Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Great Way to Boost Donations in Your Next Appeal…

...And Build Awesome Relationships With Major Donors

I have a little story about Jason Smith, a quiet and unassuming Quebecois guy living in Melbourne, Australia.  He works as the fundraising manager at Burnet Institute.

The Institute is a charity dedicated to researching diseases that cause harm to people in less developed countries.  It is one of my favourite charities, partly because Jason works there and is an easy guy to get behind and support, but also because of it’s unique mission.

However, the Institute’s fundraising is relatively small with a database of just around 7,000 people who donated in the past year or so.

For their mid-year appeal, Jason and his colleague Asther Creo ran a classic direct mail appeal to their donors.

Shortly after the appeal had been mailed Jason met with a ‘mid value’ donor – someone who had, with their partner, donated $4,000 in 2015.  I’ll call the donor Bernadette because it kind of works with the charity name.

Bernadette told him she was keen on ‘stretching’ her (and her partner’s) donation to have more impact.  So Jason and Bernadette agreed that a special communication would go out to donors.

The message was simple ‘One of our supporters has offered to match your gift up to $50,000.’

With time short, the campaign was run as part of the second ‘wave’ of mid-year appeal.  Basically a follow up letter to the original appeal.

Jason told me; “the matched gift offer boosted results and the campaign raised an extraordinary $326,000 (including the $50,000 donation).  About $150,000 came in after we went out with the offer – it definitely got a lot of traction out there.”

Although the matched offer would have done better as a letter earlier, this is still a great study of delivering what a mid value donor wanted – and lifting them into the major donor zone.

By the way, if you're interested in how you can turn your mid level donors into major gift donors - you should join my next webinar, where we'll give you more details and a process on how to do this.

Click here to register for 'The Quickest, Cheapest and Easiest Way to Earn Extra Cash Now, Turn Mid Value Donors into Major Gifts In a Week.'

This webinar will be live on 29th / 30th September (various time zones are available),  however even if you can't make the date the recording and slides will be available for all who register.

Like many fundraisers, Jason is keen to expand his knowledge and understanding of fundraising.  In particular, he has gained lots of good tips and knowledge from Pareto, our blogs and my webinars. 

“Sean’s webinars have given us some much-needed focus, clarity and inspiration to help grow our mid-value donor program at low cost. It’s been great to watch them as a team and learn together. Already, we’ve made practical improvements such as using an effective method for building our mid-value donors portfolios.”

Because Jason is so nice he is also happy for me to share the full copy of the direct mail letter, second wave/reminder (with the matched gift ask) and response coupon.

Just click here for the PDF in un-merged format, showing you all those personalisations.

If you are struggling to find an offer for your mid value donors, but want to try and lift them up then this is always something available to you, and very attractive to many donors.

Let me know of examples of multiplying gift appeals you have seen. You can find me on Twitter @SeanTriner or post a comment below.


Friday, August 12, 2016

How much research should I do on my major donors?

A well researched tale about two fundraising approaches.

Featuring Bastian the fundraiser at Malnutrition: Unacceptable For Children (MUFC) and Jamie from Let’s Feed Children (LFC).

They both became fundraisers at about the same time just over a year ago.  Both had the job of increasing revenue from their ‘mid-value’ donors: people who had given more than average.

Neither charity had ever had a mid or major donor program beyond it’s existing direct mail program.

Bastian, MUFC

Bastian knew that the more you know about donors, the more chance you have of getting a large donation from them.  MUFC had never had a major donor program so this was a great opportunity.

Since he arrived at MUFC, he identified prospects ‘worth’ approaching for a personal visit:
  • A: 955 donors currently giving large amounts through the direct mail program.
  • B: 196 donors currently not giving lots, but with potential.  Determined by asking a major donor prospecting data agency to scan the MUFC donor database for rich people, (36 were giving more than €500 to MUFC)
  • C: 254 prospects who were identified as wealthy connections to MUFC.  For example, some were friends of board members, others were ‘known’ wealthy locals.
Bastian had spent about €3,500 plus his time getting the data from the database.

He now had over 1,400 prospects: 955 + 196 where he knew their past giving history and 254 who hadn’t given.

