Major Donors – In the Beginning

Major Donors – In the Beginning

Recently, an organization wanted to take a look at where their $1,000+ donors originated. After a quick channel analysis, we came up with this chart. For this nonprofit, 55% of their $1,000+ donors came in through their Acquisition Mailings. Another 23% gave their first gifts online. Four percent gave their first gifts to codes categorized as “Cultivation Mail” – mostly newsletters – and 9% of the $1,000+ donors gave their gifts to “Miscellaneous” codes like White Mail. So, Acquisition Mailings are extremely important – not just for the new donors they bring on for direct mail – but also as the entry point for future major donors. Over half of new major donor come in to the organization this way. Do you treat your newly acquired direct mail donors like they are your future major...
Make Statistics Understandable

Make Statistics Understandable

Kent (the resident numbers/strategy guy on Veep): [on the news coverage of a salmonella outbreak] “The number of people taken ill is orders of magnitude below statistical significance. Do people not understand basic nonparametric statistics?” While those numbers folks – and aren’t ALL marketers numbers folks? – among us may laugh at the quote above from the show Veep, I’m reminded constantly how true it is – People do NOT understand basic nonparametric statistics. And we shouldn’t expect them to. As we look back on 2016 and start 2017, I’m reminded constantly that our clients, our board members and our executive directors are not all numbers people. So, our job is not just to do the analysis but to make the numbers make sense. To find what’s hidden within the numbers and to use that to drive the strategy. Then we need to explain clearly to everyone The What and The Why. It’s interesting that Kent’s title in the White House is “Senior Strategist”. Perhaps political strategy focuses too much on polls and on numbers to drive every decision. But often the rest of us focus too little on those things. We marketers can help to fix that by making the numbers make sense. Then they can drive the...
Disaster Donor Retention

Disaster Donor Retention

As our managing partner Bill recovers from Hurricane Matthew, it’s a good time to look at the trends of new donors who respond to natural disasters and their following year retention – 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. Here 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 26% to 18%! Often, 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 that COULD make them convert to a long-term donor: prompt thank you letters thanking them specifically for their gift to the disaster (not a general thank you referencing general programs), follow-up information about the cause they’ve supported and how they’ve helped, and thank you phone calls for certain levels of giving. But, even more importantly may be to plan for the future: budget for the increase in mailing costs...
Acquisition Ideas for Small Nonprofits

Acquisition Ideas for Small Nonprofits

A friend recently asked me for some ideas on how to start growing a donor base for a small nonprofit who doesn’t have a lot of money to spend. This seems like that’s always a question, whether you’re working with a small nonprofit or a large one: What are some creative ideas to acquire new donors without spending a lot of money? As I told her, I’m always great at coming up with ideas as long as someone else will do the hard part – doing the work. So, I thought I’d pass along some thoughts. One of the first things I would recommend to look at is any resources that the organization has for an online campaign to start to build up a donor file. Who are your board members and what resources do they have? Do they have companies with websites and could they devote a section to your cause? Do your board members or does your organization have a relationship with local media like the newspaper or a radio or TV station that could help with a campaign to drive people to your website? Do you have a way to launch a concentrated online campaign around a particular issue? In addition to a lightbox on your home page, you could have other sites (like those board members’ company sites) drive potential donors there. I once had a client who launched a big campaign in conjunction with a car dealership (the owner was a board member) and the car dealership sponsored TV commercials for the organization to drive people to give (pun intended). Just some thoughts to...
Share of Wallet

Share of Wallet

As a follow-up to my recent blog on Donor Penetration (how MANY households give), I wanted to share some recent analysis for the same group of local human service non-profits. This analysis looks at HOW MUCH households in their communities give compared to overall IRS giving, in other words, their Share of Wallet. For the 17 local nonprofits overall, I looked at every $1,000 in giving as reported to the IRS. I found that on average, $1.12 of that $1,000 goes to these nonprofits. Similar to the donor penetration numbers, there’s a wide range within that. It goes from a low Share of Wallet of only $0.31 in one geographic area to a high of $2.60 in another area. There doesn’t seem to be any correlation between Donor Penetration – the percent of donors giving in an area – to Share of Wallet. Both the area with the lowest Share of Wallet and the area with the highest Share of Wallet have a higher than average Donor Penetration. So, we can’t say that if a smaller percentage of households are giving to you, that those donors are each giving LESS to you. And we can’t say that if a higher percentage of households are giving to you that they are giving you MORE. This speaks to two challenging parts of fundraising: Convincing the donors that you need their gift Getting them to give to you in the first place (the WIN part of the equation) and Getting them to KEEP giving Then once they have given that first gift, convincing them that you are deserving of a significant amount...