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Effective messaging: key to member and donor engagement, and fundraising

From launching a compelling fundraising campaign, to posting engaging social media, effective messaging is key to the success of your nonprofit’s member & donor engagement, and fundraising efforts. 

What is messaging? Messaging is the content your organization uses to explain what you offer to various demographic groups or target markets, and what differentiates your offering from other nonprofits in your industry and region. Without effective messaging that’s clear, concise, engaging and inspires action, an organization’s marketing and fundraising efforts probably won’t hit the mark. Follow these simple steps for developing compelling messaging that works.

#1. Survey your members, donors, constituents and staff. 

An underutilized resource for developing effective messaging is right within your organization: your members, donors, constituents and staff. An excellent way to begin a messaging audit is to develop a simple survey canvassing ‘ambassadors’ of your organization for their feedback about what makes your offering different and compelling, and why they’re involved with your organization. Ask the group you’re soliciting to define in one or two sentences how they’d describe your offering to others, and why they’re passionate about their involvement with your organization. MailChimp www.mailchimp.com has a simple, widely-used survey tool that will help.

#2: Make a bulleted list of your organization’s core offering. 

Make a bulleted list of what your organization offers to your target market(s). As a service oriented nonprofit, for example, you might offer social services to lower income families, including direct financial assistance through loans and grants, mentoring and job coaching, and access to other social services resources. Be as specific as possible, listing the services in order of those you provide most to various types of constituents by category (members, donors, other constituent groups) to those you provide least.

#3: Make a bulleted list of all those qualities about your nonprofit that are unique, differentiating and compelling–based on results of the survey. 

This is one of the most important elements of developing effective messaging. Here, zero in on what makes your organization’s offering stand out from the competition. It might be your desirable location, or your dedicated membership committee that actively helps members connect in with other members. One area nonprofit differentiates itself as an ‘historic’ nonprofit through its affiliation with a local state park. This provides the organization with a large ‘campus’ of venues for their theatre productions that’s not visible from the street–a definite differentiator they should highlight in their messaging.

#4: Make a bulleted list of your target market(s). 

This is who your organization primarily markets your services to.  It might be other businesses, individual consumers, the elderly, families with children, or Millenials. List target audiences in order of priority, beginning with those your organization serves most frequently to those you serve least frequently.

#5: Review the lists above, and highlight those items that best describe what your organization offers, and what your survey identified as unique and differentiating about your nonprofit.

The next step is to highlight those items in each of the lists you feel best describe your organization’s core offering and differentiate your nonprofit from the competition. You’ll begin to see common themes and attributes emerge as you build your core messaging.

#6: Draft clear, concise copy and content from the summary descriptions you’ve identified as common themes and attributes about your organization and offering.

Draft copy that weaves together items from the highlighted summary list as clearly, concisely and engagingly as possible. Less is more when it comes to copy. Review and make edits to ensure the content is as brief as possible, includes images, bullets, bold faced words and phrases, and overall reads well. This is your core messaging.

#7: Use  your core messaging throughout all your organization’s marketing and fundraising communications, and social media and public relations channels. 

After you develop your core messaging, the next essential component of your organization’s messaging audit is to then review your website, all of your existing marketing and fundraising communications, and social media and public relations channels to be sure that your core message is consistent throughout. It’s this consistency that will create a clear and indelible description of your organization and what it offers that will equip and inspire your current members, donors and other constituents to be better ambassadors for your nonprofit. This approach will also engage and inspire new target audiences to take some kind of desired action: become a member or volunteer, work here and most importantly, donate.

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Best Practices for A Successful Email Fundraising Campaign

At the heart of launching a successful fundraising drive is an effective email campaign. Be sure that your donor solicitation efforts achieve your revenue goals by following these best practices for your next email fundraising campaign.

#1: Be sure those you’re soliciting know what to expect. Donors and others you’re soliciting don’t like to be surprised by more or less emails than they anticipate. Let email recipients know right from the start what information you’ll be sending them, and how often. This goes for your regular monthly eNewsletters, and other email communications, including fundraising emails.

