5 Resources to Build Resilience in Crisis

Only a matter months ago, many of us had different expectations for the months and years ahead. Thinking back to early March, the gravity of the COVID-19 crisis was just beginning to dawn on our families, friends, and communities. We prepared ourselves to be patient, careful, and committed to riding out the storm.

Months later now, many of us are exhausted by the storm. We’ve been “at it” for months and have hardly any more clarity about what lies ahead of us than we did at the start. Under these conditions, we’re learning how difficult it is, and — in equal measure — how critical it is to practice healthy, sustainable relationships with ourselves, our social groups (socially distanced), and our communities at large. At this point in time, we must look to adding one more tool to our crisis toolkit: resilience.

Let’s examine this first from a technical lens (definitions), root ourselves in the reality of this word (a social critique), then finally circle home to the application of this word in times of crisis (resources for building resilience in times of prolonged crisis).

Resilience, by definition, is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”. Resilience is the ability (in many cases, the privilege) to be mentally, emotionally, and physically elastic to outside stressors, such as difficult change or trauma.

We must acknowledge that resilience is more than a “muscle”, or a private reserve that we all have within us, ready to be activated and strengthened with practice. Resilience, for many, isn’t a “nice to have”, it’s a “must have” in order to live a functional life in systematically challenging conditions. Examples of this include communities facing ongoing challenges posed by poverty, racism, discrimination, marginalization, homelessness, and more. The requirement of resilience to live is a glaring flaw in our social systems, and one that cannot go unnoticed in a narrower discussion of resilience in pandemic-related crisis.

Here we are, about half a year into quarantining, social distancing, disinfecting, and virtual solutioning. Some of us are hurting, some of us are restless. Most of us are, in some shape or form, exhausted. None of us wish for the world to continue in this way, but without a clear end in sight, we must determine how we, ourselves, will continue.

So now, to deliver on the promise made in the title: resources to build resilience in times of crisis. Below are resources you may explore to find what resilience looks like for you and your family. It takes many shapes — from mindsets to practices. I hope you find something true to you, to give you the strength needed to continue charging forward.

“A Psychologist’s Science-Based Tips for Emotional Resilience During the Coronavirus Crisis” by Jelena Kecmanovic

This wellness article in The Washington Post delivers the tangible take-aways we need, backed by research. A tip that I particularly appreciated was “reflect, relate and reframe.” In fact, this practice plays in well with other key points in the resources to follow — specifically, it relates to the exercise of guiding our attention toward the positive rather than the negative, which is where our attention often rests by default.

Read the full article here.

Know Your Natural Strengths

Many employers and universities are familiar with the StrengthsFinder assessment. The results of the assessment indicate your top strengths or skills, categorized generally by the following verticals: executing, relationship building, influencing, and strategic thinking.

Know you strengths so that you may leverage them. In times of crisis, many of us wonder if we are good enough, or doing enough. Considering this, it’s important to quiet those thoughts with more affirming ones: I am capable, I am competent, I am good at…[insert your top strengths here].

Once you know your strengths, develop confidence in them. Then leverage your strengths to get yourself and your loved ones through these difficult times.

Take a free version of the StrengthsFinder test here.

TED Talk by Susan Henkels: What if There’s Nothing Wrong With You

Watch the TED Talk here or below:

“This presentation is a discovery toward what’s in the way of having the life you deserve and an easier and more fun way of getting there. You will find ways of releasing judgment and criticism of yourself, begin to consider forgiveness of yourself and others, start making wiser choices, and expand your passion for contribution. Asking the question: What if there’s nothing wrong with you?…can become an ongoing practice for life.”

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Book description: “Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls ‘grit.'”

Read more about Angela Duckworth and her book here.

Watch the TED Talk she delivered about the topic here.

Freakonomics Podcast: Ep. 422

Episode 422 – “Introducing ‘No Stupid Questions'”

Listen on Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Read the transcript here.

Co-hosts Stephen Dubner and Angela Duckworth discuss the relationship between age and happiness from the lens of psychology and stages of life and development. A key take away here: attention matters. Where you focus your attention (on the positive or negative) influences the perspective of your well-being.

Read More

4 Ways Millennials Impact the Nonprofit Workforce

Born from approximately 1981 to 1996, Millennials are primarily between ages 24 and 39. While popular media often refer to all young people as Millennials, it’s important to discern that this generation of individuals is now entering or fully integrated into the workforce. 

The Millennial generation differs greatly from those who came before, Gen X and who came after, Gen Z. As your organization considers the role that young professionals can play in the staffing or contributions made to your organization, it’s important to understand the qualities and characteristics that make this generation unique.

