NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT

Nonprofit Communications Plan: How-To Identify an Audience and Create an Avatar

MADISON GONZALEZ | May 25, 2021

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Any experienced marketer would tell you that understanding one’s audience is key to success in communication. When creating a strategic communications plan, it is important to identify your goals for each particular communications effort. After you identify the goals and objectives of your communication efforts, you can identify an audience. Brainstorm different groups of people you hope to reach that can help you accomplish your organization’s objectives. Each goal may have several different audiences in which you want to communicate to.

When you identify your audience, it will help you decide how to tailor your message to make it relatable to them. Your audience should feel as though your content was written directly to them, which is where constructing an avatar – or ideal customer – comes into play. We will talk more about avatars in just a moment.

Spotlight

A Big Heart Foundation, Inc.

A Big Heart Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization created to support charitable events in the Charlotte, NC and surrounding area where all proceeds go to various children's funds. A Big Heart Foundation, Inc. Board consists of a variety of business leaders and decision-makers among prominent companies in the Charlotte area.

OTHER ARTICLES
NONPROFIT TECHNOLOGY

Prioritizing Money Builds Fake Donor Relationships

Article | December 21, 2021

The relationship costs too much money, so I will save money and not pursue it. And the result of that decision is disastrous. Relationships take time. You know that. Your boss knows it. But we ignore time because that is how we have set up things. There is a budget to manage. A forecast to make. So, we go for the fake relationship. One where we pretend to care, but only if we get the money. We do that — not because we believe it’s the right thing to do but — because we can’t see any other way to deliver on expectations. And that is the dilemma in major gifts. The push is for instant gratification. We are dealing with a situation right now where the authority figure does not value relationships. She says she does. She even claims to have a value set that cherishes relationships. But the money is the real value. And the need to grab it is the central drive. So, she is pushing on her major gift officers (MGOs) to get the money and is even threatening to do away with the major gifts program because it is not delivering. But when we uncover what “not delivering” means in her view, it is not that each MGO is not producing revenue from the same donors over and above last year. Nope. It is that each isn’t producing enough revenue quickly enough. The real story in this organization is that some of the other fundraising programs are not performing, and major gifts needs to be the scapegoat. It’s all about the money. This is so sad because these are good people — all of them, including the authority figure. It is sad because the plan to move major gifts into real relationships is facing failure. And that bothers Jeff and me — not because it’s our plan for the organization. No, it bothers us because there are good MGOs and good donors who must revert back to a fake relationship. And that is not good. One of our major objectives is to influence fundraisers and nonprofit leaders to highly value and respect donors. When we succeed at that, and we do, more often than not, it brings donors, MGOs and leaders a tremendous amount of joy and satisfaction. And, it brings the money. You should see the celebration! But when money is valued over relationship, it is a dark and depressing time for us. That is why the situation I described earlier is so disturbing. It’s not that we are going to lose something. No, that is not it. It’s that some very good MGOs and some very good donors will be forced to live in superficiality and shallowness. And that is not good for anyone. And it certainly is not good for the economic well-being of the nonprofit. Make a commitment today to real relationships with your donors. And if your organization does not support that, try to influence it to change. If the organization will not change, move on. You have a choice.

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Why Protecting Donor Data Is No Longer Optional

