The Network for Good Online Giving Report: Growing, Growing, and Growing Some More

Network for Good just released their “Digital Giving Index: Q1 2012” report, and as expected it’s got some juicy tidbits and insights about trends in online donations.

A couple of highlights:

  • Online giving is up across all channels. For instance, online giving overall is up 16%, social giving is up 20%, and giving through branded charity websites is up an impressive 36%.
  • Average gift size grew, including a 90% jump in the average size for social giving. The average is now just under $100.

I think the simple take-away here is that online giving is growing – and will probably continue to grow – in importance relative to conventional charitable giving channels. I wouldn’t dump the direct mail program yet, but I’d guess that having a robust online presence is going to be increasingly important for most nonprofits.

Figured Out the Rest of Your 2012 Conference Plan Yet?

Trying to figure out your conference schedule for the rest of the year?

From Allyson Kapin on the Frogloop blog:

From Amy Schmittauer on the Convince and Convert blog:

You can also check out Kivi’s conference recommendations on her Nonprofit Communications Blog and the impressively thorough conference list on SocialBrite.

The First Bright+3 Book Launch: The Nimble Nonprofit

I am thrilled to announce the launch of The Nimble Nonprofit: An Unconventional Guide to Sustaining and Growing Your Nonprofit.

The nonprofit world truly is in a state of flux. Much of what used to work doesn’t anymore. The need to invest in growing ass-kicking staff and to develop sustained organizational capacity has never been greater, yet the difficulties of doing so are growing as quickly as the need. In The Nimble Nonprofit we cover a wide range of what we believe are critical challenges facing the nonprofit sector:

  • cultivating a high-impact innovative organizational culture;
  • building and sustaining a great team;
  • staying focused and productive;
  • optimizing your board of directors;
  • creating lasting relationships with foundations, donors, and members;
  • remaining agile and open; and
  • growing and sustaining a nimble, impactful organization.

We mean for The Nimble Nonprofit to be a guide – an unconventional irreverent, and pragmatic guide – to succeeding in a nonprofit leadership role, and to tackling this incredibly challenging nonprofit environment. We aimed for a conversational, practical, candid, and quick read instead of a deep dive. If you want to immerse yourself in building a great membership program, or recruiting board members, or writing by-laws, there are plenty of books that cover the terrain (and some of them are quite good).

But if you want the no-nonsense, convention-challenging, clutter-cutting guide to the info you really, really need to know about sustaining and growing a nonprofit, well, we hope you’ll check out The Nimble Nonprofit.

This is our first book, and the publishing industry is a state of disarray, so – following the spirit in which we wrote the book – we are taking an unconventional path. We decided to publish strictly as an e-book, and we decided to self-published (with a bunch of help from Ted here at Bright+3). We are offering the book through the big three e-bookstores (Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble, and we might add a few more to the mix), and we’ve priced the book at $4.99, which is much less expensive than the vast array of other nonprofit books.

As of right now, the book is available on Amazon (and it’ll hit the other two stores shortly). If you’d like to score a copy of The Nimble Nonprofit and enjoy reading it on your Kindle, iPad, or another tablet, jump on Amazon and grab it (did I mention it’s only $4.99?).

And, because our main goal is contributing to the conversations around these critical questions, we are also making a .pdf version of the book available for free.

We suspect that most readers will agree with some of what we argue and disagree with other parts, and because we challenge much of the conventional wisdom about building strong nonprofits, we’re pretty sure that some folks will disagree with a lot of what we write. And we look forward to the conversations. Please send us your thoughts, critiques, comments, and ideas

Tell us where you think we’re wrong and where we’ve hit the nail on the head, and please share with us other examples of nonprofits doing a great job of tackling these challenges and where they are just getting it wrong.

Happy reading –


(P.S. The Nimble Nonprofit is available right now on Amazon.)

Questioning Assumptions: Women Buy More Technology Than Men

An iPad, iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tablet. Photo by Flickr user exacq.
According to a late-2011 Parks Associates survey, as Mashable reported last week, women are more likely than men to buy laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The study also found that women are playing video games on consoles like Xbox and Playstation in increasing numbers and are more likely than men to enjoy multi-player social gaming and playing games on Facebook. This probably has some implications for nonprofit strategies on technology, mobile, and social media, but the more obvious implication is yet another reminder that gender stereotypes often don’t hold up well to actual evidence.

