Blog.

Join our online community for fundraising tips and to hear our clients’ success stories.

Intern Spotlight – Rebecca Rowland

Meet Rebecca Rowland! Rebecca is a senior at Western Michigan University, graduating this summer. Rebecca is majoring in Organizational Communication and minoring in Event Management and Psychology.

 

My expectations coming into this internship were pretty high. I was going to be able to work with multiple organizations to help them with communications, marketing, fundraising, events, and campaigns. I did just that and more. Being able to use skills I have learned in school in an actual work environment was definitely a highlight. The staff at Kennari is truly a team; they all have roles that intermingle and personalities that work so well with one another. I felt so welcomed and learned so much from each of them. I also enjoyed working with so many different client organizations. From working on campaigns to helping with sponsorships and events, I really learned so much about the work and planning that goes into running and funding a nonprofit. 

The best experience I had at Kennari was being able to be a part of their client roundtables. Each month, one or two of their consultants would pick a topic that they are an expert in. They then would hold a meeting for all of their clients to attend and learn more about that topic. Some of the roundtables I participated in covered how to engage board members and fundraising volunteers, mobile and text giving, and corporate sponsorships. I felt like I was getting an upper hand in the field because I was able to learn about these topics along with our clients. I want to thank Kennari for giving me this opportunity and teaching me so much!

 

Rebecca was a wonderful addition to our team this semester! She was willing to take on any project, big or small, and produce results that exceeded expectations. Our team and our clients benefited from her positive attitude, eagerness to learn, and quality output. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Rebecca!

To learn more about Kennari Consulting’s internship program, check out our careers page.

Engaging your Board and Fundraising Volunteers

Connecting your volunteers to your organizational needs and goals is important work; volunteers, including the board, are a key to significantly increasing your fundraising outcomes. However, keeping your volunteers engaged and feeling like they are making a meaningful contribution can be challenging.

Effective volunteer engagement cannot happen without the right support structure in place. Meeting structure, technology, administrative support and follow up are key foundational pieces that need to be in place to inspire the most engagement. Other key components of volunteer engagement in fundraising include advocating for your organization, providing guidance, establishing connection of your organization with potential supporters, and raising money. Understanding the role of fundraising volunteers is crucial to utilizing them towards to achieve organizational goals.

The Four Roles of Fundraising Volunteers
Donor Intelligence: Nonprofits need to know the community of donors well to grow their donor base. Volunteers can help the organization learn more about their existing donors and provide input on donor prospects. The more detail about preferences, connections, and history the board and other volunteers can provide, the better a nonprofit is able to treat the donors like the individuals that they are.

Inviting the Donors: We all are drawn to organizations that someone we know introduced to us. Based on what is known about donors and donor prospects, volunteers can invite them to the appropriate events or cultivation activities. This can include luncheons, galas, tours, and also donor specific events designed to further engage them in the mission like one-on-one coffee get togethers or house parties.

Thanking the Donors: Adding personalized thank yous to your stewardship process is a simple but very effective way to cultivate donor relations and to increase their giving. Volunteers can play an important role by making thank you calls or sending personal notes to donors who have made significant gifts or attended events.

Asking for Gifts: Asks made by a volunteer are sometimes the most effective! There may be times when a volunteer is the best person to make an ask, either for sponsorship of an event or in a face-to-face setting. Sometimes, even having a volunteer in the room while the ask is made can make the difference needed to secure the gift.

Getting the Most Out of Meetings
When meeting with your volunteers, include opportunities to engage volunteers by sharing successes or inspiring stories that relate to your organization or board in some way. That being said – only have meetings together when there is news to share or work to do! Prepare for the meeting so that it includes a variety of speakers, and make sure you have time to follow up with those who were unable to attend (or encourage other attending volunteers to help with contacting non-attendees!)

Structure for Success
Your fundraising volunteers, board members, and committees must have a clear structure in place for them to be successful. Setting clear goals for the group and for each volunteer will make sure everyone knows their role. If they feel as if they can no longer serve on a committee, listen to them and try to find another way to engage them in a way they can continue their support. Most of all… when it comes to interacting with your volunteers, don’t forget to have some fun and celebrate your achievements together!

Mobile and Text Giving

In today’s fundraising landscape, mobile or text giving is no longer avoidable. In 2020, mid-size nonprofits saw a 25% increase in online giving, and 28% of contributions were made through a mobile device, so it’s time provide your donors with the proper tools to make their gifts easily.

