We Hope to See You Soon at the AFP International Fundraising Conference!

Look who made the Must See at AFP list, published by Guidestar: Abila’s own VP of Marketing, Tad Druart!

If you’re headed to the AFP International Fundraising Conference in Baltimore this coming weekend, you’ll want to attend Tad’s session, Sunday, March 29 from 3 to 3:45 p.m. During his talk, “What Really Matters? 2015 Donor Engagement Study – Aligning Nonprofit Strategy with Donor Preferences,” Tad will preview the results from a recent Abila survey fielded to both fundraising professionals and nonprofit supporters.

The intent of the research was to look at engagement through a new lens with a comparative study between how donors engage with organizations and how nonprofits think donors engage with their organizations. Attendees will learn how to align their organization’s engagement strategy with what really matters to donors.

And, on Monday, March 30 at 8:30 a.m., Abila’s Rich Dietz and Brady Keller will join Ellen Tucker, Director of Development at My Healing Place, to host a session titled, “Treat Every Donor Like a Major Donor.” The trio will discuss why you should use “moves management” with your online donors, and what data points you should focus on to increase your engagement. Additionally, they’ll help you develop specific strategies and tactics you can implement immediately to treat all of your donors like major donors.

ban_abila_landingpage_afpThen join the rest of the Abila team, and your peers at our New Heights Happy Hour, Monday at 6 p.m. at The Center Club. An easy walk from the convention center, this private 15th floor venue offers breathtaking panoramic views of Inner Harbor and city skyline.

Finally, just stop by and say hi at Booth #1011. Get your pic taken in our photo booth, grab some Abila swag, and earn a chance to win an iPad mini 3, $200 Southwest Airline gift card, and more!

Get the full scoop and register to attend our happy hour at Abila.com/AFP.

Elevate What Matters- Introducing Abila Elevate

facebook_coverWe’re very excited to announce the launch of Abila Elevate™! Elevate is a smart, easy-to-use, cloud-based fundraising solution that allows fundraisers to focus on what matters most and  treat every donor like a major donor.

With current donor management systems, recent industry research shows that organizations lose 61 percent of donors each year and more than $25 billion in donations are at risk of going to another organization. While organizations have mountains of data in their databases, 74 percent of organizations aren’t able to use that data to make strategic decisions. With Elevate, organizations can solve these problems.

Abila Elevate Solves Today’s Fundraising Challenges

  • One-Click Access to the Information Fundraisers Need. A clean, straightforward interface delivers quick access to the insights and data fundraisers need to make informed decisions in record time. Customize dashboards easily with drag-and-drop functionality that allows fundraisers to create a snapshot of upcoming tasks, track campaign performance, and more.
  • Know Donors, Stay Relevant and Responsive.  Abila Elevate allows organizations to engage with donors when, where and how they want. Track preferences and activity to ensure communications are relevant. Elevate’s Circles™ feature provides at-a-glance visibility into a donor’s relationships and communities. Elevate is the first donor management system that provides the capability to understand engagement levels with donor scoring unique to his or her activity with the organization.
  • Minimize Missed Connections and Lost Dollars. The software enables fundraisers to better understand giving cycles and donor behavior to capture the maximum gifts at key intervals. Elevate empowers fundraisers to identify trends in timing and frequency to better time appeals, ensuring fundraisers connect with donors with the right message at the right time.
  • Powerful Reporting for Total Visibility. From the executive director to the Board, Abila Elevate makes it easy to showcase a fundraiser’s success. Quickly surface key data points and generate meaningful summaries without needing to rely on multiple spreadsheets or time-consuming analysis.
  • Access your Data Anytime, Anywhere. Abila Elevate was built from the ground up with direction from today’s fundraising professionals to meet the modern needs of nonprofits and their donors—including those accessing their data from the road, a local coffee shop, or wherever the day takes them. Abila’s SaaS, cloud-based solution includes secure, worry-free storage of an organization’s important donor data.
  • Support When You Need It. Abila provides support via phone or email. Peer communities and online knowledgebase provides on-demand access to best practices, discussion of new ideas, and the ability to share and learn from peers in the industry.

Learn more about how your organization can spend more time reaching and engaging donors and prospects: www.abila.com/elevate.

Take a Grant Professional to Lunch Today!

grant catToday is Grant Professionals Appreciation Day – the grand finale of International Grant Professionals Week, established by the Grant Professionals Association (GPA).

The day celebrates the more than 1.5 million professionals around the world who seek, implement, and award approximately $700 billion in grant funding each year.

If that doesn’t deserve a lunch out, I don’t know what does! If you’re still not convinced, allow me to remind you of all the reasons why you should treat the grant professional in your life to a little something special today …

Your Grant Professional

… Completes Your Grant Application Packages
This alone deserves steak and lobster, particularly when you consider that each grantor has different application procedures, forms, and requirements. Packages need to be well-prepared, thoughtfully planned, and concisely packaged. Many require cover letters and other supporting documentation, and this doesn’t even include the sometimes 70-plus application form itself, that likely requires a summary; introduction of your organization; a problem (or need) statement; project objectives; project design; project evaluation; future funding; and budget.

