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Tips for Increasing Nonprofit Revenue

February 27th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

According to an article in Network for Good, here is the reality for donor giving to nonprofits:

  • Commercial business customer retention is 94 percent. It is 41 percent for nonprofits.
  • New donor retention is 27 percent.
  • Repeat donor retention in the sector is 70 percent.

If you are a development director or executive director, you need to know what your donor retention rate is and then you want to know how to increase it. There are several strategic and immediate steps you can take to improve retention, which will ultimately increase your donation revenue.

Thank-YouSay Thank You

A basic fundraising practice is to thank your donors. This is fundamental. However, organizations sometimes focus on thanking their major donors, cut costs by not thanking donors under a certain donation amount or are not creative enough in their appreciation of donors.

If you have a newsletter that goes out regularly or an annual report that gets disseminated, take the opportunity to acknowledge your donors. Of course, always ask them if you have permission to publish their names in any of your collateral material.

Take the time to make a call. If a donor has given you a significant gift, it deserves a phone call. Make it a point to have your organization, including board members and staff outside of the development office, spend a few days during the holidays each year calling a broader list of donors simply to say “thank you”. Thanking people will increase retention and their subsequent gifts.

Make It Easy

Donors today have more choices and opportunity to support their favorite organizations. Smart nonprofits are not only providing multiple ways for donors to donate by being on social media and using social media donation tools, for example, but they are also providing donors with easy and plentiful ways for donors to support the cause.

Donors are not interested in giving extensive information when donating their gift. They will also promptly pass on making a donation if they don’t understand how to easily and quickly make a gift. Nonprofits should steer away from being penny wise and pound-foolish when it comes to investing in donation technology. Investing in technology is the way to go in this day and age.

Make Your Images and Story Compelling

If you look at the websites of leading brands, such as Walt Disney, World Wildlife Federation, Coca-Cola, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital or The Salvation Army what you won’t see are text heavy sites.

Donors or people who are interested in knowing more about your organization will first head to your website and within seconds, they will be making judgments about the nonprofit. Therefore, it is important to have a site, which effectively uses a good color pallet and excellent imagery that speaks to the work you do.  The site needs to be easy to navigate where pages and links for more information, especially your donation page, are easy to find.

Today’s nonprofit leaders and donors are focused on outcomes. There is a move away from gauging an organization’s success purely from a financial perspective, and to add quantitative and qualitative information on the outcomes. This is as it should be, and nonprofits have to be able to succinctly communicate how they are making an impact in their area of expertise. A nonprofit should be speaking to its success, but also addressing the broader issue of what still needs to be done.

Forget the Gift and Build the Relationship

Yes, your donors help to financially support your organization, but if your nonprofit is only looking at them with dollar signs, it is going to be a long haul to increase your revenue.

Leading fundraising professionals will tell you time and time again that “development” is all about building a long-term relationship with a donor. The fact of the matter is that it costs a nonprofit more to obtain a new donor than it does to effectively steward their existing donors.

This means that nonprofit professionals need to have regular contact with their donors, acknowledge them and keep them updated at different points throughout the year, in varying ways, about the successes and accomplishment of the organization. Events, telephone calls and lunches are important for relationship building, but additional interaction is necessary with hand-written notes, newsletters, emails, penned letters, etc. The bottom line is that you want to build a long-lasting and on-going relationship that keeps your donors engaged with your organization.

Go Mobile

Although this point can also be included under the heading to “Make It Easy” for your donors to donate to you, it is so important in today’s world that it needs to stand alone.

Not too long ago, I wrote a piece on mobile marketing and strategies to use in order to be effective. There are two key facts that you need to keep in mind. The first is that mobile is here to stay. People are using their mobile devices in increasing numbers due to convenience and on-the-go capabilities. The second fact based on a study by Nielsen and Google is that 3 out of 4 mobile searches trigger a follow-up action such as additional research, a phone call or a purchase.

Make sure your nonprofit has optimized the website for mobile users. Donors and people who happen to want to know more about you need to be able to navigate easily on your mobile site because it is more than likely this single communication platform will trigger an action.

January 22nd, 2015

How to Write the Perfect Fundraising Email

February 26th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Email, Fundraising
 Writing the Perfect Email

The perfect fundraising email is a little bit science, a little bit creativity, and a lot personality and spark. As you craft your email, think about the kind of email that would pique your curiosity enough to open and read it all the way to the end.

Essential Email Elements

Subject Lines

Don’t forget about the power of subject lines. Choose carefully which words you use in your subject line, ensuring they encourage your reader to click. Scratch any that aren’t obviously helping, as they can instead hurt your open rate. You can test these by either using A/B testing or playing around with a few email campaigns and seeing which subject lines inspired more email opens than others. Here some subject lines do’s and don’ts:


Express urgency.

Spark your reader’s curiosity.

Start a message or story that’s completed in the email.


Use words that immediately suggest you’ll be asking for money. (“Donate,” “fundraiser,” “charity”)

Waste words

Try to say too much

Framing Your Message

Your subject line should lead into a compelling story that illustrates your message and why your organization’s work is so important.