Did you know that 98% of all text messages are read, and 90% are read within 3 minutes of being received? Adding options like QR codes or mobile giving by text messaging to your already existing toolbox of fundraising options, will not only simplify your donors giving experience, but will also give an added benefit of being seen quickly. To adjust to this new way of fundraising there are multiple resources and platforms available to help get you started.

When should I use a mobile giving option?

  • Fundraising Events – offering a mobile giving option is most beneficial when repeatedly displayed and viewed by donors throughout the event by providing constant reminder to donate by scanning a code or texting a number.
  • Appeals or Giving Campaigns – provide your mobile giving option on a reply device or letter for donors to make a quick gift from their mobile device.
  • Specific Tangible Needs – If you are communicating with your donors by text message, it’s easy and convenient to notify them of a specific need. For example, “text MASKUP to 12345 to make a gift that provides masks to our volunteers”.
  • Monthly Donor Acquisition, or Bonus Donor Acknowledgement – Communicate with a new or existing donor by text message to direct the donor to a video on your webpage that includes a testimonial of a monthly donor. Send to people who have donated in the last 6-8 weeks as a reminder that monthly giving is an option, OR as an added thank you – because an extra thank you is never a bad idea!

What are my options for mobile giving?

  • QR Codes – These are free scannable codes that are easy to print on newsletters, event handouts, signage, etc. When scanning the code, the URL you link to the code will come up on the users device, taking the person who scans it to your donation page or any other link you want to be easily accessed.
  • Text to Donate – Your organization designates a specific keyword that is sent by text message to a specific number and the auto-text response will have a link to donate to your organization. This works especially well in live situations when your donors are captive and are ready to make a gift. There are several providers like Qgiv, Simple Texting, or GiveLively that offer this service.
  • Text to Give – Another form of text giving through keywords, but it is limited to a specific dollar amount of $5, $10, or $25. The donation flows through the donor’s mobile carrier bill and is then sent to your organization some time later. This is a popular method for crisis fundraising, however, it does have a lower rate of actual gifts received because the charges can often be dropped off mobile bills before they reach the intended organization. You also are unable to collect any contact information for the donor aside from the cell phone number unless you engage in a more detailed mobile communication strategy.

What platforms are recommended for mobile giving?

  • Qgiv – Multiple options and packages are available for online fundraising, including donation pages, mobile giving, events, peer to peer fundraising, etc. allowing your organization to choose the package that fits your needs. No long-term commitment is needed, but the quarterly discount is an added bonus to allow some time to familiarize yourself with the products offered.
  • SimpleTexting – A platform to create keywords for text communication with donors. The text response typically contains your own link that you choose for donations or any other purpose. Cost is affordable and based on the number of outgoing messages sent.
  • GiveLively — A donation platform that has no cost outside of credit card processing fee. Multiple packages are available with options that include donation pages, mobile giving, peer to peer giving, etc. It is user friendly and allows the ability to customize to send content of your choice.

How do these platforms work with our existing database?

  • When using QR codes or SimpleTexting, donors are usually directed to the online form you choose. If that form is integrated with your database, it is an easy transfer of data in the method you’re familiar with using.
  • Qgiv and GiveLively use their own donation merchant accounts and forms, thus requiring manual entry or importing of data. Qgiv does have some templates available for downloading convenience, depending on the donor software.

Mobile and text giving is an easy way to engage donors and spread awareness for your organization. By adding these simple tools to your preexisting events or fundraising efforts, your giving and captured donor information will increase! For more information or have any questions please reach out to us; we are happy to help.

Tracking Fundraising Outcomes

For a variety of reasons, many organizations do not have a good, consistent fundraising reports that they regularly pull and use. There are also not one-size-fits-all reports that work perfectly at every organization. Identifying what is important to share, making sure data can be easily and consistently pulled from the database, and then committing the time to this process is essential.

There are two many categories of reports that are important to regularly review:

  1. External, high-level reports for leadership
  2. Internal, detailed reports for the development team
    While there generally is some overlap, each category has a different purpose and so the reports within that should also have different information.

