Tuesday, November 22, 2016

So Very Thankful

It is again that special time of year when many of us give thanks for the people in our lives and the things we appreciate most. We want to thank you for allowing us to share our thoughts through this blog and for being fantastic partners all year long.

The following is a short list of what we are thankful for from each of us at RKD Alpha Dog:
  • We are thankful for our partners, who have chosen to associate with us in order to help fulfill their noble and necessary missions. We work with many organizations, and each and every one is important to us.
  • We are thankful for the caring individuals who support all the many worthy causes that help sustain our communities.
  • We are thankful for our expanded family of RobbinsKersten Direct and are excited for new strengths and fundraising strategies we can continue bring to you through this flourishing partnership.
  • We are thankful for our colleagues and friends in the business and nonprofit communities. The encouragement and collaboration we receive from vendors, associates, service providers and, yes, even our competitors, is truly appreciated.
What are you thankful for? Share your “thankful” list with us in the comments section or on social media. #GivingThanks #AlphaDogCares

Your furry friend,


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Magic of Media

With so many holiday and year-end strategies, campaigns, and messages being sent, it can be difficult to keep track of the technical details. If you aren’t working with an agency or partner like RKD Alpha Dog, it can be even harder to sift through the information on different types of ads and how to successfully execute each one. #GivingTuesday is right around the corner, so we are going to take a few minutes to talk about earned media, owned media, managed media, and of course, paid media.
Earned Media

Earned media, or inbound marketing, is exposure you did not pay for. For example, when a newspaper covers one of your events or when someone tweets about how awesome your services are, that’s earned media. Since it is unprompted and doesn’t come directly from your organization, earned media can be cost effective, build donor trust, lead to higher retention rates, and offer higher conversion rates. What’s the best way to get more earned media? Your organization should create content that is worth sharing, provide excellent customer service, and interact with your followers on social media. Building relationships = increased earned media.

Owned Media

Owned media is media that your brand owns and controls. This includes channels such as newsletters, direct mail, a website, emails, social media pages, or a blog site. These are channels through which your brand message should be the most consistent. Owned media is the first building block to brand recognition. Double check that your messages and tone, logo, colors, tagline, and types of images are consistent. Since you control owned media, you can effectively target and segment specific donor groups, monitor results, and easily make adjustments.

Managed Media

Managed media is where RKD Alpha Dog really shines. This type of media is exactly like it sounds. We are able to manage channels and campaigns on behalf of our nonprofit partners based on their individual branding guidelines. Since we have a talented team of experts, we offer both product and industry knowledge. This channel is centered on content and requires a level of strategic alignment between fundraising and marketing channels. Since RKD Alpha Dog is managing each campaign, we are able to provide our partners with customized reporting and analytical insights. This allows each organization to make adjustments for future campaigns and improve fundraising and marketing strategies.

Paid Media

Paid media, or outbound marketing, is where the fun truly begins. The opportunities are pretty endless. This kind of media requires money to gain more traffic and lift results. A few examples of paid media include Google AdWords, TV/radio/print ads, sponsorships, online banner ads, and social media ads. Paid Media allows an organization to test campaigns and optimize messages which leads to measurable results. Society is currently trending towards using paid media in conjunction with both earned and owned media. This means that paid media will do the hard work of getting someone to your website but your brand image, social media actions, and direct marketing channels will compel someone to take action.

“Unity is strength…where there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie J.T. Stepanek
Your furry friend,


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

7 Big Year-End Essentials

Ready? Set? Go! It is already mid-October which means the 2016 season of giving will be going full speed in a few short weeks. There are a limited number of days left until 2017. Follow these 7 essential preparation tactics:
Don’t Wait for The Eleventh Hour
  1. Review your year-to-date results: Pull reports from last year that show total revenue raised, retention, average gift size, acquisition, the number of gifts, etc. Pay attention to which parts of the campaigns were successful and which could be improved. Confirm that these changes were made and that your planned campaigns align with your goals.

  2. Storytelling is king: What stories have you collected that offer insight into your organization, provide testimonials, or highlight how you help your community? What do your donors care about most? Don’t forget to include photos and videos to grab the attention of your donors!

  3. Perfect your strategies: RKD Alpha Dog can launch your organization ahead of the competition and put you in front of the right donors at the best time. We can help you strategize your campaign theme, highlight the timeliness of your need and demonstrate how to present your message to your audience in an impactful manner. You will need to have all details of your campaigns planned out and messages integrated to achieve maximum results!

  4. Convenience is key: Campaigns that make it incredibly easy for someone to show support and give are the most successful. Do you know how many times someone needs to click to actually make a donation? How detailed is your donation form or remit slip? A donation should be more about the impact a person is making rather than the information that is required to make that gift.

  5. Inspect all digital: Your website, social media strategy, online donation form, lightboxes, emails, Google AdWords, banner ads, video, and other digital campaigns are just as important as your direct mail appeals. By performing an audit, your organization will be able to communicate in a way that will encourage action. Test everything and then test it again. Confirm that text is clear and large enough to read on a small screen, images are responsive, and donation buttons are large enough for a mobile device. It is easier to make changes now than in the midst of your campaign.

  6. Approve all the details: Connect with your Account Services team to figure out what packages need to be approved, what data files need to be sent to us, or any other campaign details that need your attention. If you are unfamiliar with our Essential Dates Calendar or do not have a copy, speak with your account supervisor. This will give you important dates to follow when you need to have your campaigns approved for timely execution.

  7. Integrate: Diversify your appeals to maximize net income. Your account supervisor can create a coordinated campaign with multiple touch points via various channels to increase frequency. Here is a sample:
    • October:
      • Tease #GivingTuesday campaign toward the end of the month.
      • Schedule a Voice Broadcast message to accompany your EOY campaign.
      • Organize an acknowledgment program for gifts made specifically in the fourth quarter.
    • November
      • Year-end campaign kickoff: Digital and Direct Mail channels; Social Media Kit.
      • Launch banner ads that reinforce your campaign and drive traffic to your site.
    • December:
      • Send a direct mail appeal and follow-up (perhaps as a greeting card), with the campaign theme, message, and ask.
      • Emails: minimum 1 per week containing information about upcoming events, your needs, storytelling, opportunities to share on social media and more.
      • Reinforce your campaign message through social media and your website – short videos or lightboxes are perfect!
      • Continue running the banner ads, consider testing creative and messaging to find the optimal mix.

“Change is inevitable. Progress is optional.” – Tony Robbins
Your furry friend,


Monday, October 3, 2016

2016 #GivingTuesday Planning Kit

November 29th will mark the 5th annual #GivingTuesday – a globally recognized day of giving fueled by the power of collaboration and social media promotion. It was originally created to support and celebrate not-for-profit organizations and now kicks off the holiday giving season.

October is the perfect time to start planning for this day of giving. RKD Alpha Dog's #GivingTuesday kit will allow you to see why you need to participate in this day, how to strategize your promotional efforts, set your campaign plan, determine content and goals, offer a checklist and a plan of action to get you started down a path to success.

Your furry friend,


Friday, September 23, 2016

Building A Stronger Brand

Over the next few months, your organization will be sending numerous appeals, posts, emails, and messages into the world. It is vital that what you send your supporters reflects your mission and brand. The one simple tip in this blog post: check your campaign message before publishing.
Define Your Brand

To successfully execute consistent brand messaging, you will need to have a clear idea of what your brand is. This includes logo specifications, colors, tagline, fonts, slogans, mission statement, etc. It also includes your voice, target audience, how you tell stories, the kind of pictures you use, your programs, motivation for making a difference, and more. Your brand is how the outside world perceives your organization.

Do Your Homework

Below is a comprehensive tool to plan your brand messaging. (click to enlarge) You can click HERE for a worksheet version to fill out your own information. This plan is easy to follow and can be posted around the office to make everyone aware of the organization’s brand and brand attributes. 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
Your furry friend,

Sources: Bloomerang.com 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Your Donor Retention Adventure Begins Here

Do you remember the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? When the reader comes to the end of a passage, they must make a decision. Do they enter the dark cave or take the road that runs through the forest? Each decision takes the reader through a different part of the story and results in an unforeseen result. Donor retention strategies require the same decision making and risk taking. 
The Cave or The Forest?

According to the 2016 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report, the new donor retention rate for last year was a dreadful 26.6%. In a recent Gallup survey involving over 17,000 donors nationwide, 47% gave money to three to five nonprofit groups and 15% gave to six or more. Moreover, over 80% of donors say that they need to believe in the organization’s mission, and over 60% want to know exactly how their gift will be used. So the question is, what is your current retention rate and which path are you going to choose to improve it?

Choose Wisely...

By now, you know how important it is to engage donors on a level that helps build a lasting relationship. However, before you sprint into the forest to retrieve back your lost donors, ask yourself these questions:
  • Does your brand align with your mission and are your services consistent with your message?
  • What elevates your organization’s brand, service, or promise above the rest? Is this niche truly unique, or can it apply to any nonprofit?
  • How do you follow through on your promises?
  • Are you effectively communicating successes or needs and through which channels?
  • Do these channels resonate with your donors?
  • Do your staff members believe in the mission and believe it will create a better future?
  • Are they able to communicate that confidence through email, social media, direct mail, and phone calls?
  • Are your fundraising strategies encouraging further involvement and offering other giving opportunities?

The Light at the End of the Cave (or Forest)

Decision time. Be prepared to make phone calls, invite people to volunteer, organize events, explore new marketing channels and strategies, offer meaningful information, and open the lines of communication between you and your supporters. You should do everything in your power to make sure that you are relevant to your donors, honor their requests, answer their questions, and connect with them in every way possible.

Review your website and printed marketing pieces. Update all outdated information and include a name, title, physical location address, phone number, and email address to make it easy for your supporters to get ahold of you and, more importantly, feel welcome. Talk to an RKD Alpha Dog Account Services team member about other ways to improve the two-way conversation with donors. The holiday season is looming close, and you will need to choose the path that leads to the greatest results.

“Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Your furry friend,

Sources: Bloomerang.com 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Planned Giving Pop Quiz! How Do You Score?

Planned Giving is all about relationship building and gaining trust with your donors. It is an integral part of your comprehensive fundraising strategy that cannot be overlooked. Take the short quiz below to get warmed up, then find out how well you are tapping into this fundraising strategy.
True or False?
  1. A recent study found that fewer than 9.5% of people who donate $500+ a year to a nonprofit had a charitable estate plan.
  2. Planned Giving can be referred to as deferred giving, legacy giving, and endowment building.
  3. One part of a successful planned giving program is learning what motivates donors.
  4. GivingUSA.org reported that total bequest giving in 2014 grew by 8%.
  5. For most U.S. charity organizations, 70-80% of planned giving dollars come from bequests.
How Did You Do?
Wondering how you did? If you answered “True” to all of the above, then you passed! Yes, all of the above statements are true. A study that tracked 20,000 Americans over 50 years old from 1995-2006 did in fact discover that only 9.5% of those who donated $500+ a year included a nonprofit organization in their will and estate plans. On top of that, there is a significant amount of money being transferred through generations, which is resulting in the growth of planned giving. Think of the untapped potential!
As for number two on the quiz, there are many names and terms out there for planned giving. You can find a great glossary of planned giving terms here: http://www.plannedgiving.com/resources-glossary. When trying to build a lasting relationship with donors it is important to connect their own motivation for giving with the needs of your organization. Consider why a donor thinks your organization is worth giving to and each gift impacts the community.
It’s All About Communication
A majority of legacy giving comes from bequests. It is important to know how to ask for a bequest and to direct your donors to a financial or legal professional for any technical questions. A good place to start after your planned giving direct mail piece has been delivered to a donor’s home is to pick up the phone and call. To help alleviate the potential awkwardness of a first phone call, it’s a good idea to create a list of conversation starters. These talking points should discuss the donor’s loyalty, their inspiration for giving, what they value, or any memorable experiences. A legacy giving program will take detailed planning but we promise that it will pay off with long-term stability for your organization.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” – Alan Lakein 

Your furry friend,

Sources: Philanthropy.com | GivingUSA.org