Will Your Nonprofit’s Crowdfunding Campaign Actually Attract a Crowd?

social-mediaOnce considered a marginal activity used mostly by individuals struggling to fund their short film or medical care, crowdfunding (setting up short-term giving campaigns on sites like Kickstarter or Indigogo) has become a necessary and normal part of any nonprofit’s fundraising activities. Devin Thorpe, author of Crowdfunding for Social Good, has been widely quoted as saying, “While crowdfunding does not constitute a complete development plan, no development plan is complete without crowdfunding.”

But the secret to this method is not, as one might imagine, in attracting a crowd of strangers from near and far. One of  the 10 Crowdfunding Tips From The 2014 Nonprofit Technology Conference posted by  was that, “Contrary to what you may assume, the majority of donations for crowdfunding first come from people that you know.”

Makes sense, when you think about it. With the world getting a bit, well, crowded with crowdfunding campaigns, the odds of someone pitching in on your nonprofit’s effort when they’re busy reading solicitations for people and causes much closer to home seem small.

That’s not to say a nonprofit shouldn’t try to attract a crowd. The campaign itself can be a way to raise visibility, as friends forward the links to friends. It may give viewers a window into your group’s immediate needs, whether they end up giving or not. And to maximize the campaign’s effectiveness, you can find many free crowdfunding resources online.

There’s one more thing to think about if your nonprofit does succeed in attracting supporters from far away, however: state registration requirements. As attorney Gene Takagi notes, crowdfunding “potentially exposes the organization to the jurisdiction of every state where it is deemed to engage in charitable solicitation based on its crowdfunding efforts.” And according to Nolo author Stephen Fishman, most states “require nonprofits that solicit contributions from state residents to register with a state agency.”

This registration process can be a pain—which is why Nolo teamed up with National Corporate Research, Ltd. (NCR) to produce Nonprofit Fundraising Registration: Nolo’s 50-State Digital Guide, coauthored by NCR’s Ronald J. Barrett and Nolo’s Stephen Fishman. It’s available for just $124.99 annually and will be updated quarterly with new links, changed forms, and the latest information on registration rules and requirements.

Over One Fourth of Millennials Avoid Social Media

usmailJust when your nonprofit was starting to get comfortable with posting regular communications on social media, for the presumed sake of reaching all those tech-savvy millennials (age 20 to 35), we get this little reality check:

An estimated 27% of millennials are looking the other way. If they even have a Facebook account (Facebook being the most popular social media tool used by this group), they check it only once a week. This is according to research that Battery Ventures, a global, technology-focused investment firm, commissioned from Ipsos, an independent market-research company.

What’s more, this survey (of 1,000 people within the target age range) found that a majority (54%) said they don’t have a Snapchat account, around 41% don’t have accounts with Pinterest, 39% aren’t on Twitter, and 39% abstain from Instagram.

This doesn’t undermine the basic importance of social media. It may still reach a majority of your prospective millennial supporters, and they may share it with their online friends, and so on. Still, your nonprofit may not want to abandon those seemingly old-fashioned snail mail appeals and printed newsletters just yet.

Dear New York Times: Now You’re Covering Immigrants’ “Deportment?”

tablewareI know immigration law is complicated, but this should be a pretty easy concept to get straight: Deporting an immigrant is called “deportation.”

So when the New York Times said, in an article called “Los Angeles Rethinks Deportation of Inmates,” that the Secure Communities Program was “an Obama administration initiative that relied on local law enforcement to help with deportment efforts,” it was apparently saying that L.A. cops or prison guards are teaching etiquette to its non-citizen inmates.

I’d like to be a fly on the wall for that one. Shall we start with which side of the plastic tray one’s plastic dinner fork goes on?


California Updates Forms for Challenging Traffic Tickets by Video

Police Officer Writing TicketOn September 1, 2015, the California Judicial Council updated forms for people who’ve received traffic tickets and want to show their faces in court without schlepping to the courthouse. As the relevant instruction sheet tells, “remote video proceedings” (RVP) are available in (1) those courts that choose to allow them and (2) “cases involving Vehicle Code infractions or local ordinances adopted under the Vehicle Code.” (Defendants are ineligible if their alleged traffic offenses involve drugs or alcohol or their cases are in Informal Juvenile and Traffic Court.)

It looks like ticket fighters might not be able to get their face time from the convenience of the home sofa, however. In a court that allows RVP and a case in which the judge has approved video appearance, the defendant must appear “at a remote location designated by the court.”

Of the forms—accessible at the Judicial Council page for traffic infraction forms—one (TR-505) is for those requesting arraignment and trial on the same day; the other (TR-510) is for people who want RVP for arraignment or trial on separate days.

To learn about the procedure for challenging a ticket through “two-way audiovisual communication” and the rights you give up with RVP, see TR-500-INFO (the aforementioned instruction sheet).

Looking for Development Director Job? Don’t Expect to Earn Over $40K!

Sheep dog covering her eyes with her paw

The 2015 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report is out, and the results are, shall we say, depressing.

In organizations with a budget of $250,000 or less, the average salary for the top development position is $37,993. In the bigger-budget organizations, it goes up by a measly $10K or so, to $48,775.

Worse yet, there’s a significant gender gap. The female development directors earn less than the males, and there are fewer of them to begin with.

To put the typical development director’s income level into perspective, let’s consider whether this person can buy a home in the United States. The median home price right now is, according to Zillow, $180,800. As a general rule, a person can buy a home worth three times his or her income (using a mortgage loan). So your typical development director could buy a home worth $113,979. Good luck saving the extra $66,000-plus on an income that’s unlikely to exceed $50,000 per year! And that’s not even taking into account that in many urban areas of the U.S., a halfway decent home will cost you over a million dollars.

Or, let’s have a look at the U.S. poverty guidelines. For a family of four, the poverty line is $24,250. And not all development directors at small to mid-size organizations are actually making the average $37,993. In fact, the report shows, 10% of them are making around $18,512, and 25% of them are making  $25,150. That’s called poverty.

We all knew already that nonprofit fundraising was a serious labor of love, especially since it’s a job that often goes unappreciated by peers and the public. It involves, after all, that dirty word, “money.” And there never seems to be enough money to support every nonprofit in the United States.

However, every donor or foundation staffer who ever complained that nonprofits should be plowing almost every cent of their (oops, sorry, gotta use that word again) money into direct services to clients or their cause should consider that the development director’s salary is, technically, “overhead.” Yet pathetic salary is being paid to the person largely responsible for ensuring that the organization can keep its doors open.