donors Posts

Online Fundraising Academy: Cultivating a Fundraising Army


In GlobalGiving’s fourth session of the Online Fundraising Academy, we invited Marshall Bailly, the Executive Director of Leadership Initiatives, to share tips for cultivating a donor network. Marshall and his team have raised $1 million through GlobalGiving, especially through targeted  matching campaigns. 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 Initiative (LI) – Finds community leaders in Nigeria, give them business training, give them investment to jumpstart their business, helps them build community from bottom up

  • For real donor growth, they have to feel they are a part of the organization, so they’ll want to contribute more than just money to your org
  • Give them a sense of ownership and show them their impact on the organization

Donor Committees – You can’t do it alone!

  • A group of 5-7 people that help raise money and set fundraising agenda
  • Create one month, six month, one year and five year plan for where you want your fundraising goals to be. And each person takes charge of one goal
  • Have reachable goals to motivate your committee
  • LI’s donor committee members
    • Met members through friends (and friends of friends), events, own social/family circle, staff on the ground
    • Developed relationships over years
    • Keep changing people when you can, so they don’t get burnt out. Want people coming in with new voices, new eyes

Donor Captains

  • Donor Captains go out and achieve goals
    • Allows you to spread the burden of finding more donors
    • Brings new people into the organization and allows them to take a leadership role
    • For last bonus day, had 15 donor captains, and each person was in charge of reaching 10 people.
      • Individual communication with donors get them excited and committed to donate
      • Reach out to active donors and donors with potential resources
        • Research all donors  – Google them, look at LinkedIn profile to see if they could be a resource
        • Reach out to them, ask for help growing your organization, contribute more than money

LI’s five types of donor network leaders

  • Social Leaders – people who know a lot of people
    • Goal: Create a generation of donors who stay connected with LI over many years
    • Specialty Type Donors – people with jobs that can help you get a special service and connections to improve your organization
      • Host an event to learn about organization with the extra fun factor to get people more excited
      • High End Donors – people who donate over $1,000 at a time
        • Slowly tell them about organization, build up trust, show you care, why they should care
        • Allow people to bring their ideas of how to make the organization better
        • Corporate Sponsors – organizations who donate over $1,000 at a time
          • Find corporations with a vested interest in the community you’re working in or some part of your organization
          • A wider networks helps to find connections with corporations
          • Business Alliance Program Students – high school students get help to get into college while they help solve development problems for businesses in Nigeria
            • Address needs of both students and businesses
            • Keep partnership with those students as they leave high school

Don’t chase “white whales”

  • Don’t keep chasing those who aren’t interested – chase those who care and ask questions
  • Don’t leave your donors angry – donors might test the waters to see if you care

LI Fundraising Timeline

  • Fundraising goals and donor network started out small, grew bigger and better each year
  • In the beginning was mostly donor committee, then events after three years, then first corporate sponsorship after five years
  • It takes time to build up, piece by piece

Get Ahead in this Competitive Environment  

  • Need to have something interesting, why people should care, an emotional connection and a call to action
    • Donors respond better to a problem, emotional story, and how they can change it
    • Put a face to the problem – donors can talk/skype to people on the ground
    • Need to grab their attention. Need to have good fundraising stories
    • Comparison chart – show what makes your organization unique and why it’s better than other organizations
    • Make sure donor captains are on the same page – they know mission statement, why you matter, how to elevate organization above the rest
      • Donor captains can give an elevator speech (30 second pitch for organization)

Communicating with Donors

  • Have different impact messages, communications for each group of donors (corporations get different message from GlobalGiving donors because have different interests in organization)
  • Have specialized social media, blogs, messaging for different donor groups
  • Refine, strengthen and sharpen key messages is important at any stage of an organizations growth and development every year
  • Have a goal for each donor to rally around

Extra resources

Click here for Marshall’s campaign fundraising webinar

Click here for Marshall’s bonus day how-to manual

Email Marshall at

Q: Is a donor committee and board the same thing? Is there significant overlap between the two?

A: Board does much more to grow and develop the organization than just fundraising. There are some overlaps though. LI has some board members in donor committees.

Q: What is your communication stories system to feed the stories in the field to people in the US?

A: LI has a key sponsorship program in Nigeria where they provide technology to Skype with businesses in Nigeria. LI has on the ground employees who provide stories. Each donor group is connected with different businesses.

Q: Do you utilize media?

A: Utilizing media comes from meeting people and following up with them. Marshall wrote letters and met with people who wrote reports. LI hasn’t gotten a media contact without investing in relationships, and they always reach out to media first. Be the group that’s so passionate and won’t go away.

Q: Do you have a template letter to reach out to corporations?

A: Have a specific letter for each corporation. Personalize the letter! Know their background and make any connections you can. Put a little personal hand written message in the letter or on the envelope.

