Dana Ostomel recently joined us for a webinar in which she shared the 10 most important things you can do to create an empathetic, engaged and responsive community that is ready to support you on Giving Tuesday.

In case you missed it, you can watch the replay here:

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, well, good afternoon everyone if you are on the East Coast, and good morning if you are on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for joining us for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “How to Pave the Way for a Successful #GivingTuesday.” And my name is Steven Shattuck, and I am the Chief Engagement Officer here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion.

Before we begin, just want to go over a couple housekeeping items for you. Want to let you know that we are recording this presentation, and you will be receiving that recording this afternoon as well as the slides from today’s presentation. So if you have to leave early, or perhaps you want to review the content later on, review it again, or share it with a friend or colleague, you will be able to do that. Have no fear, you’ll receive both of those things later on this afternoon, as well as some extra goodies that Dana will talk about later.

As you’re listening today, please feel free to chat in any questions or comments you have for our presenter. We’re going to save some time at the end for Q&A, so don’t be shy at all. Send in those questions. We’d love to make the end as interactive as possible. We will answer as many questions as we can before the 2:00 hour.

You can follow along today on Twitter with #Bloomerang and @BloomerangTech. And as with all webinar technology, the connection and quality is usually just as good as your own Internet connection. So if you have any problems, try to perhaps reset your browser, check your Internet connection.

If you have any specific audio difficulties, recommend you call in by phone rather than listening via your computer. The phone quality’s usually just a little bit better. You’ll see a phone number there on the email from ReadyTalk.

So if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I want to say an extra welcome to you. We do do these webinars just about every Thursday. Always fun, always educational. But if you’re not familiar with Bloomerang, we also offer donor management software, some really great donor management software. If you are in the market for that, we’d love for you to learn more about Bloomerang. You can visit our website and even watch a quick video demo. Don’t even have to talk to a salesperson if you don’t want to.

So right now I want to go ahead and introduce today’s guest, very excited to have her on the line. She is Dana Ostomel. Dana, how’s it going?

Dana: Hi, Steven. Great. So happy to be here.

Steven: Yeah, we’ve been planning this one for a while. It’s kind of hard to believe that we’re already in almost mid-August, ready to talk about #GivingTuesday, but as you’re going to hear from Dana here, it is definitely not too soon to be thinking about that.

I just want to brag on her for a minute before I officially hand things over to her. Dana is currently the vice-president of nonprofit industry development over at Firespring, our good friends over at Firespring. Recently had her join the team, which is really awesome. You may know her from her previous gig as founder of Deposit a Gift, which is a really great crowdfunding platform.

She has over a decade developing integrated marketing solutions for numerous nationally known brands such as Snapple, MasterCard, and DirecTV. She has her bachelor’s degree in communications from UCLA, so any Bruins out there, give her a shout-out. She’s also a well sought after speaker. If you see her name at a conference or perhaps another webinar, definitely jump on that call, get in that session, because you’re going to learn a lot. Just like you’re going to learn a lot today from Dana.

So Dana, I’m going to pipe down, I’ll let you take it away, and go ahead and fire up that screen share, my friend.

Dana: Thank you very much. You are so kind. Hi, everyone. Give me one second, I’m just doing the screen share here and we should be good to go. Can you guys see the screen? I can’t see the chat box anymore, so I guess Steven, just verbally, are we good?

Steven: Yeah, we’re good, go for it.

Dana: All right, cool. All right, everyone, I am so happy to be here today. I know it might seem a little bit crazy. Here we are in August, and I want to talk about #GivingTuesday. But luckily you’ve got a super-smart protector over there, protector of your thought leadership at Bloomerang in Steven Shattuck, because when I brought the idea to him and I said, “People just treat #GivingTuesday a bit like a Hail Mary, it’s often this last minute, ‘Oh my god, it’s October, #GivingTuesday’s coming up, we should do something.'”

But really, the way to do #GivingTuesday successfully, and frankly you could replace #GivingTuesday with any other giving day, or frankly in my mind, any fundraising campaign that you are doing. It’s really about being thoughtful about what you’re going to be launching, and having it not be last minute.

So kudos to you for registering today for this webinar and recognizing that you are going to be able to do so much more good because you’re starting early.

So as you can see, I’ve got a presentation here that’s branded Firespring, and yet when you signed up you probably signed up thinking that I was coming from Deposit a Gift. The big news here actually that we literally just announced two days ago is that Deposit a Gift was acquired by Firespring, which is so, so exciting for us. We at Deposit a Gift are a crowdfunding platform that you can use to raise money for anything that matters to you. We’re known for high touch customer service, we’ve got some really special, cool features like a donation registry function and ticket sales, and also really competitive low pricing.

But the big thing here is that we wanted to be able to bring our community, our customers more. And Firespring is one of the fastest growing nonprofit technology companies, and we’ve joined forces. So that’s really exciting. As Steven mentioned, after this webinar, I am actually going to send you a personal email. It’s going to have a bunch of goodies, it’s going to have the slides, it’s going to have the recording, and actually as part of those goodies we’re going to offer you a free upgrade code to use on Deposit a Gift and set up a crowdfunding campaign.

Could be your #GivingTuesday campaign, or if you have something coming up earlier, you can use it for that. Okay? And I will also include a copy of the press release, just so you can understand what it means for us to be coming together. And I’ll talk a little bit more about that towards the end of the presentation.

But just so you have a sense of who Firespring is and really why we chose them as the organization that we wanted to partner with, they are an organization that leverages, and I guess I should say “we” now, our people, our products, and our profit as a force for good. So everything is really focused on what can we do for you, the nonprofit, what can we do to make the world a better place.

And everything that Firespring does is really driven by that. It’s what we call our “Power of Three.” We are a certified B corp. Firespring is located in Nebraska, actually the first certified B corp in the whole state. And the way that we run our Power of Three program is really simple.

We donate 3% of our products, which is actually something cool that, if you’re interested you should ping me about when I send that follow-up note because Firespring offers a lot of technology grants to nonprofits that want funds, for example, to create a new website. So if that is something that you are thinking about doing, you need a new website or you want something that just represents your brand better, it’s easier to function, makes your life easier, but also a grant could come in handy, let’s talk about that.