#2: Don’t Over-Promise Then Under-Deliver. In order to increase open rates, sometimes development marketers promise the moon with deceptive subject lines, then fail to deliver on the promise. Remember, open rates are only one criteria for judging the success of your email fundraising campaign. Conversion rates (or how often your recipients take action as a result of your email) are the real test of the effectiveness of your email solicitations. If you don’t deliver on the promise of your subject line, then your donors and prospective donors might decide to give elsewhere.

#3: Personalize Your Emails, But Vet the Information First. Personalizing emails is an effective strategy; however, it’s counterproductive if the name on the email isn’t right. Be sure to vet the information for accuracy, before doing a blanket SEND to your email marketing list.

#4: Segment Your Mailing List: Email segmenting can be very effective for target marketing to various demographic groups. You can segment your list by age, marital status, income level, when a donor is in the giving cycle, etc., and send content and messages that appeal directly to each specific segment.

#5: Test The Effectiveness of Your Emails Before You Send Them. In addition to testing personalization, you can also test the effectiveness of your emails by testing which pieces of content, calls to action and subject lines have the highest click-through rates. Divide your email list into two equal groups and send an A/B split test of your email to see which performs best.

#6: Focus on Content Versus Donations. When the main topic of your email is ‘Donate Now’ versus content that’s of interest to your supporters, your email fundraising campaign could come up short. Focus the content of your emails on what’s of interest to your supporters from their point of view. Establish trust and make an emotional connection before you close for greater impact and results.

#7: Include a Call to Action (CTA). The key to any effective solicitation is having one or multiple calls to action in your email. A call to action is some actionable, concrete next step for your donor or prospective donor to take that brings them into the fold of your organization, and ultimately, closer to writing a check, or making a donation online. Some examples of calls to action include:

  • Learn How You Can Help
  • Click to Volunteer
  • Sign Up for Our Monthly Newsletter
  • Volunteer Today
  • Donate Now.

#8: Proof and Reproof for Spelling and Grammar Errors. Donors often judge an organization by what’s in the details, i.e., whether or not your marketing and fundraising communications are error-free. If you’re the author of an email or eNewsletter, be sure to proofread your draft multiple times for spelling and grammar errors. Then, ask a colleague that has a keen eye for detail to proofread the copy again, and again.  Online tools such as grammarly.com can also help.

 

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Leverage Your Content for Maximum Marketing Impact

Creating great content is the first step toward getting your organization or brand recognized. The next step is making sure that you’re leveraging this content through as many marketing channels as possible. Here are the best, most cost-effective ways to get your content out there for maximum marketing impact.

  • Update your website’s blog at least quarterly. According to web and digital marketing expert, Dale Shadbegian of 118Group, it’s important to update your website blog at least quarterly. According to Shadbegian, updating your business or nonprofit’s blog quarterly, or even monthly will help to increase your search engine (SEO) ratings when included as a part of a larger SEO campaign.
  • Post on a variety of social media channels regularly. Once you’ve developed good core content that reinforces what your organization offers, post this regularly on a variety of social media outlets that are appropriate for your type of business or nonprofit. These may include: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and others. It’s okay to use the same content in a variety of places, concurrently. Repetition of your organization’s messaging is how to build awareness for your offering.
  • Reach your target audience bi-monthly through email marketing. Email marketing is still an effective and affordable tool for reaching your current and prospective customers/constituents if done correctly. That means sending emails with relevant content that’s of interest to your target audience, using as few words as possible to convey your message, and adding photos, graphs, charts and other engaging visuals. It also means not bombarding your readers with too many emails. How many is too many? Email marketing experts say that no less than monthly, no more than bi-monthly is preferred. It’s also okay to send an additional email ‘alert’ once in a while if you have something that’s time sensitive and needs to reach your readers now.
  • Guest author articles for local organizations that reach your target audience. There are a number of ways to leverage local organizations’ publications to get the word out about your business or nonprofit–free of charge. One way to do this is to guest author articles for your local Chamber of Commerce or SCORE chapter. Other organizations that offer business services such as office incubators, regional or local membership organizations such as the Smaller Business Association of New England (SBANE), American Womens Business Association (ABWA), and others, will often encourage members to submit content for their periodic emails, E-newsletters or social media posts.
  • Write for the business section of your local media. The local media is always looking for online content that’s of interest to the business community. Pitch a regular column idea to your local newspapers or regional business magazine publications for their periodic publications or social media to gain visibility as an expert in your field. Organizations such as SCORE may also write regularly for the local media and welcome guest authors who have subject matter expertise.

