Do Good ~ Fundraising Works!

Superheroes Kids Friends Playing Togetherness Fun Concept

“Helping people in need is a good and essential part of my life, a kind of destiny.” – Princess Diana

I believe most people want to ‘do good.’  Indeed, the late, Princess Diana was a role model for all of us to look up to with the countless charities she significantly impacted.  Do Good ~ Fundraising Works! Princess Diana changed the Royal Family and the public’s perception of the British Monarchy.   When asked the question, do you see yourself as queen one day?   Princess Diana’s reply was what helped define her legacy.  “I’d like to be a queen in people’s hearts.”  And that she was!

What is one way for everyday people, volunteers, and nonprofit organizations to make a difference, try fundraising?  However, fundraising needs to link into the overall impact.   Shanna Birky, Product Manager for Classy, states, “Most nonprofits believe fundraising drives impact, but do not realize that impact also drives fundraising.”  Donors want to see real-time results, what is the impact their donation dollars are having on the cause.  Are they making a difference!  

Output & Outcome:

As explained by Ian C. MacMillan and James D. Thompson, authors of Elements of a Logic Model, look at the differences between Output and Outcome.

Inputs – What an organization needs to do its work (facilities, staff, volunteers, grants, etc.)

Activities – The work that is done in the main programs of an organization.  

Outputs – Units of production (number of hours of service delivered, number of clients served, etc.)

Outcomes – What happens to clients or customers (change in people of communities – short, medium and long term).

Impact– Ultimate result of achieving the mission. 

Fundraising organizations need to evaluate when to put the focus on one or the other to drive the best message resulting in the best impact.

An example of a logic model:

  • Your input from a recent fundraising event raised $50,000; this is your ‘do good’ budget.
  • Your nonprofit organization’s primary activity (objective) is to build animal shelters.  
  • Your output of the input and activity is to add a  ‘doggy hotel’ to an existing animal shelter. 
  • The outcome of your output is that more dogs can have housing at the animal shelter.
  • Your impact of these outcomes is more dog lives got saved.

Specific Examples: 

Donors want to know what they are getting for their buck, so be specific.  An example, a local animal shelter is hosting a fundraising event, explain to your donors that a $50.00 donation will buy two 40lb bags of dog food.   Alternatively, a fundraiser for a homeless shelter, a $200 donation will provide meals for 200 homeless people.  

Emotion & Story Telling:

One way to ensure your campaign remains rooted in emotion is to build a narrative that the user experiences as they move through the donation process.   When you tell a story, it’s more likely that visitors will invest emotionally in your campaign (fundraiser) and want to learn more.

In an earlier Influence The Cause Blog we mentioned that donations are driven by emotion.   “We have to remember that donating has been rooted in emotion,” says Shanna, “and replacing the story with facts is not the answer to increasing impact transparency.”  While statistics have their value and are very much needed for nonprofits to give transparency, donators what a story to be told.  


As Influence The Cause explained in the recent blog,  Are Nonprofits in the Dark Age, your donors have a face; they are real people.   Get to know them!   The more information you gather from your donors, the more donation dollars will be generated.  An example, a dog lover would be more likely to donate for the addition of the ‘doggy hotel’ than that of a cat lover.  This engagement strategy will help your donors feel like they’re part of the solution.  

In Summary, when you connect fundraising dollars to impact, you make it easier for potential donors to relate to your work and understand how they can make a difference.  This clarity incites action and helps you raise more money for your cause.  
Do Good ~ Fundraising Works!

Intended Impact & Theory of Change

Nonprofits are needed now more than ever

Imagine being a child in the streets of San Francisco and having no place to call home, it is just heartbreaking.  Sadly, this is a reality, and according to Larkin Street Youth Services, a nonprofit organization, it happens at an alarming rate.  Stating, “tonight more than 1,300 young people will find themselves on the streets of San Francisco through no fault of their own.”

