Friday, July 22, 2016

Treading Water in the Trending Topic Pool

You might be familiar with a new mobile game that has individuals walking around town to collect imaginary creatures. You also might be thinking to yourself, “How can my organization take advantage of this craze?” There will undoubtedly always be a new app or trending topic that gets individuals excited, so it matters how or even if your organization should jump on board to increase donations and support in the community.
Do Your Research
Once a trend has shown up on your radar, your first instinct should be to research the trend thoroughly before diving in headfirst. You should be sure that the game, app, or movement aligns with your organization’s mission. It may be a good idea to hang back for the first few moments of the trend to let others take any risks that may arise. (We’ve all seen social media posts of people walking into walls or tripping while looking at their phones!) Your organization would not want to be liable for someone’s safety.
Think Outside the Craze
What is the primary objective of the movement? Is there a way you can creatively connect the trend to your cause? For example, can you sponsor in-app purchases to gain donations, set up a joint partnership with another organization, or encourage others to spread your message? This is the perfect time to tap into the creative minds at RKD Alpha Dog to see how our team can help you make the most of a trending topic.
Staying Afloat
Keeping updated with new developments is key to a trend. If you take too long to jump in the pool, it may be too late. People are fickle and will move on to a new fad just as quickly as they grabbed onto the last one. You need to know about new features or events happening with the current trend to get the most out of it. Our tip: when in doubt, wait for the next trend to come along. It is more important to be true to your mission.

“If you are true to yourself, you can never go wrong.” – Frank Iero

Your furry friend,


Thursday, July 7, 2016

7 Mind-Blowing Direct Mail Stats

Even with the increased need to integrate marketing campaigns and incorporate digital strategies, the foundation of your fundraising plan should be direct mail. This tried and true strategy should not be forgotten, in fact, it should be continuously monitored, tested, and improved to achieve even bigger and better results for your bottom line.

Stronger Responses
  • On average, direct mail appeals garner up to 37 times more responses than email
  • 80-90% of direct mail gets opened - compared to 20-30% of email (on a good day!)
  • 98% of people open their mail the day it is received 

Decision Making
  • 40% of people have responded to a direct mail piece in the last three months
  • 92% of millennials are influenced to make a decision because of direct mail
  • 48% of people hold on to important mail for future use and decision making

Testing Leads to Better Results

At the end of 2015, one of our hunger relief partners sent an appeal to major and mid-level donors to test the effectiveness of using a post-it note inside the card. The test appeal with a post-it note revealed some surprising results! The test package saw an increase of 13.9% for the total number of gifts; an increase of 13.0% in response rate; a 28.3% lift in average gift; and a tremendous 51.0% increase in net revenue!


“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." – Colin Powell

Your furry friend,

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

CAUTION! Database Cleaning in Progress

You’ve heard it from us before. “Clean up your database now while the summer months are slow and you are planning for the holiday giving season!” Did you clean up your database last year? If not, when was the last time you cleaned up your list of donors? We’ll say it once more: bad data creates an inefficient process, mails to incorrect records, and can cost you a lot of time and money.

The Slippery-Floor
Database cleanup may not be the most fun part of your job. However, not spending the time or focus to fix issues can hinder your fundraising efforts. Your donors and supporters are your most valuable asset so to send them duplicate pieces of mail or incorrectly spell their name can cost you more than you think. Take into consideration your acquisition mailings throughout the year and how hard your organization works to recruit fantastic new donors to your cause. Now think about how easy it is for someone to stop donating just because they were not asked for a forwarding address or they received three pieces of the same appeal. How would you react?

The Best Defense
Prioritize, train, backup, and evaluate. Rank and segment your records by major donors, volunteers, monthly donors, and other key groups. This will let you update the most relevant information efficiently and in an organized manner. Train personnel to enter new donor information correctly. If donor data is input the same way every time, it will make cleaning up files next time that much easier. Backup your database. Technology is not always our friend so keeping an extra copy of records will save you a headache later. Evaluate your data and donor files. Pay attention to individuals who are moving, going through life changes, upgrading, or lapsing. Knowing movement within your file will help you effectively communicate!

The Resources Available
No matter what database platform your organization is using, there is training available! Most database websites have a section filled with upcoming webinars, quick resource references, or basic training videos to get you started. For more cleaning best practices, such as dedupe and NCOA changes, check out a great webinar we did last year here. We also published an informative article about cleaning your donor files, which you can read here.

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails.” – William A. Ward

Your furry friend,


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Why a Google Grant is Worth Your Time

Digital advertising through Google is one of the best ways to create traffic to a website or landing page online. The Google Grants program allows a nonprofit to create an ad in search engine results through the use of keywords and targeting options. The biggest challenge nonprofit organizations have is meeting the full $10,000 allotted amount each month. RKD Alpha Dog’s goal was to spend the advertising dollars and manage the Google Grant account for Humane Society of Tampa Bay. Once an organization consistently hits the $10,000 spend goal, Google will promote them to a premier Google Grants account which is worth $40,000 of advertising.


The Humane Society of Tampa Bay was approved for a Google Grant on February 14, 2016 and RKD started collecting data to take full advantage of the free advertising money from Google. The humane society ran six different campaigns during both February and March, which included topics of adoption, donation, veterinary services, seasonal, volunteers, and brand awareness.
Click-through-rate (CTR) ins found by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impressions. Although this number decreased in March, Google defines a successful CTR as 0.5% making this campaign extremely successful!
Average Cost Per Click is the amount spent in Google advertising divided by the number of clicks. A small jump of just 9 cents means the ads were very efficient when considering the enormous increase in March impressions.

 Your furry friend,


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Supercharge Your SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be an intricate process to implement into your organization. Our digital team can do amazing things with your website, but is there something you could be doing right now to boost your online discoverability? Here are three simple steps you can do today to enhance your digital presence.
Create Impeccable and Relevant Content
First, build a foundation for what people want to read and hear about. Ask yourself these questions:  What do I search for?  What do I want to see? What do I want to show up in a search engine about my organization? Armed with answers to those questions, you can begin to post content about sector updates, current partnerships, reports and case studies, stories that invoke an emotional tug, or recent fundraising successes. Update your content regularly to keep the search engine algorithms accurate, which will turn up your website more often.

Master Unique Descriptions, Titles, and Keywords
Descriptions and web page titles are here to help! Rescue your SEO by simply changing how you title your website pages. For example, instead of using the title “About Us”, rename the page to say “About (Nonprofit Name)”. These titles appear in search engine results and will assist users in navigating to the right pages on your site. Include descriptions in your links and strong calls to action. Use “Click Here to Donate” or “Check Out Volunteer Opportunities” opposed to “Click Here”. RKD Alpha Dog can help you identify your best keywords and plug them into your content, titles, and descriptions.  

Google+: Friend not Foe
Google+ is Google’s own social networking site that connects to the search engine and can easily increase the chance of someone finding you online. Google+ takes into consideration how many people you have in your circles and how many circles you belong to; it’s more than just what you post, it’s how you interact with those online. Join RKD Alpha Dog on Google+ to connect with others in your industry, get updates, and add us to your own organization’s circles. Spend some time finding thought leaders, social media influencers, your own team members, other nonprofits in your sector or geographical location, news outlets, and more.

SEO is a key digital element to unite your donors and supports to your cause. For deeper analysis and the ability to crush SEO, talk to our digital team! 
“All the best heroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary.” – Gerard Way
 Your furry friend,


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How Effective Is Your E-appeal Donation Form?

When was the last time you checked out your online donation form? How easy is it to use? Do you know how many donors have made a gift online in the last year? It's time to ensure your 2016 online fundraising efforts are first-rate.

The Test
Your donation forms are vital to the success of your e-appeals and emails that accompany a direct mail campaign as well as the overall results for your fundraising during the year. We ran a year over year comparison from September to October in 2014 and 2015 to see if a $75 pre-selected gift amount would improve the overall giving for Animal Legal Defense Fund. In 2014, ALDF was linking to a donation form that used $50 as a pre-selected amount for the donation and in 2015 that gift amount was increased to $75. The e-appeal was partnered with a donation matching opportunity campaign that was sent via direct mail.

The Results
The results were fantastic! The $75 pre-selected online donation form received more gifts, had a higher average gift, and raised 48% more than the previous year.

Take Action: We strongly recommend you take a look at your current donation forms for your e-appeals and talk to your Account Manager to see if this is a change that can boost your digital results.

“The road to success is always under construction” – Lily Tomlin
Your furry friend,


Monday, January 25, 2016

How to Rock Your Thank Yous in 2016

One of the hottest topics every year in the nonprofit industry is donor retention, which is why we are talking about it in January! The best road to a great retention rate in 2016 begins with gift acknowledgements. Saying thank you to your donors should be a top priority for your organization this year, if it isn’t already #1 on your list!

Be a Retention Superstar

Sending a gift acknowledgement can come in many different forms: an automated email; a personalized thank you card; or a thoughtful phone call. However, all acknowledgements should have the intent of deepening your relationships. Donors need to know their donation made a significant impact on your organization’s mission. What is your current retention rate? If you don’t know, how can you improve? (P.S. Your Account Services team member will know.) Sending a simple donation receipt without a heartfelt message will make your donors run for the hills. Take some time this month to review and implement a better and more comprehensive gift acknowledgement process. You will reap the benefits of your new and improved donor cultivation strategies at the end of the year.

Don’t Be Stale, Thank Donors Creatively

Timely, meaningful, handwritten and personalized thank you cards and phone calls are a great way to stay in touch with your donors after a contribution has been made. But there are also other ways to let your donors know how appreciative you are for their gifts. Think outside of the box and have fun with your gift acknowledgements! Short videos will be all the rage this year on social media, so why not create one on the landing page after a gift is made? Invite your donors to an event or a tour of your facilities. Send donors an anniversary card on the date of their first donation or annual gift or send a shout out to your supporters through social media.

Put yourself in your donor’s shoes. If you contributed to a mission that you really cared about but didn’t receive any recognition or acknowledgement for your gift, how likely would you be to make a future gift? You can build a stronger connection with your donors by letting them know how grateful you are for their support. For more on retention rates and gift acknowledgements, check out our headline article in the next issue of Embark, which will be released mid-February.

“Fundraising is not really about money, it’s about people.” – Larry C. Johnson
 Your furry friend,