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Spring Campaign | Bonus Ideas

Spring Campaign | Bonus Ideas

We’ve laid out some steps to create a simple, straightforward spring appeal. But some organizations may want to go a few steps further. Here are two suggestions:

USE YOUR DATA. If your data analytics program is advanced enough to generate lists by donor amount, consider a variable campaign that asks past donors you’re pinging to donate the same amount. This is an easy way to set expectations and know they are in a range that is comfortable for the donor.

HAVE A THANK-YOU READY.

This isn’t really a bonus idea, but one that should be part of any campaign. Before you do your drop or hit send, have a thank-you ready to go. It should be variable, so it can be personalized, and it should be specific. Thank the donor by name, and mention the donation amount specifically. Show them you’re responsive and attentive. The thank-you message is the first step in getting the next donation.

Spring is probably your busiest time of year—and that was before the pandemic. But it doesn’t have to be too busy to set up a successful outreach campaign. If you’re looking to jump-start your spring outreach but need a little help, contact us. We’d be thrilled to work with you.

 

GrassRoot Communication specializes in the production of direct mail, print and various communications materials for associations, non-profits, businesses and government agencies. By teaming up with us, you’re adding a quarter-century of experience to your team, and gaining access to ideas and solutions for connecting with your audience in the most effective ways. We provide all the services you need for the entire production process under one roof, ensuring your project goes out without a hitch. Call us today to talk about your next project.

Changing Course Amid A Pandemic

Our original topic for this news­letter was the spring appeal.

COV­ID-19 has changed a lot, but it does not have to change everything.

Before we talk about spring ap­peals, let’s spend a few minutes addressing what’s on everyone’s mind: the novel coronavirus pan­demic. For many donor-centric organizations, this is a doubly tough time: contributions are down at the same time that many organizations, and the services they provide, are needed most.

If this sounds like your organiza­tion, then consider doubling down on the need to connect with past donors and would-be donors. Many companies and organizations are using the pandemic as a reason to appeal to customers and donors. Cutting through this will require honest, simple communications. If the people that benefit from your service are particularly impacted by the pandemic and its ramifica­tions—job losses, income reduc­tions, etc.—then lay that out.

Be direct. Be transparent. Be persis­tent.

Onto the Spring Appeal
At first glance, a spring appeal cam­paign may seem daunting—espe­cially in current circumstances. The year-end push—including what was probably your biggest annual fund­raising period—ended not long ago. You are dealing with the pandemic. You may think you don’t have time for a spring appeal.

We suggest you reconsider—and think differently.

With a few simple steps, your spring appeal can be differentiated from your other campaigns, and that can help make it successful, even during these unusual times. Here are a few ideas we have used with clients that have helped create successful spring donor outreach campaigns.

Make Your Appeal A Non-Appeal
One of the enduring themes that we stress with all donor communica­tions is to make the story about your cause and/or your members—not so much about you. If you’re going to break this rule, the spring outreach is the time to do it.

Try approaching your spring cam­paign as a donor update. Your just-completed year-end push probably talked about the goals you were striving to meet. Your spring campaign is a great time to provide a brief recap on what you—with the help of your donors, of course—ac­complished last year.

Considering the current environ­ment, highlight some of the ways you are helping your constituents during the pandemic, or some new initiatives you’re planning. You can also highlight upcoming milestones or projects in the year ahead—look­ing beyond the novel coronavirus isn’t a bad way to spread a little hope.

Grassroot Communication | Spring Donor Appeal Campaign

Think Simple
Your spring appeal campaign does not have to be grand. While it’s al­ways nice to attract new and repeat donors and higher donations, your spring appeal can be more focused.

For instance, you may want to start by filtering out donors who gave in your most recent campaign. Then perhaps add ones that have given before but not recently, or that have interacted with your organization in some way, such as opening an email or attending an event. Tailor­ing your outreach in such a way can help keep the campaign cost-effec­tive while targeting likely donors.

Another idea: be very specific in what you want. Of course, every nonprofit wants more and bigger donations. But if you articulate a simple, achievable goal, donors may be more motivated to respond.

Maybe there is a specific project in your near-term plans with a modest budget. Describe it, be clear about the funding needs, and go in for the ask. If the novel coronavirus pan­demic has created specific needs, then articulate them, put a target amount on the total you need, and reach out with a donor-specific request.

How do you get to that number? Great question. We recommend breaking your project or goal down to a key number. Let’s say you are generating funds to provide kids with backpacks full of school supplies when they can all go back. Your goal is to help 1,000 kids, and you plan to spend $30 per child on a backpack and supplies. Your total goal is $30,000, but look at it this way: you need $30 donated 1,000 times. The key number for donors to know is $30.

