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Posts Tagged ‘demographics’

If Everybody Donated A Dollar…

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

As the campaign launched, Tina* was aghast upon seeing the sponsoring company’s CEO’s blog: “If everyone reading this donated just a dollar, we could raise $XX,000 for charity, to help feed Y,000 people this holiday season!”

“We had had multiple meetings to discuss the strategy, the campaign theme, the schedule,” Tina moaned.  “Who would have dreamed that he’d need it explained to him NOT to suggest a gift amount of a dollar?!”  In the future, Tina resolved to insist on approving all copy associated with her campaigns, regardless of who was writing it.

“I later learned from my gift processors that they resolved to hunt down the CEO and beat him to death if we did in fact receive XX,000 one dollar gifts for them to enter and acknowledge!” Tina shared, laughing.

This is a good example – however disillusioning – of great intentions gone sour.  Clearly, the CEO was on board, fully wanting to cooperate and promote the nonprofit, asking others to donate . . . albeit about as poorly as one can.

It’s not just sponsors or volunteers who unintentionally reduce or sabotage a campaign, either.

Ulysses* asked for my assistance when redesigning his organization’s online giving page, and I noticed that his suggested ask amounts began awfully low – at $25 – and suggested that we raise the minimum amount.

Initially, he was skeptical; however, not only did I point out that, industry-wide, online gifts are typically larger than direct mail gifts, I suggested that we look at his organization’s figures.

Even with the current minimum suggested ask of $25, Ulysses’ average online gift was already higher, at $37, and, of course, we wanted to encourage larger gifts.  I suggested a minimum ask of $50.

“But what about donors who don’t or can’t give at the $50 level?” he challenged.

“That’s what the [other] option is there for,” I explained, “But you also don’t want to start by suggesting that donors give less than what most of them would to begin with.  That’s just bad policy.”

In addition, we listed tangible benefits next to each donation amount – what each gift would help accomplish or achieve for the nonprofit’s recipients of services – to help each donor feel that their contribution had meaning.

Six months after this redesign, Ulysses saw his online average gift approach the $50 mark, so we tackled his direct mail reply card ask amounts, too.

Because his mailings are segmented into non donors, lapsed and current donors, we analyzed the average gifts for each of these groups and based the ask amounts on targets set slightly higher, which paid off as well.

Ulysses is planning to propose that his nonprofit upgrade to a more sophisticated email marketing software system in his upcoming budget, coordinated with a better online giving form, so he can apply the same targeted approach to the non donors, lapsed and current donors with his online appeals in the future, mimicking what his mail appeals are now doing.

What campaigns do you conduct that have similar areas for improvement as you look toward year-end giving?

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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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Direct Mail in 2012 Must Step Up!

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Although year-end mail is always slow, 2011 saw the USPS give new meaning to the word! This was an eye opener for savvy nonprofit mailers who realize that a reckoning day is coming, and that the time to reassess mail campaigns is now.

There’s little question that the post office is headed for some drastic changes, although due to its being stymied in bureaucracy, it may take a while for the deepest of the cuts to be felt.  It seems certain, however, that the results the postal customer will ultimately feel will be twofold:  less service and higher prices.

If we’re going to get less and pay more, why do it?  Well, simply because for most nonprofits, the lion’s share of annual giving income still comes from direct mail, although this slice of the pie isn’t as large as it used to be . . . and it costs more to produce.

Whenever your ROI is affected this drastically (or is about to be), it’s vital to evaluate your overall campaign, to see which areas can be modified, streamlined, combined, improved – or simply need to be eliminated.  Several nonprofits that have strong direct mail programs have done precisely this, and discovered that one of their best tactics is a multichannel approach.  In addition, some have discovered that more resources are best diverted to direct mail for acquisition, while online appeals are successful for retention.

Since it’s unrealistic to eliminate direct mail from your budget or campaign, it’s smarter planning to consider a multitude of factors and be more strategic:

Take care that your database is as accurate and as up to date as possible. The better your data is, the more precise your campaigns are, the lower your costs, and the fewer returned pieces, wasted staff time, etc.

•     Consider sending out smaller, more frequent, segmented mailings. This will take additional time – both to pull the targeted data, as well as to craft the appeals, but it will make your donors/prospects feel special, whether you group them by geography or affinity for a particular type of fund, cause, etc.

•     Schedule your direct mail campaigns sooner than you previously did. Expect delivery to take longer than it has in the past.  Much longer.  This isn’t going to improve.

•     Budget for more direct mail expenses, if possible.  Postage will likely continue to increase, and with other services costing more (e.g., NCOA), this is simply pragmatic.

•     Make certain your appeals are both engaging and get down to business. If your letter is a solicitation, it still has to be interesting, of course, but the ask shouldn’t be buried in paragraph six, either.  Get to the point.

•     Integrate a multichannel approach. Include a direct hyperlink for your call to action (e.g., donation, registration, petition, etc.) on all pieces in the mailing:  letter, reply card, reply envelope, inserts, flyers, etc.  Remember to add a Twitter and Facebook icon and/or hyperlink as well, and QR codes when applicable.  Since a QR code is versatile, it can link to a video, provide a coupon code, or other venue, depending on your campaign.

•     Remember the carrier envelope is the most important, not an afterthought. Mail is typically opened over a trash can, so if your carrier envelope isn’t designed with at least the thought put into your letter, you have drastically reduced the chances of your letter ever getting read.

•     Test at least one variable with each mailing. This can be something as simple as including postage – or not – on your reply envelope, or addressing your carrier envelope on the back instead of the front.  Does a photo on your carrier make a difference, and if it does, do you need to pay for a color photo, or will a black and white one result in essentially the same response rate and average gift?  Perhaps a freemium boosts your average gift or response with an acquisition mailing, but it’s unnecessary when soliciting current donors.

•     Your opinion doesn’t matter! Make sure to track and analyze your data after each campaign.  Just because you personally prefer the bright green font doesn’t mean that it has the best response rate from your constituency.  Until you have several bundles of data from your own organization, a good place to start can be checking sources such as Which Test Won? which gathers and shares a great deal of data on both direct mail and online marketing.

•     Learn from your analyses. Take what worked well, and attempt to extrapolate upon your successes.  For the campaigns that performed poorly, either determine why and fix the errors, or eliminate them and substitute them with the strategies that are succeeding for your organization.  While you’ll probably find that much of what you’re doing follows industry standards, there may be some anomalies that are unique to your constituency.

•     Don’t be afraid to try something new. Annual Giving by its very nature can easily become cyclical and repetitive, and making goal is constantly on everyone’s mind, but great things can happen when you stretch outside your regular boundaries and dare to dream of a different way of doing things.

How can you make the most of what you’ve got – not just with mail, but all of your fundraising venues – and perhaps something new?

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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What’s Left That Is Private?

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The social media world has encroached upon our privacy in ways we’ve never considered before.  Usually, that’s meant Facebook, but Mark Zuckerberg is just the most blatant, declaring that people don’t “care about privacy anymore.”

The truth is, many marketers have been secretly collecting, harvesting and selling customers’ data – from their own computers and elsewhere – prior to Facebook and since then.  It’s simply a matter of who pays attention, when they get caught, and what the penalties are.  Unfortunately, the repercussions are rarely an incentive for the next offenders to be discouraged, and so it goes again.  The next offenders violate at least as much privacy as the prior ones, collect data and profit from it until they are caught and punished, too.

Privacy issues go beyond the bounds of marketing the bounty of data scraping, however. The technology in this case moves so quickly, that not only can the law not keep up, but most people affected can’t keep up.  When default settings are placed in obscure locations and frequently reset with permissions that allow more and more sharing, such as facial recognition software of photos uploaded (and permanently stored thereafter, whether the photos are removed or not), it takes a while for people to realize what’s occurred, let alone object.

Many users choose to participate in location software programs, such as Foursquare and Gowalla, and voluntarily post where they are and what they are doing.  What all smart phone owners may not realize is that the GPS located in their phones often sends the same information to a variety of marketers.  The [I Agree] button depressed with each app downloaded often is a contract that sends the app designer a great deal of data from the phone, including one’s address book, calendar, GPS location information, and so forth.  A free app may cost in other ways . . . every time you use it.

Klout has recently come under public scrutiny for their duplicitous offer to delete accounts, since they were still monitoring data and ranking people with the same accounts, but simply not displaying the data on the “deleted” accounts.  In addition, Klout’s system of ranking people – who have registered or not – was discovered to include minor children, which incensed quite a few users.

The issues of anonymity and social media cross one another like they never have before, and bring up a multitude of situations, both personal and work-related.  As more and more situations arise, a great many of them head for the courts, where the law begins to adapt and get reinterpreted to fit new technology as it never has.

Until all of the legal policies are in place, it’s best to consider what your own personal and organizational policies will be, with regard to data collection, sharing, privacy, etc.  Even if you have a policy, it’s best to pull it out and review it.  If it’s more than two years old, chances are that situations could arise that wouldn’t have applied when your policies were conceived and written.  (e.g.  Does your policy even address situations of what can/can’t be posted on social media channels?  How to handle a problem posting there?  What about text messaging?)

In times like these, when technology changes so quickly, it’s best to be proactive instead of reactive.  Once a constituent feels that you’ve betrayed her trust, it’s not easily regained.
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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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