20 Tips for Effective Direct Mail Fundraising

Online giving is the fastest growing direct marketing fundraising channel for nonprofits, but direct mail still accounts for the vast majority of funds raised. Of the nonprofits included in Target Analytics’ 2011 donorCentrics™ Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report, direct mail comprised 79% of giving, while online accounted for just 10%.

And so as direct mail remains an essential part of good membership development, it’s important for nonprofits to know how to use this most powerful direct response fundraising tool well. Here are some proven tips for effective direct mail fundraising to keep in mind:

  1. Ask early and often. State your first ask on the first page of your letter, and reiterate it throughout your narrative.
  2. Write a long letter. Two pages should be your minimum, four is often better than two, and six or more can be even better. Never send a one-page letter.
  3. Include a reply device with a concise, compelling recap of your case for support and call to action.
  4. Personalize your gift ask based on the donor’s previous giving.
  5. Get your website in order before you mail. Studies continue to affirm the significant impact of direct mail in driving online donations. A recent study conducted on behalf of Dunham+Company by Campell Rinker showed that 17 percent of donors who gave on a charity website in 2011 said that a direct mail letter prompted their online gift. Moreover 50 percent of donors surveyed in 2012 said they prefer to give online when they receive a letter in the mail from a charity.
  6. Tell stories that demonstrate human impact and connect with the reader on an emotional level.
  7. Don’t be afraid to lose the teaser. In many cases, a teaser-free envelope will work better than an envelope with one, and it will always work better than an envelope with a forced (a.k.a. mediocre) teaser.
  8. Spend as little as possible on your direct mail.
  9. Make your fundraising message about the donor, not about yourself.
  10. Mail when everyone else is. It may be tempting to send your year-end appeal ahead of everyone else to avoid mailbox competition, but in reality it’s not an advantage to be in the mail when other organizations aren’t mailing. Your mail can get just as lost in an empty mailbox as it can in a stuffed one. Mail when your donors want to hear from you.
  11. Break your brand guidelines.
  12. Test for impact. Only test things that you think have the potential to make a real difference in your program. If you can’t think of a meaningful test, think harder.
  13. Include a P.S. in your letter that restates the ask and call to action.
  14. Keep your design simple. Direct mail isn’t advertising; it’s letters.
  15. Keep your direct mail under an ounce unless your audience dictates greater investment in postage.
  16. Check your instincts at the door. Good direct mail is counterintuitive; rely on known techniques and best practices to guide your strategy.
  17. Look critically at how often you are mailing to identify missed opportunities, and then consider mailing more. For example if your newsletter raises as much or more than your direct mail, then you’re probably not soliciting often enough by direct mail. Or if you are still netting revenue on the last notice of your membership renewal series, then you should add a notice.
  18. Target your messages. No matter how great your letter is, if you mail it to the wrong lists/segments, it will bomb.
  19. Above all else, get the mail out. 90% perfect and 100% on time is always better than 100% perfect and 90% on time.
  20. Give. You can’t fully appreciate the direct mail donor mindset unless you yourself are one. Plus it feels great helping nonprofits you care about!




Quiz: How Integrated is Your Organization’s Direct Response Fundraising?

Integrated direct response fundraising has long been the pursuit of forward-thinking membership and development directors. But integration remains an ongoing challenge for most organizations – almost always for the same two reasons regardless of an organization’s size, funding, or mission. The channels like to change and organizations … don’t.

Still, some organizations are much further down the path than others when it comes to un-siloing their programs. What is it about them? What are they doing differently? And are you one of them?

Consider these five questions – and characteristics of nonprofits with great integrated programs – to see how you rate:

1. Is your organization web-minded? When we talk about integration, for the most part we’re talking about direct mail-dominated programs figuring out how to communicate online. In this sense, the integration discussion today is really about established organizations adapting to the times. And so it’s no surprise that the organizations that tend to be more integrated also tend to be more “webby.” Their dynamic websites, email communications and social media presence are an integral part of their overall membership development mix.

