Online fundraising and Regular Giving increases: findings by M+R Benchmarks Report

It’s refreshing to see some solid benchmarking on the trends in the NFP sector.

In this 10th edition M+R Benchmarks has created some highly useful data on trends in online fundraising. It involved 105 participants in eight sectors.

Interestingly, it shows a decline in response rates to emails; revenue growth increased by growth in email lists.

The report shows an increased trend in monthly giving which is very positive as this is a great way to provide sustainable revenue for organisations.

You can read the whole report here and I’ve quoted some highlights below.  By the way, the report includes some useful and illuminating graphs particularly about which sectors are growing and which are declining.

  1. “13% of online gifts came from mobile devices

  2. For every 1,000 email subscribers, nonprofits have 355 Facebook fans, 132; Twitter followers, and 19 Instagram followers. In 2006, those numbers were basically zero, zero, and zero: Facebook was limited to .edu email addresses, Twitter was just about to launch, and Instagram’s founders were still in college.

  3. Nonprofits invested $0.04 in digital advertising for every $1 of online revenue. This might not seem like much, but considering that overall online revenue grew by 19% in the last year, digital advertising is an increasingly important market for acquisition, conversion, and retention.

  4. The volume has been turned way up: the average nonprofit in our study sent the average subscriber on its list 49 email messages in 2015.

  5. Monthly giving accounts for 17% of all online revenue – monthly giving is growing quite a bit faster than one-time revenue. In the first Benchmarks Study, only about half of the participants had a recurring giving program at all.”

 

Is life really what happens when you’re making other plans?

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John Lennon had a point when he sang ‘life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans‘ – when it comes to every day life, it does seem like we plan one thing and end up doing something completely different . The thing is, these ‘plans’ are often not really plans at all. They are more like vague aspirations into which we put little effort so guess what, we end up doing something else (or nothing at all!)

When it comes to businesses, it can be much the same. We think we have a plan of action when in fact what we have is a germ of an idea that we might do something about later on… or maybe tomorrow… our plan of action becomes one big procrastination (or to be more polite, we put it off to do something else).

That’s why writing down our plans is a very good idea. Ever wondered why when you write a list you actually get things done? It works the same way for a plan. Get something on paper and start ticking off the action points. The written word has incredible power and a plan of action is a great way to make your goals come to life.

So why don’t more of us write a plan? Some of the reasons given for not writing down goals and objectives seem reasonable until we explore them:

“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Objection 1: I might change my mind – this is in fact a self fulfilling prophecy.  You will almost certainly change your mind about your goals and plans but even more so if they are not written down – partly because you’ve already forgotten most of what you wanted to do! When they are written down, you can amend, embellish, clarify but you still have a plan.

“You can’t plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind.”, Gordon B Hinkley

Objection 2: I don’t like committing my ideas to paper

I love this quote.    How many times have I done this? Turned an idea over and over in my mind and never actually made it to the ‘field’.  The thing about just thinking about idea is that it is very easy to persuade yourself that the idea isn’t a good one. You work with the knowledge you have in your head only.  When you write up a plan, you can isolate those areas that need more research, where you have just made assumptions, where you know the truth of the idea… it’s liberating as once it’s written down, you can actually stop thinking about it for a while! And then get on with it when you’re ready.  There’s really is something fun (believe me!) about updating a draft plan you’ve written and getting all the detail into it so that you can figure out how you do.   You can share it with a good friend or your partner and start to get their feedback in an objective way. Try it it’s fun!

 “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Objection 3:  I don’t like planning, I prefer to be spontaneous!

This is interesting because it is the act of planning (and not the dreaming about planning)  that is the whole point.  Planning, in my view makes you consider all possibilities and look forward. You consider the alternatives, you play with how you utilise your resources, you consider options. You can consider what your obstacles might be (in business, how the competition might react).

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” ― Peter F. Drucker

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Final word.  Get out there. Take your best plan (and the best plan is the one you have right now) and do something with it. Commit to your goals and objectives and get on with the things that are most important to you.  Get your business moving, learn that language, travel to the Pyramids.  Plan your work and work your plan.   Life is waiting for you. Unless you have some other plans 🙂

Should you be certified?

CFREJust recently I decided to apply for certification as a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) Why? What? Did you know you could be such a thing? I was encouraged by my highly professional and effective fundraising colleague Stephen Mally of Fundraising Force that this was something that was considered highly important for all fundraisers and I do agree that it is important that we help recognise the skills and abilities required to be provide excellence in this challenging – and somewhat undervalued –  field.  It is not, as a lovely contact said to me the other day, just a matter of sending out a few ‘begging’ letters. He added: ‘Surely your assistant could do that?” I hope there’s more to fundraising than a few sporadic mailings no matter how well written?

For me, it was a choice to acknowledge the commitment I had made to my own career over these past 16 or more years. It was a way to promote the continuing professionalism of the sector and to encourage others to seek to further their own careers.

So I’ve signed up and will take the exam later this year.  I had a look at the number of  Australian ‘graduates’ to the certification and while there were a few there were not that many. So it made me ask? Do you think it’s worth the effort? Should it matter whether you’re a CFRE?  I’m interested in your thoughts.  And will let you know how I go with my study before the exam.  It never hurts to brush up on your knowledge and I’m sure I’ll also learn a few things I didn’t know before. If you’d like to find out more about CFRE, visit www.cfre.org or go to the Fundraising Institute of Australia website for more information.

Trading Places

A few times I’ve been asked by people wanting to change career direction whether they should take a job in the not for profit sector. I thought you might be interested in a few (there are lots more) things you’ll encounter if you make that choice. Love to hear your comments.

  1. It will mean working with lots of inspirational women! What is it about the NFP sector that attracts women? Cynically I could argue that they’ll put up with the lower pay scales more readily than men! However, they also work very hard and put the cause right out in front as a beacon of hope and energy. I love the women working in our sector, they are so inspirational! Some of the women board directors I’ve met are absolutely driven and fantastic mentors.Image
  2. It won’t be easy! A few hopeful but misguided souls consider a move to a nonprofit organisation will mean that life won’t be as stressful or busy as working for a commercial business. (I recall the job candidates who when asked why they’re considering a job in the NFP world answer “I’m looking to slow down a bit!” Not likely!) It might actually be a bit more stressful! You may have fewer resources including staff and money and you may be working on issues that create emotional stresses – like considering the needs of children living in poverty or those dealing with cancer or depression.
  3. It will be more rewarding! Almost certainly if you choose an organisation that follows a cause not led by the balance sheet, you will find it rewarding. How much more rewarding depends on how much you put into it and how much the cause matters to you.Image
  4. It will mean coming face to face with your own values! What matters to you? What gets you up in the morning? What drives you and makes you angry/motivated and ready to take on the world? Find the organisation that meets your values and you’ll have found your cause.
  5. It will mean asking others for money! If you are unsure if you are ready to ask others to financially support your cause, you may not want to work in the sector. Government funding is always limited and donor funding is often fickle so no matter what your role from scientist to receptionist, you will one day be asked to help out with fundraising. It’s not hard but it can appear to be confrontational. You’ll learn that by encouraging others to give, it’s a great way of connecting them with their values. A worthy cause indeed.

The profits of learning to let go…

Over lunch on a warm afternoon in Lygon Street Melbourne, I discussed with a friend the need to be able to extend your business beyond yourself, particularly for owner/operators who were their business.

I’ve witnessed several businesses with great potential that would have grown more successfully if the owner/manager could have imagined that business being implemented by someone else.

Where a business owner has had the insight to recognise that they can’t do everything themselves (and shouldnt try), then the business started to progress. Not to say its easier or less work to involve others I’ve seen the benefits of sharing the load. In addition when they’ve started to think about how they would structure/operate their business with a view to someone else operating it, a change takes place that opens up a number of opportunities.
Here are a couple:
1. If you have others working in your business you can share ideas and problems with them – you are not trying to work out everything yourself.
2. If someone else is working IN the business – driving sales, delivery customer solutions – you can be working ON the business, driving strategy and leadership skills, developing new ideas.
3. If you are the business how do you sell your business if you decide you want to move on? By building a business model that is transferable, that can be owned by someone else is what makes a business, in my opinion, a real business and not a one person consultancy. To test this, think of how a business named after the owner which has no other staff could possibly sell that business to someone else unless they have a repeatable business model that does not rely exclusively on the skills of the current owner.

4 Which brings us to the old chestnut of business plan – which should be considered with the future of the business in mind – not just today, but in 5 or 10 years. Dont you want everything you’ve worked for to continue after you’ve found new interests? (even if those interests involve mostly a pina colada and a beach). So building a business plan that allows the business to be owned and successfully operated by someone else is a must unless you’re happy to shut your door when you take down your shingle.
5. Release the Equity in your business: capitalise on all the work you’ve put into the business to date. This is your business equity. If your business were a house which you’d owned for a number of years in a rising market, when you were ready to move on, you’d sell it on to a new owner for a profit. You can set yourself up to do this with your business to release the accumulated equity if you build it with the future in mind. All that sweat and effort could turn itself in to a future profit. Isnt that something for which it’s worth sharing your vision?
Write and tell me what your vision is for your business. And for more info on planning and building a better business visit Alignments Australia and consider reading The E-Myth by Michael Gerber.