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

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.

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.

Are you taking advantage of JustGive’s free nonprofit services?

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Increase online giving, support your mission and increase donor outreach with our free, self-service donation services.

Through your free nonprofit account at www.justgive.org/nonprofits, you have immediate access to a Donate Now button, a mobile-optimized customizable donation page, secure donation processing, and a simple online experience for your donors.

What makes JustGive’s Donate Now button different?

We provide a cost-effective way to collect online donations that includes free sign up, no monthly or annual fees and a low 4.5% processing fee. Since JustGive waives the $0.35 flat charge for each donation made from your Donate Now button, you automatically save when donors give through the button.

What are the key features of the Donate Now button and how can my organization benefit from it?

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  • Branding and personalized messaging – Add your logo and personal message on your page, giving your supporters a smooth user experience as they transition from your website.
  • Support for monthly recurring donations – Make it easy for donors to increase their impact with monthly giving while only providing their payment information once.
  • Custom donation amounts and program impact statements – Connect donors to your organization’s needs by providing custom donation amounts and program impact statements on your donation page. In our 15+ years of online giving, we’ve found this is key to securing funding.
  • Donor paid fees – Let your donors cover the processing fees and receive 100% of their intended donations. When this option is given, over 80% of donors opt to cover the fees.

How do I get started?

  1. Log in to or create your Nonprofit Resources account – be sure to subscribe to our nonprofit newsletter to stay up-to-date on news and trends.capture
  2. Select the Edit Your Donation Page link to easily update your custom donation page with your organization’s logo, custom donation amounts and more (Check out 5 ways to customize your Donation Page.)
  3. Click the Donate Buttons link to add the Donate Now button to your website, email signature, e-newsletters and social media campaigns and start collecting online contributions today!

– Amanda Chun
Account Development Manager

 

JustGive’s 15 Years of Philanthropy

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It’s JustGive’s 15-year anniversary! As the year of celebration starts, Founder Kendall Webb took time to talk about how JustGive got started, and reflect on accomplishments.

Q: You started JustGive as a nonprofit when others said it couldn’t be done.  Tell me about that.
Akendall: We started JustGive to create a single technology platform so all nonprofitssmall and large—could have equal access and outreach at a low cost. We thought it was important to operate as a nonprofit to maintain a single mission and build trust. But everyone in the Internet sector literally said we couldn’t do this because of the cost of technology. I didn’t want to “take the poor public” so I found a way. I got the community involved, asking for every kind of support. It was the early Internet days and we had a lot of companies who believed in us and helped by contributing their contacts, money and pro bono services. That made it less expensive for us to launch, and we got high quality services for free.

Q: How has JustGive kept going when it got tough and continued to make things happen?
A:
We’ve sustained ourselves during market crashes and are better suited to do this because we’re a nonprofit. We have more channels of support and capital that are not available to for-profit companies, and there’s no venture capital investment to overextend or distract us.

We’re not doing this for a quick expansion or to go public and make money. Our single goal and focus is to increase giving and we’re 100% guided by our mission.

Our founding team in 2000—Lynda Greenberg, Orla McKiernan, Claire Bowen, Kristin Kennedy, Kay Kirman, Doug Abrams, Kendall Webb, Kirsten Johnson, Jen Chapin

Our founding team in 2000—Lynda Greenberg, Orla McKiernan, Claire Bowen, Kristin Kennedy, Kay Kirman, Doug Abrams, Kendall Webb, Kirsten Johnson, Jen Chapin

Q: In the first five years, JustGive sent $37 million to charity. At 10 years, it was $130 million, and today, it’s more than $450 million. What are the driving forces behind growth?
A: Two key things. One: At first, individual donors were scared to give online. Over the years, they’ve become more comfortable with the Internet, know it’s safe and trust the process. It’s commonplace now and we’re a trusted brand in the sector.  Our products are not just a nice option for online giving—we make giving easier and provide something donors need.

