How a Social Service Organization Raised Necessary Funds During COVID-19


POWER (The Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery) provides addiction treatment and recovery support services in Southwestern Pennyslvania – primarily the Greater Pittsburgh area.

From Britt Reints, Communications Manager:
All of our services are provided in person. While our services were considered essential by the state, we decided to take steps to keep our staff and clients safe, by pivoting to a telehealth model for our individual therapy and peer mentoring services. Unfortunately, we did not have the technology available to continue to offer intensive outpatient group therapy.

We turned to our donors with a specific, urgent appeal.

We sent an email on a Friday afternoon explaining exactly how the COVID19 outbreak was affecting our clients and our ability to provide services. We are also transparent about the lack of budget available to purchase new technology. We asked for an immediate $50 donation. Here is the letter:

We also created a donation landing page repeating this need.

The Result: In one weekend, we raised over $6,000.

For an organization of our size, this was a huge achievement. We were able to acquire the technology we needed and resume group therapy on the Monday after we sent out our appeal.

the POWER House for women in early recovery
Pictured above: The POWER House for women in early recovery.

5 Inspiring Stories of Nonprofit Good During COVID-19


Tired of hearing only bad news?

Here`s the top 5 most positive things that happened by and for nonprofits last week

1. Toronto charity offers subsidized housing near hospitals for health-care workers

– By the Canadian Press

As hospitals prepare for a surge of COVID-19 patients, one Toronto nonprofit is offering subsidized accommodation to health-care workers so they can avoid exposing their families to the illness. StayWell Charity, which ordinarily helps house patients who can’t afford to relocate to major cities for treatment, is now offering their services to doctors, nurses and other front-line workers.

St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, has already earmarked one room for its team and is prepared to book more if needed.

StayWell has around 1,000 apartments and hotel rooms at its disposal that could potentially house health-care workers in major cities across Canada.

Steven Argyris, a director with the charity, said a few doctors are already staying in their furnished rooms so they can be closer to hospitals and avoid putting their families at risk of infection. “My wife is a physician and there’s a lot of chatter where doctors are concerned about being on the front lines,” added Argyris. “This would give them the comfort that they need.”

The charity is connecting with major hospitals in the Toronto region and has reached out to municipal, provincial and federal levels of government to offer their services.

Currently many hotels aren’t booking customers and Airbnb hosts may be unwilling to let high-risk people stay in their apartments.

2. Grocery Stores Hold Seniors-Only Hours During Coronavirus Pandemic

Some help for some of the most vulnerable – By Sherina Harris

Empty produce displays. No more pasta, canned soup, or bags of rice. And we all know about the toilet-paper hoarding. 

As shoppers stock up supplies despite warnings there is no need to stockpile, a few Canadian grocery stores are reserving their morning hours for seniors to ensure they have access to food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kyle’s No Frills store in Kitimat, B.C. received its deliveries on Sunday night, cleaned and sanitized the store overnight, and then opened early at 8 a.m. Monday for seniors only. 

Photo: Corbis Via Getty Images

Older people are more at risk of becoming more seriously ill from COVID-19.

Store owner Kyle MacGillivray said he got the idea from reading about elderly people’s increased risk of contracting COVID-19, combined with public concerns over shortages at grocery stores. 

“I thought it’d be kind for the seniors to be able to come in,” he told HuffPost Canada in a phone interview. “I thought I’d give the most vulnerable the first opportunity to get what they needed.”

There’s a certain demographic out there that is pretty scared.

Around 100 seniors showed up to shop, said MacGillivray, and there were a lot of thank-yous. Some seniors told him the event was exactly what they needed.

Older people are more at risk of becoming more seriously ill from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization.

“There’s a certain demographic out there that is pretty scared,” MacGillivray said. “So, I think it was a little bit of relief that they could come in and get the supplies they needed — and we had toilet paper.”
MacGillivray said he will consider holding the event again, depending on community need as the virus continues to spread. 

Sobey’s High River in Alberta is also taking part in a similar initiative. The store will be open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. for seniors or people with immune deficiencies.

Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws stores are planning to open some stores early with dedicated hours for seniors and people living with disabilities to shop before the crowds, according to a note to customers by CEO Galen Weston on Monday.

3. Halifax’s Evolve Fitness Starts Coronavirus Fundraiser For Other Small Businesses

This is what paying it forward looks like in the age of a pandemic – By Brian Trinh

After nearly a decade in business, brothers Mitchell and Matt Benvie decided to close the doors to Evolve Fitness, a gym in Halifax’s North End community.

They’re one of many small businesses in Canada that have either had to lay off staff, issue pay cuts or outright close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But before finally locking the doors, the owners told each client to take home one of their dumbbells. After all, just because the economy was feeling sluggish didn’t mean gym members should have to feel the same. That idea quickly evolved into their 21-day fitness challenge.

The program works on a donation basis with a minimum $5 entry. That fee gets you access to their various online workouts recorded via Zoom. All of the proceeds are then spent on gift cards to support other shops and services in Halifax once business returns to normal. The gift cards are then handed out as prizes to participants over the three weeks. 

For Benvie, many of his clients are business owners themselves and have supported Evolve since day one. This is his way of paying it forward.     

“I know so many people that are affected, like completely shut down without even the option of doing something we’re able to do,” Mitchell told HuffPost Canada. “I feel pretty fortunate with the online training option and everybody’s home and everybody wants to stay fit. But it’s hard for different types of business.” 

4. Coronavirus Kindness: Canadians Are Stepping Up To Help Their Neighbours

Community groups are springing up around the country to help – By Maija Kappler

Mr. Rogers was right: In any situation, no matter how dire, people will try to help. 

