Fundraising and volunteerism: The power of reviews

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A look at how GreatNonprofits reviews can help increase support for your cause and grow your nonprofit’s network.

Why online reviews are a big deal

Smartphones, social media, and increased connectivity have made an incredible amount of information available to us anytime, anywhere. This accessibility has changed the way we make decisions as consumers.josh-felise-55613

Not sure where to go for dinner tonight? Check Yelp. On-the-fence about purchasing that sweater online? Look at its customer reviews. Instead of trusting a marketing department’s description, we want a real person’s opinion before we act.

In fact, a Nielsen study found that online consumer opinions are some of the most trusted sources of brand information, second only to recommendations from family and friends, with 70% of global consumers reporting taking action based on online reviews.

In the same way, donors and volunteers want to hear from real people before deciding to support a new nonprofit. According to GreatNonprofits,

  • 80% of donors say reviews influence their giving
  • 90% of donors say reviews help them better understand a nonprofit’s work

How reviews can benefit your nonprofit

I’ve said it before, but something all successful nonprofits have in common is effective donor engagement. People are more likely to support – and continue supporting – causes and organizations they feel personally connected to.

A great way for a nonprofit to connect with an individual is through honest, compelling stories like the ones supporters tell in online reviews. A review reflects a personal experience with an organization and is written in the reviewer’s own voice, adding a level of relatability that resonates with potential and existing supporters.

You can also use these reviews to create more compelling communications for your nonprofit. Feature a volunteer’s quote on social media to recruit new volunteers. If you have a review written by someone impacted by your work, feature their story on your website or in a newsletter to show donors the difference their support makes.

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How to get started

First: Claim your nonprofit. Take a few minutes to complete your organization profile and provide details of your impact.

sample reviewSecond: Invite reviews through social media, email, SMS or phone. Reach out to donors, board members, volunteers, colleagues and clients.

Third: Share those reviews on your social media channels,thanking your supporters and spreading your message. The site’s built-in sharing options make it simple.

GreatNonprofits reviews are syndicated across dozens of partner sites, like JustGive and Guidestar, extending your nonprofit’s reach and increasing your credibility with real stories from real people.

-Amanda Chun
Account Development Manager

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Volunteers OR Donors? Think Again.

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About the author: Tess Srebro of VolunteerMatch is a Marketing & Language-Crafting Expert with a Master’s of Nonprofit Leadership and a B.A. in Public Relations. You can read more of her work at VolunteerMatch’s blog for nonprofit organizations: Engaging Volunteers.

Volunteer-donor hybrids are more common than you might think. This post looks at why this is the case and how to encourage it, as well as how to avoid some common mistakes.

True or false?

Volunteers donate their time because they are unable or unwilling to donate money.

Sometimes? True. Most of the time? False.

According to research, two thirds of volunteers donate money to the same organizations they volunteer for. Also, volunteers tend to donate much more than non-volunteers.

Surprised? It’s actually pretty simple.

When someone volunteers for your organization, they are likely to feel closely connected to your organization and your mission. This is especially true if you regularly:

  • Show volunteers the impact their work has on the organization and its mission.
  • Keep volunteers in the loop on what’s going on throughout the organization.
  • Involve volunteers in organizational planning by encouraging feedback.

I know that I feel personally invested in the organization I volunteer for. I get excited about the organization’s successes, and I advocate vocally for the mission. And when I was asked to donate as part of a seasonal fundraising campaign – you bet I pulled out my credit card. I knew I was already making an impact, and I saw a chance to make that impact even bigger.

But (yes, there is a but)…

How would a volunteer feel if they received a generic thank you letter for their donation that didn’t acknowledge the other ways in which they contribute? Probably not so great.

How would a donor feel if they started volunteering, and received no acknowledgement of their history with your organization? Again, probably not so great.

This is one of reasons why separating your supporters into volunteers OR donors is a mistake. Does your volunteer manager know when one of their volunteers makes a donation? They should. Make sure these communication procedures are in place.

The ultimate goal is, of course, to make your all your supporters – volunteers, donors, and those who are both – feel like the amazing part of your organization that they are.

Featured FAQ: Can donors make recurring donations through our JustGive donation page?

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Question

Can donors make recurring donations through our JustGive donation page?

Answer

Yes, as long as you are using JustGive’s nonprofit services, your donors have the option to set up a monthly recurring donation to your organization.

How do recurring donations work?

Recurring donations, also known as monthly giving, are donations that are automatically processed on the first business day of each month. Donors are only required to enter their payment information once – upon set up of their recurring donation – which makes this an easy and convenient way for them to increase their impact on charity.

