News & Articles

RETENTION IS THE NEW ACQUISITION

With acquisition costs rising and retention rates falling, retaining the donors you have is one of the most important things your charity can do. Dearne Cameron explores why you should steward first, ask second.

Back in the good old days of fundraising, donor acquisition seemed easy… the more people a charity could get to give, the better. Right?

Those days appear to be behind us. Today we are experiencing a different environment, with finding new donors to replace those we have lost becoming increasingly expensive. Charities are asking Pareto Fundraising, “What’s the ‘next big thing’?”

Those charities that are investing in their existing donors and providing an amazing donor experience are the ones that are more likely to gain donor loyalty.

The figures from Pareto’s 2017 Benchmarking Report confirms the importance of lifting the second gift rate: the average second gift rates within 12 months for offline donors is 26.3% – and for online donors, it’s 20.5%. What this means for a direct mail acquisition program is that only 26.3% of new donors will give again within 12 months. It’s also important to note that if a new donor gives a second time, 42% (or two in five) will make the third gift. And then they are likely to give again and again.

To make new donor acquisition pay off, it takes some serious effort on the part of the charity to get that second gift.

Adrian Sargeant is the leading researcher on donor loyalty in the world today. As he says, as little as …a 10% increase in donor retention can increase the lifetime value of your donor database by 200%. Imagine what an impact that can have on your charity’s fundraising program.

WHY ARE DONORS DISAPPEARING?
There’s lots of research about why donors give. There’s even more research about why they stop giving. The most common reason given by donors is that they can’t afford to donate any more. That’s fair. Donating to your favourite charity is discretionary – and it can’t compete with buying food, paying utility bills etc.

A lot of the research also tells us that donors stop giving to charities because they:

  • were never thanked.
  • didn’t know how their donation was being used by the charity.
  • thought the organisation no longer needed their donation.
  • couldn’t remember donating (happens more than you imagine).
  • received poor service from the charity.

What’s most interesting about why donors stop giving is that most of the reasons are the responsibility of the charity itself. But the good news is that here at Pareto we’re seeing many charities taking decisive, effective action to stem donor attrition, and we’re proud to be working with them to build stewardship programs that will cultivate longterm donor loyalty.

HOW DO WE GET DONORS TO GIVE AGAIN?
Getting donor retention right is a worthy challenge for all fundraisers. But there’s a lot to get done. It takes commitment and focus to understand and put this one key formula to work: retention plus commitment equals increased lifetime value.

To make the change, start with your data. You’ve already got a great base to work from – a group of loyal supporters. You may have thousands of potential donors from the data you are gathering from your various fundraising and communications channels.

Capturing the right data is important and making sure you are communicating with your donors via the channels that appeal to them makes a difference.

In its simplest form, four steps underpin a successful donor stewardship strategy: Ask your donors for their help. Thank them for their help.

Report back to your donor on what you did with their donation. Repeat this process.

Do these four things and you have a much greater chance of seeing a substantial lift in loyalty and financial support.

WHAT ABOUT DONOR STEWARDSHIP?
Fundraisers who are committed to building their donor stewardship process do the following well:

1 SAY THANK YOU PROPERLY There can be no question about this. Saying thank you to your donors is the most important part of your donor stewardship plan. Not only is it the right and polite thing to do but a thank you sets the stage for all communications to follow.

The faster a thank you is received, the more likely the donor is to give again. So make it a priority to thank your donors within 48 hours of making their donation. And a telephone call thank you is likely to give you greater returns in the long run.

2 STAY TOP OF MIND Keep in touch with your donors constantly – not just when you need a donation. It’s very rarely the case that they will give more if they hear from you less. In fact, the more donors hear from you, the more they’ll like it.

The key to this is to work hard at creating personalised, compelling content that reflects the donor’s interests and aspirations. Target all your communications to reflect your charity’s breakthroughs in the areas that your donors have supported.

Make sure your communication is genuine and engaging:

  • send only intelligent communications.
  • design it right and make it look good.
  • get the grammar and punctuation right – you’d be surprised at just how many of your donors notice this!

3 TELL YOUR DONORS HOW THEIR GIFT MADE AN IMPACT If you want real loyalty from your donors, tell the stories that show them the difference they are making; stories that connect the donor and the cause.

These could be stories about individual donors and what their help accomplished or stories about beneficiaries and how their lives have been changed for the better because of a donor’s generosity. Empower your donors through your communication: You did this amazing thing because of your donation”, Thanks to you…, Because of you… or Your help did this….

At the end of the day, no donor just wants to make a donation. They want to make the world a better place.

