Right on the Money: Tips for Online Fundraising

Crowd funding. Social media. “Donate now” buttons. Online shopping for a cause. The ways for nonprofits to raise money online have proliferated, and following the trends has paid off for some charities.

Two recent studies by The Chronicle of Philanthropy found that online donations rose 14 percent between 2011 and 2012, faster than any other type of giving.

“It’s a very efficient way to get money, especially in a world where we’re all into social networking and crossing borders to connect with all different kinds of people,” says Kim Patton, training coordinator at The Foundation Center, a Washington, DC, nonprofit that promotes philanthropy.

Still, online giving only accounts for 5 to 10 percent of total donations organizations receive, says Michael Nilsen, vice president of public affairs at the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

“Even as we talk about the growth and popularity of online giving,” he says, “people now still tend to give via mail and other means.”

Especially when it comes to gifts of $1,000 and above, more traditional fundraising vehicles, like direct mail and face-to-face giving, remain important because they allow organizations to build relationships with donors.

“Online, sometimes it’s one and done,” Patton says. “To be really effective you have to build relationships so people become a part of your annual giving campaign.”

Organizations are finding the most success when they combine an online component with more traditional routes of fundraising, Nilsen says. For instance, an organization may start with a direct mail letter and then follow up with an email before using social media to announce updates and key messages.

Thinking about turning to online fundraising?

Promote the online giving option. Use your website, email, social media and direct mail to direct people to your online giving site.

“The last thing you want to do is go online and think that magically people are going to show up because you're there,” Nilsen says.

Remember to register. If you’ve only solicited gifts locally, online giving might open you up to new donors in other states. Wherever you’re going to solicit donations, it’s important to register with whatever department regulates charitable organizations and solicitations. Usually you can simply register in the state where your organization is located and any states you expect donors to come from, says Patton. Not sure where to register? Patton suggests visiting the National Association of State Charitable Officials for a detailed listing of contacts in each state.

Tell a compelling story. Many potential online givers will only get to know you from your online presence. It’s important to use your website and social media channels to clearly and effectively present the organization’s work in a way that makes people want to give.

That shouldn’t be hard for organizations that serve youth and their families, Patton says. “Most of time, people want to give from the heart. And people care about youth.”

Consider mobile. In an article for Forbes earlier this year, Sean Milliken, director of nonprofit strategy for eBay, predicted a continuing rise in mobile fundraising. Organizations are not only creating mobile versions of their fundraising campaigns, they’re also using mobile devices to swipe credit cards on site to accept donations. Both can lower costs of traditional campaigns, he said. For more information, see what we wrote about mobile websites earlier this year.

Federal Guidance Helps Agencies Support Young Trafficking Survivors

Building on a pledge of continued U.S. leadership in the fight against human trafficking, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families has issued new guidance for runaway and homeless youth programs and child welfare agencies that work with trafficked youth.

“Guidance to States and Services on Addressing Human Trafficking of Children and Youth in the United States,” (PDF, 137KB) offers tips on identifying, engaging, serving and ultimately restoring victims of human trafficking. The document lays out what we know about trafficking and what services victims need. It’s a good place to start for youth and family services professionals who come in contact with trafficked young people.

Here are a few key recommendations:

  • Find screening and assessment tools with a trafficking lens. ACYF encourages agencies to use universal, valid and reliable instruments that focus on areas often impacted by trafficking—including trauma, social-emotional functioning and physical health. Agencies can adjust these tools to include signs of trafficking, like youth carrying large amounts of cash or talking about a controlling older boyfriend.
  • Adapt evidence-based interventions designed for vulnerable youth. To date, there is little research about what works to help trafficked young people. But agencies can adapt evidence-based practices like multisystemic therapy and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, two approaches that have been shown to improve mental health and the way people interact with others and the world around them.
  • Adjust programs to meet trafficked youths’ unique needs. According to advocates for trafficked youth, pimps and recruiters often hang out near homeless shelters. Programs should take steps to keep their facilities safe and to educate young people on ways they can say no if approached. Case managers should also familiarize themselves with programs that provide legal, medical and mental health services to young trafficking survivors.
  • Know about existing resources. According to the report, the Federal Bureau of Investigation operates 66 Child Exploitation Task Forces and working groups that can partner with youth-serving agencies. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center, run by Polaris Project, also maintains a state-by-state list of anti-trafficking resources.

The guidance concludes with a list of federal resources that assist young people wishing to escape trafficking, and the family and youth workers helping them through the process.

Read a blog post about human trafficking among children and youth written by George Sheldon, former acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time for anti-violence advocates to connect with each other, remember victims of domestic abuse and celebrate survivors.

The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Futures Without Violence, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Network to End Domestic Violence sponsor the monthlong commemoration.