Firespring also donates 3% of the product, and also 3% of our people, so we actually all volunteer one day a month to give back to the community. So I just am really proud of the organization that we’ve joined forces with, and I think we’re going to be able to just offer you so much more.

Today, the product line or sort of the service and the area of expertise that I drive from is really based in crowdfunding, right? Because #GivingTuesday is nothing if not about social media. There’s a hashtag in the name, and it’s really built to be social, and crowdfunding is built to be social. Right?

So if you’ve ever participated in #GivingTuesday in the past, I’ve had some people say, “Well, we did it but it was not successful.” And a lot of times I’ll say, “Okay, well tell me a little bit about what did you do to drive your campaign?”

They’ll say, “Well, we sent a bunch of emails, we did some social media, we sent people to our donate page, just wasn’t that effective.” #GivingTuesday is one of those situations where crowdfunding is so perfect for that, because the way that I like to think about it is that accepting donations online is not the innovation. The innovation is doing it in a way that leverages social media, and that’s what crowdfunding is about. It’s about using a site that tells your story, that’s super-engaging, that compels people to give, and importantly, compels people to share.

And that’s the technology piece of it, which some of you may or may not be familiar with. If you are someone who is less familiar with the basics of crowdfunding, don’t worry, you’re not going to be lost today by any stretch because a lot of what we’re going to talk about is the ground work that we recommend that you lay when you’re leading up to a campaign like this.

But if you do want to learn a little bit more just about the basics of crowdfunding, when I send you that note, or I’ll give you my email at the end, it’s just dana.ostomel@firespring.com, ping me and I can send you a recorded Crowdfunding 101 workshop. And that’s a great way to just really wrap your head around what is crowdfunding, what’s the difference between that and my donate page, how do I make it work for my organization.

But the focus of today is to really teach you the strategies and tactics to make the most of the next four months. It’s really about the fact that you’ve got time on your side, and so how can you make it work for you.

So my goal for you is for you to look like this little cutie four months from now, or to envision yourself this way. And quite frankly, I really believe that if you implement some of the strategies and tactics that we’re going to talk about today, that it is going to have a transformative effect on your total approach to fundraising, on your total approach to your community initiatives and your network cultivation.

So you’re going to look and feel like this little one four months from now, but I also believe that you’re going to be able to take these strategies and apply them for the foreseeable future. You’re going to be able to draw that connection of like okay, well the campaign end . . . Some of you might just do a 24-hour blitz on #GivingTuesday itself, which is November 29th.

A lot of you are going to use your #GivingTuesday campaign to actually kick off your end of year appeal. We see that happening a lot with organizations that set up their crowdfunding #GivingTuesday sites with Deposit a Gift, is that they use #GivingTuesday to sort of maybe set a mini-goal, do a special kick off, but then it drives through the end of the year. So come January, you want to really be able to leverage that momentum. You want to be able to keep going, because that campaign is not your last campaign. You’re likely going to have something coming up in the spring or the summer, whatever it might be.

Or let’s say your next campaign isn’t even until the following year at #GivingTuesday, but what are you going to do in that time in between? That’s what we call the donor stewardship period. And I find that in general, that’s something that a lot of organizations have challenges with. But especially now that everything is so much more focused online, and so the expectation from your community about how they’re going to hear from you, how rapidly they’re going to hear from you, sort of what that communication back and forth, relationship building looks like.

That has changed. The expectation from your community has changed, and it’s also changed the tools that you have at your fingertips to be able to connect with them more often and more rapidly. So I really hope that this 10-step playbook that we’re going to present to you today, that it helps you start to think differently about the time in between campaigns.

For now, the framework is #GivingTuesday and that lead up period. So I really like Devin Thorpe. I don’t know if you know him, but he is a fundraising and social good expert, does a lot of writing, does a lot of tweeting. And what he says is the following. “While crowdfunding does not constitute a complete development plan, no development plan is complete without crowdfunding.”

If you like this, definitely hit up Devin on Twitter and I know that Steven also gave you the Bloomerang hashtag and handles to note, if you’re tweeting out there, definitely pick up some nuggets. And for us, you can tweet @DOstomel, @DepositaGift, or @Firespring.

But I think this is a really great nugget, and what it says to me is that this is really about an integrated marketing approach towards your campaign. So one thing that we often talk about when we’re doing a Crowdfunding 101 is sort of the overwhelm that some development officers feel, like oh my gosh, we already do all these campaigns and now you’re telling me that we need to add crowdfunding to that?

What we’re suggesting is that it’s not like an add-on, another like, oh my gosh, something else I have to do. But actually taking a step back, kind of a bird’s eye view, and sort of re-evaluating your total approach to fundraising, your total approach to how you communicate with and cultivate your network so that it’s integrated.

All right, it’s 2016. Every fundraising campaign that you do should have an online, social home so that then every marketing channel is pointing to that.

Right now, like I said, you guys are the smarty-pants in the room. You’re here because you probably recognize that you’ve got time on your side. And in order to really deliver a bang-up campaign, this is not something that you just flip the switch. Unless for some reason you’ve already been investing in your community and in your network and really building relationships over the last year, yeah, you may be able to toss up a campaign and they’ll respond to it. But most organizations haven’t been doing that yet, and so that’s what we’re going to talk about today. How do you use time to build the relationships that you need for lasting success?

So what is your focus for the next four months? It is to invest in your network. You need people to care about your cause, take action when you ask, and advocate for you. So that’s what you’re going to work on engendering.

The way I see it is that you’re trying to move people along a continuum, okay, from what I call lurkers to supporters to advocates. So what does this mean? Well, one thing I think it’s important to understand is that I find that a big myth in crowdfunding is that people tend to think that it’s about the crowd, meaning the crowd that they don’t know, because they want to bring new people into their donor base. Which of course you do.

But they forget about the people that they already have access to, who’ve raised their hands and said, “Yeah, I care enough about what you’re doing to be a lurker, to follow you on social media, to be on your newsletter. But not enough that I’ve actually offered my support.”

And often, if you look at the numbers and you look at like your email lists and say, “Okay, well what percentage of these people actually typically take action and donate?” It’s usually somewhere between 5 and 25% if you’re doing really well. So what about that other 90 to 75%? Those are the people you really want to focus on and try and squeeze the juice out of.

