Social fundraising in a crisis — dos and don’ts
Farra Trompeter and Chris Tuttle discussed fundraising during COVID-19. They discussed best practices and tips for maintaining, if not even growing, donor support during times of crisis — even when that crisis impacts our ability to work.
While many of our nonprofits are facing new challenges in supporting staff now required to work from home, the need to fund our work, support our constituents, and advance our mission carries on.
They answered some commonly received questions, such as:
- Will people donate during times of uncertainty?
- How will we get our older-aged donors to give online?
- How can we get supporters to fundraise for our organization with so much news and attention being spent on COVID-19?
- Should I raise money through Facebook, GoFundMe, my website, or other channels?
Chris Tuttle: Welcome everybody. This is a topic, Social Fundraising in a Crisis — the Dos and Don’ts. And I am actually really thrilled to be doing this today with one of my favorite people, Farra. But first, my name is Chris Tuttle. I’m a digital strategist helping nonprofits utilize digital more effectively to raise awareness, increase engagement, and to ultimately cultivate those meaningful actions that advance our mission and support our constituents. Obviously, you can connect with me via the tags I have there, @ChrisTuttle and @TuttleCoNYC across different social networks. And my great guest Farra today.
Farra Trompeter: Hello everyone. My name is Farra Trompeter. I’m Chief Growth Officer at Big Duck. Big Duck is a communications firm that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations and I’m really excited to be here. Chris and I have had the pleasure of knowing each other for many years, and more recently have finally put our friendship to the test and have done several workshops and presentations together. If you would like to connect with me on Twitter, you can find me @Farra. I’m also often behind the Big Duck account. Feel free to tweet any takeaways you have during today’s session and tag either one of us.
Chris Tuttle: Wonderful. And just a heads up, we have a couple additional webinars that you can join. What was going to be today at 3:00 PM, but unfortunately we had to postpone at the last minute just now before this session started… but we’re going to be doing that session with Kishshana Palmer next Wednesday at 3:00 PM. So, that’s gonna still be available at tuttle.co/events. You can register for it there. And tomorrow at 1:00 PM I’ll be talking with Seth Giammanco from MOD lab, talking about the new digital frontier — both working from home but also like managing a remote team and how do we keep people engaged and productive while we’re all going through this… storm right now.
Chris Tuttle: So today’s webinar, we’re going to talk through some briefly some things that we can share that we already know: what’s going on in the world, let’s get on the same page about what’s happening with people around the world, our constituents around the world, and how that might affect our organizations. We’ll talk about a little bit how organizations are responding to this, especially as it deals with fundraising. And we’ll talk through some strategies and tips, including having some conversation and answering your questions as well. So, I’m going to go through this first section a little bit fast because it’s about 10 slides here and I just kind of want to set the stage to make sure we’re all on the same page. Each piece of the slides here, each statistic or informational point I’m making is sourced and you can link through to that source because you’re going to get a copy of the slides and a recording of the webinar. So I’m not going to sit on these too long. But let’s face it, what we’re going through right now is unprecedented and it means that we as nonprofits are facing new challenges every day and have to rethink a lot of the ways that we used to think things were done or that we used to know.
Chris Tuttle: We know right now that across the world, that worries are high, people concerned, and there’s a lot of anxiety. And so we know this of the general population, and I like to bring this into this conversation because I think that we need to also think about how this is affecting our constituents and understanding where they’re coming from and some of the feelings that they’re also experiencing right now. And we also know that life is changing and the things that our constituents used to do every day are changing. The way they behave is changing, the way that they’re interacting or able to interact with their networks, communities, and the world is changing. More people are staying at home. More people are actually online. More people are doing certain activities online and doing certain things less. Of course we’re doing a lot of shopping online and traveling less.
Chris Tuttle: But we also see this in the type of things we’re doing online. So, we’ve seen that gaming has increased, online gaming, online watching of movies has increased at home. But we’ve actually seen that some desktop usage has decreased at home while some mobile usage — phones and tablets — have increased at home. So also something a little bit to think about, about the different types of devices that both are — we are using, but also our constituents are using when accessing our social media channels or our websites or even reading our emails. We also know that usage is changing. We’ve all seen this in the news every day now about Zoom… I think one of the most popular online video platforms right now. You can see Zoom on the left, Microsoft Teams on the right. This is the individual accounts that are connecting to these services. And then the yellow line is the data or the video bandwidth that’s being streamed over these services. So we’ve seen a tremendous increase in the number of people who are online sharing video, sharing content, engaging each other, and hopefully their constituents through nonprofits like ours.
Chris Tuttle: Some things that haven’t changed… So just because all this is happening, it doesn’t mean that 10% of the people in the U.S., at least, who didn’t have access to the internet before this started suddenly have access today. Still in the U.S. today, about 10% of the population either does not have home internet access or does not use home internet access. We know today that nonprofits haven’t prioritized tech in the past and that is now affecting their ability to respond today. And so there’s been a bunch of research out here, including this research by Salesforce, kind of showing how nonprofit leaders have prioritized tech improvements across their programming, across their CRM and constituent management systems, and even their fundraising. And so, those who prioritized this in the past are probably going to be doing a little bit better today. And the rest of us are going to have to catch up a little bit. We also know that constituents still want to hear from us. And this is something that’s somewhat new, and it’s some research I’ll show again in a minute, but it’s from Ipsos and they did some advertising research with for-profit brands in China during January, excuse me, during the first few weeks of their sheltering in place. And what they found from this was that by and large, the vast majority of constituents, the people sheltering in place, still wanted to hear from brands. And there are varying reasons for that. Some wanted distraction from what was going on. Some actually still wanted to know what was happening about certain products or services. Some actually wanted additional help and support during this time.
Chris Tuttle: Some things that we don’t know, of course, is how long this is all going to last. And there’s a bunch of models out there that are predicting various scenarios. And I think it’s kind of important for us as nonprofits to think through this because we need to think through how long certain things are going to last and how long they may impact some of our work or ability to even do certain types of things like host fundraising events offline. But, there are some things that we can look to to guide us during this time. Number one, during past economic downturns, like the recession in 2009, Steve MacLaughlin has talked about this — works at Blackbaud, author of “Data Driven Nonprofits” — and he’s talked about how there is usually about a three-to-four-month lag behind economic downturn and giving patterns of constituents.
