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Friday, September 26, 2014

6 Tips to a Better E-Newsletter

By Krishna Vinjamoori

E-newsletters are a fantastic way to stay in touch with donors and volunteers. They are cheaper to produce and send out than a traditional printed bulletin. With hectic schedules, many readers only skim through what’s written. Get those causal readers to stay focused and interested so that they read all the content. Use the following tips to make sure supporters benefit from your e-newsletter:

  1. Stay donor-centered. Describe in detail how you’ve been using funds that have been generously given, or how your organization has utilized volunteer time. Perhaps highlight a donor in each issue and discuss how that individual was inspired to give. Fill your stories with emotion so they motivate others to donate funds, time and talents in the same manner.
  2. Keep it short and simple. Wording should be at a minimum, and aim to be very straightforward and to-the-point. Lengthy background descriptions aren’t necessarily needed when telling your story. Readers enjoy seeing short, engaging headings that introduce the various paragraphs or sections.
  3. Stay consistent and uniform. E-newsletters should be generated on a timely schedule, like monthly or bi-monthly. Select a beautiful, easy-to-read format and stick with that particular arrangement. Readers expect a certain standard from your charity, and will enjoy reading about your organization’s good work.
  4. Credit your authors. Give kudos to your organization’s writers by including a brief biography and signature line. Go one step further and include a small picture to help personalize the story. Readers will look forward to articles and stories by their favorite authors.
  5. Use a variety of copy. Your e-newsletter should be a combined mixture of text and pictures. Bulleted or numbered paragraphs are a valuable use of space. Readers enjoy being able to skim through simple headlines if they are in a hurry. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so use them to highlight the work that volunteers are involved in, or to showcase the recipients of your good work.
  6. Taking the next step. What do you want the supporter to do next after reading? Should they make a contribution, volunteer for activities or share the newsletter with friends and family? Give your readers guidance so they know what the nonprofit’s needs currently are. Be sure to include a “donate now” button and a direct link to your website.
Your donors and volunteers will look forward to reading your next e-newsletter. Remember that people are busy and don’t have a lot of time to spend reading lengthy content. By using thoughtful stories and pictures, you can showcase your organization in a positive manner. Share how you are achieving your mission statement, and always remember to thank your donors and volunteers!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Using Social Media to Boost Your Nonprofit

by Nicole Cerezo

Social media tools are a great way for nonprofits to get their message out to a wide audience. The benefits include an increase in donations and brand recognition, and a greater ability to promote campaigns and programs to donors, volunteers and followers. Here are some simple ways that social media can be integrated into your nonprofit’s marketing plan!

  1. Share on Facebook. Facebook is the largest and best site to relay information and inspirational stories about your organization. Readers can “like, comment and share” your posts, photos and videos. Nonprofits can create events and invite followers to fundraisers and volunteer outings, and it not only allows attendees to RSVP to the event but they can “check-in” when they have arrived. Facebook also encourages nonprofits to include a Donate Button on their home page so followers can easily make donations.

  2. Post to Twitter. To encourage attention and commitment, and also generate a strong following, Twitter is the perfect outlet to post small bits of information on behalf of your nonprofit. A link to your Donate Page can be tweeted periodically so followers can make a quick and easy donation. Be sure to tweet a message of thanks to the donor when contributions are made. Another helpful idea is to have either the CEO or a Board member post a message on the Twitter account.

  3. Create Vine and YouTube Videos. Video posts are a great way for nonprofits to spread the word about upcoming events or profile a volunteer or staff member of the month. Creative videos can discuss how the nonprofit’s work has made a difference, and can be used to increase awareness about programs and volunteer opportunities. Video contests encourage viewers to make and submit their own videos about a designated topic. Nonprofits can increase their contact lists while learning about current and potential subscribers.

  4. Prepare a Blog. Blogging is an ideal way to share how your organization has carried out its mission statement, and to describe the work that you intend to do. Photos and videos should be included in blog postings. Ask readers to subscribe to your blog updates, and have them share it on their social media pages. Be sure to link your blog postings directly to Facebook and Twitter, and mention your blog in any YouTube videos so that others can easily find it.

Social media is a wonderful tool for promoting the programs of your nonprofit. Invite supporters and volunteers to join you on the above social media sites, and encourage them to invite their friends to become a part of your nonprofit’s online network. Be sure to provide new and dynamic information in order to maintain ongoing involvement with your followers. Social media can ultimately help your organization increase the number of donations and overall fundraising!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cloud Computing for Nonprofits in 2014

By Krishna Vinjamoori

Many nonprofit organizations don’t even realize that they’re already using computing tools in “the cloud.” They buy and store software, hardware, email and other application essentials via the Internet rather than on a central office server. Common examples of cloud computing are online applications such as email, Skype, Facebook and Twitter. Essentially, it’s a service offered rather than a product that is bought outright. Advantages to nonprofits that use cloud-based donor management tools include the following:

  1. Monetary savings. Free and reasonably priced pay-as-you-go service options, known as Software as a Service (SaaS), are available to nonprofits. The huge benefit to nonprofits is that they don’t have to purchase an expensive in-house server for a large starting fee. There’s also less IT staff required, less network setup and ongoing maintenance, and no software installation.

  2. Mobile, remote use and flexible programs. Staff and volunteers are allowed access anywhere, anytime that there is a secure internet connection available, including from a mobile device or tablet. There’s no longer a need for VPNs and systems that allow remote access to the internal server. Cloud-based donor management tools allow nonprofits to expand their operations easily for free or for a reasonable cost.

  3. Program security. All nonprofit’s data is stored with companies that use data centers protected with firewalls. In addition, the staff employed at the central server location has been background checked. Professional servers are protecting the input data rather than a nonprofit’s internal system, which is frequently outdated or nonexistent.

  4. Green IT. Use of the virtual world and shared resources helps to reduce hardware needed and energy expended. Computer waste is decreased and less energy is consumed as fewer servers are built and kept up and running. And then there are the indirect results of using cloud-based computing: employees and volunteers are encouraged to work remotely, so there’s the indirect result of less automobile emissions and fuel consumed; and, less correspondence is required to be printed, thereby resulting in less trees being cut down and processed! 
Most nonprofits are already using cloud-based applications. As long as there’s an Internet connection available, then cloud-based computing is an effortless way of using technology. It helps nonprofits improve efficiency of their organization while reducing their document costs. This ultimately allows the user to spend his or her time on the important mission work of the organization!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tips for Nonprofits in Economic Uncertainty

By Ryan Heinrich

Nonprofit organizations should be prepared to scale back services and programs when times are financially uncertain. They can refer to the outlook and results of years prior for guidance in creating a new budget, and be prepared to adjust their programs and services as needed throughout the year. Even during times of undesirable economic conditions, such as increased tax rates and unemployment, nonprofits should continue to encourage both modest and larger donations.

The following are some tips to help nonprofits stay strong in difficult economic times:
  1. Make donors aware. The public should be aware of your nonprofit’s needs so they can make a donation. Nonprofits should use the many free online tools to promote their charity, including social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. If your community has a newspaper or newsletter, ask to be included in a column that showcases your programs and services. Looking to the local news channels is another good option, as they may have segments featuring local charities.  
  2. Reduce costs. One sure way to reduce costs is to transition your organization’s monthly newsletter from paper to email. This not only will save on mailing costs, but will help the environment too! Another way to reduce costs is to transition to an online donor management tool, called Software as a Service (SaaS). The SaaS technology will easily allow your organization to go paperless in tracking donations, further reducing costs in auditing and reporting.
  3. Facilitate volunteerism. Many individuals think that they if they cannot contribute monetarily to a nonprofit, then they cannot help out at all. Nonprofits should encourage individuals and groups that aren’t able to donate funds to become actively involved instead. Provide plenty of opportunities, like helping out with the day-to-day operations or running charity events and galas. Encourage families to volunteer as well, as this helps to instill a sense of charity to children.
When economic conditions are less than ideal, nonprofits will find that the need for monetary donations, and also of goods and services, is increased. The above tips can be useful in adjusting to the tough economic times. Your organization’s commitment to providing quality programs and services should remain strong in order to carry out the mission statement.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Nonprofit Resolutions for 2014

by Nicole Cerezo
January 2, 2014

Another new year has finally arrived! An ideal time to discuss and begin implementing your nonprofit resolutions for the next twelve months is at your next Board meeting. The following are some suggestions to get you started for reviewing and prioritizing these goals:

NPO Synergy

  1. Outline a budget that is realistic. All organizations want to avoid adverse outcomes for the budget that has been set, so be sure to design one that is achievable. If your operational plan is not feasible then some of your special programs may need to be cut later on in the year. When drafting the budget, identify ways that your Board members can become more engaged with donors and involved in fundraising efforts.

  2. Identify new ways to increase funding. Review and evaluate any fundraising tools that have worked, or not worked, for your nonprofit in the past. A new giving program can be put into action by identifying untouched donors and fresh ideas for fundraising. Plan the steps that your organization will need to take, and mark the progress either monthly or quarterly.

  3. Work with social media. If your organization does not have a Facebook or Twitter account already, then now is a great time to get started. Create a blog that outlines your fundraising campaign to both current and new donors. Highlight activities that your organization sponsors. Be sure to include pictures of your staff and volunteers to promote the good work that you do.

  4. Thank your donors and volunteers personally. Whether it’s via a phone call or email, be sure to express to individuals the sincere gratitude of your organization. When donors feel appreciated and know that their donation is being put to good use, they will be more so inclined to donate again. If you have the means, a nice way to recognize both donors and volunteers is to hold an annual Thank You Dinner.

  5. Invest in training and professional development. Staff and Board members should be current in marketing techniques in order to enhance your organization’s fundraising efforts. Attending seminars and online webinars is a simple way to increase knowledge. Subscribe to a variety of professional nonprofit journals, and share relevant articles with workers and Board members. Also be sure to encourage participation in local networking activities.
The beginning of another new year helps to bring about an impression of purpose, hope and promise. The above ideas will ultimately help encourage bountiful donors, which in turn allow your organization to fund its mission. Now is the perfect time to evaluate and refocus the efforts of every individual involved in having a positive impact on your nonprofit!