When you understand the unique aspects of this group, you can make educated decisions about how to make your nonprofit an attractive place to work and volunteer, as well as motivate those who currently work for your mission. 

That being said, here are the top four characteristics of the Millennial generation and how those characteristics impact their influence in the nonprofit workforce: 

  1. Millennials engage more with causes and missions rather than institutions. 
  2. They see contributions of time and action as significantly important. 
  3. This generation is technologically apt and connected. 
  4. Culture tends to be incredibly important to the millennial generation. 

As you expand your team with new staff members and volunteers, be sure you take into account the motivations and characteristics of each individual. Remain transparent in your approach to get everyone involved and up to date with your strategy. This is attractive to both your Millennial team members and other generations. 

Ready to dive a little deeper into the characteristics of Millennials and how your organization can make them feel welcome and productive? Let’s get started. 

1. Millennials Engage With Causes Over Institutions

According to the Millennial Impact Report, the Millennial generation engages more and has allegiance to a mission or a cause rather than an organization itself. This means that this generation of volunteers and staff will feel dedicated to your mission, but not necessarily to your organization. If another organization has the same mission, they wouldn’t mind switching their allegiance. 

This quality in Millennials is key to understanding what will attract them to work with and contribute to the organization, but also what will make them stay and work with you long-term. 

If you’re working with many Millennials at your organization, make sure to: 

  • Write out a complete, descriptive, and detailed mission statement that will capture their attention. This is what draws them into working with you and clearly explains what your organization is working to accomplish. 
  • Include this mission statement on marketing documents and job descriptions. As you’re attracting younger generations to work with your organization, place your mission statement front and center for them to see. 
  • Center your strategic plan around the impact and philanthropic goals of the organization. Because Millennials are passionate about your cause, tying organizational actions to the impact they’ll have on the mission will engage and further motivate these individuals. Bloomerang’s strategic planning guide explains that your goal should never just be to “raise money.” Rather, you’re working to achieve a specific philanthropic initiative with a specific amount of money that you need to raise.

If your organization finds yourself in an uncertain or unsteady environment and want to make sure your team of staff members, specifically Millennial staff, stay focused on what’s important, you may consider switching to an organic strategic planning model. 

This model is used to solidify your team’s understanding of your philanthropic mission and identify individuals’ strengths in order to best put those strengths together to serve the mission. This keeps the focus on the mission itself rather than on your organization. 

2. They see contributions of time and action as significantly important. 

Contrary to corporate businesses, nonprofit organizations don’t rely solely on their staff members to get things done for the organization. They also heavily depend on volunteers to fill in the gaps for events, office duties, and other administrative tasks.

This is a great strategy! Many small to mid-sized nonprofits may not have the funding to expand their team to fulfill each and every need during peak events or giving seasons. Volunteers help engage supporters, achieve philanthropic goals, and save organization funding. 

It’s important to note, especially if your nonprofit wants to attract Millennial volunteers, that this generation sees contributions of time and action as just as important as donations. 

Bloomerang pulled some statistics from the Millennial Impact Report, featured in this article and the graph below: 

As you can see, Millennial cause engagement is fairly equally divided between volunteering, donating, and advocacy participation. This group of individuals believes they can make an impact on the world through many means. This differs from the mindset that donations are the most impactful way to give to a nonprofit organization. Millennials find their contribution of time and energy just as important. 

Therefore, your nonprofit should show ample appreciation for volunteers, get the most from volunteer programs, and come up with creative opportunities. For instance, consider the following strategies:

  • Promote volunteer grant opportunities. Double the Donation’s volunteer grant guide explains that many companies offer a financial match to nonprofits when their employees volunteer a certain number of hours. Informing volunteers about this opportunity and encouraging them to look up their own eligibility will help make your volunteer hours go further. 
  • Create creative volunteer opportunities for supporters. Younger Millennials are still getting their foot in the door with their careers. Finding opportunities for them to expand their resumes and develop valuable skills while helping an organization they love is a great incentive for this group of volunteers. 

Many nonprofits have a bad habit of putting more emphasis on contributions of money rather than contributions of time. However, the Millennial generation considers both to be critical to achieving your mission. Therefore, treating volunteering as important and valuable within your organization will only help you engage more supporters. 

3. This generation is technologically apt and connected. 

It’s probably not a surprise to hear that Millennials are good with technology. You’ve probably read somewhere about how the use of social media and technology are key to engaging Millennials and Gen Z. However, this is not the only consideration when it comes to Millennials and technology. 

Your nonprofit probably uses a variety of software solutions for your internal affairs. This article explains some of the different types of technology that nonprofits invest in, such as donor and volunteer management, fundraising, prospect research, event management, grant, and auction software solutions. 

When it comes to your nonprofit’s staff members, you’ll probably find that your Millennial workforce will better understand how to engage others using technology. 

