In a Nutshell: Fundraising is the lifeblood of nonprofits. However, many are stretched so thin that dedicating staff resources to donor management can take away from achieving mission statement goals. Network for Good is a software company that provides tools and educational resources to small and medium-sized nonprofits, allowing them to better manage their donor relationships and fundraising campaigns. The platform and services provided by Network for Good allow organizations to meet the challenges of effectively communicating with donors, making use of proven tools and techniques, and doing more with existing resources.
Rising homelessness continues to be a major problem facing cities both large and small in the US, according to a report issued by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
In Chicago, which has the seventh largest homeless population in the country, one organization is working to secure housing for its most vulnerable citizens. Since 2007, Renaissance Social Services, Inc. (RSSI) has provided substance abuse prevention, housing, and support services to at-risk members of the community living on Chicago’s streets.
Throughout its 20-year history, RSSI had relied primarily on government funding and grants to support its efforts, but, in 2016, the organization hired Shailushi Ritchie to develop its individual and corporate gifts program. The problem, as Ritchie soon discovered, was that the tools available for this task were outdated and inefficient.
She needed a system that was simple, and would allow RSSI’s small fundraising team to make the most of its efforts. And that’s just what she found in Network for Good, a software platform that helps small and medium-sized nonprofits manage their donor relationships and fundraising campaigns more effectively.
By providing tools and support to help nonprofits become more efficient in their fundraising efforts, Network for Good allows these organizations to focus more resources on delivering services to those who need it most.
With its easy-to-use donor management software, Network for Good is changing the way nonprofit organizations retain existing donors and engage with new ones. Using the tools and best practices learned from Network for Good, Ritchie was able to grow her donations from individual donors by more than 10 times what they had raised in the previous year.
We recently spoke with Jonathan Gibbs, VP of Product, and Lisa Bonanno, Head of Marketing at Network for Good, who told us more about how the company improves fundraising success.
“We provide our nonprofit clients with a set of donor-facing tools that help them to better engage, with a donor management system on the backend,” Gibbs said. “The system is geared toward the daily tasks of a nonprofit and allows them to manage their donor database more easily and effectively.”
Meeting the Challenges Faced by Nonprofits
The goal of any nonprofit organization is to deliver as many services or as much aid as it can to the groups and individuals it is charged with benefitting. Fundraising, while a necessity, is a secondary function for most small and medium-sized organizations, and nonprofits face fundraising challenges that might be unknown to anyone not in the field.
Some of the challenges include insufficient staffing to meet all of their fundraising needs, donor database and management systems that are often homegrown and inefficient, a high rate of staff turnover, and communications tools that are not automated or integrated with existing systems. These are the same challenges Network for Good helps organizations overcome.
“One of the things this sector suffers from is the high turnover of both staff and of donors,” Gibbs said. “With a rate of retention around 40%, it’s a big challenge to go out and recruit 60% new donors every year. What we’re trying to do at NFG is to elevate the donor retention rate.
“Most of these organizations do not have significant staff dedicated to fundraising, and so they need to get into the system, send emails, figure out who they need to communicate with, and do this efficiently so they can get back to the things they’re working on. The goal is to reduce the time and increase the overall effectiveness of what they’re doing.”
Another more hands-on service offered by Network for Good is what it calls a Personal Fundraising Coach. This is a seasoned fundraising consultant, usually a Certified Fundraising Expert, who has substantial experience in the individual fundraising space. This Personal Fundraising Coach works with a nonprofit to help plan campaigns using Network for Good’s software tools. The result is often larger and more frequent donations in less time.
Donor Communication is Key to Nonprofit Success
When it comes to charity fundraising, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to engaging with donors. First-time donors should be approached differently than donors who give regularly. Also, communication with donors who give large dollar amounts is often different than with those who give smaller amounts. Older demographic groups also have different communication styles and needs than younger generations. And the differences go on and on.
As a result, nonprofits must find ways to adjust their communication styles to match a wide range of donors. Network for Good recognizes this challenge and helps nonprofits tailor the way they communicate, and even the method of communication they use.
“Our donor management system is similar to a customer relationship management (CRM) system in the for-profit space,” Gibbs said. “It includes the ability for them to manage the list of donors and prospective donors in their database, but also to be able to do some really easy and smart targeting of their donors. It’s one of the ways we help them to communicate more effectively.
“We make it easy for organizations to do that kind of segmentation, and to be able to create lists of those groups for sending communication directly out of our system via emails, letters, bulk text messages, and even via social media.”
Social Networking is Driving Donor Growth
Social media, in particular, has become a key tool in any fundraiser’s toolkit, thanks to the ease with which these platforms allow the sharing of ideas and recommendations. Network for Good is well aware of the power of this technology and has incorporated it into the donor management system for nonprofits.
“I think what’s interesting is that, with the new platforms that make it extremely easy for people to ask others in their network to give to a nonprofit they feel passionate about, these nonprofits are now getting a bunch of new donors they haven’t seen before,” Bonanno said. “It’s now the job of the nonprofit to create that relationship with the donor so that the donors are now becoming the fundraisers.”
In this way, Network for Good is helping nonprofit organizations round out their fundraising efforts by adding a new source for potential donations.
From helping nonprofits better manage their donor databases and growing donor retention rates to providing better methods of communication and easier ways to donate, Network for Good is having a major impact on these organizations. And when charitable groups are more effective in raising money, more time and effort can be spent on doing what really counts — helping those in need of their services.