Is the Humans of New York Community Every Nonprofit's Dream?

Good fundraising can make or break any nonprofit, but what makes truly good fundraising? One of the most important factors for success is a highly engaged community who is extremely passionate about your mission. Humans of New York (HONY) is an amazing example of how building an engaged community inspires people to rally together and raise money for an issue they are moved by.

Humans of New York is the project of Brandon Stanton, a photographer who brings the world daily doses of the beautiful, scary, infinite, and intimate realities of people across New York City, and occasionally, the world. On Facebook alone, HONY has close to 12M Likes. Each of HONY's posts receive 2K to 10K+ comments and shares.

A week ago, Stanton profiled a student from the Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a middle school in Brooklyn, with the highest crime rate in New York City.

The student gushed to Stanton about his principal:

When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.

Shortly after, the principal (Nadia Lopez) was profiled, and the story inspired an incredible crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for her school, led by Stanton. To date, the campaign has raised over $1 million, which is $900,000 more than his original fundraising goal.

Originally the fundraising campaign was going to fund a 6th grade class trip to Harvard. Since many of the students have never left New York, she wanted them to know what it felt like to stand on the campus of one of the world's top schools, and know that they belonged.

The campaign immediately resonated with the HONY community and it took off.

Check out these stats:

  • It only took 45 minutes to raise the initial goal of $100,000.

  • The average donationto Humans of New York’s fundraiser for Mott Hall Bridges Academy is $27, much less than other for-good fundraisers.

  • Over $890,000 has been raised in 6 DAYS. As a comparison, HONY print sales have raised nearly $500,000 for charity, which is also a significant accomplishment.

After the campaign surpassed its fundraising goal, Stanton announced that all funds raised beyond $700,000 will be reserved for a scholarship fund available to the graduates of Mott Hall Bridges Academy.


It's an incredible fundraising story and demonstrates the real power of building an engaged community and the type of impact they can have in crowdfunding campaigns. But make no mistake, crowdfunding campaigns are not easy to pull off. Many don't reach their fundraising goals. If your nonprofit wants to test crowdfuding campaigns, you'll want to incorporate these 7 key crowdunding tips.

For HONY, the success did not happen overnight. It took years of building a community and engaging them in the simple everyday life of New Yorkers from all walks of life.

So how does HONY's crowdfunding campaign compare to other nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns? The average donation to the HONY crowdfunding campaign is about $27. That's significantly lower than the $88 average donation to nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns, according to Rad Campaign, my web agency's research on behalf of Craig Newmark, of craigconnects, where we looked at the effects of crowdfunding. You can see the dataset here in this infographic.

Over the course of our research, we spoke with prominent crowdfunding platforms such as Causes, Causevox, FirstGiving, StayClassy, Razoo. Other key findings were:

  • On average, more than 28% of crowdfunding donors will donate again.

  • Fundraisers who receive their first donation during the first 3 days of the campaign are more likely to hit their goal than those who don't.

  • Over $9,000 on average is raised on nonprofit campaign crowdfunding pages, significantly less than HONY.

What has inspired you the most about Humans of New York, and this incredible fundraiser?



2015 Nonprofit Technology Staffing & Investments Survey

Did you know that over 64% of nonprofits include technology in their strategic plan, and there's been an increase in the number of "data" staff at nonprofits? These are some of the key findings from last year's Nonprofit Technology Staffing & Investments research. Help us figure out if that trend stayed true in 2014.

In partnership with Care2 and TechSoup Global, NTEN is conducting the 9th annual Nonprofit Technology Staffing and Investments survey in order to provide both benchmarks and qualitative data about technology decisions and practices among the NTEN, Care2, and TechSoup Global's community.

> Share your experience: please take the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Staffing & Investments Survey! Everyone who takes the survey will be invited to enter a drawing for a $500 Amazon Gift Card.

Data from previous surveys has helped nonprofit leaders answer challenging questions by providing greater context of what similar - and possibly more successful - organizations are doing when it comes to staffing, budgeting, planning, and spending.

But to get this information, we need your help! Please participate in the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Staffing & Investments Survey! 

The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete. Your answers will remain anonymous and will be reported in aggregate only. A report based on the findings from this survey will be made available in the first half of 2015, as a free resource for the nonprofit sector. For more information about data from last year's survey, check out the 8th Annual Nonprofit Technology Staffing Report

Thanks in advance for your participation in this research initiative for the nonprofit sector!


Are Facebook Videos Dominating YouTube?

Let's flashback to 2013 when Facebook announced in a blog post that they'd start autoplaying videos:

Since September, we’ve been testing a way to make videos more engaging on Facebook, and as a result we’ve seen views, likes, shares and comments increase more than 10 percent. We’re beginning to test a similar video viewing format for advertisers. Marketers will be able to use this new format to tell their stories to a large number of people on Facebook in a short amount of time – with high-quality sight, sound and motion. This approach will continue to improve the quality of ads that you see in News Feed.

