The Feel-Good Phenomenon of Giving


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In this whitepaper, you’ll learn the research behind this idea, and how it impacts you, tips and advice for implementing this theory from industry experts, and how other nonprofits are using this notion with great success.

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The Feel-Good Phenomenon of Giving

  1. 1. The Feel-GoodPhenomenonof GivingThe Feel-GoodPhenomenonof GivingThe more people give … the more they want to give
  2. 2. 2I. INTRODUCTIONIt’s a mistake to assume that charitable givers give grudgingly, or that they set hard-and-fast limits onthe amounts they will give. In fact, research on the subject indicates the opposite is true: People whogive feel good, and feeling good often compels them to give even more. This was confirmed severalyears ago by a Harvard Business School study – “Feeling Good About Giving: The Benefits (andCosts) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior” — that explored possible correlations betweenhappiness and charitable giving and found that “… happier people give more, that giving indeedcauses increased happiness, and that these two relationships may operate in a circular fashion.”Regarding the “circular” nature of the relationship between giving and feeling happy, the Harvardresearch team concluded, “By asking participants [in the study] to recall a previous time they spentmoney on others, we were able to observe that the prosocial spending recollections led to anincrease in happiness.Furthermore, by allowing participants to make a future spending decision, we were able to showthat this increase in happiness shaped spending decisions, such that happier people were morelikely to make prosocial spending choices in the future. In addition, we have recently shown thatthese effects hold cross-culturally, with both North American and African samples offering prelimi-nary evidence that the reciprocal links between giving and happiness may be a human universal.”Some researchers attempt to explain the connection between giving and feeling happy in neuro-logical terms. Specifically, they point to the fact that charitable giving affects the same “pleasurecircuits” in the brain as all other activities that make us feel good – learning a new language, eatinghigh-caloric foods, sex, dancing, meditation, and so on – and the feeling of pleasure we derivefrom giving compels us to want to give more.Arguably, most people are more interested in non-clinical explanations for why donors take pleas-ure in charitable giving. Writing in Psychology Today, David J. Linden, Ph.D., professor of neuro-science at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, identified three related motivations forgiving. The first was so-called pure altruism, in which givers take pleasure in helping the needy anddon’t care about the process through which giving occurs, even if it’s through paying taxes.The second was the “warm glow” factor, referring to the sense of agency many givers feel only ifthey are giving voluntarily. A third motivation is the feeling among some donors that giving enhanc-es their social status.Linden argued that it hardly matters what the giver’s primary motivation is – that the importantpoint to be taken from the various studies is that giving makes the giver feel good. Linden con-cluded, “It’s OK to catch a pleasure buzz from an internal warm glow, a sense of agency or theapproval of others — just give ‘til it feels good.”Jeff Brooks, creative director at direct-marketing and fundraising agency TrueSense Marketing,knows from decades of experience in the field that giving engenders a sense of happiness andwell-being in those who give.“The ‘warm glow’ of altruism is a well-known phenomenon,” Brooks said. “It feels good to helpothers. It feels good to give. There is a lot of neurological research on this. There’s also researchshowing that donors are happier, healthier and financially better off than non-donors.“There’s even a return-on-investment for charitable giving,” he added.” For every dollar you give,$3.75 comes back to you. Of course, it’s indirect and probably stems from the happiness, healthand other benefits of giving.”
  3. 3. 3Brooks noted that the extent to which a nonprofit succeeds may often depend on how well itspersonnel understand basic truths about the donor mentality.“Since giving feels good, nonprofits should not have the attitude that asking is bad,” he said.“This belief hobbles thousands of nonprofits and limits the connection, impact and happiness oftheir donors. Organizations that embrace the ideas that donors like to give — they like you, theylike your cause, and they don’t hate to hear from you — unlock great wells of revenue and donorinvolvement.”But Brooks added a caveat; “Of course, stupid, self-centered, heedless fundraising is not effective atmotivating giving, and it increases the chances of annoying donors. You still have to get it right.”Sue Woodward, vice-president of development at the International Fellowship of Christians andJews, has seen first-hand that the “warm glow” phenomenon stems from the fact that donors feelempowered by having made a personal decision to part with their money for a good cause.“Donors give because they want to, and when we do things we want to do we have a euphoricfeeling of accomplishment,” Woodward said. “So whether donors give to meet a basic need, wantto give back or help others, or bring about a desired impact, such as help change governmentpolicy, they get that warm and fuzzy feeling. They have the knowledge that they are making a dif-ference with their donations.”II. SHARINGTHE NEEDWoodward echoed Brooks in noting that, while the deep-set motivations for giving may vary fromdonor to donor, all potential donors have one thing in common: They are all, in a sense, waiting tobe asked to give, and will respond favorably if approached in the right fashion. It is important tomake them feel they are responding to a genuine need, and that fulfilling that need will make themfeel good about giving.In other words, a nonprofit must, in a convincingly assertive way, “share the need” of those it istrying to help, Woodward said.“You can do this by using stories of the people you help, of how your organization meets theirneeds, and how the donor’s gift will help meet the need,” she added. “But first, you have to ask.” Donors “have a desire to step outside their own worries and focus on someone else’s,” said Rob-bin Gehrke, senior vice president and executive creative director of Russ Reid, an advertisingagency that focuses on raising money for nonprofits.The task nonprofits face is to compel potential donors to step away from their own worries andinto a zone of empathy for those in need, even in cases where empathy is mixed with what theHarvard study called “a more calculated desire for public recognition.” To empathize is to make anemotional connection with an individual, often after hearing his or her story.As Gehrke noted, potential donors respond better to stories than statistics, and in particular to sto-ries that effectively convey the needs of individuals within the affected group. Referring to herselfand others in the fundraising business, Guerke said, “We watch TV commercials for charities andwe know that the more a story or even a sound bite makes someone tear up and say, ‘That reallygot to me,’ the more it is likely to succeed.”
  4. 4. 4She added, “Donors say to themselves, ‘I can’t imagine the grief he or she is going through, I justwant to help,’ or ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ ”In Gehrke’s experience, the amount of money a potential donor makes doesn’t necessarily deter-mine how much empathy he or she feels toward those in need, and many people who aren’t welloff are inclined to give as much as they can afford.“The general thinking is. ‘I’m feeling a little better off today, I’m going to help somebody else,’”she said.Interestingly, the single highest predictor of whether one willgive money is not income, but rather whether one regularly at-tends a place of worship. Those who attend churches, syna-gogues or other places of worship are more likely to be donorsthan those who don’t.“Not just church donation, but donation outside of church, aswell,” Gehrke said.Two other predictors are noteworthy but not as significant.Many volunteers for nonprofits are also money donors, as are alarge percentage of people who donate goods.The intersection of religion, happiness and one’s tendency todonate to charity is explored in depth in Arthur C. Brooks’ WhoReally Cares, which is about the positive impact of giving onindividuals and society, and about the particular factors thatmotivate individuals to donate.The book addresses many complex donor-related question,including whether those who attend places of worship aremore likely to engage in charitable giving because they believein God, or because of the high degree of social interaction thatoften goes along with belonging to a church or a religion. BothJeff Brooks and Guerke recommend the book to fundraisersand anyone interested in the subject.Guerke also referenced “Heart of the Donor,” a study commissioned by Russ Reid that identifiedparental behaviors — among them, giving money to places of worship and volunteering time tononprofits — that influence whether a child associates giving with feeling good when he or shegrows up.III. BUILDING ON INITIAL SUCCESSSharing the need — i.e., telling the right stories to describe those in distress – can be an immensehelp in persuading people to give. However, in order to be effective over the long term, an organi-zation must choose stories and images that help donors continue to feel good about giving. AsWoodward said, “Knowing what motivates donors allows an organization to be more effective withits messaging, to successfully hold on to its current pool of donors and seek out similar people.”The key is to communicate in the most efficient and timely way how donors’ gifts have helped,”Woodward added. “An e-mail telling a story with a picture or two is the most simple, but videosThe‘warm glow’of altruism is awell-known phenomenon. It feelsgood to help others. It feels good togive. There is a lot of neurologicalresearch on this. There’s alsoresearch showing that donors arehappier, healthier and financiallybetter off than non-donors. There’seven a return-on-investment forcharitable giving. For every dollaryou give, $3.75 comes back to you.Of course, it’s indirect and probablystems from the happiness, health andother benefits of giving. - Jeff Brooks, creative directorat direct-marketing and fundraisingagency TrueSense Marketing
  5. 5. 5that can be placed on YouTube are also effective, as well as sending the tried-and-true newsletter,in hard copy or electronically.” Expressions of gratitude, including well-written thank-you letters, help keep donors in a givingframe of mind. As Guerke said, “The message is, ‘Here’s how much we appreciate your gift. Here’swhat it will accomplish. Here’s what you did accomplish. It’s made a difference.’”Brooks noted that the time a donor is most likely to give again is soon after giving, when he or sheis still feeling good about making a previous gift.“The likelihood of a next gift is high one month after a first gift,” Brooks explained. “Then it rises,peaking at three months after. Then it drops steeply, getting very low at nine to 11 months. There isa small spike in next gifts at 12 months after the first gift, which is caused by seasonality. Basicallyit’s the impact of the end-of-year giving surge and by annual-giving behavior in a relatively smallset of donors.”Organizations that haven’t grasped that giving makes people feel good often let donors “rest” forsome period after they give.“This basically means they don’t ask during the times when the donor is most predisposed togive,” Brooks said. “This can be a very expensive error, and a real disservice to donors.”Woodward noted that a successful nonprofit must make building donors’ trust and renewing theirgood feelings part of its annual fundraising plan. She said it is always good policy for a nonprofit tosuggest to donors other ways they can help — for example, volunteering or writing letters to theircongressional representative — and to answer donor’s and keep them informed about its initiativesyear-round.IV. CASE STUDIESFollowing are some real-life examples of innovative ways nonprofit organizations nurtured thefeel-good phenomenon of giving with a multichannel strategy that engaged donors deeply in theirmissions, engendered loyalty and encouraged retention.KaBOOM!As the fundraising landscape continues to evolve and more nonprofits pop up seemingly everyday, building and growing a donor file can be a tricky proposition. And successful ones know thatgrowing the donor file is critical for sustaining an organization.Donors are hit from all sides with mailings and messages from this organization and that, askingthem to make gifts and provide their contact information. It’s information overload, which makes iteasy for donors to tune it all out.That’s the conundrum that KaBOOM! found itself in. The organization dedicated to saving play forAmerica’s children by building playgrounds and playspaces in communities throughout the nationneeded to find a way to grow and manage its donor base and empower communities to build theirown playgrounds. But instead of purchasing lists and sending out communications to potentialdonors who may or may not have any desire to support KaBOOM!, the organization sought an in-novative way to reach a new audience.
