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The Proven Formula for Donor Newsletters

The Proven Formula for Donor Newsletters

by Tom Ahern, of Ahern Donor Communications — www.aherncomm.com

In the 1990s, a Seattle fundraising shop called the Domain Group took the garden-variety donor newsletter, stripped it down to its components, and began testing … to see if they could come up with something better. Sort of like rebuilding a hot rod.

Domain eventually developed a formula that made a donor newsletter HIGHLY worth doing: some Domain clients began raking in more gifts through their newsletters than through their direct mail appeals.
Domain had its hot rod. Think about that a moment. Read more ›

Amazon.com Recommends New Products; We Recommend New Donors

Ever wonder how sites like Amazon.com are able to recommend new products to you that they know you will enjoy?
One word: data.

Simply put, the site looks at your past search history, purchasing behavior- even likes on social media in order to predict what you may want to purchase next. Now imagine that very same idea applied to your organization for the purpose of finding new donors. By looking at prospects’ past voting history, giving behavior, even their political ideology, we can predict which citizens in your area are likely to respond to an appeal from your organization.

This is a powerful tool for acquisition campaigns; instead of reaching out to random people or blanketing an entire geographical area with generic campaign materials, we can;
• Target specific groups of prospective donors
• Send them personalized appeal letter
Thus, the same data that helps us track down high-quality prospects gives us hints on how best to approach, engage and convert those prospects.

This type of micro-targeted outreach is ideally suited for non-profits and advocacy organizations trying to increase their visibility, build their base of support, and grow their revenue. And it’s all made possible using predictive analytics.

When you think of donor analytics, think Grass Root Communication.

Building Diversity Friendly Campaigns

Eden Stiffman, a contributor to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, has written an eye-opening article about how to reach out to more ethnically diverse donors. According to the article by Eden Stiffman, “6 steps to Attracting More Diverse Donors,” the current donor population is over-representative of Caucasians at the expense of other racial groups when compared to the US population as a whole.

One piece of advice Stiffman offers is for the non-profits to re-evaluate the tenor and content of their donor communications. For example, the stories told by organizations should be “culturally appropriate” and “welcoming” to people of other races and religions. Be wary of culturally offensive stereotypes that might accidentally show up in your organization’s marketing materials.

This is especially true of images, many of which depict people of color as the needy beneficiaries and only white people as staff members, board members, donors and CEOS. Featuring more diverse staff and organization leaders could go a long way in conveying to donors that there is serious commitment to diversity in place. And producing newsletter content in multiple languages may be appropriate depending on the ethnic breakdown of your organization’s donor base.

As always, examining the composition of this donor base is the first place to start when determining how to execute your strategy to attract diverse donors. And the best way to assess the demographics of the support base is to perform a high- level donor analysis (which we can do for you right now!)

Eden Stiffman, the contributor, also suggests getting a second opinion regarding how your organization’s message is perceived.

Sometimes it’s helpful to bring in someone from outside the organization to provide a new perspective,”, he notes.

Please feel free to contact us if you need that new perspective.
Our campaign experts would be delighted to take a second look at your donor engagement approach!

 

See article: ”6 steps to Attracting More Diverse Donors” by Eden Stiffman; the Chronicle of Philanthropy

Measuring the Mind of A Donor

Currently, there is no universally accepted numerical index that captures donor sentiment, that is, the enthusiasm potential donors  feel about their own financial situation and thus their expected willingness to make generous contributions to their preferred charities and non-profits. Donor sentiment is tricky because there is no guarantee that prospects will donate even if they feel optimistic  about their purchasing power and there is no rule stating that people refuse to give when economic conditions sour.

However, a consumer sentiment index is a relevant metric that comes to mind when trying to find a proxy for a measure of how donors might behave in the near future. Looking at the University of Michigan’s well known consumer confidence index, we see that the figure rose 4.7 points from a month earlier to register a reading of 98.2 in December. This is great news because it is the highest reading since January of ‘04 and implies that consumers feel very optimistic about the economy at the present moment.

This positive sentiment is expected to translate into healthy consumer spending and consumers who spend more are more likely to further contribute to nonprofits if presented with the right opportunity. It is exactly the type of economic environment that fundraisers hope for as expectations of future growth also rose more quickly than they did last month. Organization directors should keep in mind, however, that the index may misrepresent economic reality and may become volatile.

A separate consumer confidence indicator, released by the Conference Board also rose in December to 113.7 from a revised 109.4 in November with the surge in optimism most pronounced among older consumers, according to Lynn Franco, Director of Economic indicators at the Conference Board. Older donors tend to give in greater volume to charitable causes ; according to a 2013 study on generational giving habits commissioned by the software firm Blackbaud,? Those born in 1945 or earlier give an average of $1,367 a year compared to millennials who average $481 in annual gifts.

Crucially, the older generation prefers direct mail communications which, according to Jen Love (Co-founder of Fund-raising consultancy Agents of Good) and Tom Ahern (an industry expert in writing fund-raising communications) is still the most effective medium through which to reach donors.

Sources:

See article: ‘Flattery Will Get You Everywhere’ by John Hanc, The New York Times – 11/6/16

Segmentation – It Really Is All About Who You Know

Good journalists apply a formula to ensure that every story has all pertinent facts by always including “the five Ws and the H” – Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Notice that Who is first on the list. That’s a very important fact – Who is at the crux of the story?

Unfortunately, many fundraisers forget about “who” is at the crux of their fundraising efforts when it’s time to send out a big mailing. So much time is spent developing the offer, writing and rewriting the appeal letter; deciding on whether programs are accurately and adequately described; debating about which cuddly photos are the most compelling to use, that one vital element is forgotten…the recipient.

Read more ›