As the rates of Coronavirus continue to surge, many Canadians are gripped with panic. But across the country, there are people who are jumping into action to help wherever they can.

For Mohamed Tarrabin, who manages a jewelry store in Fort McMurray, Alta., the choice to help came last week, when local food banks made the announcement that they were almost out of supplies. People had already started panic-shopping, taking up most of the local supply of non-perishables and toilet paper, leaving little for the community’s most vulnerable, who rely on food banks.

So Tarrabin’s store, Prestige Jewellery, started offering a promotion, offering free earrings to anyone who dropped off a food donation. It didn’t take long for the idea to take off.

“My office, the back room, the shelves of my jewelry store are all filled with food now,” he told HuffPost Canada. As of this past weekend, the jewelry store is operating as something of an ad-hoc emergency response centre, where people are dropping off supplies or picking up what they need. The same is true of the store’s Edmonton location, he said.

“Showcases are all full with food,” he said. “It’s unreal.”

5. Free Little Libraries Transform Into Mini Food Banks To Combat COVID-19

Members are leaving goods for strangers as the coronavirus makes in-demand items scarce – By Brian Trinh

Members of the Free Little Library program are no stranger to the goodwill of others. The program is designed around a community of people donating books for others to take and return as they see fit. 

Now, given the scarcity of some in-demand items due to the COVID-10 pandemic, members are now converting the pop-up bookstores into pantries to help others.

Stories of Nonprofit Resilience

We’re looking to amplify stories of how nonprofits are responding to community needs in the time of COVID-19.

If you’d like us to share your story, we would be more than happy to post it to help it reach other organizations. Email us.

In the meantime, as long as the COVID-19 holds us all hostages, we hope to continue to bring you more stories from here and around the world, to lift all our spirits.

How to Talk to Donors and Keep Fundraising During COVID-19


By Billy Sharma, Direct Marketing Consultant and Author.

There is no denying that we are all living in fear right now as if someone has opened a Pandora’s box. But even in the Greek myth of Pandora’s box, the thing at the bottom of that box of woes was – hope.

And that’s the kind of message to relay right now!

Only send useful information to donors

Before you send anything to donors, think about what may be happening in their lives right now. Most are working from home, many are looking after their kids because schools are closed and child care may not be available.

This means that your donors are probably spending a lot more time at home just like you. Offer them tips, advice or maybe, even share ideas for activities for kids. There are many useful tips and ideas that can allow your nonprofit to stay in touch with donors and keep the relationships going. Most important of all, be thoughtful and mindful with every communication you send.

Inform your donors about what’s happing at your non-profit organization

Send a short email highlighting what’s going on and how you’re handling operations, programming, beneficiaries, and staff.


Remember everyone is hurting. Many have had to shut down their businesses, or are no longer receiving paychecks, or have elderly parents who are at risk. Keep it positive. For example: Here are a few points from an email from Sobeys Food store:

Here are the details of our Hero Pay Program:

  • All teammates will receive an additional $50 a week, regardless of the number of hours worked, recognizing how each one of our heroes is going over and above to feed our customers.
  • All of our teammates who work more than 20 hours a week will receive an additional $2 premium per hour for all hours over 20 hours, in addition to the $50 payment mentioned above.
  • All of these new arrangements are retroactive to March 8, 2020, and employees will receive their first payments in early April.
  • This program will be reassessed at the end of April.
  • We are mobilizing our recruitment drive and are hiring additional part-time teammates across our business.

Ask for donations now if you are still in operation

If your organization is an essential service such as a food bank, then you should be asking for help and money, but be specific.

For example: Show them how different amounts can help, like $100 will buy 10 food boxes to feed a family of four for a week.

If you are not an essential service, and strapped for funds you can appeal to your donors by starting a “Virus Relief Fund” to help your staff during the crisis. The United Way of Central Indiana did just that:


The rise of mobile platforms has contributed to giving, making it easier for potential donors to immediately send money, usually in small amounts, via text, Venmo, Facebook, or other tools.

When an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, the American Red Cross raised over a million dollars in 24 hours through a text-messaging campaign.

When donors respond, pick up the phone or send an instant thank you email

Equally important is to check in to see how they are doing. Making donors feel good immediately can strengthen the emotional reward of giving by reducing the delay between the donation and the positive feelings it produces, and by augmenting the good feeling itself. Nonprofits should immediately and vividly show donors the effect of their gift.

For example: donors could view personal photos of the people benefitting from the aid, or a video with a beneficiary saying thank you.

Start reaching out to your loyal donors now

Call your donors. Reach out to your most loyal supporters, with talking points in place in advance of your conversations. In moments of uncertainty, communication and community are crucial — use this time to grow your donor relationship.

Brush up on Social Media tools

Everyone, including you, reading this article is online, since, just about everyone is sitting at home, plugged into their computers, phones and televisions. So, it’s time to brush up on digital marketing efforts. Take advantage of this truly unique medium now.

A list of some social media tools to get acquainted with now:

Google Analytics

Google Analytics: If you work in online fundraising, Google Analytics is a must. Although not designed specifically for nonprofits, but then, most of the platforms are not designed specifically to be “online fundraising tools.” Google Analytics allows you to see what traffic Google search queries are driving to your website. Sign up for free.


Rev: Many major nonprofits use this platform to make online fundraising efforts faster, efficient, and more cost effective. Rev provides transcription, captioning, and subtitles services. Just upload audio files like a podcast or link your latest video and they’ll have your file transcribed/captioned in less than 24 hours. One of the biggest bottlenecks in an online fundraising program is having the time and bandwidth to create new content like blogs, articles, eBooks, etc.