The option to give monthly allows you to break down your total ask, giving donors a practical alternative to a one-time gift that might feel out of reach for their budget (ex: $25/month instead of a one-time gift of $300). This allows them to contribute the same larger amount spread out over several months.

How do donors set up a recurring donation?

Donors can set up a recurring donation by visiting your custom donation page and following the steps below:

  1. Select the amount recurring-checkboxto give monthly
  2. Just below the amount, check the box that says “Make this a monthly recurring donation”
  3. Click Proceed To
    Checkout
    to get to the checkout screen and, under “Monthly Recurring Donations Terms”, select the month and year to begin the recurring donation
  4. Complete the donation

Note that donors are required to create an account on JustGive when they create a recurring donation so that, if needed, they can log in and modify their recurring donation at any time. Donors cannot indicate an end date for their recurring donation.

TIP: Make it even easier for your donors to give monthly by pre-checking the recurring donation box on the donation page for them with a custom donation button link.

When donors click the link, they will land on your donation page with the “Make this a monthly recurring donation” box already checked. Donors can easily uncheck this box if they do not want to make their donation recurring.

How do I track recurring donations to my organization?

When your organization collects donations through JustGive, we provide detailed reporting for each donation you receive. When you log in to your account and run your donation report you can see recurring donations marked with “Yes” in the Recurring column.

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Click to view larger

Monthly giving is an easy and convenient way for donors to make a difference throughout the year. In addition to providing reliable donation levels, monthly donors don’t need to receive regular appeals. This opens up communications to the real-life impact of their donations, keeping your donors connected and engaged.

-Amanda Chun
Account Development Manager

Don’t miss out on other helpful tips and tools: To automatically receive an email when we post more, subscribe to our Nonprofit Blog.

Turn engagement into donations

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We’ve already shown you how to customize your donation page to present a compelling message- check out 5 ways to customize your Donation Page for a refresher – but now take a look at how a donation button can help turn donor engagement into donations.

If there’s one important feature of all successful nonprofit fundraising campaigns, it’s effective donor engagement.  The simple truth is that donors support causes and organizations they feel connected to. As we discussed in our livestream with the Foundation Center, Doubling-Down on Virtual Engagement with Online Donation Platforms, online donation systems offer opportunities for increased engagement through social sharing and easier editing if something isn’t working. Additionally, as people spend more time online, it’s important to provide donors with the tools that allow them to make donations online.

How a donation button can help

Whether it’s Facebook, a website, or email, nearly all nonprofit organizations use at least one digital fundraising channel to tell their story and engage with supporters. By including  a free and easy-to-implement donation button like JustGive’s in these channels, you can provide direct access to your donation page while conserving your resources. This leaves more room in your budget for programs and other mission-based work.

Ways to use a donation button

Versatility is one of a donation button’s greatest assets. Justgive’s Donate Now button is customizable, easily integrates and allows you to maximize donor access to your donation page, setting your organization up to generate more one-time or monthly recurring donations.

  1. Include it on each page of your website – Your website messaging should be clear and compelling, letting donors know where they fit into this story. Once they’ve connected with your story, make it easy for them to show their support.
  2. Add it to your email signaturesignature-button
    – Adding a donation button directly to your email signature opens up the opportunity to engage with your organization and donate to anyone you’re in direct communication with. Whether it’s a previous donor, board member, potential volunteer, or friend, you never know who your next fundraiser or advocate will be.
  3. Include it in e-newsletters or other communications –  Even if it’s not your communication’s main call to action, providing donation access is crucial to increasing online donations. According to a recent M + R benchmark study, 27% of online donations are coming from email appeals.

To maximize the effectiveness of your online fundraising, add a Donate button to all of your virtual communications – the more opportunities a donor has to give, the more likely they are to give.

-Amanda Chun
Account Development Manager

Don’t miss out on other helpful tips and tools: To automatically receive an email when we post more, subscribe to our Nonprofit Blog.

Year in review: A look back at 2016

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Thanks to your support and dedication to making a difference, JustGive sent $32,494,501 to charity in 2016.

This year $6,828,513 was donated through a Donate Now button – up 13% since 2015. Other nonprofit accomplishments include:

  • a new payment report for nonprofits, making it easier to keep records and donor lists up-to-date by searching check numbers to find corresponding donation details
  • our very first webinar to introduce new nonprofits to our Donate Now button
  • newly designed Donate Now buttons:

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Our support from corporate partners remained strong with 45% of donations coming through social responsibility programs.

Take a look at some of the impact we made together in 2016.

