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The Proven Formula for Donor Newsletters

The Proven Formula for Donor Newsletters

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

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

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

Special Interview with Lisa Sargent of Sargent Communications: Pt 2

DC: Six years ago, social media was picking up a head of steam in our culture, but non-profits were still getting on the train; SM communications were often “siloed”. You spoke about the perception among non-profit professionals of “fragile followers”. How has this changed or how is it changing? And do you have a personal feeling about the future of SM for non-profits?
LISA: Before we talk social media, if you’re interested in digital channels with fundraising clout, think email. Direct mail still trumps it, and email’s overall donation response rate is only 0.07%, on average, but according to M+R’s 2016 Benchmarks Study3, more than a third (34%) of all online revenue for the top 25 nonprofits [in its study] can be tracked directly to an email appeal. And for the remainder of its study participants, the average is 27%. List churn – or the “fragility” of followers, if you will – remains an issue, just as it does for direct mail. Attrition is a fact of life: the goal is to minimize it, across whatever channel you’re working … and that holds true for social media too: if your feed is boring or “we-focused,” you won’t have many followers for long. Silos, too, remain an issue across every channel, and are still just as damaging to overall quality and consistency of messaging, and eventually, results. As M+R’s study put it so beautifully: “Our job is not to block the exits; ours is to throw the doors open and welcome people in.” Read more ›

Special Interview with Lisa Sargent of Sargent Communications: Pt 1

Welcome to the July issue of Donor Centric, a bi-monthly resource for our friends in the nonprofit sector.
In 2010, Lisa Sargent of Sargent Communications spent six weeks taking the pulse of leading executives from U.S. nonprofits; she wanted to know the common challenges that they were facing, as well as the most effective strategies they were employing to acquire, engage and retain donors.

Her interviews with more than a dozen executives from organizations with combined annual revenues of more than $14 billion revealed key insights.

Lisa published the results in a report entitled “What’s Working in Donor Fundraising and Development Today?” It was originally sent out to Lisa’s own clients and subscribers, but was soon picked up and republished by a number of online sites. We’re including that original report as an insert with this issue.

Recently, we caught up with Lisa to ask her what’s changed in the last six years since that study. You’ll find her candid responses on the state-of-the-sector enlightening.  Read more ›