1.7 percent when measured in current dollars.
“Viewed another way, giving to religion, along with membership in
certain mainline Protestant denominations, is declining, while the
American population grows, on average, 1.0 percent every year,” said
Thomas W. Mesaros, CFRE, Chair, The Giving Institute and president and
CEO, The Alford Group.
Here is the complete breakdown of giving to each sector:
  • Religion, $95.88 billion or 32 percent;
  • Education, $38.87 billion or 13 percent;
  • Human Services, $35.39 billion or 12 percent;
  • Foundations, $25.83 billion or 9 percent;
  • Health, $24.75 billion or 8 percent;
  • International Affairs, $22.68 billion or 8 percent;
  • Public-Benefit Society, $21.37 billion or 7 percent;
  • Arts, Culture and Humanities, $13.12 billion or 4 percent;
  • Environment/animals, $7.81 billion or 3 percent;
  • Individuals, $3.75 billion or 1 percent;
  • Unallocated giving was $8.97 billion or 3 percent.
Want to read more about the Giving USA numbers for 2012? Head on over to our website for more analysis, and be sure to keep an eye out for our July 1 issue for even more details on this important report.

Washington, D.C.-area nonprofits, which received fewer dollars in 2011, are bracing for better times this year, according to a new study by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement (CNA).

The study, as reported on by The Washington Post, showed that nearly half of the organizations surveyed report that their donors plan to maintain or increase contributions in 2012. This is in contrast to only 27 percent last year, and 15 percent in 2009. The CNA study canvassed nonprofits in D.C., Northern Virginia, and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland.

Another huge problem for D.C.-area organizations in 2011 was the amount of “rainy-day” reserves they had to use up as a result of the declined contributions. This practice appears to be fading in 2012, ad the CNA study found that the number of nonprofits dipping into reserves fell from 46 percent to 31 percent. In addition, organizations reporting a decline in revenue dropped from 48 percent to 40 percent.

Glen O’Glvie, CNA’s chief executive, told The Washington Post that the reason for this comeback in giving appears to come from individual donors. He noted that it’s much easier for one person to donate than for foundations and corporations. This notion appears to be validated because, as was reported in The NonProfit Times, corporate philanthropy is experiencing a sharp decline, according to a new study from the Council on Foundations.

Although the decline in donations seems to be slowing, CNA warns that it’s not enough to quell the increasing demand for nonprofit services. 53 percent of respondents reported a higher demand for their services last year as a direct result of the economic downturn.

You can read the full story in The Washington Post.

With many states across the country having success with the Gives Day movement, Alabama has decided to join the fun for the first time.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported Sunday that the first annual Alabama Gives Day will begin on Thursday, Feb. 2.  Beginning at 12:01 a.m., Alabamians will be able to donate to charities via an online portal alabamagivesday.org.  More than 800 nonprofits within 12 categories are registered to participate in the event.  Among the participating nonprofits are the Hospice of Montgomery, the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, and the Montgomery Area Food Bank.

The Gives Day movement has been very popular since its inception in Minnesota in 2009.  Its purpose was to increase philanthropy and increase donor acquisition for nonprofits.  The concept has had plenty of success stories, like Colorado Gives Day, which recently had 52,000 donations totaling $12 million.  There is no monetary goal set for Alabama Gives Day; organizers simply want as many nonprofits as possible to participate.

If the Gives Days of the last few years are any indication, Alabama Gives Day should be a great source of funding for local nonprofits.  Read more about the event in The Montgomery Advertiser.

Upgrading donors can be quite a dilemma for nonprofit organizations.  On one hand, donors might want to become more engaged with an organization, but donor fatigue can set in if they receive too many mailings.  This is where the idea of “soft asking” comes into play.

In an article that recently appeared in The NonProfit Times, we looked at how the National Baseball Hall of Fame (NBHF) used this process when upgrading donors.  Instead of asking donors to upgrade their membership, the Cooperstown, N.Y.-based organization asks for an additional gift, which upgrades them into their annual donor fund.  NBHF uses the same direct mail they send to non-members as part of the soft asking process.  Ken Meifert, senior director of development for the organization, estimates they have converted 20 percent of their members (or 6,000) to the annual fund.

The amount of times a nonprofit goes through with a soft ask can make a big difference.  Baltimore, Md.-based Catholic Relief Services (CRS) upgrades its donors by recognizing their first gift and encouraging more through mailings.  According to Jean Simmons, director of annual giving at CRS, the organization usually sends requests to join a monthly giving campaign once a year to its members.  Last year, however, the organization tried a different approach.  It sent two mailings: The first was a monthly ask, while the second asked for a one-time only gift or a monthly gift.  The result was the strongest increase CRS had seen in the past six to seven years.  From their house file of between 280,000 and 300,000 people, Simmons said that 1,487 people ended up opting into the program.

The soft ask can be a very effective way for a nonprofit to upgrade their current donors.  Is it the right choice for your organization?  Read the full article in The NonProfit Times to find out.

We all know that annual giving programs are an integral part of most successful nonprofits.  But what are the best ways to tell how well it’s performing?  Looking at the numbers that come in is only half the battle.  The key to a successful fundraising program goes a lot deeper than the amount of money you generate.  The following tips, which come from a recent Association for Healthcare Philanthropy international conference, can increase the chance that your annual giving will remain strong throughout the years:

  • Your program should work toward and achieve revenue goals while investing enough for long-term return. 
  • You might consider including personal solicitations or creating “donor clubs” to enhance your revenue.
  • Donor base development should be an important part of your annual giving program.  You can always use more donors.  You never know when your seemingly reliable donors will fall through the cracks.
  • Show your donors you love them rather than need them.  You can do this with strategic communication and stewardship.
  • Annual giving doesn’t need to be separate from the rest of your fundraising activities.  Find ways to have it work with your planned giving and major gift programs.
  • Get your volunteers involved.  They can end up being your best advocates and help you reach higher levels of performance.  The worst mistake you can make is thinking they won’t be able to help your cause.

You may think your annual giving plan is going great, but there’s always room for improvement.  Try implementing some of these tips to get your fundraising to the next level.