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5 Steps to Fixing Your Retention Deficit Disorder

April 16th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising
You’ve heard it before: it can cost 5 to 10 times more to get a new client or donor than to keep an existing one. So let’s think about this for a second. While you’re out there searching for new clients, are you letting your existing client relationships wither on the vine?

Acquiring a new client or donor takes so much more money and effort than keeping your existing roster happy and engaged. It’s simple math. But you’d be surprised how many organizations allocate an astounding amount of budget to “business development” while giving retention efforts next to nothing. It’s what I like to call Retention Deficit Disorder (RDD) and it’s endemic.

If you know the value of an existing donor or customer along with the revenue they bring in, set a realistic budget for keeping them engaged, instead of constantly sending out sales scouts looking for replacements.

Here are five tips that could help whip your client/donor RDD:

Segment your data and engage each segment appropriately.
Segment your data using common factors such as how recently, how frequently and how much (or other preferences that are important to your constituents). This commonly referred to as RFM segmenting. Flag your segments in your CRM tool or data-select queries so that you can communicate appropriate messages to each category.

Use the mail to send a valued message.
An actual letter or card is meaningful in a way that email just isn’t. Effort is implied. If you want to make a statement that you are grateful for the business or donation, write a thank-you note. Send it in the mail and wait for the calls from your clients thanking you for the thank-you note.If you are doing just a few at a time there is a handy online site called SendOutCards that lets you send out personalized cards from your computer.

Use the phone to send a valued message.
A phone call also implies value. If you take the time to call and leave a meaningful message, an invitation or a thank you, then you’ve said that you care. How much work does it take to send an SMS or email message? The perception is very little, therefore the message it carries is also of low value. Only a small percent of email marketing messages get opened on a good day. The phone works very well in retention and does not have a negative intrusive impression when used this way.

Be consistent and disciplined.
Resolve to be consistent with your program. Start small, say, a thank-you note and a follow-up phone call to say thank you to your preferred segment. The results can only be realized if you consistently apply your strategy and let your donors and customers know, in a consistent fashion, that you care, that you do great work and are worth keeping in touch with. Set a plan, schedule communications, and stick to it.

Automate if possible.
This part gets a bit “techy” but it is worth considering. It falls under the popularly termed “drip marketing” or “marketing automation” category.
We’ve all received the automated email thank-you message that comes seconds after purchasing online. There are now ways to automate the messages you send by using the CRM tools at your disposal.

You may have a CRM system that allows for workflow automation (that is, it could schedule a report to run each week on a specific date with the names and details of all the people you need to send a thank-you note to or would like to call).
Automation might let you send that report to your call centre every Monday at noon, or forward the list of recent donors to a print/mail-provider each week so that mail could be prepared for the post.

An automated email is often available, but not everyone reacts the same way to email or opens them. However, if some of your clients really like email, make sure you reach out to them with their preferred channel. That makes them an email segment, get it?

Automation is worth digging into because it helps with point #4 — consistency.
The more recent CRM tools and databases make exporting data based upon special selections very accessible. Ask some questions about how you collect data now and see if your systems allow for this. It will be a great asset to your success.

Those are just a few simple tips to help you make a real difference and stand out from the crowd.

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3 Tips for Social Media Fundraising

April 15th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising, Social Media
 Only a few months ago I left an 8 year career in fundraising for the LDS Church to focus, for the time being, on starting a social media marketing degree program at LDS Business College.
I absolutely love fundraising. I love meeting with amazing people who have desires to do incredible things with the resources they have. I also loved working for LDS Philanthropies, a department within the Office of the Presiding Bishopric, charged with facilitating gifts to the Church and it’s institutions and programs. I am also mesmerized by the digital revolution we are all currently living through. I read all that I can on the topic. For me it is very exciting as I see that so much more is possible today. Much of this technology can be leveraged to help individuals and organizations fulfill their charitable desires. In fact, my last 6 years at LDSP were marked by a drive to introduce certain technologies and strategies that would facilitate this work.

Over the last 6 months I have focused entirely on social media. Though focused elsewhere I have continued to see even more opportunities for the fundraising world. Here are just three.

Facebook Targeted Ads & Promotions:

If I were looking to get my message out in front of a targeted group of potential donors I would be investing daily on Facebook. In fundraising we spend a lot of money on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions. In these solutions we store hundreds of thousands if not millions of constituent records. These CRM’s become the source we look to in order to grow our supporters, build our marketing lists and organize our work. Though the traditional CRM’s are still incredibly important and in my estimation greatly underleveraged, there is yet another incredible “CRM” called Facebook with amazingly detailed constituent data.

