Digital Fundraising

Thank you: Say it often, say it right

Next to your fundraising appeal, your thank-you letter is the most important piece of communication that your donor receives.

Great thank you letters are the hallmark of great fundraising programs. They make a donor feel appreciated and important … that their gift will make a true difference.

When donors are thanked properly for their gift, they are far more likely to give again.

So how do you write a great thank you letter?

  • Thank you letters should be written as part of your fundraising appeal. They are not an afterthought but are a significant, integral component.
  • They should be as beautifully crafted and well thought out as your appeal letter.
  • They should be personal – a real letter that speaks directly to the donor.
  • Your letter should tell a story; ideally, a story in which the donor is the hero (because of their gift.)
  • It should reinforce just how the donor’s gift will be used – and the difference it will make.
  • If you don’t have any immediate results that you can send back in response to a donor’s gift, let your donor know when they will next receive an update on the program being funded. And follow through!
  • There should be no grammatical or spelling errors.
  • Most importantly, the letter should be sent out quickly.

Thanking matters! If you aren’t spending as much thought and energy on thanking donors as you do asking them, you aren’t doing your job.

Need some help? There are some great resources out there to help you get started.

Visit Lisa Sargeant’s ‘Thank you Letter Clinic’ on SOFII.  There are eight examples of thank you letters to help inspire you to write your next one.

There are five thank you letters donors will love at ‘the balance’

 

 

 

New Australian Donor Numbers Fall for First Time in Two Decades

The latest Pareto Benchmarking figures show that the number of new donors acquired by the 82 participating charities in 2016, was less than in 2015.

These charities include a majority of charities raising over $20m in 2016, and a good selection of medium sized fundraising organisations as well.

 

With more than 65% of all regular givers and appeal donors acquired by face to face or direct mail, whatever happens to these two channels influences the big picture more than anything else.

 

 

Direct mail grew solidly until last year despite postage costs increasing dramatically, the Australian dollar falling from 1:1 to 1:0.75 and Australians falling from being ‘the wealthiest people in the world’ to just pretty rich (on average!)

By the end of 2015, intense acquisition strategies from many charities, large budgets and our small population of people aged over 65 (the average age of a direct mail donor is around 73) led to many charities simply running out of new people to ask.

Unless charities have great mid, major and bequest donor strategies in place, direct mail has slipped from being a great acquisition tool to just an OK one.  Annoyingly we haven’t a ‘replacement’ channel working at scale to bring in the older demographic.

 

However, direct mail can’t be looked at on its own as its about the donors not the channel in isolation. The long term benefit is really in bequests.  Despite taking many years, the potential of direct mail with a good bequest program in place is extraordinary.

Just 5,000 new direct mail donors could be worth $5m with a good legacy marketing program.*

Unless you are an animal charity or responding to intense media covered disasters, my advice is to only invest in direct mail acquisition if you have plans in place for donor retention, upgrade (of mid value donors) and especially that bequest fundraising plan.

The other dominant channel is face to face, I have been predicting a peak in face to face volumes for about three years. I guess if you predict your football team will win every year, people forget all but the year you got it right!

Unfortunately I hung in there, and this time I was right. Fewer new monthly givers signed up through face to face in 2016 than 2015.

Despite all this, face to face is still miles ahead of any other channel for acquiring large volumes of monthly givers, and beats direct mail without bequest follow up on five year return on investment.

 

 

We have had good growth in online lead generation and phone calls, but the volumes are still comparatively small.  TV, radio, press ads and other channels are just a blip on total volumes, but very important to the few charities getting it right.

New monthly givers signed up by non face to face channels usually have better retention, but there simply aren’t that many of them.

 

So what does this mean for Australian charities?

We have a small population, our costs are higher than most other markets and our average donations much higher.

We have to really look after the donors we get.  I have mentioned mid value, major donors and bequests already – and they are key – but critically we need to increase our focus on donor love (donor care, supporter service, whatever you call it in your organization).