External Reports to Inform Leadership
Your Leadership team might include your executive director, executive leadership team, board, and perhaps even a donor development committee. External reports are meant to inform these groups. They serve to celebrate successes and help to identify where change might be needed. It is important to keep this report in a simple and consistent format, especially if you are not sharing any reports with the board at this point. There are a few different options as far as format and what type of data to share but pick one and stick with it! Whoever presents this data to leadership needs to fully understand it and be able to answer questions about it.
Finance reports are important and should be reconciled with when pulling fundraising reports. But they should not be shared in place of fundraising reports. There are different ways to classify things and a different level of detail required in both systems. If the only report leadership is seeing is about cash in the bank, it becomes difficult to get organizational buy-in and a discussion around other important but not dollar related fundraising goals.

Internal Reports to Inform the Development Team
There are helpful reports to pull in order to inform fundraising goals and planning each year. It is important for development staff to look at a variety of metrics, and more data and detail than is shared with leadership. When planning, use at least three years of comparison to inform your development plan. Giving by Donor Type: Between individuals, businesses, and foundations, recording the number of dollars per category, per year.

• Giving by Gift Type: How many gifts to you get by check, credit card, online, securities, in-kind, or other?
• Major Donor Metrics: How many new major donors are you getting each year? How many major donors increased their giving this year over last? What dollar figure comes from major donors each year?
• Acquisition Metrics: How many new donors are you getting each year? What are those appeals that acquire the most new donors each year?
• Retention Metrics: What is your overall donor retention rate? What is your retention rate for new donors? What appeals have the best and worst retention?
• Lapsed Donor Data: Where and when are we losing donors? Can you put a structure in place to look at donors 3 months ahead of time and try to capture them before the lapse? How are we engaging with event donors who didn’t attend an event?
• Event Data: What are the amounts raised in each segment of your event (sponsorships, ticket sales, donations, donations from those who cannot attend). What are your expenses and what’s the overall net?
• Gift Metrics: What are your most common gift amounts, particularly in direct mail/online giving? Look at your “check boxes” both in hard copy and online and consider changing those to allow donors to more naturally upgrade their giving.

Having a few consistent reports that are regularly reviewed can not only help keep everyone on the same page, but it can help inform strategies and focus on the right priorities. If you need a sample or just don’t know where to start, please reach out! We are happy to help.

Innovation, Flexibilty and Strength: Creative solutions in 2020 and encouragement for 2021

Last year, we urged our friends and partners in the nonprofit community to Keep Calm and Keep Moving. While we are not completely past the challenges we faced in 2020, we wanted to take a moment to recognize the incredible tenacity shown during this unprecedented time. While there are dozens of examples of innovation and creativity to point to, the following are a few highlights of how our clients adapted their programs and services this past year.

Driveway Cabaret, Civic Theatre – As they say in the theater, the show must go on! And this was certainly true for Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, who reimagined the way they brought performing arts to the community after having to cancel most of their season. With Driveway Cabaret, actors brought the show to lawns and driveways across the city, delivering short productions at each stop before moving to the next home. This initiative was incredibly well received with the Theatre hosting over 100 outdoor performances. This clever adaptation kept the spirit of the theater alive at a difficult time for the community and provided a critical source of revenue while the theater was closed.

Farmworker Safety Kits, Migrant Legal Aid – Migrant Legal Aid is a trusted community resource for migrant farmworkers seeking legal justice, and last year, MLA’s work adapted to the needs of farmworkers who have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. More than 5,000 safety kits were distributed to area farmworkers and their families with information about COVID safety measures, reusable masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves. MLA’s outreach ensured reliable supplies and information reached this vulnerable population that often faces increased barriers to accessing preventative and emergent health care.

Supporting Student Learning, Numerous Organizations – Students throughout the community faced many new challenges this year with virtual learning taking place for at least part of the year at most area schools. For many families, supporting students at home was a significant challenge. Across West Michigan, numerous organizations stepped up to provide additional resources and support to students and families. In Grand Rapids, the Boys and Girls Club’s Learning Assistance Program offered a physical space for students to participate in online learning, with access to technology, academic assistance, extracurricular activities, and meals. On the lakeshore, Read Muskegon partnered with other area agencies to develop the Muskegon Heights Hope Center, a drop-in learning center for families in transient living situations or without the technology to complete online learning. In addition to supporting learners, the center also provided family literacy programming, meals, and connection to social support services.

