3 Cool Free or Low Cost Tools for NPOs

We like the number 3 and non-profits like to save money and dedicate their funds to their causes. Combine them and you get a super short list of 3 cool things that are free or low cost for nonprofits and associations to control costs.

  1. FREE Google PPC money for those who Qualify. Learn more about Google Grants here:  https://www.google.com/grants/
  2. Tech Soup Stock has super cheap software for NPOs  http://www.techsoup.org/get-product-donations
  3. And the NTEN community isn’t free but will help you save thousands through knowledge sharing.  http://www.nten.org/
#peace

Translating Data: Making Sense of the Patterns

If you lived through the 70s and the 90s,  you know that trends are cyclical.

How many times have we seen bell bottoms and big sunglasses make a come back?

 

Picture of Woman with Big Sunglass and Man in BellBottoms3220590102_3b880061a8126654542_72801c1990  

Of course this isn’t limited to fashion. A detailed look into your Google Analytics charts will reveal that your organization has cycles, predicable ones you can plan for.

So how do you read this data and equate the data to your organizations live campaigns?

1) First, collect your data. (Everything you do on a recurring basis including dates). Create an aggregated list of anything involving donor/volunteer/member communication including:

a. Events

b. Newsletters

c. Fundraisers

 

2) Find your data store. (Google Analytics is free to install and has a lot of useful data.)

3) Choose your relevant date range. I like to look at two or more time frames. Typically a year’s worth of data, a smaller three month period of activity, and a one month period.

4) Run your analytics for the type period then look for patters in your data!

Types of patterns you are looking for are

a. Spikes

b. Sequential Dips

c. Dead Spots

 

Case Study:

We partnered with one of our clients, a large nonprofit organization, to increase donations an engagement of their audience in nontraditional ways.

To achieve this we turned to the data recorded on their website:

Disclaimer:

The graphs below are pulled from a report in the Tendenci software (the cms software is free for download on http://tendenci.com/ – click on “For Developers”). These same practices can be applied with Google Analytics or whatever your analytics of choice is.

This graph shows site activity grouped by module/plugin (for example any event page that was clicked on during the time period would show up as orange)

This key shows which colors are associated with activities on the website

 

This is an engagement graph of activity on a client website.

Graph showing visitor engagement on different applications on the site

 

What we noted:

  • We see a huge increase in site visits on the 4th-6th
  • Followed by a huge increase in site visits to photos on the 11th
  • And then a decrease in site activity after the 12th

So what did we find when we matched up the engagement graph with our dates of activities

Saturday, 6th was a large event

Thursday, 11th a newsletter goes out to members

When we compared to another month with a large event, we found the same graph shape.

The data tells us:

  • Before the event and day of we had lots of people on the site looking for information and directions
  • After the event we had a dip in activity but we had a lot of people visiting the photo pages to look for images of the event
  • The newsletter contained links to the images for the event so we had  a huge increase in visits to the photo page. 

So what types of actions can an organization take based on this data?

  • Have upcoming event information on your website loud and clear. People will be looking for it
  • Make sure to be taking lots of photographs at the event – photos generated a huge amount of traffic to the site
  • Newsletters or an email post event drive traffic.
  • Add a call to action on your photo pages. These pages get huge amounts of traffic post event and people are reliving the experience – make sure there is a call to action to donations or volunteering.
  • Engagement is low post event. Brainstorm ways to reengage audience after the event excitement is over.

 

The patterns are there, you just have to look for them and connect the pieces of the puzzle.

 

Want more info?

Ed Schipul is the CEO of Tendenci and will be speaking on Data Analytics at NTC 2014 in Washington DC on March 15th (Online Fundraising Strategies to Take Advantage of Your Donor Events)

 

 

Photo Attribution (in sequential order):

rchappo2002 “Mr Hicks – 1971

Betty Tsang “vampire?

Mick “Super Models and Big Sunglasses

 

 

4 Crowdfunding Tips For Your Nonprofit or Association

You are a nonprofit or association with a great cause and a world of potential audiences out that that could get involved in forwarding your mission.

So, what if I were to tell you there is a way to accomplish the following actions, that you probably aren’t taking advantage of:

1) Engaging new audiences

2) Utilizing the super powers of your followers and volunteers in meaningful ways

3) Raising funds and awareness towards your mission

 

Enter crowdfunding

Crowd in Times Square
Leverage the crowd!

 

Crowdfunding is the ability to use the web to raise money for a project or cause.

Last week Pledge Cents – a crowdfunding platform focused on the education community gave a great presentation at Net2.