4 ASK YOUR DONORS TO GET INVOLVED IN OTHER WAYS It’s not always about just sending a donation. Ask your donors for non-financial involvement or to complete your donor survey to find out about their interests in your organisation or to boost their commitment. Continually offer opportunities for your donor to have more personal engagement.

Invite them to face-to-face gatherings or use teleconferencing technologies for donor briefings. Where possible, invite donors to volunteer or take direct action to campaign for a change in laws, for example.

A donor who takes the time to become involved in some other way is far more likely to make another financial donation.

5 ASK FOR A DONATION – AND DO IT QUICKLY Don’t forget to ask for another donation. And make your second ask quickly. Don’t spend your time building the relationship and then just assume your donors will donate again. And be confident about making that ask: if you have put the time and effort into your donor stewardship program then the donor:

  • already feels part of your charity.
  • has already said yes to something else.
  • knows your charity uses their gift to make real and lasting change.
  • feels comfortable if they can’t afford to donate right now – keep up the relationship building and hopefully a donation will come soon.


But the only way to know how your donor stewardship program is going… is to ask!

Learn about building a bespoke stewardship program by emailing deane.cameron@ paretofundraising.com.

Dearne Cameron
Deane is CEO of Pareto Fundraising. She has more than 18 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector, extensive experience in the commercial sector and has held a variety of director and advisory board positions.

This article was first published in Fundraising and Philanthropy Magazine 2017

FIVE MUST-DO ACTIONS OF BEQUEST FUNDRAISING

If you’re serious about your organisation’s sustainability, having a bequest program is essential. Yet many charities are underperforming in this area. Here Fiona McPhee shows you how to get started on this significant form of fundraising.

When you consider how much effort and investment many charities put into different areas of fundraising, bequest fundraising often comes in last or is left out of the mix completely, most often because the return on investment cannot be realised in a 12-month budget.

Yet Pareto Fundraising’s Benchmarking results show that, year after year, bequest income is the largest growing income source from individuals (with 161% growth since 2007). Our 2017 benchmarking results show that the 82 participating charities combined received $408,346,208 in bequest income, representing 27% of all individual giving. By comparison, cash gifts (including appeal income) accounted for $331,897,916, regular giving (monthly gifts) accounted for $692,900,512 and events (including peer-to-peer) delivered $90,127,987. With the average bequest in Australia today over $59,000, just think of the future possibilities for your cause.

While it might feel like ‘big brands’ or major health concerns benefit the most from bequests, any charity that offers a solution to a problem that is going to impact on society in a positive way has the potential to solicit bequest income. In fact, the data shows us that organisations that have invested in bequest marketing over the past 10 years, regardless of cause or brand awareness, have grown their bequest income substantially against those that have not.

You must invest and commit to a longterm program. Although many bequests are reported as coming from people we have had no previous association with, the data shows us that more and more bequests are realised from known donors, with over 42% of 2016/2017 bequest income attributed back to a donor record (and we believe this is under representing due to insufficient data tracking).

THE KEY? SEEK BEQUESTS APPROPRIATELY AND CONTINUOUSLY
There are a multitude of ways in which you could approach the development of a bequest program, for example having staff on the road making face-to-face asks, or direct response programs using mail, phone, press, digital or a combination of these.

There are some highly successful programs and there is no one magic formula. However, there are some things you can do to maximise your chances of success. Having had the opportunity to analyse and work on a broad range of bequest programs, these are the mustdos that underpin each successful program.

THE FIRST MUST-DO: JUST DO IT!
When it comes to getting started, the most frequently perceived challenge with bequest marketing is around raising this delicate subject with donors.

Don’t be afraid to bring up the subject – your best bequest prospects are the people who have supported to you loyally for years (be they donors, volunteers or members). They are engaged with your cause and want to know the best way they can help. Making a bequest is one of those ways.

But you need to get out there and ask. One of the reasons why donors don’t put a gift in their will to your charity is because it didn’t occur to them to do so. As fundraisers, we happily ask for donations. We need to ask for bequests too. What you can do Engage your organisation to support bequest fundraising and support the ask being made. Then push the organisation to commit to a long-term bequest fundraising strategy. You need to show donors this is important year after year.

THE SECOND MUST-DO: START WITH YOUR DATA
The diamonds are in your database. You need to think about your data for a few different reasons:

  • data will help you determine what your typical bequest donor looks like.
  • it will help you identify bequest prospects.
  • thinking about how you will track bequest data will help your efforts in a systematic and organised fashion.

Like all fundraising areas, bequests budgets are not infinite – and most often they are the lowest proportion of our expenditure budget. It’s important that we spend our money with the best return possible.

The our bequests don’t seem to be coming from our donors insight often leads organisations to invest their bequest dollars in mass advertising or ‘wills days’ targeted at older audiences not necessarily already affiliated with the cause.

