As part of our continuing series on donor perspectives, Dean Amir Pasic, Dr. Shariq Siddiqui, and Dilnaz Waraich sat down for a conversation about the importance of trust and vulnerability in meaningful collaboration.
By Megan Bennett
There is no better way to get an organization’s message out in front of donors than meeting them where they are.
Americans spend more than two hours a day on social media each and every day and the number of users on social platforms continues to climb, making it impossible to ignore social media for fundraising.
Here are some simple things to keep in mind when your organization is looking to use social media to help reach your fundraising goals.
- Decide where you should have a presence
It’s easy to fall into a trap of believing that you need to be on multiple platforms to capture your donors. Before you sign up for TikTok, take a look at where the majority of your donors are spending their time.
Each of the platforms requires a different strategy and you can quickly stretch your organization thin if you have to create multiple types of content, write specifically for the platforms, and resize images to fit the ideal sizes for posts. Find the one (or maybe two) perfect platforms and commit. You may be surprised and learn that TikTok is it!
- Create a plan
To set up your fundraising campaign, it’s important to create a plan with your team so you can keep all the moving parts organized. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Set your fundraising goal
- Create a campaign theme and title
- Choose a hashtag to share and use
- Set your campaign length and pick your start and end dates
- Create a content calendar and schedule
- Build a campaign-specific landing page with a donation form unique to the campaign for tracking donations
- Assign your team roles during the campaign. Who’s monitoring and responding to comments and questions on social media?
- Set up a posting tool with social listening options to follow the hashtags, your organization’s name, and keywords that donors may use so you can track and measure how things are going
- Find partners and influencers
Give your campaign a head start by identifying and reaching out to partner organizations that have a good-sized base of followers and would be inspired by your campaign. If your organization is on the smaller side and you don’t have a large audience, it can feel like an uphill battle to get your campaign noticed.
Putting a lot of work into a campaign only to see it get zero traction is pretty crushing but social media influencers and other organizations you team up with can help. Identify people or companies within your network who have a larger following and reach out to them to see if they would be willing to promote your campaign.
- Use the platform’s built-in tools
If Facebook is your platform of choice, they have a number of fundraising tools already built in. These tools can make sharing a campaign much easier and your followers will be able to do some of the heavy lifting by creating their own peer-to-peer campaigns. But, because of privacy concerns, you often won’t be able to get a full picture of who you’ve reached and who your donors are.
Still, it’s a very powerful way to raise money and get the word out about your organization. Say thank you along the way to people that donate since you likely won’t be able to do much follow up (a little more on that below).
Facebook also offers an Event tool that allows organizations and businesses to showcase upcoming events. You should plan to get a little creative and use these. When people commit to “going to” or “maybe attending” an event, Facebook sees them as showing interest and any future updates you post in the event will get a free-pass from the Facebook algorithm.
This is a great way to stay top-of-mind with people as your campaign runs and share organizational news, stories, fundraising milestones, and details on how donations will be used.
- Tell your story
Social media is all about storytelling, and telling stories can really make your fundraising campaign stand out. Use photos and videos to show your nonprofit in action so your audience can see how their donations achieve your organization’s mission.
Don’t be afraid of video for your storytelling. Organic reach for Facebook videos is more than 100 greater than a static image. You also shouldn’t worry too much about production quality. An appealing, honest and genuine iPhone video can bring in as much or more as a costly, highly produced video.
- Celebrate milestones and thank your donors
Staying on top of thanking participants as your campaign runs can result in great conversations and ongoing relationships with new, casual donors that gave simply because a friend suggested they should. On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram you can follow a hashtag to new donors and thank them directly on their tweet or post.
For more on this, listen to Megan on The First Day podcast from The Fund Raising School.
Megan Bennett is the founder and CEO of Socially Acceptable, an Indianapolis-based social media marketing firm. She has a diverse background in nonprofit and for-profit marketing with experience in a wide range of disciplines including copywriting, advertising and donor relations.
In 2013 Megan opened Socially Acceptable to help small businesses and nonprofit organizations tell their stories through social media. Her company also assists clients by creating exciting digital campaigns that are designed to engage customers, donors and supporters.
By The Patterson Foundation
Michael Zimmerman, a graduate of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI’s M.A. in Philanthropic Studies program, is joining The Patterson Foundation as its newest Fellow.
