Acquiring & Retaining Millennial Donors: Part Two

4-ways-to-acquire-retain-millennial-donors

A while back, we wrote a post focusing on four ways to acquire and retain millennial donors. In order to provide the best advice we could, we drew from many of the best practices we had learned over the past two years, organizing our annual fundraising event in Boston, the Boston Fall Formal.

Our fundraiser is geared almost completely toward millennial donors, and has donated over $175,000 to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in two years!

To help you and your team with your next fundraising endeavor, we thought we’d expand a bit on our fundraising experience, and provide you with detailed information on how we improved our contribution each year, while still keeping our donors engaged. To help guide our conversation, we’ve answered questions from a fellow fundraising host (thanks, Elsa!).

Q: How much of your total proceeds from the two years (about $175,000) came from ticket sales versus pure donations versus opportunity drawing proceeds?

A: This is a great question, and brings up an important point to keep in mind as you plan your next fundraising event. Depending on the type of event you hold, different cost components could include:

  • Venue Cost
  • Food / Drink Cost (higher cost for open bar)
  • Entertainment (band, DJ, photographer, photobooth, etc.)
  • Décor
  • Ticketing Processing Fees

When planning your event, it’s always good to have a detailed estimate of the costs you will incur. This level of detail will give you a better idea of what your final contribution to your charity will be and will also help you understand what you can afford for your event.

For our event, revenue broke down as follows:

Revenue Item Dollar Amount Percent of Total Revenue
Ticket Sales $185,000 67%
Sponsorship / Donations $72,000 26%
Opportunity Drawing Proceeds $20,000 7%

You’ll see that our revenue was well over our total proceeds of $175,000, meaning we incurred about $117,000 in costs over the past two years of our event! 

Q: What was the breakdown among corporate sponsorships and pure donations?

A: As with costs, we find it to be extremely beneficial to track all of your sponsorship and donation amounts.

Surprisingly, we did not solicit sponsors in the first year of our event, meaning all of our proceeds from donations were from individuals, not corporate sponsors. While we considered the inaugural event to be a success, we clearly had a lot to learn.

Using this lesson from our first event, we put a lot more effort into attracting and winning amazing sponsors. (You view our Ultimate Guide to Sponsorship here!)

Shifting our efforts resulted in a much different breakdown than in our first year, and as a result, sponsorship and individual donations were at about a 50:50 split – a huge improvement from our prior year!

Q: What was your retention rate from year one to year two?

A: Our high retention rate played a significant role in the growth of our event. While we were very happy with the new attendees we attracted in year two, the return attendees helped spread the word on the event, and continue to drive awareness up until the night of the event.

Comparing year two to year one, we retained about 58% of our initial attendees!

More to come on our tips for engaging these attendees, further down in this post.

Q: Do you have any thoughts on engaging millennials as straight donors instead of as event attendees? Fundraising events can be expensive – are they truly necessary to engage millennials in order to garner donations from them?

A: While it is definitely possible to generate straight donations from millennials, we’ve found that the key to acquiring and retaining millennial donors is to provide engaging and unique experiences. Millennials constantly seek connections to the causes they support, and one of the best ways to create this connection is by building a relationship / experience through a special event.

Some of our additional thoughts on engaging and retaining millennial donors include:

  • Get Personal – Tell the story of your cause, and how it has personally affected yourself and your committee.
  • Utilize Technology – Millennials are very connected. In order to gain their donations, you must be, too! For your next fundraiser, be sure to embrace mobile technology through donation pages, mobile silent auctions and raffles, and even email campaigns.
  • Embrace FOMO – Play into millennials’ fear of missing a great time. Promoting your event through social media, videos, and other digital media will cause those in your audience to fear that they will be missing a great time, further convincing them to engage with your event and support your cause.
  • Show Your Appreciation – This is a staple for all nonprofits and fundraising events. Don’t forget to thank your attendees and donors for their contributions – this is their hard-earned money that you are asking for, after all!

