Ruffalo Noel Levitz http://www.ruffalocody.com Wed, 01 Jul 2015 22:49:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Medium’s Message: How Video Compels Action http://www.ruffalocody.com/2015/07/the-mediums-message-how-video-compels-action/ http://www.ruffalocody.com/2015/07/the-mediums-message-how-video-compels-action/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:57:05 +0000 http://www.ruffalocody.com/?p=35276 Doug 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 [...]

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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.”

Below are examples of videos that have succeeded in illustrating the uniqueness of their project, showcasing their team, and explaining how donors can help. In other words, they were able to motivate and mobilize people. The videos are organized by type of project and an explanation of the elements necessary for a successful philanthropic crowdfunding video. Those elements are often humor, thoughtfulness, showcasing the team, and poignant testimonials.

Sports

The Carnegie Mellon Swimming and Diving team launched a project to fund their training trip to Florida. Their video is effective because it does a great job of showcasing the team, using student testimonials, and the thoughtfulness behind their financial ask.

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Choir/Band

UCLA’s Beethoven Spectacular was a project launched to honor conductor and professor Donald Neuen, whose career spanned six decades. And the video is apropos of not only Professor Neuen’s distinguished career but of the project’s theme. The video not only employs humor effectively, but the entire financial ask is joyfully sung.

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Engineering/Sciences

Novel and innovative ideas often have an inherent narrative structure, thereby allowing for ease of storytelling. Missouri S&T’s rocket design campaign and MIT’s Hobby Shop projects are no exception. The rocket design project did a great job showcasing their team in a novel and fun way. The Hobby Shop managed to employ creative editing in order to display humor. So consider humor when explaining stories that may be difficult to convey. In the case of MST and MIT, both made compelling cases for their financial ask.

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Unrestricted Giving

Unrestricted giving works exceptionally well on the ScaleFunder platform. Nowhere is that more apparent than Beloit College’s unrestricted campaign, which was widely successful. No doubt their video, which featured a first person point of view and harkened back to alumni nostalgia, played a big role in the amount raised.

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Financial Aid

While financial aid campaigns don’t necessarily trade tchotckies per donation like a typical crowdfunding campaign, the direct student impact creates a powerful narrative. Video for these projects are a direct emotional asks, and as Cal State Long Beach showed with their poignant and thoughtful video about students helping students, they can be extremely successful. The video is only 31 seconds, but its call to action is very powerful.

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Student Media

Our final video comes from Franklin & Marshall College and their WFNM campaign. What was interesting about their video is how little dialogue there was. But that didn’t stop it from being a compelling watch. In a way, the lack of dialogue was thematically appropriate. So when you’re filming your video, it’s perfectly acceptable to think outside of the box as long as the financial ask is conveyed clearly and sincerely.

We hope you had fun watching these videos as much as we did! If you want to chat about digital fundraising strategy, please reach out. We’d love to help you imagine your video.

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This post originally appeared in the ScaleFunder blog.

Written by ScaleFunder.

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Friday Update: Let’s Go Faster 6-26-2015 http://www.ruffalocody.com/2015/06/friday-update-lets-go-faster-6-26-2015/ http://www.ruffalocody.com/2015/06/friday-update-lets-go-faster-6-26-2015/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 19:28:50 +0000 http://www.ruffalocody.com/?p=35201 The 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 [...]

Written by 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?

You’ve Only Got Part of the Story

Maeve at What Gives? Philanthropy talks about using data and questions to really find out what’s going on with a donor. Does going to bed with one shoe on lead to a headache? Find out in her recent blog post, that includes some great links and video.

whatgivesphilanthropy

Donor Fatigue

Marc Pitman at The Fundraising Coach talks about donor fatigue and says: “I don’t know any donors who are tired of giving to causes that they are passionate about.” He suggests looking at your latest fundraising letter critically to see how you are directly engaging with donors.

marcpitman

Twitter Humor: Fundraising Fossil

He’s been around the block, and he’s still spinning his wheels. Check out conventional wisdom from this fundraising expert:

 


 Funded!

The nine-time world champion Cornell University racing team likes to drive fast. They also like to apply their engineering know-how to maximize that speed. The team reached out to donors this spring with one of the coolest videos we’ve seen on the ScaleFunder platform, and they exceeded their project goal. Check it out here:

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Our Recent Posts:

Written by The Friday Fundraising Update.