Ideally, your story ties into why making a donation now is critical to your success and meeting your goal. In a campaign, focus on stories that build on each other or expand on each other, and eventually lead into your final push for donations.

Remember that your email strategy can tie into your social media strategy, so if you’ve been sharing photos or videos of a current or past project, use an email as an opportunity to provide even more insight into the story and what you contribute.

INSIDER TIP: Use as little text as possible and more photos.

How to Say It

A personal, compelling tone and voice are what will speak to donors. Use a voice  that matches your organization, but still feels like a personal ask from you. We want to convey your story and message in a way that doesn’t feel like email marketing.

Other ways to reach your donors personally:

Use an email system that allows you to include the recipient’s first name at the top of your email.

Be sure to thank them personally after donating, too.Mobile Optimized Email

The Ask

Make your call to action obvious at the end of your story, and tell donors that the best way to support your campaign right now is to make a donation. Be sure to offer an easy, large, obvious donation button that links to your Greater Giving Online Donation page, and if this email is part of an ongoing campaign, send follow-ups showing what great things that donation is accomplishing (and hopefully earn another one). Use a radio button for the donation link.

Provide additional asks in your sign-off at the bottom of your email, with links to the donation page.

News bonus

If you can, tie your email into breaking news or current events, to lend ‘contributing now’ a sense of urgency.

Sign-off and P.S.

Include a personal, scanned signature at the bottom of your email.

Consider using a cute P.S., too, from you or an important figure at your organization with a personal salutation or anecdote.

P.S. See awesomely effective examples here.

Dean Vella
Greater Giving blog

Fundraisers: Let’s Get Hungry Again

February 25th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

The response to my offer last week to make a year-end donation to the organizations represented by the first 10 readers who wrote in and told me about their receipting (pros and cons) was overwhelming. The Barden household will be stretching its generosity next December to some very fine organizations since stopping at the first 10 seems harsh (but the offer is officially closed now).

The strategies for thanking donors — and as a result (hopefully) retaining more donors — varied. But one thing kept striking me as I read the emails, and that was “hunger.” Often, the hungrier a fundraiser is, in terms of needing to acquire and retain donors, the more he or she is willing to do to when it comes to donor service. And that’s not a function of being a small organization; rather, as I read the emails, I saw passion for the mission as the driving force — an insistence on always improving because it really does matter.

What’s being done right
Check out these strategies that are already happening at nonprofits staffed by readers of this column:

“We usually send out a thank-you letter within 48 hours of receiving the donation.” (This is a volunteer-run organization, which makes it even more impressive.)

“We truly believe in timely thank-yous. It is our aim to respond within 24 hours of receipt of a gift.” (Great idea to set the standard; without that, it’s tough to make it a priority.)

“We built into our schedule for resource development staff (to work) on Dec. 31 so that any transactions received from Dec. 24-Dec. 31 are input into our donation tracking software; acknowledgments are printed, signed and mailed; and items are deposited.” (Tough policy for staff, but the focus is definitely where it needs to be — on the donors.)

“I personally call each donor over $50 to thank them and get to know them a little. I also do the same for new donors of any amount … I recognize that as we are a smaller organization I am able to do that, but for sake of clarification I made over 500 calls in 2014.” (Wow! I don’t think I ever called 500 donors a year — that’s hunger in action!)

“If a gift comes in today, the receipt/thank-you goes out tomorrow. It would probably be same day except that our mail person delivers quite late. I have to say that I owe this diligence to a development associate who is obsessive in completing this task in record time.” (Great strategy — hire people who are as passionate as you are.)

What’s the 2015 focus?
Not surprising to me, most of the people who took the time to email me weren’t satisfied; like all passionate people, they had goals to make receipting donors even more of a priority in 2015. While everything may not be accomplished, it was exciting to see how many fundraisers are not settling for today’s good work; they want tomorrow to be great. For example:

”This upcoming fiscal year, we will be spending MORE time on speed and also a significantly larger effort to provide ongoing stewardship/cultivation to donors below the $500 level (en masse, but heartfelt) and also making sure that our staff AND board do thank-you calls/emails/notes for every gift of $500+, in addition to getting the receipt letter out in a speedy fashion.” (You go, girl!)

“I wrote a comprehensive plan that segmented our donors and included a new donor welcome kit as well as a strategy to reach donors who have donated one time but not again. We also segmented 100 major donors and enlisted the board to help reach out to them.” (It’s a cliché, but “plan your work and work your plan” matters — great strategies!)

“My goal for this year is to send a second thank-you from the president for any first-time donor, at any level.” (With new donor retention at crisis level, this is terrific.)

“I will look at all our standard thank-you letters to see if we need to update them or perhaps make them more personal.” (Excellent! Someone else wrote that at the beginning of 2015, the organization “retooled the language in our donor acknowledgments to reflect less of a ‘look at us’ stance, but a ‘thank you, you’re valuable!’ stance” — time well spent, I think.)

