Optimizing Your Nonprofit Website

Take a monkeywrench to your website.(Updated 11/15/11, 10:30 p.m.)

Join the #fundchat community on Wednesday, November 16 from 12 pm – 1 pm EDT for a conversation about “Optimizing Your Nonprofit Website.”

With so much focus on social media, a regular website seems kind of “old school.” But many nonprofits still struggle with having an effective website. Other nonprofits have a solid website, but have taken their eye off the ball to focus on their mission or other communication platforms like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+.

This week’s #fundchat will focus on “WWW,” the three W’s of What, When, and Why and how to apply these questions to your web presence. Here’s your to do list in preparation for this week’s #fundchat:

  • What are your questions? Participants offer most of the questions that are considered during #fundchat, so submit yours now in the comment section below!
  • Spread the word. Let your colleagues and friends on Facebook and Twitter know about #fundchat. Invite them to peer over your shoulder and see what it’s all about. Last week we had nearly 50 people participate in #fundchat.
  • Help with homework prep. Share links and resources about smart nonprofit web design and strategy using the #fundchat hashtag.

Here’s the line-up of questions for the convo:

  • Q1: What role does your org website play in “making your case” and your overall strategy to reach donors?
  • Q2: What aspect of your website makes you wince and why? (C’mon, we’re among friends!)
  • Q3: Have printed or other forms of communications with your constituents and donors been supplanted by your website? Good or bad?
  • Q4: What is your strategy for integrating calls to action on your website?
  • Q5: What advice do you have for dealing with “the dreaded online giving form?”
  • Q6: If your org has a commercial aspect, how do you balance between your philanthropic mission & commercial needs? (i.e. museums, etc.)

If you are new to Twitter chats, it’s easy. You can follow the #fundchat hashtag at the appointed time using your favorite Twitter client. You can also use the #fundchat page on Twebevent, which provides a web-based interface and consolidates the conversation in one view (it also automatically includes the hashtag at the end of your posts). Check out the #fundchat guidelines page fore more tips.


Planned Giving: Moving Beyond the Basics

Planned GivingUpdated (11/10/11, 7:06 a.m.)

Chat stats and transcript now available here.

For many nonprofits, planned giving is a check box on a return envelope, a “legacy” society, and if you are lucky, a regular printed newsletter. For many more organizations, having a planned giving program is an idea that is just too complicated to even consider.

If you’re looking to take the next step with your planned giving program, get one off the ground, or share your expertise with others, join the #fundchat community on Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. EDT for “Planned Giving: Moving Beyond the Basics.”

On average, about 50 people participate in #fundchat each week. It’s community participation that leads to a successful chat. Here’s how you can help:

  1. Spread the word: tell your friends and colleagues about #fundchat. Share a link to the blog on your social networks. Ask a friend to sit with you over lunch during #fundchat so they can see what it’s all about.
  2. Suggest a question (or two): #fundchat is moderated by @brendankinney and he could really use your help dreaming up good questions for the chat. The moderator offers up questions every 10 minutes or so during #fundchat. Great questions lead to a great conversation. Dull questions, well…you get the idea. Please suggest a question or idea in the comments section of the blog.

If you have never participated in a #fundchat before, it’s easy. Check out our handy guidelines. Most participants like to use the web-based Twebevent.

Here are the questions for today’s chat:

  1. How did you start your PG program and if you had to do it again, what would you do differently?
  2. Who took a leadership role in championing PG in your organization?
  3. If you’re the only fundraiser, how do you manage PG with so many things on your plate?
  4. How do you identify PG prospects?
  5. How do you track PG intentions?
  6. Do you ever use Planned Giving to inspire current giving?

We had so many suggestions for questions, we created a Planned Giving survey. Take it now – http://twtpoll.com/c68haw.

Many thanks to @FundraiserBeth, @mcahalane, @lpdiversa for providing the inspiration for this week’s #fundchat!

Weathering the Storm: How Nonprofits Can Navigate the Recession

Read the Transcript! (Posted 10/27/11)

Is there a double dip ahead?This week’s #fundchat topic is “Weathering the Storm: How Nonprofits Can Navigate the Recession.” Join the #fundchat community on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 12 p.m. EDT (that’s high noon for you folks on the East coast!) for a conversation that will be of interest to you no matter what your role in your organization.

Most nonprofits survive on a shoestring budget and all are cost-per-dollar-raised conscious, looking to spend their donor’s money wisely. Call it a recession, a downturn, a dip or a trough, the economic environment is putting even greater pressure on organizations like ours.

What would you like to know from other nonprofit professionals about how their organization has navigated the economy? What tips could you offer your colleagues? Please offer your ideas for questions for this week’s #fundchat in the comments section below. Here are a few that we might consider for this week’s #fundchat:

  1. How has the recession affected your bottom line or the services you are able to deliver?
  2. What creative lengths has your organization gone to to stretch budget dollars even farther?
  3. Has your organization had to layoff staff? How were these decisions handled?
  4. Has your nonprofit found a way to use the economic climate in your case for support?
  5. If support has diminished in one area, has your organization found other areas of revenue to help offset the loss on the other side?
  6. As you looked to trim budgets, what expenses were the first to go?

Please help spread the word by introducing your colleagues and networks to #fundchat. If you are new to tweetchats, it’s easy. At the appointed time, you follow the hashtag (#fundchat) in your favorite Twitter client and participate in the conversation by adding the hashtag at the end of your tweets. You can also use services like Tweetchat or Twebevent to make participation easy. Check out the #fundchat Twebevent here. Before you begin, you might want to look at our “#fundchat 101” post to familiarize yourself with the format and overall guidelines.

