Digital and Social Media Transform Nonprofits

November 17, 2015

Yesterday I received an infographic showing how digital and social media have transformed communications and fundraising in nonprofits across the country. It was nicely done, so I’m sharing.

The infographic examines ways that new channels are quickly, and dramatically, changing how people engage with nonprofit organizations.

According to MDG Advertising, infographic creators, take-aways are:

  1. Nonprofits are all-in on digital — 3 of 4 top engagement channels are digital: websites, email campaigns and social media; the only non-digital channel in the top 4 is in-person events.
  2. Online giving is on the rise — online giving has risen 13% in the past 12 months, with the biggest jump in donations coming from social media fundraising (up +70% compared with last year).
  3. Facebook is the foundation of social success — 81% of nonprofits say Facebook is the most important social network for their organization; Twitter ranks second.
  4. Peer-to-peer fundraising is growing fast — 33% of online donations are made through peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, which encourage individuals and teams to rally for a cause.
  5. Websites are engagement hubs — traffic to nonprofit websites is up 11% on average since 2013, with most organizations now using their sites as hubs to provide information, accept donations and aggregate social posts.
  6. Email remains a powerful workhorse — nonprofits say email campaigns account for an average of one-third of all revenue raised. Email has the best return on investment of any marketing tactic: $40 for every $1 spent.
  7. Giving days are big — in Minnesota, Give to the Max Day raised more than $18 million in November 2015. Nationally 2014 Giving Tuesday donations spiked by more than a third compared with 2013; 4,300+ organizations raised more than $26.1 million.

2015 Trends: How Digital and Social Media Have Transformed Nonprofits [Infographic]
– Susan Stehling, communications and media specialist

MCF Welcomes Levi Weinhagen as Communications & Media Specialist

September 2, 2015

leviHelp us give a warm hello to our newest hire, Levi Weinhagen!

As a St. Paul native, Levi is incredibly proud to be a part of Minnesota’s unmatched philanthropic community. In his position as communications and media specialist, Levi will help MCF members better understand and tell the stories of the work they do and the communities they serve. Levi also works with writers, photographers, and other artists to tell the stories of how philanthropy impacts the state, the region and the country.

Prior to joining MCF, Levi spent over 15 years working in the nonprofit sector with the Minnesota Historical Society, Twin Cities Public Television and the Science Museum of Minnesota in service of education, community engagement and communication. He was also the Knight Foundation’s primary St. Paul arts writer in 2014 and 2015.

Additionally, Levi has been collaborating with artists and creative types for all of his adult life as a theater maker, comedy writer, and performer. He’s the co-founder of the all-ages theater company Comedy Suitcase and the host of Pratfalls of Parenting, a weekly podcast about the relationship between being a maker of cool stuff and being a parent. Levi was Artist in Residence at the Walker Art Center in the Winter of 2014/2015.

MCF Seeks Communications and Media Specialist

May 29, 2015

helpWe’re hiring! MCF is seeking an individual to join our communications team. The communications and media specialist works as a member of a team that shares responsibility for promoting philanthropy in Minnesota, connecting grantmakers with each other, engaging grantmakers with MCF programs and services and increasing MCF membership.

Currently, MCF seeks to add a person to the communications team who has demonstrated marketing capacities and is interested in a full time position. Core responsibilities in this area include developing and implementing marketing campaigns and tools to secure membership, engage participation in MCF programs and encourage adoption of emerging or best practices for grantmakers.
We also expect our new hire to be a capable communications generalist with abilities to support all of the position’s core responsibilities in these areas:
  • Editorial
  • Research and writing
  • Electronic communication
  • Media & public relations
  • Production & project management

See the full job description on our website, and help us spread the word! Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with the goal of having the new hire start in mid-August.


Photo cc Matt Wetzler

Quiet Leaders and Philanthropy: A Good Fit

February 5, 2015
Patrice Relerford

Patrice Relerford

Today we welcome Patrice Relerford, a new Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow who works at The Minneapolis Foundation and shares her thoughts on an evening with Dr. Albert Ruesga.

I recently had dinner with a group that included the CEO of one of the nation’s leading community foundations. Yet I had no idea he was the guest of honor until Trista Harris, MCF president, introduced him to everyone at the table.

I’m new to philanthropy and also didn’t recognize most of the foundation professionals in attendance. However, my reaction is noteworthy because I can usually spot the leader in any room. Here’s what gives them away: they’re usually talking and surrounded by people.

Dr. Albert Ruesga, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, wasn’t silent or shy, but he had a much calmer demeanor than I expected. Ruesga continued to defy my expectations when he spoke for a few minutes after Harris introduced him. He then asked each person in attendance to introduce themselves to the group and describe their intended legacy.