Your Millennial staff members grew up in the midst of a technological boom. They’ve seen the evolution of technology and learned to adapt to these changes from a young age. Therefore, they’re more likely to quickly understand how each of these software solutions work and the potential they have to help your organization succeed. They can identify how you can strategically use these solutions to best engage your audience. 

For instance, consider the following: 

  • Your marketing software may have the functionality to post to various social media sites. Having grown up in the age of social media, your Millennials can accurately and effectively craft messages ideal for each of the different social media platforms, choosing detailed images for Instagram, writing content for Facebook, and crafting short witty Tweets. 
  • Effective fundraising software offers different ways of giving and various campaign types. Millennials in your workforce may have insight into what type of campaign will best appeal to the audience (especially if that audience is other Millennials). You may use a text-to-give campaign during events, a standard donation page for giving days, and a peer-to-peer campaign leading up to various activities. 

The Millennial generation has seen the advancement of technology throughout their lives. They can attest to how it is best used because they have grown up watching expert markers at work! Asking for Millennial staff input about your use of technology can help you better strategize and understand how to maximize its use. 

4. Culture tends to be incredibly important to the millennial generation. 

The Baby Boomer Generation was well-known for being driven by money and prosperity. The quality of their work was directly influenced by financial compensation. However, Millennials take more into consideration than simply a paycheck. For instance, company and organization culture is of vital importance to retaining your Millennial workforce. 

While money is still an important factor to motivate Millennials in your workforce, a holistic approach to compensation will take into consideration the benefits and culture in which they work, which are both highly valued by this generation. 

When you’re deciding on a nonprofit compensation package for employees, make sure to take a total rewards compensation approach. This type of approach takes into consideration the following factors: 

  • Direct compensation
  • Benefits like PTO, health insurance, dental, 401(K) matching, etc. 
  • Performance management styles
  • Work-life balance
  • Organization culture

Millennials are more likely to respond well to a well-rounded compensation approach rather than simply being motivated by the money. 

Therefore, your organization should consider how you’re developing a team culture among your employees to keep your Millennial staff members motivated. Try planning team activities for your nonprofit staff to do together like a book club (about your mission!), setting team goals and providing incentives to reach those goals, and planning outings to do together (like company holiday parties). 

If you have volunteers who also work with your organization regularly, consider inviting them along to some of these team activities! This way, when it comes time to hire new staff members, you’ve already set expectations and have access to a pool of potential employees who understand how the organization works. 

The Millennial generation has unique motivations and approaches to their work and to nonprofits. Understanding how they differ from previous generations will help your nonprofit ensure your Millennial workforce is motivated and retained over the years. Good luck! 

About the Author:

Ross Hendrickson is a co-founder and the CEO of Bloomerang. Prior to co-founding Bloomerang, he served as Product Manager for Bostech Corporation and later Avectra. Ross serves on the Horizon Council, the young professionals leadership council of the Indianapolis-based nonprofit Conner Prairie’s He graduated with a B.S. in Economics & Engineering Science from Vanderbilt University.

Read More

5 Ways to Engage Your Community in Times of Crisis

This blog post was brought to you by our friends and partners at DonorPerfect. For the full article and more information click here.

Small businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19’s impact on the economy. Fortunately, there are nonprofit organizations like Federal Hill Main Street, whose mission is to create vibrant and thriving communities. Pre-COVID, they’d fundraise through community events like dining events and jazz concerts to keep residents and visitors engaged and revenue flowing. Now, they’ve had to shift their focus and their fundraising strategy to help keep their cherished local businesses afloat and residents fed.

In Baltimore’s Federal Hill district, Cathy Rosenbaum has been their lifeline, and everyone seems to know her by name. She genuinely loves her city and wants to see the community work together to keep the district flourishing. That’s why she’s taken on the role of Executive Director at Federal Hill Main Street.

Despite being a two-person operation, Federal Hill Main Street managed to align their community of donors around common goals as they pushed through the pandemic.

In times of need, joining forces with your community members can see you through and make you even stronger. Follow Cathy’s lead with these steps to gain their support and expand the reach of your fundraising.

Connect with Your Community Using These 5 Tips

#1. Introduce Yourself

Cathy follows local businesses and organizations in Federal Hill on social media and looks out for newcomers in an effort to establish relationships among them so that they can support and promote one another. She explains, “My experience is that when you introduce yourself to someone, they’re more than eager to find out how our nonprofit supports the local businesses and community and how they can get involved and keep abreast of what is happening in our neighborhood. We do a lot of communication by email, and we also promote businesses through social media, as well.”

