Podcast: Crowdfunding Best Practices 2017

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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We’ve just released the 2017 RNL Crowdfunding Index, a study of 4,200 campaigns conducted through the RNL Crowdfunding platform (powered by ScaleFunder), raising more than $22.5 million. In the report we cover:

  • Average project totals, and the impact of major gifts, challenges, and early adopters.
  • How fundraisers are naming their campaigns.
  • The impact of ambassadors.
  • Average project lengths from first donation to last, and the impact of “participation” challenges.

I got on the line with Josh Robertson, vice president of project strategy here at RNL, to go through the results and discuss crowdfunding best practices. Check out our conversation on the Fundraising Voices podcast.

Download the Crowdfunding Index today, and if you’re ready to take your peer-to-peer fundraising engagement to the next level, contact us for a demo of what RNL Crowdfunding can do for you.

Find more great podcasts from RNL at FundraisingVoices.com

High Conversion Drives Digital Giving Day Success

Aneesa Memon

Aneesa Memon

Senior Product Manager at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Aneesa came to Ruffalo Noel Levitz after years as a technology creator and senior executive focused on providing high quality end user experience. She has worked with hundreds of charities and institutions to produce technology-enabled giving solutions to engage 21st century donors.
Aneesa Memon

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Giving Days have really taken the fundraising industry by storm and as we get closer to this year’s #GivingTuesday, we’re getting questions about what makes up the best online days of giving. One key thing to consider is how likely people are to make a donation once you’ve attracted them to your site. This metric is what we refer to as conversion.

What is digital conversion?

Conversion is the act of a visitor who has come to a site fully completing a giving transaction. In the case of a Giving Day, it’s a visitor who actually makes an online gift after landing on the page.

How does RNL define conversion?

We define conversion rates as the rate of users who land on our Giving Day (or crowdfunding project) main page and then complete a donation. We start at interest and end with actual gifts.

conversion_funnel

Donor conversion rate really begins at initial interest.

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Four tips for engaging young donors through multichannel fundraising

Dawn Stever
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Dawn Stever

Vice President and Consultant at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Dawn Stever joined Ruffalo Noel Levitz as a Vice President and Senior Consultant in Fundraising Management in August 2014. She brings 11 years of experience in higher education annual giving. Dawn works with nonprofit organizations in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada to design and implement successful annual giving programs. Her experience includes in-depth strategic planning, new program development, frontline fundraising, collaboration with high-level volunteers, crowdfunding, giving days, and phonathon management.
Dawn Stever
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It’s an uncertain time for higher education fundraising. In terms of dollars, total giving is on the rise. But from 2007 to 2015, 69% of higher education institutions saw a decline in their alumni donor counts, with an average loss of 26%.

This is an unsustainable scenario. Institutions are becoming increasingly dependent on small groups of large donors, and at some point, that will undermine total giving.

A healthy donor pipeline is the lifeblood of a college or university, and the annual gift is often the starting point for donors.

The long-term solution is to build a robust giving pipeline with young alumni. The difficulty, however, is that young alumni are a tough group to engage. Today’s young alumni receive more solicitations from more nonprofits, direct their giving to fewer charities, and are less inclined to make a gift purely out of loyalty than previous generations. So what can your institution do to engage this group and build a foundation for giving that could eventually lead to major gifts? Here are four ideas to increase your chances of success with young donors and strengthen their engagement with your institution.

1) Understand the changes in young alumni behavior and the increased competition for their attention

There have been seismic shifts in demographics, technology, and behavior that have radically changed how young alumni interact with their alma maters. Recent graduates are more mobile, interact online, and rely on social networks for confirmation of their behavior. While young people are definitely giving to charities, their loyalty cannot be expected, it must be earned.

In addition, young donors have grown up in an age where they have been bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages per day. There is so much competition for their attention that your message can easily be drowned out.

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How to Candy Crush Your Fundraising

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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PrintIf you’re reading this, odds are you’ve either experienced the joyful addiction of Candy Crush, or have someone close to you who can’t be pulled away from the game. Or maybe you’ve played your own fair share of that little Flappy Bird, or entered the Clash of Clans in the past few years. Mobile games are big business. Candy Crush alone brought in close to $900,000 per day at its peak. These relatively simple games have pushed aside many expensive and more complex games that usually dominate the industry.

Why do mobile games keep people hooked? As this super geeky and great video at Game Theory explains, it’s all about the “hedonic treadmill” – central to the dopamine response cycle of all enthralling and addicting activities. Mobile games that have hit it big play on some of these central human behavior mechanisms. Then, they amplify their engagement by being portable, friction-free to start and socially-enabled.  While annual giving is probably not going to change to daily giving, we can learn a few things about how to engage 21st century donors from the success of these games.

