Tips for planning a successful virtual fundraiser

Tips for planning a successful virtual fundraiser

2020 has upended how we do almost everything. One major impact has been on how nonprofit organizations raise funds. In-person fundraising events such as galas, 5Ks and other socially-oriented events are no longer possible.

Greenough Brand Storytellers has been advising its clients on how best to shift fundraising events to virtual gatherings or socially distant meetups. Below are a few best practices that nonprofit organizations can use as they consider their fundraising events for 2020.

Suggestions for a successful virtual fundraiser: 

  1. Make it authentic: Try to stay as true as possible to the theme and vibe of the actual event as you can in the virtual event. 
  2. Break traditions if it doesn’t serve your goal: If you’ve done something in the in-person event because that is the tradition, but it doesn’t feel right for the virtual version, don’t stay married to it. 
  3. Innovate: Per #2, if there is a way to make something better, do it! 
  4. Test everything: Trying out a new idea? Test it among a focus group. Using new technology? Test it again and again until you know it works. 
  5. Keep it succinct: Our digital attention span is very short, so introductions, speeches and transitions should be concise. 
  6. Reach for a speaker: Because speakers no longer have to travel for events and because of the state of the world, many “celebrity” speakers are more willing to participate in local events. 
  7. Air it live: If possible, the best events are those that are live and not fully prerecorded (although pre-recorded elements are welcome) 
  8. Make it interactive: For example, give an on-screen shout out to all participants. Knowing that there are people around the world tuning in to this event, acknowledge everyone on screen collectively by opening up the zoom portal for everyone to see who is on briefly (~30 seconds). Additionally, having a chat function or hosting intermittent survey questions is a nice way to keep people engaged.
  9. Send gifts to participants: Just as they would for an in-person event, mail gifts to each participant’s home so that there is a common connection and a positive feeling felt toward the organization.
  10. Have a robust social media strategy leading up to the virtual event: The most successful virtual events leverage the power of social media in the weeks leading up to the event to create a call-to-action and support the organization. Encourage participants to post their viewing parties and tag the organization and use a special hashtag. 
  11. Create a call to action: The event should end on a positive note with a call-to-action for all participants to support the organization. 
  12. Focus: Do not try to do too much. Keep your event focused by limiting speakers. Stay on message and tie back to your organization’s mission and the goal at hand.
  13. Make it memorable: With so many events now virtual, think about what you can do to make your event memorable and stand out from all the others?

 

See how we can help your organization!

Four Social Media Tips for Non-profits

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons; thethreesisters

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons; thethreesisters

You’ve likely heard the statistic that using social media increases non-profit fundraising up to 40 percent. However, simply having a Twitter or Facebook account does not guarantee success. At Greenough, we’ve had experience working with and following non-profit organizations’ social media channels. Here are some lessons we’ve picked up along the way:
1. Stay true to your values. Your social media presence should reflect your organization’s values and goals. To that end, it’s important to avoid the urge to friend, follow or connect with every company, brand or group that comes your way, for the sole sake of growing your follower base. Instead, try to associate with organizations that share your values and interests. As your program develops, they will be the network you use to spread word about your organization and gain support.

2. Help your followers help you. To learn how to get involved with the American Cancer Society, all you have to do is take a look at its Twitter account (@AmericanCancer ). There’s a lesson here: a good non-profit social media account helps followers get involved, raise money and support their cause. A common problem for non-profits is that people want to help, but don’t know how; social media is a great way to solve that problem.

3. Communication is key. Too often, organizations view social media as a podium instead of a medium for communicating with followers. While maintaining your social media accounts is a full-time job, it’s important not to forget your supporters. Engaging your followers can be as simple as replying to a tweet, commenting on a status, or sending an individual message. For example, when the non-profit national research registry ResearchMatch launched its food allergy sub-registry in December 2013, it took to its @ResearchMatch Twitter account to send individual messages to followers informing them of the development. In addition to engaging your followers and encouraging their input, personal messages also open up your organization to new ideas and feedback.

4. Show the impact of donations and volunteers. People want to know that their gifts and hard work are paying off. Facebook and Twitter are perfect venues to express appreciation for and show the impact of volunteer efforts. Even simple gestures, like a “thank you” tweet can show volunteers that their help makes a difference. Tally up total donations or spotlight different individuals and creatively showcase their initiatives.

Do you have any tips on how non-profits can better use social media to reach their goals? Please let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear them!

Contributed by Account Executive Michael Glen. Send him an email: mglen@greenoughcom.com 

The Re-personalization of Banking?

Photo: Jacksonville Business Journal 2013

Photo: Jacksonville Business Journal 2013

Earlier this month I read about the new video-teller ATMs Bank of America is rolling out over the next few months, starting in Boston and Atlanta. The ATMs offer live video chatting with a teller located in one of the bank’s national call centers, and will be able to accommodate a number of transactions that regular ATMs are not capable of (dispensing change, splitting a check between two accounts, etc.). BofA’s press release on their new machines announces “Bank of America Adds Human Touch to New ATMs,” but I tend to side more with New York Times Bucks blogger Ann Carrns who says it’s a touch “starship Enterprise.”

It’s not a novel concept that having a human touch and building personal relationships is valuable in banking. In the Boston Business Journal’s coverage of their “Most Admired Financial Institutions,” Boston Private Bank & Trust CEO Mark Thompson explains that developing “enduring, long-term relationships” is the key to his bank’s success. Allowing a company to manage your cash and advise your financial decisions implicitly demands a great deal of trust, and it’s far easier to trust a person who knows you and understands your background and priorities, rather than an anonymous mega-corporation.

In fact, while mega-banks are hurting in today’s economic landscape, local banks (both those technically designated as ‘community banks’ and ‘regional banks’) are on an upswing. A BBJ article published last fall reports that during the year between June 30, 2011 and June 30, 2012, Bank of America closed 13 of its 277 Massachusetts locations, while “branch closures were a rarity among the state’s local and regional players; many made no changes, while others even added a branch or two.” The article points out that most of the large bank chains in the state reported market-share decreases in the year, while a number of the local banks expanded significantly.

It’s clear why the “buy local” craze would make its way to banking. Besides building a trusting relationship with your neighborhood banker, local banks invest back into the community. When you visit the websites of Middlesex Savings Bank or the rapidly growing Berkshire Bank, ‘Community’ sections are featured prominently on the homepages, detailing the banks’ local philanthropic work and community financial support. Eastern Bank has an entire microsite – CommunityRoom.net  – where customers can easily and securely donate to local nonprofits and find out about volunteer opportunities. Nothing similar appears on the front pages of national banks’ sites. And though they may participate in charity initiatives, the investment back into their customers’ neighborhood isn’t the same.

So though video chatting a live teller might make an ATM transaction more convenient, I think BofA’s new “human touch” may be missing the mark.

Lucy Muscarella is a Consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter: @lucymuscarella