28 Mar 2022

Now is the time to be focused on your Monthly Giving Program and appealing to those potential donors.

Though building relationships and nurturing donors happens year round it is tough to be focused and effective trying to spotlight multiple campaigns at once. So your monthly giving program can be focused on seasonally. Typically a good time to do this is between your spring and year-end fundraising campaigns. Right after your year-end campaign in the mid-winter into your spring campaign and after the summer break, late July into early fall before you would launch your holiday and year-end plans.

Your Monthly Giving Program is a very important component of your fundraising plan because:

A Monthly Giving Program can bring financial stability to your organization by moving one-time and annual givers up the engagement ladder to be more invested in your mission, increasing their lifetime giving value and increasing the likelihood of keeping those donors engaged in your mission long-term.

The beauty of a branded monthly giving program is that you can create a more loyal and engaged community within your giving circle. Think of these givers as long-term investors in the success of the mission. Companies engage investors differently from one-time customers and in the same way you need uniquely engage donors to create depth and stability for your mission.

A one-time giver is much like a one-time consumer, it may take several one-time engagements before they decide that they really like what they are putting their money towards. As a one-time giver becomes more consistent and engaged then you would then consider reaching out and inviting that person to become a monthly giver. Just like someone who may subscribe to a monthly purchase of their favorite coffee or streaming service. And since your mission is community-driven, this is your opportunity to create a circle of people that are more deeply invested, and connected to the community and the mission.

Here is an example of a Monthly Giving Program we developed for Kingdom Eyes, a faith-based disability awareness organization. Their Monthly Giving Program is called Kingdom Buildersbecause they have identified people who really like the mission and understand it takes an investment to see tangible and lasting change.

This program breaks down what the donor would be investing in and why. It then goes on to invite people into a quarterly gathering to grow spiritually, fellowship, and connect with like-minded people. The community-building opportunity is to make it fun and make it unique to your culture. An end goal would be that people walk away feeling good, at times challenged, and overall connected, knowing they belong to a community that matters.

See more here: kingdomeyes.org/Builders

21 Sep 2020

By Patrick Kennedy

5 min read

Events are a love / hate relationship for many, but we all know that events drive engagement, that’s why we do them. Not all events are engaging and an event without the proper context can drive your budget into a hole. Now in our digital world we especially need to be thinking about context as our events are turning virtual. By establishing our “Why” and a strong narrative we will create meaningful context and engagement across live and virtual gatherings.

For years I’ve seen a ton of success integrating live events with digital campaigns. A well orchestrated campaign can provide a much needed and powerful context for your fundraising event. With this strategy it’s not about the event as much as it’s about the campaign as a whole. Making the event a compliment versus the main focus will allow you to leverage your fundraising event in a powerful story based framework to drive engagement toward your fundraising goals. So as we move into a virtual event landscape, we can make the digital campaign even more explosive, especially now that people are becoming normalized to the virtual meet-up. The digital and virtual landscape is dynamic. If we integrate virtual events with digital campaigns we will be able to elevate the event medium to make a more powerful appeal that highlights impactful stories, and casts a vision that inspires your constituents to give.

You may be thinking that the virtual event will never replace the in-person event, and I agree. In person connections will always be more meaningful but that doesn’t mean that we can’t leverage the digital landscape to create impact moments that can be just as lucrative!

According to recent study, Why America Gives 2020, “30% of survey respondents said they supported or participated in a virtual charity event since the start of the pandemic. Of those respondents, 60% said they donated and/or raised more in the virtual environment than they have for past in-person events. These results not only underline people’s willingness to participate virtually, but the possibility for greater levels of support.”

Event planners like Danielle Snelson are pushing the fold on virtual events and seeing a huge upside. The most noticeable upside is that virtual events can be a fraction of the cost to produce, which can allow you to increase returns by connecting with more people while cutting production time. An innovation that can cut down on time and expense while increasing revenue is definitely worth pursuing – and when you sync it up with a well orchestrated campaign, you may just see exponential returns.  

This is a great 10 min conversation with Danielle Snelson on her experience with virtual events.


Here’s the big take away: There is a huge upside to virtual events. Consider creating one and put it into context within a digital campaign. 

01 Jun 2020

By Patrick Kennedy

5 min read

It’s the digital age and your organization has almost every tool at your disposal to communicate with people, and most of these tools are FREE! That’s amazing and exciting, but that also means there’s a lot of noise out there, because everyone is doing it.

The question is “How do you cut through the digital noise?” 

The good news is that you’re sitting on a gold mine, and the gold is in your story. 

Storytelling is a timeless framework that leverages all the good work that you’re doing and puts it into a compelling narrative that inspires people to to help you do the great work that you do!

This blog will touch on the basics and even give you a little more to get your storytelling started. So let’s walk through the Storytelling Framework.

Nonprofit Storytelling Journey

1.Character

This is the community you are serving. To develop the Character, you want to identify a single person who represents the whole. This person’s story is a glimpse into the struggle that people are facing. The details of the character such as their name, age, family, who they are, and their unique struggle are key pieces that will connect with your audience.

