strategy

How the #MPRraccoon Translates to Modern Fundraising Strategy

What does the #MPRraccoon have to do with modern fundraising? Everything. 

#MPRraccoon inspired people around the globe on topics ranging from completing college to world peace.

#MPRraccoon inspired people around the globe on topics ranging from completing college to world peace.

In case you missed it, #MPRraccoon is the tale of a raccoon who was observed scaling the side of 25-story building in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota. Quite literally, millions (billions? It was the top trending story on Twitter worldwide at one point) followed this furry little critter's harrowing climb up several hundred feet in the middle of a busy work day. (Thank you, social media) It was a unifying event that, according to many tweets, inspired observers across the globe.

So what does this have to do with fundraising? Again, everything ...because online fundraising works best when you are able to catch potential donors at the right point in time. 

In most cases, we try to accomplish this by tying digital campaigns to established events we can anticipate. #GivingTuesday, national awareness days, founding anniversaries ...and that can be successful. But rarely are those events as inspiring as a sudden, viral Internet sensation.

So how on Earth can you prepare for something as random as a miniature mammal taking center stage before the world? If you're an conservation or animal welfare organization, the answer should be obvious. Early the day after the #MPRraccoon hit the news, you should have had a social media campaign with promoted tweets and Facebook posts ready to fire. Emails should have been created and sent - a giving page with a screen grab of the raccoon and clear call to action should have been ready to go.

The messaging? For animal rights orgs: "Not all wildlife achieves the fame of #MPRraccoon - give today to ensure happy endings for all those animals who aren't trending topics"

For the conservation org: "Don't force more raccoons up high rises - give today to preserve habitat for generations to come"

It's concept we at Groundwork have coined "agile fundraising" (a play off the more well known "agile marketing" term). You can prepare your fundraising shop to leverage this concept and react nimbly when the social media gods deliver opportunities that align with your mission. Here's how:

  • Hire internally or outsource a team of quick thinking communicators and producers who can work with the news cycle. (This is why Groundwork aims to hire fundraisers with experience in the news industry ... women and men who are accustomed to delivering impactful stories that align with the events of the day on excruciating tight timelines are fundamental to our strategies)
  • Be ready to quickly produce short, succinct video which can be deployed via social media. OR ...create video content in advance that can easily be connected to a more predictable news item with a slight edit. (A full screen graphic, for example)
  • Use technology that allows you to build a content-rich online giving page in less than an hour. Most crowdfunding platforms allow for this. 
  • And develop a strategy that prepares your team - from major gift officers who secure matching gifts in less than a day (our clients have done this - it is possible if you've built the framework in advance) to content producers ready to turn on a dime to leadership who is comfortable with the pace.

At Groundwork, we are doing agile fundraising for our clients right now and we have examples of how this has helped raise hundreds of thousand of dollars and hundreds of new major gift prospects. In fact, later this summer (2018), we'll be releasing a case study about our most recent agile fundraising campaign with one of our client partners. Click here to let us know if you'd like to be added to the email list so we can send you a copy when it's ready.

Agile fundraising is not without it's challenges, but the opportunity that exists with this strategy is tremendous. Have you had success with agile fundraising or agile marketing for your nonprofit? If so, let us know in the comments!

 

More Email Equals Higher Donor Retention

Want to increase your retention? Email your donors MUCH more frequently.

Seriously. Data says so.

A M+R Benchmark study of 4,699,299,330 email messages and 11,958,385 donations tells us that EVERY additional fundraising message per subscriber was related to 0.2% increase in overall donor retention for the year. And there were no signs of that correlation dissipating as the emails increased. The formula looks simple: more emails = more retention.

Of course, while I don’t have data to prove this, it stands to reason that emailing your donor database every day with a subject line and body that basically says “Give again today!” will not lead to better retention. (Just a hunch)

So how do you develop a high-frequency email program that does encourage higher donor retention? As with anything, content counts. Here is what Groundwork recommends…

Treat email as a gateway, not a final destination

Assume people are checking and not reading email. Keep you emails short, succinct, and to the point. Link out of the email to your website where great content (preferably video) awaits the reader. Include only one call to action and highlight that CTA in bold with the hyperlink to your website. In most cases, we want an email to grab someone’s attention and send them to an online destination where they can “learn more,” “sign up,” or “give today!”

Key to this approach is producing great content for your website(s) and gift form(s). Investing in powerful video content is one of the most important moves a nonprofit fundraising organization can make. The relationship between high email volume and increased retention is just one of the many reasons why content is critical.

Always Be (A/B, get it?) Testing

A/B test to no end. The “gateway not a destination” recommendation I just gave above? Test it. Try long form emails with group A and three-sentence emails with group B.

But to bring this back to retention, conduct a year-long email retention test. Send donor group A your current planned frequency of email and then send donor group B three times that number. Do your best to provide quality content and keep the solicitation ratio equal across both groups. (Group A gets 4 soliciations and 8 impact of giving emails, group B gets 12 solicitations and 24 impact of giving emails) Which group retains better after 12 months of this approach? Everything can be A/B tested including this high email volume = better retention theory.

Thoughts? Is dramatically increasing email frequency a tough pill to swallow? We would love to hear from those who have experimented with email frequency in the comments below!

HOW TO Build Multi-channel Fundraising Campaigns

Whether a giving day, end-of-calendar-year campaign, #GivingTuesday, spring appeal ...whatever the cause for the solicitation, TRUE multi-channel fundraising campaigns are proven to significantly increase fundraising outcomes. (Online and offline)

So what is a "true multi-channel campaign?" We explain in the video below. Just click to watch... *NOTE: the content starts at the 2:10 mark. (There is nothing wrong with your audio!)

Do you want an expert leading your multi-channel fundraising strategy? Groundwork Digital offers packages to align and modernize your fundraising efforts across social media, email, direct mail, and phone. Click here to send us an email for more information. 

Find New Major Donor Prospects Through Online Campaigns

Online ambassador programs continue to prove their value in the leadership and major gifts spaces.

Groundwork client Trinity Health Foundation is enjoying the fruits of a project that finds, engages, then deploys leadership annual giving and major donors through digital campaigns. Watch the video below as Trinity's Beth Marsoun talks about how this online fundraising effort is uncovering new major donor prospects for the hospital:

Here are the numbers for the first (of many) Trinity digital leadership annual giving fundraising campaigns:

  • $15,000+ new money raised in just 72 hours
  • 94 gifts
  • 80 percent new donor acquisition rate
  • Three new major donor prospects uncovered through the mirco campaign

It's simple - the more wealth a person has, the more active they are online (according to a massive and growing number of studies from researchers at places like Fidelity Investments to Accenture).

And wealthy people know other wealthy people. When we empower our leadership and major donors with online campaigns built around their generosity, we not only raise more from the initial donor organizing the online campaign, but we also unlock wealthy prospects within their networks. All the while, feeding the annual fund with exciting new giving opportunties.

Going digital for major donors provides a short-term boost to your operation with small gifts while spreading rocket fuel on your new major donor prospect recruitment efforts. It's a win-win now and next year (and beyond).

And Groundwork knows exactly how to build a program like this for your organization. Click here for our "contact us" form and we'll be in touch to discuss potential strategies for your organization.

Introducing Groundwork Digital

Welcome to Groundwork Digital! We are a strategic consultancy serving nonprofit organizations and institutions. We use digital (online, social media, and video primarily) to help your development operation:

Groundwork Digital Logo
  • Acquire new donors.
  • Retain current donors.
  • Rethink stewardship, especially of online-acquired donors.
  • Engage new, previously undiscovered segments of major donors.
  • Build a truly multi-channel approach to fundraising.

More than half the planet’s population is online. Two thirds of North America is active on social media. New donors are spending hours online everyday and waiting to be engaged on those platforms. Our firm is focused on strategies and technology that connects you to those future donors and engages them in a way that is meaningful (and data-backed).

For example, did you know online ambassadors can be more powerful for the major gift program than they are for the annual fund? Check out the video below with Co-Founder Justin Ware to see how:

When it comes to acquisition of new donors, giving days and crowdfunding have been the hottest new trends for many years now. And you can’t find a team with more giving day and crowdfunding program experience than Groundwork Digital.

But perhaps more importantly, how do you retain all these unique, first-time online donors? Our team is especially well equipped to help you answer these difficult retention questions as well. Have a look at the following video with Co-Founder Rosa Conrad for more on how we support modern stewardship:

Groundwork Digital’s team has:

  • Co-led the planning for more than three dozen online giving days.
  • Helped establish hundreds of crowdfunding projects.
  • Built more than a dozen successful online ambassador programs.
  • Worked with clients to produce major donor-engaging digital strategies that elevate cultivation, stewardship, and solicitation.

Keep your eyes open for more posts like this with tips and tactics on engaging donors at every level using modern media. To be sure you don’t miss any updates, follow us on…

And always feel free to email us at info@groundworkdigital.com.

We can’t wait to start brainstorming and reinventing philanthropy with you!