Webinar Summary – Digital Fundraising: Best Practices to Boost Your End of Year Campaign

August 25th, 2021The Blackbaud Institute’s 2020 Charitable Giving Report, which tracks $40 billion in giving, indicates that over the last three years growth in overall philanthropic giving has only been 5%, whereas online giving has grown by a remarkable 32%. Given the growing importance of online philanthropy, organizations must adapt by learning to craft compelling stories and develop thoughtful and data-driven strategies for delivering messaging to the right audience on the right platform. New York University’s new Digital Fundraising certificate program offers just the right tools to equip individuals, nonprofits and other organizations to utilize the digital space in their fundraising efforts – tapping into the growing online giving platform. 

Webinar Overview

On August 19th, Liz Ngonzi, adjunct assistant professor in the Center for Global Affairs at New York University, hosted a webinar launching the new certificate program alongside fellow program faculty members Cheryl Gentry, Boris Kievsky, Kathleen Murphy Toms and Dane Wiseman. The program, which is housed within the Heyman Program for Fundraising and Philanthropy in the Center for Global Affairs at NYU’s School of Professional Studies, was developed in recognition of the increase in virtual learning, work, and socializing brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and, more generally, in recognition of the central role of digital fundraising in enabling nonprofit organizations to inspire, engage, and catalyze both new and existing supporters.

Best Practices

The launch event hosted by Liz and her colleagues included a lively conversation addressing “Best Practices to Boost Your End of Year Campaign,” in which the program faculty shared a number of useful tips with webinar participants.  

Cheryl Gentry, who will co-teach the course on “Virtual Events and Fundraising” with Liz, cautioned virtual event organizers against treating audience members as “second class citizens”. She advised making an appropriate investment of time (including rehearsal time) and resources in order to ensure that sponsors, donors and other attendees have the best possible event experience.

Boris Kievsky, who will teach “Developing High-Impact Websites for Nonprofits,” advised that nonprofits place emphasis on their story and on guiding their audience through it. The content of the story, and how effectively it is told, are more important than the platform on which it is being presented.

To encourage donors and supporters to prioritize their interactions with nonprofit organizations, Kathleen Murphy Toms, who will teach “Social Media and Email Fundraising,” recommended that those organizations send out calendar invitations and reminders to their supporters. “If it’s not on my calendar, it’s not happening,” she emphasized.  

Dane Wiseman, who will teach “Social Media Marketing Analytics,” pointed out how crucial the use of data analytics and dashboards (websites, social media, etc.) are for nonprofits and other organizations. He emphasized that they can help organizations identify the peak days and times when different audience groups are engaging with specific content – helping nonprofits maximize the consumption of that content. 

To close out the discussion, Liz Ngonzi, who teaches “Digital Storytelling, Innovation and Fundraising,” advised listeners: “Don’t do what you can’t measure!” She encouraged the audience to set specific and measurable goals for their fundraising efforts and to track their progress, outputs, and impacts. 

Webinar Takeaways

Finally, listeners were polled and asked to identify what they regarded as key lessons of the webinar.  Based on 41 poll responses (presented graphically in the word cloud below), the audience’s top three takeaways were: 

  1. Send Calendar Invites to Donors – to prepare them to support the organization’s Giving Tuesday campaign
  2. Rehearse – to ensure smooth flow of your virtual event
  3. Recruit Among Millennials – and engage them as co-creators, not just as donors.

 

Click on this LINK to watch the full webinar and click this LINK to learn about and register for the new Professional Certificate Program in Digital Fundraising.  You can also access resources provided by the speakers below.

Resources Shared by Speakers:

Boris Kievsky

Nonprofit Digital Strategist – dotorgStrategy

Course:  Developing High-Impact Websites for Nonprofits

Resources

 

Cheryl Gentry 

Founder & CEO – Glow Global Events

Course: Virtual Events and Fundraisers

Resources

  

Dane Wiseman 

Chief Marketing Officer – CyberFunnel

Course: Social Media Marketing Analytics

Resources

 

Kathleen Murphy Toms

Director, Digital Strategy – Giving Tuesday

Course:  Social Media and Email Fundraising

Resources

 

Elizabeth Ngonzi, CFRE

Panel Moderator

Founder & CEOThe International Social Impact Institute 

Course: Digital Storytelling, Innovation and Fundraising

Resources

Expand Your International Organization’s Presence to Attract U.S. Funders

During my 10 years teaching and training nonprofits around the world, I have found that some of the biggest challenges they grapple with in seeking funding are related to differentiating themselves from the plethora of other great causes in the market; establishing their legitimacy in a field in which the few fraudulent ones have created fear, uncertainty and doubt in the minds of donors; and identifying which donors could potentially be interested in their cause, have the capacity to give and are accessible.