How to Develop Effective Messaging

From launching a compelling website and email marketing campaign, to posting engaging social media that drives sales, effective messaging is key to the success of an organization’s marketing initiatives.

What is messaging? Messaging is the content an organization uses to explain what they offer to various demographic groups or target markets, and that differentiates their offering from competitors. Without effective messaging that’s clear, concise, engaging and inspires action, an organization’s marketing efforts are not hitting the mark. Follow these simple steps for developing messaging that works.

#1: Make a bulleted list of your organization’s core offering. 

This is what your organization offers to your target market(s). As a service oriented nonprofit, for example, you might offer social services to lower income families, including direct financial assistance through loans and grants, mentoring and job coaching, and access to other social services resources. Be as specific as possible, listing the services in order of those you provide most to your constituents to those you provide least.

#2: Make a bulleted list of your target market(s). 

This is who your organization primarily markets your services to.  It might be other businesses, individual consumers, the elderly, families with children, or Millenials. List target audiences in order of priority with those your organization serves most to least frequently.

#3: Make a bulleted list of all of those qualities about your organization that are unique, differentiating and uncommon. 

This is one of the most important elements of developing effective messaging. Here, zero in on what makes your organization’s offering stand out from the competition. It might be your desirable location, or your dedicated membership committee that actively helps members connect in with other members. One area nonprofit differentiates itself as an ‘historic’ nonprofit through its affiliation with a local state park. This provides the organization with a large ‘campus’ of venues for their theatre productions that’s not visible from the street–a definite differentiator they should highlight in their messaging.

#4: Review the lists above, and highlight those items that best describe what your organization offers, and that’s unique and differentiating from competitors. 

The next step is to highlight those items in each of the lists you feel best describe your organization’s core offering and differentiate it from the competition. You’ll begin to see themes emerge as you build your core messaging.

#5: Draft clear, concise copy from the highlighted items, and use this as your core messaging. 

Finally, draft copy that weaves together items from the highlighted list as clearly, concisely and engagingly as possible. Less is more when it comes to copy. Review and make edits to ensure the content is as brief as possible, and reads well. This is your core messaging. Use this content consistently on your organization’s website, in social media and email marketing, and in all other marketing materials to reinforce your offering and inspire your target audiences to take some kind of action.

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Email Marketing Best Practices for Businesses and Nonprofits

There are few ways that are as effective and affordable to get the word out about your business or nonprofit than email marketing. If done right, email marketing provides a regular system of ‘touch points’ with your target audience that will engage them in our organization, and keep them coming back for more. Here are the latest in best practices for creating a winning email marketing campaign.

Make sure the information you’re providing is really useful. The best emails and other social media posts provide useful information to readers. It might not be about your organization, directly; however, it should be somewhat related, useful and of interest. As an example, a post was shared on LinkedIn about the best states for women entrepreneurs. As the author of the post was a female entrepreneur, the thought was that this would be relevant and useful to other women entrepreneurs. Using statistics and providing useful data about your target audience’s field is another way to add value through your email marketing that has a higher chance of being read.

Keep your content brief. People are busy today, very busy, and they don’t have time to digest anything that isn’t interesting to them personally, or essential for their professional success. If you’re providing short bits of interesting, useful content, along with info graphics, engaging charts, graphs, photos and other visuals your audience can read at a glance, they will be more likely to take a look. Email marketing gurus today advise somewhere in the range of 50 to 125 words maximum for each email—resulting in a 50% higher response rate than longer emails.

