Monthly Archives: September 2016

Motivate Your Members

wib-blog-membermotivationYour organization has worked hard to build a trustworthy brand that attracts new members and it’s paid off. Now that you have a large membership, how do you keep them actively engaged?

To answer this question, you must first look at why your members have chosen to join your organization in the first place. Polling new members as part of the registration process will help you to best asses why they have selected to become a part of your organization and what it is they are looking for.

Whatever their reason — they are now part of your membership and you want to keep them actively engaged.

Training Opportunities

Approximately 50% of those joining a new professional organization do so during the first 5 years in the industry. For them, you want to offer online learning opportunities and professional development classes. This will keep your newer members engaged but you’ll want to gear opportunities to your seasoned members as well. They are looking for more advanced training that includes updates on new developments and trends in the industry. A balanced calendar of opportunities will keep all of your members happily engaged.


Whether they are new to the workforce or been in the industry for decades, well planned events will garner a rise in engagement from your membership. Annual conferences are a must. They should offer multiple tracks so there are sessions available for everyone regardless of where they are in their career.

Offering smaller, local events that put some emphasis on social in addition to professional growth will keep members active year round. This is a great opportunity to have your legacy members lead a roundtable or host newer ones at a happy hour.


Ultimately, members look to professional organizations to provide them with industry specific information. Being the first to share new trends or developments will boost appeal of your organization to your member base. Whitepapers, regular newsletters (digital and paper) along with a strong web and social media presence are all ways to share updates with your membership. Remember to keep the content fresh and memorable.


Provide ample opportunity for members to share their thoughts and give you feedback. Solicit their thoughts after each event you hold — not just your large, annual conference. Once you have the feedback be sure to act on it — or at the very least, acknowledge it.  Members will happily take the time to provide you feedback as long as they know it isn’t falling upon deaf ears.

How does your organization keep members engaged?


Gear Up For Your Year End Fundraising

wib-blog-yearendfundraisingWith summer a distant memory and the arrival of Fall, it is time to turn the focus on year end fundraising campaigns. Sure, you have some time, but why wait? After all, there is no better time than the present!

Most non-profit organizations report more than one-third of their annual donations are received in December. Maybe it’s because donors are making up for having not contributed all year, are in the holiday spirit or recently received a raise.  Whatever the reason, it’s time to put a plan in place (and then execute it) to capitalize on their generosity!

Ready to get started? Here’s how!


Gather your team and determine what your goal is for the campaign. You want it to be specific. Determine the amount of money you hope to raise and a specific plan to use it. Once you have that figured out, you can develop a theme and plan your messaging around it.  Choose a project and theme that will resonate with would-be donors. Keep in mind you are one of MANY non-profit organizations preparing a year end fundraising campaign and having a clear theme that will be remembered will be an asset to your organization and bottom line.

Introduce Your Theme

A little tease if you will. Get people excited about your theme using a multi channel approach. Through direct mail, email, online newsletters and social media, introduce your theme. DO NOT INCLUDE AN ASK as part of this messaging. You just want to get the word out about your project to would-be donors. Be creative and use brightly colored graphics and catchy taglines. You want them to remember you among the many other organizations vying for their attention (and checkbook)!


As December draws closer, it is time to put clear calls to action in your messaging. Don’t stray from your theme, continue sharing your project goals. It is perfectly acceptable, and highly recommended, that you use every available channel to get your ask out. After all, it is a busy time of the year and people tend to forget. Putting it on your social pages, sending a piece of direct mail, perhaps a brightly colored postcard and a reminder email are not overkill. You won’t get what you don’t ask for.

Follow-Up Request

Plan to send one last appeal request mid-December. Focus the message on this ask about the donor and not solely on your organization. Let them know you appreciate how busy they are and how great they will feel knowing they have made a difference.

Post December

You made it! Start the New Year off with a closing message. Let donors (including past donors who didn’t contribute this time) know the final outcome of your campaign. Did you reach your goal? What impact is the donation they made having on the cause? Pictures, stories and quotes will be appreciated. Donors will remember this and their one-time, end of year donation could turn into a larger gift or recurring contribution. Those that didn’t get the opportunity to donate, may feel compelled to open their checkbooks and donate now.

As you enter the end of year fundraising season, be persistent and consistent. This will increase the success of your campaign with increased donations, larger gifts and more engaged donors.

The Art of the Thank You

wib-blog-theartthankyouTwo little words can create a bond between your non-profit organization and your donors. Those two words are THANK and YOU. We shared our “Interview with an Etiquette Coach” on why these words were so important on a previous post, so you know the value in expressing your gratitude to your donors.

Now that you KNOW these words are important, how do you express them? Thanking donors really is an art form. Take careful consideration as to not embarrass a donor while publicly recognizing them. Your efforts should not be costly. After all, you don’t want to spend the contributions received.

There are plenty of creative and cost effective ways to let your donors know you appreciate them. We’re sharing 8 of them with you today.

Immediate Email

A quick, simply written email sent within 48 hours of receiving a donation expressing your appreciation is by far the easiest method of saying “Thank you.” This is also a great opportunity to provide them with their tax receipt.

Handwritten Note

Yep, we’re suggesting you go old school. A handwritten note of thanks is meaningful and will undeniably make your donor feel valued. We’re not advocating that EVERY donor be sent one. Perhaps send to major donors, on a donor’s anniversary or after multiple donations are received.

The note should be signed by a notable member of your organization. Consider having each board member write one or two at the start of every meeting.