Rev Transcribe for Fundraisers

Good quality content is critical to growing and cultivating new and long-term donor relationships. Content is king when it comes to keeping your donors in the loop about what type of impact they’re making through their support. Here are some ways you can use Rev to streamline your content creation:

  • Turn an existing podcast into a blog post. If you have podcasts, radio broadcast, or even recorded meetings where you’re talking about your organization’s impact – you can turn these into great blog content with ease.
  • Upload your audio recording to Rev, get a transcription back, and make your edits. This will save you tons of writing time ready to share with your donors.
  • Get your videos “social media ready” by adding captions: Most people consume video-based content on social media like, Facebook, Instagram, etc. with the sound turned off. That makes captioning all the more important and critical to delivering your message effectively.

“As much as 85 percent of video views happen with the sound off.” – Digiday

Google Optimize

Google Optimize: Helps you figure out how to optimize your results. There’s no excuse for not signing up for Google Optimize – it’s free! Once you have it set up, you can even run an A/B test on any page of your website – including your homepage, landing pages, articles, and even your donation page.

Sly Broadcast

SlyBroadcast: This is the best most unknown online fundraising tool out there. While it’s not specifically designed for nonprofits, it is designed to help you connect with people – which is what fundraising is all about.

SlyBroadcast helps you send out a thank you message to all of your donors via voicemail after they give. If they miss your call, they’ll see your message in their voicemail. So, you don’t have to spend every moment of your day making phone calls.

Get familiar with where your donors are

Baby Boomers (Born 1946 to 1964)

Baby Boomers favor Facebook over other social media platforms. A Pew survey found that about two-thirds of 50- to 64-year-olds (68%) and almost half (46%) of those aged 65 or older are the most active on Facebook. Boomer’s second pick for a social media platform is Pinterest.


Generation X (Born 1965 to 1980)

Generation X likes to seek out content in both video and text form both established and new media, making Facebook, YouTube and Twitter their preferred social media platform choices.

Millennials/ Generation Y (Born 1981 to 1996)

This generation’s preferred channels are all over the map. Millennials are most active on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Millennials are also the most prominent generation on LinkedIn.

Generation Z (Born 1996 to 2012)

This generation prefers visuals and short, motion-based content. Gen Z prefers Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube. Gen Z is drawn to the hyper-personalization brought by these platforms.

Remember, we are all in this together! This crisis allows nonprofits to show compassion, empathy, and love for one and other as a sector and as a nation.

Finally, it may seem odd, but in tough financial times people actually give more, especially to organizations they care greatly about.

About the Author: Billy Sharma is a brilliant direct marketing consultant and author and a regular contributor to the Sumac Blog. Sumac is part of the Silent Partner Software family, a company dedicated to providing exceptional software and services to nonprofits. With over 25 years of service, Silent Partner has helped organizations manage over 3 million donors and contacts across the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. Learn more.


See Complete List of COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofit Here.

Communicating During COVID-19: A Complete Nonprofit Guide & Resource Roundup


By: Lisa Rupple, nonprofit communications professional with over 15 years of experience crafting messaging for nonprofits, and community foundations.

Figuring out the impacts of the global coronavirus outbreak and what it might mean for your nonprofit can change in just 24-hours. Whether you are the director of communications, or communications is just one part of your job description, here’s some advice and a roundup of resources to help you.

Cancel your scheduled content right now

Cancel all scheduled social media posts, emails, newsletters. You definitely don’t want to send invites for an event in April that was cancelled last week.

Need some coronavirus-related templates for print and digital communications? Canva has your back.

Get familiar with crisis communications

Communicating in times of crisis is different than your day-to-day work.

Here is a comprehensive set of fill-in-the-blank email, text, and social media messages for your Coronavirus donor communications strategy..

The Communications Network has compiled a triage kit for nonprofit communicators. It includes messaging for situations you might be facing right now and in the weeks to come.
Communications Triage Coronavirus

Check in with your funders

You may not be the point person with your nonprofit’s primary funders, but these resources are easy to share with your program officers or executive director.

Foundations are also coping with the scope of this and what to do next. The Rockefeller Foundation is sharing this open call for input from

Foundations are rising to the challenge, with many announcing special funds in response this crisis.

Talk to your local community foundation, they are geographically focused on the community your nonprofit serves. TAG (Technology Association for Grantmakers) recently polled its member foundations for how they are responding, check out the community foundation response!

Sign up for webinars for nonprofits on responding to the coronavirus outbreak

You may be reading this after these have aired live, but you can still sign up to view the recordings or check back once they post them.

  • Join Tech Impact & 501 Commons to learn about the technology tools for adapting your operations and your mission.
  • The Communications Network hosted a webinar with an infectious disease expert to help comms folks respond accurately and avoid misinformation.
  • TechSoup has posted this recording of its recent webinar about tools, strategies, and resources to help nonprofits manage remote workers.
  • CharityHowTo is hosting a series of webinars on what you need to know about postponing and cancelling events.

After you’ve canceled your event, think about all of 2020

Most fundraising and program events by now are canceled for March and April. But it’s probably a good idea to look at the remainder of the year and make contingency plans.

If you have to cancel your event, here is guidance for possibly converting ticket sales into donations.

Got an in-person program that’s now a webinar? Here’s a guide for running an online workshop.

