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10 steps to making your donor the hero with your year-end campaign


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Nonprofits get 30% or more of their individual donations in December, so how can you be sure to get your piece of the pie? In this webinar, I explored ten steps you can take to plan a year-end campaign that celebrates your donor's support, catches her eye, pulls on her heartstrings, and seals the deal with a generous gift.

Through examples from various nonprofits and a year-end case study, I shared tips on building a stronger year-end campaign that takes inspiration from your brand, leverages the most recent best practices, and carries your story strategically across multiple channels.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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10 steps to making your donor the hero with your year-end campaign

  1. 1. 10 ways to make your donor the hero of your year-end campaign #donorlove
  2. 2. #donorlove Big Duck can help you •  Brandraising establishes the feelings and ideas people associate with you through a strategic identity and compelling materials. •  Campaigns inspire people to take action, helping your organization raise money, recruit participants, or change how people think. •  Consulting helps your staff build the skills they need to make your communications a success.
  3. 3. Housekeeping •  Got a question? Chat it in to “Big Duck” and Michaela will answer •  Yes—you can access a recording of webinar at archive •  Wanna learn more about us?
  4. 4. Vice President, Big Duck @Farra @BigDuck #donorlove Farra Trompeter #donorlove
  5. 5. What we’ll cover today •  Making donors heroes and why it matters! •  What this looks like in action •  10 ways to make your donor the hero •  Resources #donorlove
  6. 6. Making your donor the hero
  7. 7. Insert  pic  of  marvel     We’re not the first ones to recognize the appeal of a good hero.
  8. 8. From Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs/ Free Range Studios
  9. 9. But how you tell your hero’s story could be the difference between phenom…
  10. 10. And flop (sorry, Ben baby)…
  11. 11. But fear not, there’s an awesome goal that makes your quest worth it.
  12. 12. POLL: What % of dollars from donors did you receive in December? •  10% •  25% •  40% •  75% •  Not sure #donorlove
  13. 13. h"p://  
  14. 14. h"p://  
  15. 15. The big bad that stands in your way
  16. 16. Unless you defeat low donor-retention rates, you may not earn as many year-end gifts.
  17. 17. Just how big is this problem? •  27% give one year, not the next •  Cost to acquire a donor = 5-6x cost to retain a donor h"p://   #donorlove
  18. 18. Treating your donor like a hero can save year-end season •  Your best prospects (donors!) will feel celebrated, important, and more likely to give again •  Donors will see the dramatic appeal and importance of your mission •  Donors can understand their role and feel part of the team #donorlove
  19. 19. So how can you build the kind of year-end hero story that breaks records and inspires a sequel?
  20. 20. Case Study
  21. 21. #donorlove
  22. 22. Year-end ‘14, Fountain House… •  Had a community devoted to core mission: helping New Yorkers w/ mental illness recover & thrive •  Had won Hilton Humanitarian Award •  Was ready to embrace their broader impact on global mental health crisis •  Was not sure donors would be receptive to global efforts #donorlove
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  27. 27. Campaign calendar •  Direct mail – 1 package in early Dec •  Email – 6 messages late Nov-early Jan –  1  Thanksgiving  email,  campaign  intro     –  1  email  with  share  graphics  ac8on:  Spread  the  word   –  3  appeals  with  match  offer  (incl  GivingTuesday)   –  1  campaign  report-­‐back  &  thank  you   •  Social media – Twice-weekly Facebook and Twitter posts throughout campaign #donorlove
  28. 28. #donorlove
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  31. 31. 2014 results •  Total raised was é 45% •  Online returns were é 28% •  Mail returns were é 69% •  Enthusiastic feedback from donors and supporters #donorlove
  32. 32. Which continued a larger trend… #donorlove
  33. 33. Ways to make your donor the hero of your year-end campaign
  34. 34. 1. Get to know your hero’s origin story •  Who are they? •  Why do they support your work? •  What is their super power? #donorlove
  35. 35. 1. Get to know your hero’s origin story •  Who are they? They know and love someone living w/ mental illness •  Why do they support your work? They’ve seen/heard that Fountain House saves lives and builds recovery •  What is their super power? Saving lives, being the first to champion what could be the solution to global mental health crisis #donorlove
  36. 36. Understand your donors before your quest starts… •  Talk to them – Interview donors by phone – Ask quick questions at events – Send out a survey •  Invite them to give feedback •  Listen! #donorlove