What you’re trying to do is focus in on who your donors are, you’re going to be doing some segmentation, understanding that, and you’re going to try and move them along the continuum. So if they are a lurker, if they’re in that 75% of, “I care about you, I’m following you, but I’m not doing anything that you ask,” try and get them to become a supporter.

As you grow that supporter base, you’re going to be putting efforts in place to try and turn them into advocates. And advocates are the people who help you spread the word about the campaign. And you’re going to start initially with what we call an online street team, so when you’re first setting up a campaign, and we talk a lot about this in the Crowdfunding 101, you’re going to be coming up with sort of like this core group of people that you’re going to ask to help you spread the word, right?

It could be staff, it could be board members, it could be just super zealous volunteers. You could put out a call on social media and see if anyone responds. But basically these are people who say, “Yes, I will tweet for you, I will Facebook for you, I will send an email blast for you to my contacts.”

That’s actually how you grow your crowd. When you have people advocating for you and saying, “Hey, I really care about X organization, you should too, check out this campaign. Please give to it, please support it,” that’s how you grow your donor list, that’s how you generate more buzz about your campaign. So you’re trying to create as many advocates as you can.

To do that, you have to make sure you’ve created as many supporters as you can, make them feel really good about doing what they’re doing for your organization. Make them feel really appreciated so that they want to do more because the money is important. But in this day and age, something equally and some might say almost more valuable is the social capital of your community. And the more people you have advocating for you and the more of them that you have giving access to their networks, the better that you’re going to do.

So the focus of the majority of this presentation is what I call the people part. This is 10 ways to create an empathetic, engaged and responsive community. Now, I know that often when you put together a webinar or workshop, the idea is as many pictures as possible, not a lot of text. Well, this workshop works a little bit differently, and the reason is because I almost wanted this to be like workbook form.

I know a lot of these concepts, they take some time to soak in, it takes a little bit of time for you to marinate on it and start to figure out what applies to my organization and what doesn’t. So I really want you to be able to basically print out the slides and start kind of working through it. So I will be sending those slides to you by tomorrow.

So we’re going to go through and you’re going to have this workbook to really get your juices flowing so that you can start thinking about things a little bit differently. So for every one of these strategies, I am then breaking it down into the strategy, the focus, and the tactical ideas. The ideas are really meant to get your juices flowing. They are not an end all, be all, they are really just thought starters. Okay?

The other thing that I want to say is that I want you to think of this as a pu-pu platter of information. You don’t have to do every single one of these steps to make progress. It might be that for your organization, doing one of these steps is going to make a major difference and make progress.

To me, what gives me some relief and I hope for you as well, is that recognizing that your first crowdfunding campaign is not going to be your last. Your first #GivingTuesday is not going to be your last. Right? Much of this stuff with social media and crowdfunding, etc., it’s still kind of an art, not a science.

And a lot of it is about experimentation, and in order to be able to experiment, you want to be methodical about your choices. And so as you go through this, there a few things that I think are most important and I will try and point those out and say if you’re very lean on time or this feels like too much, this is the area that you want to focus in on.

For others of you, you’re going to say, “Oh, well we already email and social media all the time with our community and they’re super-responsive,” so maybe you’ll be able to focus on something more advanced. The idea is you’re going to pick let’s say one to three of these that are going to be your focus for the next four months, and you’re going to be really clear on what those strategies are, and the tactics that you want to use to attack them, and what you hope the results are in the end. So that when the campaign is over, you’re going to be able to have a kumbaya with yourself or your team and evaluate what worked and what didn’t.

Then you’re going to take those learnings and you’re going to apply them to your next campaign. Because #GivingTuesday is a movement that’s only growing, crowdfunding and this whole way of online social fundraising is here to stay, people are used to being asked in this way and they really like it and it can benefit you greatly. So you just really want to use this as a learning opportunity, and think of it as one foot in front of the other.

So to that end, if at any point during this presentation you find that you’re furiously scribbling notes or that you’re feeling tense or feeling overwhelmed, just take a deep breath and say, “You know what? I’m taking it all in. What’s good is that I have the information and then I can make choices.” Then that way you can figure out what’s right for you.

Okay? So here we go, let’s dive on in. Step one, now this may seem super-obvious, get to know your donors. But a lot of organizations just aren’t investing in that, right? You want to think about the idea of creating donor personas or donor profiles, because when you understand who your people are, you can connect with them.

It may be that you dissect them by that continuum I shared, lurkers, supporters, and advocates, and you figure out different ways you want to approach them. Maybe you’re going to splice them by demographics or psychographics. So think about that.

One thing that I think is really important and it’s sort of like, I don’t know, I’d call it like the underbelly of fundraising, is what I call the psychology of giving. The psychology of giving is really coming to terms with why do people donate, why do people support campaigns. And for the most part it’s relatively selfish, right? We give because it makes us feel good.

It’s really important to know and embrace that, because you can’t get that feel good feeling if you are not acknowledged, if you are not appreciated. And I know that Steven is a big fan of this, because I attended one of his workshops not long ago that was all about donor retention, and I actually am going to even use one of his slides later to talk about why do people not return, why do they not give again after they do for the first time. And a lot of it is that we’re just not doing a good job of making people feel really good about their giving, and so they go away.

That’s super-important, and understanding and knowing your donors is, in general, understanding that psychology that drives them. And then from there, break people down into separate groups. I also would recommend if there’s a way for you to get to know people offline, holding fundraisers, making phone calls, sending surveys, you really want to understand what drives people in your community to support you and what their connection is to you. And that’s going to help you make some strategic decisions about how you continue to promulgate that connection.

All right, the second step is cultivating your network, which as I said is really how I think you should spend the next four months. Your job is to build, rekindle, and maintain relationships. The idea is that you’re trying to build goodwill, and you’re going to do an exercise that I call “giving without asking.”

In fact, I think of this even with networking. You go to a cocktail party, you meet someone interesting that you want to keep in touch with, and in the back of your mind you know, “Oh, I might want to reach out to them for business, or for a job, or to introduce my niece to them because she might want an informational interview,” whatever it might be. We all need each other, there’s a give and take.

Good networkers understand that the more they give, the more they get. And it’s really not about being calculated, it’s just about understanding human nature. So whenever you can meet someone and give them something before you have to ask for it or before they think to give to you, you’re always going to be in a better position. And it could be something small, like “I read this article and I thought of you, I thought you would like it.” Everyone likes to be thought of, everybody likes to be given content that’s meaningful and useful to them.