Easing (and improving) the year-end email fundraising onslaught

December means the end of the year is upon us and for nonprofits (or, more notably their members and email subscribers) it’s high season for email traffic. The end of the year is a critical time for fundraising. By some measures, up to 30% of donations (online, at least) come at the end of the year. For example, Network for Good has reported that over 30% of their annual online donation processing happens in December. Online gifts in December tend to be larger. These are just a couple stats in Network for Good’s recent Holiday Guide for companies partnering with organizations (worth the read – PDF).

Woman fighting email with sword - How to avoid email fatigue in December and still raise money.
Avoid email fatigue in December and still raise money.

You will see more email than ever this December, especially the last couple weeks of the month, as organizations try to cover all their bases and leave no stone unturned. It can be overwhelming for subscribers but, like political ads on TV, lots of email works. People give to organizations they love AND know about. If they don’t think of you when making those year-end donations, even if they like what you do, you will miss out.

How do we build awareness (and passion), increase the tempo of messages and make people happy, not grumpy, about all this email?

Point out Successes

You’ve had a great year and been a fabulous steward of your donors’ gifts. Remind people of that. The end of the year is the perfect time to sum up what’s happened with the investment made by donors. Your organization has a theory of change and/or business plan. Show results. Continue reading “Easing (and improving) the year-end email fundraising onslaught”

More on Email for Mobile Devices

A few days ago we talked about helping your organization’s mobile strategy by focusing on email and how it works on/with mobile devices.

Not wanting to be left out (just kidding, guys), Vertical Response released a great little guide to email on mobile devices. Their “8 Rules for Creating Mobile Emails” are below. They track well with what we covered. Given the format of the pdf guide you may get more detail with it. Here’s their 8 rules:

  1. Simple is better.
  2. Subject line and pre-header are crucial.
  3. Use fewer, smaller images.
  4. Links are important.
  5. Call to action.
  6. Scrolling. (try to minimize the need for it)
  7. Remember the text backup.
  8. Think landing pages, email is just the start.
A great list. Key pieces:
  • You get little time to make an impression when a reader sees your subject line in their mobile email program. Make it clear, inviting, snappy. Enough to give the reader a reason to open it (or at least not delete it).
  • Clear text, link and call to action early in the message body. Make it easy for the reader to get the point, act and move toward conversion.
  • Landing pages should be mobile-friendly. This may take the most work for many nonprofits. If a form, think simple layout.
You can find this and other guides to email lists and marketing on the Vertical Response educational guides page. Also worth remembering that Vertical Response has solidly discounted prices for nonprofits, including up to 10,000 messages a month free – great for small organizations getting rolling with email.


Need a mobile strategy? Start with your email.

For most organizations, the heart and soul of communications is the email list. Email is the 800 pound gorilla, the elephant in the room, the big kahuna. Email goes direct to the inbox, our online strategy metrics are led by terms like open rate and clickthroughs, and online fundraising campaigns depend on email marketing.  Moreover, email is growing and generally has a strong return on investment.

Today, “mobile” is receiving lots of attention. And for good reason. It was recently reported that one in three Americans owns a smartphone.  Some sources are indicating that more people will own smartphones than traditional cellphones by 2012. Add tablets into the mix and its clear that people are quickly adopting mobile computing.

A recent post in the blog emailmonday provides a solidly thorough rundown of mobile email stats including this one: right now about 10% of email opens are happening on a mobile device.

As Gary Vaynerchuk put it the other day, you need a mobile strategy by 2012.

I’ll argue, though, that the quickest and most cost-effective place to focus your mobile strategy is your email.

Your email? What? That’s not mobile? Mobile is apps. Right? Angry Birds on your iPhone or getting people to read your Facebook page updates on their phone. Maybe mobile is a version of your website that looks good on mobile devices (which it is to some extent and we’ll get to that below but much or most mobile traffic is coming from your emails).

Continue reading “Need a mobile strategy? Start with your email.”