If your program is committed to ending family and relationship violence, here are five ways to get involved this month:

  1. Work with local media to educate your community. The National Domestic Violence Awareness Month website features a variety of resources for working with the media. Learn how to generate media coverage and develop targeted messages that include compelling, up-to-date statistics.
  2. Help survivors prepare for media interviews.From the Front of the Room,” (PDF, 6MB) from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, helps survivors think through the pros and cons of sharing their stories publicly and steps they can take to do so safely.
  3. Encourage youth to get involved. For pointers on how you can get youth involved in preventing domestic violence, listen to representatives from two youth-led anti-violence programs funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The programs, I Am Courageous and Stand Up Speak Up Alaska, aim to decrease first-time experiences with domestic violence.
  4. Attend events in your area. Find nearby National Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities in the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence's event database.
  5. Learn about federal efforts to prevent domestic violence and support survivors.  The Family and Youth Services Bureau funds emergency shelters and a network of support organizations. Visit FYSB's Family Violence Prevention and Services Program page for more information.

This September, Help Families Recover from Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

Each September, National Recovery Month seeks to encourage the prevention and treatment of mental and substance use disorders while celebrating those already in recovery. Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the campaign also connects organizations to the latest recovery ideas and information so they can better serve individuals and families facing these issues.

For those of you working with young people and their families, here are four ways to help this September:

  1. Find resources for teens and families struggling with addiction. Browse the interactive Recovery Month toolkit to locate community events and service providers. You can also search the online resource section and filter results by one of nearly 40 topics, such as “youth” or “families.”

  2. Learn specific ways to help recovering young people. SAMHSA’s recent webcast “Young Adults in Recovery: Meeting the Needs of the ‘Millennial Generation’” features tips from a moderated panel of experts, including two young people who share how their own lives were impacted by mental health and substance use disorders. If you don’t have time to watch, read our key takeaways from the program.

    Another good resource is our recent NCFY Reports issue on understanding and treating substance abuse in young people. Articles include an introduction to evidence-based substance abuse treatment and tips for hiring staff with substance abuse issues.

  3. Read about the science behind addiction and recovery. To start, check out our review of journalist David Sheff’s “Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy.” In the book, Sheff attempts to make sense of the research behind addiction after watching his teenage son’s struggle with methamphetamine and homelessness.

  4. Help family members understand and cope. Connect the loved ones of those struggling with substance use to family-friendly information compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIDA also runs a youth-friendly website that provides age-appropriate facts about drug use, mental health and the inner workings of the teen brain.

Many of SAMHA’s National Recovery Month resources are also available in Spanish.

Research Roundup: How Can Family and Youth Workers Get More Satisfaction From Their Jobs?

Although they may not know what to call it, family and youth workers often experience "secondary trauma" when they work with clients who come from traumatic environments. Secondary trauma can manifest itself in many ways, from staff members' feelings of anger and sadness over a client’s situation to their frustration when they don't have the tools to do their jobs effectively.

We know very little about what prevents and reduces these common experiences in the field of social services. Here, we look at one seminal article and two recent ones that explore the impact of secondary trauma in the social work profession and introduce frameworks for addressing the issue at the individual level and beyond.

A Broad Mindset of Self-Care

According to the authors of "The Social Psychology of Compassion," a seminal article published in 2007 in Clinical Social Work Journal, self-care is just one of several factors needed to promote compassion satisfaction, or feelings of fulfillment from helping others. The authors introduce a model for compassion satisfaction, writing that resources also make a difference, including physical, intellectual and social assets. And family and youth workers who feel positive, grateful and upbeat have been shown to use more flexible and creative approaches when solving problems.

Looking past self-care to the bigger issue of compassion satisfaction, the authors say, builds on most social workers’ desire to help others. They also point to research showing that people with high degrees of positivity were more likely to be viewed as “flourishing” in school or the workplace compared to their more negative counterparts.  

Caring for the Personal and Professional Self

While self-care is only a piece of the puzzle, it's a crucial one. "A Self-care Framework for Social Workers: Building a Strong Foundation for Practice," published in May in the journal Families in Society, explores self-care as a way for social workers to support their own physical, psychological, social, leisure and spiritual well-being. Self-care strategies generally focus on activities the person finds enjoyable and rejuvenating, anything from playing football to talking to a friend. This personalized approach, the authors write, makes it difficult for researchers to identify a common definition or consistently measure self-care’s impact.

The article also looks at the way individuals can practice self-care in a professional setting. Organizations can support employees by asking them to develop their own self-care plans and encouraging strategies like mindful time management and self-advocacy.

Looking Beyond Self

You may have noticed that you are more likely to feel positive about your work if the organizational culture at your workplace promotes a supportive, healing environment for everyone. The Sanctuary model, a trauma-informed intervention developed in the early 1980s, is one evidence-informed approach that seeks to create that kind of atmosphere. Proponents of the model bring a structured approach to creating an organizational culture that allows clients and staff to build healing relationships. The model also requires organizations to commit to a core value system, which includes tenets like open communication and nonviolence.

"The Sanctuary Model: Theoretical Framework," published this year in Families in Society,  describes the theoretical framework on which the Sanctuary model is based. It uses a socioecological logical model to incorporate activities and outcomes at the individual, interpersonal, organizational and community levels. While the conditions for youth workers to practice healthy self-care in and out of work operate at each of these levels, the researchers emphasize individual or group meetings where staff can discuss experiences with secondary trauma and self-care and update their safety plans. Taking this approach, they write, creates a structured, healthy environment in which service providers can promote resilience for clients and one another. 