  6. 6. 6Enter Groupon Grassroots and KaBOOM!’s donor relationship management database partner,Salsa Labs.Leveraging connectionsIn the summer of 2011 a KaBOOM! staffer met a Groupon Grassroots (then branded the G-Team)staffer at a conference in New Orleans and got to talking, said Anna Morozovsky, senior managerof individual giving and major gifts at KaBOOM!. When the staffer returned, she connected theGroupon folks with Morozovsky and the two organizations began discussing Groupon’s year-endGrouponicus campaign.Groupon Grassroots is daily deals site Groupon’s social-action brand with a mission to activatecitizenship and foster neighborhood advancement through Groupon. The goal is to provide Grouponcustomers with a simple way to support local causes. It does that by promoting a collection of localcampaigns — usually around 15 — each week on Groupon, said Patty Huber Morrisey, manager ofGroupon Grassroots, providing a new segment for the organizations featured.“We’re using the platform in the same way Groupon uses the platform to help small businessesconnect with new customers,” Morrisey added. “By offering discounts these businesses can at-tract new customers. So instead of the incentive being a discount for causes, it’s a guaranteedimpact in the community.”During the final week of the year, Groupon Grassroots promotes six national campaigns for itsGrouponicus holiday season promotion.By leveraging the relationship it began building in June 2011, KaBOOM! submitted an applicationto be featured during Grouponicus in August 2011 and was approved in October 2012.“KaBOOM!’s been on our radar for a while. They seemed like a really great fit: big national organi-zation, have a really strong, engaged supporter base that they could leverage to expand their reachthrough Groupon, and then the compelling local impact of building playgrounds,” Morrisey said.By November, the two sides hammered out all the campaign details. That included KaBOOM! se-curing a matching gift from corporate partner Foresters, which has donated $7 million to KaBOOM!since 2006. Foresters, a membership-based insurance provider, agreed to match up to $20,000 forthe campaign, providing a nice incentive to Groupon users.It also included a specific goal, stating, “If G-Team Members Donate $2,000, Then KaBOOM! CanBegin Building New Playgrounds for Underserved Children.”The campaignOnce everything was put into place, all that was left was the execution. So in the final week of theyear, the KaBOOM! Groupon campaign went live. The main call-out had “Today’s Featured Cam-paign” with the brief description: “Help create a safe environment for youth to play; donate todayto KaBOOM! so it can build brand-new playgrounds. Learn more.”Once donors clicked through, the Groupon Grassroots landing page had an image of a KaBOOM!crew at work along with a price tag that read “from $10,” showing that a $10 donation has a $20value — or a 50 percent discount. It also laid out how many Groupons were bought and a call toaction to buy it for a friend.There was also a section called, “In a Nutshell,” with a brief description about how playgroundsgrant children opportunities for fun, exercise and more, making the case to give to KaBOOM!,
  7. 7. 7and a fine-print section detailing how 100 percent of the donations go to KaBOOM! and arematched by Foresters.Groupon Grassroots also provided KaBOOM! with tools and a simple call to action to havesupporters invite five to 10 of their friends to participate in the campaign, a great way toignite peer-to-peer fundraising.To get the word out beyond the feature on Groupon, KaBOOM! marketed the campaign itselfto its own supporters and donors.“When we were featured the last week of the year, we did your basic Facebook posts andTwitter tweets, and we also sent out a dedicated e-mail to our list with our year-end solicita-tion e-mails already scheduled, adding information about the Groupon campaign as it washappening,” Morozovsky said. “We saw it had a huge impact. Not only did we get a bunchof new donors from Groupon, but we had a lot of our current supporters who had not yetbecome donors but decided to donate through us through Groupon.”ResultsThis being the first time KaBOOM! had really gone out to donors beyond its own housefile,no one quite knew what to expect. It proved to be a wild success. Overall, 740 Grouponswere sold to 646 users, with 256 of them redeeming the Groupon — a 40 percent responserate and well above the average Groupon campaign — raising $11,500 from Groupon sub-scribers. With the match from Foresters, the campaign raised more than $23,000. Of the646 donors who contributed, 74 percent were brand-new supporters while 26 percent werealready on the housefile, yet only 4 percent of them had been prior donors.Thanks to the automated thank-yous Salsa Labs set up for KaBOOM!, Groupon customersreceived a thank-you once they purchased the KaBOOM! Groupon, which was key to thehigh redemption rate. It also had the call to action to redeem the Groupon.“[Donors] were sent a message as soon as they had purchased a Groupon just to say thankyou very much,” said Amanda Foster, account manager at Salsa.“There are auto-triggers in Salsa that after someone makes a donation or completes anadvocacy action or anything like that, it can automatically say thank you for supporting ourorganization.”That was key in getting these new donors onto the file. While the donations were sent to Ka-BOOM! upon purchase, the names and e-mail addresses were only collected when Groupondonors actually redeemed the Groupon and filled out their contact information.Another big part of the success was including its own file in the campaign, Morozovsky said.There was internal debate about whether or not to include the KaBOOM! housefile for fear itmay cannibalize the all-important year-end giving season. But ultimately, KaBOOM! decidedto include its own file, which helped convert more donors.However, the work wasn’t done there. Beyond just raising the funds and adding donors tothe file, KaBOOM! really wanted to keep these new donors engaged and active. So they wereimmediately funneled into the KaBOOM! housefile, receiving newsletters and regular com-munications, including event invites and solicitations, and directly telling donors what play-grounds or playground elements their donations helped build.