Know how to talk to your donors about coronavirus

In times of crisis, the act of doing can be a great way to relieve anxiety. Help your donors funnel this energy to action. Your nonprofit’s expertise can position you to educate them in light of the impact of coronavirus. For instance, if your mission is food insecurity then share how panic buying can affect the folks around them.

Just checking in with your donors is critically important right now. Here is a call script from Pamela Grow to help.

Help your donors understand that demand for the services you provide is about increase exponentially and they can help you scale to meet that need. Donating to your organization online (instead of dropping off food at the foodbank for instance) is a far more flexible, immediate way to help and perfect for social distancing.

Figure out your home office

If like many, you are new to remote work, you might be working from the kitchen table for now. The good news is there are tons of virtual office resources out there.


  • If you use Microsoft Office, the company has just made Teams tool available for free for nonprofits to aid in the transition to being a distributed team.
  • NTEN is a great resource for all things technology and nonprofits. They are hosting a series of community calls to dive into remote work.
  • FlexJobs is providing a lot of guidance for those new to managing remote teams and running meetings.

Your LinkedIn newsfeed is probably full of folks offering to share advice and even photos of their home office setup. You can also search these hashtags: #remotework #nonprofit #nptech #virtualteams

Get up to speed on managing virtual teams

With the all this social distancing, you might want some book recommendations.

Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson, the team that created Basecamp, SaaS project management software.

The Unashamed Guide to Virtual Management, by Ben Bisbee and Kathy Wisniewski, for managing virtual employees. Ben Bisbee has an extensive background in the nonprofit sector and offers a lighthearted approach to this new normal we are all figuring out.

Carve out some time for professional development

Been meaning to catch up on the latest advice for Google Ad Grants for nonprofits or digital strategy? The generous folks at NTEN have offered space for presenters from its now-canceled conference to post their presentations. All for free.

For everything else, here are mega lists for COVID-19 and nonprofits

Responding to Coronavirus

As always, check out the Sumac blog and subscribe to the monthly newsletter for more great tips and resources for your nonprofit.

Be well, stay home if you can, and we will make it through this together!

About the Author: Lisa Rupple is a nonprofit communications professional with over 15 years of experience crafting messaging for nonprofits, and community foundations.


See Complete List of COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofit Here.

Top 5 VOIP Software Solutions For Nonprofits


For many organizations, having a fully integrated phone system is not in the budget. A solution some are starting to consider is voice over IP (VOIP) phone systems. VOIP phones allow you to make a call anywhere as long as you have an internet-connect phone or computer.

Main Benefits of VOIP Phones

  • * Once configured, it is easy to add phones and remove phones. Many nonprofits grow quickly or scale back to it’s easy to adjust as the size of your organization changes.
  • * Features, features, and more features. VOIP software enables your organization to have all the elements of a normal phone system and more: auto-attendant, personalized voicemail, call queues, conference calling, voicemail transferring, voicemail transcribing, and more.
  • * VOIP phones are configurable for different working styles. If you have an employee that prefers a hard phone, you can configure a Polycom or Avaya phone. If you have an employee that works on site or mobile, they can download a soft phone onto their computer or cellphone. Both work as long as you have a strong wifi connection.
  • * Most VOIP software will save you lots of money!

Top 5 VOIP Services

Top 5 VOIP Nonprofit

Let’s break down the ratings that stand out in this chart.


Like why does 8×8 have one start for reliability and RingCentral have have one star for price? 8×8 is a reliable cloud-based phone system that can be used by small and larger organizations. The quality of phone calls are not always the same and many customers have complained of dropped phone calls or voicemails. 8×8 also lacks some key queueing features however, their admin portal is easy for all levels of management to use.


RingCentral and Nextiva often competed for the best rated VOIP service on blogs and other comparison sites. In our research, we’ve found that RingCentral hits all the marks except for pricing. Known for their reliability, features, scalability and aggressive selling tactics, the best way to get the price you want is to find other quotes and ask them to price match. Price matching is a common practice at RingCentral that can get you one of the best services for the best price.


If you’re in a rush to get up and running with your VOIP service, Nextiva can get your phone system working within minutes and is very affordable. The company has very few bad customer service reviews as well. However, if you’re not a very tech savvy person, getting used to Nextiva’s portal might take some time and training to navigate.


Intermedia falls right in between RingCentral and Nextiva. They can be a little more on the expensive side and are missing call center features. However, many reviews say how easy it was to deploy and implement Intermedia unlike a lot of VOIP transitions and companies.


The front runner here is Zoom Video Communications. Most other VOIP service comparison sites don’t even include this company as a contender. The communications company only started offering the Zoom phone in December 2018 which may be why they haven’t been indexed yet. They previously were on the road to overtaking Skype’s sales for business video conferencing solutions.

Zoom expanded their value past video conferencing so they could tackle the whole business communications industry. Thus far, the online feedback on Zoom’s pricing, reliability and integratedness has been promising for the company. If you’re already a Zoom video conferencing user, the phone application is completely integrated and has the same interface making it easy to onboard employees and volunteers.

This brief breakdown is not enough to base your decision off of. You’ll still have some homework to do if VOIP phones seem like the right fit for your organization’s operations and budget.

Steps To A Smooth VOIP Transition

  • * Research: Read as many online reviews for all your alternatives as you can and ask other organizations for referrals. Who are they using and why?
  • * Prepare before inquiring: Make a list of all the requirements, questions and concerns your organization has before inquiring.
  • * Gather all your prices: By gathering initial quotes, you can go back to your top contenders and ask them to price match.
  • * Ask for a demo period: They are selling you a service, so don’t be shy to ask them to prove why their service is the best and meets all your needs.
  • * Overly preparing for porting: If you are porting your existing phone numbers away from a current carrier instead of getting new phone numbers, plan! While you shouldn’t have an interruption in phone service, inform your employees and volunteers and have a communications plan if clients or donors won’t be able to reach you for a certain period of time.


