Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Missing Millions in YOUR Charity's Databases

We fundraisers have a problem.  OK, we have many, but a big one is the ‘missing millions.’

Direct marketing expert Roger Craver calls releasing these missing millions ‘miracle’ fundraising.  

But I think that is too generous. 

Image: Where are the missing millions?

Tapping the money is not a miracle.  But not tapping this resource is unforgivable.

Where are these missing millions?

They are in your databases. 

They are the funds people would donate if only you gave them the right opportunity.

The problem is our historical structure.

We have built fundraising around either mass marketing (direct marketing, or DM) 
personal relationships (major donors, or MD).  

And we define the difference between them as an amount of money.

Donors however, don’t buy into that definition.  Many lower ‘value’ donors would be much more valuable if only we worked on building a relationship with them.  And many high ‘value’ donors simply don’t want a personal relationship.

The solution is actually quite easy.

Direct marketeers need to produce the best possible communications for their top donors, and produce cheaper versions for lower value donors.  They need to sacrifice volume (numbers mailed or telephoned) to free budget to allow improvement in the quality of communications.

And major donor fundraisers need to spend more time meeting with donors.  If they did, the cost per visit would be less and they could also then justify spending time with donors giving at lower values.

If you have already booked the latest webinar, great stuff and thank you!


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tom Ahern and I are going to make your cause money. Lots of money.

Perhaps you have enough already in your bank account. Helping everyone you can.

Or maybe your direct mail is already perfect and you maximise the donations from your database – and have no doubt about it.

But I doubt it.

I know you want to raise more because you are reading this.

On 9/10 June come to ‘Release the Explosive Generosity Locked Inside Your $100+ Donors ... With These Proven Direct Mail Secrets.’ And Tom and I will give you solid, simple tips on how to boost your income. Fast and easy.

(Formerly known as ‘Writing and Creating Mid Value Direct Mail: same webinar, much better title thanks to Tom Ahern!)

So much Direct Mail. How do I Cut Through and Raise More for My Cause!?

Whatever your time zone, there is a slot that works for you to watch live. Or maybe you would prefer to watch a recording with your whole team at a time that suits you?

Everyone who registers has an opportunity to attend live. Whether you make it or not you will get the recordings, the slides and any handouts.

AND if you miss the live session but have burning questions: no worries – just email me!

Sitting in your database is a mass of money that you could be missing. Donors with a capacity to give well above their current levels are waiting for you to allow them to do so.

And we will show you how.

For just the price of a taxi to and from the airport in Melbourne this webinar offers amazing value at just USD$89.*

In this practical webinar we are going to:

  • Briefly look at who are the people ready to give you more money
  • How to develop awesome offers (propositions)
  • Very quick, easy and specific approaches to copy
  • An awesome copy checklist! Yours to keep forever.
  • Creative execution ideas: how to get those packs opened and drag out those huge gifts and response rates and, finally
  • Hyper-personalisation. How to use data to really press the right buttons.

Tom and I look forward to seeing you there – to watch a recording of the webinar click here. 


*USD$89 is about $125 NZD/CAD/AUD or  €79 and £61. 

** Dates and times by timezone below.
Americas edition
Thu 9th Jun 12.30 PDT - US West Coast                                           
Thu 9th Jun 14:30 CDT - Mexico City
Thu 9th Jun 15.30 EDT - US East Coast
Thu 9th Jun 16.30 BRST - Rio De Janiero, Brasil
Thu 9th Jun 20.30 BST - London, UK
Fri 10th Jun 05.30 AEST - Brisbane, Australia
Fri 10th Jun 05.30 AEDT - Sydney, Australia
SE&E Asia, Oceania edition
Thu 9th Jun 17.00 PDT - US West Coast
Thu 9th Jun 20.00 EDT - US East Coast
Fri 10th Jun 01.00 BST - London, UK
Fri 10th Jun 08.00 HKT - Hong Kong                                                    
Fri 10th Jun 09.00 JST - Tokyo
Fri 10th Jun10.00 AEST - Brisbane, Australia
Fri 10th Jun 10.00 AEDT - Sydney, Australia
Fri 10th Jun 12.00 NZDT - Auckland, New Zealand
Europe, Africa & W Asia edition
Fri 10th Jun 04.00 PDT - US West Coast
Fri 10th Jun 07.00 EDT - US East Coast
Fri 10th Jun 12.00 BST - London, UK
Fri 10th Jun 13.00 CEST - Paris, Brussels, Madrid
Fri 10th Jun 13.00 SAST - Cape Town, South Africa
Fri 10th Jun 14.00 EAT - Nairobi, Kenya                                              
Fri 10th Jun 15:00 GST- Dubai
Fri 10th Jun 16.30 IST - Delhi
Fri 10th Jun 21.00 AEDT - Sydney, Australia

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Using URLs in Direct Mail

Thanks to Mike Linnemann from the University of Minnesota Foundation, and Tom Ahern, donor communications expert whose recent Twitter conversation inspired this blog.