… Has to Be an Expert on All of Your Programs
To develop a grant application package that is accurate, complete, and compelling, your grant professional has to know the finite details of the programs for which you’re seeking funding. In fact, he or she probably knows more about your programs than most executives in your organization.

… Creates and Maintains Cost Allocation Plans
These formalized documents detail how costs will be allocated by your organization. They’re tedious and time-consuming, but absolutely necessary because they help track what’s being funded, and by whom.

… Spends Hours in Allocation Spreadsheets
Not fun. But, absolutely vital, because these spreadsheets track program expenses such as payroll, benefits, and general overhead to ensure all items are charged out correctly to the grantor.

… Develops and Maintains Grant Budgets
The budget is an integral piece of the application package, but it’s not a one-and-done. Since it’s also part of the contract, the budget has to be constantly monitored and adjusted to ensure grant dollars are spent appropriately.

… Invests a Huge Amount of Time Reporting to Grantors
The relationship between you and the grantor doesn’t end with receipt of the grant. On the contrary, it just begins. Grantors require periodic reporting to ensure funding is being spent according to the contractual agreement. Funders also may use these reports to inform future grant making and justify/strengthen the support from their own stakeholders.

… Handles Internal Reporting
Keeping executives, the board, project manager, and finance department apprised of budget happenings – like, is the project over budget, under budget; what are projections versus actuals – also falls within the purview of your grant professional’s role.

… Ensures Compliance
With grant awards come compliance obligations. Some grant contracts require you to meet really specific (read: quirky) requirements, for example, filling out your timesheets with black, not blue, ink pens. So this task, alone (forget about the previous seven duties outlined in this post) is enough to warrant a special day.

So, on behalf of all of us at Abila, Happy Grant Professionals Appreciation Day!

Discover how Abila can help your grant professional increase funding, stay organized, and measure success with Abila Grant Management.

New Faces and Old Friends at 15NTC

NTC editedDid you get the chance to attend 15NTC in Austin earlier this month? During opening remarks at NTEN’s annual Nonprofit Technology Conference, CEO Amy Sample Ward asked all “first-time NTCers” to stand up. We were very surprised to see the number of folks that stood … seemed like it was half of the room.

On the other hand, it felt like we knew so many people from previous years. This can only mean good things for NTEN, as it signifies the organization is not only healthy, but growing at a good rate. It also speaks volumes for the nonprofit sector as a whole, as the role of technology grows in importance.

Here are a few takeaways from this year’s event:

Every nonprofit professional is trying to do more with less. Reinforcements aren’t always around the corner, so the only way to survive and thrive is to use smarter tools to help boost productivity.

Attendees were zeroing in on effective measurement and key performance indicators (KPIs): their importance, how to establish them, and what to do with them.

There was big interest in and number of sessions around conversion rate optimization, analytics, A/B testing, etc. In the past, it was mostly the larger organizations talking about it. This year, however, we noticed a wider range of nonprofits – both big and small – focused on optimization, as well as more sessions related to the topic.

It was a packed house for a session on Google Analytics. The interesting thing here was the quality of questions that were asked during Q&A. The questions were focused on more sophisticated strategies and uses of the more advanced features like Goals, Events, Segments, and In-Page Analytics – all good signs of organizations moving towards conversion.

There is an industry-wide push toward personalization – of emails, Web pages, etc. – to improve donor experiences. More nonprofit professionals are using donor demographics to personalize the message. For example, every time you communicate with sustainers (monthly donors), be sure to let them know that you *know* they are a sustainer. Every message you send should be acknowledging that and thanking them. If you treat them like a more casual prospect or just an annual donor, you risk offending them by not recognizing their commitment to your organization.

Field notes from: Darryl Hopkins, Erika May McNichol, and Rich Dietz

Is Your Technology Keeping Up With Your Donors?

donate-key-banner
The world of fundraising is evolving so quickly it’ll make your head spin. Technology, too, is advancing at breakneck speed. Combine the two and your job as a modern fundraiser starts to look downright daunting. With change certainly comes difficulty … but, also opportunity.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

So let’s be optimistic here, and look at current fundraising difficulties along with some of the opportunities that come with them.

Reality

Some 88 percent of nonprofit professionals expect digital fundraising to grow from 7 percent of total fundraising to 20 percent or more within the next 10 years, according to Charity Dynamics’ “The Next Ten Years in Digital Fundraising” report.

Opportunity

Use technology to connect meaningfully with every donor to help your mission reach its maximum potential. By taking advantage of purpose-built systems and donor intelligence, you can bring a customized and meaningful message to donors and prospects, more quickly, in the ways and times that make the most difference.

 Reality

A seemingly endless parade of new mobile and social tools presents your donors with more opportunities to give and engage in more ways than ever before.

Opportunity

Today, people are flocking to social media to learn about causes, share information, and get friends involved. And there’s no predicting where they’ll go next. But it’s risky and expensive to buy new tools every few years. A modern data management system will enable you to master the complexity of this new world with the flexibility you need to take advantage of ever-evolving opportunities.

Reality

Giving models have changed drastically over the past few years. Gone are the days when your old, reliable methods of fundraising – like direct mail, phone calls, and special events – were all you needed to achieve your mission.

Opportunity

Technology empowers you to stay current with your donors’ behaviors, understand how and where they like to interact, expand your outreach, and apply input to new campaigns. When you work with modern fundraising software, you can quickly create well-informed, donor-centric communication strategies and execute them across mobile, social, and traditional platforms.

Reality

Donors are experiencing increased personalization and transparency from businesses, and are beginning to expect the same from nonprofits.

Opportunity

Information gathering isn’t your biggest problem – your spreadsheets and databases and email systems are bloated with data. What’s missing is a way to connect all the dots to reveal the picture. A good system will enable you to organize and distill your data into a vivid and actionable picture of each donor. With donor engagement scoring, customizable dashboards, and affinity groups such as book clubs or fraternities, you’ll clearly see how to create smarter appeals that sync up with donors’ behavior. With enhanced intelligence you’ll be able to engage with each donor on a more customized level than ever before.

Reality

All too many fundraisers are stuck using clunky databases built long before the advent of social media, or constituent management systems built for commercial use, not nonprofit. And, many nonprofits have valuable data scattered around various departments and disparate systems, including Excel spreadsheets on individual laptops.

Opportunity

You joined your organization to further your mission – not to run reports. While data is vitally important to your decision making, you need a way to make it easy to access, easy to analyze, easy to act on. And when new people come on board – whether it’s staff or volunteers – you need to get them up to speed quickly, so their contributions make a difference right away. Modern technology can free your team from the burden of bloated, outdated donor management systems that require months of training to master.

Soon, Abila can help you get your technology out ahead of your fundraising efforts. Be one of the first to find out how here.

CSAC EIA Works Smarter, Faster, Leaner with Abila MIP Fund Accounting

customer-success

A member-directed insurance risk sharing pool, the CSAC Excess Insurance Authority (EIA) offers insurance solutions and risk management services to help California public entities proactively control losses and prepare for various exposures. It offers programs like excess and primary workers’ compensation, excess and primary liability, medical malpractice, and property insurance.

To respond to members’ evolving needs, CSAC EIA continually adds programs, modifies its structures, and adapts to a highly-cyclical insurance marketplace. It needs an accounting system that can adapt with equal speed, flexibility, and responsiveness.

Abila MIP Fund Accounting – with help from Business Partner Software Simplified – enables CSAC EIA to grow its membership, add programs, efficiently and transparently manage budget reporting, and meet stringent California State Controller’s audit requirements.

Read the CSAC EIA Success Story now!

Five Fundraising Challenges (and what to do about them)

Delivering on the mission is essential for any nonprofit. To do so, however, requires financial support – fundraising. But fundraising is getting harder and harder to do. Not only do nonprofits compete with other nonprofit organizations for a donor’s attention, but they also compete with commercial organizations for their time and dollars.

According to renowned speaker and author Chip Bell, consumers rank their next customer experience against their previous customer experience. For example, if a donor recently had a fantastic experience on Amazon, they will have the same expectation of customer satisfaction even if the next organization they deal with is a nonprofit. Despite the limited resources and staff of a nonprofit, donors still expect a stellar and seamless experience.

Your  team is expected to continue to raise more funds and engage more donors, while providing an extraordinary experience in spite of the resource challenges nonprofits commonly face.  Do any of these scenarios below sound familiar?

 20 percent of hiring in the nonprofit sector is due to turnover.

When you learn the “new” person has left for another job…

chosen_one

 57 percent of nonprofit communicators feel overworked.

What your day feels like…

 screams

The average tenure for an employee at a nonprofit is 18 months (with only 6 months of actual productivity due to ramp-up time).

How it makes you feel…

survive

 Most nonprofits (74 percent) don’t replace departed staff and spread the work out to the remaining employees (i.e., you)

When you’re told you have new “responsibilities” with no increase in pay…

 no

 The median technology budget ranges from 1.1 – 2 percent at nonprofits

When you ask for more budget…

 nothing

 All these challenges make it hard to focus on what matters…but what if your fundraising efforts could feel like this?

 dance

While we can’t change the resource challenges nonprofits face, we can help you elevate what really matters. Sign-up to be one of the first to find out how: www.abila.com/whatmatters.

Insights and ideas on best practices, trends, and issues for associations, nonprofit organizations, and government entities.

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