Go Mobile

Apps and games excel because they are easy to access and made for mobile devices. Your fund pages, Continue Reading »

Friday Update: Let’s Thank The Donors. 7-10-15

The Friday Fundraising Update
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The Friday Fundraising Update

A weekly collection of fundraising industry insights and success stories, delivering them each Friday to your inbox. Have a suggestion for a future edition? Email Brian at Brian.Gawor@RuffaloNL.com
The Friday Fundraising Update
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Friday-Fundraising-UpdateThe Friday Fundraising Update collects fundraising industry insights and success stories and delivers them to you each Friday from Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

The gifts are in for those of us with a June fiscal year, and it’s time to think about how to thank your donors and keep them connected. Some great resources and an example of crowdfunding stewardship in this week’s Update.

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The Medium’s Message: How Video Compels Action

ScaleFunder
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ScaleFunder

Charitable Crowdfunding Engine at ScaleFunder.com
ScaleFunder is a fundraising platform for educational institutions and charities. It allows you to harness the growing phenomenon of crowdfunding, which is the process of accepting micro-donations toward a larger fundraising goal, creating community engagement in the process.
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Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 8.52.24 AMDoug Hattaway, president of public relations firm, Hattaway Communications wrote in the Huffington Post that, “stories must be strategically designed to motivate and mobilize people. And the content of strategic stories must be compelling, in order to capture people’s attention and imagination.”

Since ScaleFunder’s founding, we’ve held a belief similar to Doug’s. We believe so strongly in the power of stories to motivate donors that we’ve even codified, “How to Tell Stories with Video.” Continue Reading »

Friday Update: Let’s Go Faster 6-26-2015

The Friday Fundraising Update
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The Friday Fundraising Update

A weekly collection of fundraising industry insights and success stories, delivering them each Friday to your inbox. Have a suggestion for a future edition? Email Brian at Brian.Gawor@RuffaloNL.com
The Friday Fundraising Update
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Friday-Fundraising-UpdateThe Friday Fundraising Update collects fundraising industry insights and success stories and delivers them to you each Friday from Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

For many of us, this coming week is the end of the fiscal year. As you near the finish line and wait for those last gifts to come in, why not unwind with a little fundraising insight or rev up your engine with a cool crowdfunding campaign?

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How Can You Reach the 98% of High Net Worth Households That Donate Annually?

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Chris Hughes

Director of Fundraising Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Chris Hughes is a former Director of Annual Giving who has more than two decades of experience in fundraising, marketing, public relations and organizational success in higher education and nonprofit fundraising.
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5waysHughesThe Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s 2014 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy reveals a lot of opportunities and trends that you can use to generate annual gifts from wealthy donors.

The great news is that 98.4% of households with incomes above $200,000 and/or a net worth of more than $1 million made charitable gifts in 2013.  Here are a few takeaways and recommendations based on the study that can help drive strategic decisions as you cultivate, steward and solicit these donors for gifts: Continue Reading »

Alumni Passion Matters

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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ggeeksmallThe stats are rough.

When I tell my friends that only about 8% of alumni nationally contribute to their college or university each year, they think that us fundraisers are really fighting an uphill battle.

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4 Nerdy Ways to Look at Annual Giving

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Brian Gawor

Vice President for Research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Brian Gawor, CFRE, is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on research and benchmarking to drive fundraising strategy. He is also a doctoral student studying higher education giving.
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nerdythumbAs the guy over here who has put on a lab coat to make a presentation on the science of giving, I fully embrace my inner nerd. We need to bring the best of science: psychology, sociology and human behavior theory to our work as fundraisers.

Here are two ideas I return to a lot when I think about giving and two nerd-tacular pieces of proof that show they are working. (No lab coat is required). Continue Reading »

Earth Day Green Practice: Coupon Codes to Enhance Online Giving

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Chris Hughes

Director of Fundraising Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Chris Hughes is a former Director of Annual Giving who has more than two decades of experience in fundraising, marketing, public relations and organizational success in higher education and nonprofit fundraising.
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go_green_smallToday is the 45th Anniversary of the first “Earth Day.” This is a day when significant attention is paid to ways to improve the global environment. In the fundraising world, one of the “greenest” practices is to enhance your online giving program. One way to do that is to consider using coupon codes. Continue Reading »

ScaleFunder Crowdfunding Campaign for Ole Miss Athletics Raises $100K in Less Than 100 Hours

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Chris Hughes

Director of Fundraising Strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Chris Hughes is a former Director of Annual Giving who has more than two decades of experience in fundraising, marketing, public relations and organizational success in higher education and nonprofit fundraising.
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ole-miss-victory-celebration-fund-screenshot-low-tnOn Saturday, October 4, 2014, the University of Mississippi football team defeated the University of Alabama, 23-17, to give the Rebels victories in their opening five games of a season for the first time since 1962.

Following the game, many fans in the sellout crowd went onto the playing field and tore down the stadium’s goalposts in celebration of the win. These acts resulted in $75,000 in unanticipated expenses to Ole Miss Athletics: a $50,000 fine from the Southeastern Conference (crowd control policy) as well as another $25,000 in expenses simply to repair the playing field and replace the goalposts.

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