Monday, August 30, 2010

Formula for success: Digital innovation + spirit of a shared mission + one big pep rally

by guest blogger, Jeff Achen of

More dismal economic news follows a recent Washington Post article about the drop in individual giving in the nonprofit world. The Washington Post reports that “people are giving less frequently and in smaller amounts of money to charities than in the past, according to a survey of executives at 6,800 nonprofits nationally by GuideStar USA, an organization that tracks finances of nonprofit groups.”

Nevertheless, we’re excited and optimistic here at Our mission is to provide Minnesotans with one-stop charitable giving through an “online giving marketplace,” provide local giving content, with a national reach (did you know you can donate to any registered nonprofit across the US using GiveMN? Simply click the dropdown box on the search page and select “all states”), and use cutting-edge technology to provide personalized experiences where donors and nonprofits can interact.

We know that when you’re giving to a cause, you want a more intimate connection to the impact your dollars are having. You can learn more about those you're considering supporting by clicking to see the Charities Review Council's review reports right from the profiles of nonprofits who have participated in the Accountability Wizard review process.

All of this is in addition to the cost savings we know online giving is providing to nonprofits AND the environmental benefits of moving from paper to digital fundraising efforts. We know that traditional fundraising is 3x times more expensive than online fundraising on GiveMN. And now, we’ve secured a competitive, low transaction fee that will take effect after our funding partners’ subsidy of transaction fees ends Sept. 30, 2010. Thanks to a partnership between US Bank, based here in Minnesota, and GiveMN’s technology partners, we’re able to cut the costs of processing online donations down to 2.9 percent. Sure, it’s not zero. And though our funders have been quietly covering all fees to the tune of more than $855,000, it’s been nice to know 100 percent of our donations have been going straight to nonprofits. The good news is that at 2.9 percent GiveMN is offering the most bang for the buck, especially when you look at the innovative tools on our site. (Thank you Razoo!) To get this low rate, US Bank is waiving select fees associated with processing credit cards. This low rate is better than most other online giving sites, many of which charge nonprofit organizations fees on average of 5 to 7 percent of dollars donated.

All of this is to say that we’re working hard to ensure more giving takes place and nonprofits continue to make a difference in our state.

As I’m writing this, we’re gearing up for Give to the Max Day 2010, our second annual one day giving challenge on Nov. 16. We’ve been referring to this event informally as a sort of giving “pep rally.” We have high hopes, and I don’t think they’re unrealistic, that Give to the Max Day will contradict the national statistics that say giving is in decline. Of course we can’t do that without your help. We need nonprofits to marshal all their resources to promote Give to the Max Day. We encourage you to use it as you would any of your own fundraising campaigns by energizing your donor base, asking supporters to step forward with matching donations to incentivize giving on Nov. 16, and marketing Give to the Max Day along side all your other campaigns. Perhaps Give to the Max Day will be your only or largest campaign this year?

Either way, we are excited to be at the forefront of a trend in increased online giving nationally with a platform we feel is truly “owned” by all Minnesota nonprofits. We’re also honored to be recognized by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and MAP for Nonprofits “Nonprofit Mission and Excellence Award for Innovation.” And, we hope our success is the success of all Minnesota nonprofits. Our platform is the nonprofit community’s platform. The innovation we’re doing here is being watched carefully from national players. I hope we can show them something they’ve never seen this November.

About Jeff Achen
Jeff is the interactive media strategist for GiveMN.  He manages the day-to-day operations, communication efforts and social media strategy for GiveMN. He serves as the primary voice for @givemn and administers GiveMN’s Facebook page. He loves it when people follow GiveMN on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, August 2, 2010

How Technology Has Transformed Charitable Giving

Each year, millions of dollars are raised for charities; the way this fundraising happens is changing rapidly, thanks in large part to technological advances. I love how technology has enabled me to contribute money quickly and conveniently to my favorite charities.

As more of us become more comfortable with internet transactions, it is still important to remain vigilant so that we protect ourselves. Whether you regularly make charitable donations online or are considering this avenue, take the following steps to minimize the chance of potential problems.

How to donate online safely
Always verify the charity. Beware of phony websites. Look closely at the web address of the charity. Scammers may use web addresses that appear similar but not exact to the official site of an organization to deceive users. The Charities Review Council’s online list of reviewed charities includes the URL addresses of reviewed organizations as part of their review reports.

Donate through a web site that is secured: To verify your session is secure, look for “https:” instead of “http:” in the URL address line, as well as the padlock icon on your browser's status bar. I, especially, love donating through secured giving portal sites such as that accept donations for the charity of my choice. In addition to secure giving, I can also track my giving and print receipts, a very handy feature for when tax time rolls around!

For more information on safe online giving, check out the Council's helpful online giving tips page on our website. Whether you give online or off-line, it is always a good idea to research the organization to learn more about its mission and programs.

What you need to know about texting-to-give
Texting-to-give, also known as mobile giving, is a convenient and quick way to donate to a charity. But wait. Do you know how, when and where your money is going and feel sure that it will be used wisely? Before picking up your phone to text your gift, check out our online tips for what you need to know about texting-to-give.

How have you seen the technology of charitable giving change? What ways can technological advances in charitable giving help encourage philanthropy?