Online Fundraising Academy: Building a Donor Community on Facebook

Online Fundraising Academy: Building a Donor Community on Facebook

In GlobalGiving’s seventh session of the Online Fundraising Academy, Emily Bell, the Marketing & Development Manager for More Than Me, joined us to share tips and recommendations for building and engaging your network on Facebook. With more than 26,000 fans on Facebook, it’s not uncommon for a post on More Than Me’s page to receive 200 likes, several dozen shares, and handful of comments. Keep reading to learn how the organization effectively taps into this hyper-engaged Facebook network to drive action and donations during campaigns and promotions.

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

More Than Me:

  • More Than Me is on a mission to make sure education and opportunity, not exploitation and poverty, define the lives of the most vulnerable girls from the West Point Slum of Liberia. When she graduates, she will decide what comes next for her life.
  • From the beginning More Than Me (MTM) has been very social media-based, and started out by sharing stories on various social media platforms. Sharing compelling stories of beneficiaries and program updates, MTM invites donors to understand what it means to live for something bigger than one’s self.
  • In 2014, MTM won $1 million through the Chase American Giving Award, all because of its supporters who spread the word on Facebook and other social media.

Tips and Best Practices:

  • Find out what your audience likes and stick to it! For MTM it was visuals, such as photos, videos, and infographics.
  • Find what your brand is and then keep it as part of your outreach strategy.
  • Make your donors feel special! Whether it’s shout out signs or personalized thank you notes, help your donors to reconnect with the mission, and remind them they’re part of something bigger than themselves.
  • Tell real stories, even if they’re longer than 2 sentences.
    • When Ebola impacted Liberia, MTM made a decision to close their school and instead work to fight Ebola. Although visuals are powerful, MTM found that telling  compelling stories of what was happening on the ground with an authentic voice was just as powerful.

Using Facebook Insights to Design an Effective Strategy:

  • Go to your organization’s Facebook page, click on the admin tools, and then click on the insights tab. From here you can see what is and isn’t working in terms of your Facebook communications and outreach.
  • Learn about your audience
    • Segmentations: fans, people reached, people engaged
    • Figure out how you can tailor posts so certain groups are not just reached, but also become engaged
  • When is your audience engaged?
    • When are they most active on Facebook? What times are best for posting?
    • Measure engagement for specific posts
    • Compare weekly statistics – what posts were more engaging?
    • Which type of post works best for your audience?
  • Add pages to watch – orgs with similar brands or interests – allows you to compare yourself with other pages, to see what other orgs are doing and the average level of engagement
  • Increase your organic reach (versus paid ads)
    • Post at the right times; use strong visuals (high-resolution photos, infographics, videos); be authentic – don’t just promote your brand, but be personal, showcase the people behind the brand; add calls-to-action
  • Consider posting other things aside from updates – what else is going on in the world? What are people talking about on social media? Don’t be afraid to join the conversation!

Bonus Day Strategy

  • Get key buy-in from stakeholders
    • Founder, board members, staff
    • Beneficiaries (depending on your org) – MTM works with at-risk girls and has a Child Protection Policy in place, so it’s very important to think about the safety of your beneficiaries when sharing stories online.
  • Be consistent and clear in your messaging
    • Tell these stakeholders exactly what you need from them
    • Send an email with suggested Facebook photos they can use; and include who, what, when, where details of the campaign
  • Use photos, statistics, hashtags, and events to tell your story and drive donations
    • MTM doesn’t provide the link to donate until the day of, instead, they create a Facebook event, which on the day of the event will display the project page link
  • Create a sense of urgency, momentum for donors to give
    • Keep updating status with updates, how donors can continue to help to get org to a specific goal
  • Write thank you posts following the end of the campaign!
    • MTM includes a link to the leaderboard so donors can see the results firsthand.
  • Check GlobalGiving’s traffic source, so you can see how donors got to your page.
  • Make sure someone who knows your brand and mission really well, and who can confidently start up conversations with supporters is in charge of running your day-to-day communications and social media.
    • Campaigns should be creative and fit with your brand – you don’t want just anyone doing this!
    • IT/Operations are there only there to help you with website updates or other technical needs.

Key Takeaways for Facebook Beginners:

  • Find the type of post that works for your audience, then don’t be afraid to use that angle to the fullest!
  • Remind people why they should follow you by keeping posts engaging and relevant.
  • Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with your followers online – they care about your work and want to learn more!

Q: How do you convert Facebook visitors to donors? How can you effectively grow your Facebook network?

A: Keep your brand authentic, tell authentic stories, and pay attention to what your followers are responding to and what inspires them. Find your donor champions who will share your posts with friends and will continue to spread the word. Get your donors to engage with your content – whether it’s commenting, clicking on a link, or liking your post. Once you get your audience engaged, you then can convert them with a clear call-to-action. Take advantage of the target audience tool – where you can select a certain audience for different posts (e.g. by location or gender).

Q: How often should organizations participate in Bonus Days and other campaigns?

A: It’s important to make sure that you’re not constantly asking your donors for money. MTM always takes a look at GlobalGiving’s Campaign Calendar at the beginning of the year to decide when to do the big pushes. Consider when your organization has the capacity to do big pushes, and how often your donors are willing to give to your organization. MTM usually tries to do three or four big campaigns a year.

Tips for Bonus Day Communication:

  • Remind donors that their donations will be matched
    • Not all donors are familiar with the term Bonus Day, so make sure to explain it
  • You may decide not to provide the link to give until Bonus Day officially begins
    • If you do give the link early, recognize donors may give before 9:00:00 EDT
  • Create a sense of urgency early on
    • Don’t wait until the end of your email to talk about Bonus Day or to provide the donation link
  • Keep it brief! Have a compelling call-to-action in as few words as possible.
  • Feature a close-up, high-resolution photo
  • Tell a succinct story about an individual who will benefit
  • For May 13 Bonus Day information see here
  • For July 15 Bonus Day information see here

This post was written by Destiny Nobles, Program Team Intern. 

Online Fundraising Academy: Donor-Centered Retention Strategy

Online Fundraising Academy: Donor-Centered Retention Strategy

Robyn Nietert, the President of Women’s Microfinance Initiative, joined us for the sixth session of the Online Fundraising Academy! Founded in 2008, WMI began without a donor base, but has since expanded its donor network and its annual fundraising budget, now at $250,000. Robyn joined us for the first time to share her organization’s approaches to donor relationship building and retention strategies.

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

WMI Fundraising Events:

  • Communicate your enthusiasm for your project to friends and family. Ask them for their initial support as well as for their ideas. Make your supporters feel engaged and like they’re helping out your organization.
  • Hold community events to build awareness and fundraise for your organization
    • Consider investing in low cost flyers and posters to advertise for the event
    • These events allow you to build a network among the people you already know, and allows your supporters to invite friends in their personal networks
  • Attend other community events when possible to discuss your organization
  • Reach out to individuals, communities, community organizations, etc. who may be interested in your work and take the opportunity to speak at events they’re hosting – spreading the word about your organization and your programs

Donor Communication:

  • Maintain contact with supporters on a regular basis through a newsletter or email
    • WMI uses Constant Contact for all of its mailings and newsletters
    • We learned who our donors were and what they wanted, and the main segment of donors are interested in reading a newsletter with different stories and pictures
    • This allows us to positively reinforce WMI and the work we’re doing
    • No matter how short your reports or newsletters may be, it’s important to send them out on a regular basis – showing them that none of the work is possible without their support
  • Thank your donors!!
    • Take time to thank your donors without asking for their money!
    • WMI organizes around specific campaigns, so that not all of our communication is focused around gaining financial support.
    • Regular communication allows donors to see updates, to hear from you, and to see what is happening with the money they donated.

Campaigns & Impact:

  • Tell your supporters your organization’s fundraising plan at the beginning of the year if possible, so they know what’s coming and know how best they can support you.
    • Then make sure that you ask for donations according to your fundraising plan. In the rest of your communications, make sure to emphasize your organization’s successes and activities.
  • “Matching” Campaigns are a great way to generate donations – and it allows donors to feel the the impact of their donations is being increased.
    • Campaigns, such as Bonus Day, give your donors a specific window of time, encouraging them to click on the donation button right then.
    • Have a succinct way of telling your donors what their donation will mean, and how it will help move you towards your goal (for WMI, of providing thousands more women with loans)
    • Explain how their GlobalGiving donation will work and provide the link to your project page so donors know exactly where to go
    • Remind donors of accomplishments your organization has achieved thus far because of their support
    • Include pictures!
    • Most importantly, say thank you!
  • If you’ve laid out the campaign schedule for donors, you then can communicate with donors letting them know that if they weren’t able to give for this specific campaign, that perhaps they can consider giving their annual (or monthly) donation during the next campaign.
    • Essentially, treat your donors the way you would want to be treated! Donors feel better about coming back and giving when they know what they’re giving to, and what your organization is doing with their contributions.
  • Issue an Annual Report, no matter how short!
    • Include pictures and success stories. Again, this is your time to reach out to donors without appealing to them for money.
    • Opportunity to emphasize that you’re using their money wisely, helping donors to feel increasingly comfortable about continuing a long-term relationship with your organization.
  • Analyze your organization’s impact on a regular basis
    • Help retain donors year after year by sharing the story of why your organization is successful and impactful.
    • Find a metric that works for your specific program so that you can measure your impact year after year. Make it simple enough that others can follow your metric as well. WMI surveys the women who receive loans every year, showing donors that the profits from the loans translates into output (access to education, medical care, better food, etc.)

As always, it’s essential that you experiment and figure out what works for your organization and your donors. Knowing your donors is the key to maintaining a long-term relationship and keeping them engaged. Find your different donor segments, and learn how to cater your communication to fit their needs and wants. Foster relationships among your community and your donor network, and encourage your supporters to spread the word among their friends and family.

Interested in reading more about donor retention? Check out this post from last year’s session about donor retention strategies.

Refer a Friend Program – Earn bonus prizes and strengthen our global community!

Refer a Friend Program – Earn bonus prizes and strengthen our global community!

Ready to earn some extra money for your organization? Invite new organizations to join GlobalGiving and earn $100 for your organization for each referral that succeeds in the June Open Challenge. We’ll also give $100 to each successful organization you refer – because if you think they are great – we do too! See below for the complete terms and conditions.

Refer an organization using this form. There is no limit to the number of organizations you can refer or the money you can earn.

Need another reason to refer new partners besides earning money for your organization? Growing a vibrant community of nonprofit partners working on a variety of issues around the world helps GlobalGiving attract corporate partners and other new donors, which means more potential funders for your important work!

The application deadline for the June Open Challenge is April 24th so refer a friend today!

Thank you for your help growing the GlobalGiving community.

Terms and conditions:

  1. Each organization referred by a current GlobalGiving partner using the nomination form or the unique link that successfully completes the June Open Challenge (raising $5,000 from 40 donors) will earn a $100 bonus prize.
  2. For each organization you refer that successfully completes the June Open Challenge, GlobalGiving will add $100 to your organization’s next GlobalGiving disbursement.
  3. Referred organizations that have previously applied to join GlobalGiving are not eligible for bonus prizes.
  4. For organizations participating in the Open Challenge, the $100 bonus will not count towards the required thresholds of $5,000 from 40 donors or towards earning any of the Bonus Grants in the Open Challenge for most dollars raised or most donors. The $100 will also not count towards any matching campaigns within the Open Challenge.
  5. There is no limit to the number of organizations you can refer.
  6. Referred organizations that do not successfully complete the 2015 June Open Challenge by raising $5,000 from 40 donors will not earn any reward funds for themselves or for the referring organization.
  7. GlobalGiving reserves the right to make all final decisions regarding referral credits and payments.

Email with questions about the Refer a Friend program.

Written by Michael Gale, Senior Program Manager


Online Fundraising Academy: How to Write Earth-Changing Emails

Online Fundraising Academy: How to Write Earth-Changing Emails

In GlobalGiving’s fifth session of the Online Fundraising Academy, we invited our own Will Frechette, Digital Marketing Specialist, to discuss his efforts to experiment with and learn from GlobalGiving’s donor communications, including important take aways and recommendations. In 2014, Will and his team, which is responsible for telling the stories of GlobalGiving and our partner organizations, raised more than $170,000 from donor emails.

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

Listen, Test, Learn. Repeat.

  • Listen to your users, peers, and theory
  • Test assumptions through experiments
  • Learn from your experiments
  • Do it again! We continuously engage this cycle of learning in order to keep improving communications to our online audience.

How does GlobalGiving Listen, Test, Learn, and Repeat?


Users - Audience who receives your messages

  • Our email newsletter was in need of improvement, so we listened to the feedback our users had. Some of it was direct feedback, but most of it was their behavior (opens, clicks, donations. etc.) in response to the communication. Here’s what we learned works best for OUR audience:

    1. Keep it short – people weren’t looking to read news
    2. Show users what it means to them – why it’s relevant to them and why they should care. Talk about them, not you.
    3. Make it even shorter
    4. User bigger images – combined with #3, it led to more engagement and higher click rates
    5. Use clear images which feature one person making eye-contact with the audience, create an emotional connection with your users
    6. Make it clever and unexpected – we included puns, mixed up the content (different themes and stories), and made our communication funnier
    7. Use a CLEAR call-to-action – clearly define what you want people to do upon reading the email
    8. Personalize it! Based on users’ giving history on our site, we suggest projects that may be a good fit for donors, increasing revenue from our email list. Address users by name, send personalized thank you notes, let users know they’re being thought of.
  • You may be tempted to assume that these lessons will apply to YOUR audience. Don’t assume! Use simple A/ B testing tools in MailChimp and other email providers to test any assumptions about length, photos, etc. to see what works for YOUR audience.

 Peers - Organizations that are similar in work, scope, and size

  • We reached out to some of our peer organizations like charity:water,, and Kiva, to see what works for their email marketing. Here’s what OUR peers had to say:
  • charity:water – emails are well laid-out; include beautiful images; formatted for mobile phones; feature very little text; include interesting lead and subject line text; feature unexpected/humorous (but still large!) call-to-action
  • – personalize subject line so it’s relevant to donor’s location; simple and short; urgent, clear request; emotionally compelling photos
  • Kiva – personalized; clear call-to-action; used a 2 email series – if the user didn’t respond to the first call-to-action, forwarded the email back to the user using a staff member’s name.
    • Further personalizes the email, the format is different from what users usually see

  • What we learned:

    1. Use beautiful imagery – it goes a long way!
    2. Format images and text to look good on mobile devices
    3. Keep it brief
    4. Use interesting lead text
    5. Try unexpected/humorous (but still visibly clear) calls-to-action
    6. Try unexpected subject lines and formats
  • Using recommendations and ideas from our peers, GlobalGiving has tested many of these lessons in our own email communications. Consider reaching out to YOUR peers–organizations that are similar in work, scope, and size–to hear what they have learned.

Theory – what does the research say?

    1. Increase a donor’s emotional proximity; connect them to ONE person (animal or object)

    2. Tell a compelling story about that ONE person

    3. Donors will give if they feel it will bring them close to people in their network – focus on what you can do for your donors, give them something they can share in with their social network

    4. People give more when it’s easy to do so – make the process of giving as easy as possible.

    5. Not all donors are the same – realize that these tips won’t work for every donor type. Develop different messaging and strategies for different donor types.

 Test, Learn. Repeat.

Now let’s explore a specific example of a GlobalGiving email experiment.

  • GlobalGiving ran an A/B test with two Girl Effect emails (one story, one video), measured the click and conversion rates:

    • Video version had higher open and click rates, the conversion (donation) rate was 2x as much, and the donation amount was 3x as much

    • Our assumption: emails with videos might perform better

  • So we ran another video email test to see if the assumption that videos drive more donations was correct:

    • Though the email still had strong click rates, the conversion rate was much lower

    • Conclusion: the content of the video itself is a big factor when it comes to motivating donors to give

  • When running experiments:

    • Stick to one variable at a time

    • Pick your most important metric – design your test around this

    • Don’t settle on something you learn once – once you think you have come to a conclusion, test that conclusion!

    • Make sure your communications don’t become stale, keep up with what your audience is expecting

    • Keep testing! Keep improving!

 When designing an experiment, consider what you’re looking to measure and what metrics you can use to evaluate the success of the experiment.




How good is the subject line?

Open rates

MailChimp,GG Web Analytics
Does the email content make people want to do more?

Click rates


GG Web Analytics


Does the email (and project page) make people want to give? Conversion (donation) rates


GG Donation Manager

Is the message consistent with the mission? Qualitativefeedback



Design your own experiment:

  • What’s your hypothesis?

    • Make a hypothesis: “I believe that trying ______ (tactic) will lead to higher ______ (open rates OR click rates OR donation rates) from my donors”

  • Tools:

    • Pick your tool: “…I will know if I’m correct because I will learn from the data using _____ (tool)”

    • MailChimp, Emma, Constant Contact

      • MailChimp click map – allows you to see which elements in an email are driving the most clicks; ability to see if people are clicking calls-to-action at the bottom of emails to determine best email lengths

    • GlobalGiving donation manager: track your traffic sources, what’s generating donations? Learn more about the donation manager here.

    • link tracker: create a trackable link, see how many people have clicked on it

Project Reports:

So, how can you apply these lessons to your email communications on GlobalGiving? Project reports are emailed out to your donors

  • Required every three months, reports are emailed to all project donors and are posted on your project page.
  • Reports should be 2-3 paragraphs, and should include a mix of: close-up, high resolution photos; stories from your beneficiaries; progress of your project and accomplishments; impact statistics, specific to your project; a call-to-action
  • Your project report title is the subject line of the email that is sent to your donors.
  • GlobalGiving staff review each report and rate it on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). The ratings are not displayed, but are for your benefit so you can see how your report compares and ways you can improve. Learn more about report ratings here.
  • Use your Web Analytics page in the project entry system to track project report open and click rates.

Q: What are the average numbers for open, conversion, and click rates?

A: It depends on your organization size and the number of people you have on your email list. A great resource to look at is M+R’s 2014 online benchmark report, where you can see different rates that you can apply to your organization based on your context.

This post was written by Destiny Nobles, Program Team Intern.

Online Fundraising Academy: Cultivating a Fundraising Army

Online Fundraising Academy: Cultivating a Fundraising Army

In GlobalGiving’s fourth session of the Online Fundraising Academy, we invited Marshall Bailly, the Executive Director and Founder of Leadership Initiatives, to share tips for cultivating a strong donor network. In 2014, Marshall and his team raised more than $260,000 through GlobalGiving. He has built relationships with a core group of donors that regularly support Leadership Initiatives via various promotions. He has developed a comprehensive strategy for campaign outreach and communications, including local donor mobilization in Nigeria, where Leadership Initiatives operates.

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

Leadership Initiatives (LI)

  • Partners with local government and business leaders in Nigeria to provide promising individuals with entrepreneurial, leadership and project management training.
  • Founded in 2004, LI started small and then over time slowly built up its donor network. Their strategy was to first approach the people they knew and then build their network out from there. To create a strong donor network, you first must create strong “buy-in” opportunities for donors.

Donor Committee: You can’t do it alone!

  • Because fundraising has to meet both short term and long term goals it is important to create a group of supporters to help develop goals and support the organization’s growth.
  • The donor committee consists 7-8 individuals who help raise money and set a fundraising agenda. Initially the committee included mainly long-time friends of the organization, however, it has since branched out to include board members, dedicated donors, and corporate partners.
  • Create a one-month, six-month, one year and five year plan for where you want your fundraising goals to be. Additionally, make sure the plan has reachable goals to motivate your committee.

Donor Captains

  • Donor captains allow you to share the fundraising burden by finding new donors.
  • By bringing new people into the organization, donor captains take on a leadership role and become part of the team.
  • In 2013, LI had 10 donor captains who were each in charge of getting at least 10 people to donate, and in 2014, LI had over 20 donor captains for five separate matching events.
  • Donor captains create an atmosphere of friendly competition to encourage one another to raise the maximum amount of funds available.

LI’s five donor network leader types:

  • Social Leaders – Individuals who know a lot of people. Ultimate goal is to create a generation of donors who stay connected and fundraise with LI over many of years.
  • Specialty Type Donors – Individuals with jobs that can help you get special services and connections to improve your organization.
  • High End Donors – Individuals who typically donate $1000 or more. Through constant contact you can help them become stronger donors. Build up trust, allow them to provide their input, and help them find pride in the work they’re supporting.
  • Corporate Sponsors – Organizations that donate $1000 or more. Find corporations who have a vested interest in the work or community your organization is involved in, and who is interested in partnering with you.
    • Make sure your corporate sponsors know how much you value them and how much their contributions mean to your organization!
  • Business Alliance Program Students – Partnered with high school students who raise money to help each Nigerian business partner receive skills training and additionally work to solve a few of the developmental problems. In exchange, each student receives help with SAT training, scholarship and college entrance essay assistance, and letters of recommendation. LI then continues this partnership with students as they enter college and later the business world.

Tips to note:

  • For every donor LI gets, they also have at least 20 who say no.
  • Don’t keep chasing “white whales” – at some point, you cannot continue to chase people who are uninterested in your story. Instead, chase those who care and really want to know more about your organization. Follow up and work with people who care, as they are the individuals who will transform your organization.
  • It is a learning curve – you won’t always succeed on the first try, and that is okay! Keep trying, keep learning, and remember that you will make it.

It’s a challenging environment!

  • Each organization is fighting for their share of local donors. You must find out what really matters to your donors.
    • Success stories must connect emotionally, and the call to action must be distinct for your individual donor captains and your individual donors.
    • Put a face to the problem – donors can talk/skype to people on the ground
  • LI created a comparison chart showcasing how LI is different from other organizations and why donors should give to LI rather than to other similar organizations.

Develop a path forward

  • Separate your organization out of the mix by communicating a focused, distinct mission.
  • Differentiate your organization through outcomes, emotional storytelling, progressive posture and unique business models.
  • Elevate your organization as a leader in your field. Continue to lift your reputation by better leveraging endorsements from GlobalGiving and other partners.
  • Prioritize your audiences; make sure they know how much you appreciate all they do, and that your organization is where it is because of them.

Make your supporters lives easier:

  • LI has found better ways for donor captains to fundraise and get donations from donors: Paypal card readers, Bank of America Debit Cards, reporting forms where captains can report funding expenses and funds raised
  • Provide online materials for donors for each fundraising event
  • Easy access to matching day project pages. For instance, it’s easier to say rather than Both pages go to the same place, but the first link makes it easier for donors to remember where to go.
  • Created a graphic explaining GlobalGiving’s donation benefits, making it easier for donor groups and captains to show potential donors why GlobalGiving is beneficial.

Question & Answer

Q: Are newsletters a good way to recognize donors?

A: First we make sure our donors want to be mentioned. Some donors do want to be mentioned, while others prefer to remain anonymous. If donors don’t mind, it’s a great way to recognize their contributions.

Q: How do you mobilize international donor captains?

A: We will start by finding a captain who has either a credit card or Paypal. We then will normally have everyone on the ground in Nigeria pool their funds, and then the captain will donate all of those funds on the card or through Paypal. We find people who have been assisted by our organization and really want to give back. That individual will most likely want to continue the cycle of transformation in their community and can reach out to friends and family in their network, creating a culture of giving back.

Q: How do you recruit people to be a part of the fundraising/donor committee?

A: Each year we’ll send out emails to top donors, letting them know that because of their commitment to the organization we want to challenge them to not only give more, but to also invest more in the organization by joining the donor committee. I then will set up calls or meetings  with individuals, explaining the duties of the committee and the different sub-committees.