Finally, while we do think that fundraising events are one of the best ways to engage millennial donors, this does not mean that you need each attendee to join your event each year. By putting together thoughtful email campaigns, social media updates, and utilizing mobile technology, you can keep your initial attendees engaged, even if they may not attend your event, or if you’re not planning on holding one each year.

  • Email Campaigns & Social Media Updates – Both of these tools are great ways to update your audience. We use these mostly to:
    • Update donors on progress made from our fundraising event.
    • Provide any updates that the organization or cause you support has made.
    • Thank your donors and attendees for their support.
  • Mobile Technology – Mobile technology allows you to reach your donors throughout the year, regardless of their geographic location or the timing of your event. With tools such as donation pages and mobile silent auctions and raffles, you can promote your cause or organization anytime throughout the year, and can reach a large potential donor base of people who may not be able to attend your physical event.

These elements combine to create a connected approach to fundraising that will keep your donors in the loop and donating year after year.

Conclusion

After reading this post, we hope you have a more detailed view into the numbers behind running a fundraising event. We’d love to answer some more questions, so ask yours in the comments section below!

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Written by Zach Hagopian

Zach is the co-founder and COO of Accelevents, a mobile fundraising platform that enhances silent auctions and raffles through online and text-message bidding.  An active member in the Boston fundraising scene, Zach focuses on improving traditional fundraising methods and increasing fundraiser proceeds.

Connect with Zach via:
Twitter | Facebook

My problem with awareness campaigns

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When I worked at the Canadian Cancer Society as a corporate fundraiser, I had a sign on my desk that read:

“You are here to:

(1) End cancer

or

(2) Raise money so we can end cancer”

It guided everything I did.

Could I work with a corporate partner who wanted help changing their workplace to a healthy one? Even if it didn’t raise money, it met the criteria for #1 so I’d happily pass them along to our cancer prevention team.

Could I help write a letter to go to all employees asking them to give during the staff campaign? It accomplished #2 so you bet!

But it also helped when a board member would suggest something like this: “Let’s get all the taxi companies in the city to put our logo on the side of their cabs” (real suggestion).

I’d run it through my test: does it accomplish #1? Nope. Does it accomplish #2? No. So it’s not worth my time. Because ultimately those “awareness” campaign ideas often came from someone’s ego, not an honest desire to give generous donors the opportunity to help people with cancer.

Because at the end of the day, the family who can’t pay their rent because mom had to quit her job to drive her daughter to chemotherapy… There’s not much she can do with “awareness”.

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Written by Rory Green

roryRory is a Senior Development Officer by day, and FundraiserGrrl by night. As a major gifts fundraiser, she connects donors with an opportunity to invest in a better future. FundraiserGrrrl is a blog about her cheeky observations about life in fundraising.

Connect with Rory via:
Twitter

3 things I learned at The #DonorLove Rendezvous

3 things I learned at The #DonorLove Rendezvous

Leaving The #DonorLove Rendezvous I had a huge smile. It was a smile that only comes from being around people who inspire me, people who have hope, people who are GENERALLY AWESOME!  

For those of you who were there, WOOT! and MISS YA’!  Let’s catch up. And for those that weren’t, hopefully I am spreading the love…

#1 — #DonorLove can be practiced everywhere!

The obvious is for all of the attendees to go back to our place of work and apply the lessons learned. There are the obvious fabulous examples shared by #donorlove experts. Fundraisers working in organizations big and small. The easy things like thank you cards or a quick phone call, a cool engagement opportunity. Or the slightly harder donor-centred communications like telling the story of your organization with your donors as the HERO.

But….here is the extra info, from ME… That is too narrow a definition of DONOR.

#DonorLove can be practiced with all the people who “give” to you in your life.

And even to those who “give” in the world who you don’t know… YET! Reach out, say thanks!

#DonorLove can be used with your volunteer gig with your son’s baseball team sponsors.  (That’s a reminder for me! GO WOLVES!).  

Define donor as widely as you can and go with it! See if you can apply the #donorlove philosophy to all of your actions and connections. You might find yourself smiling a lot more often!

#2 — #DonorLove is easy, especially if you plan for it!

I have seen so many lists of ways to show #donorlove, and guess what! They are all great!

Why?

Because by thinking about it, and taking action, you are WAY ahead of anyone who doesn’t think about it and doesn’t take action.

So, the message that came through at the Rendezvous in every decision, balloon, sign and smile was… think about #donorlove – ALL THE TIME! Buy extra thank you cards when you are in the store already and buy a few gift cards when you have the time, listen to the story of the next donor you meet and BE READY! There will be a person, donor, maybe even a new connection, that does something awesome, that shares something inspirational and when they do, be ready, and take action. That’s it! It’s that easy!

Having said that, if you need help, check out this blog which gives you the #DonorLove 101 rundown by the Agents of Good, John Lepp & Jen Love, themselves:

The 7 Principles of #DonorLove

#3 — #DonorLove with corporate partners

So, for those of you who know me, even a little, you know that most of the time I work on corporate fundraising. More often than that I work with companies who I very carefully do not call donors because they are actually corporate partners, sponsors, marketing partners, or companies I am planning a one-time campaign with.

Guess what? The principle of #donorlove – modified – is at the core of what I do, too! 

WHAT?!?!?

Yep, I think of my key contact at an organization as the primary donor, the person I want to build a strong relationship with, and I put a bunch of #donorlove principles in place with them (see above for principles!).

And then, I also think about the company itself, and how I can show it the love so the employees know what awesome stuff they are doing through my organization.

I’d be giving all my secrets away on our “first date” if I give you all the tips here, so follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter for more.

In the meantime, if you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling, follow #donorlove on Twitter and you’ll be reminded.

You’ve got this!

Heather

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Written by Heather Nelson

heatherstripesHeather is an experienced and passionate fundraising professional specializing in non-profit and corporate partnerships.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn

 

Think Different! (Can I trademark that?)

think different! (can I trademark that-)

I spent some time back when I was living in Waterloo volunteering for the Grand River Film Festival. Naturally I was best suited to help them with sponsorships, which I did. My experience in fundraising is mostly in direct response or face-to-face mid-level asks, so as much as I had skills to bring to corporate sponsorships, I also learned a lot.

One of the things that surprised me at first was that when I cold called a company to talk to them about sponsorship, I was directed to the marketing department. Most companies don’t have a corporate social responsibility arm, but I guess I figured I’d be redirected to somebody senior who controlled the budget. No – it was marketing.

But of course this makes sense – as warm & fuzzy as philanthropy can be, it’s also a way for companies to market themselves. “Look! We’re not just a company who makes tires! We also care about the community!” I don’t mean to take away any of the altruistic nature of giving, because there’s a lot of that, too. And I don’t blame a company for leveraging sponsorships for marketing purposes.

It did, however, make me look at corporate sponsorships differently. Rory Green has written a lot about this, and Chris Baylis writes about it all the time.

think different! (can I trademark that-) (1)

If companies see sponsorships as marketing, then we need to give them marketing value when we solicit them.

That means no more Gold, Silver, & Bronze sponsorship packages, folks! (Read this AMAZING post by Rory Green. She knows about this way more than I do.)

As for what want to say on this topic — think different!

I met two lovely women when I was in Winnipeg two weeks ago – Laura & Julie Mikuska of The Mikuska Group. Laura and Julie are fundraising consultants in Manitoba, Canada, and they shared a term with me that I’d never heard and just loved:

Operational Sponsorships

(I hope I got that term right.) Operational Sponsorships, put simply, are tangible sponsorships. Instead of being the Gold sponsor (what’s that?!), you could be the… cookie sponsor at a foster home! The chew toy sponsor at a pet charity! The MRI sponsor at a hospital! The sky’s the limit.

You connect the company with something that feels aligned with their business and/or mission, and then you make sure you can position it in a way that adds significant value to their company. Everybody wins!

The point is, the old ways aren’t working. Companies’ marketing dollars are precious and sometimes few, so we need to give them an ROI worth sponsoring for.

What are your best corporate sponsorship tips? Let me know in the comments!

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in fundraising for over nine years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

Guest Post: How I Sold a Sponsor in a Single Call

How I sold a sponsor in a single call

This blog is a response to the blog: “How I Was Sold By a Fundraiser In a Single Phone Call” – which is definitely worth reading.

Event sponsorships are not my favourite thing.

In fact, I really dislike them. Set “Gold, Silver, Bronze” levels – all based on how much money the charity needs – the exact opposite of #DonorLove if you ask me.

So I do sponsorship a little differently. Every sponsorship proposal I create is unique and custom for the company. And it works. Here’s what sponsor WeDidIt had to say of their experience:

This approach to corporate giving is refreshing and effective! 

Rather than approach me with the run-of-the mill ‘sponsor levels’ sales pitch (you know the ones: platinum, gold, silver, blah blah blah), Rory did something blissfully simple and effective. She: 

  • asked questions about our business goals and listened. 
  • used those goals to build a compelling sponsorship proposal that was a no-brainer to fund!

Rather than be stuck with our logo in a booklet that no one would look at, we ended up more than tripling our original goals for the sponsorship and forming some valuable partnerships along the way.

I wish all charities knew how to fund-raise like this!

-Andrew Littlefield, We Did It  (A Sponsor of The #DonorLove Rendezvous)

Don’t you want all of your corporate donors to feel like that? They can! Here’s how:

STEP 1: Get to know THEM: The first step is to really learn about the company you want to work with. Go on their website, read how they talk about themselves. What services are they selling? What language do they use? Watch some commercials and look at some advertisements for the company and really get a sense of their brand.

When you have your discovery meetings, ask lots of questions – and listen really well. Don’t run through a sales pitch before you’ve really gotten to know the company. Key things I need to know about a potential corporate donor are:

  • What are their biggest challenges today? What do they think they will be tomorrow?
  • What are their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals and objectives?
  • What have they liked about past non-profit partnerships? What has worked well? What hasn’t?
  • What makes their company unique? Why do their customers choose them over their competitors?

STEP 2: Look for Return on Investment (ROI): Once you understand a company, look for areas where your goals and objectives overlap – and build partnerships based on those shared values, beliefs and objectives. Find creative ways to add value to a company through your partnership, by: helping them find new customers, engage employees, build a stronger brand – or more. Always keep in mind what is the ROI for the company you are working with – not just what’s in it for you. A partnership with the right charity can add value for the company by:

  • Helping them find new customers: 94% of people would switch from one brand to another if it was associated with a good cause
  • Engaging and retaining employees: 70% of people say making a difference in a good cause is a factor in where they choose to work
  • Building brand: associating a company with a good cause can improve their reputation and regard in the marketplace

STEP 3: Make a donor-focused pitch: In your proposal, talk about THEM. Restate what you’ve learned about their CSR objectives and business needs, and clearly explain how the program you’ve identified matches their interests and helps THEM achieve their business objectives. Too often charities make pitches based on their cause and their organization. Focus more on the opportunity of the partnership – and less on your need for money.

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Want to learn more? Be sure to check out the next #DonorLove webinar: Better Corporate Giving (…that raises MORE money & your sponsors will LOVE)

Tuesday October 13, 2015
1:00 pm Eastern (10:00 am Pacific) + Recording available October 14th – $24.99 CAD

Do you want your corporate donors to LOVE the proposals you prepare for them?

More importantly, do you want your corporate asks to be successful?!