Net2 Logo

Luckily we were there to pick up some handy tips on running a successful crowdfunding campaign….

4 Takeaways:

1) Don’t spread yourself thin – choose 1 platform for your campaign – you are kicking yourself if you are sending your supporters to multiple crowdfunding sites and harming your credibility. If the platform wasn’t a good match, go with another one next time.

2) Make a realistic ask. Many people make the mistake of going for the pie in the sky. What is your minimum goal to achieve what it is you want? Start with that number and anything above that is icing on the cake.

“Why  wouldn’t we want to reach for the highest we can go?”

  • Financial reasons
    • Some crowdfunding platforms will not give you any of your funds if you do not attain a certain percentage of your goal. Example: On Kickstarter, if you do not reach 100% of your goal you don’t get your funds
    • Some crowdfunding platforms will charge you a percentage of your stated goal
  • Build street cred
    • If this is your first crowdfunding venture – let’s start realistic and build trust with new followers before jumping to the big numbers
  • Finially, it just feels good to be a winner!
    • There is no limit to how much your allowed to raise – and gosh darn it, doesn’t if feel good to exceed those initial expectations!

3) Keep your donors updated on your progress

  • If  people are donating to your cause, they have invested in you and want to know where that investment is going. Keep them updated. Upload photos and videos. SAY THANK YOU!
  • The relationship doesn’t end when you reach your goal. Follow up post campaign. If donors can see the good they have helped to create they are much more likely to donate the next time you come a knockin with your next crowdfunding campaign.

4) Make your campaign specific

  • Andyshea Saberioon from Pledge Cents  helps coach a lot of educators on their campaigns. If you send him a campaign that says you want $500 to raise money for calculators – you know what his response is going to be (paraphrasing here) “and?  why should we care?”
    • Who are the calculators for? Why do they need them? How much does each calculator cost? If you want a successful campaign, you need to tell the world your story!

 

So as an organization, nonprofit, or association what should you be doing?

 

Crowd

1)  Get out there, try running a campaign

  • If you have a great project that you just don’t have the budget for, may be the community can help you make it happen

2) Empower your members or volunteers to start a crowdfunding campaign

  • Maybe some of your members have a great idea for a project. Empower them to make change by supporting their efforts towards a crowdfunding campaign.

 

Crowdfunding is a great way to get yourself out there to new audiences, especially if your volunteers and members are involved. They are reaching out to their communities to help spread the good and your mission.

It’s 2014. Make the jump. Trust the crowd.

 

Photo Attribution: Photos by eschipul

Episodic Event Focused Nonprofits vs Associations Drumbeat Events

Episodic Nonprofits vs nonprofits that have a drumbeat of events and activity. I did my best to anonymize the data while still showing the radical difference in what the servers see for episodic versus ongoing. It really is hit or miss for episodic non profits.

Ongoing Organization Event Focused

Some organizations have ongoing focus on events and audience outreach. For these organizations we see consistent dip and upflow patters surrounding events and consistent high levels of traffic.

Episodic Event Nonprofit fundraiser example one:

Note most of the traffic below is informational and prior to the event (it was a Saturday event.) And the day before had more overall traffic. A follow up newsletter with photos also generated more traffic than the day of the event.

Photos are the number one element of most sites. If they are not, it is typically because the client isn’t posting photos as opposed to a lack of appeal for a particular industry in my experience. (So go get a DSLR!)

Episodic Non Profit Example 1

Some organizations will focus on outlets that will reengage audiences post event but not have consistent PR and outreach. For these organizations we see a u-shaped curve around the event followed by a consistent decreased linear pattern.

Episodic event number two:

Note they did a great job of building up a drumbeat before the event and again the traffic is seeking information. This event also saw almost 50% mobile traffic suggesting that users were accessing schedules and maps of the event the day of the event.

Episodic Non Profit Event Example 2

Some organizations focus primarily on event based engagement. For these organizations we will see steady curve upwards leading up to the event, followed by  a drop off.

Modules used by many of our non-profits are partially listed in the menu screen grab below. Note that this is a partial list and varies by client.

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 7.44.06 PM

This legend explains the correlation between the colors which are the same universally for all Tendenci clients. I blurred the numbers but all of the charts are scaled to print. So 1,000,000 events, if that is the max in a given module will be the same height on the reports as 1,000 events on a smaller association or NPOs site. This is just to help explain it.

legend

For more on Tendenci and how it can help your non-profit, visit www.tendenci.com. It is also completely open source so feel free to try the demo at http://demo.tendenci.com and developers can download and extend it at www.tendenci.org .

