Online Fundraising Academy Posts

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.

Online Fundraising Academy: Creating a Campaign Strategy

Online Fundraising Academy: Creating a Campaign Strategy

Maureen Dugan, Executive Director of Arlington Academy of Hope, and her team raised $115,000 in matching campaigns on GlobalGiving in 2014! After participating in GlobalGiving’s first Online Fundraising Academy in 2013, Maureen returned for the third session of the Online Fundraising Academy to share her advice and insights with this year’s cohort.

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

Build Consensus

  • Explain the benefits of a GlobalGiving partnership to your board of directors and supporters

    • Besides Bonus Days, GlobalGiving offers a variety of technical tools and feedback which aim to make your organization more successful

    • Discuss details with your board so they understand things like GlobalGiving’s 15% fee (Learn more about it here)

  • Create a Q&A: Give your board and supporters written answers to common questions that they can use to address concerns from their networks, friends, and families

    • You will find that people often have similar questions, so this will help to minimize confusion, build excitement, and inform your base on how they get best get involved and share information with others

  • Get your base to be enthusiastic supporters

    • Let them know how you expect them to participate – ask them to get on board and help you, and also let them know how they can help make the most out something like a Bonus Day

Make a Plan – Focus on Who to Target

  • Regular donors – If they don’t usually donate through GlobalGiving, ask them to help specifically on a Bonus Day to raise a larger amount of funds for a specific project.

  • Lapsed donors – For donors that haven’t given in the past few years, this is an opportunity for them to rejoin your donor base.

  • Board of Directors members – Ask them to give, but also to be ambassadors for your organization and project

  • Friends, Neighbors, Colleagues

  • Write template messages for each group that they can then share with their networks, friends, and colleagues

  • Don’t hesitate to send updates throughout the day, letting donors know where you are in relation to your goal, and how they can help contribute to get you over your goal


  • Set a fundraising goal for the day

  • Use email, Facebook, and Twitter

  • Use succinct and compelling messaging to highlight why Bonus Day is important, stress the urgency of giving now, why your donors matter, and why you need them to participate to raise this bonus money

  • Be consistent, but be different!

  • Show local efforts

  • Time messages – 1 month out, 1 week out, day before

Minimize Glitches

  • Occasional glitches will happen – wrong website, project, or day. It’s okay!

  • Create and use the link to your project page in all messaging to minimize confusion. Paste a hyperlink to your project page in all of your messages and on your website.

  • Some donors require more explanation, and some might not do online giving. That’s okay too!

  • Have your Q&As ready.

You don’t have to do it all – figure out what is most important for your organization and what’s doable for you right out of the gate. The resources will continue to be available, and as you’re ready you can begin trying more new things.

Question & Answer:

Q: If you have several projects active on GG, should you choose just one for the Bonus Day?

A: We tend to use just one project per Bonus Day to minimize confusion. It pays to recommend one project, rather than have donors try and choose a project. In your messaging leading up to it, focus on that one project and provide the link to that project page in all your communication.

Q: Is it better to use a microproject for a Bonus Day?

A: It depends on how big your microproject is. Microprojects must have a fundraising amount between $250 and $10,000, but some organizations raise more than $10,000 in one Bonus Day, so it depends on how much you plan on raising. Learn more about microprojects here.

Q: What is the cost of Facebook promotion and have you seen success?

A: It depends on how many people you strive to reach. We typically will spend $100 on promotion and narrow it down by geography and age that best represents the people interested in our organization, as well as to people who have “liked” our organization and their network. We usually will post for specific things like Bonus Days.

Q: What kinds of questions should we have answers for?

A: For your board – generally more internal and financial answers related to GG, such as why it’s worthwhile to fundraise through a third party and why GG charges a fee. General public questions typically include: Can I write a check for Bonus Day? Does the Bonus Day donation have to be on the GG website? How will you know if I gave? Will you add my email to your email list? Can I support another one of your projects? What is GlobalGiving?