2. Is your organization marketing and communications-minded? Organizations that are good at integration are media explorers – inherently open, flexible and opportunistic – because getting the message across is what matters the most. That means they’re pragmatic risk-takers and they’re ok with occasionally failing at something new. At last week’s New York DMFA luncheon, Paull Young, digital director at charity: water summed it up with this awesome advice: “Do it wrong quickly.”

3. Is your organization nimble? Seriously. Multichannel integration demands a streamlined decision-making and approval process. Organizations with well-integrated fundraising and communications programs are able to get online, on the phones, and in the mail just about as fast as they can develop and implement their creative and strategy. That’s because they aren’t held back by unwieldy approval protocols and departmental territorialism. They’re nimble. N.B.: the bigger the organization is, the harder this becomes. But big organizations with well-integrated programs know this, and they work on it.

4. Do your Development, Program, Marketing and Communications departments connect regularly, collaborate and coordinate? See #3.

5. Does your organization value and foster originality? There’s no absolute formula for channel integration, and what works one season may not the next. So having a well-integrated direct response program means being comfortable without a playbook and, better yet, enjoying writing and rewriting your own. It also means continually figuring out new ways of combining media, measuring results, wrangling production and technology, and creating pathways to engagement.

So how does your organization rate on the integration scale?

If you answered “yes” to 3-4 of the above then you’re doing great! Be sure to share your experiences with other organizations that could benefit from your advice and could even use it to overcome internal obstacles to integration that they may be facing.

If you answered “yes” to 2 of the above, you’re on your way. For most organizations integration requires a significant culture shift, and that takes time. Continue to involve your whole organization in your program’s evolution, share your successes with all departments, and keep building on your progress.

If you answered “yes” to 1 or 0. You have some work to do, but the good news is there’s a wealth of information available from nonprofits that have tackled and overcome all kinds of integration challenges. In fact, the best national conference on integrated fundraising – the Bridge Conference in Washington DC – is coming up this summer from August 7-9. It’s a great place to get new ideas for channel integration, meet other nonprofits and hear valuable case studies. If you can, I hope you’ll stop by my session on integrated communications (8:15 sharp Wednesday) with Chris Helfrich of the Nothing But Nets campaign of the United Nations Foundation and Dennis Lonergan of Eidolon Communications.

And if you answered “yes” to all 5 of the above then I’m pretty sure you’re a fictional organization … but I can’t wait to meet you in a few more years!



Multichannel Reigns at 2012 #DCNonprofit

The DMA Nonprofit Federation’s annual DC Nonprofit Conference wrapped up last week sending 600+ npdm’ers home with ideas and inspiration for their 2012 campaigns. The conference covered a variety of issues and strategic considerations in nonprofit direct marketing, but a few themes dominated this year’s conference both at the podium and in the hallways.

1. Breaking down silos. Nonprofits have been talking about this a LOT at conferences for the past few years. Though the lines between marketing, communications and fundraising have become blurred lately, the walls between those departments are still rigid in many organizations. And nonprofits are still struggling with how to break them down and to weave departments and disciplines together.

Amy Barriale presented a case study on how the African Wildlife Foundation overhauled its direct response program structure to better reflect the interdisciplinary realities of donor/membership development. One of the organization’s biggest changes, an excellent one, was joining its separate online and direct mail fundraising departments under a single umbrella: Membership.

2. Taking action ourselves, in our field. We routinely call our organizations’ donors to action, and we take action ourselves as donors, but few of us think of ourselves as direct marketing activists. Angel Aloma of Food for the Poor gave us a powerful reminder of why we should. Nonprofit postal rate hikes and regulation changes are about far more important things than direct marketing budgets – they affect our organizations’ ability to provide services to people in need. Or as Angel shared, they mean having to say “no, I can’t help you” to a family living in extreme poverty in El Salvador. To learn more and take action on legislative issues that affect nonprofits’ direct marketing efforts, go to the DMA’s action site.