Have a specific or personalized subject line. Your email marketing campaign all begins with your subject line. You can have the most interesting information and graphics in your email, but if your readers aren’t opening your emails, your message becomes a moot point. Having a specific or personalized subject line gives readers a clearer idea of what to expect when they read your email. As an example, you might have a catchy title for a fundraiser like: Mingle With the Stars. However, according to email marketing experts, you’ll get higher click-throughs if your subject line reads instead: Mingle With Tom Brady!

Design your emails for mobile devices. Email open rates on mobile devices are on the rise. Today, approximately 55% of mobile users opening emails on their Smart phones and other mobile devices, per data driven email experts, WhatCounts. Because of this, it’s important to design and code your emails with mobile users in mind. Statistics show that 80% of mobile users will delete your emails that aren’t mobile optimized.

Integrate with social media. Sending an email that offers a promotion is a popular trend in email marketing that’s somewhat effective. However, it’s not as effective as social sharing. Just one subscriber sharing your email with their network can get your content out there to a lot more people—exponentially. Think about creating emails that are interesting enough for readers to share on their social networks. Think about emails you share yourself. It’s also important to plan and coordinate your organization’s social media campaign around your email marketing campaign. It’s a fine line between keeping a good flow of information going, and bombarding your target audience with too much content. That’s why coordinating your social and email marketing campaigns ensures a consistent, yet not overwhelming flow of useful information aimed at your target audience that will inspire them to take action.

Build a great email list. Having useful and engaging email content is the first step. Your organization also needs a great email distribution list so you know your emails are going to an audience that has largely expressed interest in what you offer. A qualified email list, i.e., built over time from emails voluntarily provided to your organization by prospective clients, members, donors and constituents is worth its weight in gold. 

Analyze Your Results. Finally, it’s important to analyze the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign so you can continue to improve your approach and conversion rate of interested readers to engaged participants at all levels of the organization. Sending emails over and over without knowing the effectiveness of your effort is like shooting arrows into the dark hoping to hit something.  As you try different email marketing techniques, be sure to track at the minimum these key metrics:

  • Delivery rates
  • Open rates
  • Click-to-delivery rates
  • Subscriber retention rates
  • Bounce rates
  • Longevity and depth of visit
  • Actions completed
  • Macro & micro conversions, and
  • Average value per email sent.

 

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Maximize Your Return From Conferences & Trade Shows

At one time or another, most of us have invested time and money attending trade shows and conferences for either an employer, or for our own organizations. Yet, a lot of potential business and momentum is often lost following these events. Here’s how to maximize your return from this important business development activity:

Plan Before You Go.

(At the beginning of the year)

  • Register for the conference early to ensure you have an optimal location (i.e., near beverage/snack/food areas, at the end of an aisle, at the corners of the trade show, or near competitors that are attracting those in your target market).
  • Determine your level of sponsorship/visibility at the conference (i.e., table/booth, hospitality suite, speaker at a workshop, etc.)
  • Determine who should represent the organization at the conference. (This may change, but it’s good to have a game plan about resource/staff allocation ahead of time).
  • Review table/booth and collateral materials, etc., needed for the conference and be sure that there are enough ordered in advance and in stock.
  • Plan any ‘give aways’ that will attract people to the table/booth or workshop. Popular items that participants tend to keep and use are: More expensive: USB drives, portable battery chargers, Bluetooth speakers, phone cases, screen cleaners, headphones, activity trackers. We would choose something that is relevant to RMC’s brand. Less expensive: Reusable bags, T-shirts, baseball caps, sunglasses, mugs, cups, water bottles, stress balls. (with a discreet logo)

(One to two months before)