Established in 1984, Larkin Street Youth Services have made the statement that tomorrow must be different – our collective future depends on it. They are aiding more than 75,000 young people a safe place to rebuild their lives.   Larkin provides housing, education, employment training, health, and wellness awareness, helping these young people get off the streets for good.

Non Profits are needed now more than ever

We all love to hear these wonderful humanitarian success stories that genuinely change the lives of so many in a community.   However, success like that of Larkin does not happen by chance.  Today, nonprofits are faced with limited resources against seemingly unlimited needs, stifling financial issues.   Nonprofit leaders have the daunting task of running their organizations on ‘peanuts’ of a budget, squeezing the most out of each dollar to have the maximum benefit.   Juggling, getting critical resource decisions right – allocating time, talent, and dollars to the activities that have the most significant impact.  This is what “strategy” is all about. Relatively few nonprofits – even the most successful – have strategies in this pragmatic sense of the word.

So how do you bridge nonprofit’s missions and its programmatic activities, so we have increased success stories?  Two concepts that nonprofits need to implement, Intended Impact and Theory of Change!

Intended Impact

Intended impact is a statement or series of statements about what the organization is trying to achieve and will hold itself accountable for within some manageable period of time. It identifies both the benefits the organization seeks to provide and the beneficiaries.   Larkin leadership decided that their intended impact was to help San Francisco Bay Area homeless youth between the ages of 12 and 24 exit life on the street permanently. By specifying which youth the agency will focus on and the outcome that will constitute success, this intended impact clarifies Larkin’s strategic priorities in a way the mission statement does not.

Theory of Change

Theory of change explains how the organization’s intended impact will actually happen, the cause-and-effect logic by which organizational and financial resources will be converted into the desired social results.  An example of this is from a familiar story about a small village on the edge of a river.  Village life was good; children enjoyed playing in the river’s water, mothers washed their clothes and fathers fished.   One day, alarming, a man’s body was found floating done the river.  Everyone in the village ran to aid to pull the man to safety.  Barely alive, the village nursed him back to health.   However, day in and day out, more and more, almost dead, bodies kept coming down the river.   

One day a man in the village put on his walking shoes and started to head up the river, leaving the village.   Another fellow Villager shouted out, “you can’t leave now; we need everyone to help take care of all of the people we pulled from the river.”  The Villager shouted back, “It’s about time someone goes upstream to find out why these people are falling in the river in the first place.”

Out of this story are three possible Theories of Change:

  • We pull people out of the river and nurse them back to health.
  • We go upstream and prevent the problem in the first place.
  • Alternatively, we combine the two.  Help people in need and also work towards preventing the problem in the first place.

By nonprofit organizations implementing and building strategies versus expecting that a mission statement will get the desired result is foolish.  Let the power of ‘intended impact’ and ‘theory of change’ help move your organization forward and provide better leadership skills.  

Incorporating New Strategies For Non-Profit 2019: [Change is a Good Thing]

Handwriting text Marketing 2019. Concept meaning New Year Market Strategies Fresh start Advertising Ideas written Cardboard Paper hanging on rope the plain background Clip.

Out with the old in with the new

Out with the old and in with the new, change is a good thing.  Adaptive Strategy may not be what it once was, and it too has had to occur adaptation.  The shortcoming of a traditional approach to strategic planning is the tendency to ‘set it and forget it.’  This is not the case anymore.  From the Stanford Social Innovation Review, “New development from the disciplines of innovation, data science, and implementation management is teaching us that good strategy isn’t just about setting your destination and path, it’s also about how you execute and adjust over time.”

New Strategies

Now, incorporate this to how it applies to Nonprofit organizations. Change is a Good Thing so think of the whole ‘new strategy’ as a blueprint to build a house.  First, an architect needs to draw or build the plan.  After that, it takes a lot more to execute until you have a finished, successful product (hopefully a new home).  It is one thing to ‘just’ draw it out and hope for the best, those days are gone.  Be prepared, as electricians, plumbers, framers or you name it, make changes.  It is ineffable, and Nonprofit organizations are no different.  