Over the last couple years Facebook continues to open these data doors to “advertisers”. This spells big opportunity to those willing to learn how to use the system and pay the nominal fees associated with advertising on Facebook. Three hours spent learning Facebook’s “Audience Insights” tool would pay huge dividends. Understanding this function will help you to “mine” the Facebook CRM. Understanding the Facebook “Campaign Manager” will help you to tweak your ad spend, audience mix, and content mix. Marry all this with your other digital, print and face to face relationship strategies and you have something powerful.

Additionally, I would allocate a healthy amount of creative talent and money to creating compelling content to “promote” or advertise on Facebook. We spend so much money on brochures that few people end up seeing. Consider experimenting with a few thousand dollars in creative on Facebook and you might be pleasantly surprised at your ROI.

YouTube Ads:

Much like Facebook, YouTube has an ad platform that allows you to do some pretty incredible targeting. You can target an audience based on location, what they are interested in, their gender, and age. The cool thing about YouTube is it is a Pay Per View (PPV) as opposed to a Pay Per Click (PPC) model. Additionally, you only pay for the view if they watch more than 30 seconds of your ad.

You have probably seen these “in-stream” ads. They play just before the video you wanted to watch. But it gets better. All of the YouTube ads are powered by AdWords, a very helpful targeting tool. With this tool you can select the type of videos or channels you want your ad to run on. So, think about what your donors watch on YouTube, place your ad there.

Here are three other tips:

  • Build you video around the click or call to action.
  • Grab the attention of the audience in the first 5 seconds, many click “close” as soon as they can.
  • Get them to click before 30 seconds and you don’t have to pay!

The downside to Facebook Ads Manager and YouTube advertising is you are not provided with specific names. They do allow for a very targeted audience but you still cannot discover an individual name unless they “like” or “share” your content. That is where the next recommendation comes in.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator:

This last summer LinkedIn somewhat quietly announced the roll out of their stand alone Sales Navigator platform. LinkedIn is another very rich CRM. Though not as popular as Facebook the tool allows individual prospect discovery. The cost is $1,200 per user. For this price you gain access to several cool features all designed to get you closer to a face-to-face introduction or a “warm lead” as LinkedIn is calling it.

  • You can prospect and lead generation lists of up to 3,000 leads. (Think donor portfolio)
  • You can receive notifications when prospects have jobs changes, post something online, are written about online, and when new connections have been generated that get you closer to the lead.
  • Unlock profiles of individuals beyond 3 degrees.
  • 25 inmails a month
  • You can connect other Development Officers together, with their donors, and gain access to a social graph that provides suggestions on who might be a prospect for you.
  • You can connect it and share data across Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce CRM’s. This makes the social graph function even more rich!

I am so excited about this tool. So were those who care about LinkedIn’s stock price, which popped 40% in the 4th quarter of 2014. Salesmen everywhere should really take a close look at this tool and apparently many already are. I even read a case study of a bank using the tool to identify high net worth clients to great affect.

So there you go fundraisers. I invite you to take a day, just one, cut it in thirds; spend one third learning all you can about Facebook Ads Manager, then another third on learning all you can about YouTube Ads and round out the day by learning all you can about the LinkedIn Sales Navigator. I think you too will see some pretty great opportunities.

If only I had time to have two jobs :)

Happy fundraising!

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The 3 Most Boring Words in Fundraising Appeals

April 14th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Could your fundraising appeals be boring? I certainly hope not!

But I bet some of your wording could use a freshening up!

Today I’m sharing with you the three most overused, most boring and least useful words ever to be used in fundraising appeals.

There’s too much tired, old schlock out there that we have been using and reusing — and it all needs to go. I call it “nonprofit pablum” because the words have no seasoning, no punch.

Nonprofit writing doesn’t have to be so boring.

Please, please ditch the “lofty” tone and treat your donors like your best friends. You don’t have to talk down to your donors. And you don’t have to treat them with kid gloves.

Remember that you’re not writing a formal letter to someone you don’t know. You’re writing to a friend. To a true believer in your cause.

Just use plain talk. Please.

Now … drumroll, please:

The award for the most boring word ever to be used in fundraising goes to: “Underserved.”

Goodness. Do tell me where the emotion is in this word. Tell me what it really refers to. Does it have any impact at all?

Many humanitarian and social service agencies use “underserved” as part of their daily nonprofit vocabulary. It’s a noble effort to add dignity to the people they serve, and that’s fine.

But it’s also “social service-speak.” It’s such a normal part of conversation in agencies that it invariably creeps in to their marketing and fundraising materials.

And staff members thinks it’s perfectly appropriate to talk to outsiders in these terms because it’s what they say every day.

But to those of us outside your agency, it means almost nothing.

Instead of “underserved,” how about giving me a real word like “desperate,” “destitute” or “needy” — hungry, lonely, scared, worried, anxious, frightened, starving.