Article | December 17, 2021

Data is the new currency boosted by artificial intelligence and the pandemic — obviously impacting society in small and significant ways, such as with immense data collection. It's an asset that we all have (our information), and it's precious to governments, corporations and, yes, nonprofits. But not everyone is using data wisely (e.g., safeguarding it), and some are taking advantage of this opportunity. As a result, data gets compromised and put at risk of being stolen or misused, including by nonprofits who haven't invested in cybersecurity. In short, we've reached a moment where the privacy lights are blinking red, and nonprofits must invest in cybersecurity. Protecting donor data is no longer just something nice to do. It's essential, and donors will move away (as well they should) from nonprofits that don't protect their information by having transparent and clear data policies. To put this in perspective, think of companies like Facebook and Google. They know your full name, location, interests and more about you (and your donors) than you might think. These large corporations also know everything about what you do online: where you've been online and who you've chatted with (and when). Inevitably, nonprofits are getting on the data bandwagon to better target and predict how and when donors will give. And while a growing number of tech companies provide fundraisers with much better insights and abilities to raise more money with the use of data, we need to ensure there's a balance. Moreover, nonprofit leaders must know what's involved in obtaining and securing donor data. Data Is the New Gold Data is a commodity for all organizations, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits. About 97 zettabytes of data exist now, and by 2025, it will nearly double, which is astounding. And we're in a time when you have to use data information to grow and sustain your organization to compete and stay afloat. In other words, it's not an option. However, it’s vital to internalize the message that data is the new gold in the digital era, and it needs to be protected. In other words, cybersecurity is critical. First, the world had the GDPR, which affected U.S.-based companies and nonprofits. Then California created a privacy law, Virginia, and recently Colorado, with other states following. Protect Your Data From Corporate Invasion We need to understand where and how it gets collected to protect everyone's data. In other words, nonprofit leaders don't get a pass on the fact they can't understand technology. No one's saying you have to learn how to code, but you do need to understand the implications of the data your organization collects. For instance, your marketing team probably has Google Analytics set up. As a leader, you need to understand what information gets collected because sooner or later, your donors will ask you. You should understand if and how your web presence collects data, such as the location, operating system, browser type and more from those who visit your site. You should realize that nonprofits, and probably your own, use that information to cater ads and increase conversions on their sites. For example, suppose a donor visited a New York City education nonprofit’s website last week, and now the same donor visits a nonprofit school in Boston. In this case, the one in Boston will know that visitor is highly interested in education since it’ll recognize the browser the visitor used. Even with the most basic tracking and data collection, the chances are that your organization collects this information by using something called "cookies," which store information on a computer or mobile device when someone browses certain websites. Google has an advertising network where advertisers can place ads related to what Google thinks you're interested in — based on things like what websites a person visited or what YouTube videos they watched. Advertisers, including nonprofits, pay Google every time someone clicks on their ads. Google also uses cookies to track browsing habits to show these targeted ads across different devices (e.g., computers, tablets, phones). Although the use of cookies is evolving, the point is that donors know this. Do you? Stop Corporations From Tracking You and Your Donors If you want to keep data safe on the internet, it's vital to curb certain behaviors. First and foremost, realize that the information captured on social media and the engagement from your followers gets transmitted to Google and Facebook, for instance, which, in turn, sells all of it. Second, think about the tools you're using online to engage with donors. For instance, do you want the Facebook Messenger service or chatbots communicating with your donors and collecting their data? It's essential to inform and obtain consent from your donors on how you collect and use their data and make them aware that things aren’t so simple with social platforms, for instance. Use Services That Don't Collect Unnecessary Data One way to safeguard nonprofit communication data is by using services that don't collect any information. For instance, instead of using SMS texts to communicate with your donors, how about using encrypted platforms, such as Signal? Be careful with WhatsApp, as Facebook owns that one. Sure, these services may be a bit more of an inconvenience, but they don't collect personal information, which donors will appreciate. Beware of Free Services and Applications In the digital age, nearly everything has a price. Platforms like Facebook and Google offer you a "free" service in exchange for information. As the saying goes, if you're not paying for it, then you and the data are the product. It means that when you use these services, they give your nonprofit data to advertisers — for a fee from which you do not benefit — to make money off of your donor data and information. Conversely, nonprofits need the data to reach and better interact with donors in the digital age. Therefore, it's a careful balancing act of not taking data for granted and being mindful of the services you use and why. Data as a Premium Commodity Data is undeniably a more sought-after commodity. In fact, it’s now a highly precious and premium commodity. Companies currently spend billions of dollars on data mining and analysis. This happens by using "data brokers" that collect information from public records, surveys, and other databases and then combine them to create detailed reports about people's lives. However, nonprofits should realize the ethical difficulty they face and work with vendors and providers emphasizing ethics and security. Moreover, nonprofits can't stick their collective heads in the sand, and speak honestly and openly with donors about their data. In sum, we need to take data protection seriously: to protect ourselves and donors from abuse, extortion or identity theft!

