A Menu of Fundraising Experts: Interview, Part 5

January 25, 2008

Welcome back to an online interview with experts in the online fundraising industry. I am excited to see what the future of online giving looks like. Today each expert has the opportunity to talk about exactly why his or her business is unique. Please make sure to post additional questions, comments and feedback at the bottom of the post. And make sure that if you are interested in talking with any of these groups in more detail that you visit their website (or post a comment or email me and I can introduce you them).

How your service is different and what do you provide?

PaySimple:
At PaySimple, we have developed a fundraising system that is simple to use and offers non-profits the ability to collect payments and donations in person, by phone, or online, and via electronic check or credit card. PaySimple sets itself apart from other systems by providing clients with live support and training during every phase of setup. Non-profits don’t have to worry about not being tech-savvy-we do everything for them. Read more about how a Boy Scout Troop simplified their fundraiser at Fundraising Made Simple www.paysimple.com/articles/boyscouts.html.
Eric Remer, CEO for PaySimple www.paysimple.com

Firstgiving:
Firstgiving enables any individual to raise funds for any non-profit of their choice by creating an online fundraising page. Individuals create pages for an event, in memory of some one or an occasion like a wedding, birthday, anniversary, etc. Individuals can email their page to friends or add a widget to their blog, social network or email footer.

Here’s what’s different about Firstgiving…it’s easy and affordable for any organization of any size:

  • Any individual can create a fundraising page for NPO registered with the IRS. We use the Guidestar database to vet these organizations. Fundraisers can personalize their fundraising page. The process is simple.
  • As of last week, any non-profit can get their own free Firstgiving start page (like this: www.firstgiving.com/npo/3179). This enables any charity to engage their supporters to raise funds for them.
  • Funds get routed to the NPO monthly via check or weekly via electronic funds transfer.
  • Individuals get an email module to email their page and import email addresses. They get a widget to put on a blog or social network. We offer a Facebook app so they can bring their page to their friends on Facebook.

Mark Sutton CEO of Firstgiving www.firstgiving.com

DonorPerfect Fundraising Software:
DonorPerfect provides a range of online donation services that makes it easy for a non-profit to collect donations AND analyze them. One of our key differences is that all of the donations are stored in a central database, and automatic duplicate checks are performed to make sure you have a complete view of a donor’s history. This way, you can target these donors for future solicitations using our unique analytical and wealth screening reporting system, so that you can maximize your returns and raise more money.

Many services, such as Paypal, only process the donation and the non-profit is left to fend for themselves. Worse, there is usually no way to customize the form (Does the donor want to remain anonymous? Is the donation for a special event and we need to know their T-shirt size?). Furthermore, it’s also unlikely that the service will identify how or why the donation was given, making future solicitation efforts useless because you’re not able to ascertain the intent of the donation.

With DonorPerfect, you’re able to capture all of these important details, store them in an unduplicated database, and then target these very same donors for future solications – both online *and* offline.
Jon Biedermann, Vice President of DonorPerfect Fundraising Software www.donorperfect.com

GiveStream:
GiveStream is unique in its approach. It gives the non-profits a free easy-to-use dedicated giving center to fundraise and communicate in a new way. GiveStream benefits are:

  • It’s free to you and your supporters
  • It has the potential to bring in thousands of dollars in contribution using the Shop, Search & Donate.
  • It has a comparison product search engine.
  • Besides contributing the supporter can also compare prices and find for him self the best deal.
  • It’s private, no other non-profit to share the same center.
  • It’s customizable, you can add contents and links (can be used as a primary website or as a subsidiary).
  • You can easily send out email newsletters to communicate with your supporters using our Newsletter Creator.
  • The downloadable toolbar (which features the non-profit logo) puts the organization directly onto the supporters’ web browser and makes it convenient for them to use GiveStream without having to enter any website.
  • You get a cool Facebook application that your supporters can show on their profile.

Michael Ben-Nes, Director of Marketing from GiveStream.com www.givestream.com

Click and Pledge:
There’s a reason Click & Pledge has grown to over 7,000 customers: we provide the best value in the NP segment….world class software, security, ease-of-use, custom for NPOs…only pay for what you need and what you use. You can pay one of the big providers $1,000+ or pay us $50 for

  • a payment system,
  • a donor management system and
  • a web content management system

When you invest in traditional software, the vendors are in charge…you must continually purchase upgrades, maintenance, training etc. With Click & Pledge, it’s on-demand, live software that you only pay for on a transaction basis. All support, upgrades, security and so forth is incumbent upon us to provide. True Software as a Service.
Jim Barney VP, Marketing & Sales of Click and Pledge www.ClickandPledge.com

EchoDonations:
The service provided by my organization is different in that it is currently the only online donating service that allows the donor to receive Lifetime Cash RewardsTM for donations as small as $25.