More recently, Cathy wanted to establish a monthly giving program to which the community could contribute so that Federal Hill Main Street could better predict its cash flow. When COVID-19 hit, Cathy put this goal on pause and instead did what she could to support them, including providing up-to-date information about grant and loan opportunities and other important information for local businesses. She hopes to establish a donor base of residents and has purchased a marketing list of those living in her zip code to get started. But first, she’ll do what she does best: introduce herself. She shares, “I’m not going to [solicit donations] right now, but I do want to develop a connection with [residents] first by sending emails that explain what we’re doing and get them engaged.”

#2. Give Your Constituents a Voice

A true leader, Cathy takes time to listen to the concerns of the community she serves. She attends local community organization meetings, like her neighborhood and business associations to provide updates about what Federal Hill Main Street has planned and invites feedback from attendees about what they’d like to see accomplished.

Additionally, Cathy has been hosting regular video conference calls with business owners and neighborhood organizations to discuss what they need in order to be successful, especially now as businesses begin to reopen.

Cathy shares, “It’s very empowering when people start to feel like you listen, and you take action based on what you’ve heard. Not everyone’s going to get everything they want, but giving them a platform to provide input and express concerns is only going to help all of you because you’re going to make a better decision, you’re going to feel engaged, and you’re going to get more buy-in if you can do it that way.”

Before Cathy’s involvement, there was very minimal communication between businesses, and building those relationships has made a difference. Now the business owners along with residents are planning volunteer events together. Cathy says, “It’s all about the relationships. That’s fundraising 101, I know, but it’s true.”

#3. Collaborate with Other Organizations

When Cathy noticed a local church’s Facebook post about a food drive they were hosting, she saw it as the perfect opportunity to work together. Cathy immediately reached out to introduce herself and to connect the church with local restaurants to feed their community.

Their food drive “Common Table” set out to feed seniors and those on the frontlines of the pandemic by also supporting local businesses. With donations raised, Cathy was able to bulk order and deliver 300 meals per week from local restaurants. In the process, Cathy provided a platform for the restaurants to promote themselves and receive more revenue. On Federal Hill Main Street’s social media pages and website, Cathy listed the names of each participating restaurant and encouraged donors to tip them generously and safely through a virtual tip jar.

#4. Lean on Those Who Will Support You

Baltimore’s Federal Hill businesses trust that they’re in good hands with Cathy, but even Cathy could use a hand at times.

When Cathy landed the opportunity to partner with the church for the Common Table food drive, she was still in the onboarding process with DonorPerfect and it was a Friday. With Easter Sunday the same weekend, Cathy felt pressure to expedite DonorPerfect’s implementation so that she could begin fundraising as soon as the food drive would be announced at the church’s Easter Sunday service.

Having used DonorPerfect at three nonprofits before Federal Hill (twice convincing her team to switch from another platform to DonorPerfect), Cathy knew that she could rely on the DonorPerfect Team to get Federal Hill Main Street set up in time.

Cathy explains, “I called them in a panic saying, ‘Help, we’re just getting ready to start this [campaign]. We haven’t anything ready yet!’ And they bent over backwards. We were talking after hours and through the weekend. They went above and beyond, times ten. They didn’t have to do any of that. I was just so happy because I was really eager to get [the online form and payment processing] going, and they just helped me push it through.”

#5. Stay Connected

Once you’ve established a relationship with new donors, it’s crucial that you keep them engaged with all the good you’re up to. For fill-in-the-blank templates to help you creatively announce your upcoming fundraising opportunities and a timeline advising how frequently you should email them, check out The New Donor Welcome Series Email Template Kit.

The DonorPerfect Team thanks Cathy for trusting us to support her fundraising efforts and for going the extra mile to uplift her community through the COVID-19 crisis. We wish her and Federal Hill Main Street the best of luck as they revitalize this historic Baltimore community.

Read More

Make Your Nonprofit Website Shine

With mission-driven work, it can be difficult to stay on top of technology. You want to get to work, boots on the ground, to carry out your organization’s mission!

Occasionally, however, the importance of an organized, well-presented website is overlooked. Your website is the virtual front door of your organization, and you want it to welcome your audience in, whether your audience is the community you serve, volunteers, or donors.

The idea of a website re-design can be daunting, so let’s break it down into smaller, digestible pieces. We identified elements of a website (content, function, design) that make a website particularly welcoming to three major audience types.

The Community You Serve

Make sure your website is most welcoming to the community you serve, or your “target” audience. That is, I’m sure, why you have a website to begin with!