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Annual Giving is Expensive. So Is Not Having It. http://www.ruffalocody.com/2015/06/annual-giving-is-expensive/ http://www.ruffalocody.com/2015/06/annual-giving-is-expensive/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 11:15:06 +0000 http://www.ruffalocody.com/?p=35193 Sending out a lot of mail and email, making a lot of phone calls, and connecting with donors via social media and crowdfunding is expensive.
As “the great wealth transfer” continues and major gift totals at many institutions are increasing, it’s tempting to suggest that these time, labor and resource-intensive methods aren’t worth it.
I get really frustrated when I [...]

Written by Brandon Barngrover.

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coins_jarSending out a lot of mail and email, making a lot of phone calls, and connecting with donors via social media and crowdfunding is expensive.

As “the great wealth transfer” continues and major gift totals at many institutions are increasing, it’s tempting to suggest that these time, labor and resource-intensive methods aren’t worth it.

I get really frustrated when I hear things like that.  It is hard to see smart and energetic annual giving leaders crippled by their inability to secure resources for expanding their donor base. We’ve seen a massive decline in alumni participation in higher education, and we know that expanding our best traditional tactics and embracing new technologies is the answer to attracting new donors.  Yet many organizations have to fight and fight for annual giving resources.

Immediate big money blinds us to the even greater potential within our untapped supporter base.

This is a dangerous trend. We already know that three quarters of big donors have given annually prior to their major gift—and sometimes quite often. If we give up on building the pipeline today, we could end up with fewer major gift donors in the future. We’ll announce big totals now, but leave our organizations crippled down the road.

It takes (most of) a lifetimeBrandonquote

Saying that annual giving is more expensive than major gifts also ignores the reality of the donor life cycle. How many magazines, emails, event invitations, previous visits, and other attention did your last big gift donor receive before you announced the gift? Since most big gifts come when both the donor and your relationship are quite mature, it might even be impossible to account. How many other visits did you go on before you met this donor who is engaged and ready to support at a major gift level?

You have spent significant resources to acquire every major gift and you have many campus partners that are engaging donors with their resources to get them ready for the big gift.

Major gift solicitation, when you consider the full effort, is just as expensive.

Overhead is Part of The Mission

Concern about high expenses in charities has spurred some advocates to fight back. The Charity Defense Council has an aggressive campaign to make overhead part of the investment equation.
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Founder Dan Pallotta gave an inspiring Ted Talk on the topic and encouraged us to explain to donors and the general public that charities have to invest in often expensive donor outreach to realize their missions.

Donor Loyalty is a high ROI investment

Sending out a lot of mail and email, making a lot of phone calls, and connecting with donors via social media and crowdfunding is expensive. However, the loyalty-building effect of annual, personalized communications that drive consistent donations can’t be underestimated. Besides providing crucial annual support, this outreach also grows our pipeline of future major donors.

In fact, deciding to stop, cut back, or failing to expand your annual outreach at this crucial time could be disastrously expensive to your organization.

When your annual giving investment is questioned, be sure to bring up not only the funds you expect to raise this year, but the future big donors you will warm up to giving. If you stop asking, these donors will move on to other causes who are.

Annual giving is a long-term investment wrapped up with an immediate reward. It always has been.

Written by Brandon Barngrover.

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Ruffalo Noel Levitz Helps AFP Raise $1 Million http://www.ruffalocody.com/2015/06/ruffalo-noel-levitz-helps-afp-raise-1-million/ http://www.ruffalocody.com/2015/06/ruffalo-noel-levitz-helps-afp-raise-1-million/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 20:00:02 +0000 http://www.ruffalocody.com/?p=35174 Last week, the Association of Fundraising Professionals announced that Ruffalo Noel Levitz reached one million dollars in raised revenue on behalf of the foundation and AFP’s U.S. chapters through our cooperative Annual Fund calling program.
“I speak for all of our boards and staff when I say AFP is so thankful for the generosity, dedication and [...]

Written by Sarah Kleeberger.

