The ENGAGE Podcast

Subscribe to The ENGAGE Podcast to hear experts from across the social good community share best practices, tips and must-know trends that will help organizations increase their impact. Formerly called The sgENGAGE Podcast.
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Dec 27, 2018

Digital transformation is a buzz word now in the social good space. But what does it actually mean? And why is it important that nonprofits and other social good organizations digitally transform?

In this episode, which was recorded live at bbcon, you’ll hear from Jim Daniell, the Chief Transformation Officer for NetHope, which works with nonprofits and other social good organizations to change the world through the power of technology.

Jim talks about what NetHope is doing with its Center for Digital Innovation, the non-technology related changes that are required for digital transformation, and how social good organizations can leverage technology to have a bigger social impact. Listen to the episode to hear more about how organizations can undertake their own digital transformations that push them and their impact to the next level.

Topics Discussed in This Episode:

  • NetHope’s work and how they are connecting nonprofits with technology innovators to help change the world
  • Why digital transformation isn’t just about technology, and why it’s actually mostly about people and process
  • How nonprofits and funders can better work together to drive innovation that solves the world’s biggest problems
  • How organizations can start their own digital transformations, including by shifting their mindsets


Jim Daniell


Video: What is Digital Transformation?


“It turns out that international relief, the relief workers, the number one thing you need is data.”

“Information is a form of aid.”

“We often say, digital transformation is not about technology. It’s about people, process, and technology, and it’s mostly about people and process.”


Dec 20, 2018

Research has found that charitable donors who also give to political campaigns are more generous than donors who don’t give to political campaigns. But how do elections impact charitable giving overall, and what effect does gender have?

In today’s episode, we’ll hear from Jacqueline Ackerman, assistant director for Research and Partnerships at the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Listen to the episode to hear about the key findings of the Institute’s research, which types of organizations saw a spike in giving after the 2016 U.S. election, and how women and men give differently – and what that means for how nonprofits should target donors.

Topics Discussed in This Episode:

  • Research that the Women’s Philanthropy Institute has done into giving from a gender perspective
  • Key findings of research relating to the 2016 election in the U.S.
  • Why giving immediately following the election was lower than expected across charitable organizations overall
  • The difference between giving to progressive organizations generally and progressive organizations that were relevant to election issues.
  • The differences between women’s and men’s giving following the election
  • How organizations can think about and apply the data from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s research


Jacqueline Ackerman

Women's Philanthropy Institute

Charitable Giving Around the 2016 Election: Does Gender Matter?

Infographic: Charitable Giving Around the 2016 Election: Does Gender Matter?

Notable Quotes:

“Our third key finding is that charitable giving after the 2016 election increased significantly for these relevant progressive charities.”

“What we tried to do was piece out the election effect from the typical end-of-the-year increase in giving that we would see anyway.”

“We know that women and men are motivated differently. Women tend to give to help others, men tend to focus on the benefits they accrue from giving.”

Dec 13, 2018

The end of the year, or the “season of giving,” is important for all types of social good organizations. Year-end appeals are powerful fundraising vehicles, create additional exposure for your organization, and offer an opportunity to connect with donors on how they’ve helped you throughout the year.

In this episode of The sgENGAGE podcast, Tanya Fitzgerald, Senior Customer Success Manager at Blackbaud, talks with Steve MacLaughlin about what organizations can do now to have successful end-of-year giving campaigns. Listen to the episode to hear what Tanya has to say about telling your impact story, using digital channels to drive end-of-year giving, and stewarding donors into 2019.

Topics Discussed in This Episode:

  • Driving additional end-of-year giving through various channels
  • Tips for leveraging #GivingTuesday and other existing campaigns for end-of-year fundraising
  • Making the donor the hero of the stories you share
  • What arts and cultural organizations do at the end of the year that other types of nonprofits can learn from
  • Recommendations for moving into 2019


End of Year Fundraising Toolkit
Preparing for the Season of Giving: Steps to Ready Your Year-End Appeal
Tip Sheet: What to Do After End-of-Year Fundraising


“Everyone’s expecting to hear from you, so why not share your information with them?”

“I believe that immediately, as soon as that gift comes in, that stewardship plan should be in effect.”

“If you can continually steward throughout the year, your campaigns are going to go smoother as they come up.”


Dec 6, 2018

Nonprofits and social good organizations rely on volunteerism, making volunteers are one of the most important assets that an organization has. Today’s guest emphasizes the importance of volunteers and talks about how organizations can best manage and leverage those valued assets.

In today’s episode, recorded at bbcon 2018, Points of Light CEO Natalye Paquin talks about how the critical role that volunteers and volunteerism can have on advancing social good and achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Natalye also talks about the role of technology in facilitating and tracking the impact of volunteers, and how Points of Light and Blackbaud are collaborating to advance data, insights and measurement for volunteerism.

Topics Discussed in This Episode:

  • Points of Light’s new strategic plan
  • How nonprofits can leverage volunteers as one of their most valuable assets
  • How volunteers and volunteerism can support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • The role of technology in facilitating volunteerism, tracking data and  measuring impact
  • Why the sector needs a standard taxonomy to manage and measure volunteerism


Notable Quotes from Natalye Paquin:

“We are really focused on better leveraging the power of people.”

“…over 30 percent of the workforce in the nonprofit sector is really contributions by volunteers. 58 percent of the output is by volunteers. Volunteers understand your mission personally, so they can be champions as well as donors.”

“This is really about creating a common language, a taxonomy, of how you measure and manage volunteers.”


Nov 29, 2018

Storytelling is important in the social good community. It’s through stories that donors become interested and engaged in an organization and its cause. It’s not enough to just tell the stories in words. Visual images help donors visualize and understand what the organizations they support are doing, and how their contributions make a difference.

Today’s guest joined the podcast to talk about how organizations can better incorporate visual elements into their storytelling. Ira Horowitz, the founder of Cornershop Creative, has worked in communications, fundraising, and advocacy for nearly 20 years. Listen to the episode to hear what Ira has to say about why visuals matter in storytelling, how to demonstrate to donors that they can be the heroes of the story, and how to match copy with the right visuals for maximum impact.

Topics Discussed in This Episode:

  • Why visual storytelling matters to fundraising
  • Ways that organizations can make donors the heroes of the stories they’re telling
  • Resources that organizations can use to get the visual images that they need
  • Matching the right copy and content with the right visual images
  • How to test and fine-tune a story over time
  • How to make use of imagery even when an organization has limited staff or resources
  • How visuals can help make data more comprehensible
  • Examples of great visual storytelling


Ira Horowitz

Cornershop Creative


“Everybody knows the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s actually wrong, though. A picture is worth about 60,000 words because studies have shown that the human brain processes images about 60,000 times faster than plain text.”

“The studies I’ve seen have said that text accompanied with images actually do a lot better. People process that information three or four times faster if they’re looking at both images and text.”

“Don’t be afraid of using emojis, actually.”

Nov 21, 2018

Donors want to help when disaster strikes, but they often don’t realize how long disaster recovery can really take. Donors often contribute toward disaster relief when the news of the disaster is fresh, but months or even years later, the recovery is still in progress and a variety of needs still require funding.

In today’s episode, recorded live at bbcon, Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, talks with Blackbaud’s Rachel Hutchisson about disaster philanthropy and what it means to have a strategic and holistic response that considers mid- and long-term needs. Listen to the episode to hear what Bob has to say about the funding “mosaic” involved in disaster relief, how donors can make sure their funds are having the greatest impact, and the role that community organizations play in disaster recovery efforts.

Topics Discussed in This Episode:

  • How to define a disaster, and the increasing number of disasters occurring each year
  • The current state of disaster philanthropy
  • What it means to think of disasters in the mid-to-long-term sense
  • How philanthropy fits into the overall disaster response landscape
  • The role of community foundations in disaster relief
  • Advice for philanthropic organizations on how to develop strategic, holistic disaster response plans



Notable Quotes from Bob Ottenhoff:

“There were 16 disasters in 2017 that caused a billion dollars or more in damage.”

“We find consistently that about 70% or more of all dollars are given within 30 days of a disaster…by 60 days or so, we're pretty much at the end of the giving cycle for that disaster.”

“So, the philanthropic dollars become really important. They’re not the biggest in terms of dollars, but they have the ability to do things nobody else could do.”

“There’s a lot of funds that have gotten into serious trouble because there were misunderstandings about the purpose of the fund, how decisions were going to be made, when the money was going to be disbursed.”

Nov 15, 2018

Community foundations are doing critical work to create change at the local level. They play a convening role in the community and engage community members in philanthropy to address pressing local issues. 

In this interview recorded live at bbcon 2018, Javier Alberto Soto, president & CEO of The Miami Foundation, talks about the important work the Foundation is doing to improve the quality of life in the Greater Miami area through philanthropy, community investment, and civic leadership. Listen to the episode to hear what Javier has to say about the role community foundations can play in advancing civic engagement, why community foundations can be effective conveners, and the role of technology in enabling mission delivery.

Topics Discussed in This Episode:
  • Why and how The Miami Foundation embraced the concept of new power
  • How the Foundation launched and has grown Give Miami Day to be one of the largest giving days in the country
  • The difference between independence and neutrality when it comes to community foundations
  • How digital technology has helped The Miami Foundation accomplish its goals
  • How organizations can measure when they are being effective and moving the needle


Javier Alberto Soto
The Miami Foundation


"I think we've demonstrated the deep generosity that exists in Miami through new power."

"We have the ability - because we're seen as an independent actor whose only agenda is to improve the community - to really empower people at a grassroots level."

"Miamians are from so many different places - it's such a diverse area - but when you get at those stories, particularly "how did you get here?" it's amazing how similar they are across geography."

"We've invested significantly from day one in all of our communications tools, but with a deep emphasis on our technology first to support our fund holders." 

"At the core of everything we've been doing is injecting new power, or civic engagement."

"I think all of us in the community foundation world are grappling with how we define impact beyond asset size."

Nov 8, 2018

#GivingTuesday is approaching rapidly. What should your organization be doing to get ready? What should you be planning for the day of #GivingTuesday, and do you have plans for the day after? This episode explores these questions and more. 

In today’s supersized three-part episode of The sgENGAGE Podcast, you’ll hear from several different guests who will help you have a successful #GivingTuesday. In the first segment, Mel Rancour and Jackie Zimmerman from Blackbaud University discuss the things that organizations should be doing before, during, and after #GivingTuesday. In the second segment, you’ll hear from Erica Burroughs, Director of Annual Giving and Family Engagement at High Point University, about how they engage supporters and how #GivingTuesday works together with other fundraising events. Finally, in segment three, you’ll hear from Andy Schroeder, Director of Development at Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, about how a funny video helped his organization earn three times their donation goal, and how they plan to build on that success for this year’s #GivingTuesday. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

Segment 1 [00:01:49] - Mel Rancour and Jackie Zimmerman, Blackbaud University w/ host Steve MacLaughlin: 

  • What organizations can do right now to launch a Giving Tuesday campaign this year
  • What organizations can do to prepare for Giving Tuesday all year long, and how they can leverage what they are already doing
  • Ideas and resources for organizations to make the day of Giving Tuesday go more smoothly
  • What organizations should do after Giving Tuesday to continue engaging supporters and new prospective donors


Segment 2 [00:20:04] - Erica Burroughs, High Point University w/ host Sally Ehrenfried: 

  • How High Point University prepares for Giving Tuesday
  • How their approach to engage supporters on Giving Tuesday differs from their spring university giving day
  • How campus-wide fundraising events work together for positive outcomes
  • Erica’s advice for organizations that want to participate in Giving Tuesday


Segment 3 [00:37:20] - Andy Schroeder, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary w/ host Sally Ehrenfried: 

  • Why Giving Tuesday is important to fundraising campaigns
  • How Sisters of Charity BVM came up with the video that helped them smash their fundraising goal for buying new chairs, and how they marketed it to engage so many supporters
  • How Sisters of Charity BVM plans to build on last year’s Giving Tuesday success
  • Andy’s advice for other organizations for a successful Giving Tuesday, even if they have basic organizational fundraising needs (like new chairs!) 


Proven #GivingTuesday Strategies for Higher Ed Institutions

Creating a #GivingTuesday Strategy that is 'Just Right'

Six Free Webinars for #GivingTuesday Success

Blackbaud University's Organizational Best Practices curriculum

The Ultimate #GivingTuesday Toolkit

Connect with: Mel Rancour, Jackie Zimmerman, Erica Burroughs and Andy Schroeder


“Flexibility is going to be important. Because sometimes everything goes as planned and then you can have a little party, celebrate – but in my experience that almost never happens.” –Jackie Zimmerman 

“It’s never too late. You can put together a campaign, you can implement software, in a time frame that you just frankly wouldn’t believe.” – Erica Burroughs 

“One of the things that I think organizations do well is ask for money. The thing that they don’t always do as well is tell people how the money was used and be able to show the impact in some way, shape, or form.” – Andy Schroeder


Nov 1, 2018

New power. What does it mean? Who is using it? How is new power changing the world, and how can it be used for fundraising and social good? Today’s episode will explore those questions and more with Jeremy Heimans, co-author with Henry Timms of the book New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World—and How to Make It Work for You. 

Rachel Hutchinson is your host for today’s episode, which was recorded live from bbcon, the leading tech gathering for social good. Listen in to learn what new power is, how it differs from old power, what’s different about fundraising in a new power world, and how your organization can begin to embrace new power. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • The definition of new power
  • How new power differs from old power, and how they can work together
  • Examples of new power and how it works, from #GivingTuesday to healthcare
  • What’s different about fundraising in a new power world
  • How organizations are making the shift from old power to new power
  • What people can do next to embrace new power 


Article: Understanding “New Power”

Book: New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World--and How to Make It Work for You

Quotes by Jeremy: 

“One really easy way to think of that difference between old and new power is the difference between power as currency – that’s old power, the kind of power you hoard up – and power as a current.” 

“All the evidence is that if you can empower patients to organize around their own challenges, you can get far better health outcomes than by kind of imposing solutions to them from the top down.” 

“It's absolutely true that the most effective players today are the ones who actually know how to blend old and new power.”

“You've got to be able to find a way of not just appealing to elites but appealing to everybody.”

Oct 4, 2018

Follow Blackbaud on Twitter or Facebook next week for exciting news about the evolution of the Raise & Engage Podcast!

For many organizations, if you are not in a capital campaign then you are likely planning for the next one. But is the capital campaign as we know it working, or is broken? Today's guest is an expert in university fundraising, and has done extensive research into what's working and what's not when it comes to capital campaigns and fundraising strategies.

Andy Reeher is the founder Reeher, the industry leading provider of fundraising performance management software for higher education that is now a part of Blackbaud. Learn what Andy's research has uncovered about the evolution of capital campaigns, from being used mainly by large universities to now being run by smaller colleges and universities as well as how the age and total gift concentrations of the top 100 donors has changed over the last forty years. Andy discusses how campaigns have moved from being a concept that got donors excited to a framework that boards use to fund the fundraising organization for seven years, and why universities need to make a change and move from seven year plans to rolling needs-based approaches.

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • How the average age of the top 100 donors has evolved over the past 40 years, and how that has affected fundraising
  • Are operating model campaigns sustainable?
  • Staffing levels for engagement of constituents and strategic relationship building hasn't really changed over the years and hasn't kept up with technology
  • How the model of seven year fundraising strategies is at odds with lifetime value
  • What fundraisers can learn from the evolution of software development
  • How organizations can benefit from rolling needs reviews
  • What it means to look at donor development from a life stage standpoint
  • How to figure out what potential donors want, and how to then build symbiotic relationships with donors.
  • The future of capital campaigns


Capital Campaigns are Broken: What Happened and How to Fix Them 

5 Capital Campaign Myths Debunked 

"Capital campaigns have gone from a concept that motivated donors to a concept that motivated the staff."

"Even if we don't have any information about a constituent, we can make some basic assumptions about the types of things that might engage them [based on their life stage]."

Sep 13, 2018

Some organizations call it monthly giving, while others refer to it as regular giving, recurring giving, or sustainer giving. No matter which name it goes by, one thing is clear – donors who participate in regular giving programs are an important source of donations for nonprofits. Today’s guest understands that importance and how organizations can harness the power of monthly giving. 

Erica Waasdorp is an author, presenter, and the president of A Direct Solution, a company that helps nonprofits develop and manage monthly giving campaigns, among other things. Listen to the episode to hear what Erica has to say about why US-based nonprofits have been slower to switch to monthly giving, how organizations can get started building a monthly giving program, and what happens when annual or one-time donors make the switch to monthly donations. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • Why it’s important for organizations to build recurring or monthly giving programs
  • Why charities in the US have been slower to adopt monthly giving
  • Different ways that donors can make recurring donations
  • How Erica would recommend an organization go about building a monthly giving program
  • How to prepare to scale a monthly giving program
  • Converting existing annual or one-time donors to monthly donors
  • What organizations can do to revitalize a recurring giving program that’s stalled 


Erica Waasdorp

A Direct Solution


“If you can move a donor from giving $25 or $40 dollars a year to giving $5 or $10 a month, then you’re not only generating more money, but you’re also keeping them much, much longer.” 

“There is definitely that potential to try to upgrade monthly donors and try to get them to the next level.” 

“I recommend you join your own program. You’d be amazed at how few people actually do that. You would want to join your own program because how else can you promote it to other people?”


Sep 6, 2018

One way to define the word "brand" is to think of it as a promise. Branding is a way of letting the world know what an organization stands for. It's easy to think of branding as a commercial tool, but it's important for nonprofits as well.

Today's guest is Sarah Durham, CEO of Big Duck, a communications and marketing agency that has helped hundreds of nonprofits improve their branding, campaigns, and fundraising efforts. Sarah is an expert on the ways that branding can apply to nonprofit organizations and how branding affects communications with donors, activists, and others. Listen to the episode to hear what Sarah has to say about developing a consistent brand and voice, aligning branding and organizations strategy, and embracing branding in a digital world.

Topics Discussed in This Episode:

  • How nonprofits should think about the meaning of the word "brand"
  • The importance of finding a consistent voice for an organization
  • How developing a consistent brand simplifies communications for an organization
  • Whether consistent branding conflicts with the idea of understanding and appealing to different types of donors
  • How to align brand with organizational strategy
  • How major events that lead to a rebrand offer an opportunity to readjust priorities or shift focus
  • How to embrace brand in a digital world


Sara Durham 

Big Duck 

"There are a lot of aspects of brand development, whether you like that word or not, that are not only really useful for nonprofit advancing of the mission, but are also particularly useful for fundraisers."

"The opportunity for you as a nonprofit is to really think about how you want your organization's voice to be shaped, and to speak with one clear and consistent voice at all points of contact."

"The brand strategy is an expression of that organizational strategy."

Aug 30, 2018

How well do you really know your donors? Do you know what differences exist between your donors that live in different parts of the world? Do you know what cultural characteristics influence how much your donors give and how they choose to give? 

Today’s guest is Mark Phillips, the Managing Director of Bluefrog Fundraising. His work involves doing deep dives into the motivations of donors to better help charities understand their donors wants and needs. He does this by conducting extensive interviews with donors in different parts of the world. Listen to the episode to hear about how these conversations can inform and improve charity organizations. You’ll hear about how Mark got started with this kind of research, which countries he’s conducting interview in, and how charities have changed their behavior thanks to Mark’s research. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • How Mark got started on the path of trying to understand donors on a deeper level
  • How the research interviews Mark does differ from ordinary research and surveys
  • Which countries Mark is doing research in
  • Cultural characteristics about giving in different countries
  • Moments during Mark’s research where he’s learned something surprising
  • How charities have changed their behavior based on Mark’s research 


Mark Phillips

Queer Ideas

Bluefrog Fundraising


“One of the very lucky things in my career was I worked for people who had a focus on what donors needed and what donors wanted.”


“Some organizations, their most valuable donors they are not giving because they’re receiving postal appeals that are not appropriate to the way they want to support the organization. And that is not a rare occurrence.”


“Because donors weren’t seeing their money making a difference, people were assuming that these organizations were incompetent.”

Aug 17, 2018

Most people are aware of the differences between public charities and private foundations. However, donor advised funds, or DAFs, are often not understood as well. Donor advised funds have been around for many years, but they have changed and evolved significantly over the years, and many nonprofit organizations and fundraisers could benefit from a greater understanding of how donor advised funds work and what their pros and cons are. 

Today’s guest is Brian Mittendorf, the chair of the accounting department at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. Brian joins the episode to help explain how donor advised funds work, what controversies surround the practice of using donor advised funds, and where this segment of charitable giving is headed in the future. Listen to the episode to hear what Brian has to say about why donors choose to use DAFs, what a commercial DAF is, and how the new tax laws affect donor advised funds. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • The basics of donor advised funds
  • What made DAFs popular
  • How donor advised fund sponsor organizations’ work
  • Why donors choose donor advised funds
  • Where commercial DAFs got started and how they work
  • The type of control DAF donors have over what happens to the funds they donate
  • What happens to the money donated to a DAF and how it’s disbursed
  • Questions over whether donor advised funds need more regulation
  • Controversies around donor advised funds
  • How the new tax law has incentivized giving through donor advised funds
  • How DAFs handle non-cash donations, like stock
  • The future of donor advised funds and how regulations, or a lack of regulations, will affect that future 


Brian Mittendorf

Brian on Twitter


“Most individuals probably don’t have the resources to set up an entire private foundation, but if you think of them as the resources as a bunch of individuals being pooled together, then it’s going to be worthwhile.” 

“There’s not one person who’s really rich, but if we pool together a lot of different people with the same mission in mind, we can achieve a lot. Kind of what a private foundation could have.” 

“If I want to talk about a broad controversy, it’s that donor advised funds are typically used as vehicles that are really convenient for donors, and people who are concerned with them are concerned that they’re focusing more on donors than they are on the mission.”

Aug 2, 2018

Men and women both give to charity, but they tend to give differently. In order to engage with donors more effectively, it’s important to understand how gender affects giving. The role that women play in philanthropy is not as well understood as it could be; however, new research is changing that. 

Today’s guests help explain and contextualize the latest research into women’s philanthropy. Andrea Pactor of the Women's Philanthropy Institute and Kathleen Loehr of Kathleen Loehr & Associates join the podcast today to discuss women and philanthropic giving. Listen to the episode to hear what they have to say about the importance of understanding women’s philanthropy, the goals of the Women's Philanthropy Institute, and some of the differences between men’s and women’s motivations for giving. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • How the Women’s Philanthropy Institute got started, and what they’re doing now
  • Why the type of research the Women’s Philanthropy Institute is doing is so important
  • Research findings about gender and giving
  • How to better engage women in discussions about giving
  • The differences between men’s and women’s motivations for giving
  • The differences between the types of charities that men and women prefer to support
  • How retirement affects women’s philanthropy 


Research that grows women’s philanthropy

How Women & Men Give Around Retirement

Andrea Pactor

Kathleen Loehr


“The Women’s Philanthropy Institute is the only organization in the world in a research and academic institution that focuses solely on this topic of the role of gender in philanthropy.” – Andrea Pactor


“We now have some substantive data points that look at this intergenerational transmission of generosity – it probably won’t come as a too much of a surprise that moms are a critical piece of all of that.” – Andrea Pactor


“Part of the research that is really clear is that women are often giving more than men and they’re very influential in the household giving, and we miss that when we go and do meetings, if you will, with just the male in the household.” – Kathleen Loehr

Jul 19, 2018

It’s easy to see building websites and designing forms as an onerous cost for an organization, especially when there are any number of social media channels that are free to use. But it’s important to ask if those free options are serving the purpose that your organization needs them to serve, and to remember that forms and websites built specifically to help your donors find and support your organization may have a cost, but they also have a value. 

Today’s episode was recorded at the Ask Direct Fundraising Summer School, held in Dublin, Ireland. Tune in to hear an interview with Beate Sørum, an international public speaker and a fundraising consultant based in Norway who brings some unique perspectives on form design and UX optimization. Listen to the interview to hear what Beate has to say about why forms are a good investment, how to engage with your donors through follow-up questions, and how social media is affecting fundraising efforts now. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • Some of the areas Beate has done testing into and insights that she’s found along the way
  • How Norway has sidestepped the issue of copying what others are doing because of their lack of off-the-shelf solutions
  • Why Beate sees forms as an investment rather than a cost
  • How follow-up questions can be a good way to continue engaging with your donors
  • Untraditional ways of designing forms
  • How to better understand why people give and where giving comes from
  • Why forms end up offering too much choice
  • How social media is playing into fundraising right now
  • How to develop content in a way that’s most likely to achieve the goals of the organization
  • How to determine what’s working on social media when you have so many measurements to choose from
  • How organizations can get started with more effective testing and use of digital channels 


The Ask Direct Fundraising Summer School 2018

Beate Sørum

About Beate Sørum


“My task is kind of to get people to stop looking at websites and forms as a cost and start seeing it as an investment.”


“Not everyone is going to fill out all your follow-up questions, but that’s OK. You’d rather actually have them as a donor than know everything about them.”


“A form is just a piece of code. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to put it within the emotional story that you’re telling.”

Jul 12, 2018

You’ve probably heard the phrase “behavioral economics” before. Not only is it the subject of several best-selling books, there have also been two Nobel prizes awarded that centered on the topic of behavioral economics. But what is behavioral economics, and how does it apply in the social good community? 

Today’s guest is Bernard Ross, Director of The Management Centre. He’s the co-author of the book Change for Good, written with UNICEF’s Omar Mahmoud. In today’s episode, he’ll discuss behavioral economics in the context of fundraising and social good organization. Listen to the episode to hear Bernard talk about why humans make seemingly irrational decisions, how behavioral economics is at work all around society, and how to use the lessons of behavioral economics ethically. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • Fundamentals of behavioral economics
  • Why irrational decisions can still be predictable and follow patterns
  • Examples of behavioral economics in action around us
  • How behavioral economics are applied in the social good sector
  • How the human brain perceives numbers presented to it
  • How moving from heart to head leads to a decrease in giving
  • What Bernard would say to fundraisers to encourage them to use behavioral economics
  • How ethics intersects with behavioral economics and fundraising
  • Resources that Bernard recommends for nonprofit professionals thinking about behavioral economics 


Bernard Ross

Change for Good

Change for Good handout

Stop Listening to Your Supporters


“Behavioral economics says, “what if people are not like that? What if experience and the data tells us that we are all irrational?””

“There’s a whole science of restaurant menu design.”

“We are engaged in a moral business. There’s a moral responsibility to think about “am I using this technique fairly, properly, ethically?””


Jul 5, 2018

In this age of social media, activism is becoming more accessible to the masses. But, it's essential that the social media activism is connected to change makers working on the ground. How can philanthropic organizations harness social media activism to create change locally? This episode of Raise & Engage features an interview between Rachel Hutchisson, vice president of Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy at Blackbaud and Darrin Goss, president and CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation, about social media activism, community engagement and more. Listen to hear how movements are being created by social media channels providing information and engaging people around causes they might not be directly impacted by are coming together with deep local involvement on the ground working to impact lasting change. Topics discussed in this episode:

  • The biggest threat to doing social good right now, and the need for social media activism to be supported by on-the-ground support of local organizations changing policies
  • The difference between "weak tie" and "strong tie" activism, and how both are fundamentally needed to advance change today
  • How organizations can leverage philanthropic capital to impact their communities
  • Why social, moral, intellectual and reputational capital are all key parts of a philanthropic organization's ability to make a difference and influence others beyond just their financial capital.
  • Challenges faced by the Coastal Community Foundation, how it has embraced a bold new direction marked by a culture of courage, and how the organization has "turned outward" to directly engage the communities it serves in problem solving.


"I think the biggest threat facing philanthropic organizations is a lack of understanding of how real social change takes place in the age of social media." "Philanthropic organizations have far more at their disposal than just the financial capital that we all know and understand." "When funders resolve that they need to work with communities, then they can have the courage to go out and do what the promise of philanthropy is all about."

Jun 21, 2018

Big data and data science are hot topics everywhere these days, and the social good sector is no exception. As nonprofit organizations continue to increase their use of data to answer questions about donors and fundraising and drive performance improvements, it’s important to understand as much as possible about data science. 

In today’s episode, I’ll speak to Carrie Cobb, Vice President of Data Science at Blackbaud. We’ll do a deep dive into the subject of data science. Listen to the episode to hear what Carrie has to say about the specifics of what a data scientist does, the techniques they use, and the variety of ways that data science is applicable in the social good community. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • The differences between what a data scientist does compared to other types of scientists who deal with data, like statisticians
  • How data can help reveal answers to questions about why something does or doesn’t happen
  • The background and education common to data scientists
  • The techniques used by data scientists to try to find answers from a large amount of data
  • Whether it's helpful to separate what data scientists are trying to do from how they’re trying to do it
  • How data scientist deal with eliminating bias, error, and unknown information
  • What happens when the answer the data shows is disappointing
  • How data science is applied in the social good community for reasons beyond fundraising
  • The frequency with which predictive modeling should be done
  • Where data science trends in nonprofit organizations are headed over the next few years 


Carrie Cobb


“When you’re a data scientist you kind of dive into the unknown to find patterns and build connections and make predictions.”


“From a technical perspective, data scientists are highly educated. Almost 90% have at least a master’s degree, and almost 50% have Ph.D.’s.”


“I would say it is an art and a science put together. Depending on your paint and your canvas and what you’re trying to display, you’re going to choose different tools to get you there.”


Jun 14, 2018

Now more than ever, nonprofits need to ensure that they have high-quality, up-to-date data. However, a lot of nonprofit organizations struggle with the issue of data health. Why is data health so important in the nonprofit field today, and what can organizations do to bring themselves and their data up to speed? 

In today’s episode, I’ll be speaking with Adriene Chisholm and Alan Dix of Blackbaud’s Target Analytics about the new report from the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact, Untapped Potential: The Case for Data Health. Listen to the episode to hear what Adriene and Alan have to say about the biggest struggles nonprofits face with their data and how it affects fundraising, what first steps organizations can take to move in the direction of better data health, and how to avoid those dreaded “yellow stickers.” 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • The most common data health areas that organizations struggle with
  • Why physical addresses are such an important piece of data
  • How data health can make fundraisers more efficient
  • Valuable data to collect beyond basic contact data
  • What organizations with a large digital presence should be doing to ensure their data is working for them
  • Why organizations shouldn’t rely purely on digital data
  • How to manage expectations about digital and social data
  • How digital data may be more restricted going forward due to privacy concerns and regulations like GDPR
  • First steps organizations can take to move in the direction of better data health
  • Where data health is going in the next several years 


Download Untapped Potential: The Case for Data Health

Connect with Adriene Chisholm and Alan Dix


“We’re all trying to be C+ students by limiting our ability due to poor data health.” – Alan Dix

 “Maintenance is always easier. It’s a lot easier to maintain your car than it is to get it fixed after it breaks down.” – Adrien Chisolm

“Data health is easy, it really is. It’s like getting your oil changed. You know you have to do it every 3,000 miles, just go and get it done.” – Adriene Chisholm


Jun 7, 2018

We often hear about the need for organizations to take about taking a donor-centric approach to engaging supporters. But is that enough, or do nonprofits need to go even deeper to attract and keep donors over the long term?

Today’s guest is Kevin Schulman, founder and managing partner of DonorVoice, a retention and donor experience company. Kevin talks about why understanding donor identity can help organizations better understand the motivations of donors. He also explains how organizations can use donor segmentation to strengthen their relationships with donors, leading to long-lasting relationships that are beneficial for both nonprofits and their donors. Listen to this episode to hear the keys to leveraging a donor identity approach that results in improved outcomes.

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • Why it’s important to understand the differences between different groups of donors
  • Why segmentation alone isn’t enough
  • The nuances of donor identity, and how it can help organizations to be more donor-centric
  • How the same donors can have different identities depending on which organization they’re engaging with
  • How to build content around donor identity categories
  • How to deal with objections to using donor identity
  • How focusing donor identity pilot programs on new donors can help organizations get past initial objections
  • How organizations can focus on donor identity using existing channels



Kevin Schulman



“If we want to be donor-centric, you have got to get some level of understanding about who these folks are and what makes them tick.”

“In order to get the kind of data that you need, guess what? You’ve actually got to ask these people.” 

“There ought to be massive perceived risk with status quo, but oftentimes there isn’t.”


May 31, 2018

Coming up with strategies for fundraising can be difficult. However, if there’s a culture in place that promotes and encourages giving as a norm, an important chunk of the work is already done. That’s why it’s so important to create a culture of philanthropy, especially in the nonprofit sector. 

On today’s episode, Alia McKee and Mark Rovner of Sea Change Strategies are here to talk about their report, Inside Out Fundraising: How to Create a Culture of Philanthropy by Treating Systems Instead of Symptoms. Alia and Mark explain what it means to have a culture of philanthropy, the things that get in the way of creating that culture and how nonprofits can overcome the challenges to doing do. Listen to the episode to learn why culture is an important part of fundraising success and hear the big takeaways from their research. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • The signs Alia and Mark saw that indicated it was time to start talking about culture with their clients
  • What it means to create a culture of philanthropy, and why it’s so important
  • What Alia and Mark found in their research
  • The primary challenges that get in the way of forming a culture of philanthropy
  • Implementing “the golden trio” in your nonprofit
  • Balancing facts and data with passion for a cause
  • What boards can do to take pressure off fundraisers
  • How fundraisers can put recommendations from the Inside Out Fundraising report into action 


