5 things I’ve learned about fundraising – and myself.

Hi.

How are you?

It’s been a while.

As some of you know, I’ve taken a long hiatus from this blog; around 6 months. It was starting to feel like a chore and the posts were feeling a bit uninspired, so I took a break – for 3 reasons.

  1. I didn’t want the blog to go to s*&t only for me to never return.
  2. I wanted to throw myself even more into the job for which I’m actually employed (at Blakely).
  3. I needed a break.

But recently – for the past month or so – I’ve had an itch. Incidentally – but not ironically – it is the busiest time of year for fundraisers…when it rains, it pours.

I think the itch was particularly itchy about a month ago when I celebrated my 2-year anniversary at Blakely. I can’t believe that the time has gone so fast; it feels like only yesterday I made this bold move for my career.

And yet I’ve learned and grown so much, and so I’m inspired to take a moment to reflect on…

5 things I’ve learned about fundraising – and myself.

CREATIVE COUNTS. Yes, you have to segment your data well and make the right ask to the right people. But without creative that catches the eye and stands out in the mailbox, inbox, Facebook newsfeed, etc., your organization doesn’t stand a chance. And this isn’t just about good design or nice stock for your OE (outer envelope), it’s about a compelling story, too. No matter what channel you’re telling your story on – mail, email, a few lines on a Facebook ad, video, etc. – it needs to be emotional, compelling, and motivating.

PROPOSITIONS PUSH. But those compelling stories? They need to tie back to the need. The need is expressed through the fundraising proposition: why do we need the donor’s support now? What’s the problem? What’s the solution? How can the donor be part of it? What’s their role in all of it? What will their impact be? How will they know they’ve made a difference? The story moves donors emotionally, but the proposition can trigger that rational part of the brain, which can be critical in the decision to give.

INTEGRATION INSPIRES. Direct mail isn’t dead, but it doesn’t stand alone. Our donors are engaging with us in many ways – they’re getting our mail and emails, maybe they’re seeing our videos on TV, YouTube, or Facebook, they’re searching us on Google, they’re going to our website… they’re everywhere! So we’ve gotta be everywhere, too. But we need to be integrated. If they’re seeing us everywhere, we want what they see to have a common thread; they saw our mail and forget about it. Then we came up on their Facebook feed and they scrolled on. Then, it’s nearly December 31st and they want to make their year-end gift, so they Google us. Is what they see connected to what they saw? Ideally it is so they feel seen and heard and what originally caught their attention is seen through to the end. Give thought to the full journey; it matters.

PASSION PERSEVERES. But none of these learnings matter if you don’t love what you do. I love my work and the company I work for, but things get crazy and stressful. I have weeks where I feel on the ball, and weeks where I feel like I’m dropping balls, and then I have days like a month ago when I was on a video shoot for a client and we interviewed a family impacted by the organization’s care and donors’ support. The gratitude was so palpable and I thought: “This. This is why I do this.”

CULTURE CUTS. Unfortunately passion doesn’t persevere through everything. I’ve worked in fundraising for almost 11 (!!!) years now. I’ve worked in super inspiring environments, and mediocre ones. My passion hasn’t been able to lift me out of the mediocre ones. Now I work for a company where culture is our competitive advantage. My booming voice is celebrated (mostly), not quieted. My habit of distracting all colleagues from 2:00-3:00 every day (my worst time for productivity) is tolerated, not discouraged. My ideas are always welcomed. My humour is encouraged. My stress is worked through. My hard times are comforted. I – as an individual – am fully valued. So on the hard days, I feel I am working with people who love me, and so I can always make it through.

It’s been an awesome 2 years at Blakely, and an amazing 11 years in fundraising, and I am ready to get back to this blog.

See you soon!

~~

Written by Maeve Strathy

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

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

Best Practice is Test Practice

Let me set the scene: You’ve just attended a conference and your head is buzzing with new ideas. But there’s one in particular that you have to try! You know your organization’s donors will love it and really respond to it. So you go to your decision-maker and put the idea in front of her. She immediately shuts it down. “Our donors won’t respond to that!”, she says. You, deflated, go back to doing the same old, same old.

