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Posts Tagged ‘Convio’

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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Diversity Requires Effort, Not Merely a Posture

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Nonprofits know they need to better diversify their marketing efforts.  New research shows that most companies do a poor job of advertising to ethnic minorities.  (When asked for an effective brand, most respondents couldn’t name one.)

To ensure that your nonprofit is in the forefront of constituents’ minds, what can you do? It will take more than being available for them to contact, donate and volunteer!  You will have to learn how to appeal to the various segments of people in your target markets.  Most likely, they each have their own special wants, needs, likes, dislikes and preferences.

In addition to understanding the ethnic makeup of your supporters, many other demographics are necessary, but it doesn’t stop there – and you shouldn’t presume to know without due diligence.  Many people will make assumptions about age, for example, rather than doing research.

A common misperception has to do with age and technology.  Often, people take for granted that Boomers (and older) are not online, don’t donate online and don’t use cell phones, texting, etc., while Millenials are the primary consumers of all things technical, leaving those in between somewhere in the middle.  This is a dangerous assumption, not to mention full of holes.

Research is showing that smartphone penetration is not only increasing across all markets, but Gen X and Y account for the largest market share.  In addition, all segments donate online, and Convio’s The Wired Wealthy study dispels myths about online gifts only coming from younger, smaller donors.

When looking at differences between the genders, it’s been established that women – particularly wealthy women – drive the philanthropic decisions in most households, so particular attention must be paid here, not only to the type of appeal, but in details such as follow up, acknowledgment, etc.  It’s important to most women donors that they learn about how their donation is being used and what affect it has had.  Not providing personal, meaningful feedback is a sure way to lose women donors.

A subset of Millenials has been identified recently – the Post88s.  GirlApproved has identified this demographic as a separate segment of female consumer/donor who responds differently than her predecessor, and therefore, will require a different marketing pitch.  Would you agree?

Another thing we know is that women spend more time on social networking than men do, while men spend a greater amount of time watching videos online, and the amount of video consumed is increasing substantially.  These are things to keep in mind when preparing your campaigns.

You still may have a couple of annual or semi-annual appeals that you want to send across the board, but clearly, it will help to really study your constituents and understand how they exist in smaller clusters of people, too.  Have they been long time supporters for years, or are they specifically donors to your XYZ fund?  Do they always attend your spring event?  Are they inclined to volunteer?  What sets them apart from other constituents?  How do they typically respond?

The need for segmentation was recently demonstrated by a Dunham + Company study which showed that email length and relevance were the most important factors compelling donors to either respond or disengage from a campaign.  Surprisingly, frequency of communication was not among the complaints found.  Effective, targeted – and concise – messaging is what’s most desired.

Diversity also includes more than ethnicity, age and gender.  How accessible is your organization to people with various disabilities?  When you hold an event, are you certain that it is wheelchair accessible?  Do you ask on your registration forms if attendees will need interpretive services for the deaf?  What about your website?  You may be planning to make it mobile-friendly in 2012, but what about making it equal access for the blind?

Of course, a nonprofit that does or doesn’t dedicate itself to true diversity in marketing most likely has a parallel situation internally.  Much of the problems an organization has with their prospecting approach begins with internal issues, such as lack of diversity with their staff and board.  This hasn’t changed much over the years.

When all the ideas are coming from one type of perspective, it’s not surprising that there’d be a homogenous approach resulting from the organization.  There’s even a greater danger when all the power is resting with one set of individuals over another, staffing-wise.  This is when power corrupts.  Diversity has many benefits.

Marketing with old stereotypes and assumptions just won’t cut it any longer, even if you do segment.  Consumers and donors are more demanding now.  If you want them to remember you (fondly), you’ll have to work for it.

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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How Well Do You Know Your Data?

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Data is such an all-encompassing term that it can seem insurmountable, but it’s essential that marketers and fundraisers delve into their data and know as much as possible about its nuances. The secret to success lies buried deep, not on the surface.

It’s not necessary to become a statistician, but a basic working knowledge of your organization’s statistics is crucial – as well as its history.  Otherwise, there is no way to learn if your campaigns’ performances are improving or getting worse.

While every organization wants to have increased participation and giving in all areas, this is unrealistic and unlikely; therefore, segmentation when marketing and tracking is the wisest course of action.  Learning which demographics respond best to what approaches during which times will assist when planning future campaigns.

This not only applies to segmenting your donors by age, gender, etc., but also by longevity of engagement, since acquisition files require more time and attention before they become profitable.  You’ll also want to consider tracking responses with respect to the type of channels of engagement – e.g., direct mail, email, phone, social media, etc.

It’s also important to remember the basics, however:  garbage in, garbage out.  How often does your database get reviewed, updated, scrubbed, verified, etc.?  Does this go beyond NCOA?  What about email addresses?  Do all of the bounced emails get checked and updated/purged after X bounces?  Do you have a policy for it on file?  Do you check for deceased records and mark constituents as such regularly?  The easiest way to offend a constituent is to repeatedly address them incorrectly . . . especially while asking for support.

Making a regular, concerted effort to keep the database current can prevent many lost connections, misunderstandings and offended donors.

Outside of your own organization’s database, it’s good to learn how to read your website’s traffic with Google Analytics.  You or another staff member can take a Google Analytics IQ certification exam for $50 and the study materials are free.

As Seth Godin points out, there is a certain tenacity to the professional who has a long-range view of her goal, and doesn’t take a short cut to make a single sale.  When you keep the big picture in mind, you realize that it encompasses many smaller points of data . . . and the sum of the parts becomes greater than the whole.

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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My Director Will Never Go For That

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

It’s conference season. Too often, I’ve witnessed a person in a session, hearing a great idea being presented – and then turning to me and saying, “I’d LOVE to do that at my place, but my director will never go for it,” typically followed by a sigh.

Don’t get me wrong . . . I don’t claim to know their director or their organization.

But, this person presumably attended this session to learn more about the topic at hand – and while we’ve all had difficult bosses to work with, this person has already cleared a substantial hurdle:  they’ve been sent to a conference to learn more about their field!  A lot of people I speak with would love to be in their shoes!

Whenever you’re approaching your director with a new idea it always pays to put yourself in their shoes first.  What is the likely response?  More importantly, why?  If the answer is no – why is it no?  Is it due to additional cost, staff time, or something else?

You can’t address an objection effectively if you don’t know what the objection is to begin with.

For example, when I speak at sessions about Incorporating Online Giving With Direct Mail, a reason people often give me that their leadership doesn’t want to add online giving has more to do with ignorance:  I wouldn’t give my credit card number over the web, and I don’t think our constituents really want to, either.”

A way to combat this argument is with a one-two punch:  First, by demonstrating industry standards – showing results of a study that demonstrate how pervasive online giving is, regardless of age, for example.  This can be followed up by results of the organization’s own online giving results to counter another common, but ignorant objection:  “That may be true for that population, but it doesn’t apply to our constituents.”  (We’re different.)

It’s also essential to realize that even if you’ve heard – or had – the best idea in the world, it probably isn’t realistic to expect that absolutely everything is going to go your way and be fully implemented immediately.  Once you accept this, you can prioritize your requests and ask for the most important aspects first.  Change can be difficult for people to accept, and it doesn’t always have to do with the price tag.

This is why tracking is so vital.  When you return with tangible, visible results of the success that your proposal is starting to yield, NOW is the time to request that Stage 2 be implemented, and so on.

Of course, you can get these ideas from many sources – not just attending conferences.  You might be inspired from reading various related websites, blogs, taking online training courses, as well as old fashioned networking.  Each person must use the resources they have available to them.

A few days of exposure to the full throttle of session after session at a conference can leave one with a combination of being inspired and overwhelmed, though, when seeing what other very successful organizations are doing with their campaigns.  The thought of trying to implement such changes into your program with staff and/or officers who are resistant to change can even bring about anxiety.

Here are all these wonderful campaigns, strategies and tools – but how will you take them back and implement them, you wonder?  What if you are also lacking the staff and/or budget that they have?  It can seem daunting, if not impossible.

Taking notes during the sessions on how they began their campaigns is always a good idea, as well as asking questions about how difficulties were handled along the way, since all projects have them.  Most presenters welcome being contacted after their sessions, so be sure to take down their information for follow up questions later.

If I don’t see you at NTEN or AFP International in Chicago, perhaps we’ll meet up Pittsburg next month, or Richmond this July, when I am presenting about online giving again?  I can also be reached via my LinkedIn button below.

If you really do have a director who refuses to try anything new – ever – regardless of the idea’s merit, then perhaps it’s time you asked yourself if you should Fix It Or Forget It?  Where do you see your career headed, and can your current position take you there?

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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