As we move into the new year, there is still some level of uncertainty impacting not only the ways organizations offer programs and services that are core to their mission, but also how they approach fundraising. With each of the clients we work with, we are continuing to evaluate the best ways to communicate with donors, plan events, and prioritize fundraising needs for 2021 based on the trends we are seeing across the entire sector. As you make your fundraising plan for the year ahead, here are some of the key things to keep in mind.

  • Continue to be flexible and adapt – Last year required new approaches to fundraising, and while we are slowly returning to “normal,” we must remain flexible and develop plans that can be adapted as needed. Events planned for 2021 – even those slated for the fall – should take into consideration that even when larger in-person gatherings are allowed, donor behaviors may take time to shift back. Not only should virtual options continue to be offered, but it may be a good time to reconsider or reimagine long standing events. Technology has enabled us to connect with individual donors in new ways, some of which can and should continue.
  • Your donors still want to hear what you need – One of the most encouraging trends from last year was how donors stepped up to support the organizations they care about. While giving early in the pandemic was focused on basic needs delivery and health care services, many organizations we work with across the sector continued to see strong fundraising results later in the year, with many even seeing growth over 2019. In part, this was due to strategic communications that clearly indicated what the organization needed. Donors recognize that it will take some time for nonprofits to recover from 2020 – continue to share how you are adapting and what additional resources are required to do that, while also making sure to keep the focus on the future.
  • Continue to broaden and diversify your network – The pandemic has not affected all parts of the community – or all donors – uniformly. Organizations with diverse networks are better positioned to weather times of challenge. Leveraging your board and volunteers is a great way to reach new networks – if you lack diversity in these areas, now is a good time to implement an intentional strategy to grow your reach.

While it may feel like additional effort up front, these practices will continue to pay off well beyond the current season. As we have certainly seen over the past year, through adversity comes innovation and progress. Keep moving forward – we’re here to help.

 

Intern Spotlight – D’onna King

Meet D’onna King! D’onna is a senior at Grand Valley State University, graduating in April with a Bachelor’s degree in Public and Nonprofit Administration, with an emphasis in Budget and Finance. 

 

My time with Kennari Consulting was more than just an internship; I was able to learn valuable skills, gain references for my resume, and create relationships with professionals that can be a resource after graduation. I never realized how important networking with professionals was before this internship.

I was able to work alongside members of the grants, project management, and admin teams – I was even able to work directly with the president of Kennari Consulting. I particularly enjoyed working with the project managers because I was able to shadow meetings with clients and attend events. While participating in client meetings, I learned about working with donor databases, researching projects, social media marketing, and presenting in webinars.

During my internship, I had the opportunity to attend Degage Ministries’ Celebrate Community event. This event highlighted the ways I can continue to help those in my community by volunteering my time. I also attended the virtual Young Professionals of Color Conference. This conference helped me learn how to reinforce my personal and financial foundations to weather these challenging times and to continue to build professional success in the face of uncertainty.

This internship has provided a jumpstart to my nonprofit career. When I first started, I had no clue what I wanted to do; now I am walking away with two new internships secured and a career path ahead of me!

 

It was an absolute pleasure to work with D’onna this semester! We are so grateful for and impressed by her ability to adapt to a virtual internship setting. Among D’onna’s most impressive attributes are her ambition, eagerness to learn, positive attitude, and willingness to take on any challenge. We are excited to see the impact she will no doubt make on the nonprofit world!

To learn more about Kennari Consulting’s internship program, check out our careers page.

Making Your Website Donor-Centric

Are you missing a critical step in your donor engagement strategy? Your website is a key way that your donors – current and prospective – interact with your organization, and yet it can be one of the last places we focus our effort. To maximize your website for donor engagement, consider these ten aspects of your website’s structure and content:

  • Is it mobile friendly? Make sure that your website looks, and performs, just as well on a PC as on a mobile device. Double check that your menu options connect to the right pages in mobile format. Ensure you are utilizing a responsive design that will adapt seamlessly to different sized screens – no pinch and zoom!
  • Is it easy to contact you? Information in your header or “contact us” page should be hyperlinked for ease of use. Make sure to link to the corresponding application – phone numbers should be formatted as click to call, addresses should link to a map application, etc. Make sure all contact information is current.
  • Is it inclusive? Make sure your website is easy to navigate and engage with for all individuals, particularly the populations you interact with most. Visit ADA.gov for a toolkit to see how you can make your website more accessible.
  • Does it over-utilize pop-ups? We can all agree pop-ups are a little annoying, but the reality is they get people’s attention! So make sure to use them sparingly when it really counts – avoid using them as a prompt to sign up for an e-newsletter since it will be seen on every visit.
  • Does it grab your attention? Most visitors won’t stay on your page for longer than 45 seconds. Use your home page and “above the fold” content to grab their attention. Ensure compelling, mission and impact focused messages delivered through engaging videos, photos, or infographics are some of the first things they see.
  • Does it include donor stories? Websites often have audiences other than donors, so it can be tricky to find the right balance in incorporating giving-specific language throughout. Donor stories are a great way to do that! Highlighting your donors – why they love the organization and support it – is not only a great way to indirectly talk about giving, it’s also good donor stewardship.
  • Does it utilize varied content? Avoid big blocks of text and try to make liberal use of visually appealing content. Use videos, photos, stats, and bulleted lists to keep people clicking through your website. Make sure transitions between pages aren’t too jarring though – keep font and colors consistent and have some elements, like your header, that carry throughout.
  • Is the content current? Having outdated content, like event registration info for an event that already happened, won’t give the impression that the website is the place to go for updated information about the organization. Make sure that you’re updating content with an obvious timeframe and that you’re incorporating fresh content regularly. One easy way to accomplish this is through a blog or by hosting your newsletter on the website. Set aside time once a month to make updates so they don’t get put off for other day to day tasks.
  • Does it show how donor support impacts the organization? Give potential donors specifics on how their gift will impact the organization. Use your giving levels to show that impact at various dollar amounts. Include this alongside your donation form, if possible, or include a “support” button. Position impactful content so donors see it right before they enter the donation form to try to avoid drop-off – 4 out of 5 donors who start a donation form won’t complete it and make a gift!
  • Are all giving options highlighted? Make sure to highlight other ways people can make their gift, like recurring/monthly options. Don’t leave this buried in your donation form – highlight it with a donor story or by sharing your monthly giving club or program. Also include ways people can get involved without a financial contribution, like by volunteering or contributing in-kind goods, to bring them closer to the organization.

Just as you plan your events, communications, and one-on-one interactions with donors to maximize their engagement, you should also actively work to make your website an extension of that effort. In addition to these tips, look for inspiration by browsing the nonprofit websites that you support personally or that are within your sector or community and incorporate elements that stand out into your own site.

Events – Different Look, New Potential

Here at Kennari, the question we have been hearing the most is, “How can we shift an in-person event to virtual and still gain the projected revenue we need?”

It is true that fundraising events look different lately, and this shift is changing the way philanthropic events are going to look even into the future. A bright side to a virtual event is the opportunity to gain more exposure and a wider audience than you could have accommodated in person. However, there are also plenty of new decisions and barriers to work through ahead of time.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to virtual events. Most importantly, the virtual event must make sense with your existing event and for your existing audience. Below are some key questions you need to answer before moving too far down a certain virtual path:

  1. Will funds from this event support something specific, a new need, or just general operational support? In a crisis fundraising environment, offering donors a specific need this event will fund is often more compelling.
  2. Will the event be fully “live” and shared in real-time, will it be all pre-recorded content that is shared, or will it be a combination of both? If it is live, be sure you plan some sort of “reception” type time online so that people can tune in over the course of 15-30 minutes, as not all participants will be getting on right at the same time.
  3. What kind of platform will you host the event on? Depending on whether it is live or recorded, you may need hosting software to accommodate sharing of live content and real-time interaction. Pick a tool that is participant friendly and budget friendly – reach out to us if you need recommendations!
  4. How will you make sure the participants can interact throughout the event? People just “watching” won’t be as engaged, and then will be less likely to give. Identify some unique ways to keep people participating (poll questions, additional facts/figures shared via chat, trivia type games, cocktail/food demo, etc).
  5. Will there be some kind of tangible benefit given to attendees – e.g. dessert in a box, take and bake dinner, gift card to a local restaurant to pick up takeout, etc? It’s not critical to provide this, but for certain types of events this can be an important element. If there is some kind of tangible benefit, it’s more reasonable to continue to have an individual “ticket” price. Then you need to decide if a “ticket” will cover one guest or two, and if individual guests get the same or different benefits as sponsor guests.

No matter how you decide to move forward, the following best practices should help guide you to ensure you hit the participation and revenue goals you set.