Some key suggestions to take into consideration:

(1) Just because it worked in the past does not mean it will work or apply to today.  Do not limit your horizons, widen your aperture.  The world is full of indefinite possibilities.   Assuming that what worked in the past will still be successful today or in the future may hold your organization from growth.  

(2) Management is imperative to success.  Using the house building       analogy, what would a construction site look like without an effective Contractor guiding the way?  Leadership is a must.  What we have learned from the innovative space is about the importance of designing and managing experiments.  Leadership then can assess and adapt for ultimate results.  

(3) Analyzing Data Science can be something very mundane, all too often nonprofit organizations simply pass data about their performance straight from evaluator to funder.  The data is vital but what would also be critical is real-time management.  Information that is needed to be more effective on a day-to-day base and to adjust decision making accordingly.  

(4) Communication and execution are optimal to fuel productivity.   In working with our clients in recent years, we have seen time and again that it is one thing to develop an adaptive strategy, and quite another to successfully execute one.  Become familiar with your current operational reality.   The blueprint may be relatively easy to draw out; however, you must know how to implant and ultimately execute.  

(5) Think of the word strategy as a verb versus a noun.   Even in the fast pace demands of today’s business, this can be a hard adaption for some to make.   It’s just as much about how you implement and adjust your direction in an ongoing way as it is about setting your vision and initial plan.  

Embrace Change

In summary, embrace change. Change is a Good Thing for Nonprofit Organizations who need to continually adapt, have strong leadership, keep open to new ideas, use technology for growth, communicate and make your strategy active.

Are Nonprofit Organizations in the Dark Age?

Non Profit Mindset

Are Nonprofit Organizations in the Dark Age? Staggeringly, the answer is mainly yes.  Nonprofit leaders want to embrace technology into their organizations, but the reality is very few do.  Some are even aware that embracing technology would also boost their organization’s mission and fundraising potential.   

So, one might ask, what is the hesitation for nonprofit organizations to engage in the fast tracks of technology?  First, it might be their mindset.   Nonprofit Organizations want to save the world; their mission, cause, humanitarian efforts, fundraising, volunteering base and of course donations.  They’re not spending time thinking about how to increase their margins or bringing in more business the way that a startup or any for-profit company would.   

This mindset needs to change.  There are so many ways that implementing technology in your nonprofit organization that would increase productivity and ultimately increase donations.   Nonprofits need excellent communication with their donors, and technology can help.   Starting with CRM, customer relationship management.   This is a technology for managing all your company’s relationship and interactions with customers and potential customers.  Nonprofit leaders need to think of their organization as a business.  The customers are your donors and your potential donors.  

3 Ways CRM Can Help:

  • People are overwhelmed with the number of emails they receive in a day.   CRM can help track what your donor’s preferred form of communication is.  CRM would inform you that it might be way more beneficial to connect with them by Social Media.   
  • Nonprofit organizations have plenty of data but do not necessarily know how to apply it.   The proper use of data analytics, like CRM, would assist in evaluating their impact.   A prime example, CRM can track all sort of things about a donor or prospective donor.  Such as their contribution history, engagement history social media links, and more. They are turning information into fundraising dollars.
  • Your donors have a face; they are real people.   Get to know them!  CRM can provide you with detailed information allowing your nonprofit to connect more efficiently with your donor base.  When people feel that you took the time to get to know them, they are more likely to feel appreciated, and more likely to want to support your charity.

Using technology in the sophisticated ways we’re thinking about is new to many people, especially people who are older and less technologically savvy.   Many of whom are leading nonprofits.  Let’s take a look at social media.   In a Pew Research Center report conducted in January 2014, it showed that 74% of all online adults used some form of social media.   With that 74% on a rapid increase.  Fundraising campaigns found that 55% of all people who use social media will donate to their campains.

Are Nonprofit Organizations in the Dark Age with Social Media Exposure?