And in the same vein, “We’re hiring a part-time donor services assistant to make sure we get our turnaround for acknowledgment letters much closer to 48 hours. Also, we will no longer send full-page letters full of language no one will read! I’ve rewritten them to be … focused on the donor.” (I love it!)

“This year I am committed to receipts, personal thank-you notes from either me or my board president, as well as an additional recognition in a holiday card, recapping what their donations enabled us to achieve.” (That’s a great example of relationship-building.)

So what next?
This old dog knows that reality can sometimes interfere with the best intentions, and that fundraisers need support from the rest of the team (especially leadership) to make changes that involve staffing or other costs. But here’s something to think about: If you spend 1 percent more to thank donors, do you believe you can recoup that with additional giving from now-happier donors? Will it pay back fivefold? Tenfold? Make a best-guess estimate of the value of the change; focusing on how much more money you can raise can justify the added cost or work.

The sad truth is, as one reader wrote to me, “Sometimes, the intention is there, but the reality doesn’t match the desire. And sometimes the urgency just isn’t there.”

So here’s the challenge to us all: Let’s get hungry, because that hunger can lead to greater efforts that yield more money to accomplish our missions.

By Pamela Barden | Posted on January 22, 2015
Fundraising Success magazine

5 Tips for Effective Multichannel Campaigns

February 24th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising, Marketing

Your audience is in more than one place—you need to be too. multichannel marketing means reaching your audience across more than one channel. A good multichannel campaign could be the key to your marketing success. Customers these days rarely communicate with any brand through one channel alone. These tips will help you craft your multichannel marketing campaign to not only include the latest digital channels, but also direct mail.

5 Tips for effective multichannel campaigns:

  1. Start with your goal: Some common goals are to promote a product or service, increase sales, generate inquires or leads, brand awareness, build relationships, etc. Have your goal or goals clearly in mind so you can plan every stage of your campaign to best meet them. Laser focus on your goals will give you better results.
  2. Who is your audience: Before you start building your campaign, know who you’re talking to. Use sources such as previous campaigns, customer feedback, demographic information, and website or social media metrics to build a clear image of your audience. Make use of customer profiles to focus on your ideal customer, their wants and needs, and the kind of message that appeals to them. The more targeted the message the better your response will be.
  3. Choose channels carefully: A multichannel campaign doesn’t mean using every possible channel. Rather, figure out which combination of channels is likely to resonate best with your target audience. Use what you know about their past interactions with you, to help you make that decision. Pick the channels that will give you the most bang for your buck. Remember that the newest channels that have a lot of buzz, may not be the best channels to reach your audience.
  4. Consistent messaging: A good multichannel campaign gives your audience a consistent experience across channels. The value you offer them and your brand voice should remain consistent across channels. After all, your customers don’t think in terms of channels, they think in terms of what your message means to them. Make their transition between channels (such as scanning a QR code to go from direct mail to online, or clicking your email link) seamless.
  5. Vary delivery: Consistency is important in a multichannel marketing campaign, but that doesn’t mean saying the message the exact same way in each medium. Each channel has its own best method of communication. The essence of your message will be the same, but the way you convey it in a 140 character tweet will differ greatly from how you say it on your direct mail piece.

Planning a multichannel campaign takes time and effort. By breaking the process down into clear steps and always keeping your goals and your audience in mind, you can plan a campaign that will put your message in front of the right people, at the right time and in the right way. One reason that direct mail is so effective in a multichannel campaign, is that it facilitates the cross over from print to online. Direct mail can drive online engagement and still have all of the tangible benefits. The fact that it can be highly targeted, kept for long periods of time, used over and over, and then easily shared with others is a real bonus. Get started on your multichannel marketing campaign today.

By Summer Gould | Posted on January 22, 2015
Target Marketing Magazine

Study: Supportive messages get more donations long-term for nonprofits

February 23rd, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Which charity would you be more likely to donate to over the long run: Feed The Children or Stop Child Hunger? According to a new study, you’re more likely to support the first.

A new study out of the David Eccles School of Business found that charities supporting a cause are more likely to endure compared to charities opposing some problem. The study, “What’s in a Message? The Longitudinal Influence of a Supportive Versus Combative Orientation on the Performance of Nonprofits,” analyzed the message orientations that nonprofit organizations take toward their causes. It found that organizations adopting a supportive position garner greater long-term donations.

The study defined supportive messages as those that were promoting or aiding a cause or pro-social behavior, such as a campaign aimed at feeding more children each day. It defined combative messages as fighting, going against or preventing an erroneous behavior or problem, such as a campaign battling child hunger. Each of these campaigns support the same cause; however, a simple shift from “Stop Child Hunger” to “Feed The Children” can affect donor behavior over time.

To test this proposition, Keith Botner, lead author of the study, and his colleagues, marketing faculty members Himanshu Mishra and Arul Mishra: analyzed financial data from nonprofits’ tax filings over a 10-year period; measured donor pledges to a registered nonprofit organization; and examined actual donation behavior in a lab study. This study included an analysis of donations of both time and of money.

