Are You Doing All You Can?
Fundraising is less “predictable” these days than it was a few years ago. Gifts are not coming from expected sources and the amount and timing of those gifts varies widely. For organizations whose direct marketing program is performing well, major gifts may be lower than expected. If online giving is on track, direct mail may be down. Things are just… different.
So, it’s important to ask: “are we doing everything we can” to encourage donors to renew… to make additional gifts… to upgrade… to become a donor for the first time… to reduce costs?
Here are some things that you may not have thought about doing that can raise a bit more or save a bit more. If you are already doing all of them, let your Board or other staff people know. If not, start doing it and tell them it was your idea.
- Do you have a response envelope in all acknowledgements? If not, you may be missing out on additional gifts from donors.
- Do you let people know about other ways to contribute? In your acknowledgement letter you can tell donors about tribute gifts, monthly donation programs and employer matching gifts programs.
- Are you promoting planned giving? Even supporters who do not have the resources to give a gift today may put you in their will. Promote planned giving on the back of reply forms, in acknowledgements, on the web, etc.
- Are you sending an email in conjunction with your mailings? You can send a request for a gift electronically at the same time a mailing goes and increase the total raised for very little effort.
- Have you tested all the expensive elements in your control packages? The brochure, 4-color logo, photos and other elements may be helping your packages, but they may not be raising enough income to make up for the expense.
- Are you thanking donors within a few days of their gift? If not, you may be hurting donor retention.
- Are you calling donors to say “thank you”? Calling everyone who makes a gift of $250 or more is a great way to make those donors feel special and more inclined to make a future gift. Even if you simply leave a voice mail message, the call was worth it.
- Are you actively trying to reinstate lapsed donors? Lapsed donors are a critical part of acquisition list planning; segmenting and modeling these donors helps find people most likely to reinstate. And, research shows that a reinstated lapsed donor has one of the highest lifetime values of any donor.
- Have you tested the BRE? You may be able to use a reply envelope where the donor applies postage (a courtesy reply envelope or CRE) and save nearly $1.00 for each gift.
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Effective Email: A Case Study
What makes an email appeal effective? As with traditional mail appeals, email campaigns that are urgent, personal, credible and have a strong ask have the most impact — and receive the best response.
Email campaigns can take these proven techniques to the next level and create a story arc that rapidly unfolds through multiple communications within a short time frame — a strategy that would be far too costly to do in the mail. Here’s one campaign that made a real difference for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
PCRM had both an urgent situation (persuade the Department of Defense (DOD) to stop using animals in military training) AND a matching gift offer to promote at year-end. A multiple message email campaign was the key to a very successful fundraising campaign that raised tens of thousands of dollars, more than any previous email campaign!
To establish credibility, the first email alerted supporters to the DOD situation and asked them to sign a pledge in support of PCRM’s efforts. The reaction was strong with a click-through rate of nearly 9%. This bonded supporters to the campaign before they were asked to give.
The second email, sent nine days later, asked for a donation to help PCRM’s campaign. The matching gift opportunity was front and center, with a header that said “Your gift today is worth twice as much!” The donation button couldn’t be missed at the top right of the page and there were four additional donation links sprinkled throughout the copy. More than 1% of supporters made gifts totaling $33,469.
Six days later, an email was sent that was crafted to look like a forwarded message of the previous gift email from PCRM’s Manager of Humane Education Programs, but this message included a provocative quote from The New York Times. This gave the message credibility — but also the element of surprise. The email asked for a gift and 1% of supporters donated - another $14,000 was raised!
The final email was sent on December 27th as a “last chance” to give in 2008 — and raised another $21,372!
Clearly, PCRM’s supporters wanted to help. By sending them bite-sized information in several concise communications, we were able to break through the clutter and raise $90,000!
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LMN&C Welcomes Clients AFS-USA and New Israel Fund
We are excited to partner on the direct marketing fundraising campaigns of two organizations that are changing lives around the world.
For over 60 years, AFS-USA has coordinated intercultural learning opportunities for students, young adults and teachers from more than 50 partner countries. By venturing beyond their own borders, AFS participants become true global citizens, building grassroots understanding between individuals, families and entire nations. Quite simply, the impact of the AFS experience goes far beyond the lives of the participants alone.
Charitable donations help AFS subsidize costs for all participants and ensure high quality and life-changing programs. Like colleges and universities, AFS-USA receives generous support from a large and committed alumni base, which totals nearly 370,000 supporters, and friends.
Founded in 1973, the New Israel Fund (NIF) tackles Israel’s most contentious issues and works on behalf of its most neglected populations in support of democratic change. NIF supports more than 800 cutting-edge organizations that share a goal of complete social and political equality, regardless of religion, race or gender.
One unique NIF-supported program provides funding to organizations that strengthen and professionalize Israel’s environmental movement. This exciting work includes educating the public, promoting sustainable growth and living, and emphasizing environmental justice.
Lautman Maska Neill & Company is proud to be working with these organizations that are doing so much for so many.
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Monthly Giving in a Multi-Channel Environment
A healthy monthly giving program can provide reliable income for very low maintenance costs. Monthly donors are loyal donors. In fact, according to a recent article in The NonProfit Times, 80% of monthly donors continue to give for an average of 7—12 years.
Another fact you may not know: according to The NonProfit Times almost 25% of monthly givers will make a planned gift. Altogether, the long-term value to their organizations is very high.
So, how do you recruit these donors? Who are they? What are the most effective methods to attract them to making a monthly commitment to your cause?
Effective marketing using multiple channels — including direct mail, telemarketing, online, newsletters, and acknowledgements — in a balanced combination is the best strategy to recruit monthly donors.
You can begin mapping out your marketing strategy by targeting new donors. They are the best candidates for monthly donors because the passion that led them to respond to your acquisition is still strong.
One national organization with which we work has a well-crafted series of communications aimed at converting new donors to monthly giving. The series includes:
- Starting with a “Welcome” package as the gift acknowledgement that includes a buckslip about monthly giving.
- Emailing invitation #1 for monthly giving within one month of the first gift
- Mailing invitation #1 2-3 months after the welcome package
- Telemarketing campaign calls a few weeks after the mailing
- And finally, mailing a second notice one month after the call campaign
By using this multi-channel method, this organization was able to brand the program and build awareness among its donors. They also increased response by inserting the telemarketing campaign between the mailed invitations.
Telemarketing more than doubled the number of monthly givers recruited into the program over the previous year, which only used direct mail solicitations! As their program has matured, we have included more email and telemarketing solicitations to acquire more monthly givers and build awareness among the growing number of online donors.
This model is relatively easy to implement if you have ongoing calling campaigns. If you follow a similar approach, you will be successful in developing a program that can provide up to 20% or more of your annual direct mail revenue.
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Kermit was Wrong; It Is Easy Being Green
Kermit the Frog once sang — “It’s not easy being green.” For those of us in the direct mail world, “being green” (or earth friendly) is actually fairly easy. In fact, direct mail is a small and declining part of the overall solid waste stream, accounting for just 2.2% (according to the US Environmental Protection Agency) of the total municipal solid waste. We’re doing a great job! But we can always do better. And some techniques can even save you money. Here are just a few ideas to help your mail program “go greener”:
- Keep your data clean. Without clean data you’ll have more undeliverable mail, resulting in more waste — and wasted money. Keep your data up to date by following USPS guidelines requiring all mailers to NCOA data every 95 days.
- Think soy ink. Soy-based inks are made from soy beans as opposed to petroleum. Not only is it more environmentally friendly to produce, it’s easier to recycle paper on which soy ink is used. In fact, soy inks are now practically the norm in all print facilities, and without any additional cost.
- Use recycled material. Using paper that’s 10% or 30% post consumer waste not only helps the environment, but also your organization’s goodwill. This, too, comes at little — or no — additional cost. Be sure to use the recycled paper logo.
- Keep it light. Consider testing lighter papers in all or parts of your direct mail. Lighter papers use fewer trees — and are generally less expensive than heavier papers.
- The newest trend in going green is using a printer that is certified as using environmentally friendly methods. Two certifying bodies are:
- FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) which manages 7% of the world’s forests. Using a printer who purchases FSC certified paper allows you to use the FSC logo — another way of showing your donors you’re environmentally friendly.
- SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) — similar to FSC but is North America focused only.
Again, these are just a handful of the many ways you can “go green.” We encourage you to look for more — and, in so doing, show your donors your commitment to the planet we call home.
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