We know that not all bequests come from donor records already on your database – our data shows us that. But it’s increasing. And most importantly the biggest conversion of bequest prospecting comes from known donors.

The data also tells us that those most likely to put your charity in their will are your current supporters. These are the people who know you. They care about your cause, they believe in your vision and, as a result, they give you donations. And potentially a bequest.

What you can do Ensure you are searching for every possible connection between a realised bequest and a past supporter (or service user). Learn who bequests are from and why they are being made today to inform your activity of the future. To do so target your best prospects first (segmentation and scoring models can be developed to aid this) and track all bequest interactions. Conversion can take years; use your data to help manage these long-term relationships.

THE THIRD MUST-DO: CREATE AN APPROPRIATE BEQUEST PROPOSITION
Leave us a bequest is not enough of an offer – you need an appropriate bequest proposition, which needs to be emotive and compelling, showing the benefits of leaving a bequest to support your ask. When developing or assessing your bequest proposition, consider:

  • whether it presents a visionary proposition – this is your opportunity to be less tangible and more big-picture and future thinking in your approach.
  • timing – a bequest is for the future, not now.
  • presenting a benefit to the donor.
  • whether it is emotional and unique.

What you can do Approach your bequest program development like you would any other fundraising or marketing campaign – right message, right audience, right channel and right timing.

THE FOURTH MUST-DO: AVOID JARGON
Use jargon-free language. And don’t drain the emotion from your messages. Fundraising that works is emotional – and bequest fundraising is no different.

Often the legal side of bequests overtakes our usually accessible fundraising speak. Your great acquisition approaches and successful appeals are based on simple, understandable language, as should all of your bequest communications.

What you can do Have someone external audit your bequest collateral. If it’s more than three years old consider redeveloping it as the market has changed and so have your supporters. We are finding that refreshed creative can aid in the conversion of prospects who may have seen previous collateral a number of times.

AND THE FINAL MUST-DO: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Just because one channel or approach has worked in the past does not mean it’s the only one available to you. Your supporter base is changing shape, your current donors are getting older and your new donors might be from a different generation to your historical support base.

What has worked for years could benefit from the testing of new approaches, which may appeal to those your current strategy has not yet motivated.

What you can do Perform a profiling, behavioural, demographic and motivational analysis on your best donors. Audit your bequest promotion, prospecting, conversion and stewardship activity. Or plan for each if you are starting from scratch, with consideration for your current donor preferences.

AS FOR ME?
I have a will and three charities are in it. All three asked me to consider leaving them a bequest, each via a different channel, and each gave me a compelling reason to do so. I’m 40 – hopefully my bequests won’t be realised for many years to come but I expect over time more charities will find their way into my will as the charities I support continue to develop their bequest approaches to me.

Fiona McPhee
Fiona and the Pareto team work to review, analyse, benchmark and implement holistic strategies to improve fundraisers’ supporter service, donor journeys and donor care. For information about developing a better understanding of your supporters, driving better experiences and improving loyalty, email fiona. mcphee@paretofundraising.com.

This article was first published in Fundraising and Philanthropy Magazine 2017

Telling your non-profit’s story

Like any professional field, storytelling is a craft. And can be really hard to do. But that shouldn’t stop you from getting started on your storytelling journey.

Our tip is to hire a professional copywriter, or use an agency like Pareto. We offer programs and training that can help your charity become a stellar storytelling organisation.

If you’d prefer to do it on your own, then our recommendation is to find the best writers from within your own charity to help you craft your organisation’s storylines.

To help you out, here are a few tips that we’ve learnt at Pareto from interviewing hundreds of people who have received help from charities.  We hope they inspire you!

Collecting your stories – tips learned from lots of interviews

It’s a conversation, not an interview

Interviews can run the risk of being dry – or they can give people stage fright. So, make it a conversation, or ask if you can have a chat for a few minutes.

One of life’s great joys is hearing other people’s life stories. Use your questions as a guide only and enjoy the conversation instead. Don’t be afraid to go off script.

  1. Do your homework

You can’t do enough research. Know your subject, know the issues and know what your audience would like to hear.

Begin your research with the end story in mind and backtrack from there to draft your questions.

  1. Remember your audience

Know who they are, what they care about and what is likely to move them to take action.

If you start your planning from where your audience is, you’ll have better interviews.

  1. Share your own stories

Sometimes – not always – to make your interviewee open up their heart, you need to reveal something real and true about yourself.

It’s about both parties showing their vulnerability and connecting.

  1. Truly listen

This can be difficult to do, as you always want to know what your next question will be.

But by truly listening, you may veer off in a different direction – and you’ll be surprised and delighted where the conversation may go.

  1. Ask open-ended questions

Try to start your conversation with questions or commentary with words like “how” and “why”.