If you ask any group of U.S.-based foundations their primary source of information about a nonprofit with which they are unfamiliar most of them will likely say that they google to find out about them. In the case of international nonprofits looking to raise funds in the U.S., the strength of their digital presence is critical in that it helps to convey the credibility of the organization, in the absence of a physical location the U.S. for funders to easily visit.

#WhenIWas15 Estée Lauder Inspired Me to Become an Entrepreneur!

#WhenIWas15 I loved to read and according to several journals from high school that I recently found, I particularly loved autobiographies, despite apparently not being very keen on the literature assigned to me by my English teacher. I still love autobiographies to this day, but until I found the journal, I had forgotten what an impact Estée Lauder’s story had on me. I now remember reading her eponymous book about her journey to become a successful business woman, at the helm of an international beauty empire. Interestingly I have moved several times since I first read her book at the time of its publishing (more than a couple of decades ago) and have since gone through many purges…yet I have kept Estée’s book (although I could probably have done a better job with preserving its cover).

For those of you unable to read my 15-year-old handwriting in the image above, below is what I wrote:

” The most enjoyable and thought provoking book which I have read this year is an autobiography by Estée Lauder (Estée, A Success Story). Her story is that of a self-made make-up mogul in a male dominated industry. In reading her story she became my idol and a symbol of what hard work, perseverance, and innovative ideas can achieve. This story was so significant because it was directed towards a reader such as myself who is interested in becoming an entrepreneur. Mrs. Lauder describes every step she [took] to reach her success. I was able to identify with her [pursuit] of perfection which is indeed a quality that one must possess to reach premium achievements.”

Incidentally, it was around that time that I began my first venture– a babysitting service with about six or so families, which included a steady client whose son I babysat several days (cash flow management) after school and various clients who booked me on Friday or Saturday nights at a premium (demand-based pricing).

I have since been involved in a few ventures including selling Mary Kay Cosmetics on the weekends to help me gain sales experience and supplement my first job out of undergrad, as a tech marketer. After working in Corporate America for about a decade, I founded a consulting firm which I ran for 12 years and as a social entrepreneur, most recently led the re-boot of the North American representative of a South African NGO. Beyond that I’ve also had the privilege of guiding and teaching budding entrepreneurs as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at my alma mater, Cornell University, where I had the honor of mentoring Karim Abouelnaga— the founder of Practice Makes Perfect (“an evidence-based, full-service summer school operator for K-8 schools”)– who even as a university junior demonstrated a tremendous amount of potential as an innovative social entrepreneur.

My entrepreneurial journey continues as I embark upon its next leg inspired by Estée and other great entrepreneurs, more experienced, wiser, and with a continued commitment to innovation, impact perseverance and hard work!

Liz Ngonzi on Embracing New Media Tools to Amplify Global Voices

“Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story.” ~ Ewe-Mina (African) Proverb

Young people’s access to new media worldwide brings new and in some peoples opinions, authentic voices into the global conversation about the issues that affect all of us the most, such as: climate change, conflict, economic crisis, education disparity, access to healthcare, and food security.

While traditional media and development agencies are able to provide the world with visibility into these issues, they are only able to do so through specific lenses colored by the interests of their leadership – in the case of the media– keeping advertisers happy and maintaining ratings and with development agencies – satisfying donors requirements.  The result being that the people whose lives are most affected by the issues, have traditionally been left out of the conversation, leading to policy decisions and development projects that in some instances solve the wrong problems, and ultimately do more harm than good, for those they are intended to assist.

New Students and New Ventures in the Pillsbury Institute

One of the newest start-ups to come out of the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship this academic year is The Ithaca Hummus Company, which was founded this semester by Chris Kirby ’15. Kirby, who transferred to the school this spring, recognized the high demand in the Ithaca market for locally prepared products and decided to capitalize on that demand with a healthy alternative to traditional snack foods.

“When I arrived at Cornell, one of the first stops I made on campus was the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship. I do most of my work right in the Pillsbury Institute because of the tremendous support I’ve received there. Within five minutes of my first entrepreneur-in-residence meeting with Liz Ngonzi ’98, I was connected with her SHA classmate, Bob Langkammerer, regional executive chef for Wegmans. The Pillsbury Institute is an invaluable resource for any student at Cornell interested in starting their own business.”