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FUNDRAISING

Make Every Fundraising Day Count in December

Article | December 17, 2021

I do not know about you, but I am now in a full-blown fundraising sprint to the end of the year! I am multi-tasking. Yesterday, I arrived in the office at 7 a.m. and the day did not end until I arrived home at 7:30 p.m. There is not a minute to lose. Beyond many job-related tasks, I spent time identifying, cultivating, stewarding, and especially soliciting individuals, corporations, foundations, associations, and organizations. I also volunteered last week to help three organizations in their end of year fundraising activities. When you work in the world of social services, all you think about, especially in December, are the needs of others. Why should nonprofits sprint to the end of the year at this time on the calendar? According to Neon One, there are major year-end giving statistics that show how powerful December is each year. One-third of annual giving occurs in December; 12% of all giving occurs in the last three days of the year; more than 53% of nonprofits plan their year-end appeal in October; November and December collectively represent 77% of the most popular months for making year-end asks; and 28% of nonprofits raise up to 50% of their annual fund from their year-end ask. In addition, two-thirds of people who make donations do not research before giving; 80% of volunteers also donate to their organization; 60% of nonprofits make up to three touches for their year-end campaign; and direct mail is the most popular medium for year-end asks, followed by email, website, and in-person asks. The Allegiance Group noted that there are essential things your nonprofit should do at the end of the year. These include holding an annual meeting, electing officers and directors, preparing financial reports, approving next year’s budget, filing IRS Form 990, filing your Secretary of State Annual Report, maintaining a registered agent, obtaining or renewing charitable solicitation licenses, reviewing solicitations and donor receipts, and updating your files and records. Strive to assess and make plans for the new year. Critique your operational results and strive to improve your operational model. The Tapp Network published five fundraising benchmarks every nonprofit should know to double December donations. These benchmarks include 30% of fundraising occurs in December, 10% of all online fundraising occurs in the last three days of the year, 30% of donation page traffic occurs around Giving Tuesday and early December, and 200% more donations are raised by mobile-responsive as opposed to non-mobile websites. Also, 52% higher donation values are attributed to December than any other time of the year. Be prepared for the December rush by building email lists and social media support now. Upgrade your sites to be mobile responsive and donation collective during December. Send reminder emails during the last week of December and continue to ask for financial support via social media. For a Good Cause noted that for December fundraising efforts, which heighten a spirit of generosity, create a year-end customized donation page on your website. Double check that your website is optimized for mobile, so your page is user friendly. Brand your campaign, tweet about the campaign, and link the donation page to your Instagram bio. Because New Year’s Eve is the biggest day of the year for nonprofits, send out multiple appeals that day using all social media channels. Create a fundraising thermometer on your website and keep it up to date. Do not forget to thank your donors by telling them what they accomplished by giving your organization money. Use December as a time to utilize creative Christmas fundraising ideas. An article by Donor Box provides you with wonderful possibilities in this regard. An estimated 43% of higher income donors (households earning more than $200,000 annually), donate more during the holidays. Key December Ideas shared by Donor Box include the following: Create a matching gift program. Establish a gift-wrapping party to engage volunteers. Create a soup party for volunteers, wrapped around a donor thank-you call event. Hold an ugly sweater party where participants pay to enter. Hold a polar plunge for your nonprofit. Host a holiday gala dinner. Establish a Christmas-themed fundraising day. Invite donors to have a Christmas cookie bake-off. Have a story telling campaign on social media. Have volunteers create homemade Christmas cards. Host a letter to Santa event. Create a donate page on your website. An article by National Giving Month noted that if 10,000 signatures from people who believe in charity are sent to U.S. Senators, Congressman, and the White House, a legislative resolution will be offered proclaiming December as National Giving Month. Last year, Americans gave $410.2B to charity, breaking all previous records. Our generosity demonstrates that even in divisive times, our commitment to charity is secure. So far, 10,194 supporters have signed the proclamation and counting. There are three weeks left in 2021. It is never too late to try something new. See where you are in your fundraising goals. Engage your staff, administration, volunteers, friends and organizational family to help your organization sprint to the fundraising end of year. Everyone needs to own their responsibility for fundraising success, and it starts with your CEO. The sands of the hourglass are continuing to fall. Use whatever motivates your prospects to give, including tax incentives, recognition, personal satisfaction, feelings of joy through giving, and sharing of organizational stories. You will have time for a brief breather next year. December is not the time to pull back your energy and efforts. Most people are in the spirit of giving now and you need to tap their brief feeling for total success to occur. Do not waste one second of your time on activities that do not produce solid ROI (return on investment). Make every fundraising day count in December. It will be gone before you know it.

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5 Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Resources for a Winning Strategy

Article | February 12, 2020

In the age where you can watch a movie on your phone and answer the phone on your watch, convenience is the name of the game. To provide a flexible fundraising experience for the modern donor, your nonprofit can leverage peer-to-peer fundraising. Whether you hold a DIY campaign year-round or host time-based campaigns for specific programs, peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are successful in part, because fundraisers choose how they raise money for your mission.

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Spotlight

A Big Heart Foundation, Inc.

A Big Heart Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization created to support charitable events in the Charlotte, NC and surrounding area where all proceeds go to various children's funds. A Big Heart Foundation, Inc. Board consists of a variety of business leaders and decision-makers among prominent companies in the Charlotte area.

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