It’s hard for your interviewee to give you just a yes/no answer when you use these words.

  1. Use a recording device

“Would you mind slowing down so that I can get this all written down?” If that doesn’t kill an interview, then we don’t know what will.

To be able to truly listen, use a recording device. And don’t forget to always ask if it’s OK to record your interview.

Invest in a good recorder so that you never run out of batteries – or storage space. And then get on with your conversation.

  1. Be curious

All of the above are tried and true, but they won’t work without one simple quality on your part: curiosity.

A true passion for knowing more about the people around you goes further than any formal communications training.

  1. Relax

If you’re stressed or focused on your list of questions, everyone around you will be too.

Take a deep breath, relax and remember that the best conversations are the enjoyable conversations.

  1. Keep going

The more conversations you have, the better you will get at finding those amazing stories.

Interview your staff, clients and beneficiaries all year round, so you can capture good material as it happens. Build a storybank and create a steady flow of stories to tell your donors

And one last point to remember – be prepared for anything. Interviewing for non-profits is unique.  You’re talking with people who have been – or are – in crisis. Listen actively and be prepared for lots of different emotions like anger and tears.

Always be empathetic and prepared to change direction to keep everyone comfortable.

Once upon a time … the power of storytelling

One of the most powerful tools in a fundraiser’s bag is the ability to tell a great story.

Stories are the best way to show your donors what you do. They are also the best way to show them the impact of their gifts in a way that statistics and facts just can’t.

Why do stories matter?  It’s because people respond differently to stories than to any other type of information they receive.  Stories make us feel something.

Humans have been telling stories since the beginning of time and long before we could even write them down.

Stories have existed in all forms – parables, poems, tall tales, myths, novels, plays, songs – throughout human history. There has never been a society on earth that didn’t have storytelling at its core.

Scientists have drawn down decades of research in neuroscience, psychology and biology to prove that our species is literally hard-wired for storytelling:

  • We are a storytelling species. We were BORN to tell stories – we just can’t help it. We turn everything into stories, even if there isn’t a story there.
  • We LOVE stories. Stories engage us, entertain us and we use stories to build our memories.
  • Stories SHAPE our perceptions and they communicate our values. Stories help us make sense of our world, in a world that often defies logic.
  • We RELATE to people who tell stories and relate their stories back to our own personal experiences
  • According to anthropologists, 70% of everything we LEARN is through stories.

And what does the power of a good story mean to fundraising?

  • Great stories INSPIRE ACTION.

Stories influence our decisions

Stories matter because they do something important – they trigger the emotional centres of our brain.

This is important as science has now shown us that people make decisions emotionally. Then they will rationalise that decision.  In that order.

This includes making decisions on giving.  In the main people don’t support your charity because of a well-researched, calculated decision.

They’ll give because you’ve touched their hearts. They’ll give because they can help someone. And they’ll make a donation because it makes them feel good.

And it’s true at every donor level – from a donor that gives you a small cash gift, through to a major donor who might give you tens of thousands of dollars.

That’s why storytelling is so powerful. Reason leads to thinking, but it’s emotion that leads to action.

This finding, subsequently confirmed in recent years by many other studies and experiments, has radically changed the way advertising and marketing is done.

As international direct marketing expert and well-known author Seth Godin says: “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.”

Just as they’ve done in the commercial sector, these findings have also changed fundraising.

We now have the scientific evidence that emotions will decide if a donor will press a button to donate or “Like” something on Facebook; dial a number to sponsor a child; send a text message, or send in a donation by mail.

So for all of us as fundraisers, the challenge is there – to tell great stories, at every donor level, on every fundraising platform – every time.

Interested in the science behind emotions?

Then here are two great places to start:

Read ‘Emotionraising’ by Francesco Ambrogetti.

There is science behind emotional fundraising – and that science is fascinating. If you want to excel at it, then this book is a great place to start.

Head to SOFII’s ‘Commission on the Donor Experience’ Project 6: the use and misuse of emotion.

This series of six reports will show you all the opportunities and responsibilities that come with using emotion in your storytelling. And how to use power and passion to move your donors to action.

Onward to storytelling success – two books that lead the way

The Storytelling Non-Profit A practical guide to telling stories that raise money and awareness.
By Vanessa Chase Lockshin

The good news, according to author Vanessa Chase Lockshin, is that all of us are storytellers. It’s how we as people naturally communicate.

The bad news is that often, this magic gets lost when you translate the concept of storytelling into our non-profit organisational setting. Our professional voice takes over – and our story gets lost.

But, as we all know, every charity needs good stories. And in this book, you’ll learn how to tell great stories, create a storytelling plan, find stories to tell, and improve your writing and speaking skills to tell great stories.