  8. 8. 8“[KaBOOM!] created a genuine incentive to give,” Morrisey said. “Donors, especially peoplewho are donating at the small levels, the micro-donations level, they don’t want all the freestuff — a T-shirt or some piece of swag. It almost feels like it’s wiping out their donation.What people want to know is what happened with the money. And that’s what KaBOOM!was doing, building an authentic connection that’s going to have lasting power.”It’s proven to be hugely successful, already showing signs of that lasting power. More than130 of these new donors have become active subscribers for KaBOOM!, and these new do-nors have better open and clickthrough rates on e-mail communications than the supportersthat were already on KaBOOM!’s housefile.“Because they self-selected KaBOOM! and learned a lot of information through the Grouponsite, people went in knowing more about us and what we did rather than just a blind third-party charity fundraiser,” Morozovsky said. “That amount of information people already hadonce they decided to make a donation through Groupon was really great and helpful.“Anytime you don’t have to pay for names, it’s always a good thing, and if those names havealready donated to you before you even get them — [as they did in this campaign] — that’seven better than a prequalified lead. That’s about as good as you can get,” she added.The campaign was such a success that Groupon Grassroots and KaBOOM! are at it againthis year for the Groupon Grassroots Big Give campaign, continuing the partnership.This time around, Morozovsky is hoping to engage new donors even more, ramping up a littlemore communications in January and planning to implement a welcome series as opposedto just lumping the new donors into the newsletter lists and online communications.“I really enjoyed this opportunity, and you learn from every campaign,” Morozovsky said.“Obviously everyone involved thought it was a success so I’m looking forward to putting allthose lessons learned last year into practice this year.”Of course, none of this would have worked had KaBOOM! and Groupon Grassroots not beenthe right fit.“KaBOOM! and Groupon are just a really good match,” Foster said. “When people go onGroupon, they’re always looking for fun stuff, and KaBOOM!, it’s playgrounds — you don’tget much more fun than that.”CARING BRIDGEWhen a nonprofit organization relies almost entirely on individual donations for its funding, itputs a lot of pressure on the fundraising team to come up with engaging, relevant and, mostimportantly, successful campaigns.CaringBridge, which provides free websites that connect people experiencing significanthealth challenges to family and friends by chronicling their health journeys, is such an organi-zation. Nearly all of its funding comes from individual donors so it can continue to work on itsmission to amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world to make each health journeyeasier through community.Each year, CaringBridge embarks on two annual campaigns — one in June and another atyear end. And while the bulk of donations typically come in during year-end campaigns — it’s
  9. 9. 9not called the giving season for nothing — CaringBridge found tremendous success with itsmidyear “You Are Powerful” campaign in 2011.Acknowledging just how vital CaringBridge’s donors and supporters are to its mission, theorganization decided it was time to center an entire fundraising campaign around them.Thus, You Are Powerful was born.“It was one of the first times that we really switched it around and instead of featuring all thegreat things about CaringBridge, we turned it around and made it be more about our authorsand our visitors and our donors,” said Senior Development Specialist Kelly Espy.Realizing that its constituents interact with CaringBridge in a multitude of ways, the organiza-tion made You Are Powerful a truly multichannel campaign, utilizing direct mail, e-mail, socialmedia, mobile, search engine optimization, video and Web — all done in-house.“While we have done dedicated fundraising campaigns during this time period in the past,I think it’s safe to say this campaigns was by far the most integrated,” said DevelopmentEngagement Officer Amy Nelson.ObjectivesThe overall goals of the campaign were to raise $1 million and create a compelling, highlyintegrated, engaging campaign for CaringBridge constituents.“One of our main goals was to focus on the ‘you’ in You Are Powerful,” Nelson said. “Wewanted to have CaringBridge constituents be able to see themselves and connect and iden-tify with the messaging that we put forth and show donors that they really do have an impact— that gift to CaringBridge is powerful and benefits so many people.”Unlike many organizations, CaringBridge doesn’t have very specific donor demographics,so the message had to be diverse enough to resonate with authors chronicling their journeyson CaringBridge sites, visitors who read those stories and interact, past donors, and evennew prospects that came in contact with CaringBridge for the first time. That’s a big taskwith more than 60,000 individual sites created in the past year and some 43 million peopleinteracting with CaringBridge in a given year.So Nelson and Espy sat down with the development staff and identified what they wantedpeople to feel and see during the campaign — no matter where they felt and saw it.“One of our ultimate goals was wherever or however people interacted with CaringBridgeduring this time, they would see the You Are Powerful campaign and understand that call toaction,” Nelson said.From past experience, CaringBridge anticipated that most gifts would come in through theindividual sites, so another goal was to create mobile and e-communications strategies thatcommunicated the campaign so when people visited those individual sites, they would bemore likely to make gifts.CreativeBased off those conversations about what CaringBridge wanted people to see and feel, astrong visual image of the You Are Powerful message was created — images of people rais-ing up the You Are Powerful slogan — and elements were used for all the different touch-
  10. 10. 10points. They included a direct-mail piece; an e-mail campaign; thank-you acknowledgments;video; and social-media, mobile, search and Web messaging.The direct mailer had two different versions: one to donors who contribute less than $500a year and another to major donors, who contribute at least $500 annually. Each included atwo-page letter with similar copy and a personal signature from CaringBridge founder andCEO Sona Mehring; however, the major-gift solicitation also included a description of Caring-Bridge’s major-donor program and planned-giving information.Both letters had the logo and a version of the You Are Powerful image,showing consistent branding, and both letters began with a personalized greeting and theopening sentence, “You Are Powerful!” in bold type. They also both highlighted the story ofthe Farrar family, detailing how Shawna Farrar launched a website for her son Ramsey afterhe was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and how CaringBridge helped allevi-ate pressures of having to call and e-mail family and friends with updates by allowing them tosimply visit the site.Each letter included a testimonial quote from Shawna Farrar thatshe wrote only weeks after Ramsey’s diagnosis: “Well, believeit or not I really look forward to doing this each night. It’s sort oftherapeutic for me.”However, there were some slight differences between the ver-sions. For starters, the regular appeal included a photo of Ramsey,something that was absent from the major-donor letter. Also, thereply device was perforated to the bottom of the letter for the regu-lar appeal, whereas the major-gift solicitation included a separatebuckslip as the reply device. There were also slight differencesin copy, though the tone was similar in each. Both versions werelittered with “you” copy, describing just how vital donors are toCaringBridge and those it aids.Each letter also gave an update of Ramsey today, along witha few bullet points on what “your gift will …” do, followed by athank-you, the CEO’s signature and a P.S. that read: “You canmake your donation today at Through your generosity, you have the power to make eachhealth journey easier.”The biggest difference was in the reply forms. On the regular appeal, it asked for the donor’se-mail address and phone number, offering check boxes to keep the donor informed abouthow his or her donation helps connect families using CaringBridge, as well as an option tobe listed as an anonymous donor. It also included another You Are Powerful image above aCharity Navigator Four Star Charity seal. On the reverse was an option to make your gift intribute of a family using a CaringBridge site, allowing the donor to add the specific URL ofthat site and a tribute message.Meanwhile, the major-donor letter had a reminder that the gift is tax-deductible, along withinformation on the major-gift program and planned-giving options where the reply devicewas on the regular appeal. CaringBridge’s major-gift program is called the Leadership GivingSociety for donors who contribute $500 or more annually to the organization. The text invitedthe donor to learn more about leadership giving by visiting the 2010 annual report, with aURL to view it, as well as providing a phone number and e-mail to discuss gifting options.Donors give because they want to,and when we do things we want todo we have a euphoric feeling ofaccomplishment. So whether donorsgive to meet a basic need, want togive back or help others, or bringabout a desired impact, such ashelp change government policy,they get that warm and fuzzyfeeling. They have the knowledgethat they are making a differencewith their donations. - Sue Woodward,vice-president of developmentat the International Fellowshipof Christians and Jews
  11. 11. 11Below that was the planned-giving information, which was titled “PLANNING YOUR LEGACYIS IMPORTANT …” It invited the donor to “visit or call651.789.3384 to learn more.”The reply device, which had more real estate as a buckslip, was also slightly different than inthe regular appeal. It included a call-out box on annual-giving recognition, describing the differ-ent levels: Bridge of Hope ($20,000+), Bridge of Nurturing ($10,000-$19,999), Bridge of Helping($2,500-$9,999), Bridge of Sharing ($1,000-$2,499) and Bridge of Encouragement ($500-$999).The reply device also included a different URL,, as well asa request to “Contact me to discuss including CaringBridge in my estate plans.”The reverse was identical to the regular reply device, plus it included CaringBridge’s missionand put the thank-you in a separate box.Coinciding with the direct mail was an e-mail campaign that began with a description of theYou Are Powerful campaign in CaringBridge’s June 2011 newsletter. It was a soft launch ofthe campaign featuring an invitation to give from the CEO, and most of the newsletter articlesreinforced the campaign theme.Then there were three separate e-mails sent, each with a subject line of “You Have the Powerto Help Families,” personal thank-you e-mails sent to donors after they made gifts in additionto the automatic confirmation e-mails, and a final thank-you follow-up featuring a personalthank-you video from Shawna Farrar.The first e-mail was an ask featuring the Farrar family story. A short, two-paragraph e-mail,it included the You Are Powerful image, a photo of Ramsey, the CaringBridge logo and aprominent “Donate Now” button, which took the donor to the CaringBridge donation landingpage. The landing page featured the You Are Powerful campaign and provided options onmaking a tribute, giving levels, etc.The second e-mail’s main call to action was to watch and share the You Are Powerful videoCaringBridge created. The copy was even shorter than the first e-mail, and the link to watchand share the video took the recipient to the You Are Powerful landing page,, where he or she could make a donation easily by clicking on the Donate Nowbutton. The short video could be easily shared via Facebook and Twitter as well, helpingconstituents spread the word.The third e-mail was a direct ask, again with quick-hitting copy: “Your gift today makesCaringBridge possible. Generous donations from individuals like you ensure that this valu-able service is available, accessible and provided at no charge to families. Because of you,families can connect with their community when they need it. Thank you for powering theCaringBridge community.”The next phase of e-mails was the acknowledgment stage, including those personal thank-yous, gift receipts and tax information, and the final follow-up thank-you from the Farrar family.CaringBridge also updated social-media mentions of the campaign each time an e-mail wentout, posting things to Facebook frequently about the campaign. Mobile was incorporatedas well, with the mobile site functioning with the e-mails and messages, as well as havinghighlights and the ability to donate via the mobile site for the campaign. The campaign wasmobile-friendly in every aspect.
