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What’s it Like to be New to the Nonprofit World?

Anyone working in the nonprofit space will tell you that it’s drastically different from any for-profit company. Being new to a nonprofit organization can be overwhelming!

Katlin Bewley (far right) is an Account Manager who came to Gesture after 4 years at Together We Cope. Together We Cope is a homeless prevention agency based in Tinley Park, IL and they support families in temporary crisis with financial assistance and basic necessities. To help those who may be new to the nonprofit world and fundraising, we sat down with Katlin to get some information and advice about starting a new position at a nonprofit organization.

Q: What are some of the most noticeable differences between working at a nonprofit and a for-profit company?

A: Going to work each day, you don’t know what you’re going to get. Your task at hand changes every day and often you’re helping everyone at the office including people in different departments and on different committees depending on where support is needed the most. At Together We Cope, we had two buildings: one where our clients went and one for admin members. Because I was the fundraising manager, I worked in the admin building. However, coming from a case management background, I was sometimes asked to help out at the client building during busy weeks so I was jumping between the two buildings a lot.

Q: What surprised you the most when you entered the nonprofit world?

A: I was initially surprised by how many volunteers there were. There were volunteers who were retired from their full-time jobs but came every Monday – Friday to work in our food pantry and were there consistently every week. Volunteers are the number one resource for nonprofits.

Q: What’s something that stands out to you from your time at Together We Cope?

A: We had the roof at the food pantry cave in over the weekend a few years ago. We were all called in on Monday in our sweats, t-shirts, and sneakers to help clean up the mess. At many for-profit companies, tasks like these would be outsourced to specialists. However, at a nonprofit organization, every dollar matters. The more you can save, the more goes to your clients and so we worked to remedy the situation ourselves. Another example of this is with the invitations to our big fundraising initiative. Normally, for-profit companies would hire someone to stuff envelopes with invitations and put stamps on and mail them out for a 400-person gala, but we did this to save money.

Q: What challenges do nonprofit organizations face?

A: Money, money, money. You have to use a low budget to put on an amazing fundraising event to fund your year, and it’s hard but you find a way and the volunteers are crucial to making this happen.

Q: What are some tips that you have for those starting out in the nonprofit world?

A: Get your friends and family involved as volunteers! Initially, your friends and family will start volunteering to help you out, but then they become attached to the cause and want to help out the organization and not just you as their friend or family member. My mom started volunteering when I started working there and she would help out every so often. Now, she runs the entire Christmas program and this year she was awarded the volunteer of the year award!

Q: Anything else?

A: Don’t be afraid to reach out to people that currently work or have worked in nonprofit organizations. They’ll be able to offer a lot of advice specific to your role and even your organization’s niche.

Q: Any fun facts you want to share?

A: Together We Cope was one of Gesture’s first clients! This partnership started in 2014 and working with a mobile fundraising technology company made my job as a fundraising manager much simpler. The platform helps with everything from event organization to ticketing to item management and it’s a great way for smaller nonprofits to manage their fundraising efforts.

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Great Auction Items for School Fundraisers

School fundraisers are unique, and the items that are popular are different from what you may find at another type of fundraising event!

Back-to-School Raffles:

Parents can purchase tickets from any location on Gesture’s platform. Create themed raffle baskets for “back to school”. Here are some back to school basket ideas:

  • School Spirit: Show off school pride with school-branded gear like a backpack, sweatshirt, t-shirt, and stickers!
  • All Packed Up: Get kids ready for the new year with everything they’ll need to succeed; include notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, a calculator, and anything else a student may need!



St. Ambrose School Book Bucket Raffle


Class-Specific Items:

Create auction items that are specific to each class or grade. Here’s an idea:

  • Choose Your Seat: the winning parent in this auction will be able to have their child choose where they sit in the classroom for the first semester, trimester, or quarter! You can hold the same auction for each class in order to maximize fundraising revenue.

Sports Tickets Auction:

Offer season front-row tickets for Fall sports in an online auction. You can offer a pack of two or use the double-up strategy (discussed in this webinar) to double revenue and give four supporters the best seats in the house!