About the Author: Sumac is part of the Silent Partner Software family, a company dedicated to providing exceptional software and services to nonprofits. With over 25 years of service, Silent Partner has helped organizations manage over 3 million donors and contacts across the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. Learn more.

Looking for a single CRM to manage your entire nonprofit?
Check out SUMAC:


What Has Rudyard Kipling Got to do With Direct Marketing?


By Billy Sharma, Direct Marketing Consultant and Author.

On the lush tropical art school grounds of J.J. School of Arts in Mumbai, where I first learned my craft, is a big old house that is the Dean’s residence now.

On the front of this house is a polished brass plaque that says: “Rudyard Kipling lived here.”

Rudyard Kipling is the author of ‘Jungle Book’, ‘Kim’, ‘The Man who would be King’ and many other books and poems. So, every time I passed the house I was reminded of a delightful poem that he wrote:

“I keep six faithful serving men
Who teach me well and true
Their names are What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who. ”

Rudyard Kipling and Nonprofit Direct Marketing

I have never forgotten that remarkable house, the brass plaque and especially the little verse. It has helped me understand that to be effective in direct marketing for the nonprofit sector one must use these same six faithful men:

  • Who are my best donors?
  • Where can I find more of them?
  • What did they want in return for their donation?
  • How can I improve results?
  • Why are repeat donors important?
  • When is the best time to reach them?
  • Why Direct Marketing Still Matters

    Reason 1: Older people still prefer receiving direct mail over other marketing methods

    According to DMA: The response rate for direct mail is 3.7% compared to 2% for mobile, 1% for email, 1% for social media and 0.2% for internet display.

    There are more Baby Boomers in Canada today than ever before and the percentage will keep on growing for quite some time. The 2016 census from Statistics Canada shows that the proportion of those aged 65 and older climbed to 16.9 per cent of Canada’s population.

    Baby Boomers are generous donors. The average amounts donated increase with age, where those in the 65+ category give on average $643 annually.
    For the next 10 to 20 years, direct mail will continue to become an increasingly important fundraising tool for nonprofits.

    Reason 2: It takes two to tango, and digital alone can’t cut it

    Currently many charities have abandoned direct mail and have ended up sending donors emails and Facebook appeals, because that’s the in thing to do. Some may have got a slightly above average click-thru rate or maybe not, but mostly they have ended up with a long list of dead-end leads.

    Most digital campaigns aren’t breaking through—why? In the effort to master digital, these charities have neglected the donor’s journey. While digital plays a key role, the journey includes direct mail, segmenting your donor file, hospitality, incentives, social engagement, web targeting and immersion experiences.

    Reason 3: We all know the 3 basic marketing communication principles— reach the right person, in the right place, at the right time

    Most communications channels today are pretty good at accomplishing the first. Reach the right person.

    Some outdoor mediums, emails, social media and other targeted channels are good for the first two. Reach the right person in the right place.

    While Advertising, TV, video, internet display and radio work well for Reach the right person at the right time.

    But there is only one medium that can do all three effectively. And that’s direct mail.

    Understanding the customer journey is vital for the nonprofit sector. Knowing how to move prospects from consideration to engagement and how to convert them to donors or volunteers or advocates, is vital.

    Reason 4: Research is proof that direct mail works

    Research by Global research agency, Millward Brown, discovered that “tangible materials leave a deeper footprint in the brain.”
    Nonprofit Direct Marketing

    The red area in the images above on the right of the brain represents greater oxygenated blood flow and hence activation stimulated by physical material versus on-screen on the left.

    Yep, paper edges out pixels each time.

    Mail makes a lasting impression. Mail is memorable, helps build customer relationships and brand equity and drives actions.

    Let’s not forget that as the Canadian population ages, planned giving will become another important point that nonprofits should start gearing up for, because there is a gold mine worth $30 trillion waiting out there.

    The New York Post reported that Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are the richest generation in history. They control 70% of all disposable income and while aging they are preparing to transfer an estimated $30 trillion through their wills and estate plans in the next few decades.

    This money will be distributed among their children, grandchildren and their charities of choice.

    Now, more than ever before, nonprofits need to develop robust bequest or planned giving initiatives to receive these assets from their loyal donors. And once again direct mail can play a major role in helping them with this opportunity.

    Reason 5: Finally, digital and physical are not mutually exclusive

    No, I am not making a case against digital or social media efforts. Each of these is a vital element and plays an integral role in the customer journey. But only when strategically sequenced do they jointly drive real donor outcomes.

    Need a solution to help you implement donor engagement and retention best practices? Silent Partners Software helps you increase donor engagement and retention with less effort.

    About the Author: Billy Sharma is a brilliant direct marketing consultant and author and a regular contributor to the Sumac Blog. Sumac is part of the Silent Partner Software family, a company dedicated to providing exceptional software and services to nonprofits. With over 25 years of service, Silent Partner has helped organizations manage over 3 million donors and contacts across the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. Learn more.

    Looking for a single CRM to manage your entire nonprofit?
    Check out SUMAC:


    5 Reasons Donors Leave (and How to Get Them to Stay)


    In the nonprofit world, donor retention is crucial, since keeping existing donors is always far more cost effective than trying to attain new ones.

    There are many reasons a donor stops giving. This chart, provided by IMPACTS Research represents the responses of a 98,000 person sample of previous $250-$2,500 annual donors who didn’t make another gift to the same visitor-serving organization within the past 24 months.

