Donor Remorse

Your income isn’t where it was this time last year, you check donations, look at your donor database and see that you have a number of donors who haven’t given in the latest round of fundraising. Why?

It could be that you have several donors suffering donors remorse. Yes, this is a real thing, it’s akin to buyers remorse; something you’re probably personally aware of (did you really need that new pair of shoes, that new suit or that splurge on single malt whiskey?)

Donors give for a variety of reasons, and they stop giving for a variety of reasons; one reason some stop giving – is – donors remorse; yes it is a real thing.

Maybe you’ve experienced it on a personal level when you have given something, and almost as soon as you have dropped the donation in the bucket or envelope you have a pang of regret – remorse, and question why you did it.

There’s a few reasons for donors remorse, some people experience it after being prompted by a friend to support a cause, a relative was assisted by an organisation and asked you to make a contribution or, perhaps someone you know had a child selling something to raise funds for a school trip.

Donors remorse is a real thing, it’s something though that organisation probably don’t plan for but they should have some way to factor this into their planning. If someone gives today and later “regrets” it; the chances of them staying around and supporting in the future is very unlikely, yet they’ll still expected to by the organisation, the organisation will likely add them to the database, they’ll receive mailers etc – all at an expense to the organisation, with a very very low probability of a second or subsequent donation being made.

Quite likely the amount given initially will be less than what the organisation will expend to get subsequent donations.

Organisations spend considerable time (and money) on donor retention, but when a donor has remorse this expense is wasted. So a way has to be found to make sure the level of donor remorse is minimised.

Don’t be airy fairy in what the donors support will mean, give real examples of how it will make a difference, personalise how their giving will make a difference. If needed and you’re able to use real pictures and real names – “Lucy will have a better chance … “

When people are asked to support a real need has to be given, a picture painted; something that will stick with the donor – you want them to stick with you, so make sure the image you paint sticks with them.

All the training in the world won’t make a difference to how much you can raise – and maintain, if those making the ask are confident, competent and above all using all the tools you have given them.  Monitoring who information is used isn’t prying, it’s an investment, don’t be afraid to use “secret shoppers” – you’ll get real world feedback, not only on how your campaign is going but on how effective those making the ask are doing it and coping.

Are you going to let donor remorse hit your bottom line and impact on year on year giving?

See also Breaking the Silence Around Donor’s Remorse

Younger Donors, You Need Them

As the population ages organisations need to look beyond their mainstay of donors, the Baby Boomer etc; sorry to say, but this is a dying sector of the donor base.

But, unless organisations are (or rather have) started to work toward attracting younger donors there is a serious risk that organisations will suffer to not only grow, but to continue to do the work they are there for.

Sure, younger people are getting on board and supporting organisations, I’ve seen this, you’ve seen it, but in the main I’d suggest it’s the sexy organisations, not the less attractive ones (this is a perception).

To attract younger supporters organisations need to, yes, I’m telling you what others have been for ages; get savvy with the use of social media, get used to using video, stage events to attract a younger audience (typically millennials won’t want to go to a black tie dinner).

And, change your online presence. Does the website you had built a couple of years ago need an update, come to think of it, when did you last look at how your website looks on new devices – it may look good, readable and usable on your desktop computer; but what does it look and feel like on a handheld device?

Can users quickly and easily make an online donation? If not, you’re missing opportunities; sure there are other apps people can use to make donations to your cause, but why send them to another “site” if you’ve already got them “captured” on your site?

Not sure if you’re site, communication style etc is attractive to a younger audience – that’s easy, invite them to look and give you feedback, get a group of younger people together to talk about what you need to do to attract their age group; not just your look and feel, but your overall message and mission.

You’ve nothing to lose – oh, yes you do, you run the risk of your donors dying off and no new donors to fill their shoes.

See also

Young people need to be nurtured and encouraged

Teach children the importance of giving

What Millennials Want to Know

Gaining support from millennials is important, and yes, they do want to support organisations; it’s just how you go about it that matters.

I’ve recently spent some time with a group of 17 to 26 years olds talking about charities and how people connect with them and how charities work to connect with supporters. Some great insights for me, and I’m glad I had the opportunity.

One thing that came across loud and clear, was the need for great storytelling, not meanigless information, muddled stats, but real stories about the people, the cause that the organisation is working to help.

Millennials want to know who you are helping, they want to hear the stories from the people being helped. Little Casandra needing surgery so she can continue in school is more likely to get support than some airy fairy long winded explanation and meaningless raft of stats about kids missing out on schooling due to health issues.

They always want to know how you are helping, what you’re doing to make things better. And, yes, they want to know why they should help.

When tapping into millennials it’s important to be a storyteller, tell the stories of who/what is going to benefit. Better still, where possible have those benefiting tell their own stories.

When talking about your work, when telling stories use images, videos and infographics, 1000 words will likely turn millennials off, a 2-3 minute video will capture their attention.

We all know there’s duplication in the charity sector, and the group I talked with said it was important to show how you’re different, show how you handle your cause differenlty, what makes you stand out from others doing the same or similar thing.

They also want to know how the money is being used, they want organisations to be fully open. They also said they want to know what the campaign total was.

And, you have to be clear about what action you want millennials to take, don’t assume they can read your mind. Be transparent, if you want money – ask, if you want them to share your information – ask. Plain and simple really.

One thing that I hadn’t considered that this group said was important, is they want to know who is supporting your cause now, and what is their story, what makes them motivated to support.

We can’t assume all supporters, current or ones we’re trying to attract will respond to the same message, the same plea. Charity appeals are no different really to other marketing forms, different people speak and hear differently, some people want scant information, others want the most indepth information you can give them. The trick is knowing who your supporters are and adapting to them.

Have you run a campaign specifically targetted at millennials, how did you go, what tips and tricks do you have you can share?

FINAL DAY

Did that get your attention?

Emailing marketing can be an effective tool in your fundraising arsenal, but unless you do it well it can leave a sour taste, or be completely ignored by your supporters.

Doing  it right is the key.

How do you do it right, well, the simplest way to say this is as Nike does “Just do it” – but, measure, measure and measure some more.

If you’re not prepared to measure from the outset, if you think this is a hard task; don’t even think about doing a campaign. You’d measure a postal campaign, so why not an email one?

From my experience you need to have a few examples of contents, subject line etc and test these on different segments of your supporter database; what works for some may not work for others, remember one style does not fit all when it comes to any marketing to your supporters.

Being personal, personable and letting supporters know how important they have been to your organisation is important, but don’t be overly gushy with this; you want recipients to keep reading, not dive for the vomit bag.

If you find that the content is more receptive, that you get higher click throughs to your website, your donate now page, than other samples; use this … but don’t be afraid to keep testing what works.

Often, the subject line is all that needs a tweak, if you find one segment of your audience is more receptive to something that really pulls on their heart strings, use this on another segment and look at what results  you’re getting.

As Kerri Karvetski says on the Nonprofit Marketing Guide – Want to squeeze more mileage from a great fundraising or advocacy email? Send it again.

Kerri also says “Sending a fundraising or advocacy email again to non-responders — subscribers who did not open, click, donate or take action the first time — can sometimes raise as much, or produce as many actions, as the original send.” Something I agree with, and something you should take heed of.

In the article Kerri also says “When it comes to resends, which is what Kerri’s article is about, think about the plan behind the resend; “Sending a fundraising or advocacy email again to non-responders — subscribers who did not open, click, donate or take action the first time — can sometimes raise as much, or produce as many actions, as the original send. “

The next time you sit down and plan your next email marketing campaign, don’t just think about the “core” message, think about how you will monitor the campaign, what you will do to grab the attention of those you’ve identified you haven’t “reached” … don’t just write one piece and send it to everyone and end it there, have a plan for what you will do next.

It’s only a short article, full of tips – so head to Nonprofit Marketing Guide and read the full article

Are you monitoring and changing your email marketing, subject, content and more, if not why not?

Are you adapting ?

Often seeing organisations doing the same thing day in day out to gain funding can be frustrating. especially when you know they could do better and more if they adapted their fundraising activities.

For instance; if you used to only communicate with donors through mail and change to email, have you taken into consideration how you will communicate with those who do not have, or don’t want to be contacted through, email?

Will you be prepared to split your database so those without email are updated on your activities, achievements through information supplied with receipts? Or, do you, will you be like others and “forget” about this group and suffer through a drop in donations?

It used to be that organizations would only be known by those it supports and, by those who supported it. Simply due to lack of resources, skills and money; now though any organization, no matter its size can with the right skills can communicate with anyone, anywhere and virtually at anytime.

If your organization hasn’t or isn’t looking to adapt you can’t expect to keep growing. It’s that simple.

There’s more “competition” for the charity dollar than there was 10, 5, even two years ago.

No that organizations and, individuals have the ability to set up online fundraising campaigns, those not doing so need to at the very least look at how these platforms can work for them. If they don’t they will run the serious risk of being left behind.

Online fundraising will only continue to grow, either through organizations making use of the various tools, or by individuals doing it themselves.

Can your organisation afford to be left behind?

If you don’t want to be left behind, what will you do to change?

Have you changed the way you give charitable donations, are you giving more directly, or are you giving to organizations who have a higher presence in your social channels?

See also:

Online Fundraising, Impact on Traditional Fundraising

Does Profile Matter?

What’s Happening – are You Watching?

Who holds the keys to change?

Online Fundraising, Impact on Traditional Fundraising

Has, and can, online fundraising have impact on other, more traditional fundraising?

From my perspective, yes it can have an impact; I’ve seen first-hand organisations who have had to change their fundraising methods, dates and more because people are giving in other ways to different causes.

It’s interesting that I started thinking about this late last night and, this morning I wake to see this subject in an article in the NZHeraldIs it safe to give a little?