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We look forward to continuing our important work with you and growing the world of giving for an even more impactful 2017!

Amanda Chun
Account Development Manager

Don’t miss out on other helpful tips and tools: To automatically receive an email when we post more, subscribe to our Nonprofit Blog.

Introducing our NEW “Donate Now” buttons

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Featuring quick, easy implementation, our “Donate Now” buttons are the perfect tool for last-minute year-end fundraising and beyond. With four different color schemes to choose from, our new donation buttons integrate seamlessly with your website and email communications designs.

Donate buttons

Download a “Donate Now” button to use on your website, in emails or in social media to generate more one-time or monthly recurring donations.

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How it works

  1. Right click on a button above and choose “Save Image As…” or “Save Target As…” to download the file to your computer.
  2. Add the image to your website through your site builder tool or your web-developer.
  3. Hyperlink the image with your unique donation page URL found on the Donate Buttons page of your JustGive account

Example:rebuilding

TIP: Want to customize your donation button for particular programs, amounts, or for recurring? Check out our blog that details how to add specific text to your donation button link. These customizations let you pre-populate fields when your donor arrives at your page.

Amanda Chun
Account Development Manager

Don’t miss out on other helpful tips and tools: To automatically receive an email when we post more, subscribe to our Nonprofit Blog.

Doubling-Down on Virtual Engagement: Livestream Highlights

Last week, our Director of Business Development, Andrea Lloyd, teamed up with Foundation Center to take a look at the relationship between online engagement and online donation systems in a nonprofit livestream: Doubling-Down on Virtual Engagement with Online Donation Platforms. With 2016 quickly coming to a close, now is the perfect time to learn how your organization can benefit from online engagement, storytelling, and specific asks to maximize year-end fundraising.

If you missed the session, you can view a recording of the livestream here: https://youtu.be/h1YIBlMSU7U

Livestream highlights:

Andrea shared her expertise and insight around online engagement to help increase donations and strengthen support for small nonprofits. She discussed the benefits of online donation systems like JustGive, strategies and recommendations for implementing donation tools virtually, and what works and what doesn’t when it comes to maximizing your efforts at year-end.

Why should organizations care about online giving and engagement?

As we’re on our devices more and more, getting in front of a donor at the right time and allowing them to make a donation online is important to create a connection to donors and increase engagement.

How do online engagement and online donation systems work together to benefit nonprofits?

Storytelling is an important part of engaging users and online is a great place to do it. Emails, blogs, social media, whichever medium works best for your donor base and your budget, that’s the right approach to take.

According to a recent Cone report, 48% of donors would give online if given the opportunity, so we have to give them an opportunity. Having a way to donate online is a crucial part of the process.

Of all the online engagement systems and how they work together, email is still #1. A recent M + R benchmark study shows that 27% of online donation care coming from email appeals. Emails are your bread and butter.

How do you suggest one incorporate online giving into a giving portfolio?

No matter what kind of engagement you’re doing, including the link to donate is essential. Email, newsletter, offline or online, make sure there’s a way to donate online. Having an easy-to-remember link to your donation page allows donors to donate anytime, anywhere, from any device.

We offer our nonprofits a shortcut url so it’s easy to share the link online and offline. Learn more about creating a shortcut url for your Donate button: Customize Your JustGive Donation Page Address

How do online giving campaigns compare to more traditional giving campaigns?

Online giving isn’t that much different than traditional direct mail but it’s easier to target the right audience and there is more opportunity through social sharing. It’s also easier to make a change if something isn’t working – modify the content or change your approach.

What are the elements for a successful online giving campaign?

There are four elements to a successful online giving campaign: setting a goal, telling your story, continuing to engage, and measuring success.goals

  1. Set a goal. You need to have a goal to develop your strategy.Be specific in what you’re trying to achieve.
    • Have end dates so you can analyze your success before taking the next step.
    • Create KPIs (key performance indicators) so you can measure success—% increase or # of new givers
    • Set realistic goals.
  1. Tell your story. Make your message clear and compelling. What is your vision, what are trying to achieve? Donors need to understand where they fit into this story.
  1. Continue to engage. Once a donor engages, whether through social media or by making a donation, this is where your work begins to make them a long-term, committed spokesperson.
  1. Measure success. The last element of a successful campaign is to measure your success and learn from your failures. This sets you up for your next campaign.

What are some strategies for increasing online engagement?

likeOnline engagement and donation systems work hand in hand for increasing virtual fundraising efforts. Converting a “like” into a donation is difficult. With so many social networking sites and few resources to spend on them, it’s important to know your audience, understand the social networks they consume and decide which ones fit into your fundraising goals.