“Through our longitudinal examination, we demonstrate that a supportive orientation tends to outperform a combative orientation,” said Botner, doctoral candidate in the David Eccles School of Business. “While negative messages have been shown to garner attention in the short-term, we find that supportive messages prevail over time. A supportive orientation is more promotion-focused, which tends to be more global and thus more closely aligned with the long-term ‘greater good’ of the cause.”

This study can be found on the “Journal of Marketing Research” website and in the forthcoming February print edition of the journal.

To hear a podcast interview with Keith head over to the Eccles Extra blog.


Year-end email under a microscope

February 20th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

The things that some people do to help us all learn. This is one of the reasons I just love Steve MacLaughlin. Steve goes to great lengths to provide insight to us all, and he has done it again with his annual review of year-end fundraising email subject lines.

Steve received 445 emails from 74 nonprofit organizations between Dec. 1 and 31, 2014. In his report, he shares every single (yep, all 445) subject lines along with information on timing and delivery dates. There are great nuggets in here, and it’s just fun being a bit of an email stalker and looking at all the “obvious” and also “unique” subject lines.

Take a look at his article below, but here are a few of the items that caught my eye …

  1. Dec. 2 and Dec. 31 had the highest volume and greatly surpassed most of the other days in December. Dec. 30 was a close runner-up but still not to the volume of the 2ndand 31st.
  2. Weekdays were heavier than weekends for nonprofit communication.
  3. Not shocking, 2014 volume is definitely higher than 2013.
  4. Steve begs what I call the “chicken/egg” question around email delivery and online donations. But his data clearly shows that there is a peak time that at least these nonprofits were sending their emails — it appears that 11 a.m. is the most “favorite” time to press send.
  5. Ever wondered just how many emails you should send during this critical giving period? Well, looking across these 74 organizations, Steve determined that the median was six. Obviously, there are those who sent way more, but the data point he shares is great.
  6. Steve also highlights some campaigns that really caught his eye, and I’m not going to steal his thunder — you’ll have to check out his article for yourself (below).

Steve has done these assessments for several years in a row. One thing is for sure, our industry is getting better at this email game. Some of the subject lines are a bit odd or perhaps not really a best practice — and of course there are the organizations that clearly abuse our inboxes — but overall we seem to be gravitating to better strategies.

While we can’t tell from Steve’s study about better targeting, I’m willing to bet that we still have some work to do here. Segmentation of our online donors has not been a high priority in the past due to the perceived “cheapness” of email marketing. What many of us have now realized is the “cost” for poor email communication (too much, too often, too generic) is the loss of an online relationship, which has a high cost. Learn from Steve’s findings for the last few years, and take a look at your December campaigns.

By Angie Moore | Posted on January 20, 2015

Here it is! The 2014 edition of Steve McLaughlin’s annual review of year-end fundraising email subject lines.

For 2014, I reviewed 445 email messages sent to me from 74 different nonprofit organizations between December 1st and 31st, 2014. Here are some insights, trends, and the complete list of email subject lines.

Email by Date

Once again there was a familiar pattern of an email crescendo leading up to December 31st. 28% of all the emails that I received in December were sent in the last 5 days of the year. On December 31st, I received 53 emails from 37 different nonprofit organizations, the most of any day.

Most emails were sent between Monday and Thursday of the week. Sunday and Saturday had the lowest email volume during the month. Fun Fact: I didn’t receive a single nonprofit email on Sunday, December 7th.

npe emailbyday2014 400 More Email Subject Lines from End of Year Fundraising

#GivingTuesday continues to grow in email volume each year. In 2014, there were 51 emails sent by 41 different nonprofit organizations on #GivingTuesday. That was a significant increase from 2013 and nearly as many emails that I received on December 31st.

Email by Hour

44% of all fundraising emails were received between 9am ET and 1pm ET during the month of December 2014. That was slightly down from 2013. 34% of emails were received after 1pm ET. Only 10% were received before 8am ET.

npe emailbyhour2014 400 More Email Subject Lines from End of Year Fundraising

We know from other Blackbaud research that most online donations happen between 11am ET and 2pm ET. Seeing a significant number of emails being sent during this time period begs the causation or correlation question.

Email Frequency

Nonprofits sent a median of 6 fundraising emails during the month of December 2014. I was sent 23 fundraising emails by one single nonprofit organization during the month. That’s a new record. 14 nonprofits sent me more than 10 email messages.

There were 16 organizations that only sent me one email message during December. This is always a head scratcher for me. While sending 23 emails is probably too many, I can certainly say that sending just one isn’t enough. I’m going to put it on my “to do” list to reach out to some of these organizations to inquire about their strategy.

Is there a magic number of emails to send? Yes, absolutely. And the best way to find the right number is to test. My experience over the years tells me that most nonprofits still don’t send as much email as they should be.

Subject Line Analysis

This word cloud was generated based on all 445 fundraising email subject lines. The most frequently occurring words are larger and common English words have been removed.

npe emailcloud 400 More Email Subject Lines from End of Year Fundraising

Once again, words like “gift” and “Holiday” were very popular. “GivingTuesday” was referenced in 22 of the email subject lines. Only 2% of fundraising email subject lines promoted a tax deduction and I continue to see that decreasing each year.