Chris Tuttle: Now granted, the situation is not exactly the same as the 2009 economic downturn. They’re always different. But, we also know from that research that those that were most likely to stick with organizations were your existing supporters — those who are already donating to you. So it gives us some insight of how we might need to treat those relationships today to strengthen them and ensure they survive. Also, we know number two, that your nonprofit data can tell you a little bit about your constituents’ changing behavior right now. So, this is something I’ve noticed a couple of times now through different client sites that we have access to, that user behavior and how constituents are typically accessing websites is changing. And I would suspect this is also changing for email and it’s going to change differently for every nonprofit, largely probably depending on your audience. I’d say by and large that we’ve seen that most organizations we’ve worked with have seen an increase in web visits for various reasons, but they’ve also seen a decrease in web visits on certain days of the week as you actually see here in the example on the right. Largely we’ve actually seen a decrease across multiple sites in web visits on Thursdays and Fridays. And we’ve seen an increase, a drastic increase, in web visits on both Sundays and Mondays. And so I think there’s a shifting of the week happening as our boundaries around a normal Monday through Friday, nine-to-five work life are changing. And I think we’re seeing kind of a new Sunday through Wednesday workweek or online engaged week or something is happening here. So, you can look at your day of week and time of day reports online and Google Analytics, and that’ll show you how your website behavior, or user behavior, excuse me, is changing.
Chris Tuttle: Number three, we can listen to medical and economic experts and frankly they’ve made it pretty clear this is not going away quickly. I’ve outlined some of the dates that we know in the bottom. We can look and see that the federal government is advising social distancing, physical distancing, excuse me, until April 30th at the minimum. We know the CDC recommends no events over 50 people or no events over 10 people of anybody with compromised immune systems until at least May 10th. And we know that the entertainment and events industry is already postponing all events throughout the summer, if not the entire year. We also know that there could be, according to some expert medical feedback, that there could be a little bit of a change in some physical distancing rules for small group activities that might happen over the summer depending on what happens in the next couple months. So this is to say that we need to think long-term also as nonprofits and not just canceling events next month or trying to catch up with what we’re doing this month, but thinking about how we’re going to continue serving our communities and continue fundraising over the next year.
Chris Tuttle: And finally, number four, that advertising research I talked about actually showed, as you see on the left, that most constituents want to hear from brands. This of course includes for-profit brands, but that also does include other brands as well, like nonprofits. This category of emotions or things that constituents, that research… people who took this research said they want to feel from advertising and nonprofit brand communications was around largely safety and positivity. And this does not surprise me and it probably won’t surprise you either. I think a lot of us are craving these things in our lives right now. And so I bring this to think about how we also provide in our nonprofit communications messages of positivity, reinforcing our brand of course, but also providing security or reinforcing security for our constituents — safety, whatever that means for your organization. So with that, let’s talk about some of the things that organizations are doing today to respond to this.
Farra Trompeter: Thanks Chris. I put together some examples of things that I have seen that have shown up in my feeds. I’m sure there are lots of other great examples out there. If you have done something that you think is really a great response in the past few weeks or something you’ve seen someone else do, please chat it to us. We’ll make sure it gets to everyone. We’re certainly looking out for more examples, but in each of these examples I wanted to highlight a few things that I think organizations are doing well and any other suggestions for things they might consider. The first example, hey look, that’s me. I’m fundraising. This is an example for NTEN. NTEN is a nonprofit focused on helping other nonprofits use technology to advance their mission. I am on the board of NTEN, Chris is actually a volunteer organizer of our local tech club in New York City Meetup. We both have been very involved in the NTEN community. I know there are a few of you on here. I see you David. And we just wanted to, you know, what happened with NTEN is every year, one of their biggest things they do is bring their community of over 2,000 people together for an annual technology conference. NTEN had to make the decision, actually before getting ahead of a lot of the guidelines that Chris was just talking about, to cancel its conference, which was emotionally devastating for many of us but also financially devastating. The fees related to the conference represent almost two-thirds of NTEN’s budget. So when that decision was announced, several of us in the community who volunteer for the organization put together a fundraiser for them online using a crowdfunding tool called CauseVox. And this so far, the campaign has raised a little over $9,300 from almost 100 donors — from about 96 donors.
Farra Trompeter: And I think this is just an example of sometimes the grassroots community gets together for you. Sometimes you bring them together. But also when you — if you were to look at my page and make a donation, you are welcome to. You’ll also see that if you were to click NTEN on the top of that page, you’d go to the homepage for the campaign and see all the other people who are raising money for it. And one of the exciting things I think has been to see, not only have those of us who said, “Let’s create this campaign, let’s rally the community,” we’ve had other people join us. We’ve had people who we didn’t even solicit create pages and give. So, sometimes your community are just looking for a space where they can support you. And the ask and the need here is very clear.
Farra Trompeter: The one thing I would say that I think is something we’ve talked about and an important thing is sometimes setting a goal, and how setting a goal can be sometimes difficult to select. You always want to select a goal for a campaign that feels ambitious enough to be kind of motivating, but not so much of a stretch that is so disconnected from anything you’ve ever raised before that it’s impossible. So, setting a goal can be hard. Also, goals can often be tied, and should be tied, to the need. In the case of this NTEN campaign, the overarching goal is set for $100,000. We are just a fraction of that, right? We’ve only raised, like I said, not even 10% of that, but you can see the goal I’ve set for my page, which actually I said is $2020.
Farra Trompeter: This was also a symbolic goal. Here I’ve raised, you know, a significant amount toward that, which hopefully sends the message to people to sort of join us and participate. The next example… this is an example again, examples I’ve seen from friends, a few great examples that were highlighted in an article in The Nation we can retweet in a little bit. This is an example connected to an organization called the Sex Workers Outreach Project. It’s a national network, this is the one here in New York. The organization itself has really focused on human rights for people in the sex trade and really looking at ending violence and stigma against that community. What they are doing through GoFundMe is creating a very specific crowdfunding campaign where people have the chance to support people directly. One of the things that I love about this campaign is, and you can see again, they’re actually doing well toward the goal and in fact I think they have edited and moved their goal as they made initial progress… They have done some great frequent updates. So, if you go later and look at this link, you’ll see that the organizers every few days have updated both what the campaign has achieved, but also where the funds are going. They’ve also put out information where if people do need relief they can contact them. So it’s been kind of nice that they… when you do these tools, you want to make sure you’re keeping it live and talking about results. We’ll talk about that in a moment.