Here are my tips for all charities fundraising through individual gifts:

  • Be on top of your data.  Measuring campaigns is fine but you really need to be on top of tracking key indicator numbers, key performance indicators and running ongoing analysis to identify trends. And this is for your whole program, individual programs, donor segments and even some individual donors. Produce monthly reports, or even better dashboards, and make sure they are understood and the information is acted upon. It is important to make sure the quality of your data is managed effectively. It’s all well and good to make ‘fixes’ with an agency or mailhouse, but make sure you apply any fixes in your systems too, otherwise it may not be ‘fixed’ for the donors next interaction.
  • Acquire more donors.  If you are acquiring donors and modeling a break even within two years – don’t stop! In fact, if there is any more capacity you can use (e.g. lists or face to face go for it. Just make sure you check the compliance credentials of any suppliers).
  • Know your donor.  A true donor communication survey is key for donor care, major donor work, bequests and more.  It can even help with future direct campaign results!  Key to good donor care is to understand your donor and use a survey year after year.
  • Thank properly.  This doesn’t mean just send a receipt with a short thank you letter.  Every time we conduct mystery shopping, charities come up badly.  Donors deserve a beautiful thank you letter, telling them how their gift will help.  Then they should get a follow up telling how it DID help.  Hardly anyone does this, so, it is easy for your charity to have the best donor care around.
  • Ask properly.  Personalise copy.  Not just name and address, but donation amount, reflect their support, personalise paragraphs depending on their survey responses and previous donations. It is important any personalisation included relates to the donor, and isn’t just changing an adjective in the copy depending on their giving level. Take time to think about where the donor is in their giving journey, what they’ve told you and ensure your copy reflects this well.
  • Use the Pareto Principle. Donors who give larger than average gifts will likely give you more larger gifts.  You don’t have resources to spread equally, so prioritise those with the best potential to give more.  About half your donations will come from just five per cent of your donors.  Use the survey and look at previous giving to work out who they are.
  • Meet donors. The best fundraising happens face to face, but any full time major donor fundraiser who spends more time NOT meeting donors is either under supported or in the wrong job.  There are usually around 220 working days for a full time person.  A full time bequest or major donor fundraiser should be spending 180-200 of those visiting donors.  ALL fundraisers would be speaking to donors. Making thank you calls, checking in on how the fundraising you do feels for your donors. Aiming to understand more and more about your donors. If you have not spoken to a single donor in the last month, pick up the phone now
  • Hold staff and suppliers accountable.  Make sure they know what is expected and make sure good KPIs are in place and understood. Ensure suppliers are compliant with regulations.
  • Try some new stuff. Finally, and only if you have made sure you are doing all the above!  Budget for R&D with no income expected. And please – on behalf of the whole sector – let us know how you get on!

If you want to be part of Pareto Benchmarking next year please email Jesse Zarb.

* 5,000 direct mail donors, average age 73, average bequest in Australia $59,273.  Benchmarking shows 0.4% of all such donors have become bequestors, with more advanced bequest programs achieving 2%. $1.2m-$5.9m.

Some quick tips on fundraising landing pages

There are lots of good tips on landing pages when you search the web but it seems not enough. Lots of people are wanting specific tips on fundraising landing pages.

So here is a six minute short video for you…

The landing page is not the end of the journey for a potential supporter, it is part of the journey.  And it needs to work really hard to ‘close the deal’.

In the end, the most important thing is the brilliant proposition or offer.

After that, you can improve conversion rates with some simple techniques featured in the video.

If you want to know more, and are based in Europe, Africa, the Americas or New Zealand I hope you are coming to one of the webinars below.

People in Australia and Asia are welcome, but it is an early morning or late night for you!

 

Upcoming Webinars: 

I will be presenting a webinar (actually three, for different timezones) in early September about how to acquire donors on Facebook.  I hope you can come! 

These ones are aimed at people in Europe and Americas (don’t worry, people in Asian, Australia, I’ll repeat the webinar later – though nighthawks are welcome!). You can register here by clicking on the date that suits you: 7th Sept –  6am Sydney, 4pm New York, 9pm London. 10th Sept – 9am New York, 2pm London, 11pm Sydney. 17th Sept – 7am Sydney, 9am Auckland, 2pm LA, 6pm Rio, 5pm New York, 10pm London.

 

Four tips for acquiring supporters online

James Herlihy breaks down the top insights he gained from helping enlist 1,500 new cash donors for Australia for Dolphins in its ‘Action for Angel’ campaign.

