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Posts Tagged ‘Blackbaud’

Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

As you assess which portions of your campaign have been more successful than the others, no doubt you are considering which parts to eliminate or start anew.  It can be tempting to see what the trends are and mimic them.

It’s more important, though, to discern which parts of your campaigns your constituents are most responsive to, and keep those going strong, while adding and/or improving on others.

For example, you may be considering adding Pinterest this coming year, which might be a good fit with your demographic, but first consider carefully if you’re responding to media hype or what your constituents really prefer.  A recent study shows that people would prefer more videos than many other social media channels.

Social Media Sites Used

If you do add videos, make certain they are valuable ones that get searched and viewed . . . otherwise, you’ve spent a great deal of time in production for nothing.

Another social media change you might consider is adding GooglePlus, due to Facebook’s altered analytics and essential demand that you purchase ads, if you want your content to be viewed.  This doesn’t show signs of going away in 2013, since “stock prices” of FB keep making the news.  (Nearly all nonprofits – large and small – have seen a vast drop in their Facebook viewership, likes and shares this year.)

Direct mail is still a crucial part of your overall campaign, but it’s imperative to treat it as a multichannel appeal, which has a better overall response rate:

•     Do you include a direct hyperlink in mailings?
•     Do you include your social media channel logos prominently?

When sending email appeals, do you test your emails on various screens before sending – particularly mobile?  What about the links within the email . . . particularly your online giving form(s)?  How many clicks, scrolling and/or pop-ups is the mobile user subjected to?

It is going to be necessary to enhance and upgrade your mobile features, accessibilities for the coming year – and beyond.  There’s no doubt.  More and more users are accessing the web via mobile.  This figure is only going to increase.

You’ve got five seconds, BTW.  Has it loaded yet?  Oops.  I’ve moved on.  Try again, please.  (Think of the donors you might have gotten if you’d have tested this first.)

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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What Are Your Analyticszzz?

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

When I suggest that development staff pull data on their fundraising campaigns, the most common responses are dread, avoidance and boredom.  Once we get the data (properly) pulled and analyzed, a different reaction appears.

Not only are the development staff pleased to see what is – and even isn’t – working well, but by how much, so that they can make more informed decisions moving forward, knowing that this is the right course, rather than going on instinct.  In some cases, development staff had been in a battle of this gut feeling vs. that gut feeling with management, citing anecdotal evidence of what several overheard comments had been, etc.  This kind of policy-making can be terribly frustrating!

If you’re a development staff member and don’t know how to pull detailed data (not just your total figures) out of your database, it’s time to make friends with the person who can do this for you . . . and it wouldn’t hurt to get some training yourself, so that you can manipulate the data once you get it.

Having the data is only the first step, because you’ll need to present this information to others, such as your senior staff and board members.  The more you can show your data in a palatable, comprehensible format, the better it will be received – and remembered.

Take the example below, which shows a six year history of an annual giving campaign, segmenting mail, online and phone income per year.  Even those who are not in development can easily understand this chart.

If your data isn’t entirely complimentary, it’s still important to see what it says, because this can help drive policy decisions – and changes.  If something isn’t working, clearly it’s either time to stop doing it . . . or at least drastically alter the strategy.  Knowing this – and having a baseline measurement – shows where you’ve been and where you’re going.

It’s also highly unlikely that everything in your campaign is failing, which is why it’s essential to drill down into your analytics and find what you are succeeding at.  Perhaps your retention is weak, but acquisition is improving?  Maybe your average gift is lower than it was, but your number of gifts is greater?

What about your channels?  Are you making the most of online giving?  When you compare the Blackbaud Index of (Overall) Charitable Giving with the Index of Online Giving (for nearly any month, size or type of organization), it’s clear that online giving is doing better, relatively.  Nonprofits that make online giving a larger part of their annual campaign will succeed more overall.  It is the future of annual giving.

Therefore, this would be a good subset of data to present.  Over the years, how has online giving increased?  Another specific set of data within this question to answer would be the size of online gifts.  Such data might be presented in this manner:

Clearly, this data demonstrate a responsive population that is more and more willing to donate online – and with larger gifts over time.  This tendency for larger donors to make online gifts was documented in a 2008 study by Convio et al, The Wired Wealthy.

What will your data show?  Whatever it is, it’s likely to help you make your case for doing more or less of one type of campaign, and focusing on what will help you reach your goals, as well as give your constituents more of what they want . . . now that you better realize what that is.

Remember – data doesn’t have to be thought of as a four letter word!

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How Can I Boost My Online Giving Program?

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Numerous studies have shown that the average online gift is typically higher than those by mail. (Actually, the multi-channel donor gives the most of all, but online is essential.) So, how do you drive people to give online?

It’s important to note that while direct mail is still responsible for the majority of most organizations’ annual giving income – and shouldn’t be overlooked or placed on auto pilot – there’s no question that online income is growing by leaps and bounds.  Even as total overall philanthropic giving wavered during the recession, then slightly grew, online giving enjoyed massive increases.  Nonprofits that ignore this trend do so at their peril.

Other trends to watch are the Blackbaud Index of Charitable Giving and the Index of Online Giving, which are both measured monthly.  These indices are based on a collection of over a thousand different nonprofits, and also available by segmentations of nonprofits, such as size of organization or type of industry. (e.g., arts, animal welfare, human services, health, education, etc.)

There are several ways to bolster online giving from your constituent base, but one good way to start is to check the research recently published about which cities are already most generous about giving online.  It’s not that you should exclusively limit yourself to these areas, but your most aggressive online campaigns and test launches would likely do well in areas that are most amenable to giving online already.

As Sara Spivey of Convio wisely noted, there is a high correlation to these areas and the geographic locations that have the most broadband, so keep this in mind as well when targeting your constituents with online campaigns.  Even if they didn’t make Convio’s Most Generous list, a more wired community will likely be more receptive to your online campaign!

When you cross reference these lists with another overall Most Generous list (all philanthropy, not just online), you see different cities entirely – except for Washington, DC.  It would be advisable to aim other campaigns (mail, phone, etc.) at these areas that are so philanthropic.

And what if your constituent base isn’t national – or in the cities listed?  How, then, are you supposed to join in the ever-increasing online giving ranks?  There are still ways to encourage your donors to give online.

First and foremost, make a point to ask them for their email addresses at every opportunity.  This includes leaving ample room for them to write it in on all direct mail response cards, event registration cards, etc.  When a donor does donate, register or otherwise respond to your organization online, make [email] a required field, so that you are collecting these online as well.  (Also make [First Name] and [Last Name] required, so that when you send emails out, they’ll be personalized, instead of “Dear Supporter,” form letter type correspondence.)

The average person has three email addresses.  If a constituent gives you multiple emails, how does your database store these?  Are they replaced?  Are they labeled as [work] and [home], or [email1], [email2], or [preferred]?  Make certain your system can handle multiple addresses.

Whenever you send out a direct mail appeal, be sure to encourage online giving in all aspects of the mailing.  This includes the letter, reply card and return envelope.  Designate a direct hyperlink specifically for that appeal, such as [charity.org/donate].  Track two separate responses for the mailing:  [response by mail] and [response online].  Over time, with repetition, you’ll see the [response online] in your mailings increase, as your dual channel donors grow.

Another – often overlooked – way to increase online giving is to take a critical look at your homepage. Where is your [Donate Now] button?  Is it easily visible?  Is it above the fold?  Is it part of the template?  (Can I still find it if I’ve been navigating within the site?)  How many clicks does it take me to get to the donation form from the home page?  Once I’m there, how many clicks does it take me to complete my transaction?

The online community is about immediacy.  If you’re taking too long to service these donors, you’ve already lost them.

What other ways can you think of to expand your online giving base?

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

For many nonprofits, this year-end is faring much better than the despair of last December, when there was far less a chance of exceeding the previous year and more thoughts of, “I hope we can match what we earned before!”

Of course, this isn’t the case for every organization, but early indications are quite favorable for the majority of nonprofits polled recently.

Having struggled through these past few years of the recession has forced charities to become leaner and strategize in new and more creative ways.  Many have also taken a long hard look at available research, to see what indicators will help them better serve their constituents.  Even better is taking time to review your own organization’s data, since it may vary from institutional trends on occasion.

One undeniable successful strategy is to combine appeals and have a multichannel approach.  Most nonprofits now realize that putting donors into “silos” is an inaccurate – and lower earning – method of fundraising.  It’s certainly challenging to manage multiple points of reaching out to donors, particularly when they continue to expand, but the organizations that do it best see the most promising results.

Of course, in addition to adding social media channels (and deciding how many to have!), nonprofits now need to decide when (not if!) to add mobile to their campaigns.

The term mobile itself brings an onslaught, too, since this encompasses a variety of possibilities, from converting the organization’s website to be mobile-friendly, to providing text messaging, apps, donations by mobile (and there are choices just within this), and more!

Again – integration is the key.  Social media is best integrated into what you’re already doing in your campaign, such as an event.  Parts of your mobile appeal(s) can be added to portions of your existing campaign as well, making it an enhancement to something already familiar.

Above all else, though, is the donor.  Cultivation and showing appreciation are key.  However, many nonprofits are unaware that they may not be displaying enough of their attention in the right direction.  New research has shown that in 90% of high net households, women are either the sole decision maker or equally involved in philanthropic decisions.

Women donors want to be more directly involved in their charitable giving and need to see and know that their contributions are making a meaningful impact.  This is important information to know when crafting appeals, annual reports, etc. for donors.  It tells us to write more about personal accounts and the significance a gift has had on the life of a recipient, rather than something resembling a balance sheet.

The more we learn about how to better serve our constituents, meeting them where they are – psychologically and technologically – the more successful we’ll become at acquiring and retaining our donors, not to mention increasing their commitment to the organization over time.

With the early results looking so promising, it seems that many organizations are becoming quite skilled at moving to “where the donors are,” rather than the previous model of telling them to “come over here.”

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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How Vital Are Women To Your Campaign?

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

With most software, when a couple donates, a nonprofit must designate one person the main donor, while the other is the joint donor.  Over time, the joint donor can appear as supplemental or secondary in reports, with virtually no giving history, depending on how statistics are recorded or pulled.  In most cases, this has reflected poorly on the women donors in the database.

It is a mistake to let women donors – and their philanthropic decision making – fall into the background.  Nonprofits that don’t take women’s decision making seriously do so at their own peril.  Not only do women control a great deal of the family decisions, including financial ones, but they weigh in heavily on where the philanthropic dollars will go.

Women who are more affluent seek to make real change with their contributions, and typically are interested in more involvement with the organizations they donate to, wanting to have a personal connection with the nonprofit and its mission.

Annual Giving applies when marketing to women as well, however, since women in the lower income brackets are often the most compelled to give back to society and help others out of poverty, for example.  Women who earn less than $10,000 per year, who are homemakers with children at home, gave 5.4% of their adjusted gross income to charity.

Participation in other areas of philanthropy which often ultimately lead to donations, volunteer engagement and other involvement are showing that women lead the way as well, such as social networking.

Not only will nonprofits need to target and approach their women donors with different tactics, but first many of them will need to record the giving with a new procedure in the first place.

Pamela* discovered that many spouses were not getting credited for gifts that were made by a husband or wife in the same household in the past few years, since her organization had been successfully boosting its online giving program.  Although their online donation form had spaces to enter one’s spouse’s data, most people filled out the bare minimum information to make a gift and hit the [submit] button.

The automatic nature of the online gift didn’t bother to check the donor’s giving history and see that prior gifts (made via mail, with a joint checking account) had been credited to both spouses.  Pamela noticed that if a gift was made by check, both spouses usually got credit, but if it was made online, too often, one spouse was getting ignored and not credited with the donation.  Therefore, the second spouse wasn’t named in subsequent solicitations, nor was s/he listed in the Annual Report, and so on.

It took some work, but Pamela coordinated with her IT director and the online giving department.  Within the next year, nearly all spouses were fully credited for one another’s gifts, although special care had to be taken to accurately track all donors’ marital statuses, as well as updating anyone who’d recently become widowed.

Once this background project of better relationship management was in place, and the staff was better trained on its importance, Pamela’s nonprofit saw an overall increase in donations of nearly 15% the following year.  In the previous year, they had barely reached double digits.  Her director was pleased and agreed that a tighter set of records which gave all parties involved equal credit for gifts was definitely helping them solicit more wisely.

How could you apply similar tactics to improve your campaign?

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

 

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