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What Do Disneyland and Crowdfunding Have in Common?

2 Apr

Every year, millions of families flow through Disneyland’s amusement parks, gorging themselves on overpriced fast food and thrilling at themed rides.  Why do all of these people spend exorbitant amounts of money on just a few days here?  One reason: Disneyland has invested an extraordinary amount of energy, thought, and money into creating an experience for its patrons, to create what it calls “The Happiest Place on Earth”.  People aren’t there for the rides or the cotton candy, they are purchasing the chance to transport themselves (or their children) to a land of princesses, Indiana Jones, and chipmunks.

What many fundraisers don’t realize is that their donors aren’t making a simple financial transaction when they donate—they are purchasing an experience.  The experience of giving back, of contributing to a cause larger than themselves, or simply supporting a loved one.  The experience that each donor is expecting or hoping for when he or she gives may vary by campaign, but if you use the tools embedded in the Fundly platform such as video, images, customized email templates, and automated thank-you notes, to name just a few you can significantly improve the overall experience for your average donor.  And I promise you, when you deliver an incredible giving experience you will win ardent supporters, who will pass the word on to other potential advocates and donors.

As you work to build a captivating experience for your donors consider the following ideas:

  • Nothing Beats Visual: If it were possible, you would want every potential donor or supporter to experience your cause and solution in-person.  The emotion that an in-person experience evokes can never be fully replicated by any other medium.  But the next best way to tell your story is through visual media. Make a video of yourself explaining why your cause is so important to you. Post pictures of your solution in action.  Give the donor the feeling that she is right there, experiencing the pain, joy, and intensity that you are in that moment.
  • Reduce Frustration: In addition to evoking emotion through powerful storytelling, another key component of the experience is making the process of listening, empathizing, and giving as seamless as possible. Spend a moment thinking about this, from first contact to actual donation what does your donor experience? Does your flow make sense? What can you do to make it even more effortless to contribute to your cause?
  • Long-term engagement: Lastly, perhaps the most powerful experience you can provide someone with is the sense that they are needed.  That they are an integral part of your organization’s long-term success.   Explain to your donors that you are in this for the long-haul, and that you want them to feel the same way.   And treat them that way.  Don’t just hit them up when you need cash.  Tell them about your challenges and triumphs. Keep them informed of your progress, and share your goals and visions for the future.

If you engage your social network thinking of a donation as just a financial transaction you should expect a cold, impersonal response fitting of that approach.  On the other hand, you can give them an experience they won’t forget, and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by willing supporters and fellow change makers.

Give it a try, and let us know how it goes at curtis@fundly.com.

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.

Why fundraising and Fundly became an important part of my life

26 Mar

About a year ago a crippling disease took away my sons ability to live a normal life.  He is a 3 year-old boy who will never know what it’s like to walk or even breathe without assistance.  Getting this news was heartbreaking, it was life changing and it was eye opening. I was now made brutally aware of how unsafe the world is and how much need for awareness and funds there is in the world.

I saw the many, many disparate causes in the world that didn’t fall under a big enough umbrella to receive enough attention, support or funds. I felt helpless to help any of them, helpless to help my son.  I was powerless to fund research or afford the medical equipment he needed.

I looked and looked and wondered where individual fundraisers, the under $20 million organizations, the communities, the nonprofits that didn’t have deals with major retailers or dozens of staff members could make a difference in this world.

Where was the place for a father trying to raise funds to afford medical equipment for his son?

I’d like to say I found Fundly, but that was my friend.  He set up a campaign and sent it to me.  We thought it was the best option, so we made some edits and activated the campaign, which sent it through our social networks.  Within 24 hours we had $5,000, almost 70% of our goal.  My jaw, along with some tears, dropped.

I discovered that I had a whole community of people, people who cared; people who wanted to help but didn’t know how; people who weren’t aware or just needed to be asked.  Fundly gave me that way to ask and I hadn’t even realized it.  We raised $19,500.

19 people clicked on the “Become a Personal Fundraiser” button on our Fundly page, raising between $100 and $2,500 each.  I never asked a single one of them to do it, nor explain to them how to do it.

Working for Fundly I’ve since learned how we make it easy for people to rally behind a cause in a way that is difficult and cumbersome otherwise.

But before I knew about open graph integration with Facebook. Before I knew that Habitat for Humanity has found huge success with Fundly.  Before I knew all the technical innovations that make Fundly work, I knew that through Fundly I could now afford a wheelchair for my son.

And that is why I believe in Fundly.