In May, the advocacy-based non-government organisation Australia for Dolphins (AFD) developed and launched a digital campaign around the captive albino dolphin calf, Angel, with help from Pareto Fundraising. The ultimate aims: to help save dolphins in Taiji , and to convert petition signers  to regular giving.

Activities for regular giving conversion have not yet begun, but already the ‘Action for Angel’ campaign has multiplied AFD’s capacity for future effective action by boosting its donor base and active, engaged online community. So far, the campaign has:

  • Enlisted over 1,500 new cash donors
  • Grown the e-mail list from 1,700 to 40,000
  • Expanded an engaged Facebook fanbase from 4,000 to over 10,000
  • Achieved a project return on investment (ROI) of 1:2

Here are my four top insights from the Action for Angel campaign.

1.       Non-financial engagement can bring rewards… if the proposition is right

The Action for Angel campaign sprang out of discussions with AFD’s chief executive officer Sarah Lucas in April. She revealed that the organisation was planning fundraising to pay for an upcoming legal appeal against the Taiji Whale Museum. The museum was keeping an albino dolphin calf named ‘Angel’ in a tiny aquarium tank, after dolphin numbers slaughtered her mother and pod. Global outrage about the hunts created an opportunity for non-financial mobilisation that could deliver far more than a straight-out fundraising appeal – both in terms of impact and financially.

Not every organisation has a story with such mass appeal. But online action can be inspired by many less controversial causes – even those not usually involved in campaigning. Whether it’s a petition, a pledge, a quirky poll, message of solidarity, a simple ‘share’ or backend premium, think of what interaction might help you grow an engage your online base.

As with all supporter engagement, the proposition is key. Is there something that’s really of interest to your audience? Is it emotionally engaging, shocking, beautiful, awe-inspiring, hilarious or personally beneficial? There are lots of possibilities, if you are realistic about what’s going to stick.

2.       Properly map out the donor journey

You never want to get the stage of asking yourself, “Okay, we’ve engaged tens of thousands of people, now what?” No organisation should invest time and money in acquiring new supporters without having a clear path for them – ideally one that fulfils their strong fundraising potential.

With the Action for Angel campaign, we mapped out the full journey of communications. Cold audiences were driven to a petition from acquisition channels – targeted Facebook ads and promoted posts, Google display ads, etc. There was a strong share strategy. Petition signers were then funnelled through an automated e-mail journey after signature – with e-mails building the relationship with AFD – before they were solicited through a fundraising campaign for AFD’s legal appeal.

Signers who didn’t donate after one ask received a chaser email, and the fundraising campaign was also strongly promoted through acquisition channels – including Google display, Facebook and AdRoll retargeting.

3.       Spend time on audience research and targeting – the online way

The digital landscape provides unique, powerful tools for reaching audiences. Facebook alone has an unprecedentedly rich bank of data on the interests (psychographics) and demographics of a huge segment of Australians. It lets nonprofits target people with very specific interests – in AFD’s case, it was people interested in marine wildlife and advocacy – as well as the fanbases of other aligned organisations.

‘Custom audiences’ can be created matching your organisational e-mail list, plus further ‘lookalike’ audiences with a similar profile to that donor custom audience. Facebook also enables ‘retargeting’ of people who visit your website, and includes a powerful social dimension to promoted posts and advertising that other advertising channels lack.

With almost 60,000 petition signatures and 100,000 site visits in the first two weeks of the Action for Angel campaign, some great audience ‘capital’ was built that could be retargeted with the fundraising appeal when that launched. This couldn’t have happened without setting up the requirements at an early stage.

4.       Optimise your marketing tactics regularly and be flexible

When your digital campaign launches, you can’t sit around waiting for the results to come in. You have to work every day to optimise and make the campaign go further, take advantage of external events and respond to the community.

After launching the Angel petition, daily we scrutinised all responses to optimise the campaign and get the best results.

What next?

Hopefully these insights will help in your efforts to build an engaged online community and donor base. But  Of course, acquiring a regular or first cash donor online isn’t the end-game. It’s the start of a retention journey that should continually strengthen the donor’s relationship and commitment. But that’s a topic for another day!

AFD 1

Caption: The Action for Angel campaign petition achieved almost 60,000 signatures and 100,000 website visits in its first two weeks.