That concept applies to how you cultivate your network. Right? You’ve got to think about how can you connect personally with people, and as many of them as possible. So my recommendation, when you’re working on building relationships, rekindling, because the rekindling is so important. If you’ve got a lot of people who’ve been supporters and you haven’t been reaching out, saying hello, giving them some sort of added value, and you just slap them with an ask, the chances of them supporting you are very low because it just feels cold, right?

So this is all about building relationships. As you segment those donors, my recommendation is to really determine who needs a touch point and then how you want to do it. Then think about it both from that mass and individual cultivation level.

One little trick could be that you commit to reaching out to one contact every day, and then count the days between now and #GivingTuesday and we’re talking at least 100 contacts. If you can give the same assignment to one other person in your office or to five volunteers, imagine how many people you could reach out to and just say hello. Ask what they think about your organization.

And we’re going to get into more ideas about what it means to give without asking. What can you give that many times doesn’t even cost you any money? And what you’re trying to do is make personal connections, and make them feel important.

So you want to be social and communicative on the regular. And this point is so important. Number one, if you have to choose from all these 10 things of one thing you’re going to do, this is going to be it. The other piece is, it’s so important that I actually have an extra title slide in here.

This is actually Jay Love, the CEO of Bloomerang, and I didn’t put this in here to kiss up. I just happen to really like this quote. Here’s what it says. “Since loyalty is based upon strong relationships, and relationships grow via proper and regular communications, efforts in this area can provide huge upward surges in loyalty and financial support.”

Right? This stuff is intuitive, guys. It is all about little by little, reaching out, connecting, building relationships with people so that when you need something, they’re receptive. And I think we all know that if someone asks us for something and they haven’t done anything for us lately, you’re less inclined to want to do it.

And even though we all know that really real truth, for some reason in the hierarchy of to dos and prioritizations of how we’re running our organizations and stewarding our donors, that’s getting lost in the shuffle.

So number one, if you are not doing it already, you really want to make sure that you’re implementing a consistent communications plan. The idea is that you need to be top of mind and you need to train people to respond. You want to build transparency, and you want to create social proof that your cause matters.

The reason why we all still get so many emails in our inbox is because email works. And it’s also because we’ll summon advertising, and as Steven shared in my bio, my pre-Deposit a Gift and now pre-Firespring world was 10 years in advertising. The rule of thumb in marketing and advertising is that you need to be hit with a message five to seven times before you take action.

So you want to come up A, with ways to do that in a creative and integrated way so you’re not just constantly slapping people with an email with the same content. You certainly don’t want to just be saying, “Please donate, please donate, please donate.” You want to be giving them content that’s valuable, that creates transparency so they feel like they’re getting to know your organization.

But in doing that, it keeps you top of mind and the more consistent you are about that, the more they’re used to seeing you in their inbox, the more they’ll be trained to respond. So one really easy way to go about this is just lots and lots of storytelling. Profiling staff people, profiling volunteers, profiling people who are being affected by the work that you’re doing. When you share this content, it helps people feel like they know you, so emails are great for this, social media is great for this.

And also this whole idea of appreciation that we were talking about, really making those supporters, how do you turn them into advocates, you do that by making them feel like their support matters. So use public forums like emails and social media to thank people and do shout-outs.

When you do that, you’re also creating social proof that other people care about your cause. And people are sheep, they want to support what everyone else is supporting. So you’ve got to show that yours is something that people are really into. When you sit back and kind of work on this plan, I just really encourage you to think about what can you do to give, what kind of content that’s interesting and valuable can you put out there?

Right? Because think about what kind of emails you actually want to open. They’re the ones where it’s like they . . . it’s not just another ask for money, it’s like a cool story or a picture, some sort of tidbit. It doesn’t have to be huge. So one thing I find with a lot of organizations is they’ll say, “We don’t have time or resources to do newsletters.”

And one, I think it’s because there’s this feeling like there has to be so much content in there, and it doesn’t. It could literally be like one story a week. Or two articles. Something very simple.

The other piece is if you are a lean organization and you do not have a lot of people to work on stuff like this, I want you to really think creatively about who’s in your community who could help you do this, because it is that important. There are three groups of people that I can think of who would probably do this for free for the experience and the connectivity.

We have a lot of senior citizens that are super-smart, have lots of job experience, they’re retired, and they want things to do. Those could be great people, they’re worth investing in, teaching them a little bit of the ropes. A lot of them want to learn technology. Let them try out. If no one’s even doing the initiative in the first place, what is the harm?

You also have a lot of parents who are stay-at-home parents, and they’re looking for a way to on ramp themselves back into the workforce. So having a part-time internship or whatever where they can say, “Yeah, I was responsible for creating the newsletter at such-and-such organization,” or, “I drive the social media for such-and-such organization.” That’s huge.

Then the other group not to discount is students. So many of them want internships, both at the university level and even, you would be amazed what high schoolers can do because they’re so tech savvy. So enough with the excuses of, “We don’t have the resources.” This is too important. You’ve got to find the resources, and there are a lot of people out there who would be really psyched to help you.

All right. You’re going to be creating a more engaged community. The idea here is that you need to leverage your key supporters to grow your crowd, so we talked about that earlier. It’s the idea that you’re going to create as many advocates as possible, and use them to reach out to their network. Use their social capital.

You want to use the next four months to give tasks to these people. We would call them like your core network. And give them the tools that they need to engage people on your behalf. And then that group is going to grow. So for example, whenever someone starts setting up a campaign at Deposit a Gift, one thing that our support team does as like a little homework assignment is we’ll say, “Okay, well while you’re working on your campaign, keep a piece of paper and start writing down two lists of people. One list of people who you think you can definitely count on to give.”

You’re going to need that down the road for your soft launch. We talk a lot about that in Crowdfunding 101, what that means, so I’m happy to share. Then the other piece of it is who can you count on to spread the word about your campaign? Who can you ask to join your online street team?

And you’re going to strategically reach out to certain people so that you have a core group to start with, and then as people become more engaged supporters and you’re going to then be asking them, “Hey, would you be willing to help us spread the word about the campaign? This is what that means to us.” And be really clear about what you want from your online street team.