A New World of Fundraising

20 Mar

In a recent post on PhilanTopic, our CEO, Dave Boyce, describes a new generation of fundraisers, “one that simultaneously distrusts traditional institutions and places great value in social networks.”  This generation has demanded a way to directly impact the causes they care about and they’re getting it through crowdfunding. I highly recommend this quick read to anyone who has ever considered fundraising for any cause, whether that cause is a registered nonprofit, a local organization or a personal endeavor.

Read Dave’s Thought Piece

Focused Campaigns Make CrowdFunding Work

13 Mar

When I was in eighth grade I had the assignment to write a report about the Prohibition for my history class.  My adolescent mind was excited to dive in and the more I researched the period the more excited I became. By the end, I had 8 pages about Al Capone and had submitted report, proud as punch.

A week later I received the report back with a big read “C+” on it and a note from my teacher stating that she wanted a report on the Prohibition, not a famous gangster.

I had lost my focus and my report lost its effectiveness as a result.  That same trap lurks around the corner of every crowdfunding campaign.  A crowdfunding campaign’s strength lies in its ability to be shared and when the positive impact of spreading the word about your cause isn’t well understood, people are much less likely to share your campaign or donate.   Driving traffic to your campaign is goal number one.  Staying focused on making your campaign shareable will do just that.

“Well, what does ‘keeping my crowdfunding campaign focused’ mean”, you may ask.  It means that you need to:

 

BE CLEAR

Clearly tell your supporters about your cause’s goal and how spreading the word and donating helps you reach that goal.  Say it on your campaign page, say it in an email to everyone you know, say it on Facebook, Twitter, etc… The more you share, the more your supporters will understand that sharing is important and easy enough that they can do it, too!

BE CONCISE

Think ‘elevator pitch.’ Most people want to make a difference in the world, but they don’t have the time or attention span to fully understand every aspect of your cause.  In all of your messages, be sure to hone in on exactly what action you want people to take and why you want them to take that action. It’s always tempting to provide details on your cause because it’s so close to your heart and, to you, everything about your cause is important. If you stave off that temptation, summarize your cause’s goal in a few short sentences and direct people to take action they will act on your behalf.

BE CONSISTENT

Tie every piece of content on your page (pictures, text, video and giving levels) and every communication you send (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to the goal you’ve clearly and concisely explained.

Don’t mix messages by providing updates on a new fundraising effort you’ve started and don’t create confusion by talking about unrelated events happening within your organization. Instead, stay focused on your campaign’s success by giving people updates on progress toward your goal, share with them how their donations are making an impact and let them know your fundraising deadline is approaching.

 

Make it simple.  Make it meaningful.  Make it shareable.

And keep your campaign “C+” free.

Link

A Mission to make everyone a philanthropist.

11 Mar

A Mission to make everyone a philanthropist.

Check out how our Customer Experience Officer (CEO) “does what he loves for a living” in Business News Daily…

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! An awesome example of telling your supporters how to help…

27 Feb

Sometimes the best communication is straight-forward and direct with easy to follow directions. This email from the Rotary Childrens PlayGarden in San Jose caught our attention for the simple and concise way it explains to readers the many ways they can support the cause.

“We San Jose Rotarians are known for being a social group.  From BBQs to wine events to rounds of golf, we sure do spend a lot of time socializing…

That’s where something called Fundly comes in.  It’s not just a Web site, rather it’s a simple-to-use resource to reach out to your friends, coworkers and family to contribute to our Campaign to raise money from the community for the PlayGarden project

You can use Fundly a few different ways.  You can be a “Supporter,” “Donor” or a “Fundraiser“.  What’s the difference?  Allow us to explain:

Supporters  can share the main fundraising page – www.fundly.com/rotary-playgarden – using email, Twitter and/or Facebook.  It’s simple to sign up, just click on the first pop-up window that shows up.

If you want to be, and do, more with Fundly – simply become a Donor.   You can become a Donor simply by clicking “Please Donate” on the main page, but that’s if you want to put a few extra dollars toward our Community Campaign.

But why stop there?  Fundly is best-used as a tool for individual fundraisers to create their own personalized page, then use email, Facebook and/or Twitter to get the word out.  A few “test pilots” have set up their pages, such as President Mike:  www.fundly.com/mike-blach-rotary-playgarden

We also ask that you encourage your friends and family to share the video shown at today’s meeting.  It can be accessed through this link: https://vimeo.com/rotaryplaygarden

We hope you feel inspired enough to share the video, and the Fundly site, and that you can pitch in to help us help you raise money from our Community!”