7% of all the emails had a “last chance” focus and 27% used the word “you” in the subject line. There were 19 emails my name in the subject line and this continues to increase every year. About 6 faux forwards this year which was more than 2013. Only one of them was done well considering the content of the message.

2014 was the rise of the minimalist subject line. Emails with subjects like “hey” and “away” along with “75%”, “ice” and “pending” showed up in the inbox. Most of them came from a single nonprofit and I’m curious to know if they performed differently.

The Best of the Best

A good subject line is just one part of the success equation. Getting the right message to the right people at the right time is still critical. And with more than 50% of all emails now opened on a mobile device it’s vital to be mobile friendly.

My favourite email subject line during December was “No, you can’t have my blender” from Oxfam America. In the abstract, it makes no sense. But of course, context is everything. The rest of the message and the entire year-end email campaign from Oxfam America were all well done.

The best end-to-end campaign was done by the Museum of Modern Art. I tweeted about it and will do a follow-up blog post about why they got so many things right. Everything from the email design to the donation form experience was spot on.

npe tnctxt 400 More Email Subject Lines from End of Year FundraisingMy multichannel award goes to The Nature Conservancy. On the last day of 2014, I received 53 emails from 37 different nonprofits. But only one nonprofit, The Nature Conservancy, sent me a text message with a donation ask. The text message was sent to me at 8:08pm ET, which is outside of peak online giving hours, but perfect for mobile users.

My only recommendation would have been to text a link to a mobile optimized donation form. Current text-to-give in the US is limited to $10 per transaction. The average online donation is significantly greater than this and would likely yield significant better financial results.

The only thing that really matters is whether or not the email resulted in a donation. Subject lines are just one aspect of a successful email campaign. In 2015, I’m going to start sharing more of what appears in my mailbox and inbox to highlight the good, bad, and ugly.

All the Nonprofit Email Subject Lines

Here are all the fundraising email subject lines beginning with those received on December 31, 2014 and moving backwards in time to December 1, 2014:

  • DEADLINE: Protect Nature by Midnight
  • Last chance: Match ends at midnight!
  • LAST CHANCE: Make a 2014 gift to protect rainforests
  • LAST CHANCE: You make 2x the difference before midnight
  • Just hours left to double your gift for animals
  • FW: URGENT: Midnight Deadline
  • Celebrate With Us, There’s Still Time
  • Last chance to support new cures – every dollar MATCHED
  • Counting down to the deadline
  • This is your last chance
  • Last day to make your 2014 year-end gift!
  • One day only: All gifts matched
  • You rock my socks!
  • Fwd: Last chance—do it for the Bay
  • Just hours remain to support MoMA in 2014
  • away
  • Mr. MacLaughlin, LAST DAY
  • Happy New Year from the Charleston Symphony Orchestra!
  • Today’s the day
  • Give By Midnight Tonight!
  • MATCH: Last chance to give in 2014
  • This is your last chance
  • Last Chance! Give Back to Nature This Year
  • DEADLINE: Match offer expires tonight!
  • Fwd: Steven – Review Your 2014 Donations
  • Procrastinators Unite
  • Steve, time is running out!
  • FW: Can you make it by midnight?
  • Midnight deadline
  • Last day to give – FWD: Nothing can prepare you for cancer
  • Close out 2014 with the gift of clean water
  • Before The Clock Strikes
  • Deadline: MIDNIGHT!
  • MATCH: Today only, your support goes twice as far
  • There is Still Time to Give!
  • More projects, more places, more families
  • Hours to go!
  • Lots of Countdowns Today. This One Is About Changing Lives.
  • Double your impact for animals–but only until midnight!
  • We wish this could wait
  • hey
  • There’s Still Time – Get the Match & Deduction
  • Support us today and receive an exclusive thank-you gift
  • URGENT: Midnight Deadline
  • Stand with our Medical Teams
  • Just a few hours left
  • Last chance—do it for the Bay
  • The Last Night
  • This is your last chance
  • Only hours left to give in 2014 (plus FREE Gift)!
  • Only hours left to have your gift matched 2 to 1!
  • Urgent: Last-minute match – we really need your help
  • tomorrow
  • Steve, give before 2015!
  • Together, let’s continue to win!
  • Two days left! Take the Challenge
  • Don’t miss out! Make twice the impact this year
  • We’re almost there and could really use your help!
  • There’s still time to help!
  • Thank you and Happy New Year!
  • WNYC is YOUR station
  • Reminder: Steve, double your gift!
  • One Day Left to Make a Tax Deductible Donation
  • Less than 48 hours, Steve
  • Give 100% before the year runs out.
  • Not a Reason to Give…
  • Last Chance! Make a it Happy New Year for Outward Bound USA
  • Let them know you are there
  • You can make a difference!
  • Could they stop the Bay clean-up?
  • Just 24 Hours: Let’s Put a Match to It
  • Time’s up tomorrow night!
  • just checked
  • Baby monkeys, terrified and heartbroken
  • Close the year by curing one person of leprosy
  • Happy News Years Live from Lincoln Center
  • Counting for Significance
  • Less than 48 hours to make a difference
  • Donate for a 2014 tax credit!
  • Time Is Running Out For Your Gift To Be Matched
  • Concerned…
  • Steven – Review Your 2014 Donations
  • Hurry, Help Us Get Closer to a Cure! FREE GIFT
  • 48 hours to…DOUBLE your dollars!
  • 2014 is coming to a close
  • Year-end Gift to Roger Tory Peterson Institute
  • Happy New Year from Wills Eye Hospital – 2014 Year in Review Video
  • Downton Abbey is back
  • Only 3 more days to DOUBLE your gift
  • All year long
  • Steve – your gift matched!
  • Time is running out to make your lifesaving year-end gift.
  • Hurry! It’s Not Too Late!
  • South Carolina’s Natural Treasures Need You, Steve
  • Don’t let 2014 end without being a part of the new Gibbes!
  • Three days only: All donations matched 2 to 1!
  • Steve, Urgent Deadline
  • Give Today Because…
  • DOUBLE your tax-deductible gift!
  • A Bird in the Hand…
  • who will you help?
  • On the Frontlines of Ebola, Three Miracles
  • Help them defy the odds
  • Give today – now is all that matters
  • If you haven’t already…
  • Our Resolution
  • Too Wild a Place
  • Last Chance: Make Your Year-End Gift Today
  • A world without art is just boring
  • Changing the course in 2015
  • an update
  • Steve, there’s somebody I’d like you to meet
  • Make Your Special Year-end Gift Today
  • We need you
  • Triple Your Impact This Year
  • The Tax Man Cometh!
  • Three days to have your gift matched
  • Don’t let this be a death sentence for Nosey
  • We can’t do it without YOU!
  • Your Investment Gives Back to Nature
  • Will you help us reach our goal, Steve?
  • Stranded…till spring?
  • Your donation, doubled!
  • Things We Love
  • Be the change
  • Five days left to show your support
  • Almost there
  • Your Investment Gives Back to Nature
  • We need you
  • Your Lifesaving Impact
  • What sets us apart
  • There’s still time
  • A Gift to You
  • Why is this rabbit so afraid?
  • Oysters, crabs, and other amazing wildlife
  • Mr. MacLaughlin, 5 days left
  • Merry Christmas, Friend!
  • Merry Christmas from e3 Partners
  • Merry Christmas from World Animal Protection
  • YES! This solves your last-minute scramble.
  • YES! This solves your last-minute scramble.
  • Don’t Worry: Last Minute Green Gifts Are Here!
  • We will expose the truth
  • ‘Tis Better to Give…
  • Are you sure you checked twice?
  • Seasons Greetings!
  • You can still buy Gifts of Hope in time for the holidays!
  • No, you can’t have my blender
  • Still looking for a last-minute gift? It’s right here!
  • Still Need a Gift for Tomorrow?
  • Patti LaBelle wishes for a cure, too.
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3 Strategic Ways to Segment Your Donors for Prospect Research

February 19th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

If your nonprofit organization is conducting prospect research, you typically won’t be able to screen everyone due to time and resource constraints. One of the first major decisions you will likely need to make is which donors on your list or within your database to research. This is one of the most important decisions your organization will need to make because it plays a major role in how the results can be implemented into your fundraising activities.

Think strategically about why you are performing prospect research and how you will use the results. Here are a few sample questions to ask yourself or your development staff:

  • What information does your organization already have about your donors?
  • Is your organization performing prospect screening before or after a major fundraising event?
  • Will the prospect research be used to help with a specific type of fundraising (i.e., major giving, annual giving, planned giving)?
  • Is your organization trying to identify new donors or learn more about existing donors?

Based on your answers to the questions above, we suggest using one of the approaches listed below to refine your prospect research strategy. Each approach has its own advantages and specific uses so work with your development team to determine which one will best support your organization’s fundraising goals:

Event-specific prospect research

Do you have a major event coming up where your development staff will interact directly with a large number of donors?

By screening your list of expected attendees prior to the event, you can identify the highest quality prospects to focus on. During the course of the event, a member of your development team can connect with each of the prospects one-on-one to introduce themselves and open the door for future communications.

Has your event already occurred? Prospect screening can reveal which of the attendees are high quality prospects. Use that information to determine which prospects should receive a personal call from a member of the development team to thank them for attending the event. If you have already thanked all the event attendees, use the information to identify which prospects should be first on the invite list for your next major event.

Perfect events for prospect research include:

  • Galas
  • Donor dinners
  • Special receptions
  • Alumni events for educational nonprofits
  • New parent events for educational nonprofits

Prospect research by historical gift size

Another common approach to segmenting donors is to focus on those individuals or foundations that have already made major charitable contributions in the past. This method of prospect screening has two major benefits:

  1. Determine if your existing major donors have business or philanthropic relationships with other potential donors. For example, some of your existing donors may serve on the board of a foundation or nonprofit organization and could be willing to facilitate introductions between the other members of the board and your development team.
  2. Learn more about your major donors – donors that have given generously in the past are likelier than the average person to give in the future. Learning more about their giving histories, interests, and personal relationships may provide insight into how to grow the existing relationships.