A welcoming website for the community starts before they’ve even reached your homepage. The best websites are the ones that are found easily on the (very crowded) world wide web. To ensure that your website is easy to find, keep a couple things in mind:

  1. Your URL should be the same (or closely related) to the name of your organization.
  2. SEO (Search Engine Optimization): This is a huge topic in its own right, but here are some quick tricks to easily improving your websites searchability and SEO.
  3. Leverage social media to expand your online presence and reach. Remember to use usernames that match your organization name as closely as possible. If an option to link is available, link back to your organization’s website. While social media is amazing for audience growth and engagement, your website should be your organization’s ultimate source of truth/info. Heads up: this is much more effective if you have the time to dedicate to nurturing your social media channels.

Now let’s focus on the website itself. What do community members need to find on the website?

  • Mission & vision: Your organization likely already has this written down and established! Now make sure it is clear on your website.
  • Services offered: This could very easily be its own page on your website, although there should certainly be mention of it on your home page. Depending on the nature of your organization, you could swap out the word “services” for “events”, “programming”, or “our work”. Make sure to include whether these services are free or paid.
  • Hours of operation: This lets folks know when it’s alright to give you a call or drop by. This information is often listed in the footer content along the bottom of all of your pages, along with…
  • Contact information: Give the community a number to call or an email to reach out to in case they have questions about your organization.


Volunteers are the lifeblood of organizations worldwide. Without volunteers’ work, passion, and dedication to your mission, many organizations would not be as successful as they are today. Your website should serve as a marketing/recruiting tool for new volunteers and a practical resource for existing volunteers. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Dedicate at least one whole page to volunteer information! As you share important information with potential volunteers and returning volunteers, maintain an authentic tone of appreciation and passion for the work. Feel free to break the information up into multiple sections or pages.
  • Overview of volunteer opportunities: What kind of volunteer work is available? Who is eligible for the work? What is the commitment required?
  • Volunteer testimonials: Nothing says, “This is an awesome volunteer opportunity!” like an actual volunteer quite literally recommending the work to others.
  • Application (or signup page): Point interested volunteers in the right direction. What is their first step? Often, volunteers are required to complete a volunteer application. (Forgive me, but it’d be silly not to mention it here — in case you’re looking for a way to accept volunteer applications and move new volunteers through an on-boarding process, VolunteerLocal has you completely covered!)


Donors may only visit your website a handful of times throughout the year. However, don’t let that fool you; wowing them is crucial! Donors (consciously or subconsciously) want to donate to organizations they believe in — organizations that they are convinced will stand the test of time and continue delivering on a mission that is dear to them for years to come. If your website conveys that message, you may see more donors, more frequent donations, and larger donations. Some tips to wow donors:

  • Use a professional website builder to ensure your website looks like it was made (or updated) recently. If your website was patched together with very basic HTML and size 12 Times New Roman font everywhere, it might come across as dated. The great news is that there are many easy, drag-and-drop website builders out there for you to design a spectacular, modern website without breaking the bank.
  • Dedicate a page specifically to/for donors. On this page, share the impact of your organization, made possible by donations and by a dedicated team. Include real-life, if applicable/possible. Be specific — tell them exactly how donations are used and what the impacts are — so that they want to donate year after year.
  • Include a “Donate” button or link that allows them to donate on-the-spot. Or, give them instructions on submitting a donation. (Pro tip: if you can, offer the option of recurring donations!)

In conclusion, identify your website’s audiences, then design an experience around their needs and expectations. Keep the design modern, clean, and uncluttered. Read over the copy/text you’ve generated to ensure it’s on-brand with the “voice” of your organization. Short, sweet, and concise usually does the trick, but you’re certainly encouraged to add your own flair to it! Have some well-informed fun building the virtual front door of your organization, and your audiences will surely appreciate it.

Read More

Get Creative with Virtual Events

Quarantine mandates have been announced, lifted, then announced again, but one thing remains consistent – the boom of the webinar.

Webinars are hugely valuable, and with so many free options available to us, we’re nearly spoiled at this point! Still, I can’t be the only one who receives about 5 emails per week about a brand new webinar. The word “webinar” is getting tired, and people are zoning out, understandably.

I love webinars… but can we (please) call them anything else? As a creative, I’m ready for change! So I did a bit of research to help anyone else who might also be experiencing webinar-fatigue (but still wants to engage).

Presenting, a proposition: to deliver the same value of a webinar – repackaged, rebranded, and with the intent of piquing curiosity. Here are some examples to illustrate what I mean:

“Tune in for [organization name]’s upcoming…”

  • …Show & Tell – highlight the amazing work, news, and/or achievements of our [students/members/team/organization].
  • …Welcome to the Stage Event – meet the organization’s new [mentors/coaches/leaders]
  • … Weekly Tutorial – share informative tips and tricks on a relevant topic of your choice. Of all the examples listed, this one is most closely synonymous with the word “webinar”.

