Our Top 5 Most Popular Blogs of 2017

Happy New Year! As we start 2018, we wanted to take a moment to thank for your reads, comments, and shares over the last year. We hope you were able to use a few of our analytical insights to grow your fundraising program. Last year, our most popular posts focused on major donors’ first channel of giving, gift size by generation, statistical significance in testing, acquisition strategies, and trends among successful nonprofits. In case you missed any of these posts, here are the links to our top 5 blogs of 2017: Major Donors – In the Beginning Granny’s $5 Birthday Surprise Won’t Cut It Any Longer Response Rate Testing and Statistical Significance More is Not Always More (Acquisition Strategy) Success Stories Thank you and here’s to a great...

Building Trust

This is the third guest post in a blog series by Steven Screen of The Better Fundraising Company. You can find links here to Part I and Part II. Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat In the last post we noted that the organizations that take their donors through the circle of “Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat” multiple times tend to build relationships and revenue over time. Because by building trust you increase your chances of getting another gift. But when most organizations zoom out to 40,000 feet to look at their communications, they find that they do this: Ask, Ask, Ask, Ask, e-news, Ask, Ask, Annual Report, Ask Or this: Ask, Ask, Brag, Ask, Ask Many smaller organizations just see this: Ask, Event Prescriptive for Majors, Approximate for Mass For your mass donor communications, it’s too expensive to take each donor exactly through each step, in order. That’s why successful fundraising organizations almost always develop an ongoing stream of communications that hit all of the notes often enough. Maybe that’s 6 appeals and 3 newsletters, and customized Thank You/Receipt packages. But maybe it’s 12 appeals and 12 newsletters. Or maybe it’s 4 appeals and 2 newsletters. The numbers are dependent on your file size and its responsiveness (and a few other things). They key is to hit the notes that need to be hit to build trust and relationship. But for major donors, you can and should take your donor through each step. The Major Gifts Officers who take each donor through the Ask, Thank, Report system have great success. For instance, they make damn sure their donors have been well...

Simplicity Before Complexity

            This is the second blog post in a guest series by Steven Screen of The Better Fundraising Company. Last time we asked the question: is there a certain kind of story that leads to fundraising success? For the donor files that Analytical Ones showed were doing really well, were there any commonalities in the “stories” those organizations were telling their donors? What we found was that the organizations that outperformed their niche tended to follow a similar pattern. And it was so simple I could summarize it in just 4 words: Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat These organizations tended to do four things really well: 1. They were very good at the art of Asking their donors for gifts 2. They Thanked their donors promptly and emotionally 3. They Reported to their donors on what their gift had accomplished 4. They Repeated the Ask, Thank, Report rhythm multiple times each year, and they repeated the same ideas and offers throughout the year. Mastering the Basics Now, of course it’s more complex than that. If you read this blog you know that. But you also know that a LOT of nonprofits chase shiny things instead of mastering the basics. And I’m here to tell you that it’s the basics of Asking, Thanking and Reporting that seemed to propel the successful organizations. Whenever I or my co-founder, Jim Shapiro, speak at conferences we ask the audience if their organizations are good at Reporting to donors on what their gifts accomplish. Usually about 15% to 20% of the hands go up. That means 4 out of 5...

Success Stories

This is the first post in a 3-part guest series by Steven Screen of The Better Fundraising Company. If you’ve ever had Analytical Ones analyze your nonprofit’s donor data, you’ve heard them say this: “Every donor data file has a story to tell.” I always thought that was a powerful idea: that your donors as a group, through their giving and their lack of giving, are telling your organization a story. And as a fundraiser, I know that the story your donors are telling is mostly a response to the story that your organization is telling. Right? Your organization sends out your donor communications – the tactics and content that make up your organization’s story – and your donors either give or they don’t. The better your story, the more money you raise. So I got to wondering; was there a certain kind of story that lead to fundraising success? For the donor files that Analytical Ones showed were doing really well, were there any commonalities in the “stories” those organizations were telling their donors? And I work mostly with small- to medium- nonprofits, so I was specifically curious about the ‘success stories’ for organizations with three characteristics: 1. Organizations without a built-in advantage. For instance, if you’re the national organization that works on a common type of cancer, thousands of people are diagnosed each day. Those new patients, and their friends and families, are immediately potential donors for your organization. That’s a built-in advantage that most nonprofits don’t have. 2. Organizations that weren’t too big. I didn’t precisely define a number, but we all know that there are...

Disaster Donor Retention – Reprise

Like you, over the past several weeks our attention has been focused on Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma and the destructive paths that they’ve carved through the U.S. And as our managing partner Bill returns home from his 2nd evacuation in less than 12 months, our thoughts and prayers are with the many people who were affected by the storms. But, as we did last year at this time after Hurricane Matthew, we think it’s a good time to look at the trends of new donors who respond to natural disasters and their retention in the following year – or lack thereof. Below is a graph for a social services nonprofit in an area hit by a natural disaster in FY13. This graph shows the number of new donors acquired each year. There was an 88% spike in the number of new donors in FY13, then a 58% decrease in new donors the next year. And below is the overall retention for the same organization. Their overall Retention dropped 12% – from 53% to 46% in the year after the disaster (although retention recovered nicely in FY15). And in FY14, Second Year Donor Retention dropped 30%, from 6 to 18%! Sometimes, there’s little that can be done to increase these new donors’ retention. They are motivated to give by the disaster and may not be converted to give to the organization’s overall mission. In surveys, many donors don’t even consider themselves donors TO the organization, but instead to the event. “I gave to Hurricane Matthew”, NOT “I gave to XYZ Organization.” Still, these donors should receive all of the stewardship...