Prospect research by donor loyalty 

A great place to start with prospect research is analyzing those donors who have demonstrated an affinity for your organization, specifically those who have given charitably over multiple years. For this approach, the size of the gift is not nearly as important as the number of years the donor has given charitably. Here are a few examples of why this matters:

  1. You may identify loyal donors who have made major gifts to other nonprofit organizations. These are ideal prospects for your development team to focus on because they have demonstrated an affinity for your organization and also have the capacity to make a major gift.
  2. The number of gifts a donor makes to a nonprofit organization is the best indicator of whether they are likely to make a deferred donation or bequest (types of planned giving). In fact, 78% of planned giving donors typically give 15 or more gifts in their lifetime. By identifying these planned giving prospects, your development team will be able to open a dialogue and facilitate the donation process.
By Richard Smith


Papyrus Plus: The Evolution of Direct Mail

February 18th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

You may not find it surprising that such a practice has controversial roots. The earliest recognizable example of direct mail comes from the year 1000 BC where a wealthy Egyptian offered a reward in gold for the return of a runaway slave. His offer was put down on papyrus and distributed around the area.

Thankfully, we’ve moved on from such a grim application of the technique. Though it has been used for as long as ancient merchants could etch prices into stone tablets, the advent of the western printing press in the 15th century saw its full potential recognized.

The Impact of Print
William Caxton was churning out printed pamphlets to be distributed to consumers as early as 1480, and, as printing technology developed, so did the scale at which mail could be produced for marketing.

Direct mail allowed marketers to reach consumers directly in ways that weren’t possible before. By the Victorian era, customers in rural areas and small towns who were previously at the mercy of unscrupulous local merchants could place their orders by mail.

This ensured they were getting the same fair prices for premium goods as those in neighboring towns. It proved so successful that one of the pioneers of this practice, one Richard Warren Sears, founded a commercial empire on direct mail that lasts to this day in the form of Sears department store!

The Rise of Digital
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the impact of computers on society would harm direct mail. However, the truth is completely different. Even early computers allowed marketers to collect and analyze data faster and more deeply than ever before. This let them target specific audiences with more relevant products, reducing waste and boosting efficiency.

This trend went from strength to strength. One of direct mail’s greatest strengths is its personal nature. Emails can be deleted with the press of a button, audio/visual adverts can be ignored, but a letter is something tangible that you can hold in your hand.

When it’s got your name on it, this sense of connection increases and the development of variable data printing (VDP) allows thousands of direct mails to be produced, each personalized to the recipient without slowing the printing process. Marketers are at a point now where print can even emulate handwriting, giving the impression of signatures and adding to the personality and character of the communication.

What Does the Future Hold?
So where does direct mail stand today? Consumers are increasingly protective of their privacy online, and the data required for a large-scale direct mail campaign can sometimes be at odds with that. Similarly, with the population becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, questions are raised about the waste of paper that comes with sending out mass communications like this. In short, does it still work?

In the digital age, direct mail has to play to its strengths but is by no means “dying.” The personal touch of receiving a letter, even one that’s clearly sent en masse, can’t be overstated. So, as much personalization as your audience will accept and feel comfortable with (remember, you don’t want to creep them out) is key.

Similarly, you’ve got to make sure there’s something in it for the mail recipient if they open your letter. Big chain supermarkets get fantastic results by including coupons in their mailings, tailored to customers’ spending habits to provide an immediate incentive to engage with their products. Which again is backed up by statistics showing that 62% of people like to receive offers via direct mail. Using direct mail to complement your existing advertising and social media campaigns can add a tangible, “real world” element to your current efforts.

Direct mail’s long and storied history doesn’t look set to end with the dominance of digital. But like any technology, it can’t exist in a vacuum. By using direct mail in conjunction with good market intel and a cunning strategy, it can more than pull its weight.

January 15, 2015
By Jonny Rountree
DirectMarketing IQ magazine

Jonny Rowntree  is a freelance writer based in Newcastle upon Tyne, working with worldwide digital printing partner, Elanders Print UK. Reach him at

Donor Retention: Stop Talking, Start Doing

February 17th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

It’s hard to pick up a publication, read an e-news or go to a conference without being confronted by the ugly fact: Donor retention is at a crisis level. Perhaps three in four first-time donors never give again; this is a massive group of “one and done” donors, and a significant loss to nonprofit organizations. Overall attrition is often in the 50 percent to 70 percent range, and acquiring donors seems to get more expensive every day.

Yep, we sure are talking a lot about this. But what are we doing? And why are we not doing a simple thing that can have a significant impact on whether or not a donor sticks around to give again?

When did receipting donors become just more overhead to cut? When did it move to “do when you get around to it” instead of one of the highest — if not the highest — priority? And why has saying thank you become the exception, not the rule?

