Strategies to Maximize your #GivingTuesday

With the holiday season inching closer and closer, your nonprofit might be looking to recharge your holiday giving campaigns. One option you may consider is to create a #GivingTuesday campaign for December 2nd to amp up your year-end fundraising. #GivingTuesday is a way for charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. Last year #GivingTuesday raised more than $19.2M in online donations for participating nonprofits (according to this Blackbaud statistic).

Here are some tips to having a successful #GivingTuesday Campaign that requires some advanced planning:

1. Post #GivingTuesday promotion on your website or blog. Make sure your readers/supporters know that you are participating this year.

2. Send an email alert to your email list encouraging them to donate money to your organization on #GivingTuesday. Also ask them to get involved on social media and share it with their friends and colleagues who maybe interested in supporting your organization.

3. Once the event is over, share your successes with your supporters.


Use These Resources to Learn More:


Infographic: Data From America's Biggest Online Giving Challenge 

Last spring I learned about the 24-hour online Give Local America fundraising challenge. I was inspired by the idea because it provided a great way for local communities to come together and raise money to support local charities and causes. As I was watching the final hours of the campaign on May 6th, I was blown away to see that over $53M was raised in donations. It became the biggest giving day in US history.
Give Local America just released their final data from the successful giving day.


Some of the impressive data includes:

  • Total Donations: 306,098
  • Sector Raised the Most: Health and Human Services followed by Education
  • Region That Raised The Most: The South
  • Time Of Day Most Money Was Donated: 11AM CT
Check out the rest of the data below and be sure and mark your calendars for May 5, 2015 the next Give Local America online giving challenge. 



Best Times to Post on Social Media

If you are like most organizations, your staff wears many hats. If you are juggling several tasks including managing social media accounts, check out this data about the best times to post updates. However, before you dive into it, it's important that you remember to look at your own engagement and what the best times are to post for your own organization. Sometimes posting during the "dead zone periods" can be beneficial because you are not competing with all the noise. The best thing that you can do is to test it. 


Best Times to Post on Social Media:

Twitter  9am-7pm ET 
Facebook  9am-11pm ET 
LinkedIn After 5pm ET 
Tumblr   1pm-11pm ET
Instagram  9am-11pm ET
Pinterest  8am-12am and 4pm-6pm ET
Google+  9am-5pm ET


What are the best times you have found to post on social media?



Are Nonprofits Staffing Tech Right?

In the past, nonprofits would just have someone on staff (usually the Communications person) run all things tech at the organization, plus their organizational duties, and sometimes that's still the case. Technology staffing is a full time job, and NTEN just released their 8th Annual Nonprofit Technology Staffing and Investments Report to dig deeper into what nonprofits are doing to handle the tech in this fast-paced technological world.

The report examines technology staffing levels, technology budgets, overall organizational approach to technology decisions, as well as technology oversight and management practices. Over 750 individuals from nonprofits participated in taking the survey, ranging from various operating budget size, staff size, and more.

A few key findings from the report that your nonprofit may want to take into consideration:

  • Generally organizations designate tech-specific staff. On average, nonprofits have 4.4 technology-responsible staff.

  • Size doesn't matter. Larger size and budgets don’t necessarily correlate with being at the leading end of the tech adoption spectrum: 7% of small organizations report that they are at the leading end of the technology adoption spectrum compared to 3% of the very large organizations from our survey.
  • It's time to ramp up the data. Compared to previous years, there has been an increase in the number of "Data" staff.
  • What does money look like? When looking at the per-staff budgets, it was disocovered that very large organizations may be spending the same - or even less- than small organizations.
  • Strategic planning is key. Leading organizations are nearly 3x more likely to include tech in their strategic plans than struggling organizations. 64% of all respondents have incorporated technology in their own strategic plan.

It's important to analyze your own organizational needs, and to set up a technological strategic plan and a staffing plan. Will your organization be dedicating more resources to technology and staffing this year?

Read the full report here.


5 Ways Your Nonprofit Can Reach Millennials 

Nonprofits have been trying to reach millennials effectively for some time now. Some organizations like Ask Big Questions, a program of Hillel International and Do Something have figured it out, while others are still tailoring their strategies. We took a look at a couple of surveys, from Millennial Impact Research and from the infographic, Everything You Need to Know About the Millennial Consumer. For those of nonprofits still tailoring their strategies, we've got some tips on how to reach millennials.


  1. Text, don't call! 52% of millennials would rather have conversations via text than on the phone. Make an effort to capture the mobile phone numbers of your constituents, and get their permission to reach out by text message.
  2. Make your brand accessible. Does your organization advertise in the most optimum spaces? 38% of millennials said that brands are more accessible and trustworthy when they use social media ads vs. traditional ads. Find out where your audience is. Are they on Instagram? Facebook? Twitter? Do they prefer Tumblr or LinkedIn? Engage with them on the channels and platforms where they're at. On average, they're checking their smartphones 43 times per day.
  3. Educate them about your organization, and challenge them to think and reinforce their passion. It's what many millennials want. Start a dialogue, not a monologue. More than 60% of respondents liked it most when nonprofits shared success stories about success projects or the people they help.
  4. Don't just tell a story with no ask. Make sure to incorporate an ask or a call to action in all of your stories. Contrary to popular belief, millennials aren't lazy, and they want to help. 51% connect on social media, 46% donate to the causes they're passionate about, and 46% read blog posts. Who said blogging was dead? So keep 'em engaged, and ask for help when you need it.
  5. Keep your content updated. No one likes to see outdated content, but millenials in particular loathe it. It's one of the fastest ways to turn them off. 

How are you reaching millennials?



Will Nonprofits Take SXSWi By Storm in 2015?