Through The Patterson Foundation’s Fellows Program, Zimmerman will contribute his knowledge of effective philanthropy to the work of diverse initiatives strengthening people, organizations, and communities while accelerating his development as a leader in the space.
The Patterson Foundation’s Fellows Program is a year-long career-building experience for future leaders to learn innovative philanthropic principles and share their expertise. The Fellows Program is open to graduates of the M.A. in Philanthropic Studies program at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the world’s first school dedicated solely to the study and teaching of philanthropy.
“Each Fellow we have the privilege of engaging discovers and builds muscles that not only strengthen The Patterson Foundation’s impact, but also prepares them for heightened effectiveness in their professional journey,” said Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation. “We are delighted to invest in Michael and look forward to the many ways he will make a difference.”
The Fellows Program is part of The Patterson Foundation’s Advancing Philanthropic Leadership initiative, which aspires to share the knowledge and insights gained through The Patterson Foundation’s work with the next generation of community, corporate, and private foundation leaders. This initiative includes a series of creative efforts developed in collaboration with the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to strengthen the capabilities of emerging philanthropic leaders.
“Communities, society, the country and the world face many challenges today,” said Abby Rolland, current TPF Fellow. “We cannot hope to address and hopefully solve these issues if we don’t work collaboratively together. I’m positive that my year at The Patterson Foundation has made me all the more prepared to partner with others to embrace and catalyze the change that we all want to see.”
Zimmerman, the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, is driven by morals and values which seek to pursue a world that never repeats the horrors of World War II and upholds freedom, justice, and equality for all. He began his career in the for-profit sector and soon after realized his passion for philanthropy and doing good for the world, which inspired his transition to the nonprofit sector eight years ago.
“We all play a role in making the world around us a better place for ourselves and all members of our society, leaving no one behind,” said Zimmerman, who brings a robust understanding of innovative philanthropy earned through his extensive academic and professional career.
While completing his M.A. remotely, Zimmerman served as senior development executive for American Friends of the Hebrew University in New York City. In this role, he was responsible for fundraising efforts engaging individuals, foundations, corporations and grantmaking institutions. Recently, he played an integral role in “Titans of Global Health,” a virtual awards celebration that honored Dr. Anthony Fauci and the co-founders of Regeneron while raising more than $1 million.
Zimmerman is also a fluent Spanish speaker, having studied a semester abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina as an undergraduate student and worked for a company on the canal in Panama for three years.
“The Patterson Foundation’s Fellows Program will give me a unique—and once in a lifetime—opportunity to broaden my experience in the philanthropic sector in ways that will give me space to explore, ask questions and make discoveries, impacting the way in which I continue to pursue my career in philanthropy,” said Zimmerman.
“Through my TPF experience, I hope to grow, be inspired, inspire others around me and discover where and how I will apply both my professional and academic experiences, to further engage and align my passions with my work in philanthropy.”
For more than three decades, Indiana University and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy have prepared students and practitioners to become thoughtful, skillful leaders who inspire change. Students enrolled in its M.A. in Philanthropic Studies degree program learn through a combination of in-depth research, study of the history, culture, and values of philanthropy, and hands-on professional practice in areas such as fundraising, volunteering, and civil society.
Zimmerman will begin working with The Patterson Foundation in Sarasota, Florida this fall. He will be joining M.A. in Philanthropic Studies program graduate Connor LaGrange, who was previously announced as an incoming TPF Fellow, as the second member of the 2021-2022 Fellows cohort, the third cohort since the Fellows Program’s creation.
Future graduates of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s M.A. in Philanthropic Studies program are eligible to apply for future cohorts of the Fellows Program.
“Michael and Connor bring a great deal of energy, positivity and experience to all that they do. They are wonderful collaborators and thoughtful partners, and I have no doubt they will make meaningful impact as the next cohort of fellows,” said Pamela Clark, director of student services and admissions for the school.
“The Patterson Foundation Fellows Program offers our graduates a special chance to address many of today’s most pressing issues while continuously learning as part of an innovative foundation team. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the Foundation on this and other initiatives that help advance leadership in philanthropy.”
The nonprofit sector is bigger than charity. Social movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo continue to shape America and reflect the awesome nature of the social sector.