So it may be that you need them to make phone calls. It may be that you need them to send emails to their personal network. You’ll write the email, they’ll send it. These are the perfect people to create those stories. They’re great subjects for content for your newsletter and social media profile, why people are involved with you. That creates social proof, they’re going to be so excited, it’s going to make them feel even more committed. And if you do decide to hold any offline events like a fundraiser event, really just for people to get to know your organization, they can invite people.

You’re going to work on humanizing your organization, and that’s going to happen very naturally. The more you communicate and you share some stories and you share pictures and you maybe make a quick video, and it does not have to be fancy, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on it. I mean, people just want to know what goes on behind the scenes. What do you use their dollars for? What is it that drives the organization?

The key thing to keep in mind here is that people help those that they like. Everything in this world is relationship-based, and so you’re going to use these next four months to do everything you can to make your organization feel accessible and transparent because this translates into trust, which equals support. So do what you can to showcase your staff, your volunteers, the people that you serve, put a face on your organization.

And again, this just gives you fodder for all that content that you need for social media and newsletters to really create color and connection. And also when you do that, it offers opportunity for your community to interact with you, because you might ask their opinion on something, you might ask them to nominate someone who’s doing something really good, and you’re looking for those interactive moments.

All right. Step six is inciting action through commitment. Now, this may be one of those things that I mentioned on the pu-pu platter that you’re like, “Eh, we aren’t necessarily going to do this one.” But what I want you to think about is something that they call the foot in the door technique. And what it means is that when you get someone to take a very small action, they feel more committed so that when you ask them for something bigger, it is harder for them to say no, because it creates cognitive dissonance. It goes against the way they see themselves.

So quick story, there was a research study where people went around to a neighborhood and they said, “Would you put this sticker in your window?” The sticker says, “I support safe driving.” Something pretty innocuous everyone can get behind. Then two weeks later, they came back and they said, “We’ve got a lawn sign that says ‘I support safe driving.’ Would you be willing to put it in your front yard?”

And the people who put the sticker in their window were much more likely to then accept putting the sign in their lawn. And so even though I have been talking about this whole idea of giving without asking, and you might say, “Well, Dana, that doesn’t make sense because now you’re saying we need to ask them to do something.” It’s something small and it might even feel really fun.

Even I was on some website today, maybe it was Lifehacker, reading an article. And then a pop-up appeared that said, it was like, “Do you believe this,” whatever it was, and the button said yes or no. What they’re trying to do is get you to feel more committed to a certain idea. So it could be something simple that you ask people to sign a petition related to your organization’s mission.

Like I believe people who are blind should all have access to a seeing eye dog. Yes, sign the petition. They didn’t have to do anything. They didn’t have to give anything away. But what they did was they more closely aligned themselves with you. It may be that you get them to post things in social media, pictures of themselves with a hashtag or a certain picture or a hat, or them collecting cans at the mall. They post it to social media, they get a lot of applause for doing that, and again, they’re more closely aligned with your mission.

These types of actions not only get people, like I said, more closely aligned with your mission so that when you want to ask them for something big they’re ready. But they also could be really fun initiatives that create buzz, and if you do anything buzz-worthy in social media or your newsletter, that’s going to reinforce that social norm, that people care about what you’re doing. And that gets more people interested.

All right, Steven’s going to recognize this slide. This section is what we refer to, generating loyalty through appreciation. And Bloomerang did this really awesome study about retention. I personally think these statistics are pretty staggering. That how many people come back after they’ve given the first time, versus how likely they are to stay referred to as a retained donor, after they’ve given twice.

When Steven gave the workshop that I attended, he shared 10 reasons why people didn’t give again after that first time. To me, it was mind blowing, because the reason I’ll get to in a second is what we learn in kindergarten. Three out of 10 of the reasons were all some iteration of people not feeling appreciated.

It is so important. So one thing, and I coach a lot on this, especially in the Crowdfunding 101, I recommend creating what we call an appreciation strategy. What I want you to do is shift your mindset from thinking about . . . showing appreciation is like an acknowledgment, like a task. “Oh, I have to get people their letters at the end of the initiative, just so they have it for taxes.”

No. Gratitude enhances relationships. This goes back to the very beginning, the psychology of giving. Why do we donate? Because it makes us feel good. How can we feel good? If someone acknowledges us and shows appreciation. So you are going to use the next four months to make people feel so good about what they’ve done for your organization to date.

This, my friends, is giving without asking. It costs nothing and it makes people feel so good and it just strengthens bonds. So think about things, when you’re segmenting past donors, you’re going to spend the next four months just showering them with a lot of love.

For lurkers, you might be trying to do what we were talking about, getting them to take action. So you may spend the next one or two months doing that, and then as they take action, spend the rest of the time showering them with love. I want you to come up with strategies to thank people multiple times, in multiple ways, both personally, could be an email, a phone call, a text message, and then mass ways – social media, newsletters, etc. Use your online street team to be able to connect with as many people as possible so this isn’t all on your shoulders.

Another idea, and I got this from a workshop that I was at that I thought was pretty cool, someone recommended designating the first 20 minutes of a board meeting for calls. So you could give each board member a card with five people to call and send exploratory questions if they get them on the phone. So it serves two purposes. One, they’re going to be saying “thank you,” and two, if they do get someone on the phone, they can be giving them those opportunities for input, making them feel like their opinion matters.

That’s important. You actually may get some valuable insight out of it. And there’s some other byproducts, just your volunteers or your board members having a really good experience, it may make them feel more committed when they hear that they’ve done a good thing, making someone feel appreciated. It’s just a part of that process.

You want to really use gratitude as excuses to get connected with people. So when someone gives to your campaign, you want to follow-up with them within 24 to 48 hours. And on #GivingTuesday, I actually recommend you have someone who’s like your gratitude person, sending emails and doing social media shout-outs within an hour because the more that you use that excuse of saying thank you, what you actually get to do is then ask them to share your campaign. Or ask someone else to get involved. So that’s an important strategic piece to keep in mind.

All right, here’s another one of those that you may or may not want to choose from the pu-pu platter, but it’s this idea of creating a sense of indebtedness. And this is the giving without asking piece. Using the next four months to not ask for anything major, because you’re going to ask for something major later, you want to really try and change the dynamic of your relationship.

So it could be a virtual giveaway. It could be the phone call I’m talking about, handwritten thank you note. If you do have some budget, maybe you do come up with a gift that makes you a presence in their daily lives that they actually love and remind you about them, and maybe you could even do something where it ends up in a picture on social media.

Could be you give them a hat, and then you ask everyone to post pictures. Could be that you give them a notepad that’s got your logo and an inspirational quote of the day. So they’ve got new paper and something that makes them feel inspired every day. Even opportunities for influence or input is something that you can give that makes people feel more indebted to you. Or inviting them to a social gathering.

A lot of people don’t get as involved as you think they should. You might think, “Oh, we’re offering all these opportunities to come to events,” or this that and the other, but often people feel like, “Oh, well there’s sort of an inside group of core people who go, and I don’t really know anyone and I don’t feel included.”

So you want to make sure that you have an outreach team, that online social street team that reaches out, makes them feel invited, maybe you have greeters when they get there. The neat thing about these events that they may even realize and be surprised by is you’re not going to ask for anything from them. You’re not going to ask for money. You’re literally just going to be social, get to know people, and make them feel like they know a bit more about what you do.

We’re getting near the end of your steps here. Raising your social profile. This is one of those things, along with communicating on the regular through email and social media, that you want to work on. You really need to exploit the fact that successful crowdfunding is contingent on social pressure. That’s one of the things that makes this stuff work so well, and it’s one of the reasons why you don’t want to just send them to your donate page, why you want to send them to a crowdfunding site.

People need to see that other people are getting involved, right? You’ve got the recent activity feeds, the social media buttons to click to share, the rising thermometer. All of that stuff makes your organization and your cause look as popular as possible. This doesn’t really happen by magic. I know it seems that way, but Facebook has a lot of restrictions that make it so that a post doesn’t just get seen. You need to have engagement for them to reveal it to other people.

I recommend that you use this time to really experiment with, how can you get people more engaged with your social media channels? What do they like to see? Do they like to see pictures? Do they like videos? Do they like it when you ask their opinion? I mean maybe you even ask them what the theme for your #GivingTuesday campaign should be. Or we’re going to offer a reward for our campaign, and you let people vote. Everyone who gives above $50 is going to get something, and maybe you come up with three ideas and people get to vote.

First of all, that helps you find out what you actually might want to invest in. But there’s also kind of a foot in the door technique going on there, because people will be more likely to do it if they voted and it was something that they wanted. So use this time to get people more involved in your social media channels.

And finally, unless you work for a children’s organization or something to do with animals, every organization has that challenge of creating empathy and making people care about what you are doing. So I want you to think about this and say, “Is that a challenge that we have?” And if it is, like I said, not every step is for everyone, short of the communication and gratitude stuff. But if you do have this as a challenge, start thinking about, “Do we need third parties to validate the need for what we do?”

Is there someone who could help us elicit an emotional story that we never thought of that we could share that would make this warm and fuzzy? It’s important. People are driven by emotions and imagery.

So to sum it up, here’s what the next four months is all about for you. It’s about cultivating relationships, building your brand awareness, creating relevance, that’s creating connections, bolstering your online image so that people recognize you and they’re engaging with you. This is part of training your audience to connect with you in the way that you want.

The way to do that best is by having some people in your online street team who take those actions and basically set an example, and invite their friends to participate, and then their online image will increase.

And finally, you’re sowing good will chips that you can cash in. I mean, that’s the big thing, that’s this whole idea about giving without asking. People do things for people and organizations that they like, know, and trust. So that’s where you want to spend the majority of your time.

There’s also the actionable piece. I refer to that as like the business part of the campaign. So we’re going to kind of burn through this quickly, because I do want to leave some time for questions, but the idea is that you’re going to use this time to start thinking about your campaign. Every crowdfunding campaign needs an engaging story and a specific goal, a marketing plan that’s on paper, not just in your head, and a prepared and strategic leader. You’ve got to have someone leading the charge.

One thing that I often talk about in my Crowdfunding 101 is the fact that with crowdfunding, because it’s really a marketing platform, it can do more for you than just raise money. And this is what I was talking about at the beginning, of thinking about what your goals are and then kind of working backwards. That’s going to help you come up with your strategies, it’s going to help you identify from that pu-pu platter of steps which one you really need to invest your time in.

I think it’s so important to recognize that you want to give yourself license to be creative. That crowdfunding is not about processing, it’s marketing plus processing. I mean, that’s even the reason and you may get pushback internally, like, “Well, we already have a donate page with a super low processing fee. Why would we use a crowdfunding platform?”

Every site, whether you use Deposit a Gift or you go with someone else, we all have a platform fee and we all have a credit card fee. Like I said, ours is much lower than others, but everyone’s got that. The reason is because crowdfunding is a marketing platform, and so you don’t want to send someone to a sterile transactional donation page that’s not easy to share, that’s not compelling to give to.

#GivingTuesday is about creativity and inspiration and really, really fast and engaging giving and sharing. So you want to be set up for success for that. One thing to think about tactically speaking is devising an incentive. There’s so many things that you can do. One that we see works often the best is a donor match that you don’t announce, and then you kind of put a time limit on it. It may be that on #GivingTuesday itself you say, “If we can raise $5,000 in 24 hours, we’re going to get another five . . .

Steven: Well, folks, looks like Dana dropped off unfortunately. I think her phone must’ve cut out. But luckily she was just about done. I think that was her last slide. So so sorry about that. We’re all still definitely on the line here.

We’re going to try to get her back. We only have about five minutes left, I don’t want to keep you guys away from your lunch and so forth if you hadn’t heard those things. Luckily we’ve got all the content in, that’s what matters. Sorry we didn’t get to the Q&A right then and there, but we are definitely going to share Dana’s contact information, I’m going to flash that on the screen right now.

Please email her if you had questions for sure. Dana, if you can hear me, we can’t hear you, my friend. So if you want to maybe hang up and try to call back in, we’ll definitely still be here. But definitely want to encourage people to call in or to email Dana with her questions.

We’re also going to be sending out the recording as well as the slides within the next day or so, and Dana is also going to be sending some goodies for sure. Looks like we actually might be able to bring Dana in, so one second.

