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Living in a digital age means that it’s increasingly important for nonprofits to be aware of the latest technological advances and how to use these tools to grow their NFP’s base of support. Some of the following ideas might be just the inspiration that your nonprofit needs to find new opportunities to encourage greater giving and expand the services that you provide.

Improve Your Storytelling and Increase Your Reach

Social media is a great way to bring together increasingly diverse groups of people. Use this tech to reach out to the individuals connected with your NFP and discover more about their personal experiences. Use this information to inform your storytelling.

When you allow everyone’s unique voice and experience to shine through, it increases the variety of perspectives and points-of-view you offer supporters, making your stories more relevant, and interesting, to them.

Once you have some great stories to share about your nonprofit, encourage everyone connected with your organisation to use multiple digital channels to share your posts with their networks to increase awareness about your NFP and its work.

Embrace Big Data

Larger, for-profit organisations are known for using “big data” to help them identify trends to drive greater creativity and innovation. Nonprofits can benefit from this technology by using both data and its related analytics to shape their strategic planning, test and adjust messaging, and develop more effective processes.

Using data can also increase transparency in the decision-making process while making it easier to identify areas for potential collaboration with others. Since most NFPs are constantly under pressure to use their scarce resources more wisely, collaborations make it possible for nonprofits and their partners to share their limited resources and accomplish more together than they would have on their own.

Big data’s analytic tools even make it easier to identify your NFP’s current key social influencers, as well as identify and recruit new ones that can make it even easier to spread messages about your work, and how others can join your efforts.

Use the Cloud to Increase Access and Security

Saving your nonprofit’s data in the cloud makes it easier to secure your nonprofit’s sensitive information. If your NFP’s data is only stored on a local computer, external drive, or physical printouts, it’s more likely to be damaged by a fire or flood. It’s also easier to manually alter information when it’s stored locally, or to steal it outright.

NFPs can also control access to cloud-based documents and programs more easily. Most cloud-based drives create a record of what user logs in, when they do so, and what specific information they view, offering a further deterrent to fraud and other forms of theft.

Many cloud drives make it easy for you to invite other users to collaborate on specific files. This makes it easier for others in your organisation to work together on projects and other shared activities, and increases productivity.

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While your nonprofit should be showing gratitude to your supporters throughout the year, holidays like Christmas are a special time. Get into the spirit of the season by putting some extra thought and effort into the ways you thank others for their donations.

The following tips add a festive touch to the ways you acknowledge others for their contributions to your organisation.

Celebrate Recurring Donors

Reward your donors’ loyalty to your organisation by sending a personalised thank you note that recognises the anniversary of their support. For example, if a supporter has sent you a contribution every year for the past ten years, be sure to thank them for supporting your NFP over the last decade. Talk about the impact that has been made due to their support, and recount some of the progress that your organisation has made during that time.

Remember Their Name, and Use It

Nonprofits collect a lot of demographic information about their supporters. Use this information to make your donors feel appreciated. Always personalise your notes of gratitude by using your donor’s name.

Include handwritten notes inside your Christmas cards and other communications. Continue reaching out through the entire year. For example, if you collect donors’ date of birth, reach out on their birthday with a note or phone call congratulating them and wishing them all the best!

Customised Stocking Stuffers

A number of novelty gift shops and speciality printers make it easy, and budget-friendly, to give customised items like mugs, calendars and more at a reasonable cost. While you could personalise these items with your NFP’s logo and tagline, consider going the extra mile for your VIPs and include your donor’s name on the gift item as well!

Give Sweets and Other Treats

If you have some skilled bakers on your team, recruit them to make smaller versions of holiday cakes and breads that you will wrap and send to supporters. Include a handwritten card or note thanking them for their contributions. If no one has time for cooking, you could also send out some attractive chocolate bars, or other prepackaged, but delicious, holiday candies or cookies. Wrap them up in a festive bow or package them in a holiday-themed tin.

Videos and Highlight Reels

Because of the hard work of your volunteers, staff and donors, your organisation has accomplished a lot this year. Make a video to send to your donors and other supporters that thanks them for their efforts and visually shows the impact created by their work.

Ideally, this video should include several candid snapshots along with short snippets of footage you’ve shot during many of your NFP’s service projects and events. Include parts of testimonials from some of your beneficiaries, board, staff, volunteers and, your donors. Gather together some of the folks connected with your organisation and ask them to hold up signs or letters that spell out the words thank you in the closing moments of your video.

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For generations, NFPs have placed their focus on raising funds from individual donations, endowments and grants to finance their operations and the services that they provide. This traditional approach could be holding your nonprofit back from being able to maximise its potential for growth.

Don’t Rely on Fundraising Campaigns Alone to Pay for your Operations and Goals

Fundraising will always be a crucial source of funding, but it shouldn’t be your sole source. The challenges faced by nonprofits today require more funds than what a few donations and grants can provide.

Rather than relying on fundraising campaigns alone to fund their mission, NFPs are better served by looking for a multitude of ways to finance their ability to serve their communities over the long-term. The following ideas can help your nonprofit to expand its sources of funding.

