Practical Advice for Modern Fundraisers

TEDTALK | The danger of a single story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Do you have an authentic voice for you non-profit?  Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

Did your appeal really make money and how much?

Cost Per Dollar Raised (CPDR) and Return On Investment (ROI) are the most important statistics you generate from your fundraising activities. We use these numbers constantly. Not just for each appeal that you produce but for your overall fundraising program.

I realize that meeting your income goal is the MOST important number you track but understanding how you got that number is vital. What it cost for each dollar raised, your overall cost to raise the money and how much each new donor cost. This last one is important since acquisition is expensive and we have to track those donors carefully. In fact, I am working on an upcoming blog all about acquisition.

RETURN OF INVESTMENT
To figure the ROI, you simply divide the income by the expenses. Example: You earned $2,000 and spent 500. (2,000/500 = 4) If the number is greater than one, you made money. In essence, you earned four times what you spent.

COST PER DOLLAR RAISED
To figure CPDR, you do the opposite you divide the expenses by the income. Example: You depend $500 to raise $2,000. (500/2000= .25 or $.25) So it cost you a quarter for every dollar you raised. Not bad.

COST PER DONOR
To figure this one out, you need to know a few things: the total cost of the mailing, the amount raised, and the number of new donors. This is a simple example of how to get the CPD.

$10,000 investment less $2,500 income = $7,500 loss divided by 250 donors = $30 cost per donor. You will want to use this information to track how long it takes for the acquisition to pay for itself. At a $30.00 CPD, this should only take a year or so depends on your overall renewal campaign.


So why are these important? They are important because they take into account expenses. Too many times we put all of our focus on gross revenue, and we feel great when we say we raised $800,000 or a million dollars. But too often if you look closely at your renewal mailings you find that the net income was far less. To me, your ROI must be greater than one, and your CPDR should be no more than $.50.

You have not doubt noticed that I am focusing on dollars not the number of donors. We will look at those statistics in a later post.

 Green Article.*

What's up with GIVING TUESDAY!

So what are you doing for GIVING TUESDAY (#GivingTuesday)? In case, you have somehow missed this event/movement over the last few years here is what Wikipedia says about the day – “It is a movement to create a national day of giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season. GIVING TUESDAY was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season.”

Some major companies and non-profits nationwide participate in GIVING TUESDAY each year and the numbers are growing. Even credit card companies and TV networks have taken to promoting the day. So what can you do?
1. You can gear your Annual Appeal to the day.
2. You can add an extra note to an already prepared Annual Appeal.
3. You can create a #GivingTuesday online and social media campaign.

Let ‘s start with #2. Assuming you have completed design and pre-production for your appeal, and it will drop before Thanksgiving but you didn’t include a #GivingTuesday ask – no worries. Have a quick insert created that simply says something like “Make it a great Tuesday. Make your gift on Giving Tuesday“ and you are done. Short, easy and thoughtful.

I believe that #3 is the key to the day. So much of the promotion for Giving Tuesday is geared toward online giving so why not go with the flow. Initially, I would create a thoughtful pre-Thanksgiving e-news blast that ideally builds off of the design of your annual appeal. Reuse some of the images or the language from your appeal so that it matches and reinforces your Annual Appeal. If your Facebook Page and your Twitter account are a part of your campaign (and I hope they are), you should build a series of tweets and post to go out starting on Thanksgiving Day. Obviously, the Thanksgiving Day one should emphasize the holiday and thoughtfully give a nod to #GivingTuesday. The rest of the series can be more direct.

Remember to talk about “Why” a gift to you is important not just what you can do with the gift but why your organization should get the gift. Be sure to include photos or graphics. These will reinforce your message and typically increase your reach. Plan on sending out some posts/tweets on #GivingTuesday. Maybe these tell a single story, or they are designed to encourage people to tell their story about your organization or cause. Check out this "Shared Article" on social media.

On GIVING TUESDAY plan on spending a good portion of the day sending and responding to post and tweets in real time. It is very important that your posts are pre-planned, but you cannot pre-plan for new opportunities that come from your followers. Be ready to respond quickly.

Also, be sure to send two or three emails that day to your email list. Build them off the same themes as your Appeal and your social media post/tweets.

The next day use both email and social media to thank everyone for donating and commenting.  That is the only thoughtful thing to do. In fact, be sure to track your Likes, Re-tweets, and hits for the next few days. Using the hashtag will tell you how well your GIVING TUESDAY campaign did.

And remember to use the #GivingTuesday and your organization’s hashtag in all your post, tweets and even emails to be a part of the movement.

P.S. As for #1 Next year start early and include GIVING TUESDAY in your Annual Appeal planning. Fundraisers today must thoughtfully take advantage of every reasonable opportunity we can to increase support.

* Article originally appeared in 2015

Multiple online donation pages are your friend - really!

Are you using multiple donor pages for online giving?  Well, you should. How else are you going to track where your gifts are coming from so that you know which of your online campaigns are working.  
Your online donation system needs to allow you to create multiple donation pages if it does not I would recommend finding one that does. Each donation page should have a unique name and URL. That way you can use different pages for different campaigns. For example, you might have three online campaigns: Internal E-blast, Acquisition E-blast, and Social Media i.e. Facebook, and Twitter.  
Internal E-blast- This is an e-blast that goes to your current donors. Ideally, this E-blast would mimic the style and words of your direct mail appeals. Now the rules are a bit different for how much text and graphics to use but the feel ought to be the same since this e-blast is typically, sent in conjunction with mailed pieces. 
Acquisition E-blast- This is an e-blast that is usually sent by a separate company.  These are very similar to direct mail acquisitions.  The email could mimic your base acquisition piece since you know it works. There are a number of companies that can assist you with this type of e-blast. I have found the cost moderately reasonable for the number of people that you can reach. 
Social Media - Each platform is a bit different, but the idea is the same that you should use a dedicated donation page. Let's look at Facebook. There are three places you should be using donor pages on Facebook. 
1.    You can create a “donate” or “learn more” tab for your main page.
2.    You can create a  series of post designed to ask people to support your charity or cause.
3.    Or you could purchase ads since you certainly want to see how well they are doing a separate donation page is a must. These ads should be timely and based on your very best post. Facebook Analytics can tell you which post got an above average number of likes or shares.  
Twitter-  On this platform, you have two places you can use donor pages.
1.    You should create a series of tweets that all use the same donation page URL.  A short video is ideal for this type of appeal. Also, don’t forget to be donor-centric even in 140 characters. 
2.    You can also purchase promoted tweets (or ads).  You will want to track which donations came from the ads. Again, I would recommend basing the paid tweets on your most retweeted or shared tweets.
Knowing which page your donations came from can help you focus your efforts. If you never get donations from Social Media, maybe you won't put as much effort into that particular avenue.  You will definitely, want to know which of your online donations came from your acquisition appeal and renewal appeal.  On the acquisition side, you will also want to know to which list/e-blast each donor is responding. All of this will help you figure out where to put your efforts and what your ROI is for each online/eblast appeal.
 
Please let me know how you use multiple donor pages.

Thoughtful Stewardship

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Short Thoughtful Post

It Occurs To Me

February 17, 2017

How did your year-end appeal turn out?  What was your retention rate and attrition rate? These two rates are just as important as knowing how much money you raised. If you don't track these you might want to do so. You will be surprised by what you find.Or hopefully, you won't be surprised.

November 9, 2016

So the election is over. We have a winner and a loser. Putting basic politics aside will the results change your Year-End giving results? So far the markets are looking like they will stabilize and  millions of people are happy about the results. Well, millions are also scared.

I wonder if your results will depend on where your charity is located. I work in a very Blue part of my state and my charity only works in that area. What if you work in a very red part of the country. Will you do better or worse?

Also, will the election change average donors,mid-level donors or major donors more? What do you think? I don't have any answers myself and unfortunately, I won't know until January when the year-end result are tallied. Please click on the comments section of the site to leave your thoughts.

 

October 17, 2016

October is half over so I hope your Year-End Appeal is past the planning stages. By now you should have at least updated your base Acquisition Appeal materials and be well on the way with your renewal appeal. List should be have been chosen and the process of renting them should be underway.

If you are not this far along - no worries- take a deep breath and dive in. You'll get it all done but why not calendar out 2017 to give yourself more time to plan and write.

 

September 1, 2016

So you made it to September. I know it seems like August is the longest month in the year. It precedes what is the for all practical purposes the shortest two months - November and December. So much of our fundraising year depends on the out come of those two months. So Sepetember and October are all about prep work. In fact, I would say that September is the most important month because by the time October gets here all your year-end work needs to be complete. If those "Giving Tuesday", Year-End Appeals and follow-ups are going out on time your September is going to be quite busy. What do you think?

June 17, 2016

I'll be live blogging from FRDNY so tune in. As always, this is a great day.

May 16, 2016

The next blog is will be posted on 5/23 don't miss it.

March 9, 2016

We will be blogging from the AFP International Conference in Boston starting on March 20. The Thoughtfull Approach to... blog will be updated daily after the last session but we will be tweeting during the conference. Be sure to follow us at @thoughtfulappro and to check the main blog each day.

Just 11 days and counting until the fun begins.

 

December 2, 2015

So you survived GIVING TUESDAY, now what? Well, it is not the time to start planning for next year. Nope, it is time to take a page from retail and follow up with people.

Let us assume you sent and email to all of your prospects, constituents and donors. If you used any of the primary email systems like Mail Chimp, Raiser’s Edge, Patron Mail et. al. you can pull a list of people who opened your email but did not click on the donate link.

I’d recommend emailing all of those people today to thoughtfully remind them that they can still make a gift to your organization. Rather like the "Your Carts Not Empty" emails some retailers send when you pick out times but do not complete a sale on their sites.

Try it you have nothing to loose. Just don’t be obvious about how you know they visited your site. Treat the email as a reminder ask. Sell the "why" of your organization.

Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.

 

October 2015

Well, the feed back on my two part series on videos has been great. I know that a lot of people were interested in the subject but I had no idea just how many. I look forward to hearing more from people who decided to add videos to there annual appeal and those who changed their mind.

But what about those annual appeals? Are you ready and where are you putting your emphasis on acquisition, renewal, lapsed or what exactly? I have decided that renewal should get the bulk of your time as for money acquisition always eats that up.

 

September 2015

So in a little more than two months your annual appeal will drop- right? We'll have you thought about how to use videos as a part of the overall appeal. The right video can be embedded in your website and tied to a Google ad, posted to your Facebook Page and on Twitter. You should even be able to add it right to your email appeal. Just about the only thing you can not do with it is mail it. Unless you create a QR code for the video and include that in your mailing. Just a thought.

But what qualifies as a successful video. I would say like many things in fundraising you won't know know if you have gotten right until the appeal is over and you look at the analytics and crunch some numbers. But you can see what like agencies are doing and take a chance pick up the phone and call a colleague. In fact, my thoughtful tip isn't really about videos it is when in doubt call a colleague. That and read my September post about best practices concerning videos.

 

August 2015

-How ready is your Annual Appeal? Yes, I know it is August but if you want them to drop before Thanksgiving you should have already gotten started. Remember acquisition, renewal, lapsed donor, major gift and e-solicitations need to all work seamlessly - don't you think?

Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.

-The shared articles section has gotten the second largest number of hits of any area on the site. Thank you. If you have article suggestions please leave it in a comment.

July 2015

I have gotten a lot of great feedback on the TedTalk video on pecking order. What were your thoughts?

Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.

 

 

 

 

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