Here’s how it works: You make a donation to your favorite charity through echoDonations.orgTM. All donations, large and small, are combined in an online charitable mutual fund, which is invested and monitored for performance in the market. As the charitable mutual fund builds investment return, annual Lifetime Cash RewardsTM are distributed to donors and charities while building an endowment for the charity.

The benefit to nonprofits is exponential by way of the annual cash received and through the increased donor loyalty gained from receiving their rewards.

There are two choices for donors on what to do with the interest earned: Give & Get BackTM or Give & GrowTM.

  • Give & Get BackTM – With this option, the interest is split between you (or your beneficiary) and your charity. Each of you gets a yearly check for the interest, and when you die, your charity gets your original donation. Use this option to get Lifetime Cash RewardsTM.
  • Give & GrowTM – With this option, the charity gets half the interest in a yearly check. The other half is reinvested in the charitable mutual fund. When you die, the charity gets the original donation plus all the compound interest it has earned.

Michelle Matthews, Social Media & Marketing Strategist from EchoDonations www.EchoDonations.org

Don’t forget to check out each expert’s website. Please comment with questions or other feedback. Check out other questions this week:


A Look Into the Online Future: Interview, Part 4

January 24, 2008

Welcome back to an online interview with experts in the online fundraising industry. I hope you found yesterdays post on creating an online fundraising plan helpful. Please make sure to post additional questions, comments and feedback at the bottom of the post. Today’s question:

What does the future of online giving look like?

PaySimple:
According to www.electronicpayments.org, charitable or non-profit businesses utilizing electronic payments have a 98 percent fulfillment rate, which is 50 percent higher than organizations using mail-based processes. Online giving is now more affordable and “acceptable” for non-profits than ever before. Many electronic payment providers offer discounts to non-profits. The growth of electronic payments provides an avenue for non-profits to gain donors and grow revenue.
Eric Remer, CEO for PaySimple www.paysimple.com

Firstgiving:
Online giving won’t just happen on your site, it will be distributed. Your supporters will fundraise for you by creating fundraising pages or widgets and engaging their friends to support your cause. This results from the participative nature of the internet and can be a bit scary for non-profits as it will mean relinquishing some ‘control’ (or the illusion of control!). The trade-off will be that your supporters will accomplish incredible things for you. Here’s an example of a blogger who decided to raise funds for an organization she cares about and selected: www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope4
Mark Sutton CEO of Firstgiving www.firstgiving.com

DonorPerfect Fundraising Software:
Online giving, while growing at a faster pace (30% or more), still represents only about 5-6% of all fundraising. The bulk of the giving public, who are older and therefore have more disposable income, as well as the very wealthy, will continue to give ‘off-line’. However, this very same segment is the fastest growing segment of Internet users and as newer, younger donors replace them, online fundraising will continue to grow at a relative fast pace but will never replace more traditional types of fundraising for many, many years.
Jon Biedermann, Vice President of DonorPerfect Fundraising Software www.donorperfect.com

GiveStream:
I wish I knew, I do hope that increase of collaboration with supporters, governments & companies will raise the efficiency of non-profits and by that the world will become a better place. I think the Internet is a great tool to achieve exactly that.
Michael Ben-Nes, Director of Marketing from GiveStream.com www.givestream.com

Click and Pledge:
Huge growth. The web is the center of the universe….it’s the first and last place people go to gain knowledge or act. It must be used to operate efficiently, effectively and keep costs low. In any instance, when technology is applied….new pricing models, costs, etc. emerge.
Jim Barney VP, Marketing & Sales of Click and Pledge www.ClickandPledge.com

EchoDonations:
In my opinion, online giving will soon be the way nearly all donations are made. It makes sense, in our digitalized world, that giving should be made as easy as possible. For instance, why deal with paperwork when online records can be kept in a huge database, worrying no one but a machine?
Michelle Matthews, Social Media & Marketing Strategist from EchoDonations www.EchoDonations.org

Do you have any predictions of your own? What do you think online fundraising will look like in the future? Leave a comment and let me know. Check out other questions this week:


Creating an Online Fundraising Plan: Interview, Part 3

January 23, 2008

Welcome back to an online interview with experts in the online fundraising industry. Please make sure to post additional questions, comments and feedback at the bottom of the post. Onto today’s question:

What should the online fundraising plan look like? What are some key components to a good plan?

