Who Cares?

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Your donors do NOT care about . . .

  •  The number of partner agencies that receive funding from your United Way
  •  The number of programs funded by your United Way
  •  The number of hours spent by volunteers to determine your allocations
  •  Your number of Facebook likes or Twitter followers
  •  The number of priority areas of investment or targeted goals at your United Way
  •  How many of your workplace campaigns had 100% participation
  •  Your total number of donors and the average amount contributed by your donors
  •  How much donors designated to other nonprofit organizations
  •  How many people used your volunteer connection website
  •  The number of people in your leadership giving society and how much they contributed
  •  How much money was invested in each of your priority areas of investment
  •  How much money was raised at your social fundraising event
  •  The amounts contributed by your top 20 workplace campaigns
  •  How many people are on your board of directors
  •  Your campaign goal

. . . because none of these things tell a donor why they should give to your United Way.

Your donors care about . . .

1)  What issue does your United Way address?

2)  What is your United Way doing to impact your issue?

3)  What results has your United Way achieved to impact your issue?

. . . because when your donors know these three things, they will know why they should contribute to your United Way. Learn more about the power of one issue and one bold goal to attract donors by becoming issue-focused on our website here.

Successful United Ways tell donors what they want and need to know.

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Make It Awesome! A Day Dedicated to Fundraising

Is your United Way involved in a day dedicated to raising money for your organization?

More United Ways each year are participating in #GivingTuesday, Red Nose Day, or a citywide or statewide fundraising day, like Give to the Max Day, in which United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (Chisholm, MN) is involved. However, while more United Ways are getting involved in some sort of fundraising day, most United Ways are not communicating about a specific issue the funds being raised will address, or how the donations will make a difference on a specific issue in the community.

Let’s take a look at the fundraising day in which United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is participating:

Today is Give to the Max Day in Minnesota, which is an annual 24-hour event in which Minnesotans are encouraged to donate to causes and organizations in Minnesota on the GiveMN Web site. Donors were able to schedule their Give to the Max Day donations beginning on November 1st, but the cut-off for donating is the end of the day today, November 17th.

There are prizes and leaderboards for Give to the Max Day on the GiveMN Web site. The organizations that raise the most funds appear on the leaderboards – Overall Leaderboard, Medium Nonprofits Leaderboard, Small Nonprofits Leaderboard, and Colleges & Universities Leaderboard – and the top five organizations on each leaderboard receive prize grants. "Golden Tickets" of $1,000 each and other prizes are awarded throughout the day, as well as two "Super-Sized Golden Tickets" of $10,000 each.

United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is doing a good job of communicating about their direct services, such as Buddy Backpacks, Imagination Library, Bright Beginnings, Good360, Smiles Across Minnesota, and United for Veterans. They are also doing a good job of communicating results that will be achieved if money is donated to each of these programs.

If you are involved in a fundraising day like United Way of Northeastern Minnesota, we would encourage you to communicate about your specific issue(s), the actions you are taking to address your issue(s) (for example: your direct services), and the results you are achieving in the community.

Check out these three ideas to take a fundraising day to the next level and Make It Awesome!

How to Take a Fundraising Day and Make It Awesome!

  1. Only communicate about one or two issues. Many United Ways communicate about multiple issues within categories, such as education, income, and health. If you are not yet issue-focused, we would encourage you to focus on communicating about one or two issues your United Way is addressing in the community. You do not want to overwhelm your community with multiple issues you are addressing and you want to be able to communicate a concise message that people will remember, especially if you are competing for dollars with other local nonprofits. When people are searching for a specific cause/issue on these Web sites, you want them to find your United Way and understand what your United Way does if they visit your fundraising page.
  2. Do not talk about categories or processes. You have limited space and time to get your message across, and you do not want to waste it talking about multiple categories or processes. Potential donors want to know about the issue(s) your United Way is focused on addressing in the community, and categories are not issues. Potential donors do not care about processes or how you do things at your United Way – they are concerned about how their donation will make an impact on a specific issue.
  3. Communicate clear actions and results. Take a look at United Way of Northeastern Minnesota’s "Find a Cause" page here. They are doing a great job of communicating about their direct services, which are the actions they are taking, as well as the results that will be achieved if they receive donations toward those programs/causes (If you click on each program/cause on the "Find a Cause" page, it opens up a new Web page with additional information about United Way of Northeastern Minnesota’s actions and results). We would encourage you to communicate actions and results like United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is doing, but only the actions and results for the one or two issue(s) you decide to highlight.