 

Ed Schipul is the CEO of Tendenci and will be speaking on Data Analytics at NTC 2014 in Washington DC on March 15th (Online Fundraising Strategies to Take Advantage of Your Donor Events)

An Events Calendar Tool Powerful Enough to Handle 2013 – Twelfth Day of Christmas Gifts from Tendenci to You!

merry christmas frame spegcs calendarComing to Tendenci Websites in 2013: Event Management and Registration Features You’ll Love for Your Festivals, Galas, and Fundraising Events!

2013’s going to be a Big Year, and Tendenci’s working on new updates to your online calendar and event registration module because we want to make sure this is your biggest year yet!

On the 12th Day of Christmas, Tendenci’s Gift to You: Twelve New Updates to the Events Calendar Module!

Here’s 12 new features and updates we’re making this year to the Tendenci Events Calendar module to help you manage online registrations for your association programs and fundraising Gala’s.

** We’ve got even more event module updates planned for Tendenci’s 2013 Roadmap, and this list is just to give you a taste of the delicious treats we’ll be adding to Tendenci in 2013!

You’ll Love Creating New Events With These New Features

1) Import and Export Events

events import option coming soon
Soon You Can Import Multiple Events with a CSV Template!

We’re super excited about this feature because it will make it faster for you to create multiple events simply by importing all of the text and dates in a spreadsheet, instead of having to create and type in all of this information manually for each event.

2) Default Custom Event Registration Forms

Now you have the choice of using  the default event registration form, or our improved custom event registration forms. We listened to your feedback this year and the new custom registration forms now have predefined  fields that integrate with the website’s database and user records for reporting and simplify the time it takes you to create and customize a new registration form.

custom event registration form
We’ve simplified custom event registration forms for you!

If you want to use a custom registration form now, you already will find a default form with the standard contact information handy to add or remove to your form simply by checking a box. You can also customize which fields on the custom form also display on the event roster. Now you can ask what t-shirt size or special meal requests your guests have without the time involved with creating a brand new form.

3) Schedule Automatic Email Reminders to Attendees

email reminders automatically when you create event
Upload Images and Format Event Reminders to Match Your Association’s Brand

When you create new events, you’ll find a new option that enables you to send email reminders to your attendees that you create and schedule. Tendenci will automatically send the reminder for you, so you don’t have to remember to remind your registrants!

4, 5, & 6) Three New Ways to Promote, Search and Display Your Eventspriority groups and event type filtering new options

4) More Search Options

We’re adding more searchable field filters to the events module so your members can find the events most relevant to each of them. You’ll be able to search your events by date, event type, membership and user group permissions, and more!

5) New Priority Event Feature

You’ll soon find a new Priority checkbox on your new event forms. When you check this, Tendenci will keep your events on top of your events search list, and add a Star icon to your month view calendar. Now you can highlight your main events each month to help your members decide which events to attend.

priority events search and month views
Tendenci Makes Your Top Events Our Priority Too!

Here’s some fun ideas on how you can use the new Priority Event feature:

  • National Associations can feature a different Chapter’s programs and events each month to increase engagement from your different local chapter members!
  • Use the Priority events to promote membership engagement and offer prizes for those who attend every featured event this year!
  • Increase Corporate Sponsorship and Corporate Membership dollars by offering to add your supporting partners’ events to your calendar with the Priority feature setting for higher level packages.

6) Group-based Permission Settings for Displaying Events

This feature will enable you to designate certain events as “belonging” to certain user groups or membership types and allow you to do some really fun things with how events are displayed on your website. For example, one of your study groups could have their monthly study meetup on your event calendar and you’d assign the event to their study group.

Then, you could create a sidebar or box that would only display upcoming events from your event calendar that are assigned to that study group on the study group’s main information page. Members of the study group could visit the study group page and also see upcoming events specific to the group and you only have to add the event once to your calendar to share it in multiple places on your site!

Better Registration Experience for Your Users!

You want your website to be fun for your users and members in addition to your staff, and we’re making big changes across our website to provide better user experiences for your online community members. Here’s some of the ways we’re making registration for events simpler for attendees.

7) Fewer Steps to Register and Pay for an Event

We’re streamlining our registration form so that event registrants can go through as few clicks as possible when purchasing tickets and RSVP’ing for your association events. For most events, your users will be able to add multiple event attendees, select member versus non-member pricing, and view their total all from one registration page.

