Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Donor Communication Series: Planning for Planned Giving Donors

This first of three installments in the 2015 Summer Donor Communication Series concentrates on how to recognize planned giving potential for your current and prospective donors. Every donor has the capability to become a planned giving donor. The key is successfully communicating your message to build that connection. But how do you organize these donors into a meaningful segmentation of your database?

American Fundraising Professionals (AFP) presents a Planned Giving Prospect Matrix to aid in targeting your message to the right donors:

Affinity is the measure of brand loyalty and passion for your mission. Individuals with high affinity enjoy your relationship and are always willing to strengthen it. Finding the wealth of donors is the easy place to start. Measuring a donor’s brand loyalty and willingness to give starts with an examination of a donor’s giving patters, such as gift amounts and frequency of gifts.

Segmenting donors into this matrix will allow you to start building the right relationships in the right way. Asking questions such as, “Do you have a will?” and “Do you have a planned gift with another charitable organization?” will get you critical information about that donor as well as give you the opportunity to build the rapport towards a planned gift.
Talk with Alpha Dog Marketing about strategies to reach this special group of donors who help secure the future of your nonprofit. 

*DonorSearch.net and AFP

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mastering Donor Centricity

Donor centricity means focusing on what your donors want most and how they think. It is your decision to change your communication style to stop language that is all about your agency and begin concentrating your messages about how wonderful and important your donors are to your mission. Below is a short list, and by all means not all of the ways to master donor centricity:

1. Timely Response. Make the time between donation and receipt as short as possible. The longer it takes the more likely your donor is to think that their donation is unimportant.

2. Appreciative and Relevant Acknowledgements. Your thank you notes need to be ‘love letters’ and should include language that mirrors the theme of your ‘ask’ message. It should be personalized specifically for your donor. This will encourage your donor to give again in the future.

3. Inspire Through Newsletters. Use your newsletter to connect your donors back to why they are supporting you first, and then continue to let your donors know that they are making a difference. Making your organizational newsletter language reflect ‘You/because of you’ will steward and inspire them to keep making donations and stay connected to your cause. We have great tips about reworking your newsletter language and content placement. (http://blog.alphadogmktg.com/2014/05/creating-newsletter-that-works.html)

4. Internet Friendly. Make online giving simple and easy to use. Supporters will give online if the donation form is easier than giving though the mail. It should be fast and convenient. Also, if your website is not yet mobile optimized, it’s time to move forward quickly. We can help!

5. Adapt.  Donor centricity and satisfaction is an ever revolving door. Asking one time for feedback is not enough. Continually make adjustments on what your donor base best responds to.

Increasing your donor centric practices will increase retention rates and new donor growth. Word will spread how wonderful your agency is in providing the best services for a cause that resonates with your donor and how appreciative your agency is of their support. Alpha Dog Marketing is here to help you measure your agency’s donor centricity to see how you performed before and after becoming donor centric.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Increasing Your Donor Referrals

You know better than anyone how hypercompetitive it is for nonprofit organizations to acquire new donors that are loyal and engaged. Getting donor referrals are an excellent way to fight through the fundraising clutter. Follow these steps to help with donor referrals:

1. Analyze Your Online Traffic: When you understand where your traffic is coming from and how that traffic is engaging with your organization, you can make a smart decision on how to ask for more referrals from current donors.

2. Ask the Right Way: Asking for a recommendation is important but in order to be successful, you should be asking for referrals the right way. Your ‘ask’ message should be tailored to the targeted audience.

3. Remind Your Donors to Refer: Take every opportunity to remind your current donors about referring their friends, family, and business associates. Include your referral message in all forms of marketing media and campaigns.

4. Engage in Active Feedback: Is your website easy to navigate? Is it easy to make a donation? Do your current donors strongly believe that you need their support? The only way to find the answers to these questions is through listening to donor feedback. By taking feedback seriously and truly listening to what your donors are saying, you will be able to make improvements that positively impact your organization.

5. Follow Up With Current Donors: Say thank you promptly and follow up after a donation. Numerous studies have shown this will keep your donors engaged and willing to talk about your organization to others. Answering a donation with appreciation will let donors know how important their gift is to your cause and will encourage positive word of mouth.

6. Don’t Forget Social Media: Staying in touch with your donors through social media is a great way to stay fresh in their mind. It gives your donors the opportunity to share content and refer great people to your organization with just the click of a button!

7. Keep a Unified and Branded Message: Your message should accurately reflect your brand. The more consistent your message is when communicating with donors, the more likely that message will stick and make an impression on your donor, thus increasing the chances that donor will make a referral.

Here is our challenge for you: identify the top 20 to 25 satisfied donors to target and plan your approach. This includes how and when to ask, and creating your branded message. Include your staff in this process and challenge them to ask for a referral from individuals who visit or call your location. Think of how much you could accomplish if you were able to get referrals from even a fraction of your most satisfied donors who are willing to refer your organization! Have questions or need help with your agency's donor referral strategies? Reach our and speak with one of our account managers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Planned Giving Challenges

Planned giving is a way for donors to continue making contributions to your organization after they have passed on. A planned gift is often the largest gift that a donor will make to an organization. Planned giving is an essential part to maintaining the long-term health of your organization. It includes gifts made through a will, annuities, trusts, life insurance policies, retirement, and more. However, there can be challenges and obstacles that organizations face when marketing a planned giving program.

One of the challenges of planned giving is how to communicate the right message to your donors. Most individuals have beneficiaries currently set up for any assets that are left behind. One easy way to receive a legacy gift is through a change of beneficiary form which will include your agency on their list of beneficiaries. This is the easiest solution!

Beneficiary designations are great to market because it does not involve wills and death. To communicate your message use verbiage such as, “How can your life insurance help our animal friends?” or “Your Retirement Plan can feed our community!”

Retirement plans are one of the most heavily taxed assets if left to anyone other than a spouse. But when retirement plans are left to a nonprofit organization, 100% of the money will go to the cause. Remind your donors that beneficiary designations do not require a lawyer’s involvement and are a simple and easy way to support the cause they are so passionate about.

Another challenge for planned giving is short-term thinking. Many nonprofit organizations can struggle with budget cuts and unstable financial outcomes. When this happens, many programs implement short-term strategies in order to survive, making long-term strategies suffer the consequences. Nonprofits should implement both short and long term strategies to reach financial sustainability and security.

Stop asking for a bequest commitment. A 2014 survey found that out of 1,418 individuals, 23% were interested in “making a gift to charity in my will”. Only 12% were interested in “making a bequest gift to charity”. Just by changing your campaign verbiage, you are doubling your chances to increase your planned giving program! Use donor-friendly and easily understandable language that communicates what the planned giving program is and how it works. Words and phrases like: make a gift, continue your support, and family, as well as using living stories – stories about life, not death – are a sure way to increase your chances of being included in a donor’s will.

Start your planned giving program by creating a Legacy Circle to promote the program and give recognition to your donors who have joined. Rather than just asking for a gift, you can offer to list their name with other like-minded individuals who believe in the long-term security of the organization. This can be done with a plaque in the lobby, a listing in the annual report or newsletter, etc. Donors love getting recognized and it encourages others to join the special program.

Having your donors set up a legacy giving program or gift is a way to provide future income for your organization. An organized planned giving program can be a game-changer for your organization and can be have an excellent return on your investment. Don’t forget to ask regularly and follow up when necessary in order to keep the communication fresh with your donors. Talk to your sales manager about how a planned giving program can help establish endowments, increase community impact, launch new initiatives, and sustain your programs and facilities.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Increasing Retention through Donor Feedback

Retention is always a hot topic in the nonprofit industry. Knowing how to increase donor retention rate and loyalty through engagement is the key to survival of every successful nonprofit organization. Alpha Dog Marketing consistently receives requests for more information and advice on how to maximize donor relationships and lift retention rates. One key path to success is receiving vital donor feedback.
So what is donor feedback?

Donor feedback is the act of giving your donors the opportunity to provide their thoughts and feelings about your cause and current fundraising efforts. It allows your organization to discover what your donors find most valuable and gives you useful information through structured listening. What is structured listening?  It is when you provide donors a clear and organized way to communicate with you either through a survey or direct conversations. Most organizations will only get this type of feedback if they ask for it. So ask!
We all know that the most important factor in retention of donors is consistent use of strong engagement practices. By allowing feedback from your donors, you and your agency’s leadership have the added benefit of seeing your organization through your donors’ eyes. In most cases, donors are more than happy to provide feedback because it shows that you care about what they think and feel.

Surveys allow for qualitative data regarding individual donors, such as:
  • Why your agency matters to them/what inspired their first gift
  • What projects they are most interested in supporting
  • What they are most passionate about
  • What their best gift to a charity was and why
If you are not asking your donors for feedback, you are missing a big chance to add value to your donor base and organization.  If you’ve never surveyed your donors, start with your major donors and record and implement the appropriate feedback.  As you gain information and procedures for recording and use of the data, then you can begin surveying mid-level donors and finally all donors.

Feedback can be gathered through personal contact, but also by surveying your donors on an annual basis. This can be done best by mail and can also be offered online for those donors who have signaled they only want to communicate by email.  Finally, telemarketing can also be used to gain the information when internal procedures are in place.

Before an organization starts asking questions, it is important to form a strategy for receiving and implementing the feedback.

Here are a few best practices recommended by Alpha Dog:

  • Have a plan on how to gather and interpret the feedback you receive before beginning a feedback strategy.
  • Quantitative data – demographic and economic - can be gathered through screening reports (i.e. age, household income and assets, marital status, children, etc.)
  • Keep in mind diagnostic and relational measures, like why the donor supports your agency, how a specific interaction made a donor feel, the strength of your relationship with the donor and their commitment to your cause.
  • Do not ask questions that you already know about the donor, such as how long they’ve supported your organization or the amount of their last gift.
  • Avoid asking “double barreled” questions; instead make the question single focused.
  • Use key touch points to gather feedback. For example, when your organization answers an incoming phone call or when a donor is filling out your online donation form. The best time to ask for a donation and feedback is right after a great experience the donor has with your organization.
  • Use a voice broadcast loyalty phone call with a no-ask rule.  If the donor connects with your agency and inquires about how your organization is performing, then call them occasionally with updates; stay in front of your donor in order to not be forgotten.
  • Keep the best follow-up action in mind for situations such as resolving a concern or showing donor appreciation. Prompt response to feedback will further increase engagement and retention. Based on the feedback responses, you can judge what the appropriate follow-up action is.
You will only know about the experiences and the relationships your donors have with your nonprofit organization by asking for feedback. Engagement is about staying top-of-mind with your donors. Bring your marketing campaigns full circle with feedback and use that data to respond accordingly and proactively. Your donors will stay more loyal and will donate more.