Farra Trompeter: The next example here is from the Restaurant Workers Organization, and here they’ve created a campaign-specific donation page on their website. So, when you’re doing fundraising on social, there is certainly creating fundraising within the social channels themselves. We’ll talk about that in a moment. There are using crowdfunding tools like CauseVox, GoFundMe, you know, CrowdRise, lots of, lots of things out there. Then there is actually using your website. The benefit of using your website is that you will have the best chance of getting the information from the people who give and also that information will go into your database — hopefully. Also, you’ve got a secure donation platform, which we can see here in this link, and it’s all sort of integrated. Depending on how donation is set up on your website, you may not be able to customize and make unique donation pages. You may only have the ability to have one donation page. If that’s the case and you are doing a campaign right now and most of your communications are targeting that campaign, you could edit that page to really highlight the campaign. And note that what they’re doing on this page is they have a very specific fund, they’re letting us know where the funds are going and it’s clearly a restricted giving campaign. A lot of online fundraising folks want to support general operating support and be unrestricted and be able to use the funds wherever they need. In these moments, though, I think donors in particular want to know where their support is going.
Chris Tuttle: If I can, Farra, I also found… what was interesting about this one when we were preparing the slides and doing some of the screenshots is this one more than some of the others is probably not the most mobile responsive web form. And at first my gut reaction was, “Oh, let’s not show that. Let’s show one that’s response — that looks better.” And then I started looking at the campaign and I saw the feedback of what they were getting online and how many people were engaging. And it was a reminder to myself that all the time we need to not let perfection be the enemy of done. But especially right now when we’re all dealing with a lot, and tech is hard and can be very hard right now that — there is probably a little bit more forgiveness and freedom and room for things not to be perfect and our constituents will largely understand that, I have found. So, this was a great reminder of that for me.
Farra Trompeter: Yeah, great. So as I was saying a minute ago, you know, one of the things that’s helpful for your supporters sometimes — it’s always helpful for a donor to know where their support is going. When you’re doing a crisis campaign, which this is, you know, or disaster relief often they’re called, oftentimes people do want to know specifically what they can support. This example comes from the Brave Space Alliance which is the, I think actually the first black-led, trans-led LGBTQ center, and they’re located in South Side, Chicago. One of the things that’s really — they’re doing a few different things, this specific example is really where they are collecting specific items to give to their community. And you could literally go in, the screenshot certainly has some things that are unavailable as is the case with many items on Amazon these days, but if we were to scroll, we would see other things. And this is just, you know, this is an Amazon wishlist. This works like a registry where you can see what’s needed, what’s available, what’s been purchased. And again, you know, I’ve actually participated in some of these campaigns as a donor in the past and there’s some satisfaction of knowing I’ve actually given these, you know, cans of carrots or corn — they’re actually going to people who need food. S o again, sometimes giving is with dollars, sometimes it’s with time as a volunteer, and sometimes it is with specific items.
Chris Tuttle: And this could be like, I’m even thinking this could be if you’re an organization that’s surveying maybe the last example we were looking at — oh no, this example of the organization, black-led, trans-led LGBTQ center on the South Side of Chicago. If they are serving underprivileged youth or LGBTQ youth who need resources, they might also benefit from things like restaurant gift cards and other things that people could purchase and donate to the organization while supporting local business and supporting people in need all at the same time.
Farra Trompeter: Definitely. This example, there’s two examples connected to the Disability Justice Culture Club. This organization is based in East Oakland. They… are really an organization that puts accessibility top of mind and in fact they particularly prioritize providing a gathering space for black indigenous and people of color who are living with and dealing with disabilities. And one of the things that I thought was really interesting about this example is the use of Venmo. Many of us are used to using Venmo to, you know, split bills, take a friend out to dinner, send somebody the rent, whatever it may be. And they’ve done something where they’ve set themselves up, connected to one of the staff people, with a Venmo account that people can just, you know, send Stacey $10 bucks, $20 bucks, whatever it is, noting that it’s for COVID or this specific campaign. And then that’s going to funnel into direct supplies for the people they’re working with. It’s — they’re putting it toward groceries, masks, cash stipends. So, I think this is a really, you know, one of the heart of principles we talk about at the heart of good communications and good fundraising is showing up where your community is. So again, for many of their supporters who are using Venmo, this makes sense to do. The one thing that I’ll say about this is to my knowledge, only individuals can set up Venmo accounts. Organizations can’t. So you can see here in this example, Stacey’s put her name as the name of the organization. This requires really high trust in your community, right? I have to believe that I’m going to send Stacey $25 bucks and she’s going to put that to the organization. Again, within her community, within the way she’s aligned her personality and her profile to the organization, it’s clearly working for them, but this, you know, this may not be the move for everyone. I think you have to really think carefully about this, but I do just kind of appreciate the unique use of Venmo.
Chris Tuttle: And I’m also assuming that we’re — these are probably not going to be qualified donations with donation receipts and whatnot and that it may be hard to get the contact information of the people who gave and —
Farra Trompeter: Exactly. Yes. I was going to make that point. Yeah, that’s a good point too. I mean sometimes, there are always trade-offs in these decisions. As Chris said, like perfect is the enemy of the good, sometimes you can’t check all the boxes, right? Sometimes it’s better to use a tool like a crowdfunding tool that lets lots of people participate, lets donors view progress, lets your community be fundraisers… for you, but you might not get all the information of the people who participate as opposed to using your website, which maybe doesn’t work as well responsively and it’s been on your to-do list to make it mobile-friendly, but lets us, you know, give you other information. So I think this is always a back and forth. Chris, actually, can you go back to the last slide? There’s a question.
Chris Tuttle: I was just going to do that.
Farra Trompeter: So, Patty’s asked a question that I think everyone can see. I believe — so, Patty’s asked a question about does the money on these go? I believe it just works as you’re giving a specific item. That said, if you use AmazonSmile, and I was to say that I’m an AmazonSmile user, which is Amazon’s program where you can select an organization that gets a small percent of any of your purchases. If you use AmazonSmile, if this organization has a Smile account, if I shop Amazon and all of my AmazonSmile support goes to Brave Space, then I think yes, they might also get money from this. But I believe the way this is set up is purely a transaction for whatever the items are.