Parking Privileges:

Designate and reserve a parking spot for the winning bidder of this item. Ideally, the parking spot is one of the closest to the school so that they have easy access to drop-off, pick-up, and school events. You could auction this spot to a new winner each month or allow the winner to keep the spot for the entire school year.

If you’re a high school and want to offer a similar item to seniors, we recommend you offer it as a raffle instead of an auction. The lower ticket price will entice more students to give back to their school with the hopes of winning an amazing parking spot.

Buy the Ball:

Offer the game ball in an auction during the game. Announce at the beginning that the game ball will be available to win in an auction and give guests the instructions to register. It can be as easy as texting a keyword, like “PLAYBALL”, to 52182 and you can even print the registration instructions on the game program. As the score goes up, the bids will too!

Dinner and a Show:

For school theater productions, create a package that allows parents to feel like they’re on Broadway. Partner with local restaurants to offer an auction item with a gift card for dinner, a premium parking space, and front row seats.



Orange Lutheran High School Musical


Class Pizza Party:

Challenge the parents of different classes to raise money for a class pizza party! If you have three 5th grade classes, you could challenge the classes to see which class can raise more, and the winning class gets a pizza party for lunch one day!

50/50 Raffles:

Many schools offer 50/50 raffles during sporting events or theater shows and often. These are a great way to raise funds for the school, and sometimes the winner will donate their 50% back to the school! You can have students volunteer to walk around the court, field, or bleachers during the game selling tickets and draw the winner at halftime. 

Bake Sale:

In this day and age, many people don’t carry cash. If you’re hosting a bake sale at your school, allow users to pay for their purchases online so that they can use a credit card!

College Kick-Off:

With most of your graduating class heading to college, provide parents the opportunity to supply their kids with everything they’ll need while also supporting the school! You could create an online auction with different packages, like:

  • No More Ramen: Include non-perishable snack foods like granola bars and oatmeal along with dorm room kitchen appliances like an electronic water kettle, a mini-fridge, and any other appliances that colleges allow. You can also include some basic utensils, plates, and cups so that the student will be ready for some late night snacking after a hard day of classes.
  • Dorm Sweet Dorm: This package should be full of items that students need to make their dorm room feel like home, like Twin XL sheets, a laundry basket, and towels.


Create a “buy-it-now” item for each seat in the front row at graduation. Being in the front will allow parents to get the best possible shot of their graduate walking across the stage! If there are 20 seats and you offer each seat for a $100 donation, you can easily make $2,000 in revenue for your school. The first 20 to purchase get the seats!

Celebrate the Artists:

Many classes will have an “end of year” art project that combines each student into a masterpiece of art. You could create an auction or raffle for each class and the winning bidder would get to take home the project!

Summer Fun:

With kids excited to get out of school and have the summer to themselves, you can create auction items that are focused on fun summer activities like mountain biking, swimming, and hiking. Partner with local summer camps to see if they will donate a week to the camp for your auction!



Brainerd Public Schools Foundation Auction


There is many great ways that schools can use what they have to increase fundraising revenue. From the beginning of the school year to the end, there isn’t a shortage of fundraising opportunity. Do you have any great items that parents at your school love? Let us know in the comment section!

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Fundraising for Rare Diseases

Individually, each rare disease impacts a small number of people compared to more common illnesses. Collectively, there are over 7,000 rare diseases causing a tremendous amount of pain, grief, and suffering for 300 million people worldwide.

Rare diseases can develop in a number of different ways — defects or predispositions, bacterial or viral infections, or even exposure to dangerous materials. Whatever the cause, one factor unites them all — their mystery. There is little known about rare diseases and, as a result, finding treatments and cures can be complicated.

The Hurdles of Rare Diseases

Challenges in the realm of rare disease exist for both patients and doctors. Since many rare illnesses affect a small number of people, it is difficult to find enough subjects who can participate in studies and trials that could lead to better treatment.

Additionally, rare diseases are often aggressive making many patients too weak to participate in trials once accurately diagnosed. Mesothelioma is an example of a rare, aggressive cancer that develops from exposure to asbestos. Symptoms can take 20 to 50 years to appear and often mimic signs of other more common infections or diseases. By the time an accurate diagnosis is made, the prognosis is poor and the patient is often very weak.