On Dec. 18, I mailed eight checks for year-end gifts. (I often give online, but I also mail in checks so I get the full donor treatment.)  In every case, I used a mailing that had been provided to me by the nonprofit organization, returning the reply form in the provided envelope. (Am I not obedient?!)

Eighteen days of mail delivery have gone by, and still I wait for five of these eight organizations to even say thank you. Yes, I know there were holidays and lots of companies have a “use it or lose it” vacation policy. I know mail volume is up in the second half of December.

But I also know that year-end is one of those events that is scheduled; it didn’t sneak up and catch us all unaware. And a lot of the organizations I chose to support managed to send me plenty of mail in December — but sending a receipt simply didn’t get the same level of attention.

Here’s a challenge for you for 2015:  Put in a better system that allows you to more quickly receipt year-end gifts. I’ll get back to that. But first, here’s what I consider critical for a “better system.”

Make receipting a priority, meaning do it quickly. I received my first two receipts on Jan. 5. Considering there were a couple of postal holidays, that means there were about eight mail-delivery days between my sending my gift and receiving a receipt for it. Well done! These efficient organizations were a national quasi-political organization and a medical center foundation.

Each letter was fairly short and used phrases that oozed gratitude. Call them clichés, but “Your generosity is bringing us closer to the goal .… ” and “Your donation is helping us fulfill this great mission” told me my gift mattered. I didn’t give a large sum, but what I gave was important — that’s the message I received.

The next receipt arrived two days later. I also received a personal thank-you note for one of the gifts (the executive director is a friend), but haven’t gotten the receipt yet.

The other four? Nothing. Three of them are very large, national organizations; you would immediately recognize them if I told you their names. They all mail vast amounts of mail and send out even more e-appeals. But saying thank you? That doesn’t seem to be handled by the same mailing machine that efficiently spews out requests for my money.

And while I’m on my soapbox — I know it costs money to receipt a donation. But it costs a lot more money to acquire a donor! If saying thank you for a $25 or $50 donation isn’t cost-effective, how can you justify spending $50, $75 or more to obtain that donor in the first place?

Make your receipt letters/notes truly thankful. OK, that seems like a no-brainer, but are you really thanking me, the donor — or the masses of donors out there somewhere? Is it about me, or all about you? Here are some things I read in the opening sentences of receipts received in 2014:

  • “We want to say thank you for the tremendous help we’ve received from our donors.” (What about me?!!!)
  • “We are excited that (name of organization) is now officially a part of the (parent organization) family!  The ‘new’ (parent organization) includes … (What about me?!!!)
  • “After a very cold, snowy winter, I am looking forward to the arrival of spring more than ever this year.  It was very exciting to recently celebrate the dedication of the (building name).” (What about me?!!!)

Sure, call me narcissistic, but I gave you a donation so why isn’t thanking me a priority? I’m glad you are doing so much, but where do I fit in? Did I really make a difference? Why do I get the impression that you’ve got it all covered and my gift was unnecessary?

So, back to my challenge. Look at your donation-receipting program top to bottom. What’s working? What’s a potential deterrent to donor retention? How can you fix it?

Posted on January 15, 2015
By Pamela Barden
Fundraising Success Magazine

New iPhone App Can Generate Revenue for Celebrities or Fundraising Orgs through Video Marketing

February 16th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Baker Enterprise, a Tennessee based company, has created an App called NEXT LEVEL TEXT that will create monetary opportunities for celebrities, fundraising organizations and individual consumers.

Since 1999, the music industry has lost 20 percent of their revenue due to free music/audio downloads. The Next Level App has created a way to gain some momentum back with a brand new revenue stream. The Next Level Platform allows organizations and celebrities to create and share their own video “texting scenes” with fans for free or for a $0.99 fee.

A “TEXTING SCENE” is a 30 second video clip that is used to display a message. Just like ringtones were created to customize your mobile phone’s ringtone with an audio clip of your favorite artist — “texting scenes” allow you to express your personality through your “outgoing” SMS/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram messages.

Currently genealogist and author John F. Baker Jr. is using the App to conduct an awareness fundraising campaign called “The Black History Month Million Text Challenge” designed to educate the public about Black History. Supporters of Black History Month who accept “The Million Text Challenge” can download the Free App on iTunes and search for “John Baker.” Join John and share a piece of Black History every time you send a text message and raise money for the NAACP.

The App is available on iTunes (Search: NEXT LEVEL TEXT).

– A celebrity or Athlete sharing highlights with their fans.
– A musician promoting a new song/album/tour.
– A politician sharing an idea with supporters and/or raise money for your campaign.
A philanthropist or non-profit trying to increase awareness for a cause.
– A parent sharing a special moment with family and friends.

Baker Enterprise invites nonprofits that are looking to create a new revenue stream, promote their brand, or raise awareness for a cause, to open an account today. Please visit to open an account or for further information.

Published on Mon, 09 Feb 2015

To view the original version on Send2Press Newswire, visit: