Loyalty Goes Both Ways

This is an article published in the Nonprofit Times, based on my talk at the Bridge Conference this summer.

By Patrick Sullivan – September 13, 2013

Before Bridget Brandt got pregnant, she was a nonprofit’s dream volunteer. She did every event and fundraiser she could for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and was a Big Sister three times.

Then she had a baby and didn’t have time to volunteer. Messages from BBBS were nothing but positive and happy for herand then she never heard from them again.

“They didn’t ask me to volunteer, give money, come to events, nothing,” said Brandt, president and CEO of the Greater Leander Chamber of Commerce in Leander, Texas.

After relating this story to a crowd, a representative from BBBS came up to her and said she was appalled at Brandt’s treatment. Still, Brandt never heard from the organization again.

Her message to attendees of the 2013 Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising: Don’t treat your supporters like BBBS treated her.

“Face reality: Maybe our baby is ugly,” was Brandt’s first tip. She meant that you should acknowledge that your organization is not perfect and might, in fact, have serious barriers to obtaining donor loyalty.

Make sure your staff and volunteers know for what you are raising money. Brandt recommends putting a fact sheet together ahead of the event that tells your organization’s mission, what’s happening at the event, what the event is raising money for, how the money will be used, contact information for board members and staff, and perhaps an attendee list. “It’s saved me more often than not,” she said.

Websites need to be donor-friendly. Brandt cited Cygnus research that showed donors want a website to show organizational impact (80 percent of respondents), success stories (74 percent), short details about the organization (71 percent) and brief financial statistics (43 percent). “Use video and graphics, create interaction, get the donor involved, don’t have a boring donation page and make sure there’s one click to donate,” said Brandt.

The most active days for viewing video are weekdays, peaking on Wednesdays, said Brandt. Friday, Saturday and Sunday have the highest engagement in terms of average minutes watched. Remember that the next time you plan on posting a video to your organization’s website. Brandt recommended powtoon.com to create free videos, and fiverr.com, where “you can find just about anything for $5,” she said. Post videos on your site and on YouTube, which will help with Google search rankings.

Keep videos short — about 15 seconds — and have a call to action in the video. “Tell people what you want them to do,” said Brandt.

Brandt’s number one tip is to handwrite thank you notes. “I know it’s a challenge,” she said. “You’re busy. It doesn’t matter. It’s the best thing you can do for loyalty.” No one has ever said, “Stop thanking me,” said Brandt.

Other tips Brandt shared included:

  • Stay in touch. Send newsletters; even if they’re unread. They’re a great way to keep your name awareness high.
  • Use technology to help. Marketing automation can help track donors, avoid duplicate entry and increase efficiency.
  • Be where your donors are and that means get social. Brandt recommended using HootSuite to automate your social media, and using PowerPoint to create infographics.
  • Stalk donors. Set up Google Alerts for major donors, board members and employees.
  • Test, test, test. Try Headline Analyzer to rate your email subjects.  NPT

Repost: How to Avoid the December Barrage

The article below is a repost from The Chronicle of Philanthropy.  It is a great article with data that I plan to use for coming presentations.  Sarah and I are of the same opinion, year-end fundraising is fantastic, but well thought out campaigns designed to stand out from the crowd are going to be the next big thing.  Check it out below or here.

How to Avoid the December Barrage

By Sarah Frostenson

Nearly $1 out of every $5 raised online comes from a donation made in December.

But Steve MacLaughlin, director of Idea Lab at Blackbaud, says that’s largely because most charities send their pitches that month, not because donors deliberately plan to give in December.

Why it’s worth sending appeals in other months: “With online giving, it’s going to become a big problem if everyone is flooding everyone’s inbox within the same period of time,” says Mr. Mac­Laughlin. “It will not have positive results. Organizations are much better off diversifying fundraising strategies throughout the year.”

Proof that appeals sent other times can work: Many colleges end their fiscal years in June and send lots of spring appeals seeking donations before July 1. That’s why the second-best month for online fundraising for education groups is June, Mr. MacLaughlin says.