By Tifany R. Boyles, Red Philanthropy
Philanthropy plays a powerful and expansive role in society. Unfortunately, the definition of philanthropy has become too limited.
When you think of it, perhaps you think of giving or fundraising. You might think of nonprofit organizations, “do-gooders” and acts of charity. These ideas should not be minimized as they are invaluable. While philanthropy includes these cornerstones, it is much more inclusive and formidable.
Philanthropy comprises of all actions that do not benefit yourself or your family but create a positive social impact for others. It is the vehicle in which we express our values and shape society. Philanthropy is not sweet. It is a wildfire.
In the seminal book Understanding Philanthropy, Robert Payton and Michael Moody define philanthropy as “voluntary action for the public good.” These leading nonprofit academics and practitioners understood how broad the idea is; and how influential. To better understand this definition, this 2019 article from Lilly Family School of Philanthropy author Abby Rolland explores the definition of “public good” in greater detail.
In this series, we will look at aspects of philanthropy that expand beyond our immediate association of charitable giving and unpack the less-considered-but-just-as-mighty forces for good.
Civil society is a powerhouse for change
Civil society is one powerful pillar of the nonprofit sector in that it consists of volunteers mobilizing as activists to create positive change for the community. To dig into the definition of “civil society,” this article, written in Sociology Discussion by Shelly Shaw, aptly captures its purpose, evolution, and potential. Shaw wrote:
“Importantly, civil society has long been playing a pivotal role in influencing the state’s policy on social welfare, articulating views on current issues, serving as the voice of constructive debate, providing a forum for the exchange of new ideas and information, initiating social movements by way of creating new norms, identities, institutions. Civil society is, together with the state and the market, one of the three spheres that interface in the making of democratic societies.”
The social justice awakening in this country via Black Lives Matter (BLM), #MeToo, and like organizations reflects the invaluable role civil society plays in America. Prior to these movements, other mobilizations have helped shape this country, as well. And, the impetus and infrastructure of philanthropy have magnified the impact of these movements.
The suffragettes, advancements in mental healthcare, civil rights, environmental conservation, and gender equality are all civil society movements born out of philanthropy. The very backbone of these movements was “voluntary action for the public good.”
BLM was born out of injustice. The movement did not originate in the nonprofit sector; rather it was developed out of anger and fear of the inadequacies of our judicial and penal systems. The co-founders, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, created #BlackLivesMatter in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s alleged murderer, George Zimmerman.
However, the mobilizing of voices, the marches, the time, testimony, and talent devoted to raising awareness was fostered by both grassroots advocates and amplified by institutional nonprofits such as the NAACP and ACLU. The movement has been fueled by its donor community via the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.
In 2020, the foundation reported having raised more than $90 million to support BLM. The foundation is leveraging these funds to ensure that BLM is known for more than protests; rather it is mobilizing the initial intention for social change to achieve long-lasting equity. The foundation states, “We want to uplift Black joy and liberation, not just Black death. We want to see Black communities thriving, not just surviving.”
Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, created a place for women to safely share their stories of abuse in order to support survivors of sexual violence. This began simply as a place to remove the gagging fear of speaking out so women would feel empowered to tell their story of pain and trauma so commonly experienced but quelled.
By definition, this is philanthropy. Burke gave her time, talent, and testimony, all of which are valuable resources and gifts, to create positive social change for society and women everywhere. This forum turned into a historic movement for awareness building and social action.
In summary, one woman’s desire to serve others and influence society was translated into philanthropic action in which she created a free forum to empower marginalized voices with the goal to ease suffering and shape behaviors.
Burke’s values, when properly mechanized within civil society, have created a global shift in awareness and have translated into change. This change was not just experienced in social circles and culture. The effect has soaked into the private sector via examples such as Time’s Up and the legal system via criminal cases such as the watershed Weinstein prosecution, among other influences.
Jeannie Sager, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, reflects on how civil society and philanthropy coexist to create formidable change. She shares that “demonstrations for racial justice have drawn increased attention to chronic underfunding for women and girls of color. A 2020 study by the Ms. Foundation for Women found that grants to women and girls of color totaled $356 million—about 0.5 percent of the $66.9 billion contributed by foundations in 2017.