SXSWi is one of the biggest conferences for startups, technologists, and people who have innovative ideas that they think can change the world. But where do nonprofits and cause related startups fit into SXSWi? This year several nonprofits and leaders who are doing innovating work to create social change movements, submitted terrific panels in hopes of carving out a bigger track related to activism.

Check out some of the panels that could be featured at SXSWi if we rally together and vote for them by September 6th!



Why Failure Is a Dirty Word for Nonprofits

Vote Here:


Sex, Lies, and the Internet

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Beyond Email: How Modern Teams Master Communication

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Activism At Its Best: Drive Supporters To Do More

Vote Here: 


Blurred Lines: How to Engage Brand Super-Champions
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Engagement Strategies for Niche Communities
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Sync All Your Data (No, For Real)

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Keepin' It Real: Content Strategy on the Cheap!

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The Future of Infographics

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Growing an Education Innovation Community

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Is Social Good the Next Killer App? 

Vote Here:


Nonprofit Crowdfunding Bill of Rights

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Building an Army of Brand Advocates 

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The (Data) Science of Social Change 

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Synchronized Social: Collaborative Campaigns

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Meaningful Marketing: Working for the Greater Good

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Pushing the Envelope Forward: Latin@s in Tech

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New Models in Higher Ed: From Texas to Rwanda

Vote Here:


Data as Storytelling

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Startups & The City

Vote Here:



Are Memes Really Just Slacktivism?

New memes get started everyday. Some stick and go “viral” while others just get shared with a small community of friends, and some go nowhere. Remember the Facebook meme challenge that asked women to post what color bra they were wearing that day? Many thought the meme was connected to raising breast cancer awareness, but that was not the intention behind it. After some research, it turns out that this meme was started in December of 2009 in Canada. Here’s the original meme:

“Right girls let’s have some fun. Write the color of the bra you’re wearing right now as your status on fb and don’t tell the boys. They will be wondering what all the girls are doing with colors as their status. Forward this to all the girls online”

By 2011 the meme evolved a couple of times.

“We are playing a game…… silly, but fun! Write the color of your bra as your status, just the color & texture, nothing else!! Copy this and pass it on to all girls/Females …… NO MEN!! This will be fun to see how it spreads, and we are leaving the men wondering why all females just have a color as their status!! Let’s have fun!! Pass this on LADIES”

“List the color of your bra in your FB status, just the color, nothing more. Then send this mssg to your girlfriends’ inboxes, too … no men. The point is to see how far we can spread breast cancer awareness … and make the men wonder what’s up :) "

The meme then spread to France and the US, and was picked up by media such as Mashable, Huffington Post, MSNBC, ABC, etc. On January 8, 2011 the meme ranked number 11 on Google Trends search queries and the Susan G Komen Foundation said that their Facebook page grew by over 100K “likes” in 24 hours. 

Can You Build a Base of Supporters with Memes?

This begs the question - should a breast cancer organization have been the one to have thought of a meme like this as part of a larger campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer? Could they have leveraged this opportunity to build their email list, and raise money? Should they have taken that new list of supporters (whether it was on Facebook, email, or Twitter) and focused on a ladder of engagement plan to build real relationships these new people? Yes! At the very least, breast cancer nonprofits could have quickly jumped in and leveraged this opportunity.

What’s a Facebook “Like” Worth?

Some nonprofits may look at the Komen data and say "Wow, we should do a meme too, so it can go viral and we can get over 100K FB likes."  Wrong! First, most memes don’t go viral. Second, don’t place too much value in Facebook “likes.” Just because a breast cancer organization like Komen received over 100K “likes” in 24 hours does not mean they leveraged this meme in a meaningful way. “Likes” are the equivalent of thumbs up. It’s a vanity metric – not a metric that is connected to furthering your advocacy goals.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Fast-forward to one of the latest viral memes – the ice bucket challenge to raise money for ALS, a disease that most American’s aren’t very familiar with. 5,600 new people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS (also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease”) yearly. “The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people, and it is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time,” according to the ALS Association. 

As nonprofit strategist Ted Fickes said on a nonprofit listserv, “the ice bucket challenge has been going on for a while now among golfers and many others donating to the charity of their choice, law enforcement groups raising money for police charities, etc.”

But the ice bucket challenge did not really spread until Pete Frates, the former captain of Boston College’s baseball team, repurposed the meme by challenging Steve Gleason to throw a bucket of ice over his head to raise awareness for ALS, according to The Times Picayune. You may remember Steve Gleason from his former Saints days. In 2011 he was diagnosed with ALS. He started Team Gleason, the ALS foundation after he was diagnosed.

Challenge Accepted

The duo then asked other friends, including major sports superstars, to join the challenge. Check out Gleason’s touching video here. 


It’s an impressive campaign that has not only raised awareness about a disease most American’s did not know much about, but it has also raised over $7 million versus $1.4 million from last year for Team Gleason, said Paul Varsico, the Executive Director of Team Gleason. Facebook reported yesterday that 1.2 million unique videos related to the ice bucket challenge have been posted on Facebook.

Now What?

ALS organizations have seen a surge in email sign ups, Facebook “likes”, and donations, but now comes the hard part. Since most of these new donors are brand new to the ALS community and are learning about the disease for the first time, ALS organizations will need to quickly come up with an engagement plan. They are going to need to go beyond the traditional welcome series. And they cannot simply just fold these new people into their regular email and direct mail communications. They will need to develop distinct messaging that shows people how ALS could impact them and their families. For example, finding a cure to ALS could unlock the cure to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and more. ALS organizations will need to test and experiment with different messages, campaigns, and ways to get people involved.

Many national organizations that have experienced this type of viral success admit that this is a tough road because the majority of people who participate or donate at these times do it to be part of a viral movement. Once that moment fades, it’s difficult to grab these people’s attention again and mobilize them.