Because it’s so hard to get traction with all the noise on social media, it’s important to have a clear message and strong call to action. And that call to action doesn’t always have to be to donate.

Social media should be a two-way conversation so try get a conversation going. Conversations both online and offline help generate word of mouth, the best kind of conversation. That’s how social connections grow.

Do you have strategies or recommendations for implementing online donation tools on nonprofit websites?

The #1 rule for increasing online donations is access. Make sure that every page on your site provides access to a Donate button. Make sure every email that goes out offers an option to donate, even if it’s not your direct call to action.

Final thoughts? 

This is a stressful time for nonprofits as they try to maximize end-of-the-year gifts before the end of the month. It’s important to ask for what you need not what you think donors will give or what they gave last year. Make your message compelling with a clear call to action—Donate.

Learn more about how to implement JustGive’s Donate button on our recent Webinar: An Introduction to JustGive’s Donate Now button

If you missed the session, you can view a recording of the livestream here: https://youtu.be/h1YIBlMSU7U

Amanda Chun
Account Development Manager

Don’t miss out on other helpful tips and tools: To automatically receive an email when we post more, subscribe to our Nonprofit Blog.

GreatNonprofits’ NEW Giving Basket

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About the author: Aimen Barma of GreatNonprofits, has more than 25 years experience in product management and marketing executive. She has served in CXO,VP or consulting roles for Fortune 500 brands and Innovative technology start ups, such as Microsoft, eBay, PayPal,and many others.

By now, you’ve fought the crowds on Black Friday and worked your fingers to the bone on Cyber Monday, sneakily ordering holiday presents while your boss wasn’t looking. But there are still others hoping to receive a gift from you, one that will enable them to continue their great work of improving people’s lives.

Since 2012, the giving season for nonprofits that runs through the holidays until the end of the year has officially kicked off on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—Giving Tuesday. Perhaps you were one of the donors whose generosity contributed to the $168 million raised this past Nov. 29, a 44 percent increase over last year’s Giving Tuesday total. But if you haven’t made your contributions yet—or you have and still want to do more—GreatNonprofits has worked hard to make your experience as easy as possible.

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Since 2008, GreatNonprofits has been the leading platform for community-sourced stories about nonprofits, stories submitted by those who know the nonprofit best—clients, donors, and volunteers. And our team of graphic designers and engineers are constantly striving to make the user experience as fun as possible.

And with that in mind we’ve recently launched a brand-new, more visually appealing page layout that’s sure to help a nonprofit’s profile capture attention. If a picture truly says a thousand words, then nonprofits will be able to tell a much more compelling story with the now-larger photos prominently displayed at the top of the profile.

Our reviews are also now in easy-to-read columns and displayed in their entirety—no longer just a snippet and needing to click a “read more” link to see the whole story. And it’s easy to start the process of leaving your own thoughts with the “Share Your Story” button at the top of the page.

These change are of course made with our ultimate goal in mind: To make sure that all the great nonprofits out there receive the attention—and donations—they deserve.

And on that note, we are proud to announce that we’ve streamlined the donation process with our new easy-to-use Giving Basket feature. After researching which organizations you’d like to contribute to, simply locate the large aqua blue “Donate” button conveniently located at the top of the page, as well as in the right nav. Upon clicking, you’ll see an overlay with the option to donate $25, $50, $100, $250, or “other.”

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Upon choosing the amount, simply click the “Add to Giving Basket” button to either give at that moment. . .

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. . . Or add additional nonprofits to your basket if you are feeling particularly generous that day!

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In the past, GreatNonprofits users would have to make a separate transaction for each nonprofit they wished to contribute to. But with the Giving Basket, you can donate to multiple organizations in one easy transaction!

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Thanks to the Giving Basket, making the world a better place has never been easier! It’s quick, efficient, and, best of all, simple to use, so log in right now and make this holiday season—and beyond­—a great one for your favorite organizations!

A look at our #GivingTuesday 2016

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Thanks to your hardwork, JustGive recorded a 64% increase in donations to our participating organizations this #GivingTuesday. The biggest increases were seen in donations coming through donation buttons. When compared to 2015:

  • Donation totals increased by 47%
  • Average donation amount increased by 72%

Our favorite highlight: an amazing 92% of donors chose to cover donation processing fees allowing us to pass through 99.4% to charity.

Here’s a glimpse of our nonprofits’ impact on #GivingTuesday 2016.

