Donor Loyalty Study, 2013

The 2013 Sage Insights Survey on Donor Loyalty is now available.   The study conducted by Sage Nonprofit Solutions has some very interesting findings that are sure to bring value to any nonprofit organization.Having had the pleasure of being a contributor to the study I was overwhelmed by the number of participants.  Loyalty continues to be a key theme for nonprofits and a driving force for development professionals.

Ironically, the study found that 67% of the people surveyed are not surveying their own donors.  I find it hard to believe that organizations, especially growing ones can reach their full potential without asking how they can get better and what they are doing well.  For me, surveying is always the thing I recommend an organization start with.  Donor/member feedback, should serve as your guiding light.

I was delighted to find that hand written thank-you notes reigned as the king of loyalty.  I have said it before and I will say it again, the value of a hand written thank-you cannot be over exaggerated.

The study goes on to share examples of what organizations are and aren’t doing today to ensure loyalty, and for those of you that penwere wondering, the most utilized give-away was none other than the classic pen.  My guess is the low-cost and  practicality make it the big winner.

In reviewing the study, I was most shocked to find 29% of nonprofits are doing nothing when a donor lapses.  This is good and bad news.  Great news for those of us looking for new donors and bad news for those of us failing to follow-up.

Overall, the study reveals numerous interesting facts and ideas for how your organization can insure that loyalty is a driving force.

Take-away: Check out the full survey, and see what your organization can do to improve loyalty.

What do I do? My donors are 80+ and not adopting new marketing.

In my session hosted by the Hill Country Community Foundation, I had this question.  How do I reach donors that are 80+ and not adopting social media, email, or any other new technology?

Well, I think the person asking had hoped I would reveal the answer to how to get this demographic to participate online, but I don’t have the answer to that question.  Though trends show that individuals in the 65+ demographic are adopting social networking I don’t think they will ever be key adopters.

As such, it is important to start to develop a marketing plan that satisfies the needs of your current donors while building a presence that will allow you to target new donors.

Here are a few ideas for bringing awareness of your organization to a younger generation of donors while maintaining your existing one:

1. Think about children’s programs.  Can you do camps, tours, classes, etc…programs like this allow you to foster new relationships while continuing to offer existing ones.

2. Use multichannel marketing mixes in your campaign development.  For example: don’t just mail an event postcard.  Mail a postcard with a Facebook link to the event.  This way your non-Facebook donors have the information along with your Facebook fans.

3. Meet your donors where they are, but don’t forget about the future.  It is important to be in the social space while maintaining your existing donor base.  Consider using college students to help your organization gain social presences without distracting efforts to maintain your current presence.

Take-away: As I learned in Girl Scouts long ago, “Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other Gold.”

Looking to 2013


This is the time of year that many individuals donate to nonprofit organizations, but will that be enough? A new survey report entitled Non-Profit 2013 Financial Outlook, Reporting, & Systems reveals the top priorities and challenges facing nonprofits in 2013. According to Shereen Mahoney, CEO of Brittenford Systems “2013 will likely require non-profits to rethink revenue model and income strategies, while improving strategic planning and program results.”

There are a number of aspects affecting the challenges nonprofits are facing including, reduced government funds, a drop in charitable donations, consolidations, increased competition, increased demand for services, and the list goes on and on.

But, without nonprofits so many needs will go unmet. Nonprofits are also job creators. In fact, during the recessions of 1990-1 and 2001-2, nonprofits actually increased their number of employees by 2.38 percent a year while for-profit jobs declined at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent. And, while many people are not aware of it, the nonprofit community is an enormous contributor to the American economy: It provides 5.5% of the nation’s entire GDP or $751 billion worth of output.

So, what can be done?

The key to turning things around for nonprofits is… TECHNOLOGY. Okay, you’re not surprised to hear that from the Marketing Director of a technology company, but, it is true! Technology can help tremendously in three key areas: creating awareness, reducing costs, and increasing donations.

First, creating awareness.  In order to be considered for donations, the public must be aware that your nonprofit even exists.  Awareness can be established through many channels, but for the sake of this post we will focus on the value of technology and social.   As you can see below, the growth continues to increase year over year, and while it may not directly tie to increased revenue.  Social does tie to increased awareness.Edison-research-graph

Second, reducing costs. You have probably already seen your new budgets and my guess is they call for flat expenses or reduced expenses and increased donations.  How are you supposed to do that?  Well, a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system and a proper fund accounting system can help your staff achieve much more with less. Automating financial functions through an integrated accounting system where the donor’s details have to be entered only once and are accessible to all staff makes good business sense.  It can help you with audits, reporting, and even bringing in more donations.