Recently, Socialbakers analyzed over 180,000 Facebook video posts across 20,000 Facebook pages owned by brands, media companies, celebrities, and entertainment companies, and found some pretty remarkable results that is worth nonprofits taking examining.

Here's some insight into what they found:

  • Facebook really is dominating YouTube. Brands posted 20,000 more videos on Facebook than they did on YouTube in December 2014.
  • Video engagement is skyrocketing on Facebook. In January 2014, Facebook was getting just over half of all video interactions. In December, Facebook videos received more than 80% of all video interactions.
  • Marketers are honing in on Facebook even more. Marketers are turnings to Facebook videos first, before other social networks, and nonprofits should take note. Natively uploaded videos are being found on Facebook more often. And, they're being watched more often.

Facebook also conducted their own research. They want brands (including nonprofits) to use Facebook to engage target audiences with videos. "We are seeing this shift to a visual language come to life on Facebook," Facebook reported. They're really pushing videos, and it's working.


A snapshot of their findings...

  • In just one year, the number of video posts per person has increased 75% globally and 94% in the US.
  • Every day, people upload more than 350 million photos on average to Facebook.
  • Facebook announced that, "with people creating, posting and interacting with more videos...the composition of the News Feed is changing." This is confirmed by the increase in video from people and brands in the News Feed. It's increased 3.6x year-over-year.
  • Since June 2014, Facebook has averaged more than 1 billion video views every day.
  • On average, more than 50% of people in the US who come back to Facebook each day watch at least one video per day.
  • Cisco Systems estimates that mobile video will increase 14-fold between 2013 and 2018.

With the huge increase in video production and consumption, Facebook appears to be the place for video. So if your nonprofit is producing short videos, it's definitely worth posting them to Facebook and testing audience response rates. Be sure and analyze what percentage of people on your FB page are watching the videos, sharing them, and commenting on them. Also analyze how you are promoting the video content. After you test a few videos on Facebook, you will have some good data to determine if a video strategy is something you should add to your social content strategy for 2015. 


Nonprofit Communication Trends to Expect in 2015

According to the 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, by, nonprofits are becoming more confident and more intentional about reaching out to target audiences, raising money, and retaining donors through engagement. For the first time since 2011, nonprofits have significantly increased the frequency for both email and direct mail appeals.

Some of the reports findings revealed that:

  • 45% of nonprofits will send an appeal at least monthly, up from 33% in 2014.
  • 62% will send an email newsletter at least monthly, up from 59% in 2014.
  • 36% will send direct mail appeals at least quarterly  in 2015, up from 28% in 2014.
  • The majority of Communications Directors' top two goals are brand awareness and engaging community.
  • Both Executive Directors and Development Directors' top goals are retaining current donors and acquiring new donors.
  • The top 3 most important communications channels are nonprofits' websites, email marketing, followed by social media.

What are your communication goals for 2015? And do your goals align with the goals of other departments at your organization? Or are you competing with each other for funding resources, advocates, and donors? If you feel that your organization is in this position, take a step back and come up with a plan for breaking down those silos and building more integrated teams and advocacy and fundraising programs.

Here's some more trends you can expect in 2015:


New Study: Investing in Facebook is a Waste of Time

For the past few years, nonprofits have spent a lot of resources on building their Facebook page presence. Many social media strategists and the media told nonprofits and businesses that email was dying and that FREE social networks like Facebook would be king of communications. So it's now 2015 and guess what? Email is definitely not dead and in fact it raises a heck of a lot more money than any social media platform. In addition, the majority of nonprofits still haven't raised a dime on social media. So is Facebook still worth it? I think it depends on your goals with Facebook and if you have the funding to pay to play.

It's no secret that Facebook manipulates its algorithm to favor the content users see, but Facebook has changed its algorithm so much that Facebook pages now only reach 2% of their followers. That means 98% of the people who "Liked" your FB page don't see the content UNLESS your organization pays Facebook to boost a post, buy a Facebook ad, etc.

A study conducted by Forrester found that posts from top brands on Facebook and Twitter have an awful engagement rate. Only 0.07% of followers actually interact with those posts.

According to the New York Times, Facebook has aggressively promoted its advertising products (like pop up ads that appear on users’ mobile phones urging them to install a new app...Facebook Messanger, anyone?). In the third quarter alone, Facebook reported a 64% increase in advertising revenue to $2.96 billion and said ad prices rose 274% year over year, in part reflecting strong demand from advertisers.

Brian Boland, a Facebook Vice President who oversees marketing of ad products, said Facebook surveyed hundreds of thousands of users, who complained that they were bombarded with useless promotional posts in their news feeds. While some of those useless posts were paid ads, about 2/3 of them were posts from brand pages. To appease users, Facebook decided to downgrade their chances of showing up in the news feed.

“Facebook is basically saying that their algorithm will be the arbiter of what’s promotion and what’s not promotion,” Jordan Bitterman said, chief strategy officer for North America at Mindshare.

