Practical Advice for Modern Fundraisers

Did your appeals 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.{jcomments on}

 

Can your organization use a Social Media Expert?  I mean really use.

 

So you plan on hiring a Social Media Specialist for your organization. Well, you have an important question to answer mainly do you have 40 hours of work for this person?

This new person will need to be someone dedicated to your organization who has the flexibility to get posts into your social media streams on a regular and systematic way. They also need to be able to respond when things happen. But, for most non-profits, the answer to is still no. So what might you combine with the positions social media task to create a full-time position?

Is there a person dedicated to keeping your website up-to-date? What do I mean by "up-to-date?" Well, as I am sure you know websites are never actually finished they require constant tweaking and new material. If you are not doing this, then you have a whole different problem, and we will cover that in an upcoming post.

The person in this position can write beyond 140 characters or the few paragraphs in a Facebook Page post. Also keep in mind that being able to curate material derived from other sources like your annual report or program materials can also be the basis of new material for the website. Then this person only needs the technical skill to add articles to the site - and the forethought to think about what to add or the guidance by you to know what to add.

Who knows they may even understand things like meta tags and keywords? Both of which are important if anyone is going to find your website. Understanding this functions opens what might be wholly new and important area of analytics. If you use the Google analysis products, it would be great to have a person dedicated to this work. If you have a Google Ad Words, Grant you know how much time is necessary to manage that asset. If you don’t have a Google Ad Words Grant then maybe this new person can help you get one.

Another distinct area is desktop publishing and graphic design. Would it be helpful to have an in-house design guru, probably? The very nature of creating engaging well-constructed post requires a good design sense and the technical skill to create images and videos. These same skills may well translate into the skills needed to create a newsletter or simple brochure.

And don't forget your social media campaign should be working hand in hand with your events and individual giving programs. Ads and promoted post are assets to the rest of your donor program.

So is there 40 hours of work for a Social Media/Webmaster/Marketing position at your organization. My instinct says yes. And though you might not be able to draw a solid line between the position and income I think you can certainly draw a dotted line.

What could be better than a thoughtful program of social media post, website updates, meaningful analytics and, possibly even design skills?

Short Thoughtful Post

It Occurs To Me

Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.

 

 

 

 

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