    Donor Retention - why donors stop giving

    Here are the five reasons donors leave, and how to get them to stay:

    1. No Acknowledgement

    According to Penelope Burk, author of Donor Centered Fundraising, saying “thank you” is the first step to getting that next gift. Burk has been conducting this research for nearly two decades, and donors have consistently pointed to the things they most want from nonprofits, and it’s three very simple things:

    1. Prompt gift acknowledgement
    2. Confirmation that gifts have been set to work as intended
    3. Measurable results on those gifts at work, before they are asked for more money.

    Think of it as a cycle that creates the “perfect donor experience.”

    That’s it. They don’t want a keychain, their name engraved on a wall, or anything else.
    Here’s help with getting the first step down to getting donors to keep giving: How to Write the Perfect Thank You Letter

    2. Not Asked Again

    Don’t make this mistake. The easiest way to secure a second donation is to just ask for it. Don’t be afraid to ask, especially if you’ve thanked your donors and updated them on the impact of their gift.

    Here’s help with getting the ask right: How To Write The Perfect Fundraising Letter.

    3. Lack of Communication About Impact of Gift

    Saying thank-you shouldn’t be the end of your communication with donors. Donors want to know both that their gift was used as intended and the impact it had. If you can do this, they’ll want to keep giving to your organization.

    You can also include an impact Page on your website. This page can highlight the individuals your organization has helped. Check out the S.F Marin Food Bank’s impact Page. Notice at the bottom of each story they encourage people to “Take Action and Donate Now.”

    Here are some help with getting the update right: 5 Creative Ways Non-Profits Can Show The Impact Of Donations

    4. Failed Intent (Forgot)

    With busy lives, and so many competing causes, it’s unsurprising that donors often just forget to give again. In order to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s important to stay top of mind. This means, sending communications and posting updates on social media that remind them of the incredible impact of their donations, and thanking them again and again. Check out: 6 Ways to Thank Your Donors.

    The absolute best way to ensure donors don’t forget to give, however, is to get them to enrol in your monthly giving program. When donors are giving monthly, they tend to keep giving. Harvey McKinnon, author of Hidden Gold: How Monthly Giving will Build Donor Loyalty, Boost Your Organization’s Income, and Increase Financial Stability, says:

    “It takes proactive action from the donor to stop and it is rare for them to take that action even if the non-profit messes up. So, while donors that require constant renewal rarely make it past 2 years, monthly donors keep giving for 10 years plus. Also, they tend to give more. Donors, for instance, who would give $100 per year will give $20 – $30 per month. All of this translates into huge boosts in revenue for non-profits.”

    Go ahead and try out our monthly giving calculator to see how much more you could be raising if your donors were giving monthly and sticking around:
    Monthly Giving Calculator

    5. Gave to another organization instead

    There is no denying the competition for donations is fierce, so it’s no wonder many donors report that they just simply gave to another nonprofit instead. If you want donors to keep giving to your organization, remember the three things they need from you to keep giving. If you do these things well, your donors won’t be going anywhere!

    About the Author: Sumac is part of the Silent Partner Software family, a company dedicated to providing exceptional software and services to nonprofits. With over 25 years of service, Silent Partner has helped organizations manage over 3 million donors and contacts across the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. Learn more.

    Looking for a single CRM to manage your entire nonprofit?
    Check out SUMAC:


    The Top 5 Nonprofit HR Software Solutions


    We took a look at 5 of the most popular nonprofit HR software solutions. We’ve done extensive homework on this topic, so you don’t have to.

    1. PartnerHR

    If you are looking for HR software that is tailor-made for nonprofits, you’ve found what you are looking for. Silent Partner Software developed and designed PartnerHR based on over two decades of experience working with charities, faith-based organizations, education institutions and associations to understand their challenges when managing employees and volunteers.


    PartnerHR is a Software as a Service (SaaS) which enables nonprofits to manage their people-centric data and documents in a secure, easy-to-use application.

    The software enables nonprofit executives and HR staff to access reports through PartnerHR. They have visibility to the skills and abilities their team has currently, and to assign training to-dos to get new and existing staff up to speed. PartnerHR has a reputation for being easy for users and administrators.

    Does your charity work with children, the elderly, or other individuals with different needs? PartnerHR can track background checks, store documents, and send reminders when checks need to be renewed.

    The PartnerHR self-service portal enables employees and volunteers to securely request time off, see upcoming events that are on the calendar, and see what training requirements they need to complete for onboarding and skills refreshing. Employees, volunteers, and recruiters can store resumes, training certificates, and other pertinent records.

    Pricing: Contact PartnerHR for subscription pricing

    Support: Online, phone

    Languages: English

    Suitable for nonprofits of any size and social services organizations.

    2. BambooHR

    BambooHR is used by companies, institutions and organizations for functions like:

  • Applicant tracking and online applications
  • New hire onboarding
  • Time tracking
  • Performance tracking
  • Employee satisfaction surveys
  • HR reporting and analytics
  • Employee records
  • Although the BambooHR online platform was not developed for nonprofits specifically, they do offer a couple of case studies on their website for charities.

    They offer two pricing tiers for companies or organizations to choose from, mostly depending on whether or not an organization needs features like hiring/onboarding functionality, integration with other applications, or custom tabs and fields.


    To manage volunteers separately, you’d need to opt for the higher-end Advantage edition. They offer add-on modules for reminder alerts and employee performance reports.