Bastian now knew he had to prioritise. He asked the prospecting agency to provide profiles of the 36 prospects giving over €500 (i.e., rich people who were already giving large-ish gifts).

In addition he asked the agency if they had profiles of any of the 254 ‘C’ prospects on their database.
They had quite a few and he paid extra for 44 of the best prospects profiles.

This cost of these 80 profiles (36 + 44) was €60,000 plus about twenty hours of work – but now he had a lot of great information.

For his final research, he hired a temp researcher who helped him Google and use other public information to learn more about the remaining prospects.

Bastian managed to achieve all that within three months of starting his job with MUFC.

Next he started building brilliant, individualised cases for support for the top 80 prospects.

This work took him about nine months – back and forth with field workers, case studies and trying to get a ‘shopping’ list of items donors may be interested in.

Now he had everything lined up.

He started trying to contact the top 80 prospects: which included the 36 rich people who had given over €500 (donor prospects) and the 44 really rich people (cold prospects) who were connected to board members or just wealthy and local.

After another three months, approximately one in four of the donor prospects agreed to meet. And nearly all those who did made donations.

Only one board member managed to get a meeting specifically about donating to MUFC with any of the cold prospects.  She met three people, but wasn’t able to ask. She said it was the ‘wrong time.’

About 15 months from starting, he had raised €90,000 plus €50,000 in pledges.

Another board member committed to raising €10,000 for MUFC at an upcoming golf day.  That board member ‘ring-fenced’ his contacts, telling Bastian to wait until after that day to follow up.  Of course, he would ask for a decent time-frame between the golf day and a formal approach.  Probably a year.

So, after 15 months, tons of work and a cost of about €65,000 Bastian had raised €90,000 and had  €50,000 in pledges.  If those pledges came in, he should have covered all of his costs in just 15 months.

Jamie, LFC

Jamie took a different approach.

She knew that the most likely to donate were people who had donated before, but since only about one in four or one in five would ever meet up she decided to research people after they had agreed to meet.

Step one for her was the same as Bastian’s.  Look at the database.

She identified these prospects:

  • A: 812 donors giving large amounts through the direct mail program. These mid and major gift prospects had all given to LFC’s direct mail in the past.
Jamie worked with the direct marketing team to identify what the next campaign would be.  She interviewed a worker from the field, collected some extra photos from the direct marketing team and copied some videos they had from the website to her iPad.

After six weeks she really understood the cause, had lots of stories and lots of video from the next direct mail (and web) campaign.

She then went through the list of donors, called them and asked them for meetings.

Over the next six weeks she managed to speak with 380 of the 812 donors!  Twenty actually made donations over the phone – usually about the same size as previously, but one gave €20,000.

Of the remaining 360, 205 agreed to meet.  Before each meeting she Google’d them to find out what she could.  Even after that, she knew nothing about most except their previous giving to LFC.  But that was enough.

Within those six weeks she had met up with 160 of her mid and major gift prospects.  She managed to get total donations of €390,000.

In total, she had raised over €400,000 in her first three months.  She knew from the database it was €250,000 more than what these people had ever donated before in a year.

Not bad, but next she needed some really big donations which wouldn’t be as quick. So she convinced the boss to take on someone else to keep this pace up, whilst she started looking at those BIG prospects.

 Learnings from this story:

  • Most donors won’t meet you, but that’s OK.  Even attempting is good donor care.
  • Focus on people who have given to your organisation in the past.  They are much more likely to give than those who have never given. And don’t be tempted early by those big wigs your board knows.  Board ‘leads’ can be awesome, but rarely.  Start with the low hanging fruit.
  • Wait until donors agree to meet you before you research beyond previous giving.   That way you will be more effective and be able to meet many, many more donors. Living in this state of frantic research is fine, if planned.  And don’t worry if you don’t find much more out.  Their previous giving is the gold dust of research.
  • You probably already have great major gift propositions within your current programs.  You don’t have to develop new cases for support straight away. For example, Amnesty lifted a donor’s gifts by asking them to kick off the next direct mail appeal with a big donation.  Read the Amnesty Case Study here. And I have another story with a similar case coming from Burnett Institute, which will be in my next blog.
  • Fundraising planning and tactics are all about the numbers.  Jamie chased the numbers.
  • This approach doesn’t excuse you from chasing the biggies, where things take longer and more thorough research is worth the effort.  Ultimately do both, but in the first place - just get out there and ask.
  • There are no excuses for relationship / philanthropy / major donor fundraisers getting out there and asking. Fast.
Any connection between names and English Premier League teams is nearly coincidental.


