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How Your Donors Can Get You More Donors

How Your Donors Can Get You More Donors

We get a lot of strategy-related questions here at Grassroot. One of the most common from our donor-focused clients is,

“What’s the secret to getting more donors?”

Our answer usually surprises them:

Start with the ones you have.

The reason is simple. Your current donor profiles will tell you a lot about what you’re doing right—and what you can improve on. We produced a tip sheet on donor acquisition here that covers some of the basics, but let’s talk about the underlying approach.

The most important thing to understand is that when we say, use your current donors to help shape future campaigns, what we’re really talking about is using the data they generate.

Details like when they donated, how much they gave, and how often they come back.

But that’s just the beginning. If you know the basics of your donation patterns, you can apply some demographics—where the donors live, what other causes they support, etc.—and get a pretty good idea on which ones can become even larger contributors and where to look for similar donors. And just like that, you’re getting not only more donors, but also from your current donors!

The effort starts with a breakdown of your current donor data. You can do this by hand with a lot of math and cross-referencing.

We have a better way, however. It’s called DonorTrends.

Our software will organize and analyze your data. From there, donors can be categorized factoring in myriad data points: demographics, whether they are current, lapsed, etc. Then comes the fun (and financially rewarding) part: analyzing the results and developing strategies build around what you’ve learned.

You’ll gain insight on your lapsed donors, lifetime values, upselling opportunities, and much more. You’ll get a customized, confidential report that provides high-level breakdowns, detailed analysis and a customized action plan. You’ll learn where to invest more, and where to cut back. (Growth is the ultimate goal, but saving a few pennies along the way doesn’t hurt, right?)

In short, you’ll get what you need to jump-start your next donor campaign, with strategies that focus on both your existing donors and the biggest opportunities to gain more.

The key to all of it lies within your donor data.

Need more convincing? Check out these samples from a DonorTrends report:

Grassroot Communication | Donor Trends

Want us to take a look and tell you what your data says about what you should consider when planning your next campaigns?

Schedule a consultation with Susan and we’ll take the next steps!

How To Find New (and Lost) Donors

If you are involved in a nonprofit that relies on individual financial gifts, donor acquisition is surely one of your constant challenges. Instead of seeing it as a goal or a destination, consider getting and keeping donors as a recurring part of what you do—a rewarding journey that never ends.

Below we’ve compiled our best practices for donor acquisition in one place.
Have any questions? We’re always ready to help!

Grassroot Best Practices for Donor Acquisition

Know your donors.
Before you try and acquire new donors, it’s important to understand who your current donors are.  What are their demographics, or common attributes? Where did they come from–past campaigns, events, board outreach?  What do they care about? What motivates them to give to you?

Make a plan/budget and set goals
Every campaign should have a plan and specific goals. Goals need to be specific, measurable and attainable. Look at your past acquisition history and see if you can increase new donors by 2%.  If you haven’t engaged in new donor acquisition – figure a goal based on the average return of a direct mail campaign.

Lists: Choose carefully.
All lists are not the same, so carefully consider the type of list you want to use.
Some examples:
• Demographics – based on the qualities of your current donors.
• Subscribers – publications that would be of interest to you donors.
• Donors – compiled list of donors to similar causes or donor of organizations that have a similar or complementary mission.

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Consider your creative.
If you’re doing a mail piece, you want it to stand out. Consider a size not often used, such as 6×9 in or 5×7 in. Don’t be shy about color, either. Make the most of your package with a full-color envelope or letter. If you’re limited to two-color, be sure the make the most by adding an illustration or a tag line. People want to be seen, heard, and understood. Be sure to personalize throughout your letter and reply materials to help create that personal feel.

Tell a story.
Showing is always better than telling. Use an emotional story from someone who has benefitted from your organization to demonstrate the difference your donor can make.

Show your achievements.
Don’t be afraid to brag a little. New donors want to know about your success and plans for your mission going forward. Get them excited to be part of something meaningful.

Integrate across channels.
The days of a single-channel campaign are gone. Use your messaging across all your platforms to amplify your message’s reach. Many who receive a letter will go to your website to seek more information, and it may take a few impressions—a letter and then a boosted Facebook post—to catch their attention.

Test!
Improve your campaigns’ effectiveness by trialing parts of it as you go. Try different envelopes, two-color vs four-color, or even different copy. Measure the results and apply what you learn in future campaigns or even later in the same campaign. You might also try adding something extra—like a pen, or a keychain, or an offer to provide a thank-you gift for a certain donation level—and see if response rates change.

Track all of your results.
Every campaign provides insightful data you can learn from. Whether it is response rates from certain lists or understanding what motivates your donors to give, mine your data for clues that will help you create better campaigns down the road.

Grassroot Communication | Donor Trends

Want to glean more from your data?
Check out DonorTrends and learn how  to target your donors and prospects:
https://grassrootcommunication.com/fundraisers/donortrends/

Call or email us today to talk about your next project.
Susan@grassrootcommunication.com -or- 540-428-7000 x3032

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.

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/).