Adding new registrants is as easy as clicking a button – literally! Just click “Add Another Registrant” and a new section for the registration form will appear below the first registrant. Click to add as many registrants as you need and then submit just once to register and pay for everyone.

registration form for events default
We’re Streamlining Event Registration Process for Your Attendees!

8) Your Users Can Find and Manage Their Events for You!

With the new “My Upcoming Events” option, your members and regular event registrants can now search for events they’ve signed up for, update any of their registration information, cancel events, and add the event to their calendar using the Event ICS option from one place.

new my upcoming events feature
Your members can find and manage their event registration information!

Bonus for You and Your Staff:  this empowers your members to manage their own event registrations, view outstanding balances, and make payments on your website. This means your event manager doesn’t have to handle as many of these admin tasks and she can focus on all of the important tasks!

9) Updated Email Template for Event Registration Confirmations

We’ve made a few small updates to the default system email template that your website sends to registrants and confirms their registration along with their receipt for paid events.

The new email template includes an image and uses more of the formatting from your events’ description fields to give your event confirmation emails a look and feel that more closely matches your website’s Event Page. We’ve also made some updates to the helpful links section of the email to ensure your event registrants can find all the information about your event details as well as manage their outstanding balances and registration information.

images in email confirmation
We’re Updating the Look and Feel of Event Confirmation Email Templates!

10) Your Event Roster Now Tracks Attendance

Your event roster has a new “Attend” checkbox where you can mark who attended an event from the roster on your website. If you don’t have internet and a web browser at your event, then you can also print the roster with the Attend checkbox. After the event, take your printout and update the roster on your website with who attended so you can better track and measure attendance for your events.

event roster screenshot
Tendenci Event Roster to Manage Registrants

This is a huge benefit for large events where you have a team of volunteers handling check-ins. They can all be logged into your website and click to check off the people who they’ve confirmed at the event simultaneously!  The next day, you can log into your site and see at a glance who attended and didn’t. You can even view what time they were checked in.

11) Search and Manage Event Registrants Individually

The Event Roster is more intended for you to use to manage all of your event registrants in a batch, and when you need to find a specific registration to cancel or edit – you’ll be seeing some updates here also. We’re adding more information about the registrants to the view, and we’re integrating the event registrant’s contact information and site activity with their user profile on your website.

event registrant search
Manage Individual Event Registrations in Tendenci!

12) Improved Batch Management for Events

On the 10th Day of Christmas, we shared our updates coming to your site’s Admin Backend. You’ll love the updates we’re making that enable batch filtering, editing, and deleting event types, custom event registration forms, and discount codes from the Admin Backend.

Here’s a preview of a new feature that will let you reassign event types:

reassign and manage event types
Keep Your Events Calendar Up-to-Date with Your Association’s Many Changes!

You can quickly change all of the events of one type to another type. Most associations experience lots of changes as they grow and we see features like this helping you keep your website fresh and reflecting the latest changes without demanding lots of time from you and your staff.

Sign-Up for Tendenci 2013 Updates

Keep an eye out on the Tendenci Events Calendar because in 2013, we’re adding new training and workshops for our Advanced Tendenci users. We’ll also start posting scheduled maintenance and software updates, speaking events, and major announcements to help keep you in the loop with what we’re doing at Tendenci.

We are constantly exploring new ways to keep you in the loop with what we’re changing here at Tendenci. Let us know how you like to find out what’s going on here at Tendenci!

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM TENDENCI!

We’re celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas with daily previews of the all new Tendenci Features coming to your association website in 2013! Join us each day to “open new gifts” filled with feature updates for your website! Visit our Twelve Days of Christmas Main Page to find new gifts for each day from now until January 5th!

We love to hear your questions and comments about Tendenci, the open source CMS for Association’s – leave a reply below in our comments section or send us your thoughts via email to support@tendenci.com.

Advanced Tour of Your Admin Backend – Tenth Day of Christmas Gifts from Tendenci to You!

Coming in 2013: We’re updating several features in the administration dashboard to give you easier control over your site’s advanced management tools. 

When we rewrote Tendenci in Python and Django in order to release an open source version, we also updated the Administration Management Dashboard that we commonly will refer to as your “Admin Backend”.  The Admin Backend is intended for Tendenci Super-Users to manage the more advanced site and user functions, as well as give our open source users quick access to developer and theme documentation and tools.

ON THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS… TENDENCI’S GIFT TO YOU: Awesome Updates to Your Admin Backend!

access admin backend

Until now, most users have probably never seen this part of your site, and because we’re going to be adding tons of pretty awesome new features to your Admin Backend this year – I thought I’d offer y’all a tour.