*Trends from past sessions: Develop a personality. Make sure you’re real with the individuals you interact with. Build strong relationships with donors and make them feel appreciated and needed. Get out there, seek opportunities to meet new people, reach new audiences.

Online Fundraising Academy: Creating a Campaign Strategy


Arlington Academy of Hope

In GlobalGiving’s third session of the 2014 Online Fundraising Academy, we invited Maureen Dugan, the Executive Director of Arlington Academy of Hope, to talk about getting ready for a GlobalGiving Bonus Day. Maureen and her team raised $82,000 in matching campaigns on GlobalGiving in 2013! After participating in GlobalGiving’s first Online Fundraising Academy last year, Maureen is returning to share her advice and insights with this year’s cohort.

Session Notes:

Arlington Academy of Hope

  • Implements education and health programs in Uganda
  • Donor profile – middle aged or older; most not on social media, so didn’t utilize social media

Build Consensus

  • Discuss with Board of Directors – proposed using social media and GlobalGiving; asked them to be ambassadors
  • Create a Q&A – explains online giving to minimize confusion, create enthusiastic supporters, provides a resource for ambassadors/donors to share information with others
    • Put on website, given to Board and other volunteers
    • Take time to talk to advocates to prepare them for questions before Bonus Days

Make a plan – who to target

  • Regular donors –people who give annually
  • Lapsed donors – people who haven’t given in the past few years
  • Board members – ask them to give, be ambassadors


  • Email (Constant Contact), Facebook, Twitter
    • Keep basic facts the same, but tell the story differently on different platforms
    • Generate excitement, empowerment, time sensitivity, why it’s important
      • Empower donors, tell them their money will go further on matching days
      • Explain how they can make a difference
      • Explain importance of giving on specific day to compel them
  • Timing – 1 month, 1 week, day before
    • Need to do what works best for your donors

Online Fundraising Academy: Building the Foundation for Successful Fundraising

Fundraising toolboxIn GlobalGiving’s second session of the 2014 Online Fundraising Academy, we invited a panel of fundraising professionals from GlobalGiving’s partner organizations to answer questions about the fundraising tools that their organizations use to manage and engage their individual donors and track their fundraising activity.

Meet our panelists:

Kathy Baczko, Vice-President, Chief Development Officer and Diana Corrales, Director, Marketing & Communications, Fabretto

Beth Eisenstaedt, Chief Development Officer, Wildlife Alliance

Kay Helm, Executive Director, Friends of TOUCH

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

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

Fabretto: DonorPerfect

  • Pros: User-friendly; you can create pledges for monthly donations; you can segment donors and you can create as many relevant tags as you want.
  • Cons: It only has space for up to 6 sponsorships per donor;
  • Price: $60-265 a month. Fabretto pays $265/month

Wildlife Alliance: eTapestry

  • Pros: Built to capture info for fundraising; user friendly; 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, can’t integrate own services
  • Cost: $99-399 a month. Wildlife Alliance pays $4,300/year for 15,000 records and 5 user licenses

Friends of TOUCH: NeonCRM

  • Pros: Web-based; versatile; lots of reporting options and capabilities; provides security.
  • Cost: $49-324 a month. Friends of TOUCH pays $49/month for less than 1,000 records

Q: What is the value of having a database?

A: A database is the only way to know anything about donors. It is great having it in all one place and for targeted approaches. You can reach out to donors based on their specific interests to turn them into bigger donors or recurring donors.

Q: How do you gather contact lists? Are your contacts gathered through donations or do databases provide contacts? What about security? How are contacts used in terms of privacy?

A: Contacts are gathered over the years. You can purchase lists from other services but not database services. As for security, no one has access to information except for staff users.

What donation information do you track? How?

Children’s Cancer Assocation’s Donor-Centered Retention Strategy

We were fortunate to have David Schaeffer, the Vice President of Development for Children’s Cancer Association, join us for the fourth session of the Online Fundraising
Academy! David has close to twenty years of fundraising experience, having worked in development for multiple organizations including Make A Wish Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and now, the Children’s Cancer Association. He shared his organization’s donor-centered approach to retention and how they retain 44% of their 10,000 active donors each year!

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

CCA was started in 1995 by a family whose child died of cancer. They wanted to bring the same support to other families that they received during the process. They’ve created programs of joy for seriously ill children and their families.

David joined CCA in 2008. At the time, the organization  had 5.000 active donors and 63% were new each year. Today, the organization has 10,000 active donors and 56% are new every year.

Donor retention is VERY important for their strategic planning. Their goal is to increase their donor retention to 40%.

