Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Which numbers matter?

So, your typical email open rates are at 12% and click throughs are at 1.5%... that's all fine and good, but numbers don't mean much to us in a vacuum. What we all want to know is where do we stand in comparison to other organizations our size or other nonprofits in our same sector. At what point should we really be alarmed by our unsubscribe rates?

Have no fear - the 2014 M+R Benchmark Study is here! Now in its eighth year, the Benchmark Study compiles data from 53 nonprofits to set the industry standards for online fundraising, advocacy and list building.

>> Download the study here - for free!

Here are our top 5 takeaways from the study this year:
  1. Online giving is up 14% - and more of that revenue is from monthly giving. Monthly giving revenue grew 25% in 2013 and accounted for 16% of total online giving.
  2. Churn (attrition) rates dropped 14% - which is good - but the reason is likely because open rates also declined. You can't unsubscribe from an email you don't open to begin with. In fact, all key metrics (open and response rates) declined in 2013.
  3. The average one-time online gift to a nonprofit was $68 in 2013. So don't sell yourself short in your asks!
  4. Website visits grew 16% in 2013 - your website matters; make sure you're making a good impression on these visitors with a clear call-to-action and informative materials.
  5. Even though social media audience sizes are still smaller than that of email lists, the pace of growth for the social medium is much faster. Facebook and Twitter audiences grew by 37% and 46% respectively. And for every 1,000 email subscribers, study participants averaged 199 Facebook fans and 110 Twitter followers.
But there's so much more... visit mrbenchmarks.com and read the full study.

Want to improve your numbers? Don't know where to start? Contact us to find out how we can help you make sense of all the data.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

5 Ways to Cultivate Major Donors

Cultivating major donors takes a whole different set of tools and strategies. From the appeals you send, to your follow-ups and ongoing stewardship, cultivating and retaining a major donor takes a more personal and distinctive approach combined with time and patience. Here are 5 ways you can cultivate major donors:

1. Segment, Segment, Segment
A great major donor program works to not only retain current donors but consistently grow their major donor group by identifying and appealing to prospects. The good news is your donor base can provide you with a solid list of potential major donors who already have a connection to your organization. Using data overlay, you can identify active donors who have the financial ability to give at a higher level, and include this list on your next major donor mailing.

2. Put a Shiny Bow on Your Appeal
OK, maybe not a bow, but your major donor appeals should be something a little more special. Handwritten appeals from your executive director or board chair with first-class postage on the outer and reply envelopes are a great go-to option. Not only does this piece stand out in the mail and look more personal, but it will also lift your response rate and average gift, giving you a strong net return.

3. Offer Up Perks
Let's face it, we all enjoy little perks here and there - a hotel upgrade, a free gift with purchase - so why not give your major donors and prospects a few perks. It need not be anything extravagant but a little can go a long way. A board-hosted dinner, special tour of your facilities or VIP event invitation makes them feel exclusive and at the same time, gets them more involved and connected with your organization.

4. Practice Superior Stewardship
Of course, you already send out newsletters and acknowledgements, but consider a little more for your donors that give a little more. Instead of the general newsletter or usual 'thank you' note, create a special newsletter and acknowledgement program just for major donors. A major donor newsletter could include a special note from your director, planned giving opportunities, capital campaign needs and naming opportunities. Add a personal note from your director or board chair to acknowledgements or send handwritten thank yous. For especially large donors, make a personal phone call or visit to thank them for their generous gift.

5. Have Patience and Persistence
Moving a donor into the major gift segment takes time and persistence. Some donors will say "Yes!" to your first appeal for a major gift, while some may say "Not now." Don't get discouraged - keep those major donor prospects on your appeal list. Maybe they need more time to think about it or want more information about why they should become a major donor. Be persistent and be patient - it will pay off.

Your furry friend,

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Extra, extra! Read all about it!


Our latest issue of Embark is hot off the press and available to read here!


In this month's issue, we've got some valuable tidbits for your fourth quarter (and upcoming year). Speaking of which, can you believe 2013 is almost over?! Remember, we love to hear from you! Let us know how you're gearing up for your holiday and year-end campaigns

Your furry friend,

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What Does "The Next Generation of Giving" Mean for You?

We've been reading a lot lately about Blackbaud's recent report, The Next Generation of American Giving, and if you haven't already read it, be sure to download a copy of the findings or skim over the accompanying infographic. But to hold you over in the meantime, here are a few of our takeaways:

  • Boomers (ages 49-67) account for 43% of total giving, while Generation X and Generation Y combined (ages 48 and under) account for 31% of giving. So while it is important to reach out to your younger donors, your core group is over the age of 50 and still responds through traditional offline channels such as direct mail.
    Now, more than ever, your organization should be using a multichannel approach to reach out to donors because even though digital fundraising is on the rise, your direct mail program is still your fundraising foundation. Sending an e-blast that mirrors a recent direct mail appeal is a great and relatively easy starting point for multichannel fundraising. Also noted in the report, testing of direct mail strategies with Generation Y's (ages 18-32) should be high on your organization's priority list in the next five years.
  • When asked what makes the biggest impact, 48% of Matures (ages 68 and older) and 45% of Boomers said monetary donations, while 30% of Generation Y's said volunteering makes the biggest impact. However, Matures are actually the ones doing the most volunteering. Now, that doesn't mean your young philanthropists don't want to be involved or only 'talk the talk.' Matures are more than likely retired, so they have more flexible hours and time for volunteering, but your Generation Y's should have volunteer opportunities available during 'off-hours' such as evenings and weekends or low-commitment volunteering - once or twice a month on a committee or board.
    Getting your younger constituents engaged through non-monetary support now is crucial to your organization's future success. When Generation Y is able to contribute more financially in the future, you will already have a strong relationship and be a priority organization with this group.
  • Speaking of Generation Y, 60% said the ability to directly see the impact of their donation has a significant bearing on their decision to give and half of Generation X's (ages 33-48) agreed. Again, engagement with your organization is going to affect Generation Y and X's giving decisions both now and in the future. Offering volunteer opportunities and tours of your facilities are great starting points. But what about creating a video telling the story of a family your organization has helped? Or sharing an online photo album showcasing the progress of an animal your organization rescued?
    Your 50-and-under supporters are wired almost 24/7 so using digital communication is a great way to engage and share information about what's happening at your organization. And, your social media is a valuable and cost-effective asset in staying connected, especially when 50% of Generation Y's and 38% of Generation X's said they share information about organizations they support with friends on Facebook - that's free publicity for you!

One thing to keep in mind as you read the report is every organization is different and therefore, fundraises and engages differently. Don't overhaul your entire fundraising program trying to perfectly segment and target every generation of donor. Start small by finding out your donors' birthdays - this will give you an idea of your donor base's generational breakdown. Then, test and find out the best ways for your organization to engage each group and create a valuable, long-term relationship.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Practice Good Hygiene

Practice good database hygiene, that is! Now that summer is in full-swing, there's no better time to clean, organize, and polish your donor database. With BIG mailings in the not so distant future, the summer months are the perfect opportunity to give your database a refresh. Here are a couple ways to get your database in tip-top shape:
  • Update Addresses
  • Don't forget to go into your database and update donor accounts using the National Change of Address report provided after each mailing - it's easier to update a handful of accounts than let the updates pile up.
  • Remove Duplicates
  • Two is usually better than one but NOT in the case of donor accounts. From time to time, multiple accounts are created for the same donor - maybe a name was spelled wrong or a donor got married. Use your Possible Duplicate Report to find those pesky duplicates, decide which account to keep, and merge the records.
  • Correct Undeliverable Addresses
  • Another headache inducer is mailing to undeliverable addresses. Using your corrected address reports, update donor accounts with the deliverable addresses provided to ensure you won't receive the dreaded returned mail.
  • Conduct Data Overlay
  • Once you've given your database a thorough cleaning, it's time to polish it and make it shine. Data overlay matches donors in your database to a national database containing demographic and psychographic info about your donors. This information helps you to strategize how to increase contributions and commitments from your donors. We can also run phone number and email appends to build your email and phone number list. This can be especially beneficial before a voice broadcast or e-blast
If you haven't updated your database in a while, now is a great time to find that stack of reports and get cleaning! You've got plenty of time to get that database revitalized for holiday, year-end, and New Year mailings. As always, feel free to reach out to us  - we provide great cleaning tips or can help you start a database rejuvenation. Happy cleaning!

Your furry friend,

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Go Big...Go Outdoor!

I'm partial to anything best enjoyed outside: napping in the grass, taking my owner for a walk, mingling with (and chasing) my neighbors, and, of course, advertising.

Outdoor advertising is one of the most unique and cost-effective marketing campaign strategies. And I'm not just talking standard billboards. Go super-size with transit ads, digital billboards, and wallscapes. Maybe you're saying, "But, Alphie, I already use print ads. Why should I go outdoors?" Great question! Going outside not only keeps you from having an accident in the house BUT outdoor ads put your organization and message at top of mind in the community prior to a direct mailing or e-blast appeal. And donors (and prospects) will see your campaign everyday!

When your donors and prospects receive your direct mail or e-blast appeal, they will recognize your organization/message and, therefore, be more likely to open your appeal and make a gift. Choosing a variety of ad locations will also ensure that you are reaching as much of your target market as possible and maximizing your budget.

As always, our stellar creative team will create eye-catching, custom visuals that will complement and flow with the rest of your integrated campaign. And, let's face it, I could get a lot of tails wagging at ten feet tall.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Twitter changes logo, time for you to as well

Times change and, so do logos. Most recently, Twitter has a new look. So, this is a great time for you to take a look at your social media icons. Some questions to ask yourself:
  • Is there a social media button I am missing in my email signature, on my letterhead, in my newsletter, on my blog/website?
  • Is there a social media button that needs to be taken off? Perhaps you started out using a lot of different outlets and have slowly narrowed it to the ones that work for your mission.
  • Are your icons linked to the correct location or linked at all? (they should be!)
  • Are you using the correct and "official" logo for each social media outlet?
You can read up on the new logo and requirements (there aren't that many) here, and download them from there as well.

Happy Tweeting, my fine feathered friends!

Your furry friend,