MemberTrends uses your member data to develop a step-by-step plan to increasing both retention and new-member acquisitions.
Your data holds the keys to your membership-campaign strategies. GRC MemberTrends analyzes your data and reveals immediately actionable strategies that you can use to drive renewals, new-member campaigns, and other efforts aimed at strengthening your organization. And you won’t have to break your budget in the process. Using GRC MemberTrends, you will learn:
Each GRC MemberTrends report is delivered with both in-depth analysis and easy-to-digest charts and graphics that summarize the major takeaways. They also include recommended action plans based on the specific results generated from your data. This sample report gives you an idea of what to expect, but remember–each GRC Member Trends report is customized based on results generated from your data.
Ready to gain new, actionable insight from your data? Contact us today
It’s not all bad news. Overall, 2018 revenue increased by 1.6%. But realistically, a trend that shows fewer and fewer donors giving slightly more revenue is unsustainable and spells real trouble for the sector.
Where we left off
At the end of 2017 the sector saw an unprecedented fourth quarter that yielded 10% more revenue and 5% more donors as compared to 2016. Then in the First Quarter report we began to think the sky was falling. We started the year down ( -6.6% )in the number of donors and down (-2.1%) in revenue through the second quarter of 2017. Then, after a tremendous 2017 Third Quarter that saw the sector ahead on revenue—up +2.6% for the first three quarters. We even made some gains in the numbers of donors bringing the decline up to -4.3% year- over- year compared to 2016.
Perhaps at the end of 2017 we were overly optimistic. Some experts felt those 2017 results exceeded expectations because of newly passed tax reform laws, others thought it could be related to the disaster response.
Where we are now?
Unfortunately, we're still gazing out the window, looking for that reprieve to show up. It's nowhere in sight.
The results from Q4 2018 are concerning.
🚩 Number of Donors are down -4.5% in 2018 compared to 2017.
🚩 Revenue is up 2.6% for the $1,000+ donors. Revenue is down -4% for the $250-$999 group. And down -4.4% for smaller gift donors under $ 250.
Where will we go from here?
It is difficult to establish causality behind this trend, but Richard Rubin from the Wall Street Journal outlines how this may be related to the new tax law and the subsequent increase of the standard deduction. The data supports that claim as we have just witnessed the lowest fourth quarter in donations.
What can you do about it?
3 Action Steps:
Step 1: Benchmark Your Success
A vital first step is to ‘know your numbers’.
If you don’t know, find out. We’re here to help if you need it.
Step 2: Evaluate Your Investment Strategies
We can help. Ask us to generate the 'Leaky Bucket' analysis and action plan for you.
Step 3: Set your goals and track monthly
Be proactive and stay on top of the health of your donor file. Set your goals [retention and value] and track monthly.
MemberTrends uses your member data to develop a step-by-step plan to increasing both retention and new-member acquisitions.
With MemberTrends, you will:
Get your FREE sample report now and start developing your membership-growth strategies tomorrow.
A basic marketing tenet is that you should always place your message where your audience will receive it. So it makes intuitive sense that the organizations should put their appeals on social media, because that’s where everyone seems to spend their time nowadays, especially millennials. But delivering a message is about more than just ensuring your audience comes across it—the medium does matter. Highly advanced brain science illustrates that people respond differently to the same message send in different formats.
Researchers at the center for the Neural Decision Making at Temple University’s Fox School of Business found that the participants spent more time with the physical advertisements showed more desire for the product seen in print and were more stimulated by physical ads than by their digital counterparts. What does this mean for nonprofit communications directors? It means that your supporters feel a greater emotional reaction to print communication, raising the perceived value of what is being advertised. A higher-value message is more likely to convert a prospect into a supporter. For your organization’s next capital campaign, think targeted direct mail.
Think Grassroot Communication. WWW.GRASSROOTCOMMUNICATION.COM
The key to effective engagement is relevance. Crafting a piece of communication that resonates with your recipient is essential to removing the spam-like element associated with many solicitations – especially those sent via email and social media.
High-quality direct mail that is properly targeted to the right audience with the right message is highly effective in persuading your recipient to take action. It provides the opportunity to put your message in your recipient’s hands—a message that, as part of a multi-channel, grass-roots effort, they will be exposed to multiple times.