If you want to learn how to create better – more successful – more profitable corporate proposals then sign up for this webinar today! Only $24.99 CAD!

Drawing from her experience in major and corporate giving Rory Green will look at how charities can do a better job of corporate fundraising – and how to engage in deeper, more meaningful, more PROFITABLE corporate partnerships.

This webinar will use real life case studies, and give you the practical information you need to improve your corporate fundraising efforts!

You will learn:

  • How to identify the RIGHT companies to build a relationship with
  • Rory’s list of questions you NEED to ask before you write a proposal
  • Creative ways to offer Return on Investment that Corporate Partners will LOVE
  • How to tap into budgets beyond Community Engagement to unlock MAXIMUM investment
  • Step by step instructions on how to structure a SUCCESSFUL corporate ask

Sign up NOW and you will also get a REAL LIFE corporate proposal that got a “yes” in a day!

Trust us, you do NOT miss this webinar. Sign up now – seats are limited!

Can’t make the webinar live? No problem! Sign up now and receive a recording after the webinar is over, to watch whenever you like!

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Parts of this blog were originally published on Phil’s Career Blog

Written by Rory Green

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Rory is a Senior Development Officer by day, and FundraiserGrrl by night. As a major gifts fundraiser, she connects donors with an opportunity to invest in a better future. FundraiserGrrrl is a blog about her cheeky observations about life in fundraising.

Connect with Rory via:
Twitter

 

 

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**SPONSORED POST** Email maeve@whatgivesphilanthropy.com for more information about advertising on www.whatgivesphilanthropy.com.

Guest Post: Disarming Yourself in Corporate Fundraising – Part 2: HOW?

Disarming yourself in corporate fundraising (3)

Do you remember where we left off last week? I was telling you about my mentor who had a 70% close rate on all of her sponsorship proposals, so early in my career I sat down with her to learn about good sponsorship packages and what they entailed. After asking all about word count, design, spacing, and more, she said to me: “You still haven’t asked me a thing about good sponsorship packages.”

My mentor went on to tell me that to her, the package was incidental – a pure formality. She never submits a proposal of any kind without her prospect’s explicit approval and permission to do so. Because she worked with the person and built trust, the proposal was used only to justify the expense to the finance department, or to champion internally, and never contained any filler.

The Conclusion

Let’s skip right to it! When you meet your prospects for the first time, I challenge you to bring absolutely nothing with you at all! Not even a pen and paper or iPad? Nope! I challenge you to have a real conversation with a real person all about them, and then use your memory to recall important facts.

Warning: This will feel uncomfortable at first (and forever), your boss will think you’re crazy, and your prospects will too… and this is a good thing.

If a prospect asks you for a package, instead ask them for a five-minute phone call or a 15-minute cup of coffee to get a better sense of their needs before you submit something.

In other words, tell your prospect “no!” and get a sense as to what they like to fund, their target demographic and their sponsorship goals. If your event, program or charity doesn’t fit those goals, don’t submit a proposal! If your prospect doesn’t have five minutes for a call, they aren’t going to spend 20 minutes reading your proposal and they aren’t really a prospect and you should move on.

I can feel you squirming at the thought of this… wait until you try it! Am I really saying not to shotgun blast your proposals to every company you can think of and that when they ask you to give them a proposal that you say no? That’s exactly what I’m saying!

How can I commit to such sacrilege? Simple. When you blindly send out proposals you are using a direct mail strategy, and direct mail gets a 2% response rate, if you’re lucky. If you need 20 sponsors for an event then you need to send out 2000 proposals! Now think of the last time you got your anchor major donor from a direct mail campaign. Pretty rare right? Chances are you won’t get your title sponsors from a direct mail campaign either!

People buy from People, not Proposals

The closest thing I see to custom proposals is the inclusion of a statement like this at the bottom of the package: “We also do custom packages so let us know if you want to have a conversation.” This puts the responsibility on the prospect to figure out that you can help them reach their goals, which is never a good thing. It also assumes that people read your entire package, which is not a safe assumption.

Let’s do Some A/B Testing!

Don’t take my word for it; try it for yourself! Instead of jumping in with both feet, segment your prospects and set aside 10% of your list to use this approach with. Do a biweekly checking to compare success rate, average sponsorship dollars and “sponsorship per hour invested” and see which method is right for you and your organization.

I think you’ll like what you start seeing.

What works for you with corporate fundraising? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Happy corporate fundraising!

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Written by Chris Baylis

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Chris is a fundraising professional with expertise in cause marketing, sponsorship and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Chris has managed both national and local campaigns and is a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Ottawa.

Connect with Chris via:
The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn

Guest Post: Disarming Yourself in Corporate Fundraising – Part 1: WHY?

Disarming yourself in corporate fundraising (2)

Maeve and I talked a lot about the commonalities between corporate fundraising and individual giving and so while this two-part series has a corporate fundraiser in mind, I bet that the major gift fundraiser in each of us will enjoy it too.

These two posts are all about the biggest psychological crutch that we use in corporate fundraising. For those of you who follow my blog at The Sponsorship Collective, you know that I believe passionately in a relationship-based approach to corporate fundraising and how using a sponsorship package is a barrier to those relationships. I would (and often do) argue that the sponsorship package is a barrier to good fundraising, so let’s explore why people use proposals, one-pagers, leave-behinds and any other name used to describe the opposite of going to a sponsor visit with nothing in hand.

The Art of Deliberate Distraction

Think about the last time you handed someone a proposal, what did they do? They turned their attention away from you to the package in front of them and you probably tried to talk to them while they did it. Guess what? They absorbed nothing from your proposal or from what you told them and the second you walked out the door, they recycled what you gave them.

So you drove, flew, walked all the way to meet your prospect to hand them something you could have e-mailed them? If someone agreed to meet you in person, it’s because they see value in human interaction and want to know who they are considering working with. So why is it that virtually every fundraiser I know brings proposals and one-pagers with them to prospecting meetings? I think something deeper is happening here. I think that we believe if a prospect is reading a proposal and judging it, they aren’t judging us and saying no to us. The proposal then, is not a sales tool but a subtle self-protection tool!

If that’s true then that means going to a meeting with nothing in hand forces your prospect to judge you as a person, and you have to describe to them what you want from them. By going with nothing in hand you change the dynamic and make it about people and about relationships. Sound scary? Good! Use that to keep you sharp and make sure you know your stuff!

Sometimes Sponsors Ask for One!

Armchair psychology lesson number two is that “send me a proposal” is code for “no thank you!” Just as you giving them a proposal means that they aren’t rejecting you personally, getting you to send them a proposal means that they can tell you any of the following without guilt:

  • I shared it with the team and they declined
  • We have already spent our CSR/sponsorship/community investment dollars this fiscal
  • We have moved away from gala/event/program sponsorship
  • I will let you know if I/we have interest

The proposal is a crutch for both sides of the partnership – the fundraiser feels protected and so does the prospect.

When I first started in fundraising I had a mentor who boasted a 70% close rate on all of her proposals. I sat down with her for two hours one day and asked her questions about her approach. All of my questions were about word count, design, spacing, call to action, levels and all of the things that make up a “good” sponsorship package. After two hours I thanked my mentor for her time and got up to leave, at which point she said, “You still haven’t asked me a thing about good sponsorship packages.”

Do you want to find out what she told me, and what I’ve learned in my own work? Tune in next week for Part 2: HOW? You know why us corporate fundraisers need to disarm ourselves, so wait a week and I’ll show you how we do it.

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Written by Chris Baylis

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Chris is a fundraising professional with expertise in cause marketing, sponsorship and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Chris has managed both national and local campaigns and is a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Ottawa.

Connect with Chris via:
The Sponsorship Collective | Twitter | LinkedIn