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 ›

Amazon.com Recommends New Products; We Recommend New Donors

Ever wonder how sites like Amazon.com are able to recommend new products to you that they know you will enjoy?
One word: data.

Simply put, the site looks at your past search history, purchasing behavior- even likes on social media in order to predict what you may want to purchase next. Now imagine that very same idea applied to your organization for the purpose of finding new donors. By looking at prospects’ past voting history, giving behavior, even their political ideology, we can predict which citizens in your area are likely to respond to an appeal from your organization.

This is a powerful tool for acquisition campaigns; instead of reaching out to random people or blanketing an entire geographical area with generic campaign materials, we can;
• Target specific groups of prospective donors
• Send them personalized appeal letter
Thus, the same data that helps us track down high-quality prospects gives us hints on how best to approach, engage and convert those prospects.

This type of micro-targeted outreach is ideally suited for non-profits and advocacy organizations trying to increase their visibility, build their base of support, and grow their revenue. And it’s all made possible using predictive analytics.

When you think of donor analytics, think Grass Root Communication.

Building Diversity Friendly Campaigns

Eden Stiffman, a contributor to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, has written an eye-opening article about how to reach out to more ethnically diverse donors. According to the article by Eden Stiffman, “6 steps to Attracting More Diverse Donors,” the current donor population is over-representative of Caucasians at the expense of other racial groups when compared to the US population as a whole.

One piece of advice Stiffman offers is for the non-profits to re-evaluate the tenor and content of their donor communications. For example, the stories told by organizations should be “culturally appropriate” and “welcoming” to people of other races and religions. Be wary of culturally offensive stereotypes that might accidentally show up in your organization’s marketing materials.

This is especially true of images, many of which depict people of color as the needy beneficiaries and only white people as staff members, board members, donors and CEOS. Featuring more diverse staff and organization leaders could go a long way in conveying to donors that there is serious commitment to diversity in place. And producing newsletter content in multiple languages may be appropriate depending on the ethnic breakdown of your organization’s donor base.

As always, examining the composition of this donor base is the first place to start when determining how to execute your strategy to attract diverse donors. And the best way to assess the demographics of the support base is to perform a high- level donor analysis (which we can do for you right now!)

Eden Stiffman, the contributor, also suggests getting a second opinion regarding how your organization’s message is perceived.

Sometimes it’s helpful to bring in someone from outside the organization to provide a new perspective,”, he notes.

Please feel free to contact us if you need that new perspective.
Our campaign experts would be delighted to take a second look at your donor engagement approach!

 

See article: ”6 steps to Attracting More Diverse Donors” by Eden Stiffman; the Chronicle of Philanthropy

Measuring the Mind of A Donor

Currently, there is no universally accepted numerical index that captures donor sentiment, that is, the enthusiasm potential donors  feel about their own financial situation and thus their expected willingness to make generous contributions to their preferred charities and non-profits. Donor sentiment is tricky because there is no guarantee that prospects will donate even if they feel optimistic  about their purchasing power and there is no rule stating that people refuse to give when economic conditions sour.

However, a consumer sentiment index is a relevant metric that comes to mind when trying to find a proxy for a measure of how donors might behave in the near future. Looking at the University of Michigan’s well known consumer confidence index, we see that the figure rose 4.7 points from a month earlier to register a reading of 98.2 in December. This is great news because it is the highest reading since January of ‘04 and implies that consumers feel very optimistic about the economy at the present moment.

This positive sentiment is expected to translate into healthy consumer spending and consumers who spend more are more likely to further contribute to nonprofits if presented with the right opportunity. It is exactly the type of economic environment that fundraisers hope for as expectations of future growth also rose more quickly than they did last month. Organization directors should keep in mind, however, that the index may misrepresent economic reality and may become volatile.

A separate consumer confidence indicator, released by the Conference Board also rose in December to 113.7 from a revised 109.4 in November with the surge in optimism most pronounced among older consumers, according to Lynn Franco, Director of Economic indicators at the Conference Board. Older donors tend to give in greater volume to charitable causes ; according to a 2013 study on generational giving habits commissioned by the software firm Blackbaud,? Those born in 1945 or earlier give an average of $1,367 a year compared to millennials who average $481 in annual gifts.

Crucially, the older generation prefers direct mail communications which, according to Jen Love (Co-founder of Fund-raising consultancy Agents of Good) and Tom Ahern (an industry expert in writing fund-raising communications) is still the most effective medium through which to reach donors.

Sources:

See article: ‘Flattery Will Get You Everywhere’ by John Hanc, The New York Times – 11/6/16

Segmentation – It Really Is All About Who You Know

Good journalists apply a formula to ensure that every story has all pertinent facts by always including “the five Ws and the H” – Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Notice that Who is first on the list. That’s a very important fact – Who is at the crux of the story?

Unfortunately, many fundraisers forget about “who” is at the crux of their fundraising efforts when it’s time to send out a big mailing. So much time is spent developing the offer, writing and rewriting the appeal letter; deciding on whether programs are accurately and adequately described; debating about which cuddly photos are the most compelling to use, that one vital element is forgotten…the recipient.

Read more ›