3. Big thinking from small nonprofits. Good direct marketing isn’t just for large nonprofits. The conference showed us that innovation abounds in the programs of smaller nonprofits too. Jill Batcheller of the Lincoln Center shared a case study in which her organization was able to reinstate former members who had been lapsed for as many as twenty years at response rates comparable to or better than new donor acquisition, and at a lower cost. By looking beyond conventional recency targeting, Lincoln Center discovered a significant asset in its deep lapsed member file. Likewise, my colleague Eliza Temeles shared a case study in innovative prospect modeling from another organization overlaying online activity among house prospects as a predictor of response in direct mail acquisition. This organization’s in-house model for targeting prospects was even more predictive than a commercial model tested in the same direct mail acquisition effort.

4. Multichannel, multichannel, multichannel.Without a doubt, all roads at #DCNonprofit led to one place: “multichannel.” There was no shortage of case studies on multichannel campaigns presenting a variety of EM-DM-Web-SMS-SM combinations. Peter Genuardi of Giveo reported a significant lift in email results when sandwiched between two SMS messages, leaving more than a few npdmer’s hungry to try an SMS sandwich in their own programs. But for all of the multichannel configuration successes reported, presenters and attendees alike universally acknowledged that nonprofits’ multichannel programs are still very much in beta. The Polaris Project for instance reminded us that multichannel programs don’t spring up overnight as Johanna Olivas reported that it took the organization a couple of years putting out online content before its website became a significant source of list growth.

One of the newest perspectives on multichannel fundraising to emerge from the conference had to do with the challenges of measuring multichannel results. And the growing consensus was this: stop trying. Or at least, let it go a little.

Steve Froelich of the ASPCA raised this fresh perspective in his panel presentation pointing out “the only reason you ever really need to attribute a gift to a specific source is when you need to decide whose bucket it goes in.” And Steve MacLaughlin of Blackbaud echoed this idea offering this gem among the conversation on Twitter:

It’s understandable that “channel of origin is irrelevant” is an unsettling thought for direct marketers though. By definition, direct marketing is one-to-one and attributable.

On the other hand, we’re not just doing direct marketing anymore, are we?



Komen’s Antisocial Media

On Tuesday night Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced to the public that it was pulling about $700,000 in annual funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening services. The next morning, amid bad press and widespread disapproval of the decision, they gave us what could very well be the ultimate case study in nonprofit antisocial media

Komen says … it pulled the funding because of a policy change prohibiting the organization from funding groups under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. Because Planned Parenthood is the subject of an investigation by a Representative from Florida as to how the organization reports and spends its money, it is no longer eligible for funding under Komen’s new funding criteria.

Planned Parenthood says ... baloney. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood says Komen’s decision is politically-motivated and that the organization has been “bullied by right-wing groups.” Others point to Komen’s new anti-abortion, anti-Planned Parenthood vice president as the reason for the decision.

As Kivi Leroux Miller details in her post, The Accidental Rebranding of Komen for the Cure, the organization that made pink the new black prepared its donors and constituents for this announcement by doing … nothing.

And when the organization did finally begin to communicate with its supporters a half-day into 2012’s worst nonprofit PR disaster so far, the communication did little more than fan the fire further.

So what was so antisocial about Komen’s handling of this issue?

1. They didn’t talk about it (until it was too late). They left an announcement about Energizer becoming the organization’s latest one-million-dollar-plus corporate contributor twisting in the wind at the top of their Facebook wall until mid-morning:

As of Wednesday night, the post had over 2,000 comments, not about batteries.

2. They deleted comments. Until they posted their own statement on their Facebook wall they deleted anti-Komen comments.

3. They didn’t talk about it well, and they didn’t invite dialogue. When they finally put the Energizer Bunny out of its misery and posted a comment on Facebook mid-morning yesterday, their message was a corporate one about defending their position, not an individual one about having a dialogue:

In a medium known for its low tolerance for corporate-speak (i.e. BS), the closing comment that Planned Parenthood shouldn’t fundraise around the loss of breast cancer screening funding because it would be a disservice to women, is ill-chosen, if not nonsensical.

Planned Parenthood is, of course, fundraising and constituency-building around the issue because they have a great fundraising program, and an intelligent communications strategy.



When Great Board Members Have Not-So-Great Fundraising Ideas

Board members are integral to nonprofits. Legally, of course, but more importantly, because of the incredible role they play in enabling nonprofits to run well and make an impact. They bring expertise, ideas, connections, funding and so much more to the organizations they serve. They are awesome.

But sometimes, between you and me, they have less-than-stellar fundraising ideas. They get direct mail and email, they’re on Facebook, they text, and so they think they understand direct response and online fundraising. The problem is, being a consumer of media doesn’t make one an expert in its implementation. It’s that false “oh, I could do that!” instinct that we’re all guilty of at times. But you know that just because you watch TV, it doesn’t mean you can write and produce CSI. (That episode idea you have is really excellent though.)

So how do you handle well-intentioned but not-so-hot fundraising ideas from your Board or Development Committee? With care and consideration for sure. But also with the power of data and a vast body of testing to validate why you might respectfully disagree and suggest a different direction. To help you respond to those occasional iffy ideas, here are the five most common ones you might encounter, and the facts and best practices to help inform your fundraising decisions:

1: “I don’t read long letters, so our fundraising letters should be short.” Boards are filled with busy business people who want you to get to the point quickly. It seems unfathomable to them that donors would actually read a 4 or 6 page letter. And they’re right because most donors don’t read your letters word-for-word. But it’s not about whether donors read your letters – it’s about whether they respond to them. And in head-to-head testing, longer letters almost always perform better than shorter ones.

2. “Our donors get too much email/mail from us and are starting to tune us out. If we send less, they’ll be more welcoming of our communications and will give more.” You are sending too much email and mail … to some of your donors. And you’re not sending enough to others. But sending less to everyone will almost surely mean raising less money overall and losing more donors to attrition because one size does not fit all in direct response fundraising. What you should really focus on is identifying the donors who are most likely to give or take action and communicating with them more, and in more targeted ways.

3. “Our major gifts program raises so much more than our membership program. We should shut down our membership program and just focus on major gifts.” Compared to major gifts, general membership programs often appear to take an inordinate amount of resources relative to the return. But that’s only if you evaluate membership in a vacuum, which you shouldn’t. A properly structured membership program is a vehicle for public education, a source of unrestricted revenue, and a lead-generator for your major gifts program. Your evaluation metrics for your membership program should always include the number of major donors who started out in the membership program, as well as their subsequent giving in the major gifts program. After all, you wouldn’t have them in the first place if you didn’t have a membership program. And if you find that your membership program isn’t yielding many major donors, then you’re probably missing important opportunities to cultivate and upgrade members and need to do more to optimize your membership program for major donor conversion.

4. “We need to do something ‘different.’” There’s good different and bad different in direct response fundraising. Good different is

… applying a known direct response principle or technique
… in an inventive way to your fundraising communications
… and testing it.

Bad different, on the other hand, is invention without basis, and not testing. Make sure any new ideas you try fall under the “good different” definition. And always, always, test especially if circumstances require you to test an idea that verges on “bad” different. Nothing clarifies strategy like hard testing data.

5. “Direct mail is so expensive and everyone gives online anyway. We should eliminate our direct mail program and fundraise online only.” According to Convio’s 2011 Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index™ Study, online giving is indeed the fastest growing fundraising channel for nonprofits. Direct mail still comprises the majority of giving however. Of the nonprofits included in Target Analytics’ 2011 donorCentrics™ Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report, direct mail comprised 79% of giving and online just 10%. But it’s not a matter of choosing direct mail over online or vice versa. The report also affirms the complementary role that the channels play in acquiring, retaining and upgrading donors.

So, when you are occasionally presented with a questionable direct response idea, take advantage of the wealth of testing data and information that the industry has to offer. Then use it as a springboard for a good conversation with your Board or Development Committee about direct response strategy and how you can make your program even more successful.



Charitable Deduction Limits: Limiting Only to Nonprofits?

As part of the larger debate on Capitol Hill about jobs, deficit reduction and increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the Supercommittee) are considering proposals that would increase tax revenues by limiting the deductibility of charitable donations.

But over 2,000 nonprofits agree that the only thing this will limit is their ability to provide services to people in need.

As United Way Worldwide CEO Brian Gallagher recently testified before the Senate Finance Committee, although tax incentives may not determine if people donate, they are a factor in how much they give. In his testimony, Gallagher cited recent studies that claim a cap on the charitable deduction would reduce giving by $5.6 billion per year. For the United Way, a 2.5% drop in revenue would translate to 1.3 million fewer times it could provide job training, home care for the elderly, supportive housing, or mentors for at-risk students.

To date, twenty-five national nonprofits and over 2,000 regional and local nonprofits have signed an open letter organized by the National Council on Nonprofits urging policymakers to preserve the charitable giving incentive. Read the letter for yourself, view a list of participants including American Red Cross, Easter Seals, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and Habitat for Humanity International, and sign on if you agree with them … quickly though. The deadline to sign the letter is close of business Thursday, November 3.

You can also speak out via the DMA Nonprofit Federation‘s action center, where you can send a letter to your own Senators or Representatives.

What do you think of the proposed charitable deduction limits? Would your nonprofit be affected?



Integrate Your Year End Campaigns

Recently I attended the DMAW’s monthly luncheon where a packed house turned out to hear Roger Craver, Founder of DonorTrends and editor of The Agitator, share his insights on integrating year end campaigns.

For most, one big lesson had to be this: when Roger Craver’s speaking, you can’t afford to miss it. But in case you did, here are a few words of wisdom from Roger to keep in mind for your year-end campaigns that I shared in a guest post for the DMAW’s blog

Multichannel communications are critical to successful fundraising.

You’ve probably heard this one before. But Roger presented the data to prove why multichannel communications are essential to keeping your donors …

  1. Direct mail donors who have an email address on file are 150% more valuable than direct mail donors without an email on file.
  2. Email addresses shorten the time to achieving a second gift … and more than double the retention rates of one-time first year givers.
  3. An SMS message following a solicitation can increase renewal rates by 25%.
  4. Donors with email addresses give 50% more gifts per donor, and have an average gift that is 67% higher.

If you haven’t yet, it’s time to create a budget for acquiring your donors’ email addresses, mobile numbers and more. A little investment can have a huge impact on your retention rates.

Your donor has changed – and it’s your job to understand what they need.

Younger donors don’t behave like the generation that came before. Donors have changed from a “tell me” generation to a “show me” generation that expects organizations to show them the impact of their support with photos, stories, videos, conference calls and more.  And donors expect you to listen to them and to hear their advice, concerns and opinions on your organization and your issues.

Fortunately, new communication channels are perfectly suited to engaging donors in dialogue … and an organization’s ability to retain its donors will increasingly depend on its ability to do just that.

To create strong, multichannel efforts, organizations have to change how they work.

Good multichannel communications aren’t the sole responsibility of one department. Break down silos with interdepartmental teams empowered to create effective, multichannel campaigns. Also …

  1. Follow the 75% rule. New channels won’t wait around while you craft the perfect tweet. Accept communications that are 75% perfect and 100% on time.
  2. Understand the ROI of each channel. Even when creating a multichannel campaign, be sure that you focus most of your time and energy on channels that have the greatest return on investment.

New technology allows us to go back to old ways of fundraising.

Classic fundraising techniques still work better than anything else. 50% of donors say they were motivated to give because “a friend asked,” and fundraising emails sent by a friend have open rates of 90% (compare that to your last campaign!).

Use new channels to make your campaigns more personal, more timely, and more direct – all the elements that have always led to successful fundraising.

Do you have other great stats on the value of multichannel campaigns – or tips on smart, year-end strategies? We’d love to hear them!



Now More Than Ever

It’s a pity “now more than ever” is one of the most abused phrases in fundraising. Because it actually applies now. More than ever.

But I’m not talking about the need for philanthropy at a time when 14 million Americans being unemployed is just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m talking about our approach to fundraising and advocacy.

Yes, giving is down and the need is up. Obviously, now more than ever our nonprofits need contributions to fund our missions.

But if you really want to make something happen, the first “now more than ever” your nonprofit should be thinking about shouldn’t be your donors’ call to action.

It should be your own.

What is your nonprofit doing – now more than ever – to earn your donors’ involvement and trust? Emotional support is the precursor to financial support, and it’s more valuable.

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11 Strategies For Extraordinary Fundraising in ‘11

Nonprofits have been soldiering through shaky fundraising territory for the past several years. With the addition of “fear index” and “double dip” to the mainstream economic crisis vocabulary in the past few days, we can probably expect those challenges to stay around for a while and maybe even intensify.

So what do we do?

First, recognize that a lousy economy calls on nonprofits to be more than merely competent; a lousy economy challenges nonprofits to be extraordinary.

And second, as you roll up your sleeves on your extremely important fall fundraising campaigns against an uncertain economic backdrop, do the one thing you can: Don’t settle for 10. Turn it up to 11.

To get you started, here are 11 ways your nonprofit can turn up your fundraising from great to extraordinary in 2011:

1. Write letters, not direct mail. It’s surprisingly easy to forget that direct mail is really just a letter from one person to another. Often, the best direct mail fundraising doesn’t look or feel like direct mail at all – like a closed face envelope with an un-designed return address and an actual postage stamp. Or a letter that begins “Dear Evelyn,” not “Dear Friend.” Or a message that is driven by substance, not appearance.

2. Write emails, not eblasts. A “blast” is like dropping flyers out of an airplane – not particularly targeted, respectful or effective. When was the last time you heard someone say, “Wow, that mass email advertisement I received really made me feel special and inspired me?” It’s easy to hide behind your email marketing tools and fundraising templates. Remember that a fundraising email you send to your donors and constituents should be just as relevant, personal and carefully considered as an email that you might send from your own computer to someone you know personally. In fact, why not send your next fundraising email in plain text from your Executive Director’s actual Outlook account?

3. Give your constituents options for involvement. It’s important to recognize, create and value ways people can get involved in advancing your organization’s mission. A person may care about your issues and want to take action, but not be able to contribute financially right now. Don’t exclude them. There are plenty of ways they can help – you just need to offer them. And when an involved constituent is ready and able to give financially, you better believe that they’re going to give to the nonprofit that gave them a place at the table when they didn’t have two nickels to rub together.

4. Give your donors options for giving. A commonly used direct response ask array is 100%, 150%, or 200% of the donor’s highest or last gift amount. It’s a good upgrade-oriented ask strategy, but if not targeted appropriately, it can also be brutishly response-suppressing. Target your ask strategies by donor segment (such as current, lapsed, multi, single), and develop your ask around what you want to have happen for each particular donor segment. For instance if you are communicating with active donors who have given multiple times, then the upgrade-oriented ask array would be appropriate. However, if you are communicating with deeply lapsed donors, your immediate goal should be reinstatement, not an upgrade, in which case you may want to offer downgrade options to lower barriers to participation. And for donors who just can’t make single gifts at previous levels, now is a time to consider offering installment options.

5. Focus like a laser on donor retention. An organization’s donors are its most valuable asset. At a time when it’s more difficult to acquire new donors, and existing donors are most likely to lapse, it’s critical to retain the donors your organization has. Because the single most significant driver of donor retention is solicitation frequency, start by examining the frequency and quality of your organization’s donor solicitations and communications. If you’re only communicating / soliciting a couple of times a year, your organization is unquestionably leaking donors. Pick up the quality and frequency of your communications to help guard against attrition.

6. Start a monthly giving program. Monthly giving programs are powerful tools for retention and upgrading. Let’s say your average active donor gives $60 a year. When they join your monthly giving program with a $10 per month pledge, they double their annual giving. And because their pledge is processed via credit card, they can remain active donors and valuable partners in your mission almost indefinitely. Monthly giving programs are a lot of work to set up and manage, and monthly donors require special stewardship – but it’s nothing your “11” nonprofit can’t handle.

7. Be brave. Are you making the same formulaic argument for support season after season? Now is not the time to blend safely into the crowd. Put yourself out there. Challenge yourself creatively and inject some standout passion, color and personality into your communications.

8. Connect, for real. Development and membership people are trained to make the case for support, to explain. But explaining to donors what your nonprofit does, why it’s important, and what you achieve can quickly turn into a one-way conversation. Instead of building your case for support around what you need from your donors, build it around your donors’ needs. Once you begin to look at your issues through your donors’ eyes you can create a foundation for genuine two-way conversation and connection. This in turn will help you build deeper more lasting relationships with your donors.

9. Get serious about multichannel and integration by getting the help you need. The statistics speak for themselves. Online giving is the fastest growing channel. (To learn more, read Convio‘s Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study.) The mobile web is predicted to be bigger than desktop internet use by 2015. According to analysis from Blackbaud, nonprofits that add social media communications to their constituent communications mix experience increased fundraising results. And so the advice that nonprofits hear over and over is this: if you’re not where your donors, and future donors, are then you may find yourself wondering where they all went a few years from now. But it’s not actually very helpful advice, because nonprofits already know this. The obstacle isn’t buy-in to multichannel; it’s lack of technical resources and mountains of logistical hurdles created by outdated databases and websites designed in 1997. If you have problems like getting interactive content on your website, designing, targeting and sending emails with your current system and resources, or maintaining a meaningful social media presence, then you need to solve them. A great place to begin is by joining NTEN (the Nonprofit Technology Network) which can help connect you with resources to take your nonprofit’s tech to the next level as well as a community of people who eat, sleep, and breathe this stuff – and are generous about sharing what they know.

10. Acknowledge donor anniversaries. We celebrate wedding anniversaries to affirm relationships. We celebrate birthdays to say “we’re glad you’re here.” Why not celebrate donor anniversaries – the anniversary of your donor’s first investment in your organization’s work – to send the same message? Donor anniversaries are a great opportunity to strengthen donor relationships, raise additional funds for your organization, and strengthen donor retention.

11. Think hugs not shrugs. It’s great if you were already a 10 on your donor stewardship. But in this economy you can’t give up – you’ve got to turn up the love to 11. Be positive. Share your gratitude. Say thank you in special ways. It doesn’t cost much if anything, but the rewards are great. Kudos to one near and dear organization who will, literally, be giving hugs (not mandatory!) to each and every contributor to their annual fund this year. That’s what I call 11 thinking.

At the end of the day, we can’t control extraordinary economic events, but we can be extraordinary. How is your organization turning it up to 11?

Thanks for reading and connecting!

P.S. Just for fun, identify the photo reference with this post correctly and then tell us your favorite nonprofit (and why, if you’d like) in the comments section. If you’re the first, The Nth Factor will be very happy to make a contribution to the nonprofit you name.



Summer Reading Recommendation: The Art & Science of Multichannel Fundraising

If you ever find yourself scratching your head about which tools to use for your fundraising efforts – or how to fit multiple channels together – you might want to pick up The Art & Science of Multichannel Fundraising this summer.

Eliza and I wrote one of the chapters in this new book from Direct Marketing IQ, and it contains eight more from multichannel fundraising thinkers and doers like Roger Craver of The Agitator, Jo Sullivan, Joe Boland of Fundraising Success magazine, and others. It also contains a bunch of robust case studies that illustrate cutting-edge applications of best practices in multichannel fundraising.

While the perspectives, case studies and channels discussed are refreshingly diverse, a few universal principles of multichannel fundraising come through loud and clear in the book. Most notably, whether it’s direct mail, email, telemarketing, mobile, social media, or all of the above, the new terrain of multichannel fundraising is guided by the same old-school basics of good marketing.

Happy reading, and happy Friday!