PaySimple:
A good online fundraising plan would include recurring giving, online giving, and check conversion. Recurring giving enables non-profits to set up automatic schedules that debit the donor’s checking or credit card on a set schedule that they specify. Online giving provides non-profits the ability to take a donation twenty-four hours a day via direct payment from a donor’s checking account or credit card. Check conversion allows the non-profit to still accept paper checks and convert them into e-checks-without taking a trip to the bank. After setting up the e-giving system, the non-profit should market their new ability and address concerns with online giving, including security, unfamiliar technology, and traditional values. Utilize resources like http://www.electronicpayments.org and even your gateway provider for free marketing materials to help donors see the benefits of egiving.
Eric Remer, CEO for PaySimple www.paysimple.com

Firstgiving:
The plan should start with a statement of what the organization is looking to accomplish online ex: more donations, convenient option for making donations, expand database, get supporters to fundraise, etc. Next the organization should determine which websites or services best fit their objectives, budget and in-house expertise. It should include having a website, ability to take donations online and communicate with supporters. The communication strategy for supporters is important. It will include email and should also consider social media sites such as MySpace or facebook as methods for attracting supporters and communicating with them.
Mark Sutton CEO of Firstgiving www.firstgiving.com

DonorPerfect Fundraising Software:
Again, though it starts with facilitating donations on line, it’s much more than that. You need to have good marketing tools, such as a good database (like DonorPerfect), direct mail and email distribution. You need to direct everyone to the right place on your web site and make it easy and convenient for people to not only give, but also register for events, sign up to be a volunteer, or purchase items. You need to make it easy for constituents to reach out to their friends, family, and co-workers to facilitate giving (viral fundraising) and form an online community of donors that will further expand and enrich your mission.
Jon Biedermann, Vice President of DonorPerfect Fundraising Software www.donorperfect.com

GiveStream:
I assume it changes from one non-profit to another but the basic should include calling supporters to participate and delegation. Don’t do it all by yourself, if you have a good idea let other help you achieve the non-profit goals. It is also important to accelerate slowly, don’t open a forum before you have enough supporters to participate. You don’t want it to become a ghost forum, that’s even worse then being without forum. Another factor is the easy of use. Evaluate the products available at the market and choose those that are easy to operate, and its even better if you can find them under the same roof.
Michael Ben-Nes, Director of Marketing from GiveStream.com www.givestream.com

EchoDonations:
The plan should involve no paperwork, online record keeping, and a very small processing fee (under 6%). There should be detailed instructions in how the donations are processed, and where the money goes directly. Graphics are very important in anything done online as well.
Michelle Matthews, Social Media & Marketing Strategist from EchoDonations www.EchoDonations.org

Does your organization have an online giving plan? Are you thinking about creating a plan? Leave a comment and let me know. Check out other questions this week:


Different Online Fundraising Strategies: Interview, Part 2

January 22, 2008

Welcome back to an online interview with experts in the online fundraising industry. I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s introduction to your experts. Please make sure to post additional questions, comments and feedback at the bottom of the post. Now onto today’s question:

What are some different strategies and models for fundraising online?

PaySimple:
Key strategies for non-profit organizations trying to raise money through the web include:

  • Set up automatic recurring donations. This way, donors don’t have to contribute large sums, but small amounts on a regular basis. Plus, there is no burden of remembering to mail or drop off an envelope.
  • Provide members and donors the option of egiving, or contributing online with a credit card or electronic check. Many fundraising solutions provide a securely hosted payment page, so the organization does not even need a website.
  • Rather than holding a fundraiser in a brick and mortar shop, offer customers a way to take part online. It saves time from handling paper checks, cuts down on volunteer time, and is also more secure. No account numbers or card numbers floating around-everything is stored securely within the system.