Chris Tuttle: Correct. Just to clarify for folks who may be watching this in rewind and not see the chat room, the question was about whether or not the Amazon shopping list also gives money back to the nonprofit that’s hosting the shopping list, the wishlist. And so Farra, I think you’re exactly right. The wishlist in and of itself will not give any money to the nonprofit. It would be up to the user to understand how to buy the wishlist items via Smile and to have already set their donation.
Farra Trompeter: Yeah, and — sorry Christopher, you can say.
Chris Tuttle: I was just saying, that’s another thing that folks can do. We can also remind folks that we have AmazonSmile accounts while everybody is shopping on Amazon right now.
Farra Trompeter: That’s true. My inclination though, Chris, and feel free to disagree, is that if you’re really doing a wishlist campaign for items like this, you’re really just focused on that. I think adding in the layer of saying, “and by the way, set up Smile, pick us on Smile,” that may be overwhelming, and the more directions you give to someone the less likely they will be to do it.
Chris Tuttle: Absolutely agree. I also mentioned when you said that these were currently unavailable, there were a couple other items down that still were, which I thought was interesting that Amazon didn’t resort the list. But, I actually noticed on somebody else, it wasn’t theirs it was another nonprofit that was doing an Amazon wishlist as well, that somebody commented that everything was unavailable right now or it would take too long to ship. So I just donated $100. And I thought it was like, “Oh yeah, great reminder.” People might see that and still feel inspired to find another way to help.
Farra Trompeter: Right. And I think two things before we leave this — we’re spending lots of time on this one, who knew? I think this is also a good reminder that if you ever run one of these campaigns, check it daily. Because if I was the — if I’m the organizer of this and I see that all the items I had on my wishlist are unavailable, maybe I’ll add other things that are showing as available. And you might have to constantly, you know, personally restock this, the robots might be — might not yet be doing it for us. The other thing is, you know, I think the way this works, and you can see this again if you’ve ever done like a wedding or a baby registry or have seen that on Amazon, I could potentially buy these cans of sliced carrots somewhere else and have them shipped and check that now this item is no longer needed. That puts a lot of work on the user and some dedicated people will do that. But I think they have tried to provide for that in some way.
Farra Trompeter: All right, let’s jump back to where we were. So back to the Disability Justice Culture Club. We’re talking about the campaign they had to raise money on Venmo. They also did something great, which is they celebrated one of their fundraisers who’s also a member of their community. And they really highlighted what she did. She rallied 70 people to give to this organization for her birthday and directed people to do the Venmo give. And what I love about this is that like, this is real. These are people, of course, they’ve also done a great job if you look at this actual post, they’ve made sure there’s ALT tag information there. You know, if you’re an organization that works with accessibility front and center, keeping that front and center even in your campaign is also important. So, I just love that they have celebrated the results and celebrated the person who did it.
Farra Trompeter: We’re wrapping up, and then we’ll get some tips and open up for questions. So, in this example, you know, I’m a big fan and I believe Chris is too, of really trying to give your community, including your staff and your board, tools to raise money for you. This is an example from Julie Seymour Edwards, who’s someone Chris and I both know, she’s the executive director of the Humane Society over there in Georgia. And one of the things that, you know, she’s talking about here, not only has — have they tried to help get puppies adopted… she’s also done a fundraising campaign. So if you scroll down this post, you’d be able to see she’s raised almost $1,000 from over 30 people connected to her post. You know, if you write something on Facebook as an individual and you mention a nonprofit, Facebook will ask you if you want to make add the donate buttons.
Farra Trompeter: Sometimes it’s as easy as that. But I think this is an important reminder to A) if your organization is not already set up as a Facebook charity, there are some things you need to do to be eligible. You should do it. And when you do it, you also then can look at Instagram and set up potentially giving on Instagram. We don’t have an Instagram example in this deck right now, but there definitely are people who are using Instagram to give on their profile through stories and other things. And again, this is about showing up where our community is. Trade-off, again, is that likely you won’t get that information of the donors who are giving unless they’re really paying attention and check a box, you can get their information. But you know, in this moment, especially if it’s a crisis and we have immediate needs, sometimes the dollars are really important to bring in.
Farra Trompeter: And, I think one of the other things Julie did great with this campaign is she made sure she made the first gift so that the campaign wasn’t just, “Julie’s trying to raise $1,000 and for hours it’s like zero of a thousand.” She made that first gift. I mean, people often want to give to something that already has some momentum. So that if you, or if you yourself or your organization is setting up one of these crowd campaigns, whether it’s in Facebook or one of these other tools, it’s always helpful to start with a small gift. It could be $5 bucks, $10 bucks. It doesn’t have to be a big gift. Just so that, you know, that lovely little zero is not staring anyone in the face.
Chris Tuttle: So, I have to hang on this one for a minute, for a few reasons. One, you might be able to tell that I like dogs. But, I think there’s also like a really… another great example of something that’s happening here, which is that a lot of people are going online. Facebook has reported, other social networks have reported, that more people are accessing those social sites daily than they usually do. And a lot of the reasons they’re doing that is to connect with other people as we’re all physical distancing. That’s not necessarily going to help us as brands try to reach with people because our content is not the first thing that they’re coming online to see. Not that it was yesterday either, but it definitely isn’t today. Now at least for me, really cute dog pictures will always perform well and I will always like them, comment, and love them and probably keep a picture to look at later.
Chris Tuttle: But what we’re seeing — Farra has to draw on the cat virtual background, I love it. But one thing that’s actually happening here by using or utilizing and engaging our staff, our volunteers, and others in talking about the work, is we’re actually going to be doing a better job at getting through to folks because we are listening to each other right now. And you probably have experienced this yourself. I know I have that — we’re also talking to each other about the things that we’re going through in our lives, our employment, the causes we care about, the issues that we care about. And so I think that if you really want to break through right now on social media, engaging your best supporters, your best brand ambassadors, and doing some of that talking about your calls for you is going to be a win-win. Whether you’re fundraising or just trying to gain awareness.