  • Find out who is attending the conference/event. This registrant list is often available ahead of time.
  • Review the list of attenders and note whom you want to engage, and how (i.e., invitation to hospitality suite hosted by your organization, one-on-one breakfast, lunch, dinner, introduction to a partner, etc. Be as specific as possible in your strategy re: what you hope to get out of the meeting.). Prioritize the list to be sure your organization makes contact with top priority clients, prospects, referral sources, etc.
  • Review the list of competitors who will be attending, and note those booths that you want to visit. (This will be useful for your organization’s marketing/PR team.)
  • Promote your organization’s participation/attendance at the conference/event on LinkedIn, the company’s website, regular e-blasts, etc.
  • Choose a raffle item(s) at your organization’s table/booth and use this to collect email addresses that can be added to the database after the event.
  • Follow any hash tags for the event on social media to do some pre-show networking.

(One-two weeks before)

  • Discuss at your staff meeting who will be assigned to each client, prospect, and referral source attending the conference/event, and come up with a general strategy for what your organization plans to accomplish through each staff member at the conference/event.

Use Your Time Well While There.

  • Set up a charging station at your organization’s table/booth where visitors can charge their phones and other devices while talking to your team.
  • Collect business cards and note key topics discussed, and any anecdotal personal information shared on the back of the business card. Have a system to note highest priority contacts, i.e., ***=Top priority, **=Mid-Level Priority, *=Low Priority. Cards work well, because you can discreetly jot down notes as you’re talking or immediately following the conversation.
  • Host prospects, referral sources at breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings, and/or hospitality suite(s), and make detailed notes immediately following the get together about next steps with each contact. Be as specific as possible in your notes at the time as this will help enormously during follow up. It’s all in the details.
  • Collect any competitor literature, or other industry intel that you think will be helpful in understanding market trends, and how top competitors are positioning themselves.
  • Collect and comment on any ideas about give aways, booth displays, materials or approaches that you think are noteworthy. Share these with your marketing/PR team.
  • Attend competitors’ hospitality suites, workshops and other events if possible to ‘respectfully’ gather intel, and mingle with their clients and prospective clients.

Maintain Event Momentum Back at the Office.

  • Begin outreach by email to highest priority targets, first, then work your way down the list in order of priority. Do this within a few days of the conference/event.
  • Follow up any emails sent with a phone call to those who haven’t responded within a week of the email to move the contact along to a next step. In some cases, you might want to send a hardcopy mailing to someone who is difficult to reach as another touch point following the conference/event, or who wants more detailed information or a proposal.
  • Have an upcoming event your organization will be hosting or attending in mind so you can mention this to contacts/prospects and invite them to the event.
  • Add prospect emails in order of priority (noting the Tier level, and priority, i.e., high, medium, low) to the sales database, and enter in any information about each gathered at the conference/event. Note any next steps to be taken with a due date.
  • Enter in any intel about competitors of the marketplace gathered at the conference/event. Have a separate place in the sales database for this.
  • Discuss how effective you thought the conference/event was at your next  staff meeting and determine if it’s worthwhile going in the future. Share any ideas, intel learned at the conference/event that would be helpful to your organization’s conference strategy in the future. Share this info with the marketing/PR team to keep track of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Marketing Essentials for 2017

Here are the marketing essentials every nonprofit organization or business needs in 2017 to be a real player at the table.

Conduct a marketing audit. A lot can happen in a year, so it’s important to review your marketing approach at least annually to be sure that it’s still working to attract your target customers, and meet your organizational and revenue goals. Items in the audit should include: your messaging–how well you’re defining and communicating your offering and how this differs from your competitors, your website–is your message easily accessible to viewers quickly on their mobile devices, and does it inspire them to take some kind of action; your marketing materials–it might make sense to convert hardcopy marketing materials into digital ones that are less costly to produce and easier to share; your online profile–it’s essential to have your organization listed on at multiple directories online, such as Google Verify and Yelp. Not doing this can make your organization nearly invisible during searches; your social media approach–this includes a lot more today than just Facebook.

Revise your messaging so your offering is clear and differentiating. Your target customers and constituents need to clearly understand what your organizations offers, how it applies to their needs, how it differs from competitors, and inspires some kind of next step. Often this means simply adding a tagline to your logo, business card, email signature and website to define what your business does, making your telephone number more visible with a live link and including a traveling Contact Us box that moves with the viewer during website visits.