  12. 12. 12Then there were prominent stories and features about the campaign on CaringBridge’shomepage, other website pages and on all the various pages set up by the authors chroni-cling their health journeys. Badges and apps were created to encourage giving, integrate thecampaign and make it as accessible to everyone as possible. Those different channels weresegmented appropriately to how authors, visitors and donors interacted with CaringBridge.Campaign strategy and deploymentYou Are Powerful was launched at the beginning of June and ran throughout the month,with the thank-you stage deployed in the first week of July. The first piece to go out wasthe direct-mail letter. Shortly thereafter, CaringBridge began its e-communications strategy.The first step in that process was a soft launch of the campaign through the CaringBridgee-newsletter, populated with stories to get constituents familiar with the look and feel ofYou Are Powerful. Nelson describes it as “an invitation from our CEO to really give and getinvolved in the campaign.”That was followed up by the “hard launch” of the e-mail campaign, deployed in three e-mailswith specific calls to action followed by acknowledgments and the final thank-you e-mail.The first e-mail was the direct ask featuring the Farrar family’s story, the same story thatwas featured in the direct-mail appeal; the main call to action was to make a donation soCaringBridge could continue its important work in allowing people to chronicle their healthjourneys and gain support through community. The next e-mail was the You Are Powerfulvideo e-mail, which took recipients to the campaign landing page. Its main call to action wasto watch and share the video, and coinciding with that was another ask on the landing pageto donate. The final follow-up e-mail was another direct ask, this time short and direct askingfor a gift.Throughout, any time a donor made a gift, he or she got a subsequent thank-you e-mailon top of the auto-response tax receipt. It was personalized and more authentic than thestandard e-receipt. Then to wrap things up, a thank-you e-mail featuring a video from theFarrar family directly thanking donors was sent out the first week of July, providing a touch-ing, personal message.Alongside all of that e-communications, Espy said, every time CaringBridge sent an e-mail,it also updated that same information on Facebook and Twitter to drive people to either thedonation form or the video. The messaging also was viewable on mobile devices, really help-ing hit supporters anywhere they may be.ResultsSo often, you hear fundraising professionals stress the importance of the donor, the impor-tance of using more “you” language than “we” language. That was clearly the driving forcebehind the You Are Powerful campaign, and the results proved the theory correct.Typically during its end-of-spring, early-summer annual campaign, CaringBridge sees a spikein donations of around 35 percent compared to giving the rest of the year. With the You ArePowerful campaign, the organization saw that balloon to a 58 percent increase in gifts. Thatresulted in CaringBridge not only reaching its $1 million goal, but exceeding it by bringingin more than $1.25 million. To put that in perspective, CaringBridge raised $754,000 in thatsame time period in 2010.Nelson and Espy credit the collaboration across departments for the success of the cam-paign. The IT folks worked hard on optimizing the campaign for mobile communications andhelped the development team with how best to incorporate the channel. The marketing teamaided in the design, and everyone chipped in with ideas and shaping the campaign.
  13. 13. 13Of course, the focus on the donors and the people CaringBridge serves also played ahuge role.“We learned that we can’t ever forget that at the heart of any fundraising campaign are thedonors and the people we exist to serve,” Nelson said. “The more we can illustrate that andshow the true reason for being and how we exist to help people and we do it together withour supporters, the better.”“It was obvious when we shared the video with the staff that we had hit the mark. People felt,‘Yep, that’s exactly what we want people to feel.’ That was a proud moment,” Espy added.The campaign was such a success that the elements and tactics CaringBridge used arenow standard cornerstones of its campaigns going forward. It’s easy to see why, given theresponse and feedback from the CaringBridge community.“We were very excited to see how people responded. We had a constituent call in ask if theycould order a T-shirt with the [You Are Powerful] imagery on it. That’s one of the greatestthings you can hear after a campaign,” Nelson said. “At the end of the day, you know you’vedone something right when people want to wear your campaign.”BETHE MATCH FOUNDATIONEvery day, thousands of people are in need of bone marrow and umbilical cord bloodtransplants. The Be the Match Foundation is dedicated to raising the funds needed to helpall patients get the transplants they need, working with the National Marrow Donor Programto recruit donors for the Be the Match registry. It has recruiters all over the nation solicitingvolunteers to donate bone marrow, blood and funds.Always looking for simple, effective ways to fundraise, Be the Match thought a peer-to-peerfundraising campaign could give the development department a boost. So the foundationdeveloped Team Be the Match, an online peer-to-peer initiative developed to capitalize onthe large community of folks affected by those in need of transplants.“We wanted to give our account executives a really simple and easy tool using the best prac-tices of peer-to-peer fundraising to engage patient family groups, sponsor groups, commu-nity organizations to not only get people to join the registry, but to donate funds,” said AmyNelson, former director of public engagement and giving at the Be the Match Foundation.Nelson is now development engagement officer at nonprofit CaringBridge.Building the platformOnce Be the Match came up with the peer-to-peer concept, it needed a platform to execute it.Nelson said the organization worked closely with its network of recruiters out on the front linesin developing the campaign, getting feedback and doing training on how the technology works.The foundation built the Team Be the Match peer-to-peer in February 2010. On the site,potential fundraisers can search for a team by location and elect to set up their own personalfundraising pages. It provides plenty of information on Team Be the Match, what it’s all about,how to join and who it helps, as well as ways to contribute.“We took the team model and adapted it a little bit,” Nelson said. “Our account executivesserve as the team captains, and they’re the ones that kind of oversee all of the people thatjoin their team and invite people to join their team. Then friends and family groups join underour account executives.”
  14. 14. 14The goal was to put the power in the hands of those recruiters out there every day, and lever-age their networks.No timelineWhat makes Team Be the Match so unique is that it doesn’t come with the typical deadline ofmost other peer-to-peer campaigns. Normally, peer-to-peer campaigns revolve around sometype of event. Once the event is over, so is the campaign. Not so with Team Be the Match.Recruiting bone marrow and umbilical cord blood donors is an ongoing, never-ending effort.Thus, Team Be the Match isn’t raising any specific amount of money in any specific amountof time. It continues to solicit funds and support to build up the registry and help as manypeople in need of transplants as it can.As you can imagine, that has resulted in some hurdles with engagement.“Unlike a race or a walk — there’s a start and end to those type of events — Team Be theMatch lives on,” Nelson said. “So how do you take people once their initial action with us isdone and get them to become lifetime volunteer members?”One way is to create a strategy using e-mail techniques to give people different ideas of howto use their personal fundraising pages. For instance, Team Be the Match messages go outencouraging fundraisers to promote making a gift to the Team Be the Match page in lieu ofa present for Christmas or sending an e-card or Valentine’s Day card asking for a donation.And the organization looks for new ways to engage team members all the time.ResultsEven with some long-tail concerns, Team Be the Match surpassed all expectations in itsfirst year. While no goals were set in stone, Nelson said the organization hoped to have 100pages set up and raise $100,000 in the first year.The campaign blew right through that, with nearly 500 pages set up and more than $250,000raised in less than 12 months.“Peer-to-peer fundraising really is a great way to encourage people to donate to a charity,”Nelson said. “The passion that the community volunteers have around the mission — a lotof this is patient- and family-focused — the community really comes together to rally aroundthe patients and the families in search of transplants.“Every year thousands and thousands of people are added to the registry, and the organiza-tion is working with people all across the country,” Nelson added. “The peer-to-peer model ispowerful, empowering volunteers and community members to share the message and storyfor you so people are more likely to donate. When they do see an online ask or get an e-mailor see a Team Be the Match page, they are committed to making a donation.”Moving forward, Be the Match wants to improve upon making the technology even moreuser-friendly. A common hurdle is still a fear of online fundraising, though that fear is subsid-ing. The more people trust e-philanthropy, the greater potential Team Be the Match holds.
  15. 15. 15V:TIPS AND STRATEGIESHere, fundraising professionals share some insights, tips and strategies to connect to the innatedesire to give that still resides in donors of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and giving levels.Grow and Retain Your Online Donor FileAmanda Foster, account manager at Salsa Labs — KaBOOM!’s e-mail and donor relation-ship management partner — provides five keys to grow and retain your online donor file thathelped KaBOOM! reach its goals.1. Target your audience: It’s especially vital when reaching out to new or prospective do-nors that your message is relevant to them. Thus, you must target your audience with theappropriate communications at the appropriate times.“If someone is interested in slides and someone else is only interested in helping buildswings for KaBOOM!, then you send people information about slides or swings as op-posed to sending everyone everything,” Foster said. “Target your audience — that’s a bigthing.”2. Consistently keep your list up to date: You have to maintain your list and keep the dataclean on a consistent basis if you plan to get the most out of your list and learn where andhow you need to grow.“Take off people who got really excited about an action three years ago and have neverdone anything since,” Foster said. “As long as you keep your list clean, it can be very, verysuccessful.”3. Thank new donors promptly: This is fundraising 101. Donors expect to be thankedand thanked promptly, especially new donors. Otherwise, they feel like the organizationdoesn’t appreciate them and probably won’t donate again.“Put in auto-triggers so after someone makes a donation or completes an advocacy ac-tion or anything like that, it can automatically say thank you so much for supporting ourorganization,” Foster said.For KaBOOM!, new donors were sent a message as soon as they made their donationsthrough Groupon Grassroots thanking them, which was key in retaining the new donorsKaBOOM! attained.4. Find the right vendor: A vendor can help you sort out and manage your new donors andtake some of the back-end work off your plate. However, it’s crucial that you partner withthe right vendor.Foster said you should look for the following when choosing a vendor:A platform that integrates all the components you plan to utilize.Affordable price for your budget.Ease of use.Support staff available when you need it.“When starting out, it’s very, very important to give a clear description of what you’re look-ing for. That way you can make sure you’re getting matched with the right vendor,” sheadded.