Donor Retention:

  • Prospecting for new donors is time intensive and costly.
  • Maintaining relationships with existing donors is generally less expensive (but probably just as time consuming).
  • We know that the longer an organization gives to an organization, the more likely they are to continue to give.
  • Average donor retention rates are falling throughout the non-profit sector as a result of the recession. But those rates are starting to improve.
  • The Fundraising Effectiveness Project is an annual survey with more than 3,000 participating non-profits, representing more than 1.8 million donors. Each year, their reports help non-profits better understand the trends in the sector and benchmark their trends against other organizations in the sector.
    • Between 2006 and 2011, donor retention rates decreased by 10%
    • Overall, donor retention was 41% in 2010; that means that 59% of people did not give again!
    • Repeat donor (someone who has given multiple times before) retention was 70% in 2010
    • New donor retention (someone who gave for the first time) was only 27%
  • Using this data, CCA was able to conclude that their donor retention rates were below average and focus more energy strengthening relationships with donors so they could increase their retention rates.

What are some causes of donor attrition?

  • Some donors can no longer afford to donate (maybe because of the economy, their job situation, their stage in life, etc.)
  • They have no memory of supporting the organization. This is particularly true for individuals who participate in events or special promotions, who are often not investing in the long-term mission of the organization, instead, they’re trying to benefit from the one time opportunity.
    • David used the example of a car raffle. CCA does an annual car raffle and they’ve found that individuals that give during that raffle are often not interested in CCA. They want to win a car! So, every year, CCA reaches back out to the individuals who participated in the car raffle the previous year to ask them to participate again,
    • It’s the organization’s job to make sure that these one-time donors understand why their donation made a difference and why they should consider continuing to support the organization.
  • You’re asking them for the wrong amount. If a donor is a $10 donor and you ask them for $100, they may choose not to give. On the other hand, if you ask a $100 donor for $10, you may be missing out on an opportunity. It’s important to, when possible, segment your asks based on donors’ giving history and giving potential.
  • They feel that other causes are more deserving.
  • They  were not reminded to give again.
  • They don’t feel connected to the non-profit organization.
  • The organization didn’t tell them how their donation was used.

Ways to increase donor retention

  • Know your average gift – CCA’s average gift is $70
    • Doing analysis on your donations and your donors will help you to forecast, conduct annual planning, and make donor-related decisions.
  • 91 days lapse period; thank donors within 72 hours
    • If you do not communicate with your donor within 91 days of their gift, they will not give again.
  • Personalize and segment your communication! Make sure to address your thank you communications to the individual who gave.  Segment your communications based on how and how much the donor gave.
  • Show donors how their funds help you achieve your mission.
    • Penelope Burke’s book, Donor-Centered Fundraising is a great resource for this!

CCA Acknowledgement Standards – Major Gifts from Individuals, Foundation, and Corporations

  • CCA created donor acknowledgement standards. They thank donors within 72 hours.
  • CCA segments their individual donor thank yous based on the amount that the donor gave. Gifts of $500 – $999 receive a phone call in addition to a letter. Gifts of $1,000+ will receive a phone call and a small recognition item (chocolates, ceramic mug, or photo book)
  • Hero Award about a specific child with a chronic illness that personifies being a hero for Foundations and Corporations that give $1,000 or more. For donations of $5,000 or more, they have a framed Hero Award, and for donations of $10,000 or more, they offer a shadowbox with ceramic heart and Hero Award.
  • DO NOT include an another ask in the thank you and initial follow up communications!

Tips for writing a great thank you letter

  • Personally addressed and personally signed
  • No more than 2 short paragraphs
  • Makes specific reference to the use of funds
  • Indicates when the donor will receive an update on the program being funded
  • Includes a name, phone number, and contact information for a staff member that the donor can connect with at anytime
  • DO NOT INCLUDE ANOTHER ASK or ask the donor to complete a survey or another step.
  • Thank you notes are all about donor stewardship and building a relationship.

Create a donor stewardship move management plan 

  • Identify constituent groups at CCA that they want to develop relationships with.
    • Major donors, new donors, monthly donors, in-kind donors, GlobalGiving donors
    • Board members, Ambassador Board, past Board members, volunteers, event leaders, corporations, and foundations
  • Create a menu of touches
    • Welcome letter, stewardship stories, CEO bi-annual progress letter
    •  Valentines gift, birthday email, holiday card/email
    • Chemo Pal e-newsletter
    • Volunteers e-newsletter
    • General e-newsletter (varies by constituency)
    • Volunteer appreciation gift
    • Personal visits & hospital tours
    •  Hero Gala, Wall of Courage event, Luncheon, Open House
  • Assign specific touches to each constituent group
  • Assign dates and a responsible staff member to each touch

Check out the recording to see CCA’s donor stewardship Excel document. It may give you some ideas for creating your own donor stewardship plan!


How charity:water attracts new donors

dollars to projects

Earlier this week, we were fortunate to have Paull Young, the Director of Digital Engagement at charity:water join us for the third Online Fundraising Academy session. He shared charity:water’s approach to attracting new donors (>400,000 in the last 6 years!).