Two: We’ve leveraged our growth through corporate partnerships that help us expand our products and connect with a much bigger audience. Companies are in a great position to offer charitable programs, extending our reach.

Q: Over the years, JustGive has launched a lot of new products, including charity fundraising registries, charity gift cards, rewards points for charity, and more. What new giving are you most proud of?
A: All new giving excites me, because it increases philanthropy.  But I’d have to say I’m most proud of charitable redemption points because it’s a big channel of fundraising that we identified, developed and operated before others did. Individuals and companies were accumulating huge volumes of rewards points, and CEOs felt torn about what to do with this build up of points. We gave them a solution. This got companies to think about their philanthropy more—outside of their foundations—and was a launching pad for corporate social responsibility. Redeeming rewards points for charity helped them connect philanthropy to their products and location, and give back in local communities. That kind of new giving shows JustGive’s uniqueness and creativity from start to finish—and our overall impact.

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JustGive’s 15 Year Timeline

Q: Did you envision JustGive would be what it is today?
A: We’re much bigger in scope than I thought we’d be. It’s been exciting to grow beyond direct, 1-person-to-1-charity donations (where we started) to fundraising, charity gifts, corporate giving and social responsibility programs. I’m thrilled to see how charity has penetrated into so many parts of life, and how multiple products are used in so many different ways!

Q: What other JustGive accomplishments are you proud of in the past 15 years?
A: I’m proud of all the unique channels of giving we’ve built. Like working with Monster.com to use $1 million of charity gift cards as a trade show giveaway. And expanding the definition of a benefit concert with The Dave Matthews Band by letting fans choose the charities to receive money.

2014 Year In Review

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I’m proud of the level of respect and integrity JustGive has built as a trusted leader for companies, nonprofits and donors. I know we’ve earned this through hard work and staying true to our mission.

And I’m incredibly proud of our longevity. Withstanding all the changes in the stock market (2 crashes and recession) and in the charitable market is amazing. It’s strengthened who we are.

I’m proud of our prominent national exposure—from TV mentions on PBS NewsHour and CBS News, to articles in the New York Times, USA Today, and Huffington Post.  Not to mention being recognized as one of the best of the web by Forbes.

I am most proud of our team. Their passion has fueled our growth, and the impact we’ve had on a limited budget is mind blowing. That’s because our team is creative and really believes in what we’re doing.

Q: What are the most important changes you’ve seen in philanthropy in the last 15 years?
A:

  1. The Internet has become a common channel for giving, and it’s given small organizations a louder voice.
  2. Young people are more involved in giving at a younger age. They consider philanthropy part of what they do, who they are, and what they expect from a company where they work.
  3. There’s been a huge increase in peer-to-peer giving, crowdfunding and the social side of giving.
  4. Corporate social responsibility has grown tremendously. Companies used to manage giving through their foundations, and philanthropy was about giving for branding reasons. Now it’s an important way to be good corporate citizens, and they’re becoming more proactive, with strong and directed giving.

Q: What would you like to see companies do to make more of a difference for philanthropy?
A:
I’d like to see more companies invest in the business value of charity – including it in their budget so it’s not funding they have to “find.” I’d also like to see them integrate charity into their large gift giving funds for holidays, incentives and loyalty rewards. And overall, to continue to be open minded and consider more creative ways to make charity an integral part of their business.

Q: Where are your personal hopes for JustGive in the years ahead?
A:
My hope is that JustGive continues to be a leading force for philanthropy, generating new pools of capital for the nonprofit sector.

Q: If there was one message you could get out in the world about charitable giving: What would that be?
philA:
Make giving a part of your everyday life. I’m not just talking about giving money, but about volunteering your time, and helping out in your community or doing something for someone in need. Giving isn’t isolated to a charity. It’s something we can all do every day with little moments of helping make things better for a person, a community, and ultimately the world. These small acts of kindness become contagious, spreading goodness that can make a difference.

– Candy Culver
Marketing Consultant