By following these three simple ideas, you will take your involvement in a fundraising day and Make It Awesome!

If you would like us to review something your United Way is doing and Make It Awesome! send me an e-mail at kasey@perspectives4uw.com. As your Issue-Focused Consultant, I will share great tips and ideas with you about how to enhance what you are doing, and will provide you with the information your donors and community want to know, based on our research and experience in working with United Ways.

 

Doing It Right! United Way of Central Maryland (Baltimore, Maryland)

One of the challenges facing every United Way is how to effectively communicate their community impact. Donors want to know how their contribution is making a difference and all too often United Ways overwhelm donors by trying to explain every last thing United Way does in the community. One United Way that has figured out how to explain their community impact in a simple, one-page progress report is United Way of Central Maryland (Baltimore, Maryland).

On their Health Programs: Access to Healthy Food Initiative progress report, United Way of Central Maryland includes their goal of increasing access to healthy food by at least 1.5 million pounds each year, how they are addressing the issue of food insecurity, their progress to date, facts and statistics about food insecurity in central Maryland, and a story about someone facing food insecurity.

What are they doing right?

First, their progress report covers the three things every donor wants to know: what issue United Way is addressing, what actions United Way is taking to address the issue, and what results have been achieved by United Way. Our research with donors has found over and over again that donors want to know the issue, actions, and results, and United Way of Central Maryland includes all three. It is clear that United Way of Central Maryland is tackling the issue of food insecurity from the headline at the top of the page: “Changing the odds for food insecure families.” They share their definition of food insecurity as “the lack of available nutritious and safe food. They also share how food insecurity affects the ability to learn, slows cognitive development and increases susceptibility to illness.

Second, the actions they are taking to address the issue of food insecurity are clearly listed, including: grow more food, improve distribution, and increase access and affordability. Each of these three actions are described in detail on the back of the report and United Way of Central Maryland explains what they are doing in each area. United Way of Central Maryland also makes it clear that their efforts are a collaboration with a variety of community organizations, both funded and unfunded.

Third, the results are clear: “Increased access to healthy food in central Maryland by 8.3 million pounds/6.9 million meals within the first 39 months of the initiative.” In addition to pounds of food and meals, they also include information about food drives and Thanksgiving meals. Finally, there is a story about Shauna’s family and how she can now feed her three children nutritious foods as a result of United Way of Central Maryland’s Access to Healthy Food Initiative.

Communicating community impact does not need to be long and complicated. A simple progress report like this one from United Way of Central Maryland is more than adequate to inform donors. By providing basic information about food insecurity and the results of donors’ contributions, United Way of Central Maryland demonstrates an effective way for communicating community impact. The next time you are looking to prepare a progress report on your community impact, take a look at how United Way of Central Maryland has communicated their community impact addressing the issue of food insecurity. United Way of Central Maryland, you are Doing It Right!

 

Doing It Right! United Way of Wells County (Bluffton, IN)

Most United Ways struggle to communicate what they do in a clear and simple manner because they do many things. However, United Ways that adopt an issue focus have a much easier time communicating what they do because they are focused on a single issue or a limited number of issues. One United Way we have helped transition to an issue focus through our Direction-Setting Process is United Way of Wells County (Bluffton, IN). Let’s take a look at how United Way of Wells County has clearly communicated their issue of children entering kindergarten ready to learn and their bold goal of “90% of all children ready for Kindergarten by 2020!”

What are they doing right?

First, the home page of United Way of Wells County makes it clear they are focused on the issue of children entering kindergarten ready to learn. You can see “Early Childhood Initiative” as a menu choice, and there is a link to their 90by20 Web site dedicated to their issue. Their goal of “90% of all children ready to enter kindergarten by 2020” makes it clear what United Way of Wells County is trying to accomplish. There is also a button for their Imagination Library, which parents can click to enroll their child. Equally important is what is not found on their home page – you do not see a campaign goal or a thermometer, and you do not see categories, such as education, income, and health.

Second, United Way of Wells County provides essential information about the issue of children entering kindergarten, with an entire Web site dedicated to their issue. The Web site includes information on why children entering kindergarten is an important issue in Wells County, how United Way of Wells County selected this issue, and that currently only 59% of Wells County children enter kindergarten ready to learn. The Web site outlines the actions United Way of Wells County is taking to address the issue of children entering kindergarten ready to learn. For example, United Way of Wells County provides preschool scholarships, Imagination Library, Kindergarten Countdown, parent learning and activity guides, a Getting Ready for Kindergarten calendar, and Reading Days at preschools. With this Web site, donors and the community will understand the issue of children entering kindergarten ready to learn, and what United Way of Wells County is doing to address the issue of kindergarten ready to learn.

Third, United Way of Wells County shows how people can get involved and help with the issue of children entering kindergarten ready to learn. Their 90by20 Web site provides information and resources for parents of young children divided with menu choices for infants and toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarten. For people who do not have young children, their Web site has a menu tab titled “How Can I Help.” This page suggests how people can volunteer to address children entering kindergarten ready to learn by reading to a child or volunteering at a preschool, child care or school. People can also donate to address the issue.

If your United Way struggles to get your donors and community to understand what you do, consider what United Way of Wells County has done by adopting the issue of children entering kindergarten ready to learn. An issue focus will make it easier for your United Way to clearly and simply communicate your work to your donors and community. Their “Children Ready to Learn” Web site provides donors and the community opportunities to help address their issue of children entering kindergarten ready to learn by volunteering or donating. United Way of Wells County made the transition to an issue focus using our Direction-Setting Process and has done an exceptional job communicating what donors want and need to know – their issue, how they are addressing the issue, and their results. United Way of Wells County, you are Doing It Right!

 

Make It Awesome! Pledge Forms

Does your pledge form include the information your donors want to know?

At Perspectives, we have conducted research for over 25 years for United Ways across the U.S. In our research, we have found that donors want to know three things: 1) the issue(s) your United Way is addressing, 2) the actions you are taking to address the issue(s), and 3) the results you are achieving in your community. We refer to these three things as I-A-R, or Issue(s), Actions, and Results.

Let’s take a look at the pledge form from one of our clients and good friends - United Way of Mercer County (Hermitage, PA). They recently transitioned to focusing on the issue of poverty and “Lifting Families Out of Poverty” in their community.

On United Way of Mercer County’s pledge form, you can clearly see they are focused on the issue of poverty - Lifting Families Out of Poverty. They do a great job of communicating actions they are taking within education, income, and health to address the issue of poverty, and they include results on their pledge form. They have done an excellent job providing far more information than most United Ways list on their pledge form! Here are three ideas that will take this pledge form even further and Make It Awesome!

How to Take This Pledge Form and Make It Awesome!

  1. Share statistics about the issue of poverty. Donors want to know the significance of the issue you are addressing in your community. Share statistics that indicate the prevalence of the issue, so donors know why they need to donate to address the issue.
  2. Talk about one specific action in more detail. Rather than sharing information about programs and services you are offering within the categories of education, income, and health, focus on sharing information about one program or service your United Way provides to address the issue in your community. Explain to donors how your United Way is making a difference by providing this program or service in your community.
  3. Communicate results related to addressing the issue of poverty. It is much more powerful to share that your United Way has helped move a specific number of families out of poverty and to tell a story about a family that was helped, than it is to share how much money was donated to support programs within education, income, and health. Tell donors about the impact their contributions have on families in your community.

These three simple ideas will take this already excellent pledge form and Make It Awesome!

If you would like us to review something your United Way is doing and Make It Awesome! send me an e-mail at kasey@perspectives4uw.com. As your marketing consultant, I will share great tips and ideas with you about how to enhance what you are doing, and will provide you with the information your donors and community want to know, based on our research and experience in working with United Ways.