Practical Advice for Modern Fundraisers

Segmentation is all the rage!  

Segmentation. That should be your new mantra.  Many of us have long done simple segmentation things like First Time Donor, Lapsed Donor, Recent Donors.  But shouldn't we look deeper?  Recently, I used a service to model and segment our data.  The modeling is something I have always been a little circumspect about, but I knew it works for Acquisition. So we gave it a try. Segmentation. That should be your new mantra.  Many of us have long done simple segmentation things like First Time Donor, Lapsed Donor, Recent Donors.  But shouldn't we look deeper?  Recently, I used a service to model and segment our data.  The modeling is something I have always been a little circumspect about, but I knew it works for Acquisition. So we gave it a try. 


Our database had nearly 200,000 gifts (not counting event gifts) that had come in over the last ten years.  So we took that data and looked for patterns. We compared our gift data with that of tons of other non-profits. I wasn't sure what we would get but I thought it was worth the investment. It did actually cost that much considering the number of gifts involved.


We provided the data analysis company with a record id and the complete giving history for that id. What we got was very interesting.  I was about to do our next Major Donor mailing so I tried the segmentation/modeling for that mailing.  Usually, I would mail about 100 renewals in this mailing.  The modeling identified another 200 people who were good targets for major gifts.  By the way, a major gift for this mailing is $1,000.  

 

After culling out a some of the donors we mailed to about 150 donors asking them to make what they consider a "substantial gift." The reply envelope for the mailing started with $500 so that will give the donor and idea of what we are asking.

 

The piece we mailed was a traditional three sheet piece. Two-page letter and an info sheet about the programs mentioned in the letter.


So what happened?  Well, next month we will look at the results of the mailing.  Stay tuned.

Does your audience need a fancy case study? 

When you start a major campaign be it an Endowment Campaign or a Capital Campaign do you need a fancy case study and all of the surrounding materials.  Well, it depends, in my opinion.   I was working with an organization that had a very senior and very wealth board the average time on the board was 20 years.  Now, I am not saying this was the best situation, but it was what we were working with, in this case. 

When you start a major campaign be it an Endowment Campaign or a Capital Campaign do you need a fancy case study and all of the surrounding materials.  Well, it depends, in my opinion.   I was working with an organization that had a very senior and very wealth board the average time on the board was 20 years.  Now, I am not saying this was the best situation, but it was what we were working with, in this case. 
When it came time create a leadership committee for their campaign we had to decide how much material the committee needed about the organization.  Obviously, it would be insulting to lecture to a senior board member about the mission and vision of the organization or to explain why the money is needed.  But they did need something. 

So we developed a one-pager written for an insider.  We briefly reviewed the history of the organization, its significant accomplishment and the why.  We spent most of the time on the "why."  Since as board members they should clearly understand the "why" we wrote it with reinforcing language - "As you know," "Becuase of your previous efforts," and "Understanding the future needs." In this way, we could instruct without taking the chance of insulting.  

We treated this document as a supplement to our committee meetings and face-to-face meetings.  The board members appreciated having a takeaway. More importantly, we knew we had given the committee and the board the information they needed about the campaign in multiple forms. 


This document also served as the outline for a full case for support. It also allowed us to try different ideas during the quiet phase.  Since the material was not a big design piece, we could make changes on the fly.


This might not work for every organization planning a major capital or endowment campaign, but it is worth thinking about.

2018 AFP Fundraising Day New York Conference

What will you learn?  Who will you meet? Check back here to see how Thoughtful the day was.

I'll be posting after the conference on some of the emerging trends and old standbys that we should be putting in place in 2018.  FRDNY is a great place to catch up and renew your "thoughtful" fundraising spirit. Also, I'll be helping out with the early session of mentoring- so drop by and say hello.

POST CONFERENCE NOTES:

As always it was a great day.  I met some great people doing amazing work.  The Solution Center was filled with vendors offering the latest in fundraising tools and ideas.  While at the NYU Heyman Center booth I met a number of people who were looking for classes that would help them grow their skill set.  As for the sessions, my favorite was on Case Studies for Major Campaigns.  We have a blog post coming up about case studies and it was great to hear different voices concerning what this tool needs to have in order to be useful. 

All in all, it was a very thoughtful day. 

All a

 

Update from the 2018 AFP International Conference

What do your donors and prospects really think about your cause?

During the 2018 AFP International Conference, I was struck by the number of sessions that emphasized: "personal relationship" with your donors.  Now we have all been talking about being donorcentric for some time.  But these sessions were talking about really getting to know your donors at a different level. One example that Adrian Sargent gave was to use morality words to reinforce donors and prospects sense of themselves.  These are words like kind, hardworking, compassionate, caring, and thoughtful - you get the idea.

Another idea that floated around the conference was trying to be more targeted in your ask and appeals to what your readers already believe about your organization or what they want your organization to be.  Reinforcing already established beliefs makes your reader feel good about supporting your cause.  

Now the question becomes in our already hectic work life how do we figure out the morality of our donors and prospects,  and how do you figure out what people think of your cause?  Well, you have to ask them. There are many ways to do this, but I decided to try a survey. 

I sent an eight-question survey to a randomly selected group of our donors. We sent it via email using a popular survey tool.  It was designed to take no more than five minutes to complete.  I didn't expect to get a ton of responses, but I hoped to get a sense of who our donors are and what they thought about our organization.

And boy did I. We got a lot of great information from people including the words that they would use to describe themselves - the morality questions. Why they "believe" in the organization and what they felt the organization ought to be doing more of programmatically. Obviously, we only asked questions that were within the scope of what the organization already does or is planning to do it the future.   


We also asked for a couple of pieces of personal information. We asked their name, zip code and email - that was all.  
Now we are using what we found out to write copy and articles for the newsletter,  and decide who to invite to quarterly visit to our programs.  

We are looking forward to seeing how this new information affects our donations.  Also, it makes people feel good to be asked for their opinions.

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