Social media is effective for quick updates and reminders, but it should not be relied upon for persuasive campaigns that require attention. The quick-glance, instant-gratiﬁcation mindset of the online user is simply not conducive to the sort of campaign messages that convert prospects into members and donors.
What Does Your Future Member or Donor Look Like? An Early Look At Generation Z
Successful membership and donor-supported organizations usually depend on a variety of supporters. Various generations, education levels, and even political persuasions usually are found within an association’s membership, and may even find common ground on many causes–think Red Cross or United Way.
With this in mind, it’s never too early to pay attention to what the future holds. New research from the Pew Research Center offers an early, and very detailed look at so-called Generation Z.
For starters, who is in Generation Z, or Gen Z? Pew defines them as people born from 1997 onward. With the oldest turning 22 this year, there are few Gen Zers that are making donations or joining membership organizations. That said, there are plenty of them who are through high school and even college, or have started professional careers. They are politically engaged and are paying attention to social issues.
In short, they matter.
What do they think?
In short, Gen Z leans more progressive politically, even among those that identify as Republicans. They believe government should do more to help people, not less–again, even among those that identify themselves as being more conservative.
Gen Zers also believe that increased racial and ethnic diversity is good for the U.S. overall, with about six in 10 holding this viewpoint. This ratio is about even with Millennials (born 1981-1996), but higher than Generation X (1965-1980) and previous generations.
The current generation is also the most likely to agree that same-sex marriage and inter-racial marriage are positives for society. Millennials are a close second, and then the disapproval gap grows starting with Generation X.
Members of Gen Z are also the most open-minded on gender identification. One out of three Gen Zers surveyed by Pew say they know at least one person who identifies using a gender-neutral pronoun. Six in 10 Gen Zers believe online forms or other methods of recording personal information should have gender-related options beyond “man” and “woman.”
The Pew survey includes more information and is worth examining.
The primary takeaways? Gen Zers are, in general, very similar to Millennials–no surprise, considering they are back-to-back generations. But the new generation is broadening its views in several key areas–notably politics, where they appear to be more progressive than their predecessors (again, even among those that identify themselves as conservative), and they are clearly engaged on the expanding discussion related to gender identification.
Keeping an eye on your future donors and members is always a smart move. It may be too early to make wholesale changes based on Gen Z’s tendencies, but it’s never too early to be engaged with your future stakeholders.
Why Women Donors Are Likely More Valuable
If you’ve detected a trend in the last few years that shows women becoming more politically engaged, you’re not imagining things.
The 2018 election cycle saw new records for the number of women candidates for governor as well as both the House of Representatives and the Senate. And they’re not just running–they’re winning. The current crop of House members includes a record number of women “by a wide margin,” as Time magazine noted.
This activism goes well beyond political office–it extends to donor patterns as well. An analysis by Nonprofit Quarterly found that women’s political engagement has surged in the last two years, including donations. This has major implications for charities that provide basic human needs.
Research by Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found a direct link between income levels and how donors spend on charitable giving. No surprise there. What may be surprising is the respective donation patterns of men vs. women. As the Nonprofit Times explains, men are more likely to give to organization-focused charities–think schools and societies, religious organizations, or youth-focused endeavors. However, “When the woman’s income increases, the couple is more likely to give — and give a larger amount — to charities that provide basic human needs, such as the Salvation Army, American Red Cross or a homeless shelter.”
Women also are more likely to give from their heart, meaning they are more likely to be motivated by current events or major trend shifts, such as an election result.
The research backing this was done in 2015–before the recent overall surge in women’s activism. Combining the established tendencies with the current political environment, and it’s not a stretch to say that women are having greater influence than ever over charitable giving and overall political activism.
New research from the Lilly School concludes that adult daughters are more likely to be influenced by the charitable giving of their parents than adult sons. While this underscores the idea that women have increasing influence, it also highlights a general need to bridge the gap between parents and sons.
“If giving is to increase to continue to address the pressing challenges of today’s society, then society in turn must find ways to ensure that these values are passed on to both sons and daughters,” the report says.
As a nonprofit executive who relies on donors to drive your organization, what should your takeaways be?
First, understand that men and women are different, even if all other demographics–income, place of residence, education, etc.–are exactly the same.