If your nonprofit is not on the social media bandwagon, think of all the missed donation dollars.

There is a good chance you are reading our Influence The Cause blogs on your smartphone.  Great, chances are you are not alone.  At the end of 2018, statistics showed that 57% of global web traffic originated from mobile devices, which means that your website, donation pages, and email templates had better by mobile responsive.  If it is not user-friendly across the board, it will discourage your donators.

These are just a few ways how technology can be used to boost in fundraising dollars for nonprofits.  Change the mindset, your organization and cause can no longer afford NOT to implement today’s’ technological world.    

For Profit vs. Nonprofit

“What’s Good for the Goose ‘Should’ be Good for the Gander”

This is a common phrase that denotes, “What is good for a man is equally good for a woman; or, what a man can have or do, so can a woman have or do.”  We hope this should be the case.  AND should be no different for the concepts of For-Profit verses that of Nonprofit sectors.   The same rules should apply!

In an earlier blog, I hope you are following Influence the Cause, I admitted to being part of Generation X (1965-1980).  I am going to refer back to an incredibly special charity event to lead into our blog topic for today, stemming from my generation.   In 1985, a massive epitomic of starvation was devastating parts of Africa, especially that of drought-stricken Ethiopia.   The greatest of Rock N’ Roll royalty gathered together to create a benefit concert ‘Live Aid.’  Most famously, they collaborated the top chartering song We Are The World.  With Artist Lionel Richie leading the lyrics out with: 

“There comes a time When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all.”

Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation

What is the point?  Let’s look at Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation.    Does nonprofit have anything to do with changing the world or is it all driven by big business.  Both!  Nonprofit and Philanthropy is a market of love, for those that have no other.  Hence, the reference to We Are The World. The two need each other, but the frustrations of Nonprofit are the rules are not the same.

One example of this is in views of marketing, advertising, and fundraising.   In For-Profit it is entirely acceptable for them to spend on advertising that will build more donations for the Cause of their choice.   It makes that ‘Big Business X’ look like a star.   “Look, look, look” how much money we raised for Cancer or Childhood Hunger.  This does not apply to Nonprofit, who get crucified for having donation dollars going towards ANY overhead.   News flash, overhead is not negative.  By having this train of thought, it forces charities to forego what they need to do to grow.   What if some of those donation dollars did go towards advertising, in return would give MORE money to the Cause.    Just like For-Profit does, this should also be acceptable for Nonprofit.  

Big Business vs For Profit and Nonprofit

Why do we need both Big Business For-Profit and Nonprofit, how do they work together?  True, Big Business carry about 90% of the charity donation base, but what about the OTHER 10%?  This is where Nonprofit picks up the pieces and aids, the Philanthropist make sure no one is left behind.   But this Social Business needs a market.  As Dan Pallotta stated in one of his speaking seminars titled The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong, saying “when you prohibit failure, you kill innovation.”

Change Perception

It is time to change the perception that Overhead is not negative in the Nonprofit sector if that overhead moves the Cause forward and benefits more people.

Five Steps to Implement a Socially Responsible Marketing Plan

Cause Marketing hands in the air along with Socially responsible marketing plan

Why consumers crave social responsibility and pay attention to campaigns when buying goods.

Social media in the new era in is screaming for social responsibility. Let’s face it, “Cause marketing” is expected these days as consumers become more aware of making a difference in the world. Customers who visit your website are going to be on the lookout for your motivations to impact the community in small and large ways. They want to know exactly what it is that your company stands for. They are asking themselves if your company is making society and the universe as a whole, a better place. 

Where do we begin?

If you’re scratching your head, on where to begin, let’s shift gears and talk numbers. According to a survey, there have been dramatic increases in consumers who say they are willing to switch brands to a competitor who has a clear cause. Nearly 87% said they would change brands.  Niche markets are gaining momentum, notably the nation’s college students, who say they are less likely to ignore an ad that promotes a brand’s product if it is partnered with a social cause.