Eric Remer, CEO for PaySimple www.paysimple.com

Firstgiving:
One of the most rapidly growing strategies for fundraising online is engaging your supporters to raise funds on behalf of your organization. The nature of the internet is changing significantly. User participation and user generated content have evolved as the essence of the web. Empowering individuals to support you online is a powerful strategy for furthering your cause. You will find that individuals will use their social networks, blogs, web sites, email lists to advocate and fundraise for your organization.
Mark Sutton CEO of Firstgiving www.firstgiving.com

DonorPerfect Fundraising Software:
There are many different strategies to fundraise effectively online. However, there is one strategy that never works, and that’s slapping a “Donate Now” button on your web-site to attract donations. Unfortunately, even we have clients that take only this initial step, and wonder why they only receive 4 or 5 donations per month.

Successful online fundraising requires real work that rivals any traditional campaign effort. It requires staff resources that many non profits do not have or cannot access. It requires a dedication from the top down, and should be referenced in every single piece of paper that leaves the building. It’s a long term investment that works in conjunction with other types of fundraising, such as special events, capital campaigns, direct mail, etc.
Jon Biedermann, Vice President of DonorPerfect Fundraising Software www.donorperfect.com

GiveStream:
For starters I believe fundraising is about the message and the non-profit’s ability to reach out to those that have a passion for the same goals. To achieve this, non-profits need to reach out. I like to divide the reach out strategies to 3 groups.

  • Single-dimensional spread out. This includes the standard, conservative methods where the supporters are passive. Some of the tools are: websites, newsletters.
  • Bi-dimensional spread out. This includes tools where the supporters have the power to reply or open a new topic. Some of the tools are: Forum, mailing-list or blog.
  • Multi-dimensional spread out. Here supporters have the greatest power and can spread the word autonomously in the name of the non-profit using tools such as: social networks and widgets.

Any organization that wants to fundraise / advocate online should pick wisely from this list of possible tools, there is no reason to open a blog if you don’t have the time to post or engage any social network if you don’t have a person who swims comfortably in these waters.
Michael Ben-Nes, Director of Marketing from GiveStream.com www.givestream.com

Click and Pledge:
We see a big move to cell phones/mobile technology; we see micropayments becoming practical; significant reductions in the price of online fundraising technology with Software as a Service applications and open source software.
Jim Barney VP, Marketing & Sales of Click and Pledge www.ClickandPledge.com

EchoDonations:
Online fundraising can be tricky. The internet is incredibly expansive, making it difficult to discover valuable contacts and share information in an efficient manner. Making use of all the social media developments is a good approach to the situation, but it takes a lot of time and effort to keep up. There is blogging, social bookmarking, press releases, email, etc. for available use by everyone. The only problem is that SO many people can use these tools, that they become completely invaluable unless they are used correctly and efficiently.
Michelle Matthews, Social Media & Marketing Strategist from EchoDonations www.EchoDonations.org

Do you have a special strategy not mentioned above that you’ve found successful in online fundraising? Has your organization been successful in online giving? Please leave a comment with your feedback or advice below. Check out other questions this week:


A Week of Online Fundraising: Interview, Part 1

January 21, 2008

Have you ever thought about online fundraising for your organization? It sounds like a great idea but who knows how to navigate the emerging world of online fundraising? Those are a few questions that motivated a series that you will see this week. I interviewed a number of online fundraising experts and they have some great words of advice for all of us. Each day this week these experts will tackle a different question about online giving so make sure to tune in. If you find what they have to say insightful make sure to check out their website or leave a comment at the bottom of the post.

Some areas these experts will be addressing are online fundraising strategies, creating an online plan, what is the future of the industry, and who are some organizations that can help you along this path. Let me introduce you to our experts and start with a short easy question.

Should a non-profit have an online fundraising plan?

PaySimple:
Non-profits that have electronic payment processing overcome many fundraising obstacles including lack of or overworked volunteers, limited payment methods, limited reach, and overall limited funds. Online payment functionality not only enables your fundraiser to reach past the local neighborhood, but helps to automate processes. Customers can enter their own information and that transaction feeds into a back-end system automatically. Volunteers no longer have to spend countless hours sorting paper checks and making trips to the bank.
Eric Remer, CEO for PaySimple www.paysimple.com

Firstgiving:
Yes. Every organization, regardless of size should have an online fundraising plan. It doesn’t take much money or expertise to get started.
Mark Sutton CEO of Firstgiving www.firstgiving.com

DonorPerfect Fundraising Software:
It depends. Of course, all non profit organizations should think about their online fundraising strategy, but not all should participate in one, UNLESS, they do have a plan and resources to complete that plan.
Jon Biedermann, Vice President of DonorPerfect Fundraising Software www.donorperfect.com