Plus, fundraisers all understand the value of building relationships.   A CRM will allow you to more easily recognize and reward your donors, track the actions of your donors, and even organize the relationship you have with your donors. And the value of all of this is of course; my favorite topic, donor loyalty.

If that is not enough, the cost of quality software as really become more affordable with subscription offerings.  For example, you can get a complete end-to-end solution with Sage starting at $249 a month.  That price point puts technology in the hands of nonprofits that were not able to afford it before.

Finally, increasing donations.  I spoke to nonprofits all year-long and surprisingly the vast majority are still not doing online donations.  It is a must!  I am not a proponent of getting rid of direct mail campaigns; I love direct mail.   I am a proponent of integrating all of your marketing channels to drive to one call to action.  Donate!  And, increasingly, your younger donors expect the convenience of visiting your website or Facebook page and clicking a link that drives them directly to an easy to donate to, fully integrated form.

Plus, online donation technology allows you to create peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, simplify event fundraising, and so much more.  All of which could increase donations, and allow you to find new prospective donors.

Take-away: For the sake of the economy, take a look at technology this year.  If you are already using technology learn something new about it, attend a training class, or get with a peer group.  As with all things technology is unendingly  changing and improving.  Learn more to do more, and have a great 2013.  Happy New Year!

How To: Create a Comfortable Nonprofit Space

“Nonprofits have a lot to gain by creating affordable, comfortable spaces for their nonprofit environment,” according to interior designer, Jodi Harmon of Finishing Touch Interiors.

When I conducted the photo shoot for the Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission, I was blown away by how wonderfully they incorporated their mission into their space.  My favorite touches are the fish, you simply cannot get any closer to their mission.  They also incorporated the logo, waves, and the perfect color scheme throughout the office.

To get this look for your space, start with a plan.  Hire a designer to really invest in a strong workable space.  Don’t have the budget to hire a designer?  Consider hiring a designer for a few hours to help set up the plans you can implement on your own; and if there is no budget for that, check out ideas on Pintrest.  Find something you like and copy it for your space.

Next assess the space you are in today.  What needs to go?  Are things worn, faded, torn, cluttered?  Does the furniture you have meet the needs of your office, or is it simply there because it was donated to your organization?  How about lighting?  Lighting plays an important role in creating a productive space.  Make sure to allow natural light into the room when possible, add lamps for accents and additional lighting.  Keep in mind, the space you are in tells a story about your organization.   Does your current space tell the story it should?

Last implement your plan, rework existing items or purchase new ones based on a design plan.  Consider these small things that can make a big improvement:

  1. Change lamp shades to add color a room.
  2. Paint dated furniture.
  3. Use rugs to warm the room and cover worn flooring.
  4. Add accent pillows to create a splash of color.
  5. Bring in real plants.
  6. Bring in photography or art work that shares your mission.  Consider making this a project to garner awareness for the organization and enhance the space.
  7. Paint.  Paint is a relatively simple and inexpensive way to add interest to a space.

Take-away: The space you create for your nonprofit impacts the people who make your mission happen, so say good-bye to grey paint, mismatched furniture, and that vase that was donated to you 20 years ago.  Say hello, to a vibrant or warm welcoming new space.

The Best $29 Add-On Ever

Today I was asked if I knew of an easier way to remove duplicates from the numerous spreadsheets nonprofit accountants and fundraisers use?

As a matter of fact, I do.  My very favorite add-on of all time is made by Able Bits, and it changed my life. 🙂

Their Duplicate Remover tool lets you remove duplicates from your Microsoft Excel 2010 worksheets or find unique entries in your tables in a breeze (and it really is a breeze).  You can also:

  • Instant search to remove duplicates in 1 Excel table.
  • Use step-by-step wizard to find all Excel duplicates in 2 spreadsheets with different number of columns.  (This feature makes it easy to match constituents.  For example: Assume you had a list of people who donated, but you only had the email address.  With this tool you could match the email only list to your complete donor list to help fill in the blanks on the email list in seconds.)
  • Choose one or several columns for comparison.
  • Delete all duplicated rows; select and color found entries or add a status column; copy or move dupes to another location (I love this feature too.  Let’s assume we have two lists of donors from two events and we want to see how many match.  This feature allows us to compare the two lists and move all the matches to a new location.  In seconds, we end up with all of the donors that were on both lists in a new separate list to follow-up with.  AWESOME!!!)

This tool is a must have time saver for those nonprofit professionals trying to match one list to another for events, solicitations, analysis, and more.

Take-away:  Try the Duplicate Remover for free here!