Farra Trompeter: You may have also seen campaigns like this sometimes, big campaigns show up in your Facebook feed that are organized by organizations and lots of your friends start giving. So here’s a campaign that almost 200,000 people have given to, almost $6 million, or, you know, $5 million have been raised for the World Health Organization. And again, this is just to say, you know, this is great, all these people are giving to the World Health Organization. It’s also an important reminder of two things. First of all, they’re noting that when you give to them, they’ve got a match. So, every dollar they raise will go for double. Matches always work well, especially with online fundraising. And we’ll talk a little bit about the idea of matches in a moment. The other thing I think that’s important to note is your donors are probably seeing big campaigns like this too, and it’s just a reminder, just as Chris was saying that your campaign is never the only thing on anyone’s mind and especially now when there’s lots going on, it’s always important to remember that your donors are probably seeing other things in their feeds, in their inboxes, when they’re turning on the news, when they’re watching stuff on YouTube, whatever it may be. So, it’s important to remember your campaign does not exist in a vacuum. I’m sure none of you think that, but just want to make that point.
Chris Tuttle: I see they’re doing what you were talking about earlier, Farra, where they’ve talked about the $10 million match in the campaign title, but you can see — we can see their goal is only set right now at least for $6,000.
Farra Trompeter: Exactly. $6 million.
Chris Tuttle: Making… $6 million… Same difference to me. $6 million. And so I think there’s a few different things here happening. One, we’re trying to make the goal more realistic for folks as we get closer to it and also giving folks those stretch goals as we increase it as we go along. But I like it. The other thing that strikes me though, when you talk about folks seeing these fundraisers alongside ours, which yeah, anybody — any fundraiser that’s getting $200,000 donations in a couple of days on Facebook is going to come across most of our channels in one way or another. I can see my friends have already donated to it. But it also to me in a way makes me think that possibly smaller fundraisers for more local organizations especially might even stand out for some folks.
Farra Trompeter: Yeah, I think for sure. No, I think that’s true. But again, with Facebook as with many of these, the algorithms have really shifted what we see. So that filter bubble and the kind of information. So it’s possible Chris and I just live, you know, probably less than 10 miles apart. But what he sees in his feed might be very different than what I see. Though, actually probably with us, we have a lot of mutual friends — maybe that’s not the case. You know, I think you never really quite know exactly what else the people in your community are seeing. But likely if your organization’s on the front line, you’re really doing stuff at a local level and talking about it, it probably will certainly take some steam.
Chris Tuttle: Awesome. And one last thing. I did just notice somebody responded to our Amazon questions we had earlier. Lindsay, thank you for sharing, says that if you create an Amazon influencer account, you can create lists and earn a percentage. I’m pretty sure that the influencer accounts are around specific people and not organizations, so I’m not sure how that would work. It might require some transfer of money again, but might be something to look into if you are looking into Amazon lists and are trying to learn more about it is checkout influencer accounts.
Farra Trompeter: Yeah. Thanks for that.
Chris Tuttle: Of course. And next slide, there we go.
Farra Trompeter: Yeah. Some of you may have heard of Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday has been going on for about seven years now and it takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, you know, it has grown as an international philanthropic movement. A lot of organizations, I know ones that I have worked with have actually raised more on Giving Tuesday than they have on December 31st, which was a big trend for online giving. So Giving Tuesday realizes they’ve got this ability where they’ve been able to bring people together and leverage generosity. And they’ve just announced that on May 5th, which I believe is the first Tuesday in May, that they’re going to do Giving Tuesday now. And that is really going to be focused on funding efforts related to COVID-19. So, if you’ve done Giving Tuesday before, you might want to go to the website now and check it out.
Farra Trompeter: You might think about whether or not you should do something on May 5th. Some organizations might keep it small, might just post one or two messages on their Facebook page and leave it at that. Some may organize a full campaign where they’re sending out several emails. They’re doing, you know, sending out an email with a save the date, sending out an email, “This is coming next week,” sending out an email, “This is tomorrow,” sending three emails out day of, whatever it may be, right? There’s lots of things you can do when it comes to these kinds of global campaigns. But I imagine — I think right now, a lot of folks in the nonprofit sector have heard about this Giving Tuesday, now. I don’t think it has necessarily reached wider audiences yet, but it likely will because of the way Giving Tuesday has really gained some momentum in recent years. So again, just worth putting on your… to-do list. Should we do anything for Giving Tuesday now on May 5th.
Chris Tuttle: I have a feeling this might be something we come back to and talk a little bit more about in a minute, just because as you get through some of the tips and strategies, I’d be curious to hear from folks who are listening and you can let us know in the chat room. Like what are you doing with your fundraising today? Have you stopped your fundraising plans as they were currently done? Are you revisiting them? Pivoting to keep your fundraising going? Have you been waiting for something like Giving Tuesday now to allow you an opportunity to try to fundraise in this new environment?
Farra Trompeter: And there’s actually a question that came in from Brett — oh no, I’m sorry, from Lindsay. Do people get the impression that this new Giving Tuesday date will really focus on front-line responders, health agencies, etc., or include all types of nonprofits? My sense, and Chris, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to dig in more deeply or if anyone is on the webinar from Giving Tuesday, my sense is that it’s really meant to respond to this moment so that if you do participate, I would imagine you’d want to participate and talk about how the funds you’re trying to raise go toward anything as it connects to COVID-19. If your organization has, you know, if you’ve been directly impacted financially, if you’ve had some issues with your team, with the community you’re working in, you are providing front-line support… I mean, I think thinking about it, if you’re doing nothing specifically to how it relates, it probably won’t go as well and might in fact feel tone-deaf.
Chris Tuttle: Yeah. I actually just had to go look at their website and double-check because I read it a little bit more loosely in that it was for nonprofits and organizations that had been impacted by COVID-19, but not necessarily working directly on it. In my quick glance, it does say they’re doing this as a unifying moment to give back on May 5th, and it is an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. But it sounds like they may be leaving a little bit open for interpretation there, too.
Farra Trompeter: Yeah. So, I think Chris, maybe we should turn into our strategies and talk a little bit about some of these ideas Chris and I wanted to share in the world of dos and don’ts, and then open it up to other questions that some of you have already been submitting. So again, like all good communications, especially fundraising communications, always you need to start with “who is this for” and put your people first. So, Chris and I just kind of put together this almost fill in the blanks, really thinking about who is this campaign for? Who’s most likely to give? Why should people care? What emotions might they be feeling? You can go back to that slide Chris showed earlier. What else is on their minds, right? If your donors, if you know particularly your donors are worried about their own financial futures, their own health, you’re in a community like us in New York City that is really facing some high rates, that’s an important thing to think about and keep in mind when you’re even thinking about the copy of whatever you’re writing. The big “don’t” here is, you know, the sort of adage from the “Field of Dreams” movie that was highlighted and from other things, “If you build it, they will come.” That’s not going to happen. Just like you can’t stick a donation button on your website and expect the gifts to come flooding in, you can’t just write one post on Facebook or add the button and all of a sudden the donations will come. You need to think about all of these things, you need to think about how you’re going to put it out there as well.
Farra Trompeter: The next thing that I think is always important for any kind of campaign, but especially in a moment when there’s so much going on, is to really pick a number one goal. This doesn’t mean that your campaign might not — might also do this, but what’s the first and foremost thing you need your campaign to do? Is it about bringing new people in? Is it about getting people who used to give to you to give it again? Is it something to bring some feel-good world to your community? Is it really to provide direct support or direct funds for something? Do you want just more people to know who you are? My guess is, for many of you, the primary goal will probably be higher on that list. This is particularly a good time to, I think when it comes to crisis fundraising, to focus on the people who already know you. I think unless your organization’s working deeply on the front lines in a community that’s severely impacted, this is not necessarily a time for acquisition. This is a time really for engaging your current base and maybe re-engaging those who are lapsed as opposed to focusing lots of money, time, advertising on acquisition.
Farra Trompeter: But the big “don’t” here is, you know, you can’t check all boxes. Trying to do that will make the messages very muddied. It’ll mean that you’ll have to either have a one-size-fits-all that doesn’t work, or do lots of segmentation that might be overwhelming to implement. So again, just, you know, we’re big fans of prioritizing.
Farra Trompeter: The next thing here is really, you know, we’ve clarified who we’re trying to reach, what we’re trying to do, now we need to think about, okay, how are we actually going to make this happen? What are, you know, we’ve never done Facebook fundraising; should we hop on Facebook and set that up? Should we focus on using our website and driving traffic there? There, again, are always trade-offs in using tools and channels and working with people you already know versus bringing in new people. So, I think just sort of do the pros and cons when you’re thinking about both of these things. If you do experiment with something new, maybe you’ve never done live streaming. Some organizations I know on Giving Tuesday that typically happens in November or December, sort of do like a live streaming telethon and they start naming the names of donors whose gifts come in and try and do some exciting things with Facebook Live or Instagram Live or Twitter Live. If you’ve never done live streaming before, that’s not to say you couldn’t do it now. Certainly test it and just think about how, and if you might do that. There’s some other great stuff on here that I know Chris has added. I’ll pause and see if you want to chime in on some of those.
Chris Tuttle: Yeah. I think also I’d just add that tech piece. I think one of the biggest things I always think about in this is that right now we’re all dealing with a new world that we’re working in. We’re all trying to figure out how to — whatever programs, services, campaigns we need to move online that we’re trying to do that still serving our communities. We’re still fundraising. We’re dealing with a lot right now. So to add on trying to set up securely and correctly, effectively and train everybody a lot of new tech is — this is really not the best time for it. That said, I do think it is time to be bold. And so, Brett I think was actually asking a question about this from a podcast that you said you had listened to with Brett Egan and about fundraising during this time is only going to be successful if the organization shares big, bold visions for the future. Do you agree?
Chris Tuttle: I don’t necessarily personally think it needs to be a big, bold vision for the future, but I do think this is the time for us to be bold. And that doesn’t mean that we’re, like, going out and doing everything. And it doesn’t mean that we’re trying to do all the new things. But it means that we’re not not doing anything. It means that we don’t stop what we’re doing. It means that we are there for our community and that we might need to take risks that we couldn’t previously or didn’t previously. So getting into some of these other ones, though, which are not risks, they’re actually things that we know work and that we can rely on, are things like identifying 5, 10, 20 people in your organization who you can ask to help seed a campaign; that can amplify the campaign that you’re going to launch.
Chris Tuttle: I find this is incredibly important with any digital campaign that you’re going to be doing online, especially when it has a social media component. And that what I’ll do with any campaign I’m doing, even if it’s announcing a new resource or starting a new Facebook fundraiser, is I will have lined up in my back pocket at least 5 or 10 people who I know are going to make a donation within the first hour of that campaign’s launch. Because that’s going to help seed the campaign, so when others see it, it’ll already look like it’s a campaign worth investing in. I know I’m going to try to have another group of people, maybe my volunteer lists, my board members, maybe my full staff list, who I’m going to ask, “Can you help amplify this campaign now that it’s been seeded?” So get that campaign in front of more people’s eyes.
Chris Tuttle: Another tip here is to consider existing major donors whose gifts could be used as matches. This is something we’ve all seen online, and I often think it’s widely known and then folks tell me that it’s not — that those matched gifts are not necessarily somebody who came to them. Nobody came to WHO… most likely nobody came to WHO and said, “Hey, we have $10 million. We want to do a Facebook match. Can you do it?” What probably happened is fundraisers and others there tapped somebody who they knew they could rely on to be a really great supporter in this moment — an existing major donor, an existing foundation, an existing partner — and they asked them to be a part of this with them. And so if you already know that you have major donations, typically that are going to be given around this time of year, could these be people that you touch base with now and start talking to about whether or not they’d be able to help give that gift maybe even earlier than usual to help support a specific match. And I’ve personally found, I’m sure Farra you have as well, that a lot of folks who are already your existing major donors want to do this. They may want to do it anonymously, they may want to do it under their name or under a name of an organization or a company they’re with. But a lot of them want to be helpful and if their donation can be helpful in that way, they appreciate it.
Farra Trompeter: I want to just add a “don’t” to this point of matching gifts. I’ve gotten this question on other fundraising trainings I’ve done. People have said, “Oh, you mentioned how when there’s a matching gift, donors are often more incentivized. If I know my gifts going to go twice as far, three times as far, etc., can we make it up? Can we just say we’ve got a match?” No. I know none of you are wondering that, but just in case future person is listening to this recording. Both from an ethical perspective and really a legal perspective, you can’t make up that you have a match. You can, as Chris said, go to an existing donor and say, “Can we allocate your support you gave us toward a match? Would you be interested in giving to help incentivize a match?” But you can’t just say you have a match if you don’t have one.
Chris Tuttle: Absolutely. So then the other last tip is determining if board members, volunteers, existing donors can help in any way. I am hopeful that at this — by this point, every single one of your organizations has already reached out to your board members, has already reached out to your foundations, your major donors, and other really important supporters who’ve been with you throughout all of this. This is the time. If you haven’t yet, start having those calls and meetings. Even if you don’t even have an ask for them yet, I think it’s important that we start those conversations so that they understand what we’re going through and that they’re thinking about us when they’re trying to figure out who they’re going to support. Cause obviously, there are a lot of organizations and people in need right now.
Chris Tuttle: And then finally here is one that I think should be done throughout this entire process. And I would even say this should be done now, before you start fundraising. And that is find ways to provide value. Now, there are two things here that we can talk about. There’s actual value for the time that we’re in. So, I think of SeriousFun Children’s Network who I’ve seen has been doing an amazing job promoting their at-home games for young people, for all the families who have young people at home, and they use this resource to promote their other resources that they have on their website as well and to get people interested in SeriousFun’s children’s camps around the country that are of course not open right now, but will be again. And so they’re using this opportunity to keep people engaged and raise awareness around their brand. There’s also like providing value to people who are at home right now and can’t access support groups via maybe support groups online, conference calls, video conferencing.
Chris Tuttle: There’s providing value to people based on where they’re at in their lives and what they want to do. So, I think this is actually a big one we can be thinking about with volunteering. We’ve got 3.2 million plus people out of work right now in the country and while a lot of folks may be binge watching Netflix, a lot of folks are also looking for things to do — either to learn, to give back, to support, or even just to distract them right now as they try to figure out what’s next. And so I think of all the untapped talent that exists out there in the world right now, that we could be calling upon our volunteers to see if there are graphic designers, video editors, messager — writers and others who could actually help us in this moment.
Chris Tuttle: And then the other part of that value, I said there’s two parts, the other part of that value is finding our shared values, in that we talked about how in the beginning the research shows that people are seeking positivity and security in branding messages right now. And so thinking through not only how do we help our constituent feel safe and secure in their world and their environment, and part of that is by us letting them know that we’re there and letting them know what resources we have, but I also think about how can we share our values with folks. And so, can we share the values that our organization and our constituents share together that will often be framed around positivity, love, community? And I have — I know, not have a feeling, I know that those values will resonate well with your constituents. And doing that now will help them engage in your fundraising campaign when you start that. So, I know we are getting close to time, so let’s get to a couple of final tips here. The —
Farra Trompeter: This is just really, you know, like any good campaign, you should make sure you have a clear schedule in mind. Thinking about the beginning, middle, of end. Keep in mind what kind of prep you have to do, how you’re going to keep people updated. Remember, not just to say, “We need your money, we need your money.” Let people know where that money’s going. Let them know the progress you’ve made. You can celebrate the number of donations you’ve received or donors. You can celebrate the amounts. You can celebrate, you know, the goods that have been given, if it’s something related to that. But also do remember to report back to people. Tell them thank you. Let them know what happened. And also just the big “don’t” here is again, just like, you can’t just, if you do preschedule a bunch of tweets about your campaign or Facebook posts, don’t just forget to double-check it because you want to make sure any of that or maybe even advertising doesn’t happen, especially in this moment where news changes every day and you want to really make sure you don’t strike the wrong chord.
Chris Tuttle: Yup. And then, I just answered a question that came up in our chat real quick, but probably should answer it here and I wouldn’t mind hearing what you have to say, Farra, is that Jennifer shares that they have a perception issue in their community and that many people don’t realize their organization is actually a nonprofit. And it feels like it might be a good opportunity to amplify that message. What’s the best way to communicate this? I just shared that I think it’d be a really great opportunity to find out, especially on our social channels where we can amplify the community voice in talking about our work. The overview, asking for reviews, asking for them to share publicly, doing maybe community story sharing across our social channels, so sharing the stories of our community members, our constituents. Or even asking for folks to do takeovers of our social media channels. Obviously, people we already have relationships with and who might be able to actually share some really good stories of their own, but that might be a really good way of starting that. Farra, any other thoughts there?
Farra Trompeter: I mean, there is a lot I could say on this subject as someone who thinks a lot about branding. Oh, and Chris and I also big Schitts Creek fans, so send your questions in, tell us how much you love Moira Rose, or just ask us any questions you have. But I would say to Jennifer, you know, I’d love to, and feel free to email me. I’d love to sort of see your organization, but you want to look at your messaging. Maybe there are ways you’re describing your organization or even describing your appeals that don’t make it seem like you are a nonprofit. It may be important to, I don’t necessarily need, you have to amplify that itself, but when you are doing your messaging, look to see if you should embed certain phrases, note that gifts are tax deductible, note that you are an organization committed to the public good and doing X. So, I would just look at how you’re talking about yourselves rather than a campaign about it. Just look at what you can tweak and as Chris said, get your community to tell the story for you or just really focus on what your campaign is doing to improve the community.
Chris Tuttle: So, let’s get back up just a couple of questions that have been posed or shared online and talk about those. And also if you have questions, like Farra said, now’s the time to enter them into the comments. While you’re typing in those questions, I just want to run through a couple more resources for you and then we’ll answer the questions with our remaining time. So, we’re not going to go through each of these. These are linked here. You’re going to get these slides. These are some of the resources that we’ve found helpful in understanding online fundraising, online messaging, and other ways to be more effective while we’re all working remote in this new world. This is actually a new resource that my company Teleco is launching at the end of this week called EverydayNonprofits. We’re an online learning center for nonprofit professionals like you or other communications, development, or programmatic staff who are looking to use digital more effectively to serve your mission.
Chris Tuttle: Like many of you, we’ve had to pivot everything we were doing, as we planned to launch this a few weeks ago before a bunch of conferences were canceled. So because of that, we’ve created a whole new free membership where I’m going to be giving away a bunch of free resources, from a Facebook fundraiser analyzer who will help you understand who your best Facebook fundraisers are and how Facebook fundraising is performing for you to a campaign working… I can’t talk. A campaign marketing template, so you can develop your fundraising campaigns and other campaigns, thinking through your goals, objectives, audiences, and more. As well as this webinar and many other webinars that we’re doing for you over a couple of weeks now will all be available for free. And those who are interested, we will also have a premium membership with custom, hands-on classes every month and every quarter for the next year, as well as consulting office hours to help you get through this.
Chris Tuttle: Those are going to start very reasonably priced at $29 a month or $248 a year, which is $100 off of a monthly membership. And we’re also going to be giving away memberships to small and midsize organizations that may be struggling to afford this right now. As I said at the beginning, there are two more webinars coming up. The first one, I apologize, I didn’t have time to update this as it just happened, but it is at tuttle.co/events if you want to join Kishshana Palmer and myself. We’ll be meeting next Wednesday, talking about building trust when working remote with our working teams, and then Seth tomorrow talking about working and managing teams from home.
Farra Trompeter: Oh, yes. I just wanted to mention we’ve got a webinar we’re cooking up that will be on Monday at one o’clock Eastern. You can go to bigduck.com/events to sign up for it if you’re interested. This was really on communications planning. We’ve gotten a lot of questions from folks, if they had a communications plan, what do they do with it now? If they don’t have one, how do they really sort of organize their communications and their messaging in response to this moment? So Laura, who’s one of our strategists — our senior strategists, and myself will be sort of spending an hour talking about that, leaving lots of time for questions. So you can see that. Also, if you go to Big Duck’s website and go to Insights and click on videos in that section, you’ll see lots of webinars. We’ve recorded many in the past few weeks that you can watch for free.
Chris Tuttle: Insights, up here. All right, okay. Finally, stay in touch. You can connect with both of us in our 1980s photos — 80s / 90s photos?
Farra Trompeter: I’m 80s, I don’t know about yours.
Chris Tuttle: I think I’m 90s there…
Farra Trompeter: My hair is getting as big in this moment.
Chris Tuttle: But with that, I see we have some more comments and questions that came in. I want to save our final five minutes and try to address these. Farra, did you have any more thoughts on Brett’s question around is it necessary for organizations to be — to share big, bold visions for their future in order to fundraise right now?
Farra Trompeter: I mean, I think with — it depends on who your audience is. I think if your audience is like an audience that knows you well, potentially more of a major donor audience who’ve given to you significantly, they may be asking a lot of questions about the future. That said, right now as Chris was showing in those models earlier, the future is feeling really unknown to all of us. And I think you have to be careful of writing checks you can’t cash later or something, whatever that phrase is. So I would just be careful about not going so big and bold that we sound tone-deaf. And again, that said, I think in one-on-one conversations with your board, with again, major donors, if you’re thinking about the future or creating scenarios based on what that future might look like, that’s likely an appropriate place. But I think right now going on Facebook or in your whole email blast talking something about, “Join our future,” with lots of exclamation points might feel really… might not be very well received. Let’s say that.
Chris Tuttle: Yeah, so another question comes from Carol, and this is such a great question and we didn’t touch on this yet today. Can you touch base on email overload? So nonprofits are all reaching out right now to the same donor base. I would actually add that for-profits who I haven’t heard from in 10 years ago, but I bought one pair of shoes from in 1999 or something, they’ve suddenly reached out to let me know that they care, which is very nice. So, the question actually is, we don’t want to run the risk of having donors opt out of receiving our future communications, some think they’re just checking to not receive so many emails from us, but instead our system flags them as “do not email.” So basically, what’s the advice for organizations that might be concerned about reaching donors via email during this time?
Farra Trompeter: I mean, it’s a great question and certainly just like Chris, I’m getting lots of emails both from nonprofits and for-profits alike. I mean there’s often a question about email overload, for example, on days like Giving Tuesday or the end of the year. That said, I think this is a time people are in their inboxes and people are wondering what’s going on. I think maybe you just ask a question about how many emails to send? Not just assume you shouldn’t send any because, you know, everyone’s getting so many emails. This is where you might look at your data. What is your typical open and click-through rate when you send out a newsletter or an update versus an appeal? What is it if you send one out now? How different is that? And use that data to inform your decision. I do think, you know, again, if you’ve got something to say and the point is good, say it. I wouldn’t email every day, but we do know generally speaking, the more you ask, the more you get. But I wouldn’t, again, flood our donors and our prospects with an email every other day or every day.
Chris Tuttle: Yeah. I would actually add also that I think your competition is less from other nonprofits fundraising from your donors than it is from other brands just overwhelming their email inboxes. While certainly a lot of us give to multiple organizations, most of us are not subscribed to the email accounts of every nonprofit in our community. And so — and there’s definitely enough donors out there for all of us. And so I definitely, I agree with everything you said, Farra. I think it’s about just being careful, strategic. And I really loved you said look at your data because that’s what I’ve been doing and I’ve already seen, at least for me and my audiences, that email open rates are higher than ever. Click-through rates are higher than ever.
Farra Trompeter: Yeah. We — our last, I mean, Big Duck is a for profit company, but mostly nonprofits’ staff are on our list and, again, cross-section of some donors, our March e-newsletter had the best open rate we’ve had ever. So, people are clicking and looking for information if you’ve got the right story to tell
Chris Tuttle: If you’re helpful, useful, right message — exactly. Yeah. A couple of final questions as we wrap up our time. Let’s see, do we have one more? Oh, somebody actually just mentioned, Lucy mentioned, that the same may be true for social to be careful about overwhelming folks with too much social. The same is definitely true. We have to be a little careful and we shouldn’t be posting on social just to post on social. But I would also say that social uses algorithms, so not everybody’s seeing the emails in our inbox. So there’s actually a little bit better ability to communicate more often on social still than there used to be in the past. And I think the piece about email is also, like, not emailing everybody in your email lists. Like, don’t email people who haven’t opened your emails in the last year.
Farra Trompeter: In fact, maybe take them off your email list, but that’s another conversation.
Chris Tuttle: That’s another story. That’s another story. So, I know we are at time. I really appreciate everybody who joined us today. And Farra, thank you so much. I love doing these sessions with you.
Farra Trompeter: Thank you for having me. And thanks for everyone for tuning in. And again, feel free to reach out to us in any of these internet ways.
Chris Tuttle: Exactly. We’re here to answer your questions and help. I hope to see you all soon. If not in person, on another webinar. Take care of yourselves.
Farra Trompeter: Take care everyone.