As a result, research efforts for diseases, like mesothelioma, are very limited compared to their more common counterparts. Lack of rare disease knowledge also stems from lack of funding as more research money is allocated to diseases that affect larger numbers of people. The lack of funding leads to delayed diagnosis, difficulties accessing care and treatment, and heavy financial burdens placed on patients.

Due to the lack of research, doctors are often unsure of the most efficient and effective way to proceed with the treatment of rare diseases. This information gap puts the responsibility on patients to take ownership of their health and become experts on their specific situation.

“Had I followed the first oncologist’s plan, I probably would have passed away soon after the diagnosis,” a patient of Highly Undifferentiated Endometrial Sarcoma said.

More than one professional opinion could be life-saving, but additional doctors visits mean an increased financial burden on the patient — intensifying what is already a stressful situation.

Get Involved with Rare Disease Fundraising

Each rare disease has advocacy groups that are working tirelessly to raise money in hopes for improved treatment or even a cure. In addition to fundraising, awareness is key. When more people know about rare diseases, increased resources become available. Fundraising and awareness events for rare diseases take place all the time, all over the place. It’s important to share, educate, advocate, and get involved with rare diseases!

Gesture Partners Tackling Rare Diseases

We wanted to feature some Gesture partners working to combat rare diseases across the country!

Cammy Can’s Cinderella Story

Cammy Can’s Cinderella Story (formerly focuses on accelerating Rett syndrome research and supporting families affected by this rare disease. In this two year partnership, Gesture has helped Cammy Can’s Cinderella Story raise over $111,000 to support their mission. Learn more about this organization here.

Carolinas HealthCare System

Another Gesture partner, the Carolinas HealthCare System and their Levine Children’s Hospital, work to help those with rare diseases. They recently highlighted two members of the Collins family battling chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis. The mother and daughter were featured in an article from the Carolinas HealthCare System discussing how LCH supports their care.

Huntsman Cancer Institute

The Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah has clinical trials for rare cancers! The diseases treated include rare sarcomas, blood cancers, brain tumors, and more. Gesture has partnered with this organization since 2015 to help them raise over $240,000.

Lurie Children’s Hospital

Last but not least comes Lurie Children’s Hospital located in Chicago, IL. The Center for Autonomic Medicine in Pediatrics (CAMP), located at Lurie Children’s Hospital, is the first of its kind. It is part of a program that studies diseases affecting children’s autonomic nervous systems. More information about the center and program can be found here.

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The Essential Steps for a Text-to-Donate Campaign

Text-to-donate can be successful for your organization for many reasons: it increases your reach, collects donor data, and raise money and can be executed using a variety of platforms. Keep these tips in mind and you will be able to execute a lucrative text-to-donate campaign!

What is Text-to-donate?

Text-to-donate is a mobile fundraising tool using keywords and text messaging to collect donations from donors’ mobile devices. These campaigns are effective because they have a high open rate as donors are usually active on their phones, and this high open rate leads to increased donations. Many organizations will set up text-to-donate campaigns for an event or as a way for donors to easily give year-round.

How do you implement a Text-to-donate campaign?

As an organization looking to execute a text-to-donate campaign, there are several components that need to be addressed in order to make the campaign successful:

  1. Keyword: have a simple and memorable keyword. PAWS Chicago, an animal welfare organization, hosts an annual beach party and uses “BeachParty” as their keyword. The keyword is easy to remember because it is tied to the event theme! 
  2. Display: make sure guests can easily find the keyword and number they need to text in order to make a donation. You can put the information on your event program, on tables, and/or on a digital display at the event. One of the benefits of using text-to-give is that your campaign doesn’t have to be tied to an event! You can display the keyword in other areas too. Read more about those in 3-5.
  3. Social Media: to collect donations from guests who can’t make it to your event, or donations for a virtual fundraising event, spread the word about your text-to-donate campaign on social media. The Philadelphia Flyers Charities use Twitter to reach donors anywhere, as seen in this tweet: 
  4. Email: another way to reach donors on their phones is via email. You can inform donors of the upcoming campaign and ask them to pre-register with their cell phone number so they will receive alerts when the campaign starts. Pre-registering donors with their cell phone numbers also allows you as an organization to collect their contact information and text them with marketing materials and key information.
  5. Direct Mail: lastly, you can send information about your text-to-donate campaign in your organization’s direct mail campaigns. Similar to sending the information via email, you will be able to pre-register donors and begin collecting contact information.