Furthermore, there are plenty of other types of virtual events to experiment with. For example:


Invite the community to tune in as you do whatever you do best at work! You might welcome watchers as your move through your morning routines at work. Or, you might simply carry out some of your organization’s normally offered services virtually. This is the new “normal”, at least for the foreseeable future.

  • Sunday Storytime – Sunday morning read-aloud for all ages.
  • Rise & Shine – A morning routine! This works beautifully for organizations like animal shelters, rescues, farms, and/or zoos. People love to see the animals waking up as morning chores are completed.
  • Living Room Sessions – Share live performances with your audiences. Whether these are musical performances, comedy acts, or literature readings – these creative gatherings in intimate home settings have been a highlight of my quarantine, personally.

Happy Hours

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! Gather your team (or, if it’s appropriate, your patrons) and enjoy a virtual, socially distanced drink. This is a spirited – no pun intended – way to keep traditions of beautiful summer days alive and well, while also nurturing team/community bonds.

Virtual events like this often work best with smaller teams and communities, since connections are usually already present. Even so, you might give it a try with a larger team or community! Perhaps a (responsible) sip of liquid courage will help form brand new connections among folks who had not yet had a chance to meet.

Inclusivity note: let everyone know that they may drink whatever they like, including non-alcoholic drinks!

Think Tanks

Community ties are deep and valuable, especially in the nonprofit sector. Often times, community members and organization patrons are more interested in your organization’s mission than anything else. That’s why they volunteer, donate, and support your programs. Additionally, people like to be heard and for their constructive feedback to be thoughtfully evaluated.

Mix it all together for the best of both worlds – your organization receives fresh perspectives on organizational challenges, victories, and roadmaps; and your community feels valued enough to be consulted and included in big decisions.

Identify a challenge that your organization is facing in times of COVID-19, and invite the community to the table. Many minds make innovative solutions, and many hands make light work!


Yes, a virtual fundraiser! Not only is it possible, but it is becoming increasingly popular in the nonprofit sector. Embrace the areas where technology is allowing us to expand, regardless of the unfortunate external pressures posed by COVID-19.

Depending on your organization’s budget, there are various options available to you, logistically.

How to accept funds:

  • Share your organization’s Venmo or PayPal to accept donations/tips during the event
  • Sell “premium” tickets for extra perks.
  • Explore virtual fundraising platforms such as Classy, QGiv,
  • Seek corporate sponsorships (funding a free event for the public)
  • Seek individual/family sponsorships (in exchange for symbolic gift or recognition)

Types of fundraisers (just scratching the surface!):

  • Livestreamed performances, presentations, or speeches
  • Virtual auction
  • Virtual run/walk marathon

Finally, let’s think about what happens after these events are over. Would you like your audience to have access to a recording of your event, or any of the resources shared? If so, consider adding a “Virtual Library” to your organization’s website. There, you can store all of the recordings and resources shared during your live event(s), so your audience may access it any time.

What do you think? What have been the event you have enjoyed the most, and what made them so memorable? Keep us posted with your creative insights on virtual events. Alright, I’ll mute myself now 😉

Read More

From One Volunteer to Another: You Get Back More – Everyone Does

Cliches usually have no business taking up space on a blog post- no one has time for that. But in this particular circumstance, the cliché is apropos: It’s better to give than to receive. Our universal resistance to asking each other for help proves that this is the case! While it’s inarguably true that being asked to help a friend or family member is somewhat better- I think we can all admit that it can be a mixed bag. “PIVOT!!!”

Volunteering is a different story. When you show up at just the right moment to help someone, outside of the bounds of a social contract, the experience is much deeper. It stops being transactional in nature and becomes an act of humanity – one that often produces results that surprise and exceed the expectations of both giver and receiver.

Right now, in this extraordinarily difficult period, those investments are paying off at an all time high.

Usually at this point in a blog post, the writer pines on superfluously about a personal experience in which he, after several autobiographical paragraphs, has come rather expectedly to be inspired to write said blog post in the first place… like a flower that planted itself and grew to generate the seeds from which it sprouted. Let me save you the time, reader: I have come to love volunteerism, and I know that you will too.

When you invest money in someone who has less, you come awake to the realization that your money is worth more than you thought it was. The same is true of your time – and your voice. If you’re lucky enough to have the kind of volunteering experience where you come home tired and covered in dirt, you will likely find that you are somehow also full of renewed strength and energy.

Volunteering is a powerful, non-transactional gift that we each have a unique ability to offer. A gift with the power to leave you feeling like you have come to own more of yourself than you did before you gave some of it away. On behalf of VolunteerLocal, I hope you will consider volunteering in your own community during this difficult time.