Q: If our organization is receiving funding from a foundation, is it appropriate to ask their staff members for donations?

A: It depends on your relationship with that foundation. A Bonus Day might not be the best place to initially invite individuals to give. Instead, you should start a relationship with them and invite them to give in a more personable way. If you host events in their area, invite them to attend, staff can then decide as individuals if they want to give to your organization.

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

Online Fundraising Academy: Building the Foundation for Successful Fundraising

Online Fundraising Academy: Building the Foundation for Successful Fundraising

Earlier this week, a panel of fundraising professionals from GlobalGiving’s partner organizations joined us for GlobalGiving’s second Online Fundraising Academy session. Panelists answered questions about the fundraising tools their organizations use to manage and engage their individual donors and track their fundraising activity.

Meet our panelists:

Beth Eisenstaedt, Chief Development Officer, Wildlife Alliance

Erin Phelps, Program Assistant, GoodWeave International

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

What donor database do you use? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it?

A donor database makes it possible to track your donors and their giving history, as well as your past interactions with each individual. Without a donor database, it’s as though you’re starting from scratch with each interaction. A donor database is crucial to track your donors over time, develop lasting relationships, and convert them into bigger and more frequent givers.

Wildlife Alliance: eTapestry

  • Pros: Incredibly user friendly; online software – available wherever you are; built to capture information for fundraising; excellent reporting capabilities to analyze and segment your donors

  • Cons: With greater sophistication, comes greater expectations and analysis doesn’t always meet that; must use their software for online donations and mass emails

GoodWeave International: Filemaker

  • Pros: Customization and flexibility; capabilities like complex searches, linking with other contacts, entities, and companies, list segmentation; consistency across different country offices; analytical tools

  • Cons: Difficult to access remotely; requires some user training; not linked to organization’s email platform (email lists must be exported); frequent data cleaning is required; no “undo” function (must use caution when handling the data)

Q: What are some cost-efficient or no-cost online databases?

A: There are many, many donor database options for non-profits. One option, besides Filemaker and eTapestry, is Salesforce which does have free options for non-profits. It is a useful tool, but it does require lots of customization. What is important is that you do research and find a database that works for your organization – what are the elements of the databases listed above that really stand out to you, and what is it that you are looking for in a database?

What donor information do you track? How?

Wildlife Alliance:

Beyond the typical name, contact information, and gift amount, we track:

  • Fund: What program do they give to?

  • Campaign: Is the gift for a specific project under a program umbrella?

  • Approach: Is this gift in response to our last appeal? Annual report? Event they attended?

  • Acknowledgement: Has an acknowledgement been sent? When?

  • Overall Giving: When was the last time they gave? What is their lifetime giving to the organization?

  • Personal info: Where do they work? Are they married? Do they have relationships with other donors? What part of the country (or world) do they live in?

GoodWeave International:

Do both database tracking and external tracking:

  • Revenue: includes type of donation, frequency, amount, date, payment type, dedication, special notes, thank you note tracking.

  • Contacts: includes all donor information, special fundraising rules (like “do not solicit,” or “email only”), revenue (including sums, averages, yearly totals)

  • Campaigns: includes fundraising and mailing lists, list experimentation, event attendance

  • External tracking: all checks photocopied and marked, online notifications sorted, external donation processing spreadsheet

  • Cons: Difficult to access remotely; requires some user training; not linked to organization’s email platform (email lists must be exported); frequent data cleaning is required; no “undo” function (must use caution when handling the data)

Q: When/Do you retire old donors?

A: We don’t completely scrub contacts from our database, as there are often low cost opportunities to reach out to old donors. We usually will send e-campaigns out to everyone, whereas hard mailings (ground mail) will typically only go out to donors who have given in the last 3 years.

Q: Can QuickBooks serve the same purpose as a donor database?