Hammer home in your outreach that $30 will make a difference for one child. Ask for $30 and ask again. And remind your would-be donor that for every $30 donated, a child has school supplies for the coming year.

Being this direct ensures the would-be donors know what you need—and what you want. Ones that can afford to give more than $30 prob­ably will. Ones that don’t know how much to give will lock in on the $30—which is exactly what you want.

Get Creative
Spring appeals are a great time to get creative, for several reasons. First, if you’ve followed the above advice, you will have a smaller list than a larger, year-end appeal. You’re also communicating with your would-be donors, not just asking them for money.

There are a few ways to take advantage of these steps. If you’re doing a physical mailing (and we hope you are), consider enclosing a creative giveaway—something inexpensive and appropriate for your organization that you can safely source. Or, use the spring theme and drop in a packet of seeds. Such small surprises and tokens of appre­ciation are always popular, and would provide an extra special lift during these times.

While you’re at it, think about surveying your audience to glean in­formation that will help you with future initiatives. Maybe you want to gauge their views on a particular topic or issue that has emerged in your space. Digital surveys are easiest, so don’t be afraid to include a simple link on paper that your would-be donor can use.

Saying ‘Thank You’ To Donors

Maintaining a personal, consistent connection with donors is a key part of any long-term fundraising strategy. One of the most effective but often overlooked elements: the thank-you message.

You know you want to thank every donor. But do you think about how to write the message? Or when to send it?

The folks at Eleo software have a short, to-the-point post that provides excellent guidance.

Simply put, your replies should be prompt, personal, and real. (Eleo adds “warm and fuzzy” as a fourth category, but we believe that “personal” covers this pretty well.)

Some details on what the strategy entails:

Prompt: You urge, prod, and sometimes beg donors to meet your deadlines. Maybe it’s a year-end push, or a specific campaign that will net you matching donations. Their timely responses should be met with an equally timely thank-you message.

Personal: Donors make a conscious decision to join your cause. Make them feel appreciated as individuals. Use their first name, and include any information—location, life experiences, reasons they answered your call—that you have that helps the donor feel special.

Real: People donate to causes to help people (or animals)—not to support the organization itself. It might sound like semantics, but it’s an important part of recognizing what motivates a donor. So when you respond, do so as a person, not an organization. Be conversational, not corporate. Be humorous or even vulnerable, as appropriate.

Eleo takes a deeper dive on the thank-you note’s basics. Check it out here.

Coronavirus, how we can help

We at Grassroot Communication, like everyone else, are keeping an eye on the latest news about COVID-19. We’re writing to ensure you that we will do everything we can to support your operations, even as the community adopts social-distancing and other preventative measures.

Our CSR reps are available even when they work from home. Your calls are routed to their extensions, which will ring on their cell phones if they are not in the office. Our CSR’s are monitoring their emails and checking messages routinely,  so rest assured that your project will continue to move through our production.

We are offering shipping and pick-ups to your home addresses. Everything from sending proofs to dropping off materials can be done to your personal home should you need us to.

Set up a webex meeting with us to discuss how you can be more proactive in the current environment. We expect a very crowded environment for nonprofit messaging during the U.S. election cycle this summer and fall, and the COVID-19 crisis adds even more uncertainty.

We are actively encouraging our clients to use the springtime as their primary fundraising and member outreach season. Is there anything we can do right now to offset any potential and unforeseen impacts on fundraising and outreach? Contact us to set up a call with us today.

We will continue to stay in touch as events unfold. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

Stay safe and healthy,

GrassRoot Communication Team

Do Not Reply? … There’s A Better Way

If you have an email account, you’ve seen messages from do-not-reply addresses. They can be useful in certain circumstances, but chances are, none of those circumstances apply to your organization.

Simply put, do-not-reply addresses are almost always a bad idea. As this HubSpot blog post points out, they discourage two-way communication and are susceptible to getting caught up in spam filters. They also can run afoul of U.S. laws governing email distribution by businesses.

There are better ways to manage the incoming email that you are likely looking to avoid by using a do-not-reply address. Among the ones we like the most: use alias addresses. These can be filled on your end to help separate responses—messages to prospects might from a “hello@yourdomain.com” address, for example, while messages to active contacts can come from a more recognizable address, such as an executive’s first name (jane@yourdomain.com).