“To address the lack of resources dedicated to this population, a group of Black women leaders created the Black Girl Freedom Fund in 2020. Led by Grantmakers for Girls of Color and with collaborators, including Burke, the campaign seeks to direct $1 billion over the next 10 years to helping Black women and girls succeed.”
It is clear that civil society and philanthropy are interwoven. These movements serve as a reminder that philanthropy, or “voluntary action for the public good” can result in shaping society for generations to come.
Of course, not all civil society movements are philanthropic; meaning, not all of them serve the public good. One ignominious example of this is the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Unfortunately, philanthropy and civil society are like anything powerful: There will always be a risk that infrastructure intended for positive change can be manipulated to create harm and pain instead.
In 2021, we have seen movements used for both positive and negative outcomes. That doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying to create communities to help others. It just means we proceed pragmatically, knowing how ideas can be hijacked if not steeped in an awareness of its powerful potential.
Remember the inclusive definition of philanthropy
Philanthropy is a means to create prevailing, social change. Ideas and agendas are born, tested, and developed here. Movements such as this bring new voices and decision-makers to the table. Sector leaders need to remember this as we invite new generations of socially conscious leaders to engage.
By Payton and Moody’s definition, this work is broader than giving and more inclusive than “do-gooders.” It is a space filled with tools and resources to design democracy and shape humanity.
As society continues to evolve, it is important to note that philanthropy and the movements it has fueled are intimately connected. It is a disservice to acquiesce to this notion that philanthropy is for the affluent or a means to simply serve the needy. It is more than a feeling of generosity. It is a mechanism to express our values and beliefs during our lifetime.
As the next generation is introduced to the social sector, keep an expansive mind to the many ways in which they can engage and contribute to positive social change. By understanding the full scope of philanthropy, we will be able to sculpt a society emboldened with the tools and knowledge to serve one another.
Tifany Boyles is the director, global philanthropy at Street Business School (SBS) and owns a philanthropic consulting company, Red Philanthropy. Tifany leads philanthropic partnerships, thought leadership, and stakeholder engagement for SBS as they scale their entrepreneur training and self-efficacy program through a social franchise model to ignite the potential in one million women globally. She has previously worked with corporate foundations, such as Western Union Foundation, and multi-lateral NGOs, such as UNICEF, to foster an environment in which women and children can achieve equality and overcome injustice. Tifany holds a bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in philanthropic studies, concentrating on impact investing for gender equity, from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI. She is also certified in “Women’s International Health and Human Rights” through Stanford’s Center on Social Innovation and in “Women in Innovation” from Yale’s School of Management.
By David P. King, Ph.D., Karen Lake Buttrey Director
In the most challenging of years, Americans persevered in their propensity to give. With the release of the annual Giving USA 2021 report, our research colleagues within the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found that total charitable giving increased 5.1 percent in 2020.
What do these numbers mean for the variety of donors and nonprofits that experienced this past year quite differently? How does the story of charitable giving fit with the particular circumstances of congregations and religious nonprofits? And finally, what might these comprehensive 2020 findings tell us about the present and future of faith-based giving?
2020 giving headlines
In focusing on the donor side of the giving equation, a few trends emerge. With the economic shock of the effects of COVID-19 as well as the uncertainty around markets and reopening plans, giving by corporations saw the biggest decline (-6.1 percent) over the last year. Yet, giving to bequests and foundations grew significantly (10.3 percent and 17 percent respectively).
Many foundations responded to the pandemic by going beyond their regular grantmaking to meet the immediate needs in communities to provide food, shelter, and healthcare. Others responded to increased public advocacy sparked in the wake of George Floyd’s murder with calls for change within philanthropy to invest in Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)-led nonprofits and their communities.
Additionally, the largest foundations are being encouraged to take the crises of 2020 as momentum to contribute even more than the minimum five percent payout requirement to address the pressing issues of equity, justice, and community change.
Giving by individuals grew by 2.2 percent. While a relatively modest growth, this past year highlighted the growing fortunes and philanthropic investments of several mega-donors in contrast to the regular broad-based giving of other Americans.
As billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott illustrated through the headlines garnered through her $6 billion in donations to nonprofits in 2020 (and another $2.7 billion already in 2021), the wealth gap is growing both in society and philanthropy even as some philanthropists are seeking ways to respond.