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afp

Last week, the Association of Fundraising Professionals announced that Ruffalo Noel Levitz reached one million dollars in raised revenue on behalf of the foundation and AFP’s U.S. chapters through our cooperative Annual Fund calling program.

“I speak for all of our boards and staff when I say AFP is so thankful for the generosity, dedication and leadership of Ruffalo Noel Levitz—and in particular its president and CEO, Stephen Meyer—in working with the fundraising community,” said Andrew Watt, president and CEO of AFP.

We are pleased and proud to have achieved this tremendous milestone with AFP.  To all the generous members who said “Yes!” when you received a call, we thank you.

Here’s a video from AFP headquarters celebrating the milestone and our special partnership. We loved it:

Thank You, Ruffalo Noel Levitz! from AFP IHQ on Vimeo.

The calling program is one component of AFP’s multichannel BE The CAUSE campaign, which is already more than halfway to its 2015 goal of $500,000. Additional information about the campaign can be found on the BE The CAUSE website.

Written by Sarah Kleeberger.

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Friday Fundraising Update: Giving USA Roundup 6-19-2015 http://www.ruffalocody.com/2015/06/friday-fundraising-update-giving-usa-roundup-6-19-2015/ http://www.ruffalocody.com/2015/06/friday-fundraising-update-giving-usa-roundup-6-19-2015/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 18:12:05 +0000 http://www.ruffalocody.com/?p=35159 The Friday Fundraising Update collects fundraising industry insights and success stories and delivers them to you each Friday from Ruffalo Noel Levitz.
This week marked the release of the Giving USA report, a record of American charitable giving which has informed us for the past 60 years. Giving was up in 2014 and reached $358 billion, [...]

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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.

This week markedgivingusa the release of the Giving USA report, a record of American charitable giving which has informed us for the past 60 years. Giving was up in 2014 and reached $358 billion, the highest amount on record. This is great news. Experts chimed in on the results and the specific trends which should inform our work as fundraisers in the coming years. Here are a few:

The Chronicle of Philanthropy

A great overview of the report with additional graphs was followed by a live panel this week. Key insights included: while individual giving is increasing, it is not increasing as much as corporation and foundation giving. Giving to foundations has also started to lag.

chronicleThe Chronicle recently went through a re-design and added numerous interactive resources and tools for fundraisers. It’s a great resource, whatever your cause.

Michael Rosen Says

Michael put out a great post with an overview of the report results as well as video commentary by Patrick Rooney at the Lilly School of Philanthropy.

michael rosenWhen you combine bequest, individual giving and family foundation numbers, 87% of US giving came from individuals in 2014, so our effort to connect with donors on a personal level is well spent.

Jeff Shuck at Plenty

Jeff offers some insight on the report, our new technologies, the drop in the volunteering rate, and the success that different charitable areas are having. His message: asking works, and investment by charities is important.

plentyWe agree, and it’s great to see that American giving has recovered a bit faster than many of us expected from the great recession.

If we can leverage new opportunities and maximize our return on traditional methods of connecting with donors, more good times are ahead.


Join us in Minneapolis

Want to spend three days connecting with great people who are ready to take action as fundraisers? There’s still time to register for the Ruffalo Noel Levitz summer fundraising conference next month in Minneapolis. Join industry experts, fellow fundraisers and friends for this great event, which also includes special phonathon and crowdfunding workshops.

AFC_web_headerWe’ll see you there!

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Five Ways To Maximize Your Donor Surveys http://www.ruffalocody.com/2015/06/five-ways-to-maximize-your-donor-surveys/ http://www.ruffalocody.com/2015/06/five-ways-to-maximize-your-donor-surveys/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 19:18:06 +0000 http://www.ruffalocody.com/?p=35148 According to Blackbaud’s 2014 Charitable Giving Report, the combination of July and August represents the worst consecutive months on the calendar for charitable giving in the U.S.  In addition, August is statistically the worst month for giving to higher education.  It is reasonable to assume this is due in part to many June fiscal year [...]

Written by Chris Hughes.

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5waysHughesAccording to Blackbaud’s 2014 Charitable Giving Report, the combination of July and August represents the worst consecutive months on the calendar for charitable giving in the U.S.  In addition, August is statistically the worst month for giving to higher education.  It is reasonable to assume this is due in part to many June fiscal year end pushes and in part to donors’ traditional summertime expenses (vacations, getaways, kids camps, back to school sales, etc…).

