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How to Retain your COVID Emergency Donors

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How to Retain your COVID Emergency Donors

  1. 1. HOW TO RETAIN YOUR COVID EMERGENCY DONORS Moderator : Lisa Maska, CFRE, Partner, Lautman Maska Neill & Company Panelists: Jay Haddad, Manager of Individual Giving, The Actors Fund Vera Eastman, Marketing Manager, Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) July 16, 2020 Session Sponsored by:
  2. 2. How to Retain YourCOVID Emergency Donors Lisa Maska Jay Haddad Vera Eastman
  3. 3. TheGoals for Today Learning Outcome #1 How to welcome new emergency donors into your organization. Learning Outcome #2 How to introduce them to your broader mission and get that key second gift. Learning Outcome #3 Direct response strategies to inspire these donors to keep giving.
  4. 4. Quick Look atWhere WeAre O V E R A L L G I V I N G T R E N D S
  5. 5. Ten-year Median Revenue Growth: 48.6% SOURCE: BLACKBAUD donorCentrics® Index of Direct Marketing Fundraising
  6. 6. Ten-year Median Donor Decline: 12.2% SOURCE: BLACKBAUD donorCentrics® Index of Direct Marketing Fundraising
  7. 7. Revenue Per Donor Increased 4.5% In 2019 SOURCE: BLACKBAUD donorCentrics® Index of Direct Marketing Fundraising
  8. 8. Retention Specifics SOURCE: BLACKBAUD donorCentrics® Index of Direct Marketing Fundraising
  9. 9. And then we come to 2020...  January and February were up slightly over the prior year.  In late March, giving came to a grinding halt - distraction resulting from nationwide quarantines.  Starting in April, giving rebounded:  Social service groups seeing 300% lift - or more.  Average gifts increased.  Dramatic increase in $1K+ gifts.  Even non-COVID groups seeing strong results.
  10. 10. Best Practices to Increase New Donor Retention
  11. 11. Today’s New DonorsAre MoreValuable Than Ever  But 2020 brings huge challenges in keeping your new donors' attention:  Anxiety around COVID-19 pandemic  Economic uncertainty  Volatile news cycles  Election (which may not be decided in a day)
  12. 12. The Basics Thank them meaningfully 01 Show impact 02 Introduce them to your broader mission 03 Give them a variety of things to respond to 04 Include what they gave to initially! 05
  13. 13. Most Importantly… Have a Plan (but don't be afraid to change it) DetermineWhat IsWorking (and then do more of it)
  14. 14. Assess Performance Constantly Timing is Key Move non-responders into Acquisition Consider modeling to prioritize higher value donors
  15. 15. T H E A C T O R S F U N D
  16. 16. HowCOVID-19 AffectedOur Community  Immediate increase in need for medical services and insurance  Shutdown of Broadway & regional theatres and Film/TV production nationally  Lockdown ofThe Home  Move to telehealth services for Health Center, temporary closure of physical offices in NY/LA/Chicago
  17. 17. WhatWe Did To Raise MoneyAnd Acquire New Donors  Emergency appeal via mail and email (by end of March to current and lapsed donors)  Online events  Emergency May acquisition package (without usual benefits)
  18. 18. 50% Increase in New Mail Donors Acquired (March 2020- present)
  19. 19. Over 200% Increase in NewOnline Donors Acquired (March 2020- present)
  20. 20. Our Plan for Retention N E W D O N O R R E T E N T I O N S T R AT E G Y
  21. 21. N E W D O N O R R E T E N T I O N S T R A T E G Y
  22. 22. Welcoming These Donors IntoThe Organization CHANNEL-SPECIFIC ACKNOWLEDGMENTS  Auto-generated emails for online gifts  Outsourced letters for offline gifts INDIVIDUAL EMAIL/TELEPHONE OUTREACH  Personally thanking and updating progress for all donors of $1,000+
  23. 23. Introducing ThemToThe Broader Mission
  24. 24. Offering a variety of different messages and themes
  25. 25. Engaging With and Inspiring These Donors To Keep Giving
  26. 26. D O C T O R S W I T H O U T B O R D E R S
  27. 27. HowCOVID-19 Affected OurWorld  Respond to the pandemic — we had to respond including in places where our infrastructure did not exist  Disrupted supply chains — difficult to source critically needed PPE  Travel restrictions affected some field staff (but not local in-country staff)  Adapt all current projects to COVID-19 protocols, including in places like refugee camps where there is no running water
  28. 28. 53% increase in New Donors Acquired (March 2020- present)
  29. 29. Big Lift inAll Control Packages Post- COVID  50% increase in response rates to all controls (Tote, Map, Nutrition) – whether or not a COVID buckslip was present  Surge in $1K+ gifts from first time donors!
  30. 30. Over 300% Increase in NewOnline Donors Acquired (March 2020- present)
  31. 31. Our Plan for Retention N E W D O N O R R E T E N T I O N S T R AT E G Y
  32. 32. NEW ONLINE DONORS Acknowledgement: General thank you Welcome series immediately after join All new donors receive appeal and cultivation emails throughout the year N E W D O N O R R E T E N T I O N S T R A T E G Y NEW MAIL DONORS General Acknowledgement COVID-19 Photo Card Package Go Straight into Appeals…
  33. 33. COVID-19 Follow Up June COVID-19 Response Report July Normal Mission Focus (Nutrition) Added 2nd Urgentgram Acq August Normal Mission Focus (Matching Gift) Sept Normal Mission Focus (Pediatrics) Sept Supporter Card Renewal (segment and version language with COVID-19 join messaging) Oct Year in Review (segment and version language with COVID-19 join messaging Nov Normal Mission Focus (Holiday Card—emergency donors no ask) Nov Year End FU (segment and version with COVID-19 messaging) Non-Givers ALSO Get Urgentgram Acq Dec Renewal Series (segment and version language with COVID-19 join messaging) Jan.–Mar. N E W D O N O R R E T E N T I O N S T R A T E G Y , C O N ’ T .
  34. 34. Welcoming These Donors IntoThe Organization
  35. 35. Introducing ThemToThe Broader Mission (online)
  36. 36. Introducing ThemTo The Broader Mission (Mail)
  37. 37. OfferingA VarietyOf Different Messages AndThemes
  38. 38. Engaging With and Inspiring These Donors To Keep Giving
  39. 39. QUESTIONS?
  40. 40. HOW TO RETA IN YOUR COV ID EMERGEN CY DON ORS Lisa Maska, CFRE, Lautman Maska Neill & Company lmaska@lautmandc.com Jay Haddad, The Actors Fund jhaddad@actorsfund.org Vera Eastman, Doctors Without Borders vera.eastman@newyork.msf.org Thanks for joining us! Session Sponsored by:

Editor's Notes

  • Intro – Lisa
    COVID is “unprecedented” in so many ways – but for nonprofits, it’s a rare situation where the emergency is not just affecting people the nonprofit helps – but the giving public too. This is NEW! It offers us a new challenge for fundraising – but by applying best practices and being creative, we can retain these new donors.
    We are fortunate to have 2 very different nonprofits to share what they have learned over the last 4 months:
    The Actors Fund sprang into action when Broadway and the entertainment industry shuttered overnight. And for most of the people they serve, their “side gigs” that help make ends meet (bartending, dog walking etc) vanished overnight.
    As you’ll hear, they’ve brought XX new donors into the fold through a wide variety of channels. And to date, they’ve raised over $13 million for people impacted by COVID – and have distributed it through small emergency grants.
    Their challenge is unique because they really don’t have a history of emergency fundraising!
    Doctors Without Borders is no stranger to natural disasters and other emergencies. As an emergency medical organization, they began working immediately to adapt their programs worldwide to help cope with COVID – and the brought new programs to areas that needed help.
    They’ve brought in XX new donors through a variety of channels. Today we’ll hear about how they are ensuring that these new donors stay with them.
  • Whether the donors came in through acquisition efforts (mail and online) or just over the transom through events and publicity – they represent value to your organization BEYOND their initial gift.
  • A rolling 12-month analysis (see Fig. 3)helps to smooth out seasonal differences and allows us to see continuous movement from one quarter to the next, instead of simply comparing one full or partial year to the next full or partial year.

    Since the end of the recession in 2009, the index has generally seen halting, inconsistent revenue growth punctuated by periodic disaster-related revenue spikes.

    From the fourth quarter of 2016 through the fourth quarter of 2017, roughly one-fifth of the organizations in the index, particularly those in the environmental and societal benefit sectors, had exceptional growth in almost all areas, likely related to the results of the November presidential election and donor concern over the policies of the current presidential administration.

    This growth was sustained for five successive quarters and leveled off in the first and second quarters of 2018.

    In 2019, two factors contributed to a modest revenue increase.
    First, increasing revenue per donor rates across most sectors and 85% of participating organizations.
    Secondly, an increase in giving in response to the Australian wildfires in the environmental sector and in some animal welfare and international relief organizations.
  • Emergencies have always Impacted Giving


    A rolling 12-month analysis provides additional context for donor trends.
    It shows that donors had been declining at a relatively steady pace before the most recent presidential election.
    The subsequent declines since the 2017 –2018 spikes have returned donor counts to where prior year trends had been indicating.

    The result was that despite disaster-and election-related spikes, donor numbers have declined over the ten-year period by 12.2%. (see Fig. 4).

    Recent donor declines are a continuation of a longer-term pattern: except for2017, donor numbers have generally been in decline since we first began conducting the index in 2001. Before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, donors had generally been declining at a slow but consistent pace of roughly 1% each year.

    As we have said in previous editions of the index, falling donor populations may be due to a mix of factors. The recession certainly had an impact, but so also may have a changing generational profile in the United States, changing attitudes of donors about giving, changing investment in new donor acquisition strategies by organizations, tax law changes, and a change in focus by fundraisers toward higher-dollar and sustaining donors
  • Year over year declines in overall donor numbers were driven primarily by declines in new donor acquisition, though new donor counts rallied in the fourth quarterfor some sectors impacted by the Australian wildfiresand earthquakes in Puerto Rico, somewhat mitigating the impact.

    Overall retention and reactivation rates increased in 2019. First-year retention rates declined, but at a lesser rate than one year ago.

    Under normal circumstances, revenue per donor amounts tend to increase due to a combination of organizational practice and inflationary adjustments by donors. Revenue per donor also tends to increase when new donor acquisition declines, since the mix of donors shifts towards more loyal, higher-dollar donors.
  • In 2019, only animal welfare and international relief had increases in first-year retention, possibly related to increasing populations of new sustainers for some organizations, but more broadly attributable to fewer emergency-related donors in the retention population.

    Though new donor retention rates declined in 2019 for environmental and societal benefit, both sectors had among the greatest increases in overall retention rates driven by multi-year donors. This was a combination of increasing rates of multi-year retention, increasing shares of multi-year donors in the retention population, and growth in recurring giving.

    Arts and culture and health sectors had modest increases in overall retention rates, driven by multi-year retention in 2019. Only human services had a decline in overall retention in 2019, due to a decline in first-year rates of 10.2%.
  • So, what do we need to do to get the second gift?

    mix should include variety of approaches, and should include what they gave to initially!
    Often whatever generated the gift (ie emergency acquisition) will get them to give again.

    It’s natural to want them