Thursday, January 31, 2013

Obama Victory Has Nonprofit Measurement Lesson

Nonprofit organizations can learn a lot from the way the Obama campaign approached performance measurement, argues a recent blog in the "Stanford Social Innovation Review." Here are what the authors see as the key lessons from President Obama's successful election effort: focusing on cost-per-outcome; using the best research and expertise to design campaigns; segmenting and micro-targeting voters and donors; investing in a cross-functional data system; and making measurement a priority investment. The blog article concludes with a question: "What do you believe it will take for nonprofits to follow a similar course in their measurement approaches?" To simply answer "more money" can be self-defeating, so we would pose the challenge as how spending can be reallocated for more effective data and performance measurement. For the complete discussion, go to

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

'Show Me Impact' Is Mantra of Rich Young Donors

Affluent young donors say they are more focused than their parents and grandparents on producing a measurable impact with their giving, according to a new study conducted at Grand Valley State University by 21/64, which advises young donors and their families, and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy. Wealthy younger donors want to conduct research on charities so they can find groups that meet their strategic goals, according to the study. But they don't dismiss family philanthropic aims: Only a third of those surveyed said they give to different causes than their parents. Still, wealthy young donors are more likely than their elders to support civil rights and the environment, and less likely to support the arts, religious groups, and health causes. The report was based on a survey of 310 people age 21 to 40, with the majority of those surveyed inheriting family wealth. And how do they like to interact? Online, of course. Nearly 78% of wealthy young donors said they gave online in the past year, and more than 90% said they visit a charitable organization’s website for information. For more details from the study, see the "The Chronicle of Philanthropy" article at

Thursday, January 24, 2013

After Robust 2012, Nonprofit Giving to Weaken

Nonprofits found generous donors last year, but this year's giving is getting a gloomy forecast. Total giving to nonprofits rose 6.7% in 2012, an increase of $23.32 billion over 2011, according to a report released by The Atlas of Giving. Environmental causes were the biggest beneficiaries, with donations growing by 11% in 2012, more than any other portion of the U.S. charitable economy. The education sector and disaster-related causes (such as aid for super-storm Sandy victims) also gained from last year's donor generosity, with gifts up 8.8% for both. Meanwhile, religious giving saw continued erosion of its share of the charitable pie. Giving to religion claimed just 35% of total donations in 2012, compared with 50% of charitable contributions back in 2002. "Overall, 2012 was a very solid year for giving," Rob Mitchell, CEO of The Atlas of Giving, remarked in a "Fundraising Success" magazine article. "Robust stock market performance, an improving economy, and a few very large individual contributions were significant factors." Now the bad news: Despite 2012's strong showing, 2013 doesn't look good. The Atlas of Giving forecasts only 1.6% growth in charitable giving this year, one of the slowest growth rates in 50 years. Declines in stock market returns and a 2% hike in the payroll tax are expected to dampen donation growth. For the full story, see

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

House Dems Unite on Campaign Finance Reform

Five House Democrats, members of a campaign finance reform task force, announced that they are uniting to seek a single legislative reform package even as they reintroduced three separate bills designed to empower small donors through public financing. The joint statement by Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), the leader of the Task Force on Election Reform, and the proponents of three different bills -- Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), David Price (D-N.C.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) -- emphasized that they will work through the task force to merge their ideas into one legislative package. All three pieces of legislation have as a main feature an alternative campaign funding system that would allow participating candidates to receive money from a public fund that matched small-dollar donations. The idea is patterned after the New York City public financing system, which provides a six-to-one public match for contributions up to $175. See the "Huffington Post" report at

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Crowdfunding Has Buzz, But Is It Right for You?

"Crowdfunding" is one of 2013's nonprofit buzzwords, yet it's a money-raising method that isn't suited to every nonprofit. Crowdfunding, as distinct from ordinary, ongoing fundraising efforts, means getting lots of small donors to contribute to a one-time effort to raise money for a specific project -- which is only feasible if you can reach big numbers at a very low cost. And that means going online with a promotional pledge-collecting and processing partner -- like Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Razoo. The platforms, which take a percent processing fee, have significant differences in costs and approach. Kickstarter has an all-or-nothing approach, for example: You have to reach a minimum pledge level or none of the pledges are collected. Indiegogo will let the nonprofit choose between the all-or-nothing method and keeping pledges even with a goal shortfall. For a great primer on crowdfunding, see the recent article by Steve Boland in "Nonprofit Quarterly" at

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Megabank Philanthropy: More PR Than Reality?

The nation's megabanks spend megabucks on PR to tout their philanthropic initiatives, but their actual social generosity is either unverifiable or lackluster, claims a new report from The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), an "independent watchdog of philanthropy." Hardly a fan of big banking, the NCRP cites the "crimes" of four megabanks (from furthering the economic meltdown to actual legal convictions, fines and settlements), while questioning claimed philanthropy in the report. Findings note that Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase do not disclose "the recipients of purported charitable contributions disbursed from corporate treasuries, making it impossible to independently verify claims of philanthropic largesse," while their corporate foundations have given less than 50% of grant dollars to efforts that "explicitly benefit the poor, elderly and other under-served populations." During the recent recession, only one of the four surpassed the financial industry's median of philanthropic generosity, but all four maintained or increased their already hefty political spending, according to NCRP research. For more, see the NCRP press release at

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Some Tips for Capturing 'Millennial' Donors

A new generation of potential donors, the so-called "millennials" born between 1980 and 2000, is awaiting your non-profit message. They are 80 million strong and promising more spending power than previous generations by 2017, but they aren't going to necessarily respond to the tried-and-true tactics of the past. A recent "The Buzz Bin" blog post by Rachel Seda outlined some ways to lure this generation of tech-savvy young people. They are definitely open to charitable and political appeals: A 2010 survey found 93% of millennials reported giving to a cause, Seda points out. But they have definite preferences on approach. The successful fundraiser will embrace social media and mobile giving (almost half of their direct donations come via mobile device). The message needs to be simple and relevant, the call-to-action clear and easy to execute, and your response immediate -- because these folks move at the speed of Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You will need to tap emotions, create a message they want to share, and ask for involvement not just money to play successfully in millennials' online and offline social space, Seda suggests. For the full blog post, go to

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Making 2013 Fundraising Resolutions? Try These

If you're hoping to boost nonprofit fundraising results in 2013, you've probably made some strategic marketing resolutions already. But here are five suggestions from Taylor Corrado of Hubspot's Inbound Internet Marketing Blog to check against your own to-do list: E-mail once a month (keeping in touch without pestering); start blogging (engaging your audience while boosting SEO); use Facebook in campaigning (because 67% of 20- to 35-year-olds interacted with a nonprofit on Facebook in 2012); optimize website navigation (making it easier to participate and donate); and segment your donor list (targeting to generate response). It's a simple but ambitious list if you consider the challenges of executing each effectively. For some "how to" ideas, read the full article at

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Quick Donate Seen As Top Fundraising Innovation

Quick Donate is seen one of the game-changers in 2012 political fundraising. A digital tool used by President Barack Obama in his drive to record dollar goals, Quick Donate was recently named by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes as one of the top five innovations in government and politics, and the Mashable community also deemed Quick Donate the winner of the Mashable Innovation Index in the Politics and Government category. Obama's campaign staff partnered with progressive media firm Blue State Digital to create Quick Donate, which allowed the campaign to store the credit card information of supporters upon their first donation. Once a supporter's card was on file at campaign headquarters, that supporter could give more money to Obama's campaign with a single action via an email, text message or the web -- easy one-click ordering applied to donations. Look for more of this kind of fundraising in 2013 and beyond. For more, see