Have a mobile-optimized website that viewers can grasp within 7 to 10 seconds. Today, more than 60% of the population is said to use their hand-held devices to make buying decisions and execute online transactions. This means it’s essential that your website be mobile-optimized across all types of mobile devices. It’s also important that your website home page convey what you offer and how to take advantage of your services within about 7 to 10 seconds. “That’s the average length of time most viewers take nowadays to look at a website and decide to take action, or not,” per Dale Shadbegian, Principal of 118Group, a Cape-based web development and social media firm. “You have less time than ever these days to capture the attention of your visitors, before they move on to the competition. This means your website should load quickly, have large readable fonts, allow adequate white space for digesting content, and should be ‘mobile-optimized’ to load and be easily viewed across all mobile devices.”

Have a digital marketing and social media strategy. Having a digital marketing and social media strategy to strengthen your organization’s profile and visibility, and being active on social media will help to position your organization well online. “Becoming Google Verified is the best step toward getting on the virtual map,” offers Shadbegin. “Gaining this first level of Internet credibility and getting better exposure on search engines is essential today. In addition to Google Verify, there are approximately a dozen or more directories such as YELP that an organization should be listed on to ensure a strong online profile.” Outreach to new clients through social media is the next step for your organization to let prospective clients, members, constituents and sponsors know you’re ‘open and ready’ for business. Facebook and Instagram continue to be the hottest B2C (business to consumer) channels, while LinkedIn continues to remain the top B2B (business to business) platform. “It’s not enough these days to just post an event or photo occasionally on Facebook or Instagram. For those in the industry, we know there’s a lot of back office strategy, measurement and monitoring tools and trial and error research needed to be visible and effective on social media,” concludes Shadbegian.

Get your content out there. These days, content truly is king. As part of your messaging audit, be sure that the content you’re posting on your website blog, social media, in e-newsletters and email marketing emphasizes your core offering and what differentiates your organization. Choose four or five topics that solidify your offering and showcase your expertise, and post these monthly and concurrently on all of your marketing channels. Repetition of this core content is key to getting the attention of search engines, and building a strong brand.

 

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How Nonprofits Can Increase Revenue By Improving Member Benefits

Here are suggestions from several nonprofits that recently took a fresh look at their member benefits and are making improvements to differentiate their member offering.

Be Proactive. Noelle Pina, Executive Director of the Orleans Chamber of Commerce, has spent the past year reviewing the Chamber’s member benefits with an eye toward improving the overall member experience. “Our list of tangible member benefits has grown,“ says Pina, “and we’ve created a game plan for members to best use their chamber membership. This includes sending a welcome packet and scheduling one-on-one meetings. We’ve also tried to be proactive by adding new events, online tools and networking opportunities for our members.” In addition to these improvements, the Chamber recently added a new Mini Business Expo this year with several members reporting that they closed business as a result of their involvement. “A future goal of mine,” says Pina, “is to also add New Member Receptions to our calendar, and provide quarterly meetings for new members to learn about their membership and meet other new members.”

Leverage Your Brand Champions. Cultivating champions of their organization and brand is part of the work of every nonprofit and business. “There are champions of your brand who truly appreciate the hard work you do and will support your organization with time, talent or treasure,” says Pina. “Over the years, we’ve cultivated great relationships with our local supporters. In 2017, we plan to deepen our connection by telling the stories of selected member/champions through member spotlights and retail spotlights—leading to an attraction of similar businesses to the Chamber. In this way, we can also cultivate referrals from our current members by publicly thanking them for supporting us.”