Here’s another scene: You just got an email from your favourite charity (but not the one you work at). It has a lot of copy, yet you’re captivated the whole time you read it. You get to the end and can’t help but make a gift. But there was so much copy! That’s not best practice! And yet… you gave. So you start thinking about the charity where you work. You only write short copy emails there; it’s “best practice”, after all. You consider making your next email a bit longer, but the digital experts in your office might say no. And what if it sacrifices revenue?

If you’re like most fundraisers, one or both of these situations is familiar to you. Revenue is precious, and if it’s coming in, then there’s not a revenue problem. If there’s no problem, there’s nothing to fix. If there’s nothing to fix, why try something new?! New ideas have no place in your charity.

But there is a problem! Status quo is a problem. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but at some point things will plateau if they haven’t already.

And chances are, the most senior people at your charity don’t want to see revenue go flat. They want to see it go up.

But how?

We use a quote from Albert Einstein a lot in our office to shake us out of status quo:

So how do you stop being insane? How do you challenge your known best practice without sacrificing (too much) revenue?

You test.

In my opinion, we don’t do nearly enough testing in fundraising. We’re so risk-averse – and understandably so. We don’t have money to just play around with, and for most charities it would be irresponsible to “play” with our money anyway.

But there’s so much to learn by trying new things!

Testing is the way. Testing is the way to convince your organization’s decision-maker to try something new. You go status quo with one group of donors – maybe send them the year-end package you always have. And then with another group of donors – send them the new package! Or the long-copy email you’ve been wanting to try!

6 Tips for Testing:

  1. Test ONE thing. To have a true test, you have to be able to identify the one thing that made one “package” more successful than the other.
  2. You don’t have to do a 50/50 test, you can do 75/25 or whatever you want! But – for the test to be conclusive, you want to have a minimum of 100 responses.
  3. Don’t just test for testing’s sake. If the element that you’re testing “wins”, the assumption is that you’ll roll out that element in future efforts, so it needs to have value.
  4. Digital testing is the same as testing through mail. You’re still testing one thing.
  5. You can test more than just creative/copy elements. You can also test data elements. What would happen if you mailed 50% of your inactive donors a totally different letter than other donors? Would they perform better? Or what if you tested your usual ask grid ($50 $100 $250) against something a bit more aggressive? Would that result in a higher average gift?
  6. Sometimes – even without testing it – it’s time for your longstanding control package to go. (Note: Your “control” is the package that keeps on winning against test packages.) Just because it’s “winning” doesn’t mean it should still go out in the mail. Sometimes it’s time for something new, with or without testing.

(Shout-outs to my awesome colleagues Laura & Sara for sharing their best testing tips!)

Good luck, and happy testing!

~~

Sign up for my email list and get a FREE E-BOOK on mid-level donors!

Written by Maeve Strathy

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

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

6 important things I’ve learned at my job

#1 - The importance of being reactive. (4)

Guess what?!

Today marks exactly ONE YEAR since I started my job at Blakely.

Wow… time flies when you’re having fun! And it has been fun! 365 days of getting out of my comfort zone, learning, being challenged, feeling intellectually stimulated, meeting new people, feeling inspired by new causes, travelling (40/365 days), laughing, stressing, and getting a whole lot of &*#! done!

If you’ve been reading my blog a while, you can probably guess how I’d like to celebrate this occasion.

With a list!

So here it is:

6 important things I’ve learned at my job

#1 - The importance of being reactive.

Gone are the days of leaving a meeting with an action item and getting to it eventually. The pace of work at Blakely means 9 times out of 10, when you have something to do, you have to do it NOW. It’s a great lesson in prioritizing, because when there’s 9 things to do NOW, which one do you start with? I still don’t know if I’m always making the right choices, but I’m learning and getting better. What else could you want from a job?

#1 - The importance of being reactive. (1)

Unfortunately for me (and the donors!), I’ve never worked somewhere where the creative aspect of fundraising is a big focus. Maybe the creative writing, but not the art. That is one of the most fun parts of Blakely: the creative. Part of my job when executing on a campaign for a client is to brief the creative team. I might tell them what we need out of an outer envelope, which packages have done really well in the past and my thoughts on why… and then the magic happens. The artists go off and a little while later come back and the strategy has come to life! It is so cool to see, and I find the process – and especially the output – so inspiring! The truth is, the thing we want donors to do is actually open the envelope. It takes good creative to do that.

#1 - The importance of being reactive. (2)

Another thing I’d never really been focused on before was the second gift. That is a HUGE part of our strategy at Blakely. Inspiring a donor to give is a start, but inspiring them to give again? That’s where the work really begins. You have to thank them – fast and furious. You have to give them a good sense of their impact right away. And when you do ask, it’s gotta be for the right thing in the right way at the right time. It’s an art, and I love learning about it.

#1 - The importance of being reactive. (3)

With the reactive nature of my job, it’s hard to find time to do anything, but it’s really hard to find time to think. I mean really think. I can get a slide deck together to present a campaign plan to a client, no problem! But how much thought has gone into it? How many colleagues have I spoken to in advance, to run ideas past them and ask them questions? How much time have I spent reviewing past campaigns? Looking at results? Figuring out what works, what doesn’t, what we might test this time? It’s critical to make time for this important thinking work. When done right, a campaign is stronger than ever!

#1 - The importance of being reactive. (5)

I’ve always enjoyed data and analysis, but it’s not my strength, so that’s been a big learning curve for me. Let’s say I’m populating a slide deck with some results… I can make some commentary on what happened, but my real role is to say why it happened. That’s not so easy. But I’ve learned to stop myself more often and ask why? Is it because the mailing went late this year? Was the creative too subtle for the donors? Was there not enough time between the last mailing and this one? It’s about really getting under the results, and it’s fascinating!

#1 - The importance of being reactive. (6)

It feels really good to be valued, and I feel valued at Blakely. The work I do with this blog is valued. It means I’m part of the online fundraising conversation; sharing ideas, connecting with guest bloggers, and constantly learning. My activity on Twitter is valued, really for the same reasons. I’m connecting with fundraisers worldwide; learning from them, and sharing my own thoughts. The networking I do is valued. I meet people and create relationships in this wonderful weird world of fundraisers. And my voice is valued. I am brought to the table to talk about things in my scope of work and far outside of it, just to offer my opinion. Sure, there’s lots of business benefits to all this, but it’s also about the value the company – and the people in it – place on learning, knowledge-sharing, collaborating, and more.

Needless to say, I’m a very happy fundraiser right now!

~~

Sign up for my email list and get a FREE E-BOOK on mid-level donors!

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: [INFOGRAPHIC] What we measure… and what’s missing

whatgetsmeasured

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Do you want to show your donors more #DonorLove? Well according to Vanessa Chase Lockshin, it’s all about storytelling. In her upcoming webinar (info below), Vanessa will show you how to seamlessly incorporate stories into your non-profit’s stewardship touch points. You’ll learn how to use stories in impact reports and thank you letters. This webinar will discuss key ideas for telling stories that delight donors and helps them feel more connected to the work.

Learning outcomes:

  • Why stories are essential content for great stewardship
  • 4 keys to telling a great story, plus the most important element every stewardship story must have
  • How to tell a story in a thank you letter
  • How to tell a story in an impact report

Steward Your Donors With Stories
With Vanessa Chase Lockshin
April 12th: 10:00 EST / 1:00 PST (You will also be sent the recording)
Recording Available April 23rd
$24.99

REGISTER TODAY!

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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

Making Data Sexy

MakingData Sexy

Where does the “data person” at your charity have their office?

Is it in the basement? Away from sunlight?

Are they pale? With bloodshot eyes?

No, I’m not implying that “data people” are vampires…

But I am implying that we don’t think of them as the “sexy” part of our organization.

And that’s wrong! Data is sexy!

You know who knows that? The for-profit world. Think of something awesome like… PC Plus.

pccard_registration

PC Plus is my local supermarket’s loyalty/rewards program. So if you don’t have PC Plus, think of the same type of program at your supermarket. Or Air Miles! Same idea.

Here’s the gist: I buy my weekly groceries and when I scan my PC Plus card at the end of my purchase, the supermarket knows exactly what I’m buying. I get points for what I’m buying, and then I get offers for more points based on what I most frequently buy. Because I’m getting points, which turn into dollars off future purchases, I feel I’m benefitting from the process. The supermarket is definitely benefitting because not only are they encouraging more purchases – through the points – they’re also getting oodles of data on buyers’ behaviour, which they can use to make better business decisions, and to make more money.

Are we – charities – using data to raise more money? 

We are way behind the for-profit world in this area. Sure, we have a lot less money to play around with for this type of thing, but we’re still not investing nearly enough of what we do have.

What if we invested money and time in paying more attention to our donors’ behaviour?

What if we tracked what campaigns they do and don’t give to throughout the year and stopped mailing them for the ones they don’t give to, and doubled our efforts in soliciting them for the ones they do?

What if we tested using different messaging and creative for different genders? Or different age groups? If we segmented our data that way, tracked the performance for the different test groups, and then spent some time considering the insights we drew from that… wouldn’t that change the way we fundraise?

And if we found one approach better than another… or different approaches better for different segments, we’d raise more money by implementing those moving forward.

Isn’t that what we want to do?

Raise more money?!?!

The simple truth is that we’re not using our data as well as we can, and we’re missing opportunities to raise more money – and be better fundraisers – along the way.

Some of us can afford to invest more in this than others, but all of us can afford to try something new in 2016. Even something small.

So that’s my first challenge of the new year to you: try something new with your data.

And please report back in the comments!

Good luck, and Happy New Year!

~~

Sign up for my email list and get a FREE E-BOOK on mid-level donors!

Written by Maeve Strathy


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

Can I have your number?

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All fundraisers are closet data nerds. We love to pore over a spreadsheet of data and see what’s going on in our programs.

But if you had to say you focused on one number above the rest, what would it be?

I surveyed my Twitter followers, LinkedIn network, and email list, and here’s what they said:

  • Net revenue
  • Participation (combination of expected retained donors + new donors)
  • # of new donors
  • # of new young donors
  • Difference in dollars raised year-over-year
  • Total dollars raised (this is what I answer to at the board level – they have a finite term)
  • Total dollars raised
  • Total dollars raised
  • Conversion rate
  • Total dollars raised (short-term)
  • # of new donors (long-term)

As you can see, there’s a decent mix of metrics in there. Not to say this is a comprehensive sample, but I’d say us fundraisers are on the same page for the most part in terms of what we look at.

I was most interested by those who referenced the word term – “finite term”, “short-term”, “long-term”. That’s why I wanted to write about this in the first place.

Are we focusing on the right numbers? 

I’m not going to pretend for a second that I know the number we’re supposed to be focusing on. Or that there even is such a number! I’m just observing that more often than not, we’re looking at our programs from a few inches away, rather than from a bird’s eye view.

We need to step back and think big picture. 

We need to say, “Okay, so total dollars raised are coming up short of last year, is there anything I can see in last year’s data that would support that?”

Or even better, “The number of new donors this year is fewer than last; we’re going to have trouble with second gift conversion next year, and therefore total dollars, if we don’t focus more on acquisition.”

And that leads me to another number that no one mentioned, but I think a lot of managers, especially, get caught up in.

Cost. Expenses.

“We’re spending more than last year. We need to pull back!”

But stop – how does your increase in expenses translate into fundraising results? Are you seeing better results? Can you project that what you’re doing this year will translate into better – and more sustainable – growth in future years?

Because if so, try to stomach the expenses in the short-term. The long-term return on your investment will be worth it.

So take a step back. Think critically. Look closely at data, and then look at data from afar. You might not see it the same way.

What’s YOUR number? Share in the comments.

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Written by Maeve Strathy


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

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

 

5 direct response best practices (and 1 busted myth)

5 direct response best practices(and 1 busted

In my nearly 9 years in fundraising, I’ve been hearing this myth. Maybe you’ve heard it, too. It’s this intangible thing… this concept… this idea…

Best practice.

“Best practice” is defined by Wikipedia as “a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark”.

Have you heard this myth, too? It’s a myth because we hear about it so much, but we rarely see it in actual practice. Why? Budget, time, other resources? There are myriad reasons why, but it seems a shame, because all of the “best practice” ideas sound so great.

Guess what I’ve learned in the 5.5 weeks in my new job? Best practice is not a myth!

I always wondered, what can an agency do that a charity can’t do internally? Now that I’m on the agency side, I realize: A LOT. Hiring an agency to do your direct mail, for example, is a big investment, but the return is huge.

Why? Best practice.

You put in the resources – at least financial – and the agency takes your time (mostly) out of the equation. The agency does the work, and since that’s their sole business, they have the time and resources to make sure the output follows best practices.

What are best practices? Let me share my five favourites – that I’ve learned so far – with you!

#1: STORIES — Donors don’t want to hear much about you. You, the fundraiser, and you, the organization. They want to hear stories. They want to hear about people; people their generous donations supported. Was someone only able to attend your university because of donor support? Did someone survive – literally – because of donor-funded medical equipment? Donors want to hear about that.

#2: MULTI-CHANNEL APPROACH — Every medium you use to fundraise is great, but it’s stronger when it’s accompanied by a number of other channels. People need to be reminded a few times before they take action, so pairing your direct mail piece with an e-blast or your DRTV spot with digital display ads means a stronger campaign. Plus, the more channels a donor gives through, the longer – and more generously – they’ll give.

#3: BEAUTIFUL DESIGN — Inspiring stories and a variety of channels are all well and good. But if all of this goes out in a #10 envelope that looks like your Internet bill, what’s the point? There needs to be design elements in your direct response activities. It doesn’t have to be complex – in fact, it’s often better if it’s not – but it needs to be considered. The paper you use, the size of the envelope, the number of package components… it needs to be well thought out.

#4: VARIABLES — You need to acknowledge each donor along their journey. Is this a new donor? A mid-level donor? A lapsed donor? A donor who gives every September but hasn’t yet and you want to make sure they do? Whoever they are, you need to acknowledge them. It’s good for #donorlove, and it’s good for revenue!

#5: DATA — THE MOST IMPORTANT BEST PRACTICE OF ALL! The power of data cannot be denied or underplayed. You have to know how donors are responding to different pieces/packages/asks/etc. You need to test different premiums and find out what works! You need to split donors by their type and address them – and solicit them – differently. I could go on and on… DATA IS KING.

That’s it from me!

What’s your favourite best practice??? Share in the comments!

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Written by Maeve Strathy


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

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

 

Guest Post: 10 Things Fundraisers Should Know About Upgrading Donors

10 Things Fundraisers Should Know About

Upgrading donors is an essential part of your nonprofit’s fundraising program. Or at least it should be.

But the upgrade process isn’t just about asking all your donors for more money. Check out these tips to more strategically upgrade your donors:

  1. Upgrading begins at the point of acquisition. But not all donors can be persuaded to upgrade. The lower their initial gift (i.e. $15-$18 range), the more difficult it can be to upgrade a donor. For this reason, make sure you test your acquisition ask string (the gift amounts you’re asking people to give) at least once a year. You want to bring donors on at the highest average gift without negatively impacting your response rates. If you can acquire a high volume of donors at a better than $20 average gift, you’ll have a very good chance at upgrading them in the future.
  2. Build a rock solid thank you process. Want donors to give more generously?  Show them they matter by: a) promptly and genuinely thanking them for their past gift(s), b) sharing compelling stories about what their gifts have accomplished, and c) proving you’ve done what you said you’d do with their gifts. Getting this right will inspire donor loyalty and increase the likelihood that donors will upgrade when you present them with the next compelling opportunity.
  3. Have a big vision. Getting donors to increase their giving isn’t easy. You can’t expect a donor who gives $25 to provide hot meals at a shelter to give $2,500 just to provide more meals. Donors substantially increase giving because you inspire them to think and act big. That’s why middle and major donor programs often take advantage of offer bundles (where you combine a number of tangible program needs into one larger fundraising offer), special project campaigns and capital campaigns. These initiatives are tied to a larger vision than simply solving today’s problem. And they make upgrading donors so much easier.
  4. Remember that upgrading can come in small packages. It sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out on this. It’s great to get a $50 donor to upgrade to making $150 gifts. But don’t overlook that donor who gave $25 last year but gave you five $25 gifts this year. That’s an upgrade too. However, chances are your current segmentation and reporting systems aren’t set up to identify that type of upgrade. Check your reports and segmentation to make sure you’re identifying these people as well. If cultivated correctly, they can add a lot of income to your organization, both now and in the future (hint: they make GREAT planned gift prospects).
  5. Increase the relationship and they’ll upgrade. Donors are human beings. They give for many reasons, but they continue giving and increase their giving because you make them feel validated and appreciated for their contributions. This is a given for major donors. But you’d be amazed at how big of an impact this can have on your middle donors and even the upper end of your regular donor file. Write them special handwritten notes, call them, invite them to your shop for a tour or out for coffee. These steps will deepen their relationship with your organization, and provide them with more positive experiences.  And the next time you make an ask – even a stretch – they’ll be more likely to respond with a yes.
  6. Invest in a quality high dollar direct mail program. You might be tempted to just mail your standard package to every donor and vary only the ask amounts. That’s a mistake. Effective high dollar direct mail is much different; it’s less tactical, more relational. This is where you’ll see longer letters, live stamps, true handwriting, and even FedEx and UPS overnight packages, which work very well to upgrade donors.
  7. Say thank you more frequently. Engage your board to make thank you calls and write handwritten thank you notes to donors on a regular basis.  You can even make it a standard part of each board meeting. Do this several times throughout the year, prior to when you’ll be making your most important asks.
  8. Embrace telemarketing. You might personally hate telemarketing, but it is a great tool for upgrading donors. Telemarketing allows you to build personal relationships through conversation, allows donors to feel like you’ve heard them (both the positive and negative), and gives you time to tell more of your story in a highly personalized way than direct mail or e-mail.  You’ll also be able to reach more people on your file who aren’t necessarily responsive to other channels like mail.
  9. Host strategic cultivation events. If you’re trying to upgrade $20 donors to the $50 level, you probably don’t need to host cultivation events. But if you have a good group of $500 donors that you’re trying to upgrade to the $1,500 – $5,000 level, events are a great tool. The best events tend to have the feeling of exclusivity and access, of these donors being “insiders”, and having the opportunity to be the first to know/invest in something special. These cultivation events will deepen engagement around your donors’ passions and show them how very important they are to your cause.
  10. Upgrade through integration. Some of the most successful middle donor upgrade campaigns I’ve ever worked on have utilized an integrated direct mail, telemarketing, e-mail, video and face-to-face strategy. Integration helps you increase the frequency of your touch points, communicate the same message in different and increasingly compelling ways, and to leverage each channel to increase overall response.

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Want to learn more? I’m hosting a webinar that Andrew’s presenting called – Maximizing the Middle: Strategies and Tactics for Increasing Middle Donor Income.

In this session Andrew Olsen, CFRE, will share the demographic and psychographic differences that make middle donors unique. You’ll learn the best (and worst) ways to engage these donors to deepen their commitment (and giving!) to your organization, AND we’ll look at three case studies to see the specific tactics other nonprofits have used to increase middle donor giving by as much as 400%.

This webinar is now sold out! Click here to buy a copy of the recording! You’re not going to want to miss out on this knowledge!

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This blog was originally posted on Andrew Olsen’s Blog Fundraising Fundamentals.

Andrew Olsen
Andrew Olsen, CFRE, is Vice President, Client Services at Russ Reid – an Omnicom ad agency serving the nonprofit sector. Click here to read Andrew’s full bio.

Connect with Andrew via:
Twitter

Guest Post: The Big Bang — How to get the most from your fundraising efforts

The Big Bang -- How to get the most from

We’ve all heard it: having optimized assets matters. But how much does it really matter? In my experience, it matters, a lot. If your communications aren’t creatively using cutting-edge trends, you are missing opportunities to engage with your audience, to make them care, to have a bigger impact.

It was a big priority for me to redesign and optimize the fundraising communications at Humane Society International, so once we found an amazingly creative consulting team to help make my dreams a reality and got the budget approved, we dove right in. Over a period of six weeks working hand-in-hand together, we redesigned everything: email templates, advocacy alerts and our donation pages. We even redesigned a major online fundraising platform for symbolic giving – and we obtained big results.

We spent a lot of time strategizing. We wanted to make it easy for people to give or take action. We strategically planned appeals based upon response – I spent a lot of time creating detailed reports so I could study our file and learn what was and wasn’t working. We integrated across channels online and used consistent campaign branding – from social to email to web. We made our assets fun and interactive; we even ‘gamified’ a donation form using Javascript. I searched international giving trends weekly so I could stay up-to-date. We wanted to give our constituents a voice by making donor care access easy on every page. We wanted to offer as many options as possible for payment and currency. And we weren’t afraid to fail or to take a risk.

Here’s what the outcome was: over one year…

  • Revenue from mobile devices doubled.
  • Conversion rates doubled.
  • Online fundraising increased by 76% (while email file size increased by 12%).
  • The number of monthly donors grew by 80%
  • The number of monthly gifts increased by 51%
  • The average number of gifts increased by 131%
  • The number of gifts per month increased by 129%

In one year. Can you image the lost potential and income if we hadn’t done this? It was well worth time time and energy spent coming up with a cohesive marketing plan.

Have I convinced you how important this is yet? No? Then register for my webinar (details below)!!! If I haven’t convinced you yet, let me try to change your mind.

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WEBINAR — The Big Bang: How to get the most from your fundraising efforts

In this session, you will learn tips on how to raise the most money and maximize your impact through your online communications efforts – from optimizing online assets to creating engaging online platforms.

Register today!

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Written by Elise Ledsinger

 

Elise Ledsinger_headshot

 

Elise Ledsinger is the Senior Manager of Online Marketing Communications for Humane Society International, the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, and is based in Washington, DC. Click here to read Elise’s full bio.

Connect with Elise via:
Twitter | Email

 

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

 

 

 

You’ve only got part of the story

you've only got part of the story

As fundraisers, we’re constantly working with partially-told stories.

Last week, Andrew Littlefield showed us how to be P.D.D.D. — pretty damn data-driven.

Data is so important, and I think within every passionate fundraiser lies a bit of a data nerd. I love poring over spreadsheets and analyzing results, but it’s only part of the story.

I went to the Blue North Do-Gooders Summit this year and saw an awesome session called “Inspiring New Ideas with Donor Data”. The presenter, Tim Rowley, said that fundraisers have some issues with correlation analysis; we draw conclusions that we shouldn’t.

Here’s an example: there is proof that going to bed with shoes on leads to headaches in the morning. 

Is that true? Yes, but not for the reason that statement implies.

If you are too drunk to take off your shoes before bed, you’re likely going to be hungover and will therefore wake up with a headache. 

Going to bed with your shoes on is just part of the story.

We have a lot of data, but not enough knowledge. We have to take the time to turn our data into information, and then turn that information into knowledge, which is something we can actually use. That’s when we can be data-driven, as Andrew rightly encourages us to be!

How can we find out the rest of the story? One way is to ask great questions.

It applies to looking at mass amounts of data OR looking at one specific major donor.

If a donor makes a $10,000 gift out of the blue, can we make assumptions about how engaged they are with our charity and how they might want to be involved moving forward?

Well, sure! But that doesn’t mean we’re right! We must ask questions to get the whole story.

As for what kinds of questions we can ask, check out this video I saw on Movie Mondays for some inspiring ideas!

Telling the full story is worth the extra work!

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Written by Maeve Strathy


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

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email