“Kiwis give millions of dollars to causes on the fundraising website Givealittle. But money handed back by the charity platform from one controversial appeal has raised concerns over whether the online model is open to abuse. Phil Taylor reports ..

Some areas Phil has touched on are the same as I had started penning, so instead of rehashing what he’s said, here’s some excerpts from his article.

“Internet crowdsourcing is changing the face of philanthropy. Platforms such as US-based GoFundMe and New Zealand’s Givealittle super-charge the amount that can be raised, no more so than for causes that pull heartstrings. If mainstream media picks up a cause, a zero or so might be added.”

“Causes that top the lists for dollars donated and number of donors are all from the past 12 months and reflect the sector’s exponential growth worldwide. More than half of the $32 million given to Givealittle causes in its lifetime was donated in the past year. When teleco giant Spark bought it in late 2012, it was doing about $55,000 a month. Last month it did $2 million.”

Read Phil’s full article here

See also 6 Fundraising Platforms That Have Disrupted Charitable Giving Forever

See also Digging deep for Kiwi generosity

It’s not Horses for Courses

Donor communications, is it horses for courses? Does the same message, the same language work for all donors?

I’ve talked about donor communication before, but I’m still seeing and hearing from people about the quality, content and language being used in donor communications.

If you haven’t previously seen some of what I’ve said, here’s a few links that may be of interest:

Supporter Communications
Who’s Centre of Attention – You or Your Donor

Often regular donors only want to know that what they are doing is making a difference, whereas business donors want to see their return on investment; it’s much the same, but businesses may use more “business speak” to justify support.

General donors are typically happy to know they are making a difference, so talking to them about the successes they have helped you achieve may suffice. Businesses on the other hand may want to see this as investment versus return.

Do you split the information you share, are you using the same “speak” for each, what is the reaction?

Are you even monitoring and adapting based on the feedback from those receiving your updates?

If you are monitoring and adapting, if not, why not?

Business Support

It’s estimated that business donations account for six percent of the donations some non-profits receive.

If this is the case then the question must be asked “how much time and energy is being used to reach and nurture this group?”

Is the time you’re putting into gaining business support being used wisely?

If residential – general support if the main income source for non-profits, wouldn’t it pay to spend more time gaining and nurturing this sector?

There are non-profits who are spending at least one third of their time concentrating on gaining business support, time they would be better off spending maintaining and growing the other support they already have.

If a stationary store knew that they were spending too much time growing one section of their product range, with little or no tangible result; they would stop and instead grow the area/s that they know they are making a profit from.

Non-profits should be doing the same.

When was the last time you reviewed where your support was coming from and what adjustments did you make in your focus in maintaining and gaining support?

I’d be keen to hear your views on this … leave a comment below.

Stop the Emails

I’ve said before that an email doesn’t always cut it, and I stand by this, what some don’t understand is that an email at the wrong time, with the wrong message can have a truly negative response.

Not only could the acceptance, click through rate be low, but it could also result in lower giving by those who take “action”.

It is important to truly understand how your donors want to be communicated with.

For some, a personal phone call may be what works, for others an email may suffice, however, it’s important that you understand what works for who.

If you communicate with the one group in the wrong manner you could do more harm than good, you could alienate donors.

Ask donors how they like to be communicated with, acknowledge and respect; it could mean a make or break with a campaign.

See also

Email v Direct Mail

An email Doesn’t Always Cut It

Email, Direct or Social Media

Communication – Email Management

Do You Know the Numbers

All fundraising is a numbers game, whether it’s tele-fundraising, email, direct mail, face-to-face; it’s all a matter of numbers.

When we look at tele-fundraising, it could be that one in fifty called may give; face-to-face maybe higher, and direct approaches through other means may differ again.

What is important is an understanding of how many, and what type, of approaches is working for you.

To know what your pipeline is, you need to have some knowledge of:

  • How much you’re needing to raise – a finite figure is better than “what ever we can get”
  • What your current “hit rate” is … approaches v donations = hit rate
  • How many approaches to reach hit rate

If you have no idea of what this is, how can you successfully plan a fundraising campaign?

In the business world if you ask most salespeople about the quality of contacts others make for them; you’d likely probably that they are only suspects, probables.

It’s no different when it comes to fundraising:

  • Suspect – anyone on your database
  • Prospect – people know to support
  • Lead – someone ready to consider giving
  • Opportunity – someone wanting give – here and now

It’s important to understand each “category” and to also understand and monitor what it is taking you to reach a favourable outcome, a commitment.

Success shouldn’t be measured solely on the level of funding received, measure it on all outcomes; how many approaches against level of support received.

Watch and observe that the more refined your approaches let lower the number of approaches needed.

This doesn’t mean you need to reduce the number of contacts you have, it’s all about the right approach to the right people at the right time.

How well can you define your contact list – if you don’t have the ability to segment to capture the right people at the right time; you could be missing out.