PS By the way, if you're interested in learning more about how you can turn your mid value donors into major gift donors - you should join my next webinar, where I'll teach you a process to follow to do this, fast!

The webinar will be live on 29th / 30th September (depending on your time zone) - the webinar recording and slides will be available for all who register, regardless of whether you can make the live webinar. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Easiest Case for Support

Bas, a new fundraiser at a Dutch charity decided he needed to get out and meet some donors.

He looked at those donors who had given by direct mail, since that was most of them.  The third donor he spoke to (of a dozen he tried to call) agreed to meet him.  Indeed, she sounded excited. Her name was Jeanette.

Every Christmas for four years Jeanette gave €250, and for the big fistula appeal last June, a year ago, she gave €1,000. 

She also gave €500 last February, but this time to a young girls’ education appeal.  All were in response to letters she’d received from Bas’s charity, like the one below, which was their upcoming appeal.

Bas had been to a few conferences, and knew he needed a case for support.  But that seemed like it would take a lot of time to develop from scratch.

Now that Jeanette had agreed to meet, Bas had a look in more detail at her giving history.  She seemed to respond really well to issues about children and young people.

And the next direct mail appeal was all about fistula – something she had given very generously to in the past.

He decided the easiest thing to do would be to take the personalised direct mail she would be getting in the post and deliver it by hand.  The brilliant communications team in the charity had researched the topic really well. 

They had lots of photos for the direct mail campaign (many more than were used) and videos too.  They were running the videos in posts on social media and on their website.

He printed the photos out on good photo paper – like one of those envelopes of photos we used to get before photography went digital.  He also got the videos transferred to his Samsung tablet.

He had a good, long chat with the communications people, who had met the people featured in the appeal. Now he had a great – albeit second hand – story of the project from someone who’d been there. 

He would love to have taken one of those ‘witnesses’ with him, but he knew he would be visiting lots of donors, and dragging a communications or programs person to every one would not make financial sense.  He had to make this work on his own.

Now he had a great case study – basically the next direct mail appeal – and some extra material.  All at hardly any cost of money or time. 

Jeanette loved it.  She loved the time he gave her, the videos and the photos.  He made her feel special.  And she really cared about the young people he talked to her about.  She used to be a nurse, and knew all about fistula – a horrible but easily cured condition, which without treatment causes lots of problems for victims.

She gave him €20,000.  More than either expected.  Which actually allowed him to raise €100,000 more.  (But more about that in another article.)

Don’t use the lack of a case for support as a reason not to ask your direct mail donors for more.

They really care already, or they wouldn’t be donating. And you’ve got great material already!

By the way, if you're interested in learning more about how you can turn your mid value donors into major gift donors - you should join my next webinar, where I'll teach you a process to follow in order to do this. 

Click here to register for 'The Quickest, Cheapest and Easiest Way to Earn Extra Cash Now, Turn Mid Value Donors into Major Gifts In a Week.' 

The webinar will be live on 29th / 30th September (depending on your time zone) - the webinar recording and slides will be available for all who register, regardless of whether you can make the live webinar. 



Important: Date changes for my next webinars

Just a quick one to let you know of a date change for my final two webinars in the Mid Value Donor Webinar series.

The next and penultimate webinar  is being pushed back to the end of September, replacing the final one’s time slot.  And the final webinar is being moved to another date.

Details of titles, times and dates and how you can register are below.

If you haven’t been to any webinars yet, there's plenty of time to register!  And don’t worry if you can’t make the live broadcast date, every registrant receives a webinar recording and the slides. If you missed one of the past webinars, you can still get the recordings.  