There is a correlation between giving back and entrepreneurship. The challenge is to find the right nonprofit group to plow your energies into to make a difference. Follow these five steps to get going on a mastering marketing plan that embraces the community and your business: 

Five Steps Master your Marketing Plan

Step 1: Choose a cause that matters to you

Whether you choose to support a group that trains service animals for those with disabilities or saving the monarch butterfly, choose a cause that makes your heart sing. Work with a cause that you believe in and one that you are willing to go to bat for giving both time and money to the efforts. When the cause warms your heart, you will work hard to make it happen for the group.

Step 2: Find a cause that is related.

The right affiliation to your cause-based marketing plan is essential to the success of your program. Take for example, TOMS shoes. From the start, they promised to give away a pair of shoes for every pair purchased. Today, the majority of the branding is about their mission for expanding their influence on social change, advocating for education, safe water, and gun violence. The company put muscle behind passing a bipartisan bill for universal background checks sending 730,000 postcards to Congress. The bill, HR8 recently passed in the house.  Their website has the tag line, “With every TOMS purchase, you stand with us on issues that matter.” Much of their success has ridden on the cause platform

Step 3: Give more than money.

There is only so much time in the day, but giving some of it to your social causes makes all the difference in your mission. Sure writing a check helps. What really makes a change is when the company pulls together and works projects together as a group out in the community. It might be serving a meal on Thanksgiving to the homeless or putting together backpacks for disadvantaged children. A yogi at a local studio put together bags with socks, mittens and hats for the homeless after he found his own drug-addicted mother on the streets of Denver. Do something that makes you grateful for your circumstances. Volunteer, offer your professional services, or bake goods. Every little action leads to large and greater actions. Pay if forward with your time.

Step 4: Make it formal.

To make your affiliation with your cause viable, make it formal. Write up a plan for defining your mission in helping and raising awareness for your cause. Put together a marketing campaign using your company logo with the charity or causes mission including press releases and on the organizations marketing materials and website. Cohesion and implementation are essential to the success of the program.

Step 5: Stay with it.

Motivating an audience to buy into your marketing plan and engage in your cause can feel daunting at first. It takes work and commitment. It does not happen overnight. If you use a dedicated marketing calendar, choose the right target market, and the right cause you will begin to find traction. Take for instance AARP Foundation, a charitable affiliate of the group that services the elderly 50+ in America. The foundation has worked diligently to expand their works to ensure that low-income and vulnerable adults have access to nutritious food, affordable housing and strong social bonds while addressing stead income needs. They began with formative research to find which key audiences really needed their help. Awareness and familiarity with AARP and its mission increased 10% in the first three years. The proof is in the pudding…consistency matter.

Understanding Generational Donation Gaps

GenerationalGap Influence the Cause

Generational Donation Gaps

Most everyone is familiar with the term, or idea, of “generation gaps” which are technically defined as differences in philosophies between generations.  Most generations are named for the time period or global event they were born during or after, as demonstrated by the most popular group, the Baby Boomers.  Born after World War II, the Baby Boomer generation was named because of the high number of new births recorded nine months or so after the soldiers returned from the World War.  Baby Boomers were raised by parents who grew up during the Great Depression and who endured the second World War, and were likely to have been impacted by both, thereby developing more traditional values.  By comparison, Millenials (children born in the 1990’s) are children who were born into a technological explosion within society, and as a result have been termed the most self-absorbed generation. 

Generational Clashes

Generational gaps occur when different generations must, whether by choice or not, interact with one another, and – no surprise – clash.  Take, for example, something as simple as music.  Music has always evolved as its generational influences, as Ragtime was hugely popular in the 1920’s, Swing in the 1930’s, Jazz & Big Band in the 40’s, and then came the Rock n Roll generation in the 50’s.  Beatlemania was an utter phenomenon in the 60’s, then artists such as Prince, Michael Jackson and Madonna became iconic in the 90’s.  Suffice it to say, an “old timer” born in the 1940’s would likely not “appreciate” the artistic prowess of Eminem.