So, it's pretty much a gamble whether or not Facebook will decide if your content is going to perform well. Since nonprofits don't have money that grows on trees, it's worth it to invest in engagement where you know it will count. I would invest in increasing an organizations email list over investing in Facebook ads or boosting posts or spending money on promoted Tweets in Twitter. However, if your organization has the budget to do both, you could spend money on list growth and also spend a bit of money on testing important advocacy related posts on Facebook to see how they perform.

So the next time a social media strategist tells you that email is dead, you can now tell them that email certainly isn't dead. In fact, it's very much alive and well. "Your emails get delivered more than 90% of the time, while your Facebook posts get delivered 2% of the time," writes Nate Elliott, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester. "If you have to choose between adding a subscriber to your email list or gaining a new Facebook fan, go for email every time."

Where will you invest your engagement in 2015?


3 Resolutions Every Nonprofit Should Aim For in January

I love year-end planning. It forces me to reflect on what worked this past year and what didn't. While many nonprofit practitioners are setting personal resolutions at this time of year, I think it's equally important that nonprofits set resolutions too. Here are three that are at the top of my list. Join me and kick them off in early January.

Reconnect With Your Donors

Year-end fundraising can put a strain on your donors. They are being bombarded with fundraising appeals from multiple organizations. This can leave organizations with higher than usual unsubscribe rates. But most importantly it can make donors feel like they are being treated like an ATM machine. In early 2015, make a concerted effort to reconnect with your donors. For example, you can ask their opinion on new programs you are considering launching. Send some of your most active donors hand written thank you notes and let them know specifically what kind of an impact their support has had over the past year.

Review Your Goals and Make Sure They Are Tangible

Several organizations that I work with have very large goals like ending world hunger or ending global warming. Those are some worthy goals but I'm not convinced that any of us will see them attained in our lifetime. Many of your potential donors and activists feel the same way. Early this year, sit down with your team and think about the large goals you have set. Be honest, are these goals attainable in the near future? (And by the near future I don’t mean in 10 or 20 years.) If not, identify what tangible goals are attainable and how activists and donors can you help your organization meet those goals. This does not mean you can’t work towards long term goals, but donors and activists expect to see impact if they are going to continue to support your organization.

Review Your Online Strategy. Are You Diversified?

In 2010 nonprofits heavily invested in Facebook. They thought email was dying and that social networks like Facebook would be the new channel to raise money and inspire activism. This dream never really panned out for most nonprofits. With Facebook's changes in algorithms and pay to play model, the average Facebook page reaches 2% of likers. In terms of donations, direct mail is still the number one way most nonprofits raise money. And emails lists are still golden, though admittedly it gets more challenging every year to sustain conversion rates. In 2015, review your online strategy.

  • Are you overly invested in one online channel that is not reaching a good chunk of your audience? Are there others that you should test in 2015 that could be a better fit.

  • Are you overly invested in an online channel that is not giving you a good return on investment?

  • Is your website mobile responsive?

  • What does your email list growth strategy look like for 2015? Is it realistic? Do you have a budget to allocate to make sure your meet your email list growth strategy? It should include a combination of organic and paid recruitment. (BTW, check out Care2’s list growth services if you plan to pursue paid recruitment in 2015.).

  • Do you have an online editorial calendar? If so, what can you do to improve it and make some of the content more engaging for your target audiences?

What other resolutions are you considering for 2015?


How To Tell Stories With Purpose

Every new nonprofit I work with at Rad Campaign always tell me how they want their new website to do a better job of telling stories. They are usually in a terrific position to tell incredibly inspiring stories, but they don't have the resources or the time to craft them. Could a new site called Hatch help nonprofits get over their storytelling hump? 

Hatch is a concierge-like site that connects you to a curated suite of the best tools, resources, case studies, and a growing community of storytellers to help generate more social impact through story. 

Storytelling should drive engagement and help your organization achieve strategic objectives of reaching new activists, donors, and volunteers. Hatch's ultimate goal is to help create the greatest amount of impact through storytelling as possible, and they help you do just that.

But how, exactly, does Hatch help maximize your storytelling capacity?

  • Hatch has five sections: Strategy, Capacity, Content, Platform, and Evaluation. Each section is designed to help you strategically craft, curate and share stories to drive social impact. As you answer questions, you will be provided with suggested tools, case studies and resources that are customized to your needs. These recommendations will always be saved to your profile so you can access them later.
  • As you build your storytelling profile, you can explore case studies, look for ideas from storytelling thought leaders and even contribute your own.
  • Throughout Hatch, you are encouraged to connect to and learn from other storytellers, to contribute comments, ideas and case studies, and to invite others to join the community.

Hatch explains that,

All social impact organizations—philanthropy, business, nonprofit and others—have the ability to shift the dynamics in the social impact sector by bringing the right people and resources together.

Stories are the roots to our causes, and without them, where would we be?

Check out Hatch and then, come back to Care2's Frogloop blog and share your experience.