I am really enjoying sharing this knowledge of mid value donors with you. And this is the type of feedback we're getting from others who've attended my webinars so far…
 "Sean's knowledge on how to grow charity revenue is very valuable. I learn every time Sean speaks."Jeroen van Kernebeek, Managing Director, Four Paws Australia

Dates and times for my next webinars: 

Thursday 29th September / Friday 30th September (depending on your time zone). 

Americas Edition 

  • Thu 29th Sep  12.30 PDT - US West Coast                                            
  • Thu 29th Sep  14:30 CDT - Mexico City
  • Thu 29th Sep  15.30 EDT - US East Coast 
  • Thu 29th Sep  16.30 BRST - Rio De Janiero, Brasil
  • Thu 29th Sep  20.30 BST - London, UK 
  • Fri 30th Sep    05.30 AEST - Brisbane, Australia 
  • Fri 30th Sep    05.30 AEDT - Sydney, Australia 

SE&E Asia, Oceania edition

  • Thu 29th Sep   17.00 PDT - US West Coast 
  • Thu 29th Sep   20.00 EDT - US East Coast 
  • Fri  30th Sep    01.00 BST - London, UK
  • Fri  30th Sep    08.00 HKT - Hong Kong                                                     
  • Fri  30th Sep    09.00 JST - Tokyo
  • Fri  30th Sep   10.00 AEST - Brisbane, Australia
  • Fri  30th Sep   10.00 AEDT - Sydney, Australia 
  • Fri  30th Sep   13.00 NZDT - Auckland, New Zealand 

Europe, Africa & W Asia edition 

  • Fri  30th Sep 04.00 PDT - US West Coast 
  • Fri  30th Sep  07.00 EDT - US East Coast
  • Fri  30th Sep  12.00 BST - London, UK 
  • Fri  30th Sep 13.00 CEST - Paris, Brussels, Madrid
  • Fri  30th Sep  13.00 SAST - Cape Town, South Africa
  • Fri  30th Sep  14.00 EAT - Nairobi, Kenya                                               
  • Fri  30th Sep  15.00 GST- Dubai
  • Fri  30th Sep  16.30 IST - Delhi 
  • Fri  30th Sep  21.00 AEDT - Sydney, Australia 

Thursday 27th / Friday 28th October (depending on your time zone) 

Americas edition

  • Thu 27th Oct  12.30 PDT - US West Coast                                            
  • Thu 27th Oct  14:30 CDT - Mexico City
  • Thu 27th Oct  15.30 EDT - US East Coast 
  • Thu 27th Oct  17.30 BRST - Rio De Janiero, Brasil
  • Thu 27th Oct  20.30 BST - London, UK 
  • Fri 28th Oct    05.30 AEST - Brisbane, Australia 
  • Fri  28th Oct   06.30 AEDT - Sydney, Australia  

SE&E Asia, Oceania edition

  • Thu 27th Oct  17.00 PDT - US West Coast 
  • Thu 27th Oct  20.00 EDT - US East Coast 
  • Fri  28th Oct   01.00 BST - London, UK
  • Fri  28th Oct   08.00 HKT - Hong Kong                                                     
  • Fri  28th Oct   09.00 JST - Tokyo
  • Fri  28th Oct   10.00 AEST - Brisbane, Australia
  • Fri  28th Oct   11.00 AEDT - Sydney, Australia 
  • Fri  28th Oct   13.00 NZDT - Auckland, New Zealand 

Europe, Africa & W Asia edition 

  • Fri  28th Oct  03.00 PDT - US West Coast 
  • Fri  28th Oct  06.00 EDT - US East Coast
  • Fri  28th Oct  11.00 BST - London, UK 
  • Fri  28th Oct  12.00 CEST - Paris, Brussels, Madrid
  • Fri  28th Oct  12.00 SAST - Cape Town, South Africa
  • Fri  28th Oct  13.00 EAT - Nairobi, Kenya                                               
  • Fri  28th Oct  14.00 GST- Dubai
  • Fri  28th Oct  15.30 IST - Delhi 
  • Fri  28th Oct  21.00 AEDT - Sydney, Australia 

Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here