  16. 16. 165. Utilize social media: Let’s face it, people — including donors — care a lot more aboutwhat their friends and families care about than what some charity is telling them. That’swhy social media is so popular in the first place. So it’s crucial to make it easy for donorsand supporters to trumpet your cause through social media.“Social media is huge. It’s another way to grow your donor file,” Foster said. “For in-stance, I’m friends with someone on Facebook and they care about something, and theysay, ‘Hey, give to this cause.’ I’m more likely to give to it than if I hear it from a nonprofitthat I don’t know as well as I know that person. That’s another huge thing, to make sureeverything is shareable.“We’re seeing that a lot more,” she added. “People realize that in their own lives they giveto what their friends care about. They are learning from their own experiences that it’snecessary.”Don’t Give Up on Direct MailNo matter how many times pundits and prognosticators sound the death knell for direct mail,it still is the biggest workhorse in direct-response fundraising.“Despite all the buzz about social media and other channels, direct mail still brings in moremoney than any other single fundraising channel,” said FundRaising Success Editor-in-ChiefMargaret Battistelli Gardner in a Fast15, “Channel Surfing: Top Tips for Making the Most ofDirect Mail, E-mail, Social Media and More.” “And yes, it’s also one of the most expensivechannels, especially for acquisition, but the key is to be smart about how, when and to whomyou mail.”With that in mind, Battistelli Gardner shared five direct-mail fundraising musts that engagedonors and ensure that a nonprofit is “right there” when the desire to give strikes.1. Stories, stories, stories: Stories draw donors in, creating a personal touch and vividimages that recipients can relate to. A great fundraising story can get even the mostskeptical donors to make gifts.“The goal is to connect the donor and his or her dollars directly to the people those dol-lars are serving,” Battistelli Gardner said. “Make an emotional appeal that specificallytells donors what their money will do to help fulfill your organization’s mission.”She provided the example of Operation Smile, which always includes before and after pic-tures of the children whose cleft palates it helps fix, along with those children’s stories.2. Make sure premiums are tied to your mission: Premiums still work well in direct-mailfundraising, especially in acquisition, but the premium must be tied to your mission inorder to stave off confusion and even skepticism.“If the premium seems to have nothing to do with the work that your organization does, itmight be viewed as being excessive and wasteful, which in turn can give the impressionthat your organization doesn’t use its funds wisely,” Battistelli Gardner said.3. Test, test and test again: This should just be standard operating procedure for everyfundraiser. Even if your control has gone unbeaten for years, you should always belooking for ways to top it and bring in even more dollars. Battistelli Gardner provided thefollowing general aspects to test:
  17. 17. 17One ask amount versus anotherVarious incoming and outgoing postage typesDifferent reply envelopesNew offersNew packagesNew outer envelopesGet out of your comfort zone with a new ideaOne note: “If your budget is limited, test new packages to your existing donors beforeyou try them on outside lists,” Battistelli Gardner said.4. Maximize your direct mail: To get the most out of your direct mail, make sure to include:Different giving options — for instance, always include planned-giving and monthly giv-ing optionsAll the ways recipients can connect with your organization — homepage URL, social-media information, phone number and e-mail address5. Don’t stop mailing: “When times are tough — and face it, they almost always are — thetemptation is to save money by cutting back on direct mail, especially acquisition,”Battistelli Gardner said. But this is a mistake, because direct mail is still effective, andacquisition is vital for an organization to sustain itself for the long haul.Be on the lookout for ways to trim costs without affecting response, she added, and lookfor opportunities to co-mail or cut back on the number of pieces you’d planned to drop,not the number to times or the number of campaigns.Engage the Next Generation of PhilanthropistsThere is no denying that the most generous donors tend to be older. As such, they should —and do — receive a lot of attention from fundraisers. Nonprofits cannot afford to neglect theirbest donors.That doesn’t make engaging the next generation of philanthropists any less vital, however. Asyou know, studies show that the longer a donor has been involved with an organization, the moreloyal and valuable that donor is. Thus, fundraisers must always be on the lookout for ways toengage young donors now to establish a relationship that will bear fruit for years to come.The hard part is that donor behavior — thanks in large part to technology — shifts from genera-tion to generation. The next wave of philanthropists — millennials (born in the 1980s and ‘90s)and younger — have differing ideals and aren’t as engaged with direct mail as traditional donors;they reside mostly online, namely by utilizing social media. And social media is all about howmany friends, followers and connections you have, and how you interact with them.“You have to get the ball rolling on the younger generation of philanthropists,” said ArnonShafir, co-founder and CEO of give2gether, an online social-media platform provider de-signed to help nonprofits leverage social activists for their causes. “To them, it’s not abouthow much you give; this whole generation is about how much you care. It’s how manyfriends you have on Facebook and how many followers you have on Twitter.”So naturally, social media is the place to engage this demographic. Shafir and fellow give2ge-ther co-founders Shachar Kariv, a professor of economics at the University of California,Berkeley; Hoan Soo Lee, Ph.D, Harvard Business School; and Douglas Gale, silver professor of
  18. 18. 18economics at New York University, researched the behavior of this new socially wired genera-tion and found enormous fundraising potential for organizations in the digital space.Characteristics of the next generation of philanthropistsThe first step is to understand the traits of the next generation of philanthropists. Accordingto give2gether’s research, testing and results from nonprofits utilizing its platform:They’re young and creative, and don’t like to be told that something can’t be done.They consume media 24/7.They value personal social responsibility more than corporate social responsibility.They prefer to donate online instead of attending fundraising events.They don’t carry checks on them (and never will).Their Twitter followers and Facebook friends are more important to them than the amount ofmoney that’s in their bank accounts.They don’t give as much money as wealthy donors, but their impact is just as significantbecause they’re able to rally their social networks and create online buzz.They don’t just donate money; they live for their favorite nonprofits by offering their time andenergy on a continual basis.They want to collect life experiences.They have a sharply developed social conscious.They want to go outside of their hometowns and support causes in other parts of the world.Recognition is a motivating factor for them.“Most of this audience nowadays is socially wired, is engaged, spends anywhere betweentwo to three hours a day online in social media. If you can engage them there, the depth ofhow far that reach can extend is vast,” Shafir said.How to engage the next generation of philanthropistsOnce you identify this next wave of constituents, there are certain best practices you mustincorporate to engage these donors socially, said Shafir. He offered these three immediateways to do that:Make it easy. “Make it easy for your social activists to not only invite people to your cam-paigns and discussions online, but also make it easy for them to share the progress,” Shafirsaid. Use a social platform that provides all the cross-platform promotional tools donorsneed — widgets, badges, personal fundraising pages, progress updates — so they canshare as much information with their social networks as they can to get others as excitedabout your cause as they are.Make it sticky. “By making it sticky, what we mean is that the mover, the champion, theperson who is running for a cause is being invited to look at his achievements rather than justthanking him for his gifts,” he said. “If you are a social activist and you could literally checkevery day — or every hour — and see how far your influence went, how big your impact wasin the campaign, how it makes the donor want to keep coming back.”Make people feel pivotal in your success. “What if we, as a nonprofit, could show youwhat your personal social responsibility equates to? What did you do for the cause not onlyby giving, but how far did your reach go, how deep, how many layers, how many people youinspired?” Shafir asked. He said you should acknowledge these social activists constantly,specifically rewarding achievements. For instance, if someone brought in 100 new followersto the campaign, acknowledge that.
  19. 19. 19Shafir also said it’s important to be creative and actively engaging on social media to keeppeople interested in your cause. He suggested offering other ways to provide help besidesdonating money, i.e., volunteering, participating in an event, signing a petition. And youshould pursue ambitious goals because the fundraising potential is there.Engage Donors Through E-mailE-mail can be an invaluable fundraising tool given its low costs and quick turnaround. Butjust because you send your donors an e-mail doesn’t mean they’re going to respond to it.You still must practice good e-mail etiquette to make your campaign a success.One organization that has found tremendous e-mail response is amfAR, The Foundation forAIDs Research. In 2011, amfAR took home the E-mail Renewal Package of the Year awardedby the Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association for its holiday/year-end renewal e-mail.The e-mail was created with the help of online nonprofit marketing agency SankyNet. PaulHabig, executive vice president of SankyNet, shared some best practices for a successfulfundraising e-mail campaign that amfAR utilized.1. Timing is everything: Every fundraising direct marketer has been well-schooled in theimportance of recency, frequency and monetary metrics. Of particular importance in e-mail is frequency, including timing.If you bombard your donors with e-mail solicitation after e-mail solicitation, you’ll findyourself quickly being ignored — or worse yet in the junk folder. And if you don’t nail thetiming, response could suffer.“Timing is very important in any e-mail campaign,” Habig said. “And then also spacingout your campaigns.”Devise a strategy to hit your donors’ inboxes when the need is visible and/or when do-nors tend to give. For example, if something newsworthy happens around your organiza-tion’s mission, send an e-mail campaign at that time to capitalize on the newsworthinessof your ask. And hit donors a few weeks before the giving season, when they’re primedto give end-of-year donations.2. Segment, segment, segment: “Segmentation is really an important facet for e-mailmarketing — making sure you’re not over-e-mailing certain segments, paying attention toresponse, and removing segments who just gave from follow-up e-mails when appropri-ate,” Habig said.Coordinate various different messaging to different types of donors as well, he adds.There are countless ways to segment e-mail donors, whether it be age, income, givinghistory, types of e-mails they respond to, etc.3. Be succinct: There is a big difference between an e-mail appeal and direct-mail letter.People have short attention spans online, especially when slogging through their seem-ingly endless e-mail messages during the workday. They need to be able to scan some-thing quickly, understand the message and be able to respond instantly. Too many wordsand no easy-to-find call to action can spell doom for your e-mail.“I see a lot of e-mails out there where organizations are a little verbose,” Habig said.“Make sure you’re not overwhelming someone. The eye online does not do the samething as it does on print, and if you overwhelm a visitor, you’re going to lose them withtoo much text.”
  20. 20. 20Habig suggested limiting your text to less than 100 words if possible, ideally somewherein the 40-50 range to stay “above the fold.”And in those words, make sure there are appropriate callouts — a “Donate Now” button,text link, bold and larger fonts for the call to action.“Make sure there are places your eye will go to take the action you want donors to takewhen you’re designing an e-mail,” Habig said. “Someone needs to be able to reallyquickly scan it because a lot of times when we’re online, a donor is scanning a docu-ment, not reading it start to finish. So the main message must jump out at someone.”4. Integrate: Make sure your e-mail campaign is part of an even bigger multichannel cam-paign with a cohesive strategy, Habig said. Keep the message and branding consistent,and supplement e-mail with other offline and online channels to make the most of yourcampaign.Empower Your Donors with Peer-to-Peer FundraisingNo matter if you’re talking about buying a toaster, renting a movie or supporting a charity,people always trust personal recommendations more than information they get from corpo-rations or organizations. That’s why peer-to-peer fundraising can be such a powerful tool forany nonprofit, especially in this social-media age.At the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference held in Washington, D.C., three fundraisingexperts tackled peer-to-peer fundraising. In their session, “Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: 10 Prin-ciples for Success,” Mike Quinzio, director of operations at Change for Kids, and CauseVoxco-founders Jeff Chang and Rob Wu shared these 10 principles to run successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.1. et SMART campaign objectives: A campaign is useless if there aren’t any goals tomeasure its success. Fundraisers should use the SMART framework to outline campaignobjectives:Specific. Objectives should be focused, clear and unambiguous.Measurable. Objectives that are measurable allow you to track and report progress.Attainable. Objectives should be realistic yet require a stretch or effort to reach them.Relevant. Relevance means that objectives are aligned with your mission and cause.Timely. Campaigns must have a start and end date.Examples of SMART objectives include:Raise $10,000 for the Uganda microfinance initiative from July 1 - July 31.By Sept. 20, raise $50,000 (from new donors) toward building a safe house for sex-traf-ficking victims.Obtain 50 new contacts and raise $5,000 for the scholarship program from Oct. 15 - Oct. 20.2. Understand your supporters: To have meaningful relationships with your donors youmust understand them. One way to do that is to create supporter personas, summariz-ing the personal and giving histories of your donors. Include data such as name, age,occupation, location, personal interests, engagement level with your organization (high,medium, low), preferred communication (Twitter, mobile, e-mail, phone, direct mail, etc.)and giving characteristics, e.g., gives when asked by friends, all online; needs to seedirect impact of donations.
  21. 21. 21In order to further understand your donors, create an empathy map, asking:What do supporters think/feel?What do supporters see?What do supporters listen to?What do supporters say/do?What is the supporter’s pain?What is the supporter’s gain?Once you’ve gathered all that data, validate your personas and empathy maps by testingthem with real data. Conduct expert interviews, focus groups, online surveys and donor-behavior data studies to develop a better understanding of your supporters.3. Define roles and responsibilities: There are three main roles within every peer-to-peerfundraising campaign:Communications. Produce content and messaging. Coach and motivate fundraisers.Accounting. Manage donation data. Produce reports and receipts.Technology. Select and integrate the appropriate tools. Set up and maintain the technology.It’s vital to define who does what for each role, and every aspect must work in tandem.Fundraising does not work in silos, so communications, accounting and technology mustbe integrated to get the most out of your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.4. Craft a compelling campaign story: Good stories are compelling, so naturally youshould use the COMPEL framework to tell yours:Clear/concise. Be focused in your message and requested action.One idea. Distill your program and mission into one idea.Metrics. Appeal to the quantitative types through numbers.Personal. Help the audience connect to you. Leverage your supporters.Emotive. Show your passion to move your audience.Latch. Used mixed media to hook people in.5. Focus on relationships: Make your appeal personal by providing detailed, personal ac-counts from your supporters. That’s what makes peer-to-peer fundraising so effective. Apersonal appeal on your behalf from supporters gives your charity credibility and garnersdonations. Personal appeals should:State the purpose. Describe the campaign or nonprofit clearly, and note what action youwant the reader to take.Make it personal. Write to your personality, and fill it with passion.Show your gratitude. Show people you appreciate their support.Call to action. Tell people the one thing (or two) you want them to do.Be concise. Messages that are 175 to 225 words work the best.Use events. Have a birthday coming up? Is the holiday season close by? Instead of ask-ing for gifts, ask for donations to your cause.6. Jump-start your campaign: Key to peer-to-peer fundraising success is creating mo-mentum for the campaign so people will share it with others. And momentum equalsmass times velocity. In the case of fundraising, mass is the number of supporters youhave, and velocity can be several variables — the rate that supporters create fundraisingpages, conversion rate, rate of donations, etc. Increasing either one has a direct effect ofincreasing momentum.
  22. 22. 22Typically, a campaign starts strong, hits a lull and then picks up again near the end. Soit’s crucial to start strong. Momentum builds on momentum. Get better results by begin-ning with a bang:Hold a kick-off event for the campaign.Get your board to create fundraising pages first.Find partner organizations to help fundraise.Leverage offline events.Build anticipation through newsletters.Encourage fundraisers to be the first to donate.7. Empower your fundraisers: Peer-to-peer fundraising turns your community into fund-raisers, but they need coaching on how to fundraise to the best of their abilities. Here areways to help them along:Provide talking points and standard text.Encourage fundraisers to continue to take action themselves.Highlight effective fundraisers, and share what they’re doing.Provide best practices in fundraising.Give regular updates on progress so they see where they stand.8. Communicate regularly: Communication equals updating plus appreciation plus en-couragement. These are the three purposes of communication. In peer-to-peer fundrais-ing, all communications should be defined with one or more of these purposes.Communication should occur regularly and at a personal level if possible.Update your fundraisers by giving them regular weekly progress updates and alertingthem to when big events happen.Show appreciation to donors and fundraisers as well.Personal messages to high-performing fundraisers are very effective, as well as thank-yous to donors. And encourage fundraisers to take action. Motivate them to spread themessage to as many people as they can.9. Promote and integrate: For optimal results, integrate your campaign into all aspectsand channels of promotion:Website and social media.Campaign link-in e-mail signature.Campaign link-in marketing materials.Bloggers and influencers.Community.Offline events.10. Choose the right technology: Technology amplifies the impact of peer-to-peer fund-raising, so selecting the right technology for your campaign is important. You want yourfundraisers to be able to use it easily and share the message quickly. Use these factorsto select the proper technology:Budget. How much can I spend on fundraising? Is there a risk in making this purchase?Branding. Are my branding and messaging preserved? Will they be lost in the technology?Resources. Will the technology take expertise to operate? How much time can we spare?Support base. Do we have a support base that can be engaged in fundraising? Are oursupporters communicating and comfortable online?Fundraising culture. How do we generate our revenues? Do we focus on individuals?