Give me a word that grabs me. A word that evokes an emotional response. A word that will open my wallet.

Next … drumroll, please:

The next worst two words in fundraising go together: “Programs and Services.”

Gosh, what would we say if we couldn’t use these words?!

  • “Please support our xxx program.”
  • “Please support our xxx services.”

Here’s the problem with “programs and services.” These words are watered down. They are overused.

These words are not specific enough to have any impact. They are a lazy person’s shortcut language. A lazy person who doesn’t want to go to the effort to really describe what you are doing.

Here’s an example: Say your organization operates a project to teach illiterate prison inmates how to read.

The lazy fundraiser would say: “Support our prison literacy program.”

The smart fundraiser would say: “You can help illiterate prisoners learn to read.”

Now which phrase has more bang? Which has more energy? Which is more compelling? Which word can break my heart? Which would open my wallet?

And note the donor-centered approach from the smart fundraiser (“you”) vs. the organization-centered approach (“our”) from the lazy fundraiser.

In a fundraising letter you have to do two important things:

  1. Evoke the donor’s emotion.
  2. Then ask for a gift.

So where do our least favorite words fall? They deaden the emotion. So they are no use to you!

I can’t raise any money with these words. And I bet you can’t either.

By Gail Perry | Posted on February 18, 2015
Fundraising Success Magazine

Clever Tactics for Gaining Monthly Donors

April 13th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

The true value of monthly donors is undisputed. Securing just 30 monthly donors at $20 per month may generate only a monthly revenue stream of $600, but over the next 12 months their contributions will add up to $7,200. And time, effort and expenses are saved because there is no need to keep sending repeated “asks”. The “lifetime value” of any of these donors who may continue to donate for 5, 10 or even 20 years can be a huge bonus.

When Should You Ask For a Monthly Gift?

At every given opportunity. You can ask a new donor as early as a week after they have made their first donation. Or you can push long-standing board members to convert to monthly giving at every meeting.

Who Should You Ask?

Segmentation of your house list helps determine which donors are more likely to respond to a request for a monthly gift. For example:

  • Leave the $100+ donors aside. Rather, look at your donor base and identify those donors who have made small gifts, even $5 or $10 twice a year. Any donor who has made two or three contributions over the last 18 months should be encouraged to join a monthly-giving plan. If they give frequently you know they are loyal donors who believe in your cause, so encourage them to convert.
  • Asking your $100+ level and multi gift donors might jeopardize their “lifetime value” by inadvertently moving them to a lower-value monthly gift.

How to Ask for Monthly Donations

    • Give your monthly giving program a name like the one below for the Toronto Humane Society.

“Join the Save the Animals Team Today!”

    • If you can, frame your monthly giving request as an opportunity to join a special group with special privileges.
    • If you have a leadership-giving program where membership is $1,000 per year, show them that a monthly giving plan of just $84 every month is lot easier than writing a cheque for the full amount every year.
    • Package the appeal in an exciting way. For example, some organizations have a Gold Club program or a Help-a-Child Monthly program. Put a face on that sustainable gift. This way you’re creating a tangible tie to the idea of giving every month. Remember: to increase charitable donations, you should appeal to the heart, not the head.
    • Devote one side of the donation form to convincing donors to convert to monthly giving.
    • Use variable copy for each specific segment. Remind them of their last gift, the amount of the contribution and tell them how it was used.
    • Allow them to choose their donation amount, method of payment and even the timing as to when they should start.
    • Show donors how their monthly gift buys something specific. For example just above the donor form or near it show a breakdown of what each donation amount could accomplish.

How to Promote Monthly Giving

  • Use every medium: website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, direct mail, email, telephone and even face-to-face are all great ways of getting donors to convert.


    • When incorporating a monthly giving option, be careful how and where you talk it up in your letter. Often just a mention of monthly giving in the letter’s P.S. works better than including lots of text on the subject in the body copy.
    • Include a monthly giving option on your response device only to current donors. Prospects generally don’t respond well to this option. Though this is generally true, test it out with your own donors.
    • If you do try to convert new prospects, remember they need more inducement before they decide to donate or become monthly donors. As per the example below:
    • Consider a test to convert sponsors to monthly giving by offering benefits like the ones below.

  • A donor who has lapsed in giving may need a different kind of approach. For example, this mailing for United Way Montreal used a survey to find out why they had lapsed. The result: it won back many donors with a 4.9% response and gained some valuable information about their lapsed donors.

Front of Letter/order Form & Survey

Front of Letter

Back of Letter/order Form & Survey

Back of Letter

For more reading on this topic, see Harvey McKinnon’s book Hidden Gold and Erica Waasdorp’s Monthly Giving The Sleeping Giant.