Steven: Hi Dana, are you there? Hey, you’re back. Yay.

Dana: I don’t know what happened. I’m so sorry. Okay, that’s awful.

Steven: Those webinar gremlins.

Dana: I know. Oh my gosh, guys, I’m so sorry. All right, let’s keep going, and if you can hang with me for a couple of extra minutes we will finish this off. I’m so sorry.

Steven: All right.

Dana: Okay, so we were talking about getting donor matches. I think that’s where I left off. What I was saying is if you can do some sort of incentive, and donor matches work really well, that gets people excited. And one thing that I mentioned before is that a lot of people, at least using Deposit a Gift, will use their #GivingTuesday campaign to kick off giving for the rest of the year or that whole holiday giving season.

So you might have a mini-goal on #GivingTuesday with one match, and then it’s a good idea to secure some follow-on matches because you may need them to keep people fired up throughout the rest of the giving period.

Okay. Setting up the site, we’re talking the business part of the presentation for all of us who had a few minute gap here, this is like a checklist for you. You want to have engaging visuals, brief, well-organized text. The whole idea is that with crowdfunding, you’re sending people to a site, you’ve got like three to five seconds to get their attention, and you want to make sure that within the first two to three sentences they know exactly what you’re raising money for and how you’ll use it. A lot of people just aren’t going to read beyond that.

The most important thing is sense of urgency. I always recommend that when you are reading your campaign and having other people look at it, that you ask yourself, “Do I feel like I must give today and not tomorrow?” And if the answer is no, then you want to keep working on your set-up.

Marketing strategy. It may be #GivingTuesday, but the Internet is still not going to shower you with money. And I know this sounds a little bit cheeky, but one of the biggest reasons that campaigns don’t meet their goals is that people don’t just really grasp the idea that it’s all about marketing.

It’s all about marketing, but it’s all about marketing to an audience that is going to be receptive to your message and excited to support it. So you really want to to plant those seeds. Create that online street team. Give people the scoop.

A lot of people, you guys all know what #GivingTuesday is, but a lot of people don’t know what #GivingTuesday is. You may need to educate them on what that is. I also find that because you’re going to need to be doing so many marketing communications that, and there’s this fear that people are going to unsubscribe and you’ve worked so hard to build up your list that I think it’s important to manage expectations. Let people know what’s coming. “We’re doing this awesome initiative. You’re going to be hearing from us a lot. We hope you’re as fired up about it as we are, and we will . . . this is going to be a short term thing that you’re going to be hearing from us so much, and then we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled programming.

That’s a way to, again, let people in behind the scenes. I think a lot of times we’re hesitant to show people our dirty laundry. It’s not even so dirty, just sort of the inner workings of things. But actually that can be really helpful. People are more likely to support you when they understand what’s going on.

You’re going to use the fall to recruit, recruit, recruit. You really don’t want to be a one-man band. You want to be this guy. You need people on your street team to help you spread the word, and so that also takes time. Like all of these things are not overnight. It takes time to help people understand what you’re trying to accomplish and why their little bit of effort, their 10 minutes a week doing some social media for you, why that’s actually going to pay dividends.

So take the time to explain it to them. And especially on the converse, if you have someone who can be a disruptive person in your organization, maybe that person you want to bring to coffee, and really try and kill them with kindness and get them on board with the concept because you know that they’re an influencer. You know that they’re someone that people listen to.

You’re going to be creating a marketing plan, and like I said, you’ve got to hit people with your message at least five to seven times. And this is really more focused on #GivingTuesday and your end of year fundraising. So think about, of course your best ROI’s going to be online, but how else do people respond to you? And if it’s worth it to invest in a postcard because you’ve got a lot of people offline that you’re trying to drive online, do that.

If text messages work or phone calls work, don’t think that it’s only supposed to be the Internet moving your campaign. Eventually it will if you get the snowball rolling, but you’ve got to invest in those efforts initially.

So now what? Well, my recommendation is that you have a kumbaya with yourself. Evaluate your bandwidth and solidify your next step, your action items. Because like I said when I started, this is a ton of information. I hope it doesn’t feel overwhelming. I hope you feel informed. I really want that for you, so that you can make choices about what’s going to work for your organization.

Then say to yourself, what can you actually commit to? Where are you truly? Be honest in the funnel of relationships with your community, and what really needs some TLC? That’s where you want to put your efforts. So let’s make this doable for yourself. Let’s make this bite sized.

My recommendation is to pick one day a week to work on your #GivingTuesday strategy. It may be that you pick one action item each week that you want to work on. If you have the ability to set yourself an hour a day to work on #GivingTuesday, that’s awesome as well. But if it’s one day a week, maybe you set four hours aside on a Friday and you work on your newsletter and you queue up your social media in Hootsuite, and that might be what’s doable for you. So just figure that out, and then put a plan in action.

One final detail that I’d like you to consider as you prepare for #GivingTuesday, and that is your website. Think about this statistic. Eighty-two percent of donors visit a nonprofit’s website before giving. That stat comes from Nonprofit Hub. Your website is the center of your universe, and it needs to compel supporters to engage.

That’s one of the things that I’m so excited about. I told you I was going to bring it back near the end to why Deposit a Gift’s crowdfunding platform joined forces with Firespring. Firespring is a nonprofit technology company, does a lot of different things, but one of their key functionalities and features is beautiful websites that are super-easy to create and maintain, but they’re built with nonprofits in mind.

So if you’re interested in something like this, I can actually give you some webinars to learn about it. But it’s something that’s really important, because you’ve got four months. Let’s really think about your total web presence so that you’re set up for success for #GivingTuesday and holiday giving.

What we find is that a lot of nonprofits end up sending visitors away to engage with them instead of keeping them on their website. One of the neat things about the Firespring website is that they really keep them on the website. They invite them in and keep them there with some certain special features again, just really built specifically for nonprofits.

So just a little, I liked what Steven said, “I’m going to brag on her,” earlier, when he talked about me, I think I’m going to say I’m going to brag on Firespring a little. It’s the reason that we chose them as a partner. We wanted to be able to bring more technology resources and the right ones to the users of the Deposit a Gift crowdfunding platform, and I think this is something that is really important to consider as you plan for end of year giving.

So with that, Steven, I’d like to turn it over to you for some Q&A. And thank you guys for sticking with me through that glitch.