Filters can also be used to sort through auto-response messages, such as “message delivery notification” to help you keep your list current—undeliverable addresses can be removed, for instance.

If your messages generate a number of manual responses, consider having an auto-response of your own. You should strive to answer every inquiry, but depending on volume, it may take your team a few days. That’s fine—but it could be reassuring to your audience to receive confirmation that their message has been received, and your team is on the case.

For more tips on how to manage replies without closing off communication, check out HubSpot’s tips.

Are Your Donors Fans?

Growing your donor pool is something we cover a lot here at Grassroot—whether it is identifying data patterns or crafting your messaging.

But one of the best ways to grow your donor pool is to have current donors do it for you. That means cultivating a level of loyalty that motivates your donors to spread your message. Put another way, turn them into fans—your fans!

The American Marketing Association (AMA) has an extensive post on the topic, including a deep dive into understanding why donors become fans. It’s a useful read for anybody who helps craft donor-outreach strategy.

AMA also has a simple formula for turning donors into advocates. AMA’s “Three Cs” breakdown goes like this:

1. Know your CUSTOMER. Specifically, what makes them donate to your cause?

2. Develop a COMMUNITY around your mission. Connect with your donors, and help them connect with each other, whether it is digitally (think social media hashtags) or in person (think special events).

3. CELEBRATE your donors, not your organization. Everyone likes recognition. Instead of lauding your fundraising totals, pull out specific stories that help donors connect to the cause they are supporting, and always, always recognize donors (so long as they are OK with being name-checked!).

Take a deeper dive by reading the full AMA blog post here. (https://www.amatriangle.org/blog/how-to-turn-donors-into-raving-fans/).

Why Direct Mail? Because It WORKS!

Direct mail as a marketing tactic boasted a 43% increase in customer response rates in 2016, according to the Data & Marketing Association.

How can this happen in a world where digital is dominating? One way is better targeting. By combining your digital intelligence on your customers and prospects with targeted direct-mail messages, you combine the power of data analytics with the enduring allure of print.

Direct Mail

GRC’s Grassroot targeting helps you blend your data with persuasive direct-mail messages that will resonate with your prospects. What does this mean for nonprofit communications directors? It means that your next campaign will maximize dollars spent and provide both online and offline messaging to better persuade your audience.

For your organization’s next outreach campaign, think targeted, data-driven direct mail. Think Grassroot Communication!

DATA RE-SET: What Does Your 2019 Tell You About The Future?

Your 2019 campaigns are in the books. Did you meet your goals? If so, congratulations! If not, don’t fret, but don’t sit idle, either. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to take a deep dive into the previous year’s efforts and gain insight on what needs changing to deliver better results. Several years ago, the New York Society of Association Executives wrote an article on the basics of benchmarking. What was true then is still true today: a simple but diligent approach to benchmarking goes a long way in maximizing your fundraising program. Let’s take a look at what NYSAE recommends, and how you can tackle it.

 

Step 1: Set Goals.
It sounds simple, but don’t be fooled. Successful benchmarking starts with definable goals that are neither too general nor too specific. Every fundraising effort wants to increase donation totals year over year—so that is too generic. Hitting a certain numeric goal may be too specific. The best goals target opportunities while feeding into the obvious target of improving results. For example, increasing the average donation from current donors could help generate more revenue without expanding the giving pool. Conversely, getting more of a certain type of donor—first-time donors, younger donors, etc.—may help broaden the donor pool in a way that helps sustain future drives. NYSAE suggests starting out with three specific goals, but the actual number is up to you. We suggest you pick at least one, but no so many that tracking and analyzing it becomes unmanageable. If you’re already setting goals, then you’re on your way—simply make sure they are measurable, they align with your overall organizational targets, and work with the data you have or can collect.

Step 2: Evaluate Your Data
Again, sounds simple right? But if you identify a goal that requires data you don’t have, you need to either change the goal or collect the data. Say you want more donors under age 35. Do you have a way of identifying donor age? If so, you can do some digging and determine recent historical trends. If not, could you collect the data without creating too much friction among donors or potential donors, who may be reluctant to hand over personal information? Don’t be afraid to set goals that require new data, either. It could be something simple, such as the timing of donations following certain mail pieces. (Maybe, for instance, you’ll find that donations generated by a third reminder is not worth the expense.) It may be ambitious, such as trying to put your existing donors into income brackets in an effort to identify those most likely to increase their giving. If the goal is important enough, it is worth exploring whether you can link donor patterns to the applicable data. Bigger picture, understanding the data you have can help shape the entire benchmarking process. You may discover that you don’t have the data you need, or you may have a treasure trove of information waiting to be parsed. (We bet it’s the latter—but we’ll get to that soon enough.)

Step 3: Analyze Your Data
Once you have your targets and some historical data, it’s time to do some benchmarking. Where were you five years ago? Two years ago? This can help you set realistic expectations on where to go next. Another key factor: understand the bigger picture. If you set a goal to increase your average donation by 10%, but the average in your sector, or bigger-picture national average, is closer to 5%, ask yourself if the goal is realistic. Once you’ve locked down your organizational goals and validated bigger-picture trends, it’s time for a quick review. Does your list of goals still make sense? Did the da-ta-dive uncover anything that merits consideration the next time you start your goal-setting? Revisit your goals every quarter or so and don’t be afraid to make any adjustments in your goals or your tactics. Let the data help guide you!

Looking For A Jump Start?… Benchmarking and setting goals are beneficial activities that should be part of every fundraising organization’s DNA. But there’s no need to wait for an entire donation cycle to get actionable data. One of the areas we’ve been helping clients with is using their existing data to glean trends and actionable insight—a benchmarking jump-start if you will. We call the new service Do-norTrends, and it’s making a difference for our clients. In one case, we launched a lapsed-donor campaign after running its data through the Donor-Trends software. We were able to determine the donors that were most likely to return and targeted them in a dedicated campaign. The result: a boost in reinstatement numbers and a growing bottom line. In another case, we targeted likely new donors based on past activity. Using that information, we brokered and tested three new lists, segmenting each letter slightly to speak to that specific audience. The client acquired more from that one campaign than it has over multiple campaigns in prior years. Each example started with existing data that the client was collecting on its donors. The DonorTrends software analyzed it and pointed out unique trends that each organization could use to develop action plans. The results speak for themselves.

Your Data—Your Future No two organizations are the same, and neither are their donor profiles. Understanding how your donors are performing is the key to targeting your campaign efforts and generating results—from boosting overall donations to reducing your per-do-nation mailing and marketing costs. It all starts with your data.

Ready to gain new, actionable insight from your data?
Contact Sherene Rapoport • Ph: 540.428.7000 x3032 • E: sherene@grassrootcommunication.com

ARTICLES CITED: https://www.nysaenet.org/nysaenet/resources1/inviewnewsletter/2013/april2013/inview512_article5

Direct Mail Fundraising, Membership and Advocacy Campaigns | 2020 Postal Rates

Grass Root Communication specializes in designing and executing highly targeted data-driven direct mail Fundraising, Membership and Advocacy campaigns. We handle the entire campaign build from the data analytics to the appeal letter writing, to production, mailing and tracking of campaigns- all under one roof.
Grassroot Communication 2020 Postal Rates
OUR COMMUNICATION PRODUCTS INCLUDE:
• Acquisition packages (for attracting new Donors/members/constituents)
• Fundraising Appeals (to raise revenue from both small and medium-sized donors/supporters)
• On-Boarding packages (for welcoming and engaging brand new donors/members/constituents)
• Win Back campaigns (for getting back lapsed donors/members/constituents)
• Social/Political Advocacy campaigns (designed to turn voter sentiment towards social issues.).
• Educational/Informational Campaigns (to help your members and constituents keep up with professional and industry-wide trends)

Where Have All The Donors Gone

Is your year-end campaign ready to deliver? The latest Fundraising Effective Project stats show that total donors declined 6% in the second quarter, and revenue was down 7%. Don’t be part of the trend: our customized, affordable analysis will show you where your biggest opportunities are, and how to cash in on them!
Click here now to take advantage of our money-back-guarantee.
The cost of $600 for the analytics will be refunded to you if results don’t meet your expectations.
Donor Insight. Fundraising Action

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.

2018 Fundraising Peformance - Donor Retention and Revenue

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:

  1. Benchmark your success
  2. Evaluate you acquisition and reinstatement investment strategies
  3. Set your goals and track monthly

Step 1:  Benchmark Your Success

A vital first step is to ‘know your numbers’.

  • Have you retained more donors than you did last year?
  • Has revenue increased or decreased?

If you don’t know, find out. We’re here to help if you need it.

Step 2:  Evaluate Your Investment Strategies

  • Are you balancing new donor acquisition with lapsed reactivation?
  • Are you spending enough on donor retention?
  • Do you know how many donors you need to retain so your file doesn’t shrink?

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.

  • Retention
  • Upgrading
  • Revenue
(Blog courtesy of DonorTrends)