A: QuickBooks is primarily an accounting tool, so other than account and finance purposes, it’s hard to track anything other than donors’ names and donation amounts. Donor databases are really relationship managers, in that they help you optimize your relationships with donors so that they continue to return and give. Some databases do integrate with QuickBooks!

What newsletter provider do you use? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it?

Wildlife Alliance: MailChimp

  • Pros: Useful and unique templates to choose from; excellent tracking in opens and clicks; can link directly to social media; can create targeted segments within lists; can schedule emails to go out at appropriate times for all time zones; ability to do A/B testing

  • Cons: Can’t send one email to multiple lists at once – must replicate emails for every list; the video embedding tool isn’t fully functional yet; isn’t the cheapest mass email option

GoodWeave International: Vertical Response (similar to MailChimp and Constant Contact)

  • Pros: Free email credits for non-profits; fairly user-friendly and easy to learn; allows for detailed analysis and comparison of data such as click-through, unsubscribe, open, and bounce rates; automatically filters out unsubscribed emails; allows for varying levels of complexity in graphic design; provides other resources for fundraising best practices; affordable

  • Cons: Database is not linked to Vertical Response, and lists must be imported; without in-depth HTML understanding, occasional layout problems in Gmail vs. Outlook

What is one important lesson that you have learned about online fundraising?

Wildlife Alliance:

  • Keep your appeals emotional, short and targeted – no one wants an email they can’t read on the go!

  • Don’t underestimate the impact of your visuals – chances are they aren’t reading it that closely anyway!

  • Follow up – an online donor wants the same cultivation as an offline donor – and you have a great, non-invasive way to keep in touch!

GoodWeave International:

Creating systems to track processes and analyze results will lead to more effective campaigns.

  • In the midst of busy campaigns, detailed record-keeping of your processes can become low-priority.

  • Without records of failures and successes, it’s difficult to find best practices and maximize results. For reflecting on how to develop new campaigns, duplicate what worked well and tweak what didn’t work as well.

  • Develop systematic methods to track each step of the campaign and to evaluate failures and successes. Finding ways to track your processes and the way your team works through the development of a campaign, will help you realize your own best practices.

Q: Do you find yourself exporting your GlobalGiving activity and tracking it through your own database?

A: Yes! We export and track names and information through our database. As well, we have a special designation for GG donors, and mark them as a GG donor and “do not solicit,” etc.

Q: How much testing do you do during campaigns?

A: We (Wildlife Alliance) do a lot of comparing campaigns against one another, trying to see which campaigns are the most effective. As well, we often test email subject lines and try to use the most effective ones more often.

Manage and track donor information & Send donor communications on GlobalGiving’s website

GlobalGiving offers simple ways to manage your donations and regularly communicate with your donors:

  • Donation Manager – Allows you to view donation and donor information – including donor names, email addresses, and traffic source (how they found your project). Learn more about the donation manager here.

  • Thank you note feature – Gives you the ability to customize templates for your specific project so that you can specifically communicate and build relationships with donors. Revise the template so that it acknowledges that donor and their donation amount, talk about how someone will benefit from the donation, and provide the opportunity for them to build a lasting relationship with your organization. Learn more about thank you notes here.

  • Project reports – Regularly communicate with donors through project reports! Quarterly reports are required. How are donors making a difference with their donations? What are stories of the individuals who are working or volunteering for your organization? What are the needs you are addressing in the community? Future plans for the project? This is your chance to share great stories and photos! Learn more about project reports here.

  • Web Analytics Feature – this allows you to track: how many have visited your project page; how long they’ve spent on the page; activity over the past several months – are there particular times of year your project is visited more often?; project report information – open and click-through rates. Learn more about web analytics here.

This post was written by Destiny Nobles, GlobalGiving’s Program Intern.