Cost Effective Campaigns

Many NFPs cycle through dozens of fundraising activities throughout the year, with very little downtime in between each fundraising activity or event. Holding several events during the year can literally wear out your staff and volunteers, not to mention your regular donors and other supporters!

When NFPs start to look for new sources of funding, they begin to move away from the mindset of, “What can we do with the amount that we’ve raised from our latest fundraiser?” They begin to see things from the perspective of, “How much must we raise to accomplish our goals, and, what are some different ways that we can secure the funding necessary to accomplish our short and long-term goals?”

Rather than focusing on the number of fundraisers to host in each year, the focus moves to how much net revenue is generated by each fundraiser. If a fundraising activity is costly in terms of time, money and other resources, and produces very little in terms of revenue or other benefits, then it’s discarded for activities that offer a higher net return.

Do Your Supporters Understand Your NFP’s Impact?

When fundraising, nonprofits typically place a great deal of emphasis on messaging, and, understanding the needs and values of core supporters and the intended audience. Targeted messages remain important.

Rather than focusing solely on answering your supporters’ questions and fulfilling their needs, however, NFPs need to do a better job with their messaging and make sure that supporters understand why the mission is important and how they can help your organisation create positive change in the community.

Just Because You’re a Nonprofit Doesn’t Mean that You Should Avoid Generating Revenue

A lot of nonprofits worry that charging for some, or all of their services, will be too complicated to get into, or, will distract them from achieving their overall mission. If your nonprofit lacks the monies that it needs to fund critical infrastructure, such as training and the appropriate software and other tools it needs to be effective, it may be time to rethink this strategy.

Just because your organisation is in the not-for-profit sector does not mean that you shouldn’t seek to raise revenue. Many nonprofits can increase their capacity and encourage greater growth by charging membership and rental fees for items such as equipment and storage. They might also charge for some, or all of their services. Others even sell products to help finance their overall operations as well as specific projects.

To increase the chances of success, nonprofits should look at their overall financial condition before they enter into activities designed to raise money for the cause. They should take steps to ensure that the activity that is generating revenue doesn’t interfere with their ability to provide critical core services while meeting their other financial obligations.

Should Your NFP Borrow to Finance its Goals?

Due to the unpredictability of any given fundraising campaign’s success, most nonprofits avoid debt. Taking on a loan might be a good move for your nonprofit, however, if it allows your NFP to expand its capacity to provide services, fund infrastructure and other capital improvements, and support long-term growth. As an alternative to loans, your NFP might want to consider earmarking funds in the budget specifically for projects and improvements that support long-term growth, as well as hosting specific campaigns to raise money for capital improvements.

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An increasing number of nonprofits have started placing their donation button above the fold on their websites. What this means is that the donate now button is prominently displayed at the top of every page. Items above the fold also remain at the top of the page, no matter how far down you happen to scroll, making it easy for visitors to click to give at any time.

With the growing popularity of this practice, it might seem redundant to include a separate donation page in your site’s navigation. While it might look like a bit of overkill if you have a donate button above the fold, including a donation page on your site is still an important part of fulfilling your visitor’s expectations. It also gives you another opportunity to explain the impact of one-time and reoccurring contributions.

The following are a few best practices to help you design a donation page that encourages visitors to get involved and make a difference.

Keep Your Donation Page Clear and Concise

Avoid the temptation to bombard donors with too much information on your donation form, as this can lead to frustration and make them tempted to click away. Avoid using Flash, or overly large images, that can slow down page loading. Use responsive design to optimise your site for mobile visitors.

Simplify your donation form so that it has only a few fields, and is quick and easy to fill out.

Make your call to action clear. Include descriptions of the impact of giving at different levels. Make certain that it is easy for donors to choose to make a one-time gift, or a regularly reoccurring contribution. Use tools that make it easy for potential donors to contribute at levels that qualify for matching funds.

Emphasise Security to Reassure Potential Donors

Some potential contributors are reluctant to donate online. Reassure them that your site is safe by using PCI compliant processors for all of your payments. Be certain to include their security logos on your donation page.

Use Your Thank You Page to Simplify Your Donation Page

Since you want to make donating as simple and straightforward as possible, some of the information that you might be tempted to include on the donation page is best moved to the thank you page.

Once the donation is complete, your site should take your donor directly to the thank you page, where it’s a good idea to include information on other ways that donors can help your cause, such as volunteering and advocacy.

The thank you page is also a good time to remind donors to stay connected with your nonprofit and keep up-to-date on the latest developments. Include buttons that make it easy for them to sign up for your newsletter and alerts about upcoming events.

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A lot has changed in the world since The Benevolent Society opened their doors in 1813. As Australia’s first charity, it has experienced many changes in its 200+ years of operation, and none more so than the last 30 years through the development of technology, the internet and apps. But to stay current and relevant, nonprofits like The Benevolent Society must roll with the punches and make changes to the way they do business to stay relevant.

But as technology rapidly moves forward, many charities are being left behind. In a 2016 Charitable Giving Report published by Blackbaud, they discovered that only 7.2% of individual donations in the UK were made online. Considering how much we rely on the internet, that’s not a very high percentage, is it? Charities, it seems, could be doing a lot more when it comes to utilising technology and increasing donor awareness.

