The Fundraising Power of Awareness

The Fundraising Power of Awareness

It may seem like a serious “duh”, but in the countless studies we have done on literally 100s of nonprofit organizations, the variable that seems to most accurately predict fundraising success is how well-known the organization is within their market. One would think that, if this is true (and it is), organizations would be spending much more money on promoting their brands through traditional media. The tricky part is that tracking ROI from general advertising is really tough. So, organizations avoid it. But check out this graph we recently created for one of our clients. It shows the impact of all giving in certain markets before and after they initiated a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) fundraising event. In this example, on average, revenue increased an average of 160% the 4-years after the P2P event compared to the 4-years prior to the P2P event. This revenue gain was across all giving channels, not just from the P2P event. I believe this supports how important awareness is to your fundraising. And this demonstrates that one way to build that awareness is putting on a P2P...
The 101 Biggest Mistakes Nonprofits Make

The 101 Biggest Mistakes Nonprofits Make

Andrew Olsen has done our whole vertical a service by compiling a list of the most common mistakes that nonprofits make. Whether you are new to the nonprofit world, or have been involved for decades, there is something for everyone to learn in Olsen’s new book. My personal favorite is Mistake #75: Asking at the Wrong Time. Nonprofits now have access to sophisticated algorithms that can really help them know when they should and when they shouldn’t be asking their donors. It’s a mistake to continue to rely on antiquated RFM modeling to choose when your organization should be communicating. Do yourself a favor and order a copy. It’s like giving yourself an instant MBA in nonprofit management. 101 Biggest Mistakes Nonprofits Make...
March Madness and Predicting the Future

March Madness and Predicting the Future

For all of us who are “March Madness” fans, this is a great article. https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/bracketiq/2018-04-03/ncaa-bracket-was-better-all-rest-2018 Given all the upsets in the first round of the tournament last year, some lucky ESPN entrant, “Che 3”, accurately guessed 80% of the games, including the finals matchup and the eventual winner, Villanova. That’s impressive. Until you realize that there were 17.3 million entries into the ESPN contest. And the very best one was only 80% right. Predicting the future is a tricky business. Joshua Ramos wrote a fascinating novel on the topic titled “The Age of the Unthinkable.” Basically, it’s a bunch of case studies on how bad we humans are at predicting the future. Even the super-smart humans. https://www.amazon.com/Unthinkable-First-Joshua-Cooper-Ramo/dp/1408700581/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1522851729&sr=1-2&keywords=the+age+of+the+unthinkable&dpID=415KoqBr8kL&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch One of the activities we do most often is to forecast how a client’s annual mail plan will perform. It’s a time-consuming process carefully discerning all the variables that impact a plan. And though our plans aren’t perfect, we are far closer than 80% accuracy– even without 17.3 million...
Analyst Heaven

Analyst Heaven

I was imagining what heaven might look like for us fundraising analysts. By and large, fundraising analysts lead good lives here on planet earth. We help causes that really matter. We get to work indoors. Often, we can even work from home. We get to use our brains a lot, and fun tools like laptop computers and cool software like SPSS. However, the absolute bane of our existence is the abundance of really crappy data. The unglamorous fact of life for a fundraising analyst is that we spend most of our time trying to figure out whether the data we are working with is fit to analyze. The Great Lie is that a new CRM system or data warehouse will fix your crappy data problems. Short of a transcendent visit from the Data Angels, the only thing on this side of heaven that can fix crappy data are smart people who are willing to dive into messy databases and make sense of it all. My hope is that if and when I get to heaven, all the donor data will be spotless, and the channel coding will be standardized. What sweet hope this sentence...
The Bi-Polar Future of Fundraising

The Bi-Polar Future of Fundraising

There are two fundraising models that are heading in opposite directions. The traditional model is that you invest in new donor acquisition and then work to build a long-term relationship with those donors who, in turn, will faithfully support your cause. The emerging paradigm is a point-of-sale model, where an organization realizes all of its LTV with the donor’s first gift and no possibility of an ongoing relationship. One model is relational. One model is transactional. I see the industry struggling to “convert” transactional donors into the relational model. My sense is that this could be an expensive and futile effort. Rather, I believe the better approach may be to create distinct strategies optimizing each of these two very different fundraising...