Schedule a One-On-One Membership Review Meeting: The best way to engage new members, including other nonprofits and business owners is to have a face-to-face meeting with them annually to review their promotional goals for the organization. With this approach, you can more easily make the case that your organization’s member benefits (or sponsorships) can help members reach many of their promotional goals. This takes a bit of pre-planning before the meeting. However, it but can be very productive for strengthening the member relationship, addressing the member’s promotional goals, and paving the way for potential sponsorships down the road. In addition, as many organizations traditionally spend a significant amount of money on advertising that often yields minimal results, you’ll be helping members by providing a more tailored promotional program through their membership.

Launch a Dedicated Membership Committee. Cape Cod Young Professionals’ Executive Director, Anne Van Vleck, understands the importance of having a dedicated membership committee for their nonprofit. CCYP recently launched a new membership committee that attends the organization’s monthly and annual events, such as the popular, Back to Business Bash, to proactively cultivate new members, and answer membership questions for existing members. This year, CCYP also created an ‘at-a-glance’ membership and sponsorship rack card available at all events. The membership committee uses these to quickly engage potential members, and explain the benefits of membership that relate to their business or nonprofit.

Leverage Your Facility: Lauren Wolk, Assistant Executive Director of The Cultural Center of Cape Cod, is in a unique position to leverage her recently expanded facility that now includes a commercial kitchen, large meeting and performance space, and art, photography and recording studios. With these improvements, Wolk is able to offer creative opportunities for members to gain visibility for their organization and build employee teams. Per Wolk, this year The Cultural Center hosted several team-building events including paint and wine nights for company employees, a variety of business seminars and various client appreciation events. Banks and other Chambers of Commerce and networking groups such as BNI also use The Cultural Center to hold regular monthly meetings.

Think Like a Business Owner. Business owners are always looking for creative ways to gain visibility for their companies through a nonprofit’s network and member benefits. Owners are more likely to become a member of a nonprofit that understands what they’re looking for to promote their business. “Supporting a nonprofit that can help me rally their network of supporters to learn more about my business makes it easier for me to make the investment,” comments Dales Shadbegian, Principal of 118Group, a Cape-based web design and social media firm. Shadbegian says he looks for value in a business membership that includes at a minimum free or reduced passes at events, a link on the organization’s website and social media and e-newsletter mentions or spotlights. “If the organization also sponsors interesting events where I can bring a client, friend, child or close relative, the more likely I am to become a member, and be actively involved,’ concludes Shadbegian. “This way, I can balance a business activity with a more social one.”

 

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Giving Circles Create Community and Nonprofit Awareness

At this time of Thanksgiving and giving, many Cape nonprofits are reaching out to donors to encourage them to support the good work of their organizations.

One nonprofit that serves the Cape’s young professionals, Cape Cod Young Professionals, (CCYP) recently launched a Giving Circle so that CCYP members and sponsors could pool their donations and fund selected programs throughout the Cape that aid young professionals as they build lives on Cape Cod. These initiatives directly support CCYP’s mission.

CCYP’s take on Giving Circles is unique, however, as their giving circle actually benefits other nonprofits through direct grants, and creates awareness of the community work of these organizations. In 2016, CCYP’s Giving Circle gave back $10,000 during its first year to area nonprofits to fund specific initiatives that directly support CCYP’s mission. These included Cape Cod YMCA, We Can, Housing Assistance Corporation, Community Development Partnership and Cape Cod Community College. “People that become part of CCYP’s Giving Circle learn about many other nonprofits and their programs that may not have heard about these through each organization’s annual fundraising process,” commented Matt Cronin, CCYP Board Chair, and President of Boardwalk Business Group. “Over the past year, the creation of the CCYP Giving Circle has allowed us to collectively have a greater impact in our community. Through the donations of giving circle members, we’ve been able to invest in wonderful nonprofit programs within our community – from assisting women starting their own businesses, to supporting at risk youth to become the first in their families to attend to college, and from free fiscal health programs to online first-time homebuyer programs and the creation of a new community engagement speaker series.”