Steven: All right, no problem. I think we definitely appreciate all the great information, so no worries for a little flub there. I know we’re past 2:00 and we try to finish right on time, but I think we can do a couple questions. You’re going to see Dana’s contact information here on the screen. Dana, is it okay if people to reach out to you offline as well? Assuming you’re okay with that?

Dana: Oh yes, please, yeah. My email is dana.ostomel@firespring.org. And yeah, I’m going to send you a personal email by tomorrow, but if you have questions, email me now. Yes, please consider me a resource in any way.

Steven: Very cool. We’ve got a question here from William. How would you try to raise funds in a community that is smaller, and holds onto their future funds a little tighter than normal? So maybe those small shops, operating in small communities. What advice would you have for William and others there?

Dana: Sure. What did he say, and holds onto their future funds?

Steven: They hold onto their funds, their sort of disposable income I believe he means, a little tighter than normal.

Dana: Oh, like how do you get people to part with their money was the question, right? Okay. So William, it’s a good question, and honestly, having your community be small is not necessarily a bad thing. Right? Because so often, when you’ve got a niche community that’s passionate about what you do, if you do what we talked about today with these steps for cultivating those people, that’s how you really strengthen the bond with them and start to whip them up more in a frenzy.

So your community might look smaller today, and actually, I’m just talking out loud here, but it’s kind of a blessing for you because let’s turn all of those people into advocates for you. All of those people, they say the average person on Facebook has like 250 friends. Take whatever the size of your community is, and then multiply it by how many connections they have. What if you can get all of them motivated to be sharing about what you’re doing?

And maybe the focus for a while is not on asking them for money. Maybe the focus is on asking them for social capital. You know, we often advise that when we are coaching on like how to do crowdfunding at schools because one of the challenges that a lot of schools have is that they feel like they’re constantly bugging the parents to be the same ones to donate.

And our contention is that there are so many people who care about those children, grandparents, aunts and uncles, special friends, that if you try and basically turn your parent body into an online street team and ask them to market for you, and ask people to support the campaign, A, you’re going to broaden your network. But B, very likely they’re going to donate anyway because they want to have skin in the game.

It’s sort of similar to that cognitive dissonance idea, that it is extremely difficult to ask somebody to donate if you haven’t donated yourself, but it’s kind of a back door approach for you. You’re trying to motivate to help you market, spread the word, and share with their friends and families why they care about the organization and they’ll probably give anyway.

Steven: Makes sense. What advice . . . I think it’s a good way to end it, Dana. What advice would you have for a brand new organization, no fundraising experience? We’ve got a couple people who have asked questions along those lines. What about some brand new orgs? What advice would you have for those folks?

Dana: Invest in creating your network, right? So if you’re a new organization, you’re still a person and you still have friends. That might sound so silly, but that’s one of the . . . I mean, we all have always been building our network since we were little. But now with social media, we have so much instant access.

What you want to do is start almost building like a coalition. And you may not want to go straight out on social media for that. It may be that you start with sending personal emails to people that you think really know and love you, or that you know are really committed to your cause or your mission, or the issue that you’re trying to tackle, and meet with them. Have a conversation on the phone, have a coffee with them.

I mean, it might sound tedious, but it’s actually the way to create a groundswell, and you’ve got to manage your expectations. And start, literally in the beginning, one by one. And that’s why you’ve got these four months on your side. So make some goals, like map it out for yourself and say, “Okay, over the next 30 days, tomorrow, I’m going to make a list of who I think cares about what I’m doing. Either they care about me or they care about this cause. I’m going to send each one a personal email.”

Don’t send mass emails. People try to really shortcut everything with mass, mass, mass and it’s going to backfire, because you have the bystander effect and people think, “Well, someone else is going to do it.” And it also makes them feel like, “Well, that email wasn’t written for me,” and they’re going to hit delete.

You might write yourself a template so you don’t have to rewrite the email. You send it out to each person, customize it a little bit, and see if you can get them to talk to you, get them interested. You’re not asking them for money. What you want is their social capital. Tell them what your long term goal is. “We’re going to use #GivingTuesday to really launch our campaign. We’re going to use #GivingTuesday as the first project we’re working on,” whatever it is.

Get their ideas, and also say, “Can I count on you for your support? If I write an email for you, will you blast it out to your contacts? If I give you a blurb to put on Facebook, would you share it?” And after you invest in that way in those one-to-one relationships, then you can move to one to many.

Steven: I love it. That’s a great way to end it. I can’t wait to put all this good stuff to use, Dana. I’m going to be doing my first #GivingTuesday personally this November, so this is really valuable.

Dana: Awesome.

Steven: I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did, and by the looks of the chat that we’ve been getting throughout, I think they did. So Dana, thanks for hanging out with us and sharing all your knowledge. It was a lot of fun.

Dana: Sure, thank you guys. Thanks for sticking with me. And I know there’s a bunch of people who had questions that they didn’t get asked. Before you jump out, copy/paste your question, copy down my email, dana.ostomel@firespring.org, and send me that and I’m happy to answer your question personally.

I’ll be following up. By tomorrow you’ll get the slide, the recording, goodies, and a special offer code that you can use to get an even lower fee on your campaign. So Steven, thank you for having me. It was awesome. Really appreciate it.

Steven: Right on. Well, we’ve got our webinar series cooking right along. We’re actually going to take next Thursday off if you all don’t mind me taking a break, but we’ll be back in two weeks. Really fun one, Sophie Penny is our guest. She’s going to talk about how to build up an internship program at your nonprofit.

If your nonprofit has not gotten into the intern game, doesn’t really know how to reach out to those colleges and universities and be enticing to those young professionals, join us in two weeks. It’s going to be really cool. It’s not something that we’ve ever covered, and it’s something that I actually haven’t seen covered before. So we’re going to kind of break the mold there.

Going to be a fun one. If that doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, there’s lots of other webinars on our resources page that you might want to register for. We would love to see you again on another Thursday webinar. So thanks again for joining us today. Sorry we went a little long. There was just too much good information.

You’ll be receiving all those goodies from an email from Dana and me as well, so look for that, and hopefully we will see you again on another webinar. Have a great rest of your afternoon, have a great weekend, and we’ll talk to you again soon.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.