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Although #GivingTuesday is over, our work  is not done yet!  Engage past donors and turn new donors into long-term supporters by maintaining communication and asking them to give again before the year ends. Learn more about how JustGive can help.

– Amanda Chun
Account Development Manager

Don’t miss out on other helpful tips and tools: To automatically receive an email when we post more, subscribe to our Nonprofit Blog.

Offer your donors an additional way to give: Loyalty rewards points

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A look at how two of our corporate partners, PointWorthy and American Express, can help your donors turn loyalty rewards points into cash donations for your cause.

These days nearly every consumer earns rewards points through loyalty programs with their preferred credit card carriers, retailers, or hotel chains. If they’re anything like me, the majority of their points earned go to waste because the points go forgotten (oops) or expire before there’s a reason to redeem them. Luckily, PointWorthy and American Express offer charitable redemption options to make sure loyalty points never go unused again.

What is PointWorthy?pw-logo

PointWorthy’s website enables participants of select loyalty programs to redeem their rewards points for cash donations to charity. According to co-founder Mario Margolis, “PointWorthy was born from simple frustration: We’re successful technology entrepreneurs who had accumulated a lot of loyalty points and wanted to use the loyalty points we had stored to help fund different causes we believed in, but we couldn’t! Turns out there are $50 Billion worth of loyalty points distributed every year. Yet, even though close to 30% go unredeemed, there was no easy way to convert them to cash for any of the charities that we wanted to contribute to. Combining our social entrepreneurial zeal and the fact that consumers like to partner with socially responsible companies, we saw an opportunity to create a great business and to make the world better at the same time!”

How can this program benefit my organization?
Since 2014, over 4,000 nonprofits have benefited from donations through PointWorthy. By covering the processing costs with their loyalty provider partners, Citibank and Hilton, PointWorthy ensures 100% of each donation reaches the intended charity. This means that like the Fordney Foundation, who has received $4,000.00 in Citibank ThankYou points donations though the program, and Smile Train, who has raised $3,011.00, your organization can benefit from a new source of funding at no cost to you or your donors.

How do I get my organization involved?
If you’re an IRS approved 501(c)(3) organization that has maintained good standing for over 12 months, you’re already eligible to receive donations through PointWorthy. Simply follow the steps below to get started:

  1. Visit PointWorthy and use the search box at the top of the home page to find your organization
  2. Click on your organization’s name in the search results to view your donation page
    1. Note: Learn how you can update your page with custom text or images by contacting Poinworthy support
  3. Share the link to your donation page on your website and in donor communications to let them know they can use their Citibank ThankYou or Hilton HHonors points to donate to your organization

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Once a points donation is made to your organization, PointWorthy converts those points into dollars that are then disbursed by JustGive in the following month.

What is Members Give?

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Developed by American Express, Members Give provides American Express Cardmembers a convenient way to donate dollars or Membership Rewards Points to charity while providing nonprofits with a low-cost solution for accepting donations online. In partnership with GuideStar, Members Give offers donors a comprehensive charity list of over one million 501(c)(3) organizations in the United States to select from.

How can this program benefit my organization?
Similar to PointWorthy, there are no transaction fees on Membership Rewards points redemptions through Members Give providing the opportunity for an additional, cost-effective source of funding for your organization. Since signing up with Members Give and sharing their donation page with supporters, Food for the Poor has received 141 Membership Rewards points donations totaling $13,015.00.food-for-the-poor

Young Adult Institute, promoting their donation page with a Members Give banner, has received 2,000,000 points or $20,000.00 in donations since signing up.

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How do I get my organization involved?

Members Give uses the same nonprofit database that is maintained by GuideStar. If your 501(c)(3) organization is already listed in GuideStar, you are likely already in the Members Give database as well. To start collecting donations:

  1. Create an account on Members Give using your organization’s Employer Identification Number
  2. Once your account is created click “Collect Donations Online” in the Manage Nonprofit Account box on the right-hand side of the page
  3. Follow the steps listed to retrieve your donation page url and add a donation banner to your website, email campaigns, and other communications to make it easy for your supporters to donate

For a donation of Membership Rewards points there is a waiting period of 6-8 weeks, as the points are processed and converted into a dollar amount, before a check is mailed to your organization.

Offering easy implementation and proven results, PointWorthy and Members Give programs are a simple and cost-effective way to bring in additional funding to your organization. Visit PointWorthy and Members Give to sign up and start receiving loyalty rewards points donations today.

– Amanda Chun
Account Development Manager

Don’t miss out on other helpful tips and tools: To automatically receive an email when we post more, subscribe to our Nonprofit Blog.