  • Set goals and be clear about them. Be transparent internally with what your new expense and revenue plans are – you may need to allocate some of your food/venue budget to technology and videography. A virtual event does not mean it is zero cost. Use your messaging to reinforce that participation in the virtual event is an opportunity to financially support the organization – this is still a fundraiser. Highlight the impact of the dollars raised and the current funding needs you have.
  • Sponsorship is still essential in meeting financial goals. Find unique ways to recognize your sponsors. Get creative with their benefits! Some ideas include:
      • Encourage them to record a short (30 second) promo video to send out before the event.
      • Place their logo in unique places within other videos.
      • Highlight a behind-the-scenes tour of their company after the event.
      • Offer some kind of professional development opportunity for their staff/guests.
      • Give some kind of gift/food item for their attendees to enjoy while participating online.
  • An online event page will be critical to your success. Drive everyone to the event page on your website and share the specifics and registration details. It is very important to have guests register ahead of time, even if they are guests of sponsors or are not paying a ticket price. The more you know about your attendees, the easier it will be to keep them engaged so they are more likely to participate on event day.
  • Personally call/reach out to donors that were at last year’s event and make sure they have seen the info and are planning to participate this year. Some of these could also be good prospects for offering a matching gift – consider that before calling and then make the ask when appropriate. Plan ahead and establish a hierarchy of which staff or board members will call donors. Block sufficient time on calendars and commit to this step now.
  • Communicate A LOT before the event. Having a virtual event means communicating clearly to your audiences and implementing strategies to help your organization ‘rise above the noise.’ Participants and supporters need to know what it is you expect from them. This will require planning ahead and establishing priorities. For example, your sponsors should be the first to know what the new game plan is. Your event attendees should have clear information about how and where to access your event. Participants should receive multiple teaser emails: 2-6 months ahead, send at least one a month; in the month leading up to the event, send 1-2 per week; in the week leading up to the event, send almost daily reminders/quick videos/previews.
  • Ask regularly throughout the event. Rather than creating a program that leads up to an ask, ask throughout the event and make it very clear/obvious how people can give. If you have a match, talk about it in the beginning and then throughout the event. Highlight the different giving methods verbally, on screen, etc. Most donors will give online or via text in a virtual event, but mailing former givers an envelope ahead of time can be a good idea for those that typically write a check or give through the mail. Make sure your website donation form is easy to find and user friendly. Update all emails/auto receipts – do a test donation to be sure you’re ready!
  • Have a clear and prepared thank you plan for those that support the event. Put some energy and creativity into how you will follow up with donors after the event.

The more personal touches and individualized communication you do, the better. Remember, your supporters still value the good work you are doing, you’re just sharing the impact differently than you have in the past. Despite all the recent and upcoming challenges, we are encouraged and excited by the many ways nonprofits are creatively changing up their events and meeting, or exceeding, their goals.

Giving USA 2020 – a look at philanthropy in 2019

Giving USA is the longest running annual philanthropy report and is published by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. This report is trusted by nonprofits across the country and helps the sector make strategic decisions about fundraising. It provides important statistical information about the economy, charitable dollars, and trends in the nonprofit industry. What did the most recent report on 2019 giving have to say? How is the 2019 data still relevant despite all the changes of 2020?  Below is a brief summary.

The report continues to reinforce that individuals are the primary source of charitable dollars in the United States. And building relationships with individuals also impacts Foundation and Corporate giving, so focusing activities and efforts on individuals makes a lot of sense. With 2019 bringing another record year of giving, $449.64 billion in fact, individuals still make up the greatest percentage at 79% (including 10% from bequests).

While individuals are still at the core, we should also pay careful attention to other avenues of individual giving such as foundations, bequests, and donor-advised funds. The more you know and understand your donor, the more you can cultivate and steward funds, providing opportunities for giving that are meaningful to them.

Some key findings:

  • 79% of funding is from individuals (which includes bequests). While this has changed considerably since the first findings in 1980 (with 89% from individuals, including bequests), the increase in Foundation giving (only 6% of the total giving in 1980) has made up that difference.
  • 16% of funding is from Foundations which is comprised of independent, family, community, and operational foundations. Giving by family foundations (essentially individuals) is estimated to be 46% of total foundation giving in 2019.
  • 5% of funding is from corporations.