  23. 23. 23Again, the keys are ease of use and proper functionality, balanced against your budget.You want technology that allows your fundraisers to garner donations easily on your be-half and a way to track that. The easier it is for people to use and share, the more moneythey’ll raise on your behalf.Donor Cultivation Is KeyA 2011 Talisma Fundraising poll that surveyed 383 organizations found that nonprofits sawincreases in donor activity and fundraisers were cautiously optimistic.“The recession and the [Bernie] Madoff scandal had a huge impact on the nonprofit com-munity — so many of the folks invested with him either had very high philanthropic profilesor were charities themselves, foundations that had stock investments,” said Dan Germain, di-rector of Talisma North America. “All that took a huge hit on the nonprofit industry as a whole.But the economy is bouncing back a bit. People are seeing improvement in jobs. … Peopleare feeling positive about the economic recovery that seems to be slowly taking place.”The key to capitalizing on this cautious optimism is to focus on efficiency and transparency,according to Germain.“Difficult economic times are really tough for nonprofits,” he said. “They usually get a double-whammy: They get less money coming and oftentimes have increased demand for theirservices. So in those kinds of times nonprofits have to get more efficient.”“As they start to recover now, nonprofits want to retain efficiencies that they’ve built in thehard times,” Germain added. “Donors like to see where their dollars are going. They like tomake sure that when they’re making contributions, monies are going to the primary cause ofthe nonprofit they’re giving to. They’re holding nonprofits accountable more and more.”That means cultivating donors requires more care than ever. Germain provided five steps toefficient and effective donor cultivation, as well as ways fundraisers can capitalize on opti-mism in the sector even in the midst of budget cuts.Identification: The identification of donors is the first step in donor cultivation, Germain said.You must understand who donors are in terms of generation, personal attributes, how theylike to communicate and what their capacities to give are.”“You might start to identify someone who may be young in terms of age and career and maynot be able to afford to give a lot, however might be very willing to volunteer,” Germain said. “Soidentify what is this particular individual’s capacity to give — whether it’s financial, whether it’s intime commitment, whether it’s another mechanism for contributing to the organization.“Identify your donors. Who are the ones that are most likely to become major donors? Whohas the giving capacity as well as the interest in your cause? Use the data to quickly identifyif this is someone who has great giving potential, and start to cultivate them appropriately,”he added.Cultivation: Once you’ve identified donors and understand how to categorize them and howbest to communicate with them, make sure you send them information that’s pertinent totheir interests, Germain said, for proper cultivation.
  24. 24. 24“If I’ve told you that I’m interested in investing in water wells in Africa, then don’t send meinformation about saving whales because that’s not what I’m interested in,” Germain said.“Communicating effectively with pertinent messages based on what you’ve learned is key.Not only is it efficient, but it communicates efficiency to the donor, who will feel that theirmoney is well-spent — as opposed to their money being squandered by sending informationthat’s not pertinent to that donor’s particular interests.”Evaluation: Analyze when, where, how and how often you communicate with donors.“Let donors tell you,” Germain said. “They might be very interested in subscribing to yourTwitter feed and not receiving lots of mail at their homes. Give them a choice. Let donors tellyou how to communicate with them so you can do so effectively. The more involvement theyhave, the more they feel that you’re being responsive to them as an organization, the morethey’re likely to continue to support you.”Germain cautioned that it may be different for different donors. More and more people aregiving online and doing research about nonprofits online, “but overall the giving that organi-zations are getting from online transactions is really still a pretty small percentage — althoughit’s a rapidly growing percentage of their gifts,” he said. “So you have to balance all thesemedia. You can’t forget that older donors may not be on Facebook, may not be on Twitter.But certainly as a charity you have to be looking at the up-and-coming generations, and youhave to go where they are.”Involvement: “In terms of involvement, not all donors can contribute significantly financially,but many of them will be glad to contribute their time,” Germain said.Obviously, it’s wonderful if you can get both donors’ time and money, but sometimes peoplecan do more on one side than they can on the other. Remember, “any involvement is good. Itkeeps people engaged, and as they mature, their involvement might change,” Germain said.For instance, donors may start to involve their friends or family in the organizations they support.They may mature from volunteers to donors to both. And as they mature and pass along thatpassion to those around them, that passion is communicated from generation to generation.“It’s a great way for organizations to sustain themselves long term,” Germain added.Stewardship: It’s vital to show donors that their gifts are appreciated and truly make a difference.“Stewardship is all about thanking, recognizing and showing donors that they’re appreciated,and communicating that effectively and efficiently so donors don’t feel that their money is be-ing squandered on trinkets, for example, as opposed to going to the cause,” Germain said.Understand your donors intimately so they can be thanked appropriately. And always makesure to thank them.“We’re really seeing the optimism turning into nonprofits seizing the moment. We’re see-ing a lot of projects that got put on hold for the last couple of years being invested in again.Boards are understanding that this is the time to get back in the game and start to growthese organizations,” Germain said.
  25. 25. 25“People, especially American people, are very compassionate. So as school funding andfunding in so many sectors are impacted by budgets — whether they’re at the state, localor national level — donors will step in and dig deeper in their pockets,” he added. “Effectivenonprofits are leveraging those communications mechanisms right now trying to capitalize, ifyou will, on the opportunity and get ahead of any sort of budget shortfalls for themselves tobe ale to continue to support their causes.”Fundamentals of Donor Retention and LoyaltyDonor-retention programs are designed to keep supporters engaged annually, and they can beone of the most effective strategies to improve donor lifetime value. The better you can retaindonors, the more you can cultivate them and develop deep, meaningful relationships with them.The ultimate goal is to grow the donor file with the most loyal and long-term donors.In the session “Fundamentals of Retention — The Types of Programs Associated CreativeOfferings to Effectively Retain Donors” at the DMA Nonprofit Federation’s 2011 Washing-ton Nonprofit Conference, three fundraising professionals tackled donor retention. AmandaClayton, integrated marketing manager at Doctors Without Borders; fundraising and market-ing strategist Jennifer Jones, former director of direct-response marketing at CARE; and JimEmlet, co-founder and principal at Integral, discussed basics of donor retention and shareddonor-retention case studies. Here are some of their recommendations.Let donors decide: “Understand the messages that resonate the most with your donors,”Emlet said. “Look at an anniversary-based series versus a calendar-based series, and deter-mine which approach is more productive for you.”Anniversary-based approaches tend to provide cash-flow consistency, Emlet said, butcalendar-based approaches may be easier to implement. It’s all about knowing your donorsand understanding the messages that resonate most with them. Some organizations havemultiple renewal and retention series, including low-dollar, high-dollar, anniversary and calen-dar series. The key is to let your donors decide, Emlet said.How? Testing. In mid-2008, renewal revenue from a client’s traditional series to renew a magazinemembership began to decline. Some of the results were attributed to expanding into new mar-kets, but Integral and the client realized that the most dedicated donors weren’t renewing at theirprevious levels. So in January 2009, they created a second series with a more mission-basedmessage, moving away from language focused mostly on magazine renewal.The new series was an immediate success and stabilized retention. In year two, it surpassedthe performance of the traditional series. But instead of ditching the old series, both ap-proaches continued to be refined (and still continue to be refined), as each resonated withdifferent audiences, Emlet said.“It wasn’t an all-or-nothing approach,” he said. “We tested each one every other month.”The most valuable supporters — the five-year plus group — responded much more favorably tothe new, shorter series. This was counterintuitive to what Integral and its client thought — theyexpected the new series to resonate more with newer donors. As it turned out, new memberscontinued to be more receptive to the traditional approach.“Since both are viable, we still use both,” Emlet said. “New members get the traditional se-ries, and five-year plus donors get the new one.”
  26. 26. 26Second-gift conversion series: “One of the most important things is how quickly you canget donors to give that second gift,” Jones said. “The quicker they give that second gift, themore valuable they’ll be.”With that in mind, CARE implemented a second-gift conversion series in its donor-retentionprogram. The objective was to solicit and receive an additional gift from a new donor asquickly as possible. The series went as follows:New donors receive a “special” series after they join.The series lasts approximately 6-8 weeks.The series includes an ask into the monthly donor program, Partners for Change.Non-monthly donors begin receiving the existing tried-and-true mailstream.Results yielded a lift in new donor conversion of 16 percent.When new donors join, CARE sends an acknowledgment and welcome mailing that includesa thank-you on the outer envelope, acknowledgment letter, receipt and an immediate ask foranother gift. The ask is done in a friendly way, saying if you’d like to make a second gift, thatwould be wonderful. “It’s a good first point to ask for the next gift,” Jones said.A buckslip appeal is also included that informs recipients about the organization beyondfeeding children. CARE created a special version of its World Report newsletter that tells newdonors about other projects CARE is involved in and what they do.CARE then sends a communication preference postcard a week later, allowing donors toinform the organization how they would like to communicate with it. There is a thank-you onthe outer envelope of the postcard, a letter from the president about how CARE uses do-nated money wisely, and the opportunity for donors to say how they want to hear from CAREand how often.“Very few send in the postcard, but it lets them know we let them have a say and we careabout them,” Jones said.There is no ask on the postcard. It’s more of an engagement piece to help build the relation-ship with the new donor.The next mailing in the series is the child survival appeal, the top-performing appeal forCARE. It asks donors to give that second (or third) gift right up front, beginning on the outerenvelope and continuing inside. It highlights how giving leads to feeding the hungry, takinga more functional tone — describing how gifts are used, providing a matching-gift element,personalization, etc.The key copy, Jones said, is the paragraph that states, “As someone who’s so recently beengenerous and given, you understand why we have a need.”CARE follows that up with a monthly-giving invitation mailing, asking new donors to becomemonthly donors. The focus is on getting donors to join the Partners for Change monthly-giving program. It does have a one-time gift ask, but it’s something recipients have to huntfor, Jones said.The monthly giving invite is a higher-end brochure. The same time it hits, CARE calls thosedonors it has phone numbers for, and it’s also sent to e-mail donors in an e-mail appeal.
  27. 27. 27“We have a planned-out series,” Jones said. “Donors get thanked two times, asking themthroughout for that next gift, sending appeals with the same message that brought them toCARE, and asking them to become monthly donors.”Since it was implemented, donor retention has risen 16 percent.Doctors Without Borders’ renewal program uses direct mail, e-mail and telemarketingthroughout the year — 12 issue-focused direct-mail messages go out annually, up to 15 e-mail solicitations per year and approximately two phone calls per year, Clayton said.Every month, 12- to 13-month and 24- to 25-month lapsed donors receive an invoice-likepackage. Doctors Without Borders tested an anniversary message against the issue-focusedrenewal that the 0- to 12-month donors receive in the same month. In both cases, the donor-confirmation anniversary package won, suggesting that there is room for more anniversarymessages in the renewal program — something Doctors Without Borders plans to test morethan once to make sure it’s seeing a real trend.Through testing, Doctors Without Borders concluded that package refinements may improveoverall net while the message keeps donors engaged, testing things like package size, post-age treatment and bulk orders/gang printing. Clayton noted that Doctors Without Borderswill save more than $75,000 on the renewal package alone in 2011 thanks to testing a newformat and taking advantage of gang-printing savings.CARE was starting to see its high-value donor file shrink in 2009. From 2008 to 2009, the$500-plus donor file decreased by 17 percent and $500-plus donor revenue decreased by 20percent. And it continued to decline in 2010.“That [set off] a few alarm bells,” Jones said. “How do we keep them engaged?”Mid-level donors: CARE took a look at its midlevel donors to find ways to retain them andcultivate them for the highest lifetime value. What it found was that of all midlevel donors,mail-responsive donors contributed 67 percent of total revenue, and while the average gift ofnon-mail donors was three times more, direct-mail donors gave six times more throughoutthe year.“This is a group we want to keep engaged and involved, and they seem responsive to mail,”Jones said. So the CARE team developed a mail program targeted at midlevel direct-maildonors called the President’s Circle. The program objectives were to:Increase retention of donors giving at the $1,000-plus level.Increase the number of $1,000-plus donors.More aggressively reactivate lapsed midlevel donors.Provide a bridge between traditional direct response and high-level, one-to-one cultivation.So CARE developed a two-pronged approach: a welcome package and an invitation pack-age. The welcome package was mailed to 0- to 24-month donors who had given $1,000or more. It acknowledged the donor as a member of the President’s Circle, introduced thebenefits of membership and provided an opportunity to make a gift. The invitation packagewas mailed to 0- to 24-month donors who had given $500-$999 and 25- to 36-month donorswho had given a single gift of $1,000-$4,999. It invited the donor to become a member of
  28. 28. 28the President’s Circle — must make a single gift of $1,000-plus to join — and introduced thebenefits of membership.The launch package was versioned for each audience. One was a welcome theme, the otheran invitation theme. In both instances, it was an oversized 9-inch-by-12-inch, high-end, per-sonalized appeal that included: a letter from the president of CARE, a certificate of apprecia-tion — which donors love, Jones said — the CARE logo and the President’s Circle logo. Afollow-up was sent later, another high-end, cost-effective, automated direct mailer.The language highlighted the benefits:Access to Dr. Helene Gayle, CARE’s president and CEO, and other key leaders.Exclusive “insider”/mission-centered information.Convey status as true investors in CARE’s mission.Deeper look at different CARE programs.Create a closer, more personalized connection with CARE.“We were going for a more personal feel, not necessarily gifts,” Jones said. “We wanted to …let them know they’re making a difference as an important part of CARE.”CARE monitored the President’s Circle closely in 2011. The communication plan this year in-cludes a multichannel approach, with all donor touches referencing the donor’s membershipin the President’s Circle. It plans to analyze the program quarterly and annually at a mini-mum, focusing on ongoing identification of messages that resonate with donors and gaugingdonor-engagement levels.To date, donors who were welcomed continue to give at their same giving levels, whileaverage gifts for donors who were invited is 7 percent higher than the same period the yearbefore. Also, the number of midlevel donors has increased 15 percent, and revenue hasincreased 12 percent.“It’s  been tremendously successful,” Jones said. “It’s going back to the basics of retention.Treat them the way that you want them to give, and that’s what they’ll do.”Social Media Best PracticesSocial media is still an evolving and sometimes confusing medium, but as each day passes,social media becomes more and more engrained in donors’ everyday life. Obviously, thatextends to their giving preferences. Here, are some key social-media takeaways from social-media fundraising experts.David Neff, creator, co-founder and director, Lights. Camera. Help., and senior digitalstrategist, Ridgewood Ingenious Communications Strategies:It all starts with a good blog. Organizations that have a good blog are able to build up aclose connection with their readership. A close connection turns into being able to reachout to those folks when you need to and mobilize them. Oftentimes, that blog then goes intoFacebook. Facebook makes it a lot more conversational and casual. From there, it leads outto other social-media channels such as Twitter, FriendFeed, Flickr, etc. From what I’ve seen,that success drives from active blogging and spreading out from there.
  29. 29. 29Repeat, especially on crowded mediums like Twitter and Facebook. Obviously, you have to judgeyour audience. The same message three times a day might not work. But the same message onyour Facebook page twice a week might be perfect depending on your audience.React to campaigns. You need to react to things happening in the environment not withinweeks, not after you’ve run it by your board of directors, but you have to react to things asthey happen.Run campaigns that are on a deadline. We need $10 and you to ask 10 friends by Dec. 10,go! Give them a deadline and push them toward that deadline.Donna Wilkins, CEO, Charity Dynamics:Research that Charity Dynamics has conducted indicates that volunteer fundraisers who usesocial-media tools set higher fundraising goals, reach more donors and raise more moneythan their peers. Volunteer fundraisers achieving the strongest fundraising success are thosethat combine offline, online and multiple social-media tools.Social media opens up new fundraising channels for nonprofits. On average, 75 percent of do-nors that are attracted through social media are new to the organizations that they’re supporting.Organizations using social media should be sure that it’s integrated into their overall fund-raising and marketing programs, versus being siloed and treated as a stand-alone project.Nonprofits achieving the strongest results have begun making social-media tools a regularpart of their fundraising kits.As with other online tools that a nonprofit has implemented, fundraisers must have access tometrics for social-media tools they’re using in order to best understand what’s driving suc-cess, as well as uncover areas they may need to adjust.It’s always important for nonprofits to have a plan and goals in mind before jumping in to so-cial media. Don’t just use different tools because you think they’re neat or cool. Have a plan,know what you’re trying to achieve, and know what unique audiences and communicationopportunities each social-media network offers.That being said, organizations also shouldn’t be afraid to experiment. Nonprofits should bewilling to try new things to see what social-media tools and approaches work best with theirconstituents.Let your constituents lead you. Many of the best ideas come from watching innovative con-stituents and empowering others to take the same actions.Marc Sirkin, chief digital marketing officer, Autism Speaks:Is your organization ready for social media? Is the culture ready for embracing this holisti-cally; how do you break the walls down between departments? Social media is a team sport.E-mail is the core. Try to get an e-mail address from those you engage with online.Experiment. You have to spend a little bit of time trying stuff to see what works.
  30. 30. 30Frank Barry, senior digital marketer, Blackbaud:Be there before you ask. If you just show up one day and ask for money, people will notrespond.Be part of the community. Have a presence there where you, as an organization, alwaysengage with people; participate, share and communicate.Be human. Don’t just post your press releases or tell people you want money. Act like a hu-man being who is in others.Be active in social-media channels, and help your supporters spread their messages.Make it easy and exciting for your supporters to communicate with their networks.Give your supporters, donors, volunteers and advocates an easy way to fundraise on your behalf.Create a challenge or competition that inspires people to compete.Come up with cool prizes that motivate people to engage in fundraising efforts.VI. CONCLUSIONWith the intense — and rightfully placed — focus on multichannel strategies to engagedonors, the shift to holistic fundraising that leads to natural giving is at the same time easierand more complex than ever. What makes it so easy is that there myriad opportunities toconnect with donors and other supporters; what makes it so hard is that there are myriadopportunities to connect with donors and other supporters — making it both a challenge andan opportunity.The key is finding the right messaging and the right mix of channels to best engage your sup-porters. But no matter what that looks like to your particular organization, the mix you choosemust lead to the deeper kind of involvement and relationship building that allows donors —no matter where they are and how they choose to connect with you — to satisfy their innatedesire to give. By acting as the liaison between people and that innate desire, your kick startthe very real feel-good phenomenon of giving and, with the right kind of strategy, lead donorsinto a lifelong relationship with your organization.Salsa Labs (Salsa) helps nonprofits and political campaigns ignite action and fuel change around theworld by growing and engaging a base of support online. With Salsa, groups of all sizes can easilyorganize their supporters and chapters, fundraise, advocate, communicate through email and socialmedia, host events and measure results. Salsa provides more than technology; it offers strategic bestpractices, training, highly rated support and a strong online community, so its clients can focus theirenergy on their mission. The company currently empowers more than 2,000 organizations’ and theirmore than 75 million donors, members, activists and fans across the globe.