    Pricing: Contact BambooHR for subscription pricing

    Support: Online, phone (with Advantage edition)

    Languages: English, French Canadian, German, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch.

    Suitable for small, medium, and large businesses, and some nonprofits.

    3. BreezyHR

    BreezyHR is an online HR software solution which is available for nonprofits, and they have a couple of church organizations on their website. This service is promoted primarily as a recruiting and applicant tracking system. You can even use their “Bootstrap” service for free to search for candidates across over 50 job boards.

    If you want to interview or assess candidates online, manage candidate scorecards, or integrate with other core HR applications, the BreezyHR Business Edition is required. That is their most popular service which offers functions like background screening and automated reference checking.

    BreezyHR would be a service you would have in addition to a service like PartnerHR for the pre-hire and offer phases as opposed to managing onboarding and existing employees.


    Pricing: The Business Edition of the BreezyHR service starts at $479 per month, or you can prepay for a year and get two months for free.

    Support: Online, phone (with Advantage edition)

    Languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Russian, Finnish, Italian, Polish

    Suitable for small, medium, and large businesses, and some nonprofits.

    4. ADP Workforce

    ADP is a company name which is synonymous with HR software. They offer businesses of all sizes, government institutions, social services organizations and nonprofits tools for:

  • Payroll
  • Time and attendance
  • Performance management
  • Onboarding
  • Recruiting and hiring
  • Time and attendance tracking
  • Analytics
  • The ADP Workforce Now HCM suite is very comprehensive and has rich features, however their reviews do call their applications out to be challenging to implement and use. Others mention the SaaS service is built on legacy architecture, and there are too many upgrades.

    ADP tends to be for larger, multi-tiered organizations like government, healthcare and corporations, though they do have services for nonprofits. Nonprofits with a long list of requirements including payroll management would benefit from this software.


    Pricing: Contact ADP for subscription pricing

    Languages: English US, English CA, Spanish US

    Support: Online, phone, knowledgebase

    Languages: Suitable for small, medium, and large businesses, and larger nonprofits.

    5. Zoho People

    Zoho People is a cloud-based human capital management service which offers more functionality as far as core-HR services. It is primarily marketed for industries like healthcare, media, IT, education, and finance. Their feature set and pricing models, however are more inline with some of the other nonprofit HR software solutions listed here.

    Zoho People offers a broad spectrum of modules and features for different needs. Nonprofits looking for a PartnerHR-comparable functionality set including self-service portals, reporting, document repository, analytics, performance tracking and time/attendance tracking should consider the Premium service option. Zoho People does get good reviews for ease of use and administration. They only offer one non government organization as far as a success story though.


    Pricing: Starts at $150 per year for Premium service for the 5 user minimum plan

    Support: Online, phone, knowledgebase

    Languages: English (USA), English (UK), French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Turkish, and Arabic.

    Suitable for small and medium-sized businesses and NGOs


    These are five of the leading SaaS Nonprofit HR software solutions. For nonprofits that are looking for an online service which is purpose-built for nonprofits, PartnerHR is the clear, and only choice. The PartnerHR team can provide you with a PartnerHR demo, and show you how they can help you better manage your most valuable assets: your employees and volunteers. If your organization is looking for functionality to address payroll or the recruiting process, services like ADP Payroll or BreezyHR can compliment the HR information and file management functionality which PartnerHR offers.

    About the Author: Sumac is part of the Silent Partner Software family, a company dedicated to providing exceptional software and services to nonprofits. With over 25 years of service, Silent Partner has helped organizations manage over 3 million donors and contacts across the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. Learn more.

    Looking for a single CRM to manage your entire nonprofit?
    Check out SUMAC:


    How to Write a Great Donation Thank-you Email (with Examples)


    Thank-you emails can do more than show appreciation for a donation; they can educate, inspire, and ultimately help build a stronger connection to your organization, so donors keeps giving to your organization for years to come. Here are tips on writing a great donation thank-you email:

    1. Personalize it

    Earthjustice, does a great job at keeping a personal tone throughout their emails like the one below. They address the donor by their first name and use simple and meaningful wording to strengthen the relationship between the donor and them.

    It’s easy to personalize thank-you emails with a CRM that is connected to your online donation page.

    2. Link Donation to Your Accomplishments

    Helping donors see and understand the impact of their donations is so important! Kids Now does a great job of using their thank-you email to show the direct impact of the donation by linking it to the accomplishments of the organization.

    They also do a great job of inviting the donor to become even more involved by coming to an open house, which will strengthen that relationship even more. We’ll talk about this more in the next tip!

    Here’s another great example of using your thank-you email to show the impact of the donation:

    If you’re still wondering how you can link donations directly to your accomplishments, here are some examples of wording you might use:

    • Your contribution has helped us plant 20 trees in the Amazon.
    • Your donation went towards retiling the roof of our Oxford children’s center so they can do their homework and hang out in a safe and insulated environment.
    • With your support, Luciano was able to attend an after-school woodworking program.

    3. Include a Call to Action

    Once you’ve thanked donors personally and showed them the impact of their donation, you can also invite them to get even more involved by visiting, calling, or follow your progress on social media.

    Here’s a great example from Penelope Burk, who’s known for advocating for the importance of thank-you’s in Donor Centered Fundraising:

    Bonus Tip: Keep Thanking

    Sending a thank-you email right after a donor makes a gift is crucial, but you shouldn’t stop there. Take every opportunity to remind donors that you appreciate their support and that you couldn’t achieve what you do without them!

    You can thank them again in update emails, in holiday emails, and in other communications you send out. The more you show your appreciation and remind donors that they are part of your success, the more they will feel connected to your organization and they’ll want to keep supporting you!