Millennials love technology – in fact, they never leave home without it. It is their lifeline to the outside world and their connection to their friends and issues they care about. If charities want to ensure that they reach the younger generation, they must find ways to use the technology that will benefit their mission. Whether it is a lack of knowledge or just an unwillingness to change, change they must.

But more than just building a website and showing up on social media, charities must look to apps and other devices that work on mobile technology, the preferred favourite of the millennials. Many charities are starting to make inroads into apps, and as the successes multiply, many more charities will follow suit.

Taking advantage of the app game early on was Alzheimer’s Australia and the Bupa Health Foundation who created BrainyApp in 2011. It was the world’s first dementia risk reduction app which saw over 41,000 downloads in a 48 hour period.

Back in 2015, the UN World Food Programme released a very effective mobile app. Called ‘Share The Meal’, the app meant that donors could tap their phone and give $0.50 to feed a child for a day. To date, Share The Meal has given 14,901,224 meals and counting. That is one impressive app, to say the least.

In 2016, GIVIT released their app which allows Australian charities to search a virtual warehouse of donated items to help vulnerable people in the community.

As you can see, it is all about innovation. We look forward to hearing how charities are embracing the new technology in the future to enable their organisation to reach as much of the population as possible.

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Lacking in fundraising ideas, especially when you have a lot on your plate is particularly common. But continued stress and anxiety can lead to burnout which makes coming up with fresh ideas on a regular basis problematic.

So, how can you tell you are at risk of burnout?

The smallest things can annoy you

Do you notice you have a short fuse? Is your nonprofit team rubbing you up the wrong way? Then you might well be on the way to suffering from burnout. There are annoyances, and there are annoyances, but if even the smallest of issues is causing a lot of frustration, it is time to take a step back. If not rectified, a serious argument over literally nothing will ensue. Go for a walk, take a nap or even schedule some leave before this little problem generates into a huge one.

You are tired all day every day

If you are feeling tired, all day, every day then you could be facings signs of burnout. Exhaustion is a symptom which can often accompany anxiety, and it can all add up to the fact that you need complete rest and a break from work. Take care of yourself, sleep well, eat healthily and exercise regularly. Caring for yourself or even asking for help will go a long way to aiding your recovery. If exhaustion continues, you may find that one day you can barely get out of bed at all.

Failure to concentrate on the task at hand

When you are overworked and overly emotional, it can negatively affect your concentration in the office. You may find you are more forgetful than usual or you just are unable to focus on the task in front of you. Make sure you take your lunch breaks and stand up and stretch every hour. Movement can help you clear your mind, especially when you have been sitting down for an extended period. Even a 20-minute walk can improve your ability to concentrate.

You are consistently putting in long hours

There are times when you may find that longer hours are necessary and that’s okay. But if you find you are continuously putting in the long hours, then you will soon find yourself overworked and very tired. While you may use up some of your time on the weekend to plan strategies or research donors, doing it often and on a regular basis can take a toll on your overall well-being. Take a break when you can and learn to say no more often. Working overtime will just make you feel more tired and have a negative effect on your productivity in the long-term.

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When a new nonprofit first forms, the budget is likely to be very lean. Startups typically struggle during this phase as they begin to organise and recruit the initial team, define their mission and develop their strategic plans.

Resources are typically scarce during this stage as new nonprofits often struggle to bring in enough funds to cover their overhead and finance their service projects. Unfortunately, many nonprofits feel pressure to continue to keep staffing and overhead costs overly low, even once they have secured their finances and reached sustainable growth.

The High Cost of Shortchanging Development When Controlling Overhead

While it is important to take steps to ensure that funds are wisely spent in any organisation, keeping too tight of a rein on overhead can prevent nonprofits from investing in recruiting top talent, building infrastructure and expanding their capacity. In the end, this penny-pinching strategy shortchanges the nonprofit’s prospects for long-term growth.

The Importance of Building Capacity to Support the Mission

Service programs need resources if they are to be effective. Your nonprofit’s infrastructure needs to be able to provide the support that programs need so that they can be executed and operate properly and advance your mission.

For example, you might allocate extra funds and build your capacity by upgrading your hardware and software so that you can expand social media efforts and increase outreach through additional upgrades to your website and expanding your email marketing. Other ways to increase capacity include hiring a developmental director to assist with developing a comprehensive, financial strategy, and creating a more unified approach to fundraising for your nonprofit.

Convincing Your Board and Donors that Capacity Building is Worthwhile

A capacity building plan can help you to convince your board, donors and other supporters that it is necessary to raise funds specifically to increase your NFP’s capacity. Deciding which areas of your organisation need to be improved to increase the level of service that you provide is the first step of creating a capacity building plan.

Once you have decided on what areas can be improved with additional funds, come up with a timetable of how and when the funds will be spent. Define how your organisation’s impact will be changed and increased as a result of spending in each particular area.

Regardless of which area your nonprofit decides to build up to increase its capacity to support the mission, the important thing for boards and donors to understand is that this is money that is well spent. It is money that is necessary to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your organisation.

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