Why use Text-to-donate?

  • Collect Donor Data: When donors register to text-to-donate, you can collect their name, email address, physical address, credit card information, and more. This allows you to stay in contact with donors after the campaign ends!
  • Receive Large Donations: Using text-to-donate makes donations of any size easier to collect. Most importantly, it’s safe and secure so your donors won’t have concerns about their information being compromised.
  • Quick Payment Processing: Don’t worry about when you’ll be able to see the donations you receive in your bank account. Payment processing is quick and funds are in your organization’s account in as little as one business day of closing the payments and processing the credit card information. This quick processing time allows you to execute your fundraising promises sooner!
  • Easy to thank donors in a timely manner: Set up your text-to-donate campaign to automatically text donors a customized “thank you” message after you receive their donation. You can also use the contact information you collect to send a more personalized message to donors after the event, keeping your organization at top of mind.
  • Higher success rate: One of the reasons why text-to-donate is so successful is because of the high open rate with text messages. SMS text messages have a 99% open rate. There is no other form of marketing that is that Capitalizing on this trend with a text-to-donate campaign will increase responses, increasing donations.

If you want to learn more about text-to-donate and related services, view our 2018 Fundraising Trends Webinar where we discuss the predicted increase in texting donors and text-to-give campaigns as well as answer questions about how you can implement these services.

Text-to-donate can be successful for your organization for many reasons: it increases your reach, collects donor data, and raise money and can be executed using a variety of platforms. Keep these tips in mind and you will be able to execute a lucrative text-to-donate campaign!

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2018 Fundraising Trends Webinar

What fundraising trends should nonprofit organizations expect to see in 2018? How can nonprofits follow these trends to drive donations? The Gesture team has analyzed data from various sources to come up with a list of the top 9 trends that nonprofit organizations should keep in mind when planning their fundraising and marketing efforts.

After helping to raise over $200 Million for their charity partners in 2017, Gesture is gearing up for another record-breaking year in fundraising.

Learn how nonprofit organizations can use these trends to generate fundraising success with Gesture’s Director of Marketing, Brandon Stec, and Senior Account Manager, Cara Dickerson by watching the recorded version of this webinar below.

If you are looking for some more in-depth information on these fundraising trends, you can view this blog post.

Here’s an overview of the top 9 fundraising trends for 2018 that we’re predicting:

  1. Storytelling: Create a personal connection with donors.
  2. Social Media: Share about your fundraising efforts and events on platforms with broad reaches.
  3. Increase in Total Giving: Focus on donor retention to increase donations in 2018.
  4. Increase in Corporate Giving: Learn about how you can request donations from companies.
  5. Decrease in Email Effectiveness: Use other methods to communicate with donors.
  6. Video Content: Make videos to capture donor attention.
  7. Fundraising Software Integration: Link your fundraising software programs together for increased efficiency.
  8. Generational Shifts: Reach different donors different ways depending on generational preferences.
  9. Mobile Technology: Implement mobile technology to simplify fundraising initiatives and help your donors.

Contact us using the form below to learn more about our mobile fundraising technology platform!

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Make-a-Wish Colorado Case Study

Make-a-Wish Colorado has been using Gesture for their mobile fundraising technology needs since 2014 for their two main events: “Wine and Wishes” (now known as “Wish Night”) and “A Sporting Affair”.


One of the struggles Make-a-Wish Colorado experienced at their “Sporting Affair” event was that donors were not interacting with the celebrities because they were so focused on winning their items! Introducing mobile fundraising technology allowed donors to meet the celebrities in attendance and continue to bid without hovering over the bid sheet. Donations and bids skyrocketed!

Read about this improvement and more in the case study which you can download by completing the form below.

