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Lessons From 2012 That Will Make 2013 A Great Year

During the spring of 2012, DonorDrive noticed some of their clients were raising substantially more money, attracting more participants and adding more events. While hearing of nonprofit woes across the industry, many of these causes stood out as exceptions. 

DonorDrive tracked the successes of these organizations, interviewed key staff and figured out what they were doing right to help them excel in these tough fundraising times. DonorDrive featured the findings from four of these causes in a blog series.

During their intensive interviews, two common traits were immediately obvious:

The leadership of each cause had a clear understanding of the strengths of social fundraising software and how to use them to benefit their cause. These causes all established solid fundraising and communication strategies first.

Each cause DonorDrive featured hit different milestones compared to their 2011 fundraising.

Climate Ride got their riders to raise 41 percent more

Climate Ride spreads the gospel of bikes as alternative transportation through their NY to DC ride and their California Coast ride. Their approach to participants is a little different than most causes: instead of quantity of riders, they go for quality of experience. Co-Founder and Director Geraldine Carter gets to know her riders by name and builds custom forms in the software to gather extensive data on each rider's needs, skills and reasons for being there. “We have them fill out the equivalent of a Harvard application.”

Participants ride 300 miles, but have even better endurance at fundraising. “Our top five participants for each ride raise between $5,000 and $8,000,” said Carter. Additionally, they’ve adopted a high rate for social sharing.

Carter also uses DonorDrive’s built-in reports to track each rider's fundraising success and encourages when necessary. The focus on turning passions into donations helped Climate Ride get 41 percent better performance out of their fundraisers in 2012.

AFSP added 32 new walks to their schedule

The reason each walker participates in an AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) walk is a very emotional one. Since walkers have typically lost someone to suicide, these events are as much about healing as they are about raising awareness and donations.

AFSP's success has stemmed from not being afraid to start small. An example from Nicole Dolan, Out Of The Darkness Walks Brand Manager: “One new walk last year that had 16 registered participants raised $3,500.”

Every year each walk grows and AFSP's national office closely tracks their 277 walks and over 100,000 walkers. “We’ve researched that if a walk does these things, they'll be successful,” said Carter. With a growth rate of almost three walks added every month and each walk raising more every year, AFSP is poised for even bigger growth for 2013.

Dance Marathons raised $10 Million last year entirely though Millennials

Dance marathons shatter any illusion that a college student's thin wallet means they can't bring in donations. With high-profile events on 150 college campuses across North America, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals has found Millennials to be seriously passionate fundraisers, bringing in $10 million this year through Dance Marathons. Zac Johnson, head of youth marketing at CMN, feels that a big part of the success has been that each event is student run and student guided. “Your inclination is to step in, but student ownership is what takes it to that next level.”

Team ASPCA raised 118 percent more compared to 2011

Team ASPCA is a national training and endurance program that has grown quickly since launching at the NYC Marathon in 2010. Kymberlee Setterberg, director of Team ASPCA, felt it was important to the growth of the program to remove any obstacle that gets in the way of participants having a great experience. “Basically our job is to take care of our participants every step of the way.”

Team ASPCA found that coaching participants to keep their social networks up to date about their training success is easy and drives more donations. The cause is also there to help with training and even makes it easy for family and pets to join in at cheering stations along the route. “We make sure participants celebrate and enjoy this moment with their friends, family and any four-legged friends that are with them,” said Setterberg.

The takeaways

So what can you do in 2013 (based on these lessons) to improve your own fundraising?

●      Treat your participants like heroes. When the experience is a great one, participants raise more and are more likely to do it again.

●      Evaluate what worked and what didn't. Reporting tools should be used to help guide your future fundraising.

●      Rely on social tools and email. Online fundraising thrives on social tools. DonorDrive clients are seeing participants who connect their Facebook and Twitter accounts with our software raise about 170 percent more than those who don't. 17 percent of all donations in DonorDrive come from social media and that number is quickly growing.

Whether 2013 will be a good year for causes across the board is uncertain, but for many causes, beating the odds could be easier than you think.




Author: J. Kevin Wolfe is Social Instigator for DonorDrive Social Fundraising Software

Link to series intro:

Link to Climate Ride post:

Link to AFSP post:

Link to Dance Marathon:

Link to Team ASPCA post:

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