2. Conflict

This is defined as the unique problem that your Character is facing. The conflict is also connected to the larger problem in your community. For example though you may have a huge problem you are trying to solve, such as homelessness – For the sake of your story and your potential fundraising campaign, you will want to try to focus the story on a goal that you need to meet. Such as “We need $50,000 to upgrade our shelter facility”. With this goal you now have an achievable outcome and a filter in which you can choose the right character and proper story so that you can focus on how that character personifies the need to upgrade your shelter facility.

3. Guide

You and your organization are the guide. This is a very important role and a critical perspective for your organization to understand. You need your whole organization to be focused on guiding your constituents (donors, volunteers, and followers) on a journey to become the Hero of the story. These are the people who ultimately serve the needs of your community and therefore need to be communicated to accordingly. The way that you communicate will help your audience know that they are the most important part to the organization and ultimately the Hero that supports your community. If you confuse yourself, your organization, or your program as the Hero serving your community then you may be completely losing connection with your audience and ultimately losing support and impeding your impact. 

4. Hero

Your audience is your Hero – those people who are in your contact list – (Social Media Followers, Email Followers, Volunteers, Donors, and Constituents). Your audience wants to feel like they’re making a difference for the causes they care about. To do this you need these people to feel like they are the solution to the cause – because they are! Without their gifts, voice, and volunteer efforts then there is virtually no solution. Your supporters are the Hero of the story, so be sure not to confuse this with your organization and staff. This can be easy to do. You are in fact the Guide, not the Hero.

5. Call To Action

This is where you present your plan and make your appeal. The clearer you make your plan and appeal, the more impactful you will be. Though the actual internal plan, (facts and figures) may be full of detail and nuance, it is your duty to make it very simple and boiled down. As the Guide in the story, your constituents are looking for the answer to the problem and how to respond accordingly as the Hero. If you confuse them with facts, figures, and nuance then you will lose their attention and support! Remember, this is not a grant report. So it is very important that you present a simple plan; usually with 3-4 bullets with 1-2 sentences. Then let your audience know what you would like from them and why. 

Your “Why” is the most important question that needs to be answered for your audience and it needs to be answered with intention. You then use the conflict of your main character’s story to paint a picture of how life will be better for the community because they responded. Don’t shrink back on the appeal. Be intentional, direct, and invoke purpose and emotion. Your audience wants to feel like they are making a difference; and that feeling is a powerful retention moment for their heart to connect to your cause for the long term.

Now that you have the framework, consider what kind of stories you need to tell and then run those through the framework. For example, here are three primary stories that you need to be communicating:

1. Fundraising Stories – Stories that help your cause raise money.

2. Impact Stories – Stories that show impact, either successes or challenges.

3. Thank You Stories – Stories that show gratitude for your constituents.

Now let’s jump into a webinar with one of my favorite storytelling consultants. Lori Jacobwith keeps it very simple, and understands that you’re just getting started. Here’s the big take away:

“We ‘Think’ in story. Every decision we make is based on a story we tell ourselves. If we don’t feel something we can’t make a decision.” – Lori Jacobwith

Once you’ve thought through some of the story’s you could share, put it into action and reach out to me. I’d love to hear how it’s going!

19 May 2020

By Patrick Kennedy

3 min read

Now more than ever our ability to communicate through digital channels is a priority, particularly if we want to stay engaged with our donors and constituents. This is the first of a series of blogs that will hopefully help you think strategically about your communications and lead you on a journey to ultimately thrive in your marketing, fundraising, and outreach. I like to think of communications as the heart that is pumping blood through the body. With a healthy heart your organization is going to think clearly, speak effectively, and run productively.  

As we start out on this journey I’m going to guide you to one of my favorite resources on this topic which is a communications agency out of New York City. Their name is Big Duck and this is a webinar on communications called “Engagement” from their Nonprofit Communications Engine Series

Here’s the big take away: “Start with a strategy anchored in an understanding of your audiences, the actions you want them to take, and what’s in it for them.” – Big Duck


The Nonprofit Communications Engine online workshops session 2: Engagement from Big Duck on Vimeo.

Engagement with your audience is what drives donations, connects your services to constituents, and ultimately builds community around your cause. Effective engagement starts with your strategy not your tactics. While digital communications uses an array of digital channels to communicate, we also need to start at the beginning which is your strategy. So if a board member has a great idea about implementing the newest social media channel you can refer back to your strategy, overlay it with your audience personas, and then get a clear idea if it’s going to be the channel you need to implement or not. 

This is the type of thought leader I like to follow and being an active learner is what makes our work better. I hope that it helps you out! 

22 Jun 2017

Fundraising isn’t easy, and it isn’t something we learn in school. It can be a game changer to know that our stories and the stories of those we serve are the greatest asset for funding our mission.  Wether you are just starting out or have been doing this for a while, what we can easily miss and forget in the hustle of trying to meet funding goals is that our story is the foundation to “WHY” we fundraise. This might be your personal story if you are a founder, an advocate, or missionary working to build a following. Or if you are an organizational fundraiser, the people you serve have stories that need to be told and you are the gatekeeper to leveraging those stories of despair to creating opportunities of hope for the community.  Dollars can be inspired deposits of hope from the hearts of your donors, not a burden that they need to fulfill. I hope you find this E-book encouraging and helpful in using story to turn the obstacles of fundraising into opportunities to fund your mission.

Please share and leave a comment if you enjoyed the E-book.

 

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