The impact of giving back to the community and Cape nonprofits has recently caught the attention of an anonymous donor to CCYP’s Giving Circle. CCYP received a $10,000 matching grant–facilitated by The Cape Cod Foundation–from an individual that was impressed by the impact the CCYP Giving Circle has already had in its first year. With this matching grant, CCYP is now actively soliciting donations from other individuals interested in funding causes that support young adults on Cape Cod. Giving Circle members typically commit to donating $10, $20 or $50 per month toward the fund. CCYP’s partnership with The Cape Cod Foundation has provided the necessary administrative infrastructure for CCYP’s Giving Circle, per Cronin. He emphasizes that utilizing a partner such as The Cape Cod Foundation that has the infrastructure in place is essential for CCYP to administer the giving circle.

Dara Gannon, Program Officer for The Cape Cod Foundation, commented about the Foundation’s role in helping CCYP’s giving circle efforts. “The Cape Cod Foundation is thrilled to partner with CCYP on the Giving Circle. This initiative supports CCYP’s mission by engaging members in the community. Through the giving circle process, we are creating informed citizens who are making funding decisions, collectively, on issues that affect them. By building permanent charitable resources and leveraging our community knowledge and grant making expertise, the CCYP Giving Circle is also supporting the Foundation’s mission. Together we are sustaining CCYP now and in the future, as well as growing the next generation of philanthropists and civic leaders on Cape Cod.”

 

 

 

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How One Nonprofit Leverages the Power of Giving Circles

Cape Cod Young Professionals (CCYP)–a nonprofit that recently celebrated its tenth year–was founded to help young professionals live, work and thrive year round on Cape Cod. Through the organization’s Shape the Cape initiative, CCYP offers a variety of programs including mentoring, networking, career and professional development, civic engagement, access to housing that’s affordable–and even scholarships—in response to young professionals’ requests for resources and support so they can build lives here on Cape Cod. Taking on such a groundbreaking mission requires revenue to fund the Shape the Cape initiative’s many programs. To to do this, CCYP launched a Giving Circle.

According to Matt Cronin, CCYP Board Chair and President of Boardwalk Business Group, a Giving Circle is a group of philanthropic individuals who donate money regularly throughout the year into a pool and decide where this money will be invested. The CCYP Giving Circle was launched so that CCYP members and sponsors could pool their donations and fund selected programs throughout the Cape that aid young professionals as they find good jobs, housing that’s affordable, become engaged in their communities, and build lives on Cape Cod. “The Giving Circle is a way to introduce young professionals to philanthropy in a way that’s impactful, but not too difficult on the budget,” offers CCYP Executive Director, Anne Van Vleck.

Per Cronin, the organization’s Giving Circle gave back $10,000 in 2016 during its first year to a host of area nonprofits to fund specific Shape the Cape initiatives. These included:

Career and Professional Development

  • $2,000 to the Cape Cod YMCA for their Teen Achievers Program
  • $2,000 to We Can to fund their GROW (Get Results From Others Wisdom)

Access to Housing That’s Affordable

  • $2,500 to the Housing Assistance Corporation to fund free courses in their Housing Assistance Corporation
  • $2,500 to Community Development Partnership to fund online First Time Homebuyer Education courses

Civic Engagement

  • $1,000 to Cape Cod Community College’s Support Community Engagement Speaker Series.

Cronin and Van Vleck are both members of CCYP’s Giving Circle, with a current initiative underway to add 90 new Giving Circle members in 90 days this fall. “Being part of a Giving Circle is a rewarding, fun, social group of philanthropic individuals that share the process of learning and investing together,” says Cronin enthusiastically. “People that become part of CCYP’s Giving Circle learn about many other nonprofits and their programs that may not have heard about these through each organization’s annual fundraising process. Also, the pooled donations make a much larger impact on the nonprofits receiving the grants than the typical individual donation could ($10-$20 per month). Finally, being part of a Giving Circle is a positive experience that tends to help members feel more empowered and engaged in community issues where they can actually enact change within their communities.” “Many hands make light the work,” adds Van Vleck. “As we grow and recruit friends, neighbors, co-workers and friends of friends to join CCYP’s Giving Circle, we have an even greater impact on our community…We’re on the ground floor of something truly exciting!”