Read More

5 Free Webinar Series Nonprofit Teams Won’t Want to Miss

It is fair to say that, back in January, no one expected the world would come to such a grinding halt in a matter of months. Yet, here we all are, doing our best to stay safe amidst COVID-19 and make the most of our circumstances. While many city blocks are quieter than usual, our virtual lives seem to be bubbling. Teams are embracing the tools that keep us connected from a distance, and as I’m sure you’ve heard time and time again, there’s a brand new webinar just about everywhere you look.

To make “looking” for webinars a bit more organized, we’ve compiled a list of 5 organizations that are hosting a whole series of webinars over the next few months – specifically for the nonprofit sector.

Without further ado, I present 5 free webinar series that your nonprofit teams can benefit from this summer. (Or winter, depending on your hemisphere!) Browse through these sources and load up your calendars.

Nonprofit Hub

Check out their webinar series here.

About Nonprofit Hub: The name says it all! This online community serves as a hub for all things nonprofits need to establish and grow their nonprofits. Resources vary from guides, blogs, e-courses, and (drum roll) webinars.

Upcoming webinars we’re excited about:

Navigating Your Nonprofit’s Challenges through Emotional Intelligence. Led by Stephanie Cory on Jul 15, 2:00 PM CDT

Virtual Donor Engagement During the Pandemic and Beyond. Led by Caliopy Glaros on August 19, 2:00 PM CDT

Nonprofit Learning Lab

Check out their webinar series here.

About Nonprofit Learning Lab: In case you were hungry for more resources, Nonprofit Learning Lab has your back! Although many of these resources are member-only, others are completely free, from guidebooks to activity sheets, and a plethora of nonprofit resources for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Upcoming webinars we’re excited about:

Equity vs. Equality. Led by Richard Leong on July 20, 1:00 PM CDT.

How Far Are You Willing to Go? Moving from Diversity & Inclusion to Anti-Oppression. Led by Richard Leong on August 17, 12:00 PM CDT.


Check out their webinar series here.

About TechSoup: This company introduces nonprofits to the technologies they can utilize to thrive in any climate (even a pandemic). TechSoup aims to empower impact. For members, a number of technology discounts are available. Furthermore, many of their free, public resources (including webinars and trainings) are pre-recorded, and therefore, available whenever you are!

Webinars we’re tuning into:

Crowdfunding in Our Climate: A Digital Fundraising Plan of Action. Led by Moshe Hecht.

Getting Started with Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits. Led by Rachel Clemens.

Network for Good

Check out their webinar series here.

About Network for Good: A hybrid nonprofit and B Corporation, Network for Good “powers more digital giving than any other platform”. For nonprofits, donors, and companies interested in giving, this platform points you in the right direction. Much like TechSoup, their webinars are available anytime after they have been recorded. Dig into their archives and stay tuned for new webinar releases!

Webinars we’re tuning into:

Staying Afloat: PPP Loan Forgiveness, Accounting, Tracking and Reporting For Nonprofits. Led by Network for Good.

The Burning Question: How Do I Find More Donors? Led by Kimberly O’Donnell.

IFEA (International Festivals & Events Association)

Check out their webinar series here.

About IFEA: A global nonprofit organization, IFEA serves to support festivals and events with the programming, resources, and guidance needed to be successful. Nearly every week through October 1st, the IFEA webinar series is hosting webinars on a variety of topics pertinent to event, festival, and nonprofit work. Although these webinars are not free, they are well worth the ticket price. If you are interested in a pair of free tickets for your team, please contact us at hello@volunteerlocal.com – we’ll make sure you’re taken care of!

Upcoming webinars we’re excited about:

The Winds of Change: Creatively Redefining Volunteer Programs in the Time of COVID-19. Led by VolunteerLocal’s very own VolunteerLocal President, Kaylee Williams, on September 10, at 12:00 PM CDT.

Cancelling Events Does Not Mean Cancelling Relationships. Led by Bruce Erley, on July 16, at 12:00 PM CDT.

Which webinars are catching your eye these days? Have you made weekly webinars a tradition yet? We hope you’re doing well during these unsettling times. While it lasts, make sure to soak up the abundance of industry resources!

Read More

Detailed Guide to Your Nonprofit’s Audience Persona

Once you start a nonprofit organization, you need to develop a marketing strategy that works best. Knowing your target audience helps to create content based on its specifics.

The audience of a nonprofit is diverse. Every group – clients, donors, staff, volunteers, media, the local community – requires an individual approach.

This article provides step-by-step instruction of creating an audience persona – one of the key tools for better understanding each segment of your target audience.

Let’s Differ Audience Persona from Target Audience

  • Target audience

For nonprofits, it’s, on the one hand, socially vulnerable categories of the population who get the assistance of your organization. On the other hand, it’s those members of the society who support the organization in achieving its goals (donors, volunteers, staff members).

For the most effective implementation of goals, you need to segment your donors and audiences.

The target audience is divided into primary and secondary.

The primary target audience is people on whom the organization has a direct impact. And at the same time, your nonprofit’s activities depend on their actions, opinions, and needs.

A secondary target audience is a group of people that affects the primary audience. In turn, the opinions and activities of the secondary audience can cause the primary audience to take note of your information, change their attitude or behavior towards it.

Defining your target audience is describing it in detail, highlighting its characteristic features (age, gender, location, interests).

  • Audience persona 

It’s a documented portrait of the perfect representative of your target audience. A persona does not rely on one specific person. This is a collective image that reflects the majority of the target audience.

Building an audience persona involves a comprehensive study of donors, volunteers, clients, employees, and other representatives of the target audience, depending on the goals of the organization.

Unlike the target audience, which is described by socio-demographic, psychographic, behavioral characteristics, a persona is more focused on the needs, motivations, expectations of the audience. This is an individualized model that the organization focuses on when creating content.

Benefits of Building Audience Personas

Understanding a persona can improve the situation with your target audience. This is the first step towards creating an effective marketing strategy.

To make this tool work, the elaboration of a persona must be as detailed as possible. This will allow you to understand the motivation, needs, expectations, and interests of your target audience. Which, in turn, is essential for building long-term cooperation.

Gender, age, demographic indicators of your donors and clients are the simplest level of understanding of the audience. The next significant step is developing personas, which gives you a much more complete image of the audience’s life cycle and its interest in your work.

Modeling a persona takes place for each segment of your target audience. Getting started, you can focus on developing 3 primary audience personas – for donors, clients, and volunteers/staff.

Four Steps to Build Personas

  1. Make Research

Your existing donors, volunteers, clients, and co-workers are a great source of information that you need.

Interview them. It’s diligent but interesting and important work. The more data you collect at this stage the more detailed and useful image of personas you will end up with.

Go to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. These platforms are a great source of what’s essential for your audience. Minding it provides you with the opportunity to address on a more personal level.

Mind every piece of information, see how total strangers turn into real people with their worldview and activities, families and friends, interests, and preferences.

Why is the research work important? Because one way or another, their life circumstances are the reason for having the will to support your organization.

At this stage, you have to create a profile for each donor/client/etc. containing the following categories:

  • Demographics (age, gender, location, education, employment, marital status, and other info that’s essential for the type of your nonprofit).
  • Goals and values (primary and secondary goals, fears connected with goals, main values).
  • How you can help (what your nonprofit does to help people achieve their goals and fight their fears).
  • What differs your donor/client/volunteer from representatives of the same social stratum.

Use Internet surveys (such as Survey Monkey and Google forms) to reach a bigger audience.

Also make use of web analytics services (Google Analytics, MailChimp, SimilarWeb, Facebook Analytics, Facebook Audience Insights (if you have a business profile)) to find out the characteristics and interests of your online audience

  1. Analyze and Integrate

Since a persona is a generalized image of a potential or real audience, the next step of developing it is analyzing data to find patterns and define types of people you can combine in one.

The types you highlight may differ from your expectations. And this is a good indicator. It defines the quality of your research work.

  1. Create a Profile and Get Acquainted

Make profiles for each of your audience personas, add pics and characteristics. Examine them. Introduce personas to your staff.

Getting acquainted with the desires and needs of your audience leads you to the understanding of what truly is valuable and important for your potential or real clients and donors.

Does your audience look different now? What strategies are you going to use to engage their attention? How are you going to address each persona?

  1. Repeat

Building an audience persona is not a one-time action. It isn’t something you do once and for all.

First, watch if there are any changes in the interaction with the audience. Are they preferable ones? What can be improved?

Then start building secondary personas. Make research and create an image.

Finally, get assured you are aware of changes. From time to time, check the needs, preferences, and goals of your audience. Your organization is developing, involving more and more new people. Therefore, it is important to stay in touch with them and adapt to their features when needed.

Mind Negative Personas

A negative persona is an important component of the audience’s portraiture. It’s impossible not to have one.

Negative personas reveal target groups on which spending resources is least beneficial. It’s just not your audience. It’s rational to be aware of them to include in your marketing strategy.

As well as you did with audience personas, determine the characteristics of negative personas, and create their profiles with a detailed description.


  • An audience persona is a useful tool for effective work with the target audience.
  • Identifying a persona requires a careful study of your stakeholders.
  • Use online services to research the audience of your web resources.
  • Make profiles of primary, secondary, and negative personas.
  • Repeat research to supplement and adjust profiles.

This guide was brought to you by DonorBox.

Read More