Generations simply understand and do things completely different.  Certainly some of the differences may come from various cultural norms, but those differences are there.  And they affect how each individual reacts to the world around him or her. Understanding generational donation gaps it is important to understand the values of the different generations, as each will respond differently to requests for donations.   Let’s look at each of today’s generations, and see if each may give us a better understanding of how to approach fundraising. 

Matures (Born before 1945)

68 years or older, these are our elders, our ‘oldie but goodie’ generation, also referred to as the “Greatest Generation.”  Most will be retired, or semi-retired,  and can be a solid part of a fundraising community (making up about 26%), and because they may have extra free time available, can oftentimes assist in many forms of fundraising.   Traditionally they may make smaller donations if they are living on a limited income and tend to use ‘snail mail’ for communication.  However, online activity and contributions have been increasing, as they are being taught to use E-mail and the Internet by their children or grandchildren.  Matures are old school, their inclinations are to support religious and spiritual causes, volunteering their time to the same.

Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964)

The Baby Boomers make up the largest donation base (41% – 46%) for fundraising as a whole.  My parents’ generation, most have well-established careers, financial portfolios and may be close to retirement.  Donation patterns are very similar to those their parents choose, the majority going to religious and spiritual causes.  Understanding generational donation Gaps with Baby Boomers who do their homework and want to know more about the non-profits finances before they donate.  Statistics also show that Boomers tend to donate online and will actively enroll in monthly giving programs.  Therefore, it may be advantageous to ask them for a recurring donation.

also show that Boomers tend to donate online and will actively enroll in monthly giving programs.  Therefore, it may be advantageous to ask them for a recurring donation.

Generation X  (1965 to 1980)

With skepticism, because I’m not sure how I got this far, I have to say I’m part of Generation X.  “We” Gen X’ers are a vivacious cross section of individuals who consist of the third largest demographic of donors.  Gen X’ers are motivated somewhat by what their parents donate to, but tend to develop more passion in their choices for donating.  Thus, more giving to health services, animal rights & welfare and environmental causes.  In terms of fundraising efforts, focusing on the cause, and the reason for your cause, will likely be most beneficial to you.

Millennials (Generation Y) (1981 to 1995)

Understanding generational donation Gaps with the ‘Me’ Generation, commonly labeled as the most self-absorbed generation and even, on extreme accounts, a smidgeon narcissistic.  OK, folks.  Stop.  Take a breath.  Before the Millenials reading this start slamming me for having the audacity to say that, let me say this – I READ IT.  I don’t necessarily believe it!  I’m just writing it because this is what others think, and because it does bear consideration.  Let me clarify.  Generation Y has a great deal to contribute to any cause.  These folks represent the penultimate in terms of savvy techies –    they have grown up in a world with the explosion of technology, and their world revolves around Social Media, connectivity, and instant communication.  They may not have a well-established financial base as do earlier generations, but are very liberal in passionately giving of their time.   A prime example comes in terms of a natural disaster, where Millenials are likely to be first on scene to assist with whatever help might be necessary.  They are passionate in living a carefree lifestyle, but most are quick to respond to times or causes in need of assistance. Millennials should be embraced, they have their own style, certainly to be considered as a tremendously valuable resource to the world of non-profit sector. 

Generation Z  (1996 to Present)

Theoretically, we could term this group as the ‘next generation.’  Because they are so young, however, there isn’t much data available to offer much discussion or comparison to other generations.  Much like Millennials, they have a tremendous grasp of technology, and all of what it encompasses.  They do not have large bank accounts, and if they have chosen to pursue a college education may be weighed down by Student Loan debt.   However, they make up a vast majority of customer ratio, want to volunteer, change the world (of course), most want to make our planet ‘green’ and even have thought about starting their own charity.   

Generational gaps should be recognized and embraced, as it is clear that everyone can contribute in their own way.