It’s all explained through twelve packed chapters and of course, dozens of transformational stories.

Consider these chapter headings:

  • The foundation of great storytelling
  • How to understand the audience you want to communicate with
  • The keys to finding and collecting great stories.
  • How to create a 12-month plan for storytelling
  • How to measure the results of your stories.

Plus, Vanessa’s 31-day storytelling kick start plan will get you started on your storytelling journey – and show you one action you can take everyday

that will impact the culture of your organisation to become a story telling non-profit.

A great book that’s an invitation to change the world with a story!

 

Storytelling can change the world
By Ken Burnett

Another classic book from one of our favourite international fundraising experts – Ken Burnett.  If you’re new to fundraising and haven’t read any of Ken’s books then rush out now and buy all of them.

In this, his latest book, Ken explains how you can become a transformational storyteller within your organisation. It sounds daunting but with Ken’s book as a guide, it’s not as hard as it seems.

Ken teaches you what to do, what not to do and everything in between.

He breaks it all down for you in his classic, readable style, complete with extensive examples so that you not only come to understand what transformational storytelling is, but what it does.

And we’re not alone in our praise.

Tom Ahern, veteran fundraiser and a masterful storyteller in his own right, has this to say:

“I love this book … not only is it about how to effectively use storytelling to raise funds and hone your craft, it’s also deeply about the GLORIOUS history of the raising of money for those in need. Refresh your humanity here.”

‘Storytelling can change the world’ also comes with a bonus for all fundraisers. The Online Story Bank aims to create a free, permanent collection of surprising, engaging and informative stories. It’s a showcase of the best ‘change’ stories from around the world to inspire writers, storytellers or anyone hoping to influence anything at all.

The Online Story Bank is twinned with SOFII – the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration, which also has many examples of storytelling to change the world.

So what type of questions should I ask ?

If you’ve already read Collecting your stories you’ll know that one of our recommendations is to use your questions for reference only.

Your questions/notes should help you guide someone through their story so that they can tell it well and you can get:

  • A beginning – that outlines the problem or struggle.
  • A middle – that includes the difficulties faced to overcome the problem.
  • An end – that offers your audience a call to action so that they can help to solve the problem.

Without this as a guide you might walk away from your interview and find out that you don’t have any useful information to build your story. So always make sure you do your research so you can ask the right questions.

To help you on your way, we’ve listed a few of the key questions that we often use as a guide.

They’re not a firm set of questions that you should always ask – think of them more as a cheat sheet that you can scan for reference.

Closed-ended questions will give you what you might expect – one-word, dull answers.

Ask open-ended questions instead Use words like ‘how’ and ‘why’ and ‘what’. It’s hard to respond to those three words with just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Ask questions like:

  • What was it like before you came to ‘Charity A?’ Where were you? What was your situation at the time?
  • How did you feel when you first came to ‘Charity A?’ Why did you come there?
  • How did they help you? What did they do? How did that make you feel?
  • What are you hoping to do next?
  • If you had the chance to sit face-to-face with the donors who support the program that helped you, what would you like to say to them?
  • “Is there a question that I haven’t asked you today, but is something that you might like to add?”

These questions can help you get a feel for the type of story that you may want to capture.  But of course, use them as a guide or template only.

Be prepared to put your notes aside and follow the conversation into more interesting territory if you feel that that’s where your interviewee wants to go!

Lifeline engages supporters with communications that hit the mark

While suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15 to 44, it hasn’t always received the attention it needs – either in policy or in public discourse. Times however are changing, with media and governments focusing more on the need for mental health and suicide prevention programs.

Lifeline & Pareto Fundraising’s two-step suicide prevention campaign, launched in March 2016, played a role in pushing for change – and delivered some pretty good fundraising results too.

We wanted to share some insights and results with you.

How it worked

Step 1: An online petition calling on the Australian government to increase funding for suicide prevention. The petition was promoted to new audiences via a mix of paid and organic social media communications with a focus on Facebook, the winning channel for lead acquisition, and Instagram.

Step 2: Petition signers who opted in were taken on an integrated fundraising conversion journey involving telephone conversion, an automated email stream and remarketed advertising.

Results

948 regular givers (RGs) acquired at a cost of $344 per RG; 724 cash gifts totalling $50,000; average telephone conversion rate of over 7.5%, and lower attrition rates so far than from other channels.

Crucially, Lifeline acquired tens of thousands of new leads who are engaged with its mission.

We know from previous experience that so long as these people are kept engaged and given compelling opportunities to donate, many more will become donors in subsequent months and years – so there’s future income here.

But the results aren’t just financial.

 

Public support led to the announcement of the development of Australia’s first suicide prevention plan and several new government-funded suicide prevention trial sites across New South Wales.

It also helped Lifeline to secure $2.5 million for a new crisis SMS support service.

“The campaign helped to deliver a spike in Lifeline volunteer interest, and broad, active exposure for the Lifeline brand,” says Stephanie Chan, Lifeline Australia

“It also uncovered new leads for case studies that will support our fundraising and communications efforts far into the future. And we gained a lot of valuable information about supporters through their online engagement.”

This campaign also ensured that suicide prevention remain at the forefront of public policy agenda. These were great results from a viable new acquisition channel for Lifeline.

What made Lifeline’s 2-step digital campaign work?

  1. Strong proposition and motivators The calls on the Australian government to increase suicide prevention funding in line with other funding areas presents a strong theory of change; a convincing argument that the government can solve the problem and is accountable to constituents (the campaign audience). Funding allocation is also easy for the audience to understand. Supporters knew exactly how taking this action will help solve the problem.

Underlying this, important motivators are at play: relevance, self-interest and agitation for change.

Relevance: Frequent media coverage and public conversation about mental health reflect the issues’ relevance to Australians today. With a highly relevant and present issue, the public is prepared to respond when presented with a tangible action they can take to help.

Self interest: The issue of suicide is shockingly relevant to Australian communities directly impacted by it. These communities have a strong interest in solving the problem, and a driving need for their experience to be heard and acted upon by policymakers.

Agitation for change: Dissonance between what the Government could do and what it is doing creates a space where we can build agitation for change and mobilise it through our petition.

Awesome creative We didn’t have a rich range of visual assets to work with, however a simple focus on real individuals, strong infographics and hard-working copy delivered the results.

While avoiding disrespect to the government (which substantially funds Lifeline programs), the messaging pulled no punches and drove home the issue’s importance, with tactics like:

  • Framing a ‘national suicide emergency’
  • Key facts high up in the copy with text emphasised. (eg suicide is the leading cause of death for 15-44 year olds)
  • Highlighting unfulfilled government commitments – pushing for their fulfilment gave donors the chance to solve the problem.

The first few words of every creative asset need to strike hard in digital campaigns. Toning down impactful language is the enemy of direct response – especially on busy social news feeds and web pages already saturated with marketing messages.

  1. Committed campaigning So much of this campaign’s success rode on total organisational commitment. Genuine adoption from the CEO to the supporter relations, media and communications teams meant this was a real whole-of-organisation effort.

It earned more free press, had a solid presence on the organisational website and other channels, and integrated tightly to support direct government advocacy.

Committed, whole-of-organisation campaigning delivers better results and supports a more collaborative culture amongst teams.

  1. Tight channel integration There are many moving parts to a campaign involving social media, display network advertising, web pages, email campaigns and journeys, phone calling, search and more.

To succeed, your channels must support each other… your messaging and creative must align through every supporter touch point.

And the supporter journey must be mapped out in detail and executed well. Good integration delivered solid results for this campaign.

  1. Responsiveness and opportunism Digital campaigns are living things that thrive when kept agile and responsive to real world events and opportunities.

One such opportunity occurred in March 2017, when Lifeline secured a meeting between its CEO and Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt.

We found out on a Thursday that the meeting was happening the following Monday. We were at 135,000 signatures, and wanted to reach the 150,000 target for presentation to Minister Hunt, so we jumped into production, crunching out social content and an email to petition signers before the weekend, asking them to share again.

The content focused heavily on the moment – the 150,000 target and the opportunity to present it in discussion with the Federal Health Minister.

Those communications helped us exceed the 150,000 target by the day of the meeting.

Lifeline achieved 10% of the whole 12 months’ worth of signatures in just three days. This is the power of mobilising online communities around a real moment.

You can do it too! All non-profits can use digital channels to build community, generate leads and develop donor relationships. From surveys and quizzes to petitions, pledges, polls, send-a-message actions, value exchanges etc., the possibilities for action and proposition are endless.

All you need is the organisational buy-in, investment and a bit of support. The rewards – in terms of community growth, donor acquisition and funding to advance your goals – can be great.

Contact canyouhelp@paretofundraising.com to find out more about how a two-step campaign could work for your cause.

Book Review: Storytellng in the Digital Age. A guide for non-profits by Julia Campbell

Everyone is not your social media audience … but everyone has a story

This book was not what I expected. Having snapped it up after seeing its title, I wanted this book to help me to get on board in the digital age.

Just because I am a user of social media in my personal life does not make me a successful digital marketer in my professional life.

As author Julia Campbell writes “if just reading the word social media gives you anxiety, I am here to assure you that you are not alone … nonprofit professionals tend to be very uncomfortable and lack confidence in their abilities to use social media on behalf of their organisations.”

Terrific – this is the book for me! But 7 chapters in and 100 pages of reading later, I was still reading about the importance of storytelling.

Don’t get me wrong. As a fundraiser, I am committed to becoming a better storyteller and to helping my charity develop a culture of storytelling.

I know that great storytelling is the best way to capture the attention, as well as the hearts and minds of my supporters.

And as part of my library of books on how to become a better storyteller, the first seven chapters of this book are well worth the read.

But this is not what I wanted from this book. But, as with many things, you need to have persistence.

From Chapter 8 onwards, the book offers us practical guidelines to find a social media strategy that is right for your charity. From determining which social media platforms your target audience uses to encouraging your donors to post their own stories, you will find step-by-step instructions and real-world examples that will get you inspired to dive in.

Why did it take so long to get to the reason that I purchased the book in the first place. It’s because as Julia Campbell writes …

‘it’s all about the message you convey and the relationship you build, not the tool you use to do it!”

And that message comes from great storytelling. Without the great stories, you have no content for any of your fundraising channels, social media included.

Social media is just another tool – and should work together with all your fundraising channels, like a well-oiled machine, to deepen your connection with current donors and to expose your great work to new ones.

‘Only after you have a clear idea about the stories you are going to collect and tell, only after you know your audience inside and out, only after you have created a workable plan to move forward, then – and only then – should you dive in the shark-infested waters of social media.

‘You need to know who you are and where you want to go before you begin.’

From Chapter 8 on, its all about moulding your storytelling gold, to promote your stories across your website, email, blog and social media channels.

For me, one of the most important chapters in this book is Chapter 13 – which focuses on how to measure the success of your storytelling campaign across your digital channels.

This chapter is important as it helps to bridge the gap between the complex metrics that define more traditional fundraising channels and what often appears to be the loose metrics that define social media communication.

In social media, something as simple as “we have 1,000 fans and followers” can be a challenging metric for a fundraiser to really understand and define the success and failure of a donor relationship program.

But in Chapter 13, you’ll be given much more succinct set of goals that can define the success of failure of using social media.

At the end of the day, what I really liked about this book when I finally made it to Chapter 8 and beyond – was that Julia successfully helps me to understand that developing a social media strategy is actually no different to preparing the strategies in the more traditional fundraising channels that I am more familiar and comfortable with.

And for that reason alone, it is well worth the read.

Retention Is The New Aquisition

With acquisition costs rising and retention rates falling, retaining the donors you have is one of the most important things your charity can do. Dearne Cameron explores why you should steward first, ask second.

 

Back in the good old days of fundraising, donor acquisition seemed easy – the more people a charity could get to give, the better. Right? Those days appear to be behind us. Today we are experiencing a different environment, with finding new donors to replace those we have lost becoming increasingly expensive. Charities are asking Pareto Fundraising, “What’s the ‘next big thing’?” Those charities that are investing in their existing donors and providing an amazing donor experience are the ones that are more likely to gain donor loyalty.

The figures from Pareto’s 2017 Benchmarking Report confirm the importance of lifting the second gift rate: the average second gift rates within 12 months for direct mail acquired donors is 42%. It’s also important to note that if a new donor gives a second time, they are much more likely to make the third gift. And then they are likely to give again and again.

To make new donor acquisition pay off, it takes some serious effort on the part of the charity to get that second gift. Research on donor loyalty indicates that as little as a 10% increase in donor retention can increase the lifetime value of your donor database by 200%. Imagine what an impact that can have on your charity’s fundraising program.

WHY DO DONORS STOP GIVING TO CHARITIES?
There’s lots of research about why donors give. There’s even more research about why they stop giving. The most common reason provided by donors is that they can’t afford to donate any more. That’s fair. Donating to your favourite charity is discretionary – and it can’t compete with paying a mortgage or rent, purchasing food, paying utility bills etc.

A lot of the research also tells us that donors stop giving to charities because they:
• were never thanked
• didn’t know how their donation was being used by the charity
• thought the organisation no longer needed their donation
• couldn’t remember donating (happens more than you imagine)
• received poor service from the charitable organisation.

What’s most interesting about why donors stop giving is that most of the reasons are the responsibility of the charity itself. But the good news is that at Pareto Fundraising we are seeing many charities taking decisive, effective action to stem donor attrition, and we’re proud to be working with them to build stewardship programs that will cultivate longterm donor loyalty.

HOW DO WE GET DONORS TO GIVE AGAIN?
Getting donor retention right is a worthy challenge for all fundraisers. But there’s a lot to get done. It takes commitment and focus to understand and put this one key formula to work: retention plus commitment equals increased lifetime value.