Social Media Shout-Out

If your organization is like most nonprofits, you are active on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and sometimes struggle for fresh content. Why not take the opportunity to thank you donors socially? Not only does it thank the donors, but it shows your following that you appreciate those that support your cause. You never know, this could inspire new donors!

Public Display

Sharing the names of donors publicly is a creative way to express your gratitude to your donors and emphasizes good stewardship. A donor wall will keep the names of your contributors on display continually and mark their association to a cause they believe in.  While there is some cost involved in doing this, the benefits outweigh it. Having a wall in a public location can inspire visitors to make donations of their own.

Be sure to get the approval of your donor before ordering their plaque. Some donors are happy to open their checkbooks but may prefer to do so anonymously.

Annual Report

You’re putting it together anyway, so why not compile  a list of donors and share it as part of your Annual Report?  Your annual report is sent to large number of people, including your donors, meaning that it will be viewed by many eyes including your donors. A public acknowledgement of appreciation like this is a great way to say thank you at relatively no cost.

Exclusive Event

Show your appreciation by inviting local donors to an exclusive event. We mentioned earlier the importance of not overspending on appreciation efforts, so keep it simple. Hosting a happy hour or a family picnic are simple, inexpensive ways to show your appreciation.  During the event take advantage of your captive audience and have a board member convey their appreciation to the group for their continued support.


Gather your board members, staff and volunteers and start dialing. Delight donors with a personal thank you. This is a cost free way to express your gratitude as your only investment is time.

This activity has an added benefit — it engages your team and every marketer knows that a happy team member is your best source of advertisement.


Capture the impact donations have made on your cause on film. Share that picture with your donors so that they can see first hand what their donation is being used for. Donors have plenty of organizations to choose from when they open their wallet. They chose you because their values aligned with your cause. Showing them exactly how you are using the funds will keep them engaged and potentially turn a one-time donor into a repeat one.

A Thank You goes a long way to building a lasting relationship with your donor. It not only conveys your appreciation, but keeps them engaged and your organization on their radar. Get creative and have fun with it.

Have suggestions for creative ways to say “Thank You” to donors? Share them with us and our readers!


10 Common Digital Newsletter Mistakes

Email newsletters are commonplace among corporations and non-profit organizations. After all, they are inexpensive to produce and are an easy way to stay in touch with those that support your cause.WIB Blog DigitalNewsletterMistakes

As popular as they are, there are common mistakes made all too often. We’ll take a look at the top 10 and share fixes to help improve the effectiveness of your next newsletter.

1. Not Getting User Permission

The number 1 way to guarantee a low open is to add people to your mail list without their permission.  Simply because you have their information, does not mean they want to be added to your mail list.

What to do: Use a verified opt-in. This will not only give you the permission you need but also ensure your are building a list of humans rather than bots. Using an opt-in will make list growth slower, but it isn’t a race. You will have better results with quality rather than quantity.

2. Lack of List Segmentation

Sure, the larger the list, the more opens you are bound to get. However, those opens aren’t all likely your target audience. If your list includes donors, volunteers and influencers and your messaging is geared toward volunteers, donors and influencers will be disinterested and could stop opening future messages.

What to do: Take the time to segment your list and send out audience specific content. Yes, this may take a bit of time up front, but the end result will be worth it.

3. Using a Generic “From” Address

Readers want to hear from a person or an organization, not from! They are smart enough to know that it’s likely an unmonitored address anyway.
What to do: Create a from name that includes a real person’s name as well the name of your organization. Your readers will appreciate it!

4. A Boring Subject Line

The subject line is equivalent to a first impression…make it a good one!

What to do: Peak the curiosity of your readers with a tease of the content they will find when they open your newsletter and clearly identify what THEY will get from the content.

We shared more tips on crafting a “Stand Out Subject Line” in a previous post.

5. Bland Content

Who wants to read bland content? Not your readers, that’s for sure!  

What to do: Provide exciting stories and clear calls to action. Keeping the readers engaged from start to finish should be your ultimate goal.

6. Too Wordy

If your newsletter is nothing but words – no matter how great they are – readers will become dis-engaged and delete it before they are even close to finished reading it.

What to do: Break your comments up into easy to read paragraphs and toss in a bright image, too!

7. Talk too much about your organization

Obviously, you want to talk about your organization and share news and updates, but readers really aren’t interested in statistics.

What to do: Clearly explain to readers what is in it for them. Tug on their heart strings a bit and get them to become more emotionally invested in what your organization is doing.

8. Having Typos

It’s exciting after spending time crafting the newsletter to hit the “SEND” button, but slow down! Typos will make readers questions your credibility.

What to do: Technology is great — take advantage of it. Whatever program you are using, it is sure to have spell and grammar check capabilities.

9. Not Mobile Friendly

Nearly ½ of all emails are read on a mobile device. If it doesn’t look right on the reader’s screen or is difficult to read it is likely to get deleted or forgotten about in a busy inbox.

What to do: Most mail programs offer an option to optimize your newsletter to be mobile friendly. Why not take advantage of it?

10. Leaving the Reader Wondering “Now What?”

You’ve shared progress and a great story or two with your readers but do they clearly know what they should do next?

What to do: Including a clear call to action (or two) will keep them involved. A simple “Click Here” or “Read This” will keep readers engaged.  The more involved you keep them, the more moved they will be to do more for your organization.

Take a look at your past newsletters and see how many of these mistakes you’re guilty of making — don’t beat yourself up too badly, they are very common! Instead, focus your energy on not making them in your next one!