Statistically, most (but not all) solicitations made between early-July and mid-August are probably not going to be as effective.  This makes the summer months a perfect time to perform cultivation activities like donor surveys! Note: if you don’t want to survey in July or August, the months of January through March are also top recommended times for donor surveys for the same reasons.

Here are five things you can do in order to maximize the impact and effectiveness of your donor surveys:

  1. Carefully define your goals and parameters
  2. Ask actionable questions
  3. Shorter with multiple choice > Longer with free form
  4. Make it worth the donor’s time
  5. Have a plan to implement lessons learned

Carefully define your goals and parametersquestionmarksmall

Before you embark on conducting a survey, or even writing the actual survey questions, ask yourself:

  • Who do I want to survey and why?
  • What do I really need to know from this specific group in order to improve our fundraising results?
  • How does conducting this survey help us achieve our strategic goals?

Defining your target audience as well as your survey needs will help create a more effective survey.  Not defining these items can lead to survey questions that have no impact on your fundraising program.  Tailoring your survey to a specific audience segment should yield more useful information, which in turn will yield stronger post-survey analysis and actions.

Ask actionable questions

Every question you ask on a survey should have a definable follow-up purpose and result in the best possible data for your organization.  You’re seeking donor feedback that can be incorporated into your fundraising program.  If the feedback isn’t actionable, why ask the question at all?  When developing your survey questions, ask yourself:

  • What am I going to do with this information?
  • Will I be able to use this information to enhance how we communicate with this donor segment?
  • Will this information directly lead to tangible evidence that we listened to our donors?
  • Does asking this question really matter?
  • Will asking this question give me insights that I don’t already know?

Shorter surveys with multiple choice > Longer surveys with free form

There are numerous survey styles and formats from which to choose.  While there is no single right-or-wrong answer to the survey type, our recommendation is to perform shorter surveys that incorporate multiple choice answers rather than a longer survey with free-form answers.  Some of the reasons for that recommendation include:

  • Multiple choice is more mobile friendly.  Approximately 67% of emails today are opened on a mobile device and answering multiple choice questions on a phone/tablet is much easier than typing responses.
  • Multiple choice is more quantifiable, which will clarify your donor preferences, and results are more immediate.
  • Multiple choice can be easily incorporated in multiple channels.  For example, your survey may start out electronic/online, but you may decide later to ask the same questions via the phone or a direct mail response form.
  • Long form responses may not actually answer the question you asked.  Donors may take the opportunity to vent about a topic, but not necessarily the topic in that particular survey question.

Shorter surveys usually result in sharper focus, better questions, and tend to be much more donor friendly.

multiplechoice

Make it worth the donor’s time

Take off your fundraiser’s hat for a brief second and switch places with your donors.  When receiving a request to complete a survey (whether via email, phone, direct mail or social media), what would be the donor’s motivation to do so?  In today’s nonstop society, why should they want to take the time to respond?

Make the donor feel their time and effort to complete the survey was useful, appreciated and impactful.  Also consider incentivizing your survey responses.  Give the donor a reason to reply to the survey.  Maybe it’s something as simple as a decal or magnet mailed to respondents.  Maybe your campus bookstore can offer a discount coupon on branded merchandise.  The options are endless.

Incentives certainly add another layer to your survey process and overall donor cultivation, but should prove very beneficial as you move deeper into the fiscal year.  Even if you don’t offer tangible response incentives, you still need to prioritize making the donor feel their time was useful.  Find a way to simply say “thank you.”

Have a plan to implement lessons learned

No survey is useful if you don’t plan on implementing the lessons learned from the survey results.  Have a plan for analyzing your survey data as well as when you can apply this newly-found information.  It is likely that you won’t be able to put some things into practice until a few months after the survey, or in some cases even in the second half of your fiscal year.  Don’t be surprised when this happens.  In fact, we recommend planning for it.

You’ve spent a lot of time and resources developing your survey, and asked donors to give up part of their day to answer the survey.  Don’t let all that work go for naught.  Put those results to work.

 

 

Other Blog Posts in the 2015 “Five Ways” Series

Written by Chris Hughes.

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