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?
Keep the base of the pyramid strong