Planning is a key to success

So you’ve written your e-mails, you’ve got punchy copy and a great design for your landing pages. You’re ready to go, right? Wrong. Lots of extras are involved in a digital campaign. Don’t underestimate how much time these details take. Plan them in – realistically – from the start or you won’t hit that launch deadline.:

  • Generate code snippets for Google Analytics and Google, Facebook and AdRoll retargeting early and deploy them in the right places across web pages.
  • Update your privacy policy to include reference to cookies and retargeting – Google and AdRoll will block your campaigns otherwise.
  • Under the Australian Privacy Amendment Act 2012 (in effect from March 2014), all Australian donate forms now need a consent statement linking to a privacy policy and notification statement online. Got those?
  • If you want to accurately measure ROI for different channels, you must configure Google Analytics Ecommerce and embed your Facebook conversion pixel in web pages.
  • Cover share copy and image elements early. A Facebook share alone has five important properties with specific requirements. You need to get them right!
  • Plan for testing and bug fixing. Estimate how long this will take. Then double it.

 

AFD2

Caption: So engaged were AFD supporters that they sent in artworks, like this drawing by Caroline Proctor which was posted on Facebook to further build the online community.

 

James Herlihy

James Herlihy is a digital strategist at Pareto Fundraising. He has a decade of experience at Australian government departments and nonprofits including Amnesty International Australia, where he led production of record-breaking online fundraising campaigns.

This article was first published in the December 2014/January 2015 edition of Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine www.fpmagazine.com.au

 

Four Tips For Acquiring Supporters Online

James Herlihy breaks down the top insights he gained from helping enlist 1,500 new cash donors for Australia for Dolphins in its ‘Action for Angel’ campaign.

In May, the advocacy-based non-government organisation Australia for Dolphins (AFD) developed and launched a digital campaign around the captive albino dolphin calf, Angel, with help from Pareto Fundraising. The ultimate aims: to help save dolphins in Taiji , and to convert petition signers  to regular giving.

Activities for regular giving conversion have not yet begun, but already the ‘Action for Angel’ campaign has multiplied AFD’s capacity for future effective action by boosting its donor base and active, engaged online community. So far, the campaign has:

  • Enlisted over 1,500 new cash donors
  • Grown the e-mail list from 1,700 to 40,000
  • Expanded an engaged Facebook fanbase from 4,000 to over 10,000
  • Achieved a project return on investment (ROI) of 1:2

 

Here are my four top insights from the Action for Angel campaign.

1.       Non-financial engagement can bring rewards… if the proposition is right

The Action for Angel campaign sprang out of discussions with AFD’s chief executive officer Sarah Lucas in April. She revealed that the organisation was planning fundraising to pay for an upcoming legal appeal against the Taiji Whale Museum. The museum was keeping an albino dolphin calf named ‘Angel’ in a tiny aquarium tank, after dolphin numbers slaughtered her mother and pod. Global outrage about the hunts created an opportunity for non-financial mobilisation that could deliver far more than a straight-out fundraising appeal – both in terms of impact and financially.

Not every organisation has a story with such mass appeal. But online action can be inspired by many less controversial causes – even those not usually involved in campaigning. Whether it’s a petition, a pledge, a quirky poll, message of solidarity, a simple ‘share’ or backend premium, think of what interaction might help you grow an engage your online base.

As with all supporter engagement, the proposition is key. Is there something that’s really of interest to your audience? Is it emotionally engaging, shocking, beautiful, awe-inspiring, hilarious or personally beneficial? There are lots of possibilities, if you are realistic about what’s going to stick.

2.       Properly map out the donor journey

You never want to get the stage of asking yourself, “Okay, we’ve engaged tens of thousands of people, now what?” No organisation should invest time and money in acquiring new supporters without having a clear path for them – ideally one that fulfils their strong fundraising potential.

With the Action for Angel campaign, we mapped out the full journey of communications. Cold audiences were driven to a petition from acquisition channels – targeted Facebook ads and promoted posts, Google display ads, etc. There was a strong share strategy. Petition signers were then funnelled through an automated e-mail journey after signature – with e-mails building the relationship with AFD – before they were solicited through a fundraising campaign for AFD’s legal appeal.

