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Can a personal story from a volunteer fundraiser be the path to new donor acquisition?

1 Apr

Absolutely and here’s why! Volunteer fundraisers have a personal story to tell about your cause since it usually explains the reason(s) why they support your cause at all. That personal story is hugely valuable since a volunteer fundraiser’s mom is far more likely to throughly read and understand their son’s story than anything your cause could ever put in front of her. The same can be said for any of your volunteer fundraisers’ other personal relationships.

The stories that are shared will reach a universe of people you may have never known existed, which will help your organization fill the top of your cause’s new donor acquisition funnel. We’ll be writing more about the ‘new donor acquisition funnel’ soon, but to give you a quick understanding it moves people from just barely becoming knowledgable about your cause to understanding why supporting your cause makes a positive impact in the world and eventually it converts them into donors.

Start the process of tapping into your volunteer fundraisers’ social networks by sharing personal stories.

The most important personal story is yours, so tell YOUR personal story first. Leading by example is important and works well when asking others to do something they may not be comfortable with. Many aren’t as comfortable writing or expressing their passion, especially knowing that their words could make it into the worldwide web. As the champion of your cause, you shouldn’t hesitate to share your personal story with the world, so share it loud and proud!

Once you’ve shared your personal story with your networks, ask your volunteer fundraisers to write about how your cause impacts their lives.

To many people, asking them to write about how your cause has positively impacted their lives is like giving them a way to say ‘thank you’ to your cause. That can make writing a personal story an easy task since there’s no risk in saying ‘thank you’ nor will it be viewed as self-promotion, which are two of the most common fears when it comes to sharing a personal story.

As part of asking your volunteer fundraisers to write their personal story, you’ll want to instruct them to include a paragraph asking every other recipient to share their personal story. At the very least, your volunteer fundraisers will find that their friends and family will pass their story along. In some cases, you’ll even get some of your volunteer fundraisers’ friends and family sharing their own personal stories about your cause with their networks! To make your life a bit easier, here’s an example of a paragraph I’ve used to ask people to pass my personal story along:

“As you can tell, I’m passionate about CAMP and hopefully that’s rubbing off on you a bit right now. 🙂 If it is, please share my story with everyone you know or share your own story!”

When asking your volunteer fundraisers to share their personal story, don’t forget to use your own personal story as an example of what you’re asking them to do. That might just end up being the reason why they feel comfortable promoting your cause with their personal story.

All that’s left for your volunteer fundraisers to do after their personal stories are written is to:

  • paste their personal story onto their volunteer fundraising page
  • ensure that their volunteer fundraising page is connected to their social media networks
  • use Fundly’s sharing tools to email, post their personal story to Facebook and Tweet with the click of a button
  • include a link to their personal fundraising page in their story

Give that a shot and let me know how it goes. We’re always interested in hearing from you!

You may reach me anytime with your thoughts, comments, or questions at hana@fundly.com.

C is for cookie, it’s good enough for me!

14 Mar

Here is a little success story about a sixty some year-old organization, which most of us have probably heard about. This is a large nonprofit organization with paid members who actively participate in the organization. The organization uses a very innovative fundraising approach of successfully leveraging their members as amateur volunteer fundraisers (AVFs).

A couple of times every year, the organization launches a fundraiser and recruits their AVFs to literally go door to door and raise money for the organization. Can you guess the one that I’m talking about? Bingo, the Girl Scouts!

So, what do they do? They motivate children, who are definitely amateurs and volunteering as fundraisers, to procure and sell cookies to you by going door-to-door. Not only does the Girl Scout organization sell you the cookies, but they also get really clever and get the kids (who’s going to say no to a sweet little girl!?) to write down all the information about your purchase. The kids obtain your address, your phone number, and exactly what you purchased.

Now do you think that there’s someone back at headquarters who is taking all of that information and aggregating whether Palo Alto buys more cookies than Mountain View or more cookies than Manhattan? I am sure they do. Do you think they use that list to improve and expand their lists? They certainly do.

So, if a Girl Scout club can figure out how to turn their members into amateur volunteer fundraisers, I’m confident that your organization can too. All it takes is a little bit of creativity and Fundly is here to help.

1 Mar

Dear Fundly Community,

Recently, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime – join a team of innovators in Silicon Valley to help YOU and YOUR nonprofits change the fundraising game by crowdfunding.

You see, I was raised in Puerto Iguazu, a town bordering Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Since I was young I’ve been passionate about bridging communities through globalization, technology, philanthropy, education, and dance. After moving to the U.S. I dedicated my life to nonprofits. I graduated from Columbia University with an M.S. in Fundraising Management and then went on to work with a variety of causes ranging from capacity development at the United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNFPA) to teaching Zumba lessons to Latin and Asian seniors at the Hamilton Madison House in New York.

On Philanthropy Day 2012, I first encountered Fundly. I had decided to help my uncle’s nonprofit, Christian Asian Mission for the Poor (CAMP), which helps children by providing them with school uniforms. I searched a few online crowdfunding platforms, and decided to try using Fundly’s online platform.

I was floored when I began using Fundly to raise money for CAMP. At that point, I really didn’t understand just how much of an impact crowdfunding could have on my fundraising efforts. I figured Fundly would be similar to the fundraising tools I had used in the past (Blackbaud, etc.), but the experience of using Fundly to quickly and easily connect with my social network contacts was game changing. Beyond that, I quickly found that all of the contacts I reached out to could easily raise money just like me!

This was one of the most interesting and enlightening experiences I have ever experienced fundraising online — to see that the world knew what I was up to and they were empowered to support me and the organization. The results were awesome: My efforts clothed 50 children and sent them to elementary school!!!

I hope that gives you an idea of how stoked I am to be working for YOU at Fundly. How could I not be excited to share one of the best experiences of my life with you? I know that I can share that amazing experience and, who knows, maybe we’ll find out that having you and me working together yields an even better experience!

Looking forward to helping you make the world a better place.

Hana Yang
@hanayang