To make the change, start with your data. You’ve already got a great base to work from – a group of loyal supporters. You may have thousands of potential donors from the data you are gathering from your various fundraising and communications channels. Capturing the right data is important and making sure you are communicating with your donors via the channels that appeal to them makes a difference.

In its simplest form, four steps underpin a successful donor stewardship strategy:
Ask your donors for their help.
Thank them for their help.
Report back to your donor on what you did with their donation.
Repeat this process.

Do these four things and you have a much greater chance of seeing a substantial lift in loyalty and financial support.

WHAT ABOUT DONOR STEWARDSHIP?
Fundraisers who are committed to building their donor stewardship process do the following well:

1 SAY THANK YOU PROPERLY
There can be no question about this. Saying thank you to your donors is the most important part of your donor stewardship plan. Not only is it the right and polite thing to do but a thank you sets the stage for all communications to follow.

The faster a thank you is received, the more likely the donor is to give again. So make it a priority to thank your donors within 48 hours of making their donation. And a telephone call thank you is likely to give you greater returns in the long run.

2 STAY TOP OF MIND
Keep in touch with your donors constantly – not just when you need a donation. It’s very rarely the case that they will give more if they hear from you less. In fact, the more donors hear from you, the more they’ll like it.

The key to this is to work hard at creating personalised, compelling content that reflects the donor’s interests and aspirations. Target all your communications to reflect your charity’s breakthroughs in the areas that your donors have supported.

Make sure your communication is genuine and engaging:
• send only intelligent communications
• design it right and make it look good
• get the grammar and punctuation right – you’d be surprised at just how many of your donors notice this!

3 TELL YOUR DONORS HOW THEIR GIFT MADE AN IMPACT
If you want real loyalty from your donors, tell the stories that show them the difference they are making; stories that connect the donor and the cause.

These could be stories about individual donors and what their help accomplished or stories about beneficiaries and how their lives have been changed for the better because of a donor’s generosity. Empower your donors through your communication:

You did this amazing thing because of your donation, Thanks to you…, Because of you… or Your help did this…. At the end of the day, no donor just wants to make a donation. They want to make the world a better place.

4 ASK YOUR DONORS TO GET INVOLVED IN OTHER WAYS
It’s not always about just sending a donation. Ask your donors for non-financial involvement or to complete your donor survey to find out about their interests in your organisation or to boost their commitment.

Continually offer opportunities for your donor to have more personal engagement. Invite them to face-to-face gatherings or use teleconferencing technologies for donor briefings. Where possible, invite donors to volunteer or take direct action to campaign for a change in laws, for example.

A donor who takes the time to become involved in some other way is far more likely to make another financial donation.

5 ASK FOR A DONATION – AND DO IT QUICKLY
Don’t forget to ask for another donation. And make your second ask quickly. Don’t spend your time building the relationship and then just assume your donors will donate again. And be confident about making that ask. If you have put the time and effort into your donor stewardship program then the donor:
• already feels part of your charity
• has already said yes to something else
• knows your charity uses their gift to make real and lasting change
• feels comfortable if they can’t afford to donate right now – keep up the relationship building and hopefully a donation will come soon.
But the only way to know how your donor stewardship program is going… is to ask!

Learn about building a bespoke stewardship program by emailing deane.cameron@ paretofundraising.com.

 

Dearne Cameron

Deane is CEO of Pareto Fundraising. She has more than 18 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector, extensive experience in the commercial sector and has held a variety of director and advisory board positions.

Outsource on resource

Fundraising leaders often asked, ‘is it better to outsource to an agency, or resource and build a highly skilled team in-house’?

Many years of charity experience has taught me that it is not one or the other, it is a fluid working relationship that builds on a foundation of best practice, resources and returns.

It is important to have a highly skilled team that can align fundraising with the organisation’s strategy while managing fundraising plans and engaging key stakeholders for fundraising purposes.

Whereas, working with an agency provides new ideas, trend insights, the skills of a multifaceted team and subject matter expertise, and the benefits of scalability and resourcing.

Although in-house staff might seem cheaper, outsourcing delivers minimum operational costs and provides specialisation that is not always readily available in-house.  By using an agency, I had access to the range of skilled specialists that could deliver high-quality output, much faster than the thinly spread in-house resources.

Outsourcing is not a substitute for competent fundraising staff within an organisation; in-house teams still need to have the skills to be able to work with an agency to get the best results. An agency, like Pareto, lets your organisation tap into a wealth of knowledge and talent and provides an opportunity to harness the experience of agency teams, who work across multiple clients, testing, analysing and adapting tactics to maximise results.

The secret to working effectively with an agency is a collaborative partnership, developing a clear strategy, planning effectively and harnessing the knowledge both in-house and outsourced staff bring to the table.

Dearne Cameron CEO, Pareto Fundraising