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Saying ‘Thank You’ To Donors

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)

Donor Insight. Fundraising Action. You have two choices

Whatever challenge you face – managing your task list, exercising 4x / week, or retaining donors – you always have two choices.

Door 1:  Stay the same

Door 2:  Try to improve

Donor Trends Grassroot Communication

Door # 1 has a window – you can see through and know what to expect.  You’ve been there before, you know the results, and may understand the trade offs.  If you go through this door you cannot expect different results.  And that may be ok.  If you expect a different outcome then, by Einstein’s definition, you are insane.

If you’re looking for improvement or change then you have to through door #2.   Yes, it may seem scary or risky.  [I propose that staying the same is far more risky but that’s for another blog post].

Too many fundraisers hesitate to change because they don’t know what’s behind door #2.  They’re content with suffering response rates and lack luster growth because sticking with the status quo is a good excuse if the program fails to meet projections. It’s an all-too- familiar refrain,  “Sure, we want to move the needle, but we don’t want to change the way we do things.”

Unfortunately, we can’t have it both ways.  If we want to make improvements we can’t rely on the same thinking, the same tools, and the same processes.

Humans don’t like change. And for many fundraising humans change involves risk and investment in time and money, with possible unknown outcomes.  Why would we change?

What if we reframed our mindset?  What if we replaced “change” with the word “improve”?

The Key to Improvement

Whether you choose to call the shift in mindset  “change” or “improvement” there’s one area of focus that will immediately improve results – the process of selecting donors.

The two key ingredients for all successful fundraising are “Audience” and “Message”.  For years experts have recognized that the proper audience selection accounts for 70% of a campaign’s success.  The creative/message execution part ( carrier envelope, teaser, photo of the sick kid or abused dog) contributes the remaining 30%.

Yet, despite the overwhelming importance of “Audience” most organizations continue to place their major focus and spend on creative and message execution while failing to improve on audience selection. The result: they are missing a huge opportunity for improvement.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  And, it sure shouldn’t be this way.  Not in 2019 when cars are driving themselves and your cell phones have more computing power than NASA used to go to the moon. Yet, most folks are still using methodologies like RFM developed 40 years ago to select and segment donors.

The fact is there have been incredible advances in predictive intelligence that quickly and inexpensively allow fundraisers to accurately predict if a donor is likely to respond, how much s/he is likely to give, and how many times to contact them to avoid diminishing returns.  This is amazing stuff. Even better it’s been proven and is now in use by hundreds of successful organization.

Step Through Door #2.

Isn’t it about time you join your fundraising colleagues who are using the science of predictive intelligence to raise more money – at less cost, and far less time?

DonorTrends has created, tested, and for the past 7 years has deployed a proven system of predictive intelligence called “DonorScores™” that is far more powerful than the human brain…far more accurate than the antiquated practice of RFM segmentation…and is faster and far less expensive than jockeying an Excel spreadsheet.

Here’s what DonorScores™ can do — in a matter of days — to improve your fundraising.

Create Your Annual Plan.
Set the parameters you want for your annual plan.  Whether it’s growth in acquisition … higher retention … upgrading to mid-level giving…addition of sustainers … better reinstatement. You name your objectives and we create your fundraising budget and communication plan.

Identify Best Segments for Each Campaign.  Guided by the objectives of your Annual Plan, DonorScores™ picks the ideal segments for each campaign so that you meet your annual goals. Each segment is chosen based on predictive analytics to assure you’re contacting the most productive donor segments and eliminating the least productive.

Self-Learning.  Each month the algorithms that go into the DonorScore™ models for your organization are updated based on returns from the most recent campaigns.  This self-learning process creates ever-improving results and efficiencies.

No Guess Work.  Wonder how many times to solicit a particular donor?  DonorScores™ tells you.  How much to ask for?  DonorScores™ tells you.  Whether that donor should be invited to become a Sustainer?  DonorScores™ tells you.  Who among your donors are most likely to upgrade to mid-level giving status?  DonorScores™ tells you.

In short, DonorScores™ takes the guess work and myth out of fundraising on a range of initiatives from second gifts … sustainer giving … upgrading … mid-level giving … major giving … planned giving … and reinstatement.

From planning and budgeting to donor segmentation appeal by appeal, DonorScores™ is the ultimate improvement in Audience selection and control.  The ultimate Door #2!

Best of all it’s here today.  Ready for you.  Proven to move the needle.

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

-or-

Request a sample report that will give you an idea of what to expect, but remember–each DonorTrends report is customized based on results generated from your data.

Blog Courtesy of  Donor Trends
cmiller@donortrends.com

Topics: Donor Retention, mid-level upgrade, Predictive Analytics, DonorScores

Why Direct Mail? It Stimulates The Brain.

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.

Direct Mail Stimulates Brain | Grassroot Communication

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