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Make your donor the hero with your year-end fundraising campaign


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Nonprofits get 30% or more of their individual donations for the year in December, so how can you be sure to get your piece of the pie? In this session, I shared ten steps you can take to plan a year-end fundraising campaign that celebrates your donor's support, catches her eye, tugs on her heartstrings, and seals the deal to ensure a generous gift. Through a detailed case study of the 2015 year-end fundraising campaign for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, we examined best practices you can follow to be sure your 2016 year-end campaign is your best ever.

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Make your donor the hero with your year-end fundraising campaign

  1. 1. 10 Steps to Making Your Donor the Hero With Your Year-end Campaign #501TechNYC
  2. 2. Vice President, Big Duck @Farra @BigDuck #501TechNYC Farra Trompeter #501TechNYC
  3. 3. 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 #501TechNYC
  4. 4. Making your donor the hero
  5. 5. Insert pic of marvel We’re not the first ones to recognize the appeal of a good hero.
  6. 6. From Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs/ Free Range Studios
  7. 7. But how you tell your hero’s story could be the difference between phenom…
  8. 8. And flop (sorry, Ben baby)…
  9. 9. But fear not, there’s an awesome goal that makes your quest worth it.
  10. 10. POLL: What % of dollars from donors did you receive in December? •  10% •  30% •  50% •  85% •  Not sure #501TechNYC
  11. 11. Source: Network for Good,
  12. 12. The big bad that stands in your way
  13. 13. Unless you defeat low donor-retention rates, you may not earn as many year-end gifts.
  14. 14. 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 #501TechNYC
  15. 15. So how can you build the kind of year-end hero story that breaks records and inspires a sequel?
  16. 16. Case Study
  17. 17. #501TechNYC
  18. 18. Year-end ‘15, PPMD… •  Anticipating approval of two drugs that would benefit a small percentage of families •  Was expecting to fund research that holds promise for every family •  Guided by PPMD’s role as the strength of the Duchenne community #501TechNYC
  19. 19. The theme
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  24. 24. Campaign calendar •  Direct mail – 1 package in early Dec •  Email – 9 messages late Nov-early Jan –  1 Thanksgiving email, campaign intro –  7 appeals with match offer (incl 3 emails on last week of the year) –  1 campaign report-back & thank you •  Social media – Five/week Facebook and Twitter posts over the course of the campaign •  Lightbox and homepage slide live throughout campaign •  #GivingTuesday #501TechNYC
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  29. 29. 2015 results •  Total raised: $1,505,277 •  Total gifts: 1,054 •  Email response rate: 0.12% (double the benchmark) •  Cost to raise a dollar: $0.20 #501TechNYC
  30. 30. #501TechNYC How many of you celebrated donors as heroes last year? h"ps://
  31. 31. Ways to make your donor the hero of your year-end campaign
  32. 32. 1. Get to know your hero’s origin story •  Who are they? •  Why do they support your work? •  What is their super power? #501TechNYC
  33. 33. 1. Get to know your hero’s origin story •  Who are they? They know and love someone living with Duchenne •  Why do they support your work? They’ve received support from the PPMD community and have had a hand in your accomplishments. •  What is their super power? Improving and extending life; determination in the face of incredible odds #501TechNYC
  34. 34. 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! #501TechNYC
  35. 35. “Dana” #501TechNYC
  36. 36. 2. Use the right theme to draw your hero into your quest #501TechNYC h"p://
  37. 37. 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! #501TechNYC
  38. 38. Ways to identify your theme •  Hitch a ride on news “waves” •  Make your own news •  Relate your mission to the holidays •  Pose a challenge #501TechNYC
  39. 39. 3. Map your hero’s journey #501TechNYC h"ps://managemen?
  40. 40. Elements of your story •  Problem—We need solutions to help the whole Duchenne community •  Solution—With your support, PPMD can fund the early-stage research we need to help every single family •  Timeline—Thanksgiving to 12/31 •  Action—Give, spread the word •  Goal—Raise $200,000 #501TechNYC
  41. 41. 4. Select the right channels to engage your hero •  Where are they? •  Where are you? •  What will you gain from additional channels? #501TechNYC
  42. 42. 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 #501TechNYC
  43. 43. 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 #501TechNYC
  44. 44. 7. Give your hero the right “suit”—a consistent look #501TechNYCh"ps://
  45. 45. Make campaign-customized… •  Homepage slide or lightbox •  URL in direct mail appeal •  Newsletter promo •  Social media artwork •  Follow-up requests to spread the word via social media #501TechNYC
  46. 46. 8. Build dramatic tension, craft your calendar around deadlines •  Timeline is roughly 6 weeks •  1-2 direct mail appeals •  6-8 emails •  1-2 Facebook and Twitter posts/week with varied content •  Increase frequency around deadline •  #GivingTuesday #501TechNYC
  47. 47. 9. Set it up for a sequel w/ a report-back in all channels #501TechNYC
  48. 48. Celebrate donors’ impact
  49. 49. 10. Plan to capture & analyze the results of your quest #501TechNYC
  50. 50. 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 •  Year-over-year change •  Cost to raise a dollar #501TechNYC
  51. 51. h"p:// Compare against self, others
  52. 52. 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 •  Explore video, livestreaming #501TechNYC
  53. 53. #501TechNYC How will you turn donors into heroes this year-end season? h"ps://
  54. 54. #501TechNYC Don’t wait till year-end! h"p://
  55. 55. Have no fear… h"p://
  56. 56. Big Duck is here for you! •  July 19: “What's hot in year-end fundraising” (webinar) •  September 16: “Planning your year- end fundraising campaign” (immersive workshop) •  Limited availability for full campaign strategy and implementation #501TechNYC
  57. 57. Questions?
  58. 58. Favor… Take this survey!
  59. 59. Resources
  60. 60. Posts •  Blog: – “The key to great fundraising? Your brand.” – “Five high-value ways to help prep for next year-end fundraising season” – “So, THAT happened…Reflections on December online fundraising campaigns” – “A great year for #GivingTuesday” – Quick tips for writing effective year-end emails” #501TechNYC
  61. 61. Research •  M+R Benchmarks: •  Blackbaud: Show the Love [eBook] •  Fundraising Effectiveness Project •  NTEN: Nonprofit Donor Engagement Benchmark Study CD_Nten_BenchmarkReport_Final.pdf •  Urban Institute: Donor Retention Matters Retention-Matters.pdf #501TechNYC
  62. 62. #501TechNYC More questions? Let me know. Farra Trompeter Big Duck (718) 705-8092
  63. 63. Thank you