I felt anxious and relieved that I was several seats away from him. This is Minnesota. We talk about our families, sports, the weather and the roads as they relate to the weather. Also, who under the age of 60 has thought about their legacy? It sounds like something that involves paperwork, a notary public and a meeting with a lawyer.

I won’t give you a play by play of our conversation, but I will share that his behavior is an example of what psychologists have referred to as quiet leadership. Quiet leaders are more inclined toward action than talking. These men and women also take the time to assess a situation and map out the best way to proceed. I’m sure the fact that Ruesga seems inclined to think before he speaks has served him well since he moved to Louisiana in 2009.

Quiet leaders also listen and seek to empower others. They are not threatened or overbearing when their colleagues’ ideas clash with their perspectives. This issue has received quite a bit of attention recently as writers and thought leaders question our preference for extroverted leaders. I’m not certain how Ruesga would feel about being described as a “quiet leader,” and I didn’t consult him before I wrote this article.

I think he shifted the momentum back to us during dinner to learn more about where each of us was in our leadership journey. It was also a great transition into discussing the main topic for the evening: social justice philanthropy. I learned this term has several definitions. The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) describes it as supporting structural change to increase the opportunities of those who are the least well off politically, economically and socially.

As a new Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow, I’ve looked for examples of this type of work since meeting Ruesga and see parallels between the NCRP definition and philanthropic support for local organizations such as Voice for Racial Justice, which engages in racial equity organizing and leadership.

Below are three simple lessons I derived from our conversation and the concept of quiet leadership that I plan to apply to my own new career in philanthropy.

  1. Spend more time listening, learning and thinking than speaking. We live in a diverse community that faces complex challenges. No one person or entity has all of the answers.
  2. Don’t make assumptions or decisions about the needs of underserved communities or marginalized groups of people. Empower members of those groups and communities to lead the process for developing solutions which benefit them and address larger systemic issues.
  3. Strive for harmony – which isn’t the same as forcing others to agree with you – and move forward in a way that respects others’ viewpoints, yet changes inequitable systems. It’s a difficult path, but necessary to make a meaningful impact.

I’m not sure when I’ll have a response to Ruesga’s question about my intended legacy that is worth sharing publicly. However, I’m confident it will be the byproduct of these three actions.

Patrice Relerford, former Star Tribune education reporter and nonprofit fundraiser, recently joined The Minneapolis Foundation staff as a Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow

Take a Virtual Coffee Break!

July 29, 2014

gcftPhilanthropy – we need each other to do it well, and it’s imperative that we make time to share stories, compare notes and answer questions. My favorite way to engage is over coffee or lunch, but that’s not always possible. Sometimes online advice – I call it a virtual coffee break – will do.

I know GrantCraft for their excellent guides, and I’ve used many of them in my work. The site has now been completely reorganized, making lots of great content much easier to locate and use. They’ve also made it easier to find out what other grantmakers have got brewing and to contribute your own lessons learned.

Maybe you’re working on an initiative that’s new to your community but has taken off elsewhere, or you have a burning question that you’d like a lot of people to weigh in on right now. Those are a couple of the reasons I’m hoping that GrantCraft’s new features really take off.

I encourage you to take a fresh look at the site, share your wisdom and comment on the questions asked by others. All of the discussions on the site are searchable and will be archived. Today when I checked, there were funders wondering how others help grantees beyond grants, how grantmakers help grantees find new money, challenges that arise when collaborating with other funders and how your organization structures challenge grants. These are all questions that I know many of our MCF members can help answer for other grantmakers.

Every success I have had in this field has been because of connections I’ve made and people I’ve met. GrantCraft now provides us a virtual opportunity to widen our networks and learn from grantmakers we haven’t yet met. If we take advantage of it, we’ll each improve our own practice, and we’ll better the field of philanthropy together. Let’s use it to stimulate real results!

Trista Harris, MCF president

MCF Welcomes Na Eng as Director of Communications

July 10, 2014

Na EngMCF is pleased to welcome Na Eng as our new interim director of communications.

As an award-winning journalist for PBS and CNBC, Na covered a broad range of critical economic and social issues, such as health care, education, immigration and renewable energy. Her hard hitting reporting took her to far-flung destinations all over the world and earned her top industry honors, including an Emmy Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Na also served as a senior communications officer for the international humanitarian organization Mercy Corps where she managed media relations and wrote op-eds, web copy, press releases and other material.

At MCF, Na will direct strategic communications planning for the coming year. Returning to Minnesota after a long career in New York, she is excited for the opportunity to contribute to the state’s vibrant foundation and nonprofit community.

Welcome Na!



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