What do these trends mean for the nonprofits that rely on charitable giving? Several of the subsectors seeing the largest growth over the past year were those on the frontlines of the economic and health crises. Giving to human services grew 9.7 percent while donations to public-society benefit organizations increased by 15.7 percent.
These organizations faced increased needs last year. They served as the frontline agencies responding to hunger, basic needs, and social services. Agencies like United Ways, Jewish federations, and community development corporations were also well positioned as established clearinghouses able to distribute funds quickly through local networks serving communities.
Subsectors that struggled—like the arts/culture/humanities (-7.5 percent) and health (-3 percent) —may have declined because of missed fundraising opportunities dependent on in-person events. Most museums and concert halls were closed. The galas, races, and raffles that often raise major support for specific diseases or causes also did not happen or were moved online.
Beyond the organizations that were responding to the specific crises of the last year, organizations with deeply committed ongoing donors and ingrained fundraising practices that could be moved online seemed to do better.
Trends in religious giving
For those of us focused on religious giving trends in particular, the same patterns from previous years generally continue.
Religious giving (narrowly defined as predominantly giving to congregations, denominations, missionary societies, and religious media) grew one percent this past year, but compared to the overall 5 percent growth across the charitable sector, religious giving continues to lose market share.
While still the largest subsector at 28 percent of total giving, the overall percentage has continued to decline rather drastically over the past few decades.
Yet, considering the circumstances in such a unique year, if you predicted religious giving would remain basically flat, I imagine most religious leaders would be happy with those results. Alongside the shuttering of almost all in-person services for most of last year, congregations had to find new avenues for the majority of giving that occurred through these in-person services.
While Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and federal government stimulus payments may have helped some people and organizations, faith-based organizations did have to adapt their methods of fundraising too. Lake Institute on Faith & Giving’s early COVID-19 Congregational Study found that 84 percent of congregations had the ability to accept contributions online before or right after the pandemic began.
Quick adaptation to new forms of asking for and receiving support became essential for most religious organizations, and many demonstrated remarkable resiliency in responding. At the same time, the challenges of the pandemic highlighted even greater differences between religious organizations.
The contrast was not simply due to differences across size, age, or ease with technology, but also the openness of the organization to respond to change. When faced with disruption to traditional practices, some organizations met the challenge, developed new capacities, and established new habits and practices.
Under a variety of stresses, other organizations did not have the capacity for creativity, resisted change, or simply hoped for the best. Often these contrasting approaches differentiated organizations that found success or faced diminished capacities over this past year.
On top of these disruptions from the pandemic, religious giving also faced ongoing challenges from declining trends in affiliation, attendance, and membership. Gallup reported that for the first time, in 2020 less than half of Americans reported membership in a congregation. If religious identity and activity are leading indicators of giving to both religion and secular causes, these trends remain concerning.
Headlines focused on Christian nationalism and polarization may lead some to give out of their particular political passions, but overall, it leads many others to disassociate from engaging with traditional religious organizations. Fewer and fewer Americans identify their religious identity as significant in influencing their civic engagement.
Over half of all Americans admit that neither religion nor spirituality influences their civic engagement, although spirituality remains a much more significant influence than religion. As the frameworks around giving, volunteering, and engaging our communities are changing, faith-based organizations must be ready to respond in new ways.
What do these changes mean for religious organizations?
As we enter a new stage of the pandemic in the second half of 2021, Lake Institute recently surveyed our Insights readers to look ahead to the key challenges over the next year. Through our initial analysis of the responses received, it appears that, in contrast to last year, many organizations are embracing an openness to prioritizing future-oriented goals.
If last year’s first response was simply pivoting and survival, this year the emphasis has turned toward a capacity for strategic thinking and planning, grounded in mission and purpose, but strongly oriented toward serving needs in the community.
Yet, at the same time, those organizations with energy for strategic planning are also realistic. They are ready to focus on repurposing existing resources to produce a more streamlined and sustainable future. To be clear, this is not a resignation of religious organizations to shrink and become a smaller, weaker version of themselves, but rather seizing an opportunity to reimagine their mission in a new context.
If religious organizations may be destined for a less resource-rich environment, what is the future that we are funding? As donors and faith-based organizations contend with this challenge, the questions of money, meaning, and mission are central.
Lake Institute is eager to walk alongside organizations through this challenge as we face these most pressing questions in the days ahead.