Family and youth workers interested in learning more about signs of secondary trauma and what they can do to reduce it, can read the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's self-care overview (PDF, 21KB).

Read the Articles

"A Self-care Framework for Social Workers: Building a Strong Foundation for Practice" (abstract). Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, Vol. 94, No. 2 (May 2013).

"The Social Psychology of Compassion" (abstract). Clinical Social Work Journal, Vol. 35 (June 2007).

"The Sanctuary Model: Theoretical Framework" (abstract). Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, Vol. 94, No. 2 (May 2013).

Mental Health, Substance Abuse and the Millennial Generation: What Do Youth Need to Promote Recovery?

If you've read our most recent issue of NCFY Reports, "Beyond Addiction: Understanding and Treating Substance Abuse in Young People," you might be interested in other resources on the topic. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration's latest webcast, ”Young Adults in Recovery: Meeting the Needs of the ‘Millennial Generation',” features a moderated panel of four experts, including two young people who share how their own lives were impacted by mental health and substance use disorders. We watched the recorded webcast to find some of the key themes that may be of interest to family and youth workers. Here are some highlights:

1. Bring recovery into the conversation. Youth are entering treatment young and younger, but many do not understand that treatment is followed by an ongoing process of recovery. Schools can help bridge the gap, says Ben Chin, co-founder of an advocacy organization for recovery policy, by incorporating developmentally appropriate services for prevention, treatment and recovery into the academic setting.

2. Think beyond mental illness. Not all young people face mental illness, but everyone experiences mental health, according to Alison Malmon, founder of student empowerment organization Active Minds, Inc. Talking to children about their feelings at an early age and teaching them about basic coping strategies, she says, can lead to more open conversations during adolescence.

3. Don’t underestimate peer support. The panelists emphasized peer support as a way for young people to explore their independence while knowing they can fall back on their social network. Peer support is especially important for young people who need social outlets free of drugs and alcohol and for youth whose family members are battling similar concerns.

4. Find the balance between structure and flexibility. Young people in recovery need to feel supported even if they relapse or miss appointments, says Vannasang Souksavath, ladder project coordinator at the Institute for Health & Recovery in Cambridge, MA. But they also crave structure through daily routines and stable adult relationships, even if they don’t always recognize their desire for consistency.

Watch the webcast, or listen to the audio version. In September, SAMHSA will host Recovery Month 2013 to promote the idea that recovery from mental and substance use disorders is possible.

Right on the Money: Six Tips for Fundraising With Your Board

Cyndi Court, then a fundraiser with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, told us a few years ago that enthusiastic board members “are some of the best partners for fundraising staff. They have peer-to-peer relations with potential donors, they’re critical in opening up doors and introducing people to the organization, they’re terrific in recruiting other people as volunteers and they’re key to making solicitations.”

Over the years, we’ve featured a number of articles on enlisting board members in the fundraising efforts of youth and family services organizations. Here, we bring together our top five tips:

  1. Ask the board to make fundraising a priority. Start by winning over one or two influential board members then initiate a discussion with the others about the organization’s needs and the role board members could play, says David Sternberg, a fundraising consultant and author of “Fearless Fundraising for Nonprofit Boards.”
  2. Recruit board members committed to philanthropy. How do you do that? Sternberg suggests asking current board members to list their personal connections to potential sources of philanthropy, whether individuals, foundations or corporations. He also recommends meeting with the boards and CEOs of other nonprofits and asking for their help pinpointing potential board members. Perusing the board and donor lists in the annual reports of other charities is also a good start. Set expectations for new and returning board members and ensure that everyone understands their roles. Create a board member job description that includes both giving and getting financial contributions.
  3. Start a fundraising committee. Sternberg recommends that every board have one. Part of the committee’s role is to ensure that the entire board has philanthropic assignments, such as helping to identify and approach prospective donors.
  4. Train board members in the basics of fundraising and support their efforts. Board members should receive training on such topics as how to ask for gifts, how to identify potential donors, how to give an elevator pitch and how to be comfortable in the role of fundraiser. Finally, ensure that they have the staff assistance they need. For instance, help them prepare for meetings with potential donors, brief them about prospects’ interests and backgrounds, and accompany them on visits, if they request it. (For information about where to find training, contact your state’s nonprofit association.)
  5. Task the board with creating a fundraising strategy. It’s the board’s responsibility to ensure your organization has the money, supplies, people and other resources it needs to fulfill its mission, says Justin Pollock, former managing director of programs at the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations. For that reason, board members ideally should take the lead in identifying the charity’s needs and deciding how to meet them.
  6. Tap the board’s contacts. Talk to your board and find out if they have any connections with foundation or corporate funders, even if the funder’s guidelines don’t match the type of program you seek to fund. “You may discover hidden funding sources or a chance to speak with a foundation officer,” says Helen Brown, a fundraising consultant in Massachusetts.


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