Also recognize that while both genders show tendencies to form established donation patters based on their experiences and values, women are more likely to shift theirs and get more involved based on current events.
You should always tailor your campaigns so they appeal to subsets of donors based on income, location, age, etc.
If you’re not already targeting men and women differently, too, consider doing so.
In most associations, one of the perks of membership is access to a steady stream of high-quality, informative content. From magazines to videos, creating useful content for members–be it to educate, inform, or, in some cases, even entertain–is a time-tested way to add value and develop a sense of indispensability about your offering.
But if members are the only ones that ever see your members-only content, consider altering your strategy.
Some of the most effective membership-marketing campaigns leverage the very content associations use to help keep members around. The key, of course, is using just enough to entice prospective members but still protecting the majority of the good stuff for those that already pay for it. As a bonus, you can use these strategies to augment your data-collection efforts.
Here are several strategies we’ve helped put in place that balance attracting new members with keeping most content under wraps, while providing some valuable data insights.
Custom email campaigns. Odds are, your new-member-outreach efforts include sending emails to prospects. Instead of simply telling them about the benefits of your association, show them–using some content. Provide links to one or two useful articles you’ve published. Your CRM system should be able to track click-thrus, so you can get an idea of what is resonating. Set up a campaign that swaps in new content with some frequency, but not too often–once every 2-3 months, say. This keeps it fresh for prospects, while safeguarding the amount of free content being made available.
Landing pages. Setting up a landing page with a simple data-collection form–name, email address, and perhaps one relevant piece of information germane to your association’s membership types–is an ideal way to let non-members read content. Put an article, white paper, or perhaps some presentations from a recent conference you held behind the landing page, and promote the effort through existing channels–e-mail, social media, etc.
“Freemium” website content. If you publish regularly to a news or blog section, consider setting up some of your content so that anyone can read it, so long as a name and email address is provided. This approach allows your website to work its search-engine magic naturally, while both supporting your membership-development and data-gathering strategies. News websites use the strategy often to turn browsers into subscribers; associations can follow the same path.
Webinars. One of the more popular and effective ways to inform and interact with members is via webinars. They’re used as both lead-generation tools and members-only educational benefits. If your association does the latter, consider opening one up to non-members. We recommend giving access to a recorded version, which helps keep the webinar’s main target–your members–feeling like they received the exclusive benefit of participating in the live version. If you have the resources, consider a special webinar that targets prospective members. Pick a topic that you know resonates with members, but perhaps is covered elsewhere via their members-only content. Then promote the webinar through your current prospective member-outreach channels.
These approaches can be used in combination, and they aren’t the only ways to use your existing content to attract prospective members. When developing the strategies, it’s important to strike a balance between providing value and giving away too much content. Establishing the related data-collection and analysis strategies is also key to ensuring your efforts pay long-term dividends.
Helping set up and improve new-member campaigns is part of our expertise.
If you have a campaign you’re building, or one that could use some freshening up, we’d be happy to sit down and talk.
How is social media influencing our perceptions?
Trust in social media is low, and Americans have been spending less time on Facebook, partly because so much of what they see online is negative and dubious, a recent article in The Economist says. Globally, users spent around 50 million hours less per day on Facebook in the fourth quarter of 2017, which translates into a 15% drop in the time spent year after year, according to Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement for relying too much on social channels to get your message out. Let’s be clear: social media is nowhere near dead. But it does suffer from a major credibility problem. Many people no longer trust the platform to deliver high-quality content or persuasive messaging because it is simply too easy to manipulate by nefarious actors.
That’s one reason we always advocate for a direct-mail component in every campaign–fundraising or political.
When your organization’s constituents cannot be safe in the certainty that the appeals and ads in front of their eyes are not the work of propagandists or fake news peddlers, then your online campaign will suffer. Donors will close their wallets, not wanting to chance being duped into funding a scam.
A beautifully written personalized appeal letter, on the other hand, addressed to your donor buys you instant credibility in a way social media simply can’t.
Using today’s digital channels—from Facebook to e-mail—is wise to consider when putting together your distribution strategies. But don’t forget to complement those efforts with tactics that offer a contrast, both in where they will be seen, and how people feel about them. Direct mail fits right in here.
It’s time to get back to the basics. Let us show you why high-quality direct mail still delivers.