Direct mail is the largest source of new donors in most fundraising markets.

(AND if you want to know more about how to maximise income from your direct mail, please check out my upcoming webinar on this topic. View the recording here! )

Yet, even with an average age of 70-80, depending on country, many of these donors are online as well..

So, should we include convenient URLs for donors in our direct mail letters?

URL on a response coupon - in the 'To Make a Gift' section.

The answer seems obvious. Of course we should!  If we do, we see a big spike in online donations.

But is that the right answer?

A good few years ago we tested including URL on the donation form and in the PS of a direct mail letter.  Something like:


In this A v B test, half of letters (A) included the URL, half (B) didn't. 

Unsurprisingly, there were more donations made online from the A Group - people who were given the URL, than from the B Group.

Whenever you send direct mail, there is usually a spike in donations to the standard donation page on www.charityname.com.au. However, with volumes usually being very small, it is hard to make valid conclusions.

The correct measure for the test, because this was a warm (house) mailing going to previous donors is:

“Does adding a URL to my direct mail letter increase total net income from the group who got the URL?”

Any other measures, like how many donations were made online, average donation and response rates, are all variables contributing to that single question.

In the test the answer was....

NO.  Adding the URL reduced total income.  Although the A group gave more online,their total giving (including off and online) was less than the B Group.

Adding a URL to my direct mail letter reduced total net income.

Why?  What was going on?

My theory is simple.  

A good direct mail letter is designed to trigger an emotional response and get the recipient to do something now.  With the standard letter, we asked them to fill in the form, right now, pop it into the enclosed postage paid envelope and post today.

That’s probably what they have done before, which is why they are on our direct mail warm (house) file.

With the letter that included the URL we added an extra option, such as, 'Or you can make a donation online at...'.

What happened was that the 25% or so who had opened the letter and felt motivated enough to give either filled the form there and then (yay!) or put the letter aside with 100% intention to donate when they were online.

The problem is (or was) that they would then have to do stuff to log on - like turn on their computer. 

Precious time would pass between their desire to donate and the actual act.  And that time would eat into response rates.

Of course, these days with three or four times the mobile penetration than when we tested it (four years ago) many can indeed donate online straight away.

But remember, the average age of a direct mail donor?  Hmmm, what proportion of people that age can donate straight away online?  

The answer:  I just don't know. Please, someone test it!

The first charity to send me the results of testing this properly:
A true A/B test looking at whether adding a URL to letter, PS and/or response form statistically increases net income will get a donation of US$150/AUD$150/ €150 from me if they let me post the results.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pareto Principle and Direct Mail

I’ve reminded you all about the ParetoPrinciple, and written about Pareto2.  It’s all well and good in theory.

But how can it be applied in practice?

One of the most obvious applications is when targeting and budgeting in direct mail.

If I am working on a direct mail pack to my house file (people who have donated through direct mail before) I can use the principle to increase revenue. And usually for no extra cost!

A fundamental mistake in direct mail is when the goal is to reach as many people as possible, as cheaply as possible.

Generally the bigger and better the pack, the better it will perform.  A ‘better’ pack may get a higher response rate and/or a higher average donation.  But it probably costs more per pack to mail.

Applying the logic of the Pareto principle, we can quickly work out that sending a bigger, better pack to fewer donors will raise more money.

A really easy example is that I may be planning on spending $1.50 for a standard pack to 20,000 people.  That will cost me $30,000.  (Print and production is expensive here in Australia!)

My ‘better’ pack is going to cost me $3, but my budget is stuck at $30,000.

I would mail the $3 pack to the top 20%, about 4,000 people. Wiping out $12,000 of my budget I now only have $18,000 left and 16,000 people I could still mail.

Now, with the remaining budget I can either:

Mail a much cheaper pack to all of them ($18,000/16,000 = $1.12 per pack) OR
I only mail 12,000 people with the $1.50 pack.

Whichever I choose, I will raise more money in total.  But only if the pack really was better.

Nice and clear?

Here it is in a video.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Why you should register for the Mid Value Webinar Series - with Roger Craver and Tom Ahern

You're frustrated.

You have all these donors already on your database. And you suspect there's a LOT of additional giving hiding inside those generous hearts.

The only problem is: you don't know how to release it!

But we do!

And we'll show you step by step how to raise far more money from your existing donors ... in this unique series of webinars by three of the world's most successful fundraising experts.

Your investment in these exclusive expert-grade webinars will pay for itself many times over. Guaranteed! (And, by the way, unavailable elsewhere.)

Then go buy or borrow a wheelbarrow. For all that extra cash you’ll have for your important cause.

Through this series of webinars, along with my truly esteemed colleagues, I will be giving you a ton of useful and practical information for increasing revenue from mid value donors.

The first webinar is this week - starring the most accomplished and experienced charity direct marketeer I know, Roger Craver.  

And a few weeks later, we will have everyone's communications hero Tom Ahern.

In the series we give you almost EVERYTHING you need to make fundraising from mid value donors work. 

You just need to add some hard work, a great offer and that wheelbarrow!

Why attend?
  • Mid value / mid level donors are the biggest immediate fundraising opportunity for any charity with current donors.
  • Getting mid value fundraising right is not usually expensive.  It is a matter of focused resources.
  • The series of webinars gives you everything your need to know to make your mid value program soar.
  • We are going to feature an amazing frank and step-by-step case study of a relatively small international charity - willing to share their learnings about targeting, writing, personal visit plans and more!
  • We will cover maths and targeting, how you ask, ways to improve direct mail, and sensible, manageable stewardship.  This series is awesome value.
  • Five webinars, three hosts (Roger Craver, Tom Ahern and me) and in a time zone to suit you.
  • If you miss one, no worries - every registrant gets the recording, the presentation and any handouts.
  • One registration - but you can share the material across your whole organisation.  

But please don't just take it from me.  I have been working with Orbis in New York on mid value donors and more for a little while now.  

Don't just take it from me,  I have been working with Orbis in New York on mid value donors and more for a little while now.  Here is what Laura Parrotta has to say...

And her colleague, Norma...

"Sean’s clear and concise advice is based on deep analysis of what works in fundraising. Because his advice is based on knowledge and experience, I feel confident as I write direct mail and high-level donor appeals that it’s going to work. 

I just listen and take lots of notes as Sean talks, and I capture his ideas and wording, and I know it’s wording that works. 

All his ideas have the target of getting people to give at their own best level of commitment. So I know that, with Sean’s help, I’m working to maximize the good my organization can do."
Norma Hopcraft, Associate, Donor Development, Orbis

I hope to see you there. Thank you!


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Pareto Squared

If you are a fundraiser, you hopefully already know all about the Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule (if not, check it out here).

This rule tells you that 80% of revenue will come from 20% of your donors.

But you might not yet have heard about Pareto2 or Pareto Squared.

This rule only works across a large data set, and across a few years, but it is another useful thing to understand if you want to maximise future income.

What is it?

80% of revenue will come from 20% of donors.
Well, 80% of that revenue will come from 20% of them.

Lost you?

20% of my top 20% donors, which is 4% of all my donors will give me 80% of 80% of my revenue – which is 64% of money.

So 64% of revenue will come from just 4% of donors.

Beautiful – and, if you are good at following up mid value donors, major donors and bequests, surprisingly accurate.

Here’s a video explaining it.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Where Can I Find Some Major Donors!!!???

Fundraisers can spend a lot of time asking “ Where Can I Find Some Major Donors?”  Clever fundraisers start by looking at home.

As Veritus Group in the USA highlight in their recent blog ‘Stop Prospecting’, the most likely place you’ll find major donors is in your existing donor file.

Yes, it is more fun and exciting to seek new major donors from the rich and famous, the top end of town.  And for Universities, Arts and capital campaigns that may not be a bad place to look.

But drilling down into the data, I can see much more money for most charities coming from what I will call mid-value donors.

You have more chance of finding these ‘mid value’ donors in your current database of donors, and these are the usual source of bigger (or major!) donors.

What kind of donors?

The best source is usually direct mail donors. 

I know, I know – so many are saying ‘Direct Mail is Dead!’ 

Well it isn’t. Not only is it not dead - for many charities it is the single biggest source of donors who are going to give more than $1,000 in the future.

The chart below shows the huge proportion of money that comes in from the ‘small’ numbers of donors in the bequest and $1000+ categories in the Pareto Benchmarking study in Australia. 

Big Growth Potential Chart

Charities that succeed in raising money from donations over $1,000 tend to start with people already on their database.  It works, and is not that hard.

How to do it?  Stay tuned for my next article and please take a look at my series of webinars about mid-value donors.


Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here