Photo courtesy of Make-a-Wish Colorado

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4 Unique Ronald McDonald House Charities Fundraising Ideas

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) offer many different services to help families with sick children receive the medical care they need. These services include:

  • Ronald McDonald Houses which are home environments where the families can stay while their children are in the hospital
  • Ronald McDonald Family Rooms which are areas in the hospital where families can rest
  • Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles which provide “access to health care where children need it most”
  • Grants

In order to fund these programs, RMHC chapters nationwide plan and execute unique and inspiring fundraising events. Gesture is lucky enough to work with 11 RMHC chapters and we’ve collected some unique ideas from our RMHC partners to help inspire other chapters.

Chapter: RMHC Global

Unique Fundraising Initiative: Big Mac Sauce Auction

Why it worked: Capitalizing on the popularity of Big Mac Sauce, RMHC Global auctioned a limited edition bottle of McDonald’s Big Mac Special Sauce, labeled “Bottle 10,001 of 10,000.” The rare nature of this item made it even more popular and it sold for nearly $800!

Chapter: RMHC of Eastern New England

Unique Fundraising Initiative: Night at Fenway

Why it worked: They hosted the event at Fenway and offered Red Sox-related items in their auction including several different ticket packages. By tying auction items to their venue, RMHC of Eastern New England was able to maximize auction revenue.

Chapter: RMHC of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana (CNI)

Unique Fundraising Initiative: Mission: Possible

Why it worked: RMHC CNI hosted a “secret agent” themed event and created a unique raffle to match the theme. They played a “Deal or No Deal” themed game with raffle ticket purchasers winning prizes hidden in briefcases.

Chapter: RMHC of the Miami Valley

Unique Fundraising Initiative: Big Red Shoes “Buy it now” Item

Why it worked: Per the item description, wearing red shoes has become a symbol for supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities everywhere. This item offered donors the opportunity to purchase a pair of their own red shoes for a “Buy it now” price of $1,000.


Incorporating fun themes into your fundraising initiatives and creating unique auction items can inspire donors to give more to your nonprofit organization! Using mobile fundraising technology for these initiatives make them even easier to execute and mean that more donors can be involved.

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2018 Corporate Donation Guide

At Gesture, we value the work you do and are both ready and excited to work with our charity partners to raise $1 billion between 2016 and 2021. In our efforts to help you raise more, we’ve compiled a collection of corporations that give to organizations in various manners to form our 2018 Corporate Donation Guide.

Simply fill out your information below and you will be able to download the 2018 Corporate Donation Guide:

Corporate Donation Guide Contents:

  1. Tips from the Trenches: Learn key tips and tricks about auction items from seasoned account managers.
  2. Corporate Donation List: Gather information on companies that make donations to nonprofit organizations, including what types of organizations they donate to and how you can go about asking for an item or donation.
  3. Donation Request Letters: Use example letters to write a donation request letter that businesses cannot deny!
  4. Item Procurement Ideas: Know what the most sought after items are in various categories including food & wine, sports, kids, and art.
  5. Grant Writing Tips: Maximize your chances of receiving grant funds by following five important pieces of advice.
  6. Additional Resources: Learn where to find more information from Gesture and how to connect with us!.

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Donor Segmentation: Why it Matters and How to Use it

Data has many uses in the nonprofit world and beyond. For example, by segmenting your donors and catering marketing towards the different segments, organizations can increase donor retention rates and donations!

Why does donor segmentation matter?

There are times each day where you tailor what you say and how you say it based on the person you are communicating with. If you were pitching an idea to your manager, co-worker, and mother, would you use the same language every time? You would probably be more casual with your mother and co-worker than you would with your manager. Your co-worker and manager have industry knowledge, so you would use different terms with them than you would with your mother. Each person in this example has received a customized pitch based on your relationship with them and their industry knowledge.

If we do this in everyday life, why don’t we do this for our donors? Why does everyone get placed in the same bucket and receive the same information if they are all different?

There are several ways that you can segment your donor base, the two most common being based on age and donation frequency.

Age segmentation:

When you segment your donors based on age, you will find that there will be different methods of social media to communicate based on age group preferences and habits, as noted below.