    Here are some examples (you can find more in 6 Ways to Thank your Donors):

    Thank When Updating Donors

    Nonprofit donation thank-you emails
    Nonprofit donation thank-you emails

    Thank When Sending Holiday Greetings

    Nonprofit donor thank-you emails
    Nonprofit donor thank-you emails

    Find more great tips in How to Write the Perfect Thank You Letter.

    About the Author: Sumac is part of the Silent Partner Software family, a company dedicated to providing exceptional software and services to nonprofits. With over 25 years of service, Silent Partner has helped organizations manage over 3 million donors and contacts across the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. Learn more.



    Looking for a single CRM to manage your entire nonprofit?
    Check out SUMAC:


    The 4 Biggest Trends Nonprofits Can Expect in 2020


    2019 was the year of innovation for nonprofits. The nonprofit sector had bigger and better fundraising ideas and took steps to become more sustainable. Nonprofits developed leadership strategies with their boards, allocated more resources to engaging their employees, and volunteers, and started incorporating more technology into their everyday operations.

    The sector also faced more uncertainty with government budget cuts, while navigating political uncertainty and more mergers. However, there was and continues to be an increasing need for nonprofits and the good that they do.

    Here are the trends you need to be aware of in 2020, to stay ahead of the game:

    1. Personalizing Every Donor Interaction

    According to Nonprofit Tech for Good, consumers are craving more authenticity from their interactions with business and brands. Fun ways of taking this to the next step is by sending them digital birthday cards or donor anniversary cards. It’s the extra step that many organizations don’t take.

    Nonprofit Birthday Email

    Whale and Dolphin Conservation sends out birthday messages to supporters and encourages them to use their day to share their message, so it serves two purposes.

    Many organizations don’t realize how much funding they could be receiving or retaining if they put a little more TLC into personalizing their communications.

    Segmenting your donors and tailoring content for each segment can help a lot with this. Sharing a video of the construction of a new school in Rwanda, for example, might be appropriate for a large donor (who likely helped fund the project), but might not be as appealing to a family. A video of kids playing soccer or learning in Rwanda might be content better received by that segment.

    2. Fundraising Online Instead Of Offline

    Online fundraising exploded in 2019 and you can expect it to keep growing in 2020. Most new donors will discover your organization online, so you absolutely need to have an outlet for them to donate.

    Seamless Donation Pages

    According to crowdfunding website, donors are increasingly younger and have higher incomes. They are also more likely to donate the most money on their first donation and like to donate to multiple organizations. For that reason, you want to make it easy for them to donate, as they’ll be more likely to donate again if their first transaction is seamless. Here are 5 Donation Page Mistakes That will Destroy Your Online Fundraising.

    Sumac offers online donation pages that integrate seamlessly with your website!

    Nonprofit Donation Page

    Social Media Fundraising

    Besides having a great functioning donation page on your website, social media is gaining in popularity as a means on generating online donations. Fundraising on Facebook has grown substantially through 2019, and you can expect it to continue to gain in popularity through 2020.

    Add a donate button to your nonprofit’s Facebook page to start accepting donations online, or create a fundraiser. Facebook also allows nonprofits to start fundraising campaigns. Facebook is a great option because it doesn’t charge fees for donations to nonprofit fundraisers.

    Facebook Fundraising Campaigns

    You can also encourage supporters to start personal fundraisers to support your cause. Facebook birthday fundraisers were one of the biggest trends in 2019.

    Facebook Birthday Fundraiser
    Here are a few other online donation trends that are continuing to grow in 2020:

    • Crowdfunding: funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.
    • Text-to-give Fundraising: Simply put, text-to-give fundraising allows nonprofits and charities to accept donations via text message.
    • Peer-to-peer Fundraising: Peer-to-peer fundraising is a fundraising strategy that empowers individuals to raise money on behalf of a cause via online fundraising pages.

    3. More Diversified Funding Sources and Engagement

    In 2020, both Forbes and Galaxy Digital are anticipating that we’re going to see more nonprofit and private business partnerships. Nonprofits are vehicles for spreading good fortune, values, and awareness for causes. Partnering with a nonprofit company creates a win-win situation for both parties, so it’s no surprise corporate giving is on the rise.

    Philanthropy Outlook Nonprofit Trends

    In 2019, Philanthropy Outlook found that giving by corporations increased by 3.2%. For 202, they predict corporate giving to “exceed the historical 10-year annualized average rates of growth” at a 2.6% increase. Despite their reasoning – whether charitable giving makes businesses look good, increases sales, or is part of their culture – this is good news for nonprofits.

    4. A Focus on Sustainability

    Elizabeth Disco-Shearer from Disaster Services Corp predicts that more organizations will be looking for robust software solutions to help them fundraise and manage their organizations. Disaster Services Corp, for example, uses blockchain technology to effectively deploy disaster services.

    Nonprofit CRM Software

    It’s becoming essential for nonprofits to evolve their data management and security practices, and transition away from insecure Excel spreadsheet and outdated processes.

    Keeping better records of donor interactions and contact information, fundraising, case management, and volunteers will allow your nonprofit to increase their security, organizational memory, record keeping, reporting, and efficiency. Sumac is one of the few that allows you to do this all in one place.

    About the Author: Sumac is part of the Silent Partner Software family, a company dedicated to providing exceptional software and services to nonprofits. With over 25 years of service, Silent Partner has helped organizations manage over 3 million donors and contacts across the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. Learn more.


    Looking for a single CRM to manage your entire nonprofit?
    Check out SUMAC: