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Donor Insight. Fundraising Action. You have two choices

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

Why Direct Mail?

Why Direct Mail? Because it grabs and hold attention!

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.

Why Direct Mail

Female Donor Trends: A 2018 Survey Breakdown

Fundraising professionals know that all donors are not the same.
As women become even more powerful forces in supporting causes, organizations should be mindful of the trends that link female donors together.

One of the best regular surveys on donor trends is the Global Trends In Giving (GTG) report. Produced annually by the Public Interest Registry and Nonprofit Tech for Good, the report surveys thousands of donors around the world, and highlights trends that range from what types of charities get the most donations, to the methods donors prefer.
The report also does a detailed breakdown of male vs. female donors. Let’s take a deeper dive into the 2018 report and gain a better understanding of female-donor activity. The 2018 version, available at https://givingreport.ngo/, includes data from 6,057 donors from 119 countries. It was conducted from late April through June 2018.

Female Donor Trends

While the entire dataset is interesting, our breakdown will focus on two subsets: female donors—the focus of this article—North American respondents (which combines both the U.S. and Canada). Note that this doesn’t mean a U.S.-based charity should not pursue donors from around the world; in fact, the survey found that 31% of all donors gave to a cause based outside of their country. That said, gaining a detailed understanding of your most likely donors—those in your country—should be the foundation of any campaign.

In the GTG survey, 65% of the respondents were female. Among GTG’s key findings; female donors were most inspired to give as a result of social media (32%), followed by email (26%) and website outreach (17%). Males, on the other hand, preferred email (30%), social media (24%) and the web (19%).
Other key results from the female respondent data subset:
45% are enrolled in a monthly donor program
42% donate to crowd-funding campaigns
35% give tribute gifts
67% volunteer locally
92% are regular voters

Each of these tracked closely with male donor data results except for the tribute-gift response—only 21% male donors report giving tribute gifts.

Now let’s look at some key figures from the North American donor subset. While the following trends represent all North American donors, note that 70% of those respondents were females. One of the most significant takeaways: 56% of North American donors say “they are most likely to give repeatedly to an organization if they receive regular communication about the work the organization is doing and the impact that their donation is making,” the survey found.

Among giving methods, 60% prefer credit card, far out-pacing the next-highest category of mailing in a donation (17%). Not surprisingly, the top five causes are tightly bunched: health and wellness (12%), children and youth (11%), animals and wildlife (9%), faith and spirituality (9%), and human and social services (8%). Recognition is important, but many North American donors do not want to see resources (such as paper) wasted in the process: 68% prefer to be thanked for their donations by email, 20% by print letter, 5% by print postcard, 3% by social media message, and 3% via text message.

The survey noted that the influence of email- and website-generated donations in North America makes a .org domain more important as a rusted source, as 73% of respondents report they trust the .org extension—the highest percentage among world regions. North America also has the highest rate of Baby Boomer donors (41%) and donors who have charitable giving in their last will and testament (20%), the survey found.

While each target donor broken down into very specific subsets. Big-picture surveys such as GTG can help, but the most accurate read comes from analyzing your own donors and prospective donors, and detecting unique trends.
If you don’t know where to start, give us a call—we’d be happy to sit down with you.

First Look At Gen Z

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.

Grassroot Communication | Gen Z

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.

 

Men vs Women Donors

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.

Direct Mail Fundraising, Membership and Advocacy Campaigns | 2019 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.
2019 Postal Rates | Grassroot Communication
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)

Identifying Your Donors: Where To Start?

You know that identifying your donors is important. But do you know where to start?

Easy: With your own lists, and some basic categories that are meaningful to your organization or fundraising in general.

Your data may be well-organized, or you may have a bunch of lists that identify some basics, such as who donated during your last push, which contacts have opened your email communications, and so on. Regardless of the state of your data, this is where you start  your donor-identification process.

Among the most important things you should be tracking and segmenting on: when your donors (or prospects) give. Are they annual donors? Lapsed donors? Prospects? Figuring out the frequency of when your audience gives will help you tailor messages that fit. A lapsed donor will need a different sort of coaxing than a prospect, and a regular supporter should be treated altogether differently.

