By Jordan Lappin
As a nonprofit network, our goal at Triangle Cares is to connect volunteers with different organizations throughout the greater Raleigh-Durham area. By now, you probably understand the power of social media within our society, and at Triangle Cares we utilize our social media platforms big time! Social media acts as our main form of connection and communication with our volunteer base. These platforms also give us the ability to showcase the different organizations that we have partnered with to an endless audience of potential volunteers.
At the beginning of this summer, our team decided that we needed to rebrand our social media platforms as they were not performing as well as we would like them to. We hired a new intern that specializes in social media and digital marketing which proved to be an excellent investment for Triangle Cares. Since our rebranding, our following and engagement has increased by nearly 200%, but more importantly, our partnerships have strengthened as we’ve brought a significant amount of exposure, volunteers, and excitement to these organizations. We’ve consolidated our knowledge into a simple Social Media Strategy that you can start using today to boost your online presence.
By Jordan Lappin
For years, one of the most effective ways a nonprofit could raise money was through large in-person fundraising events - a fancy gala, a charity luncheon, or a live auction full of desirable memorabilia and a free 7-day trip to the Caribbean. However, fast forward to 2020, when the pandemic literally put the brakes on all large in-person events for nearly a year and a half, many nonprofit organizations had no idea where to turn to raise money when their annual fundraiser was canceled. Today, organizations and institutions across the US are operating business as usual. This now begs the question, are large fundraising events making a comeback? Or are they gone for good?
A few weeks ago, the nonprofit organization that I work at had its first in-person fundraising event since 2019. It was so awesome to have all of the people who make the organization run on a day to day basis - donors, volunteers, families, and friends - in the same room celebrating our mission.
In the months prior, the Head of the Organization, the Director of Development, and I met a number of times to plan this event. The two years without our annual gala gave us an opportunity to take a look at the event we put on in previous years and evaluate it with a fresh set of eyes - do we really like the structure? What about the theme? After some thought, my colleagues and I came to the conclusion that our annual gala was probably dreaded by most of our donors - the classic Friday night event with a subpar chicken dinner and just too much small talk. So we decided to take a new approach and structure an entirely new event. This turned out to be a massive success: we were able to reach our fundraising goal, engage new donors, and reconnect with ones we had lost over the course of the pandemic. The success we had leads me to this conclusion: In person fundraising events are BACK, but now is the time to innovate.
As I mentioned before, most nonprofit fundraising events are strikingly similar, and oftentimes dreaded by donors and volunteers alike who attend out of pure obligation. If you are going to bring back these large in-person fundraising events, you should evaluate your previous events with a fresh set of eyes and innovate. The pandemic revealed to most people that as human beings, it is wired into us that we want to gather, be together, and celebrate. Capitalizing on the opportunity to gather again in person gives your organization an opportunity to celebrate your mission, present your dreams for the future, and raise money. Here are two ideas for a new in-person fundraising event:
SPORTING EVENT - Sports bring people together. Instead of the dreaded chicken dinner and guest speaker combination, what about organizing a golf tournament? Or a kick-ball tournament?
PERFORMANCE - People love entertainment. If you plan on having a gala type event, add some entertainment to the nightly program. Perhaps a comedian, a band, a play, or even a trivia night!
During the pandemic, a number of nonprofit organizations created virtual events to try and make up for the absence of their annual in person gala. As we turn back to these in-person events, you might be wondering - should we do away with all virtual fundraising? At Triangle Cares, we believe that you should utilize all resources to maximize your fundraising abilities. While we value connecting with our donors and volunteers face to face, a virtual fundraising event or a Giving Day is a great way to supplement your annual in-person event and raise even more money for your organization.
By Jordan Lappin
As summer is winding down, now is a great time to start planning a Giving Day for your nonprofit organization. Around the holiday season, you have likely received an email from a nonprofit organization to remind you that Giving Tuesday is approaching and that you should consider donating to that organization. However, if you are unfamiliar, Giving Tuesday falls each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and the day has become a national Giving Day throughout the United States. The idea of a “Giving Day” is that if a large number of people all give a little, these small donations can make a massive impact. Some organizations have organized their own Giving Days outside of Giving Tuesday. Many universities and academic institutions have adopted this idea and have a day separate from Giving Tuesday dedicated to raising money for the future of their school.
How does this relate to small nonprofits though? On Giving Tuesday, it seems like all the attention is on bigger organizations who have the means of spending a significant amount marketing for this day. This is why you should consider starting your own Giving Day specifically for your organization. A Giving Day for your nonprofit is a great way to shed light on your organization and leverage your local community for fundraising. So how do you set up a Giving Day?
Choose a date.
When choosing a date for your Giving Day, consider your revenue cycle. Is there a time of year when you are tighter on funds or when you could use more money? Perhaps you should plan your Giving Day in the months prior. Is there a time of year when you are less saturated with work? Maybe then would be a good time. A great strategy for choosing your date is recognizing times of year when you are stretched thin (whether that be financially or with your time) and plan your giving day accordingly. Once you’ve considered a few times of year when you could have a Giving Day, take a look and see if there is already a holiday or significant event that you could tie your mission to.
Create a goal.
Create a goal that is realistic and achievable, but not too easy. For example, if $10,000 is easy for your organization to raise, but $25,000 is overzealous, perhaps $18,000 is a goal that is achievable but will certainly take a lot of generosity from a number of donors. When you are thinking about your goal, the amount of money you are raising is certainly a big piece of it, but you can also consider the number of donors you want to have or to engage a matching donor. Having a specific target number of funds or donors gives the community an incentive to come together and collectively reach the goal.
Making sure that your donor base knows that you are having a Giving Day is key success. You should utilize and prioritize your email communication and social media in order to do so. Here is an effective communication strategy you can use:
In addition to email communication, you should definitely utilize your social media platforms! All of the communication that you make via email can be reconfigured in a creative digital way. Using social media is a great way to remind your donor/volunteer base without flooding their inbox. You also might grab the attention of people in your community that you might not have on your email list.
Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin