Let’s Chat about Lift

Here at analytical ones we have identified three key ways to grow revenue: Win more donorsLift the performance of the donors you already haveKeep more of the donors you already have We talk a lot about winning, acquisition and reactivation, but we don’t often talk about lifting, increasing the value of donors already on the file. So, let’s talk about it! In some recent analyses I explored what impacted donor upgrades and downgrades for donors of various values. The analysis was limited to donors who had given in both fiscal years. My primary question: how do year over year changes in average gift and gift frequency differ for higher and lower value donors? What I found was quite interesting.  For higher value donors, an increase in gift amount was the most significant contributor to upgrades. For lower value donors, while average gift did tend to increase, an increase in gift frequency was more significant to their upgrade. The same was true, conversely, for downgrading donors. Decreased gift amount was more closely related to downgrading high value donors than it was for lower value donors. This may mean that, to prevent downgrades, getting a donor to give an additional gift in a given year may either 1) Prevent them from downgrading or 2) Lead to a donor upgrading in value. How might we offer donors of higher and lower values sufficient opportunities to upgrade? How might we combat declining gift frequency to decrease downgrade percentages? Come back next week, I have a few ideas to...

My Fall In-Box

I don’t know about you, but I received far fewer direct mail appeals this fall (between October 1st and December 31st.) Last year, I received an even 50 direct mail appeals. This year, I received only 30. That’s a 40% decrease in volume, which is significant. During the last week of the year, I received 99 e-mail appeals (this is the first year I have tracked this metric). Half of those came on the final two days of the year. Here is a recap of the direct mail I received this year, and the insights I noted: Of the 30 pieces of direct mail, 15 mailings were appeals from 8 organizations I have previously supported, while 15 pieces were new donor acquisition kits from 11 organizations. Once again, I received the most pieces from The Salvation Army (7) – though four of the mailings were duplicates. I have supported The Army in two different Divisions, both of which sent me identical appeals. I contacted one Division about this issue last year, but the message must not have reached the right people. World Vision and World Wild Life Found sent me the two catalogs I received I did not receive any newsletters.For acquisition, I received three premium packages. One was from St. Jude with address labels and a notepad, and I received two handbags from Doctors Without Borders. My team and I are looking forward to analyzing all the end of year data these fall appeals have generated. We’re looking forward to seeing your data,...

A Cautionary Tale of Stopping New Donor Acquisition

As I’ve shared before, one of our most common analyses, sadly, is projecting what happens to a donor file’s active counts if an organization decides to discontinue new donor acquisition – after all, new donor acquisition is just too expensive. Well, today’s graph is not a projection . . . but a real-life example of what happens to donor file when an organization stops acquiring new donors for just two years. Figure 1: Active Donor Counts Not sure I need to say anything else. What a total unmitigated disaster. In just two years of not acquiring new donors, this organization’s active donor counts were cut in half. This organization now faces the dim prospect of having to invest more in new donor acquisition over the next several years just to get back to where they were in FY17. So unnecessary. If you (or your client) is considering such a decision, please, please, show them this...
Face-to-Face

Face-to-Face

Recently, I attended the Bridge Conference in Washington, D.C. While there, I was struck by two simple things. First of all, it sure can rain in the capital… I was in a meeting at one of the restaurants on the lower level of my hotel when one of the fountains began to flood somehow from the afternoon thunderstorm. I flashed back to the scene in the film “Titanic” when all the well-dressed people were running up the stairs to escape the water. It was quite remarkable! But more importantly, it just re-enforced for me the importance of being face-to-face with people. As an introvert, I absolutely love technologies like Google Duo, Facetime and ZOOM which allow you to have client meetings without leaving the office. Anything that helps avoid the hassle and expense of going to the airport is okay with me. However, nothing beats having the opportunity to sit down with another human being over coffee or a meal and just have a real human conversation. That’s true with your donors, too. And while it may be more difficult for some organizations, I think it’s absolutely necessary that you have some real face time (not the Apple kind) whenever possible. We humans (even us introverted ones) need this kind of interaction every now and...
Is Your BOD on Hopium?

Is Your BOD on Hopium?

I saw the term “hopium” for the first time in a recent blog by Victoria Christensen and immediately became fond of the term. As Ms. Christensen defines it: hopium is a false sense of positivity in the midst of dire, evidence-based scientific research. Now, while her context for using the term was not related to fundraising, I couldn’t help but think of all our nonprofit friends who are in the midst of finalizing their FY20 budgets. For our context, here’s an example of how to use the term “hopium”: If your BOD has asked you to increase revenue 10% next fiscal year without any increase in your development budget, they are on hopium. I don’t recall much from my Philosophy 100 class as a freshman in college, but I do remember the Latin term Ex Nilo Nil Fit coined by pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides: From Nothing, Nothing Comes. I believe there is a national hopium epidemic in our nonprofit board rooms today. Boards continue to ask development professionals to achieve lofty goals without adequately equipping them with the resources they need to get the job done. And we wonder why turnover in nonprofit development departments is so high… So, before you take your next development leadership role in a nonprofit organization, do some research to make sure the BOD isn’t on...
Mission Impossible

Mission Impossible

I recently visited with the Executive Director of a small nonprofit whose mission is mostly carried out by volunteers. And boy, was I impressed with all that they accomplish with such a lean staff. But I also wondered how much more they could do if they had just a little more budget to afford a few more paid staff. As any ED of a small nonprofit knows all too well, they end up diverting a lot of time on the important things that need attention today, rather than focusing on the big picture things that could take the organization to the next level. It leaves me conflicted honestly. On the one hand, this nonprofit organization is doing so many things right. It’s engaging its community of supporters, delivering on its mission and having a big impact on a small group of people. But on the other hand, because of its dependence on volunteers, it can’t scale its services to generate an impact on a bigger group of people. And to do that, the organization will have to change. But is bigger always...