What Counts and What You Should Count
I love counting things especially donations. But there are lots of other great things to count. First, you should count the number of gifts, number of donors, average gift, the frequency of giving, CPDR and ROI. But you can also count things like acquisition source, Package type, Personalization level and stamp/indicia type. Zip codes, age estimates, and rate of return by date.
If you have a robust, mature acquisition program, zip codes can be a great resource. At one organization after four years of running a traditional acquisition program, I started diving into my zip codes. First I ran a report that counted how many gifts I had gotten in the last three years by zip code. Then I look at just the top 20 zip codes. These were the ones with the most gifts in them. I was very surprised by what I found.
Now a couple of things were not surprising. The area around the organization's headquarters and the area around our biggest program had lots of gifts. No surprise there.
But, I could have hardly expected that in a single neighborhood nowhere near our programs I had a very large number of gifts. Not only were there lots of gifts but when I looked at gift history and frequency, these donors were really coming through for the organization.
I used a census tracking program that I found online to see who lived in that zip code area. What I found were single family homes, not a lot of kids and older adults. BINGO.
To test my theory that there were more people like the ones were already giving we did a carrier route presort acquisition mailing with personalization. What that means is that we mailed to 100k people who lived in the zip code area simply because they lived near other donors. We used are basic acquisition letter and made sure that the letter didn't just say "CURRENT OCCUPANT" but had the residents name on it. This cost a few cents more, but we thought it would be worth it. We could have tested and randomly sent some each way, but we preferred to err on the side on personalization.
How well did we do? When compared to our regular acquisition program the carrier route mailing did significantly better. Now should you just do carrier route and not use a more thoughtful acquisition program - nope you sure don't. This should just be one tool that you can use to maximize your acquisition program.
If we hadn't counted zip codes, we would never have known about a pool of great prospects waiting to hear from us.
EXTRA THOUGHTFUL IDEA
You should count people with old looking handwriting. Planned Giving prospects have to come from somewhere.
Blogging Live from
Welcome to Fundraising Day New York. This is one of the largest gatherings of fundraisers in the country. There must be at least 100 different workshops being offered. It is always hard to figure out which ones to attend. This year I am going to try and focus on two types of sessions technology and major gifts - but, well, anything is possible. So let's get started.
Heather Campbell, Director, Analytics & Data Management, Princeton University;
Jennifer MacCormack, Director, Advancement Analytics, University of Washington
We are off to a great start - packed room on a session on analytics.
The greatest benefit is it optimizes processes and outcomes. Remember the better your data the better your analysis can be. You probably have more data available than you think you do. You don't need a lot of money many of the products you need are free.
Census Data/Wealth Cluster
Fundraiser Performance Analysis
A good place to start is when you are in post campaign mood. Figure out who gave and why and then build a model to find more people like those.
But, you have to know what information you want as you build your models.
Who is most likely to renew?
Who is most likely to increase their gift?
Where are your new Donors located?
Are you prospects pools saturated? Why are some good prospects not being called? But first, you need to work to be prepared before you start the campaign. Figure out who are the best prospects and then focus on those. Try to use some of the "personal stories" to figure out who not only has a good wealth score but has the personal attributes to make a good prospect.
Use the data to combine your best Models with personal insight. One of the first models they built was a Bequest Model. This is not intuitively the best model to start with but if you say survey your donors and the fold them into the model you can see who will be most likely to join your PG program. You can you the same technique with Major Gifts and Annual Support.
Building a model is time-consuming but worth the effort. If you don't have the staff or knowledge as you get started, use a consultant.
Working with analytics both individually and with research/prospect vendors.
RFM (Recently, Frequently, Amount) - Summarizes Giving History
Engagement Score - How are people connecting with your organization. This is a great score that people don't think about. It combines giving along with things like volunteer activity, event participation.
Again, don't be put off by the prospect of doing analytics there is a lot of information online and vendors who can help you. Take the plunge everything you do will only help you be a better fundraiser and bring in more support to your organization.
Susan Sink, Vice President of Development and External Relations, American Farmland Trust;
Theresa Rizzo, Director, Supporter Services, International Rescue Committee;
Moderator, Valerie Vierengel, Director of Donor Stewardship, ASPCA
A good stewardship program has many different pieces. Including
Obviously, every donor should get a Thank you letter for their gift. You should divide these by some criteria like giving level or frequency. The first gift a donor gives should be a special letter. Also, think about who ought to sign the letter. The higher the gift the more important the person signing it ought to be.
Direct Mail Newsletter
This should be on a regular basis - say 3 times a year.
This can take many forms. It could be a pull of articles from the last Newsletter. Or it could be new material like a letter from the head of your organization that talks about programs.
This goes to high-end donors yearly and should include the names of donors over a certain level.
Online Welcome Letter to new donors
There should be a special letter that is emailed to every new online donor. Don't skimp sending out thank you letters and notices to your online donors.
Personalized thank you card for Executive Director, Board Chair or President
The importance of a personal note can not be over emphasized. It can make all the difference. Many times it can begin a conversation between the donor and the agency.
Special invitations to exclusive events
No matter what Special Events you might be doing it is important to create events or to utilize events that you are doing for major donors. It doesn't mean people will take you up on the invite but they appreciate the opportunity.
Personal outreach from the fundraising team
This last one is vital and it should be a donor phone call. Studies have shown a direct correlation between calls and increased second gift.
You cannot connect with people too often. No matter what people might say.
Carson Tate, Managing Partner, Working Simply, Inc.
Moderator: Patrick O’Connell, Faculty, Columbia University Masters in Nonprofit Management
25 Tips in 60 Minutes - I'll try to keep up! I am not promising I'll get all 25 but I will do my best.
OOPS, they ran out of time!! But I kept up.
It was another great FRDNY. I can't wait to see what they come up with next year.
It Occurs To Me
June 5, 2017
Fundraising Day New York (FRDNY) is only a couple of weeks away and it looks like it will be another great day. I will be blogging from the event. I anticipate writing about 4 sessions. The goal is to pick sessions that cover a few specific topics - cultivation, planning and, of course, technology.
This is always such a great conference and one of the great resources of the day is the exposition. I always get great ideas and if a vendor you use is presenting at the conference it is a great time met them in person. Don't let this opportunity pass you buy. If your in the New York area I hope you get a chance to attend FRDNY.
May 18, 2017
It was great being a part of today's AFP Workshop on Direct Mail. It is always a pleasure to share advice and ideas with other fundraisers. During the workshop, we talked about everything from acquisition to thank you letters. Yes, Thank you letters. Sometimes when we think of direct mail we only think of the "Ask, " but the "Thank-You" is just as important. Don't ignore the second part of any ask the thank you. You can not thank people too often or in too many ways. So take a few minutes today to review your thank you process.
April 14, 2017
We will be live blogging from the AFP International Conference in San Francisco. Last year, this was one of the most popular blogs so don't miss it. It should be a great conference there are a lot of great sessions. The first post will hit late on Sunday, April 30th. I'll be sending a reminder on Monday, May 1st so look out for the email.
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 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?
I'll be live blogging from FRDNY so tune in. As always, this is a great day.
May 16, 2016
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.
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.
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.
-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.
I have gotten a lot of great feedback on the TedTalk video on pecking order. What were your thoughts?
Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.