  37. 37. Create donor personas •  Name •  Age, Gender, Ethnicity, Location •  Education, Occupation, Family •  Connection to organization •  Charitable interests •  What s/he wants •  What your organization wants •  How your communications help them #donorlove
  38. 38. 2. Use the right theme to draw your hero into your quest #donorlove       h"p://  
  39. 39. Your theme should… •  Feel like it’s a matter or life or death (or at least have a bit of drama!) •  Be urgent and timely. It needs to be addressed, right now. •  Relate clearly to your core mission. •  Present a role for your donor—the hero! #donorlove
  40. 40. Ways to identify your theme •  Hitch a ride on news “waves” •  Make your own news •  Relate your mission to the holidays •  Pose a challenge #donorlove
  41. 41. 3. Map your hero’s journey #donorlove h"ps://  
  42. 42. Elements of your story •  Problem—There’s a global mental health crisis and it’s hitting NY •  Solution—With your support, Fountain House’s approach can save lives here, globally •  Timeline—Thanksgiving to 12/31 •  Action—Give, spread the word •  Goal—Raise $200,000 #donorlove
  43. 43. 4. Select the right channels to engage your hero •  Where are they? •  Where are you? •  What will you gain from additional channels? #donorlove
  44. 44. 5. Maximize the superpowers of each channel •  Mail — Fundraising, expanded stories •  Email — Deadline-driven fundraising, short, informal updates •  Established social media — Storytelling, conversation, drive traffic to web •  New social media — Excitement, storytelling, drive traffic to web •  Web — Online giving, other online actions, destination for email & social media #donorlove
  45. 45. 6. Make the most of opportunities •  Tie the campaign into things you’re already doing? (events, newsletters, email signatures, etc.) •  Ask partners to post or send a message about your hero’s quest •  Ask public figures to lend their voice to your campaign •  Create conversation about your mission #donorlove
  46. 46. 7. Give your hero the right “suit”—a consistent look #donorloveh"ps://  
  47. 47. Make campaign-customized… •  Homepage slide or button •  URL in direct mail appeal •  Newsletter promo •  Social media artwork •  Follow-up requests to spread the word via social media #donorlove
  48. 48. 8. Build dramatic tension, craft your calendar around deadlines •  Timeline is roughly 6 weeks •  1-2 direct mail appeals •  5-6 emails •  1-2 Facebook and Twitter posts/week with varied content •  Increase frequency around deadline #donorlove
  49. 49. 9. Set it up for a sequel w/ a report-back in all channels #donorlove
  50. 50. Celebrate donors’ impact
  51. 51. Celebrate donors’ impact
  52. 52. Celebrate donors’ impact
  53. 53. Celebrate donors’ impact
  54. 54. 10. Plan to capture & analyze the results of your quest #donorlove
  55. 55. Identify the tools to capture these metrics: •  Open/clickthroughs/response rate •  # of donors from different sources •  Total dollars raised •  Average gift •  Donation page conversion rate #donorlove
  56. 56. h"p://   Compare against self, others
  57. 57. Bonus ideas •  Send hand-written notes •  Ask board members, staff, or volunteers to make some phone calls •  Empower donors to be fundraisers •  Explore advertising on social media •  Invite a small group of donors to give feedback to your campaign #donorlove
  58. 58. Questions?
  59. 59. Have no fear… h"p://  
  60. 60. … Big Duck can help •  Plan, create, and evaluate your year- end fundraising campaign. •  Evaluate your donor communications and develop a plan/calendar for deeper engagement. •  Consult and train your team. #donorlove
  61. 61. Resources
  62. 62. Posts •  Blog: – “Three things you can do now for year-end fundraising” – “Five approaches to keep your donors engaged” – “Four ways to show your donors some love” – “Engaging your supporters with online actions” #donorlove
  63. 63. Books •  Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs •  Building Donor Loyalty by Adrian Sargeant and Elaine Jay •  Keep Your Donors: The Guide to Better Communications & Stronger Relationships by Tom Ahern and Simone P. Joyaux •  Seeing Through a Donor's Eyes: How to Make a Persuasive Case for Everything… by Tom Ahern #donorlove
  64. 64. Research •  M+R Benchmarks: •  Blackbaud: Show the Love [eBook] •  NTEN: Nonprofit Donor Engagement Benchmark Study CD_Nten_BenchmarkReport_Final.pdf •  Urban Institute: Donor Retention Matters Donor-Retention-Matters.pdf #donorlove
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  66. 66. Upcoming workshops June 17: Brandraising webinar (w/ Network for Good) July 16: The Good, the Bad, and the Glorious: What you should know to work wisely with nonprofits July 8: Brandraising workshop #donorlove
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  68. 68. RSS
  69. 69. Thank You!