It will be important for nonprofit organizations to pay close attention to, and build relationships with, foundations as wealth continues to stay concentrated among high net worth donors. Though the dollars continue to increase, the overall number of donors continues to decline.  Much of the individual giving comes from high and ultra-high net worth donors.  So, though it is important to broaden your base of supporters and diversify your approaches, spending significant time with individual major donors to your organization remains critical.

Another important trend is the continued growth of monthly/recurring giving. Connected to that is the fact that 50% of nonprofit websites are viewed through a mobile device, with 25% of online gifts made on a mobile device. If monthly giving is not a priority or your website isn’t extremely mobile friendly, it’s time to take some major steps in that direction!

Though 2020 has seen a tremendous amount of change and uncertainty, donors have historically responded to crisis – and we trust they will continue to do so. Giving is expected to grow, particularly to organizations working in health and social justice. There are certain long-term trends that have held steady and are again represented in the 2019 results. Though the uncertainty with the economy, political landscape, and giving overall is reason to be cautious, we also regularly see the people of our communities rise up to support nonprofits when they need it most – and we think now we’ll see that more than ever before.

Our favorite lines from the report on the relevance of 2019 data for 2020 and beyond:

Philanthropy is not just about generosity; it can also be about activism. Rather than simply supporting causes because ‘that’s what we always support,’ donors today are aligning their philanthropic support with measurable and demonstrable impact. Do not use the current climate as reason to pause asking for gifts and garnering support. The generosity of the American people is both profound and consistent.

To purchase Giving USA 2020: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2019, visit this link.

7 Tips to Make Your Year End Appeal Stand Out

2020 is a very noisy year and it’s about to get a little louder. Mail in ballots, Return to Learn, and the ongoing pandemic are a lot to contend with for your year-end fundraising efforts. Want to ensure your letter – your year-end ask – gets heard?

Here are 7 musts that will help you rise above the noise at this year-end:

1 – Mail after the Election. For sure wait until after November 3 to drop your letter. Most states are expecting 10 times the amount of normal political mail. Add that with the mail in ballots this year, and your letter will for sure need to wait. Best case, drop between November 5 and 10.

2 – Major Gift Strategy. If I could write ten pages on this I would. Spend some time here and really plan ahead; start in August. Review your top 20 donors and determine if this is the best time to ask them and for what amount (and ask for that increase!). Are you in the middle of a campaign and feel like your campaign donors are off the hook for an ask? They aren’t. Remember that annual giving is king and quite often, your campaign gifts are above and beyond gifts. If that campaign donor gives an annual gift every year, keep asking for that annual gift every year!

3 – Board Involvement. There, I said it. Yes, board members, you need to play a part in this. It is quite possibly the easiest way for you to be a part of the fundraising process. Keep reading on for important job description. Review a mailing list at a board meeting and choose which donor letters you can hand write a note on. That’s it. No kidding. It will take about 10 minutes of your time.

4 – Segment and segment. In order to stand out, talk to your constituents like you know them. For instance, let’s say volunteers are a segment. Your ‘ask’ in the conclusion of the letter may sound like this, “Thank you for being such a valuable volunteer! We so appreciate the time you devote to our mission. Would you please consider a monetary gift at this year-end?” What other segments do you have? Recent event attendees, monthly donors, or lapsed donors? Speak to them like you know them!

5 – Send a follow up reminder postcard. Keep the theme of your appeal and drop this sometime in December to remind donors that ‘Hey – there is still time to donate!’ Your colorful postcard will stand out in the mailbox and should include a QR code or the URL for your donate page as well as how to send a check.

6 – eCommunication is not a standalone. Your eCommunication plan for your year-end appeal is meant to compliment your hard copy letter and reminder postcard. You can’t have one without the other. (“Love and Marriage” will not leave my head today I’m sure.) Also, think of Giving Tuesday as a step in your eCommunication plan. You may not have the staff to have a flown blown campaign for Giving Tuesday and that is a-ok. I would much rather your small staff spend significant time on the major donor strategy and your appeal revenue will thank me.

7 – Lastly, it will help to rise about the noise when you follow up and follow up well. For instance, utilize board members to make thank you calls. And please, please, please, update your thank you letter! Maybe even tell the rest of the story that was is in your actual appeal letter.

Bottom line: start planning now! It will take you time to segment and figure out your major donor strategy. And it will take time to have your board review (a limited!) list and sign notes.

If you need help with your year-end appeal process, please reach out to the team at Kennari Consulting! We want to make sure you have the most successful year-end possible!