Another key attribute: the cause that convinced them to donate their money. If you don’t have different causes, this probably won’t apply to your organization. But if you have different reasons for your pushes–an annual building fund for facilities vs. a targeted campaign to help provide scholarships to young people, for instance–you should be able to tell who gave to what cause. This information can help you cut down on unwanted communication to donors that favor one cause over others. It could help you uncover willing donors by communicating to them the value of supporting other causes, too.

Data Audit and Action Plan

Once you understand the categories of donors and potential donors you have, and their giving patters, it’s time to start determining what motivates them to give. This isn’t easy–trying to understand what triggers a person’s desire to support a cause is guesswork at best (unless you’re conducting a survey, which is a great way to gain periodic insight). But you can begin to understand what triggers the give by paying attention to how your audience interacts with your messaging.

Start with the obvious–tracking how donations come in. People sending in money in a reply-to envelope were clearly moved by that campaign’s message. Electronic communication, especially emails, provides important insight as well. Track who is reading your messaging and cross-reference their donation patterns.

Perhaps you’ll learn that donor frequency does not correlate with the amount of interaction a donor or potential donor has with your messaging (though this would be unusual). What you are more likely to find is that a subset of your infrequent donors is in fact reading your messaging, liking your Facebook posts, etc., but they are not quite motivated enough to give. This type of insight gives you a very specific target of engaged, compassionate candidates that merit a very specific campaign.

The same types of patterns can help glean what moves your prospects from potential donors to first-time donors. Are you getting more via direct mail vs. online? What about at specific times of year?

The science of donor identity is both effective and can be very complex. But it does not have to start out that way. Understanding the basics of your current prospects will give you ideas on how to begin targeting your messages and your tactics. This is an ideal way to start as you’re determining how you will move into more sophisticated categories.

Helping clients build donor-identity datasets is one of our specialties.

If you are looking for ways to jump-start your donor-identification process, or take it to a higher level, we’d be happy to talk to you!

Donor Identity: A Deeper Dive

Every experienced fundraiser understands the need to segment donors, identify them, and adjust campaigns to appeal to them. But a lot of fundraisers are not taking this deep enough–and it is costing them money via unproductive efforts and lost donations.

Donors do not have simply one identity. They have many, and most can be easily explained in a few words: things like conservative, union member, active church member, and football fan. They have work-related identities, and social identities. And many of them have nothing to do with each other, or why they may donate to your cause. Then there are identities created by life circumstance: cancer survivor, dementia patient care-giver, parent of suicidal teen.

Donor Identiy

An insightful article by The Donor Voice’s Kevin Schulman explains the importance to know which identities you are targeting, and your message should be radically altered to suit. For instance, life-circumstance identities usually fall into two general categories: someone who had or has the ailment, or someone caring for another that does. These can generally be considered “direct connection” identities.

Appealing to these direct-connection identities requires a very different approach. These people don’t need to be emotionally drawn in by a well-written story detailing someone with their same problem, and then explaining how your organization helps them. They understand the emotional side already–they live it. What they are about are the services you provide for people like them.

As Schulman explains, appeals like these should skip the emotional set-up and hit hard on the array of services–from seminars to hotlines to guide books. Whatever it is you do to help your target audience–this is what will motivate these people to donate.

Now, let’s take this a step further. Your campaign should not be limited to these so-called “direct connection” prospects. There are plenty of other identities out there who may be swayed to support your cause. The campaigns for these people will need a different, and perhaps more traditional, approach. Share stories of people you’ve helped, and highlight some of the services that donations support.

The difference is subtle, but leads to profound differences in how the campaigns are set up.

Segmenting your donor lists by identity is a must. Taking the next steps and really understanding what those identities want to hear from you is crucial to maximizing donor response, and ultimately, retention.

Want a good donor experience and better retention? Start with understanding donor identity.

Online Content: Back to Basics

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.