10/19 #fundchat: “Getting Ready to Ask for a Big Gift”

Getting Ready to Ask for a Big GiftREAD the transcript (Now available!)

Last month, Tony Martignetti of #nonprofitradio fame, was featured on The Chronicle of Philanthropy website. His podcast, “Getting Ready to Ask for a Big Gift,” raised important issues and insights into this critical topic:

“For any nonprofit, success means preparing volunteers, board members, and fund raisers alike to ask for big gifts. How much should solicitors talk, and when should they listen? What steps can an organization do to prepare the prospect beforehand?”

Join the #fundchat community on Wednesday, October 19 at 12 p.m. EDT for a lively conversation on the topic of preparing for the big ask. If you are a #fundchat newbie, no worries…we’ve got you covered right here.

What can you do to help?

  1. Share your ideas for questions for this #fundchat topic by sharing them in the comments section below.
  2. Take a listen to Tony Martignetti’s podcast that inspired this edition of #fundchat!
  3. Spread the word about the 10/19 #fundchat by sharing on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook.
  4. RSVP for this event via the #fundchat Facebook page.

You can keep the conversation rolling between #fundchat sessions by connecting with tweeps on the #fundchat Facebook page!

Brendan Kinney, moderator of #fundchat 

10/5 #fundchat: Professional Development for Fundraisers: How to Elevate Your Game

Tweetups make informal networking happen.Everywhere you look these days there are a ton of professional development opportunities for fundraisers and other colleagues engaged in nonprofit work. There are the formal, like conferences, webinars, and workshops. There are the informal, like tweetups, tweet chats (like #fundchat!) and social networking sites that have a bent toward careers and networking. Technology has lowered the cost of entry for quality professional development opportunities and technology has enabled new ways in which you can connect with others in your industry.

What are the best professional development opportunities? Who goes? And how much? Are all important questions when it comes to raising your game.

Join the #fundchat community this Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 12 p.m. EDT to discuss this week’s topic: “Professional Development for Fundraisers: How to Elevate Your Game.”

If you plan on joining the conversation, here’s what you can do:

  1. Spread the word! Tweet, Facebook, Google+ (is that a verb yet?) and just plain ‘ol email your friends and colleagues about the chat.
  2. Save the date! Some folks are still getting used to our new time. It’s high noon people! (That is, if you live in the Eastern United States…)
  3. Share your questions. What thoughts or ideas do you have about professional development? What questions should we consider during the conversation on Wednesday? Share them in the comments section of this post.
  4. Bone up on the guidelines. Joining a Twitter chat is painless. We do have a few helpful tips.
  5. Bookmark it. Many participants use Tweetchat or Twebevent to participate in the conversation. You can also just follow the #fundchat hashtag in your favorite Twitter client.

Thanks so much for your interest and thanks in advance for being a part of this week’s conversation!

9/28 #fundchat: Effective Nonprofit Board Management

Join the #fundchat community at 12 pm EDT on Wednesday, September 28 for a conversation on the topic, “Effective Nonprofit Board Management”

Good governance is at the heart of every successful nonprofit. When a nonprofit organization stumbles or falls, you can usually trace the root cause all the way back to the board room.

Recruiting and managing a board is tough work. Finding the right people in the community who have the means and/or the talents and/or the stature to help your organization is not easy. Managing their expectations and actions is even harder.

This week’s chat was inspired by Jim Berigan’s article, “Boards Behaving Very, Very Badly” Follow Jim on Twitter at @sbsfundraising. It’s a good read and primer for this week’s chat.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Mark your calendar! This is the second time #fundchat will meet at noon on Wednesdays as opposed to our “old time” of 9 pm EDT. You can bookmark our Twebevent page as well.
  • Please share your thoughts on this topic AND ideas for questions that the #fundchat community should tackle this week about nonprofit boards. Use the comments section of this blog post to share and discuss.
  • Spread the word. Let others know about #fundchat and this week’s topic. For newbies, you can point them to our tips and guidelines post to help them see how easy it is to participate.

9/21 #fundchat: Outsourcing Philanthropy

This is such a ridiculous picture, I had to use it.It’s a question all organizations, large and small, eventually ask themselves: “Can someone else do this better than we can?

In the face of thin budgets and diminished resources, nonprofits are taking a hard look at outsourcing key tasks such as direct mail, phonathons, sales, social media management, acquisition and even qualification of new donors.

This week’s #fundchat will tackle the issue of Outsourcing Philanthropy head-on. Thanks to @fundraisinisfun and @NonProfit_Meg for instigating the topic, but the conversation is also an offshoot of last week’s #fundchat that heated up over a question of fundraisers (staff and/or consultants) working on commission.

Here’s what you can do to help with this week’s #fundchat:

  1. Suggest a question. Please use the comments section below to offer your ideas for questions we should tackle on this topic.
  2. Save the date AND time. Based on a poll conducted last week, many participants suggested that 12 p.m. EDT would be a more convenient time for #fundchat (versus 9 p.m. EDT). We are going to give it a try so please spread the word that this week’s chat is set for high noon on Wednesday, September 21.
  3. Bookmark it. Many folks enjoy using Twebevent to participate in #fundchat. You are encouraged to give it a try or just follow the hashtag in your favorite Twitter client.
  4. Advise the Newbies. The best place to start for newcomers to #fudnchat is our guidelines post.

Should be a great #fundchat this week! Here we go…