Signers who didn’t donate after one ask received a chaser email, and the fundraising campaign was also strongly promoted through acquisition channels – including Google display, Facebook and AdRoll retargeting.

3.       Spend time on audience research and targeting – the online way

The digital landscape provides unique, powerful tools for reaching audiences. Facebook alone has an unprecedentedly rich bank of data on the interests (psychographics) and demographics of a huge segment of Australians. It lets nonprofits target people with very specific interests – in AFD’s case, it was people interested in marine wildlife and advocacy – as well as the fanbases of other aligned organisations.

‘Custom audiences’ can be created matching your organisational e-mail list, plus further ‘lookalike’ audiences with a similar profile to that donor custom audience. Facebook also enables ‘retargeting’ of people who visit your website, and includes a powerful social dimension to promoted posts and advertising that other advertising channels lack.

With almost 60,000 petition signatures and 100,000 site visits in the first two weeks of the Action for Angel campaign, some great audience ‘capital’ was built that could be retargeted with the fundraising appeal when that launched. This couldn’t have happened without setting up the requirements at an early stage.

4.       Optimise your marketing tactics regularly and be flexible

When your digital campaign launches, you can’t sit around waiting for the results to come in. You have to work every day to optimise and make the campaign go further, take advantage of external events and respond to the community.

After launching the Angel petition, daily we scrutinised all responses to optimise the campaign and get the best results.

What next?

Hopefully these insights will help in your efforts to build an engaged online community and donor base. But  Of course, acquiring a regular or first cash donor online isn’t the end-game. It’s the start of a retention journey that should continually strengthen the donor’s relationship and commitment. But that’s a topic for another day!

AFD 1

Caption: The Action for Angel campaign petition achieved almost 60,000 signatures and 100,000 website visits in its first two weeks.

 

 

 

AFD2

Caption: So engaged were AFD supporters that they sent in artworks, like this drawing by Caroline Proctor which was posted on Facebook to further build the online community.

 

Planning is a key to success

So you’ve written your e-mails, you’ve got punchy copy and a great design for your landing pages. You’re ready to go, right? Wrong. Lots of extras are involved in a digital campaign. Don’t underestimate how much time these details take. Plan them in – realistically – from the start or you won’t hit that launch deadline. Here are some important steps to plan in early :

  • Generate code snippets for Google Analytics and Google, Facebook and AdRoll retargeting early and deploy them in the right places across web pages.
  • Update your privacy policy to include reference to cookies and retargeting – Google and AdRoll will block your campaigns otherwise.
  • Under the Australian Privacy Amendment Act 2012 (in effect from March 2014), all Australian donate forms now need a consent statement linking to a privacy policy and notification statement online. Got those?
  • If you want to accurately measure ROI for different channels, you must configure Google Analytics Ecommerce and embed your Facebook conversion pixel in web pages.
  • Cover share copy and image elements early. A Facebook share alone has five important properties with specific requirements. You need to get them right!
  • Plan for testing and bug fixing. Estimate how long this will take. Then double it.

 

James Herlihy

James Herlihy is a digital strategist at Pareto Fundraising. He has a decade of experience at Australian government departments and nonprofits including Amnesty International Australia, where he led production of record-breaking online fundraising campaigns.

 

This article was first published in the December 2014/January 2015 edition of Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine www.fpmagazine.com.au

Grow your online fundraising

  • Does the effort to produce year-round web content translate into income?
  • How can I bring my warm campaigns online?
  • How can I grow and fundraise over Facebook?
  • What sort of emails should we write, and how often should we send them..?

Pareto Fundraising’s James Herlihy will be providing answers to these questions (and more) in a live webinar session providing insights and understanding into how simple, and powerful, integrating digital channels into your fundraising communications can be.

Join us for a 1 hour webinar to take place on Thursday the 13th February to learn how you can:

  • Integrate your digital communications into one successful program
  • Build a solid strategy and tactics for fundraising
  • Unlock your organisation’s unique stories for an inspiring content plan

Register now to attend the FREE webinar hosted by Blackbaud Pacific Pty Ltd.

 

Webinar details

Date: Thursday, 13 February Time: 11:00am AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne), 10:00am AEST (Brisbane), 1:00pm NZDT (Wellington)

Length: 60 minutes Cost: Free

Register to attend this webinar