Paull launched charity:water’s birthday campaign, helped pull off Twestival and now leads the team’s online presence. He is responsible for attracting new online donors to charity:water’s cause. Prior to joining charity:water, Paull led accounts for a social media agency and earned multiple awards for work with Fortune 500 brands.

Session Recording:

charity:water’s approach:

100% Model

  • Fundraise separately for water projects and administrative costs. Donors can feel confident that 100% of their donations go to water projects.
  • Two bank accounts – one for administration, one for water projects
  • Operations’ bank account covered by major donors who are interested in investing in the organization


  • Every project that they implement, they mark on Google maps so people can see where their money is going.


  • Build a brand like Apple or Nike. They want people to love their brand and recognize it like other corporate brands.
  • They have developed an amazing brand team which produces amazing content online that inspires people and drives donations.

No direct mail. All online.

Inspiration: Most important part of digital strategy.

  • Inspire people to go out there and take action.
  • Invest in creatives. Invest time and energy in developing inspiring content.
  • Visual storytelling and great photography – Use instagram to share cell phone photography
  • charity:water has worked hard to convey their message and need in a compelling and inspiring way. Their Water Changes Everything video is a good example of that:
  • Engaging people on social media. Spend time in these environments, interacting with supporters and followers. To date, the Founder and Paull, the Director of Digital Engagement have managed the organization’s social media. It doesn’t require a huge staff investment.
  • Create campaigns around specific needs (ex: drilling rig) and inspire individual fundraisers to reach out to family and friends. For this particular campaign, they motivated about 1,200 fundraisers to reach more than 12,000 individual donors. – Peer to peer fundraising

  • Fundraising platform that allows people to take charity:water’s story and make it their own and to reach out to family and friends to ask for donations.
  • Similar to GlobalGiving’s fundraiser pages that allow donors to create their own fundraiser page with their own photos and goal and to reach out to family and friends:
  • Website created in 2009, when it became clear that peer-to-peer fundraising was a really successful fundraising strategy for charity:water
  • Have raised $20 million from more than 360,000 individuals. The average fundraiser raises $1,000 from 13 new donors.

Give. Raise. Influence.

  • Inspire the fundraisers! Fundraising is incredibly difficult. charity:water needs to help inspire and motivate people to feel more confident about fundraising.
  • When thinking about supporters of the organization, they don’t just perceive them as individual donors, but potential long-term fundraisers and influencers.
  • Deliver great content to fundraisers, inspire them, give them the tools to thank and update their donors.
  • A lot of unique stories have emerged–One little girl ate only rice and beans for a month in an effort to raise money for charity:water.  Two different individuals committed to walk across America to raise money. Cubby did a  campaign “save or shave his epic beard.” Sarah swam naked across the San Francisco Bay.

See your impact: Digital customer experience

  • Show every donor exactly where their money went. What well they supported and where it is.
  • Photos of the village, GPS coordinates, and brief, written update.

Question & Answer

Q: How do you get regular stories and pictures from the field?

A: charity:water sends professional photographers to the field. For organizations with smaller budgets, you might consider recruiting photographers to volunteer with your projects in the field. charity:water is also working to better train their own field staff to take better photos and to post them on instagram. charity:water has chosen to invest in photography because the results can be very inspiring and motivating for supporters.

Q: Do you design fundraisers for your supporters or do they design the fundraisers themselves? How do your fundraisers find out about charity:water?

A: Fundraisers find out about charity:water via word of mouth or online content. They get inspired and come up with their own fundraiser ideas. charity:water does not create the fundraisers–they’re all created by the individuals! GlobalGiving also offers a similar fundraiser feature:

Q: How would you suggest an organization with a $40,000 budget a year best go about implementing some of the suggestions you’ve made? How can they best build a digital strategy?

A: It depends on where your strengths lie. Having some great creative talent can be really impactful. There are people out there who would like to commit and invest time and energy in telling your story. Spend a weekend watching amazing videos on Youtube and try to track down who made them. Video doesn’t have to be the answer but it’s one great way to tell your story. You have nothing to lose. Get out there and try stuff! Get out there and share photos. Get close to the impact you’re having. Post photos online. Thank donors.

Q: What are your most effective tweets? How do you build a following on Twitter? How do you engage your audience without being annoying?

A: If you don’t have anything interesting say, don’t say anything at all. Be an organic part of a conversation, just like personal conversations. Listen to people. Find ways to add value. Engage in conversations you care about. It’s more important what other people are saying about charity:water than what the organization says about themselves.

Q: How do you go about building relationships with celebrities and more well-known donors?

A: Personal introductions. Building trust. The Founder typically has those types of relationships. It helps that charity:water’s brand is cool. This is just one of the many reasons that brand is so important.