GiveStream:
Definitely, the Internet is a major channel and non-profits should use it to communicate directly to their supporters. The benefit is an increase of all indexes including funding, branding and general efficiency.
Michael Ben-Nes, Director of Marketing from GiveStream.com www.givestream.com

Click and Pledge:
Of course. All communications and development efforts must begin with the web.
Jim Barney VP, Marketing & Sales of Click and Pledge www.ClickandPledge.com

EchoDonations:
Yes, most definitely. Many young people have become engrossed in the “latest, greatest” technology, which is always being upgraded and improved. The world is becoming more and more digitalized. If non-profits can find a way to make it easier for their donors to donate more easily and in a more simple manner, they would find many more loyal donors coming to their doorstep, or more literally, their website.
Michelle Matthews, Social Media & Marketing Strategist from EchoDonations www.EchoDonations.org

Please leave a comment with your feedback or advice below. Make sure to check out the posts each day this week we will be answering a different question. I hope that we can have a great dialog this week about online fundraising. Thanks for reading!
Check out other questions this week:


FYI- Busy Exciting Week

January 20, 2008

Faithful readers and subscribers I wanted to give you a bit of a note of explanation about this week. I have been working for the last few of weeks with a number of online fundraising experts to create a post that talks about what is happening in the online fundraising industry. I was overwhelmed with the response I received. I thought I might have one or two people write in and I had eight.

SO… this week is going to look different than most other weeks. Starting tomorrow, Monday, January 21, each post will be significantly longer than the usual post size and I will post once a day. There is a lot of really good content and instead of trying to paraphrase it I thought I’d let you decide what you want to read. After this week I will return to posting two or three times a week with a half page of written content.

I really want this week to be a neat experience and a strong dialog. If you have never posted a comment before or you post comments regularly please participate in this coming week’s discussion. Please tell your co-workers and others you know about this special online fundraising interview. Each contributor worked really hard answering the questions I asked them and I want as many non-profits & fund development professionals to benefit as possible. So please spread the news (send a link to a couple friends who you think be interested, post a link to each article on Facebook, or click on the “Digg” button at the bottom of each post). We will have a number of experts reading each post; this is a unique opportunity to have an incredible dialog about online fundraising.


Current and Future Trends in Foundations

January 17, 2008

Foundations of the past traditionally gave a large number of small grants to many different organizations. It was about helping as many organizations as possible and granting to organizations that had the very best proposals. I think that today (and it will continue in the future) foundations are starting to become more and more strategic. They are choosing specific problems or community/global areas that they want to make a difference in and are granting in large capacities to these organizations. They want more information and they want more outcomes. They are starting to ask real questions and really want to be a part of the non-profit’s current and future success. I know it is true with business foundations and from other conversations I’ve had it seems to be true in community foundations as well that they are giving out fewer grants at a higher dollar value.

One thing that I’ve been really encouraged to see from a number of foundations is their commitment to matching dollars and multi-year giving. It is a brilliant idea for a foundation to ask a non-profit to leverage their dollars in such a way that it doubles the value of their gift. With multi-year giving it enables a non-profit to have a stead flow of support for more than one year in a small non-profit this allows the organization to spend time thinking strategically about the future and build a stronger financial position.

There is an increase in foundations that want to help small non-profits succeed. The Craigslist Foundation has created what they call a “Non-profit Boot Camp” where they have podcasts and training sessions from experts on how to start and run a small non-profit. The Mission Increase Foundation has regular workshops to train their grantees in board development, fundraising, and other high level strategic organizational issues. Every grantee is required to be a part of the program and they are doing incredible things in the communities they are in. Social Venture Partners takes an active volunteer role in the organizations that they partner with the organization and take and active role in strengthening systems, management practices, and strategies.

I’m participating in the January 21st Giving Carnival: What will foundations look like in 10, 25 or 50 years? A few predictions below:
• Granting organizations will continue to become more strategic funding only those areas.
• There will be fewer grants but at a higher level.
• There will be more “online foundations” like GiveWell.
• Today more and more foundations are starting to have blogs. I think in the future some blogs will have foundations. Who know maybe one day A Small Change will be a foundation to fund the fundraisers.

Do you have any stories or comments about what you see foundations doing in your area or with your non-profit? Do you have any predictions of your own? Leave a comment below.