Alia McKee

Mark Rovner

Sea Change Strategies

Inside Out Fundraising: How to Create a Culture of Philanthropy by Treating Systems Instead of Symptoms

“Fundraising has become like driving a car with the emergency brake on. The car moves, but it’s not pretty and there’s a lot of friction.” –Mark Rovner

“I think the biggest “aha!” was that only one in five fundraisers say that their organization has a strong culture of philanthropy.” – Alia McKee

“Don’t get overwhelmed with all of the change that needs to happen. Think about how you can shrink that change.” –Alia McKee


May 24, 2018

Online fundraising has been around for nearly 20 years, and it continues to grow in both size and revenue amongst nonprofit organizations. In light of the increasing importance of digital fundraising and online giving, it’s important to look at what the field has learned about what works and what doesn’t, and how to implement proven best practices to ensure that nonprofits are making the most out of online giving opportunities. 

Today’s guest is Jennifer Abohosh, the chief digital strategist for Dunham + Company, which recently released their second Online Fundraising Scorecard. Listen in to hear what Jennifer has to say about what’s changed in online fundraising over the last five years since their original Online Fundraising Scorecard, what types of organizations are seeing better performance in online giving than others, and how nonprofit organizations can start implementing best practices to improve their digital performance. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • What’s in Dunham + Company’s second Online Fundraising Scorecard
  • The biggest changes, both positive and negative, in email fundraising, email communications, online donation experience and gift acknowledgement over the last five years
  • How mobile giving was looked at differently on this scorecard than in the past
  • The importance of improving communication between nonprofits and donors
  • What organizations need to think about from a digital perspective in the near future


Jennifer Abohosh


Online Fundraising Scorecard


“In email specifically, five years ago 46% of emails were mobile-responsive and now 90% of emails are mobile responsive.”


“How can we craft language around an email signup that will make it both exclusive and desirable to the end user?”


“Organizations should be doing some testing to continue to see what works and what doesn’t work for their particular organization, then continue to optimize the donation process along the way.”


May 17, 2018

You can’t pay attention to the news without hearing about the concerns and issues around data privacy and data protection. It affects every type of industry, government, and nonprofit organization out there. As of May 25th 2018, new laws will go into effect in the European Union that attempt to address these concerns for European citizens. 

In today’s episode, I’ll speak to Cameron Stoll, a member of Blackbaud’s legal counsel team and the chief data protection officer for Blackbaud’s European companies. We will discuss the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and what they mean for NGOs both in and outside of the EU. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • What GDPR is and what it does
  • How GDPR evolved and differs from previous laws
  • The difference between processors and controllers and what each one does
  • How GDPR aligns with current best practices
  • The intent and meaning behind legitimate interest when it comes to GDPR
  • How the right to be anonymous plays into GDPR
  • How the definition of personal data has been expanded
  • How GDPR may affect organizations outside of the EU
  • Whether legislation similar to GDPR might be seen in the US, Canada, or other countries 

Links and Resources: 

Cameron Stoll


“We have to have contractual relationships with these processors to make sure that they will abide by our instructions and to make sure that they can’t take that data and analyze it and sell it to another company, for example.” 

“Ultimately it really comes down to very general principles: protect the data that you have, give people choices about how you’re going to use their data, and be really transparent about how you’re using the data you collect.” 

“I think it can be seen as an extension of consumer rights on a really large scales across all industries in Europe.”

May 3, 2018

We all know that acquiring and retaining donors is one of the most important things nonprofit organizations must do to improve their fundraising performance. The question is how to do it – and do it well. This requires that we take a broader look at trends across the non-profit sector to help us better understand how our organizations are performing but also understand more about our donors. 

To help us explore this and some brand new research from the Blackbaud Institute is Chuck Longfield, Blackbaud’s Chief Scientist and author of the Vital Signs Report. In today’s episode, he’ll share some of the changes that he’s noticed since the last Vital Signs Report and talk about what those changes mean for the future of the non-profit world. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • What Chuck found in Part 1 of the Vital Signs Report a little over a year ago
  • How the newer Vital Signs report shows signs of a turnaround in giving
  • The urban legend that giving is a zero-sum game, and how the recent research disproves that theory
  • What happens when donors stop giving to a particular organization
  • Where donors’ loyalties lie – with a specific organization, or with a cause
  • Steps that organizations can take with the new research in mind
  • Why organizations should try to convert donors to monthly giving
  • Whether the current pool of donors is sustainable long-term
  • The directions that Chuck’s research will go in next 

Links and Resources: 

Chuck Longfield

Vital Signs Report Part 2

Vital Signs Report Part 1

Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact


“I sort of put it into three categories. You could have more people giving more money, you could have fewer people giving more money, or you could have fewer people giving less money.” 

“A big driver of this – not the only driver, but a big driver – is what some people are calling rage-giving.” 

“If you can get over that initial hurdle and retain these new donors, these are pretty good donors to retain.”

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