Online Fundraising Academy: How charity:water is Harnessing the Power of Online Fundraising

Online Fundraising Academy: How charity:water is Harnessing the Power of Online Fundraising

Deepa Subramaniam, charity:water’s Director of Product, joined us earlier this week for the first session of GlobalGiving’s Online Fundraising Academy! In 2014, charity:water raised more than $35 million from more than 128,000 individual fundraisers. How did they do it? Deepa, who is responsible for constantly improving to drive more donor engagement and increased fundraising activity, shared her tips and insights.

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

For the last eight years, charity:water has been working to end the water crisis by providing access to clean water and by inspiring individuals to mobilize and create fundraising campaigns.

charity:water Model

  • 100% model – 100% of public donations go straight to the field, while the organization is funded by separate private donors
  • Seek to raise money from a variety of sources – from middle schoolers to college students to celebrities, and everyone in between
  • Pose the clean water crisis as not just a health issue, but also as a way to give time back to children to attend school, for women to spend more time with their families, for families to use clean water to tend to their garden. It’s about dignity, time, education.

Individual Online Fundraising Campaigns

The power of growing your online business is through scaling your online fundraising. The charity:water fundraising model is to encourage fundraisers to adopt the charity:water cause and raise funds on behalf of the organization by running all sorts of campaigns, because “the craziest thing you can do, is nothing.” From listening to Nickelback for a week, to eating rice and beans every night for a month, fundraisers have posted a variety of campaigns and mobilized thousands of their friends and family to donate to charity:water via

  • One of the most successful charity:water campaigns: pledge your birthday.

    • Rather than receive presents, fundraisers choose to donate their birthday by asking friends and family to donate to their campaign instead.

    • charity:water’s reasoning: find a way to make the platform accessible for everyone, something that is approachable and understandable for a lot of people

charity:water’s Basic & Applicable Practices:

  • It’s not our story, it’s their story

    • Share the stories of your supporters! Use social media or blogs to showcase campaigns and supporters who are doing great things!

  • Showcasing supporter diversity pierces more minds

    • Make it more approachable for everyone! Utilize your champions to grow your community and spread your message.

  • Segment your supporters, understand who they are

  • Prioritize who to focus on and with what level of resources to allocate to each segment

  • Once you know your main group of supporters, figure out what they’re doing and why

    • Use different testing and user testing tools: Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Optimizely, Crazy Egg,, Survey Monkey, direct phone calls

    • Play around with these different sites and find what works for your organization and the context that you are in.

  • Ask questions, find answers, ask more questions, keep asking questions

  • Sometimes knowing what you don’t know is just as powerful as knowing what you know

Engage Fundraisers & Report Back via GlobalGiving

  • Your project page is your fundraising tool – it allows you to showcase the impact donors are having!

  • Regular reports share the stories of individuals and build direct connections between beneficiaries and donors supporting the organization. Remember, it’s their story, not yours.

  • Donors also can fundraise for your organization, using the fundraiser tool!

Question & Answer:

Q: How do you identify and get champions/donors to advocate on behalf of your organization?

A: Tell stories well and with passion. Explaining why the crisis is important and what supporters can do to help tackle it is crucial. You just need 1 or 2 people to ask: “What can I do?”, so keep persevering to find those people, because they then can bring in more people and continue to grow your network.

Q:What are some steps to take to apply charity:water’s concepts to a smaller organization?

A: Don’t try to do too much at once! Find one thing that works and do it well. Decide what is most in line with your mission and then focus on that important thing – whether it’s one specific campaign or focusing on wooing one particular type of donor. Do less, but do it really, really well. As people share your work and speak on your behalf, your supporter base will grow.

Q: How often should I write thank you notes to donors?

A: GlobalGiving has a template tool, where you can create a custom template that is specific to your project. With this tool you can let donors know what impact they are having on individuals, as well as build a personal connection between your organization and your donors. For your recurring donors, consider sending them a personalized note twice a year, sharing with them just how much their monthly donations impacted specific individuals or programs.

This post was written by Destiny Nobles, GlobalGiving’s Program Intern.