For reference, here are the age groups and their titles:

Baby Boomers: born 1946-1965
Generation X: born 1966-1976
Generation Y: born 1977-1994
Generation Z: born 1995-present

The Internet in General:

Currently, the internet has over 3.17 billion users and 2.3 billion active social media users. The top social media platforms for businesses are Facebook (1.71 billion users), Pinterest (100 million users), Instagram (400 million users), Twitter (320 million users), LinkedIn (450 million users), and Youtube (over 1 billion users). Here are some stats on the different networks and some information on how you can reach different ages of donors using this information!


Facebook is far and away the most popular social media platform with over 1.71 billion users.
While the majority of Facebook users are between the ages of 25 and 32 years old, Facebook is the most popular social media platform across all age groups. Your organization can create and customize a Facebook page to best reflect your brand.

Facebook has become a part of daily online usage for millions of users. To keep your followers up-to-date, you can share interesting content about what your organization is currently doing. This content can include written status updates, photos, videos, events, and more! The key is to post quality content that will engage your target demographic.

If you’re looking for a social media platform to promote interaction in a variety of ways with people of all age groups, Facebook is a great choice!


Pinterest is a social networking site that allows users to share and discover new interests by ‘pinning’ images of videos to their boards; users can create different boards for different categories. Pinterest has historically been popular among women, with 42% of all online women using the platform, but has risen in popularity with males: The male audience is now over 40%!

Pinterest is an incredibly visual experience for the user, so you need eye-catching images to get the attention of your audience. By posting powerful images, you can stir emotion among your followers, which will make them want to learn the story behind the photos. You can create captions to add information to the photo and link the image to your organization’s website as an invitation for a user to click through to learn even more.

If your nonprofit uses photos and videos to tell stories, Pinterest is a great way to share them!


Over 90% of Instagram users are younger than 35 and belong to Generations Y and Z. In fact, 32% of Generation Z cite Instagram as their favorite social media tool. Similar to Pinterest, Instagram was made for sharing photos and videos. If your organization wants to use Instagram, you need to create a plan to make this platform a success. This means posting photos and videos regularly, building a community of followers, and interacting with your donors on the network. Instagram can also be used as a promotional tool to showcase the different aspects of your nonprofit’s work. Similar to Pinterest, Instagram is most effective when the images shared tell a story about your organization and your impact.

What makes Instagram different from other social media sites is the way it is used. Instagram users frequently check the site and engage with posts at a much higher rate than with other social media networks.

If you are targeting a younger demographic or individuals that are on social media several times a day and you have the ability to post frequently, Instagram could be a good fit for your organization.



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Twitter for Nonprofits

Social media can be a powerful tool for nonprofit organizations because it has a broad reach an is inexpensive to use. However, in order to make social media effective, organizations need to know how they can best use the various platforms.


Gesture examined the Twitter strategies of several charity partners in order to determine which strategies work best for reaching donors and gathering donations. Download the below guide to get access to tips on how nonprofit organizations can best utilize Twitter for their marketing efforts!

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2018 Fundraising Trends

What fundraising trends can nonprofit organizations expect to see in 2018? Gesture has analyzed data from many sources to come up with a list of the top 9 trends that nonprofit organizations should keep in mind when planning their fundraising and marketing efforts.

Here are the trends:

  • Storytelling
  • Social Media
  • Increase in Total Giving
  • Increase in Corporate Giving
  • Decrease in Email Effectiveness
  • Video Content
  • Fundraising Software Integration
  • Generational Shifts
  • Mobile Technology

Read more on each of these trends below! 

Increased Importance of Storytelling:

Creating a personal connection with donors is an excellent way to increase donor retention. One way to do this is to use storytelling in your marketing efforts. Your audience knows about the work they do, but they may not know why you do the work you do. You could also interview top donors to share the stories of why they give or ask board members why they care about your cause.

Use various methods to tell your story; videos, blogs, in-person speaking engagements, and social media posts are all effective ways to do this. For example, one of the types of a donation ask is an “emotional” ask. This ask involves someone who has been impacted by your organization (a volunteer, a staff member, or someone your organization has helped) speaking about why they support you. Using storytelling in this manner can help to increase donations.

More Social Media Usage:

As the population increases, the number of people utilizing social media will increase as well. In order to broaden your audience and reach donors where they are active, you will need to ensure your organization is active on various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Post content that your followers will want to share with their friends and make sure that you are including the ways donors can give to your cause in your profile information.

Learn more about how your nonprofit organization can use Twitter for your marketing efforts here.

Total Giving Increase:

In 2018, total giving is predicted to increase by 3.8%. This is due to growth in three main areas: the S&P 500, GDP, and personal income. In 2016, Gesture helped charity partners raise $167 million. In 2017, that number increased to over $200 million. How can you make sure that these extra donor dollars are going towards your organization?

Some of the ways to make this prediction work for your organization are by planning inspiring fundraising campaigns, encouraging recurring gifts, and focusing on donor retention strategies. When considering your 2018 fundraising campaigns, think about what will inspire your donors to give. Then, give donors an option to automatically repeat their donation on a regular basis, like each month. Last, thank your donors and stay connected with them so that your donors will continue to make donations in 2019 and beyond!

Corporate Giving Increase:

In addition to total giving, corporate giving is also expected to increase by 2.7% due to similar reasons mentioned above for total giving.

One of the main ways that companies make donations is through match programs with their employees. In order to capitalize on this, make sure you are capturing all company gift matches by reminding donors on your donation pages that you accept those match donations. You can also increase donations from companies by networking with local business leaders. Whether it’s inviting them to your events, attending local business events, or interacting with their brands on social media, make sure that your organization is at the back of their mind so that when they are looking to make a donation or purchase a table at a gala, they think of your organization and cause.

Many companies also make in-kind donations of items or services. You can use these items in your silent and live auctions to bring in revenue to your organization. Gesture offers several corporate donation guides including a national guide and other guides separated by region and city. You can view a full menu of the guides here.

A Decrease in Email Effectiveness:

As email service providers update their algorithms that impact your messages ability to hit the inbox, explore other ways to engage with donors and use email more once you have established a digital connection with a donor.

Email deliverability is partly determined based on content. By tailoring your content to topics that are appropriate and relevant for your audience, you increase the likelihood of your email landing in their inbox and not the spam folder. Better yet, wait until you have a relationship with a donor before you email them and use emails to thank them for their donation and communicate with them about upcoming events. Once they are a regular donor, you can email them asking for donations and your email will likely be delivered.

Increased Popularity of Video Content:

By 2019, video content will be responsible for 85% of ALL U.S. internet traffic. Videos are easier than you think to produce! There is a wide selection of free video editing software you can download on computers and mobile devices allowing even a smaller organization without a graphic designer to create eye-catching video content. Whether you’re capturing images from a recent fundraising event and showing a slideshow of those images with music in the background, or you hire a professional videographer to help, video content is becoming increasingly more popular pushing simple text and photo posts lower on social media feeds.

Stay active in your donors’ eyes by joining this trend and creating interesting video content for viewers.

Greater Importance of Fundraising Software Integrations:

With the increase in fundraising software options available for nonprofit profit organizations to use, integration is more important than ever. Imagine being able to sell tickets and collect donor information on one platform and then transfer it to your CRM software so that you can appropriately follow-up with donors.

Some mobile fundraising platforms, like Gesture, give you this ability. It streamlines your fundraising operations even more and gives you the ability to focus on other areas of donor relations.

Generational Shifts:

In 2018 nonprofit organizations can also expect to see a shift in marketing tactics as Generations Y and Z surpass the Baby Boomers in size. Where Baby Boomers prefer email and direct mail, Generations Y and Z prefer being communicated with via social media networks.

Whether your donors are first time donors or long-term donors, the top two ways to communicate with these donors is via social media and email. Physical mail and in-person meetings are no longer as fruitful.

Increased Popularity of Mobile Technology:

Lastly but most importantly, expect mobile technology to grow in 2018. The 2017 NGO Tech Report noted that 85% of North American nonprofit and charity organizations accept online donations and 32% accept text donations. Globally, these numbers are 67% and 40%, so expect North America to catch up to other regions with text to give campaigns in the coming year.

Mobile technology can also help NFPs reach a broader audience. As previously mentioned, all social media networks are growing in size as the population is growing. While all of your audience members may not be able to attend your event, using mobile technology can give them the opportunity to participate in the raffles, auctions, donation campaigns, and more.

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Fundraising Facts and Myths

How much do you know about the world of nonprofit fundraising? Answer our true/false quiz to see if you are an expert fundraiser or if you could use some brushing up!

Mobile Giving only works for larger nonprofit organizations.

FALSE: Mobile fundraising technology works for organizations of all types and sizes. Software like Gesture’s allows organizations to customize their site to fit their exact needs. Are you hosting a gala with over 1,000 attendees? Manage ticketing and seating using Gesture’s guest management capabilities. Hosting a smaller auction for a school with 100 attendees? Use Gesture’s silent auction features to list items online and capture bids from anyone who cannot attend to increase your donor base!

Additionally, pricing is unique for each organization depending on event size, products used, and other factors. Mobile fundraising is a powerful tool that every organization can use to increase donations during physical and online fundraising initiatives.

When it comes to a silent or live auction, you should focus on quantity over quality.

FALSE: If you have one item per attendee, it’s possible that everyone could go home with an amazing auction item at the starting bid. This doesn’t help you bring in donations for your organization because your goal should be to receive above fair market value on every item. Instead, plan to have one silent auction item for every five event attendees. This helps to keep the bidding competitive.

What if you’ve been extremely successful with your auction item procurement and have more than one item for every five attendees? You have two main options: you can bundle items together to create higher value packages or you can save items for mid-year online-only auctions. Read more from Gesture’s blog here.

There isn’t a right moment to ask donors for money.

TRUE: If you find yourself looking for the perfect time to ask donors for money, you will never find it. Instead of waiting for the right moment, you need to be prepared to solicit a donation at any time. If a donor says “no,” don’t take it personally. They aren’t saying “no,” to you – instead, they are saying “no” to your organization at that time. Maybe they recently gave a large amount to another organization or had to adjust yearly spending for an unplanned expense. You can always ask again in the future!

Corporations and Foundations give the most.

FALSE: While corporations and foundations may give quite sizeable sums, individual donors collectively contribute more. In 2016, corporate giving amounted to $18.55 billion. However, individual Americans gave significantly more – $389.05 billion! While a donation of $50 might not seem like much, smaller donations add up and it’s important to maintain the loyalty of individual donors.

One way to do so is to thank each donor for their donation, regardless of donation size. While larger donations from corporations and foundations may warrant a handwritten note from the executive director, a tour of your office, or special seating at your annual gala, a thank you note or email from your organization can go a long way.

Planning a successful fundraising initiative takes time.

TRUE: Any fundraising initiative, from an online-only donation campaign to a formal gala, takes immense planning. If you want your fundraising initiative to be successful, you need to spend the time to make sure each component is adding to your success.

One of the most time-consuming parts of planning a fundraising initiative is acquiring auction items. You don’t want to be pushy with businesses and donors, but you also want to make sure you have the items well before the event so that you can package and prepare as necessary. One way to speed up this process is by asking companies that have a donation policy in place. You can find these organizations on Gesture’s Corporate Donation Guide. The Corporate Donation Guide will direct you to companies that give to nonprofit organizations nationwide.

Your audience wants you to share about your organization on social media.

TRUE: Those who follow you on social media or subscribe to your newsletter do so because they care about your organization. Cognitive biases make donors want to feel good about their decision to donate and support your organization, and one way to make donors feel good is to show and tell about organization accomplishments.

Social media is also a great way to find new donors! Through every like, comment, and share, more and more people see your original post and you have the ability to increase exposure. You should share 3-10 times per week on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and you can post much more frequently on Twitter.

Older donors are resistant to mobile giving.

FALSE: Older generations are more tech-savvy than you think. A report published by the Pew Research Center about U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015 found that “64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011.” Keep in mind that donors can still participate in text-to-give campaigns with a simple flip phone; no need for a smartphone!

Read more about how to engage older donors in your mobile giving campaign here.

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