If you have any questions or comments after the tour, please post in our comments section below or email me.

Your Administration Dashboard aka “The Admin Backend”

You can easily navigate to your site’s Admin backend two ways:

  • By adding /admin to the end of your site URL in the browser address bar
  • Navigating using your Blue Top Bar Admin Nav Menu through the dropdown menu under “Quick Links”

** You’ll need to have Super-User level access to the Tendenci website in order to access the Admin Backend regions.  

Sneek Preview of Upcoming Awesome Admin Backend Updates

Here’s a screenshot the site Administration Dashboard Homepage that you’ll see when you first log into the admin backed. You’ll see the full list of modules under Site Administration installed on your site.  If you install any plugins, such as the staff or videos plugins, you’ll find those listed here as well.

admin backend tendenci contributions
Your Admin Backend Dashboard Gives You Access to Advanced Site Features.

The Admin Backend dashboard also shows you your “Recent Actions” where  you can see recent items you’ve added (marked with a green plus icon), and edited, (marked with a pencil icon). The actions are linked to the content enabling you to quickly access the most recent content you’ve been working on.admin backend tendenci contributions

New Batch Management Tools

If you click through to one of the modules, for example the Files module, you’ll find the batch organization tools to make it faster for you to update, add, delete, and manage your site’s content and users. The batch organization tools give you the ability to effect multiple files at once.

Here’s a preview of some of the new batch management features we’re adding:

Click to filter and view Contributors and Owners of Files, Pages, Articles and Other Site Content

Filter content and files by the creator of the item on your site with a single click. The updated Filters let you see which users have added content as well as filter by active or inactive files.

files admin backend updates to sort by file owner
Filter and View Content based on the User who Added the Content

You might use this if you’re trying to find the original content for something that a former Staff member or Volunteer had created. You can even combine the filter by owner with the active filter option to see all content that’s currently active or inactive.

Inline Batch Editing for Titles, Tags, and other Fields

With the new inline editing option, you can quickly edit certain fields like we’re showing here for the stories module. Without having to click and wait for the full edit page to load – you can update tags, titles, categories and other fields just by clicking in the field, typing your changes and pressing enter or clicking out of the box.

stories in admin backend have more edit options
Inline Editing Options for Stories in the Admin Backend
drag and drop re ordering in admin backend
Just hover over the Reorder icon and then click and hold your left mouse button to change the ordering.

Use the drag and drop re-ordering feature to rearrange the order of content inside your admin backend. This is really great for content such as stories, photos, and video galleries where you may want the content to display to users in a different order than you originally uploaded the content in.

For example, when we initially uploaded a series of Membership videos to the website, the videos were displaying out of the series’ order on the video gallery page.  By going to the Admin Backend “Videos” dashboard, we were able to drag and drop the videos into the right order, and display the Membership Module 9 Video Series in order from start to finish:

video gallery re order display series
Simply Drap and Drop to Display Your Videos in Order!

Advanced Sorting Options

The new sorting options will enable you to quickly sort a module’s files using one or more of the header Fields. You can select which header fields to include in the sort and rank them in order for sorting.

For example, let’s say that you’re reviewing content on your website to make sure everything’s up-to-date for the new year. Using the advanced sorting options, you can search your Articles by the last date they were updated so that the most recently updated articles showed up first or last. You can also select to filter out inactive and pending articles by clicking the “active” filter. This way, you can easily start sorting content by starting with content that you know is publicly visible.

admin backend sort and filter field headers
Click to Sort and Filter Content in the Admin Backend

As you update content, the “Last Updated” date will change, automatically creating a way for you to keep track of your content that’s been recently edited and see at a glance what content is out of date.

Advanced Site Documentation from Docutils

We also integrated Tendenci with Docutils, an open source document management tool.  New Tendenci sites automatically will include advanced documentation and resources for those of you working on Tendenci as a developer or designer and you’ll access these tools from your Admin Backend dashboard.

template and site documentation
Find Advanced Documentation and Resources in Your Tendenci Admin Backend

Our developers have packaged up helpful code snippets, in-depth information about Models and Views, and more!

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM TENDENCI!merry christmas 12 days tendenci frame

We’re celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas with daily previews of the all new Tendenci Features coming to your association website in 2013! Join us each day to “open new gifts” filled with feature updates for your website! Visit our Twelve Days of Christmas Main Page to find new gifts for each day from now until January 5th!

We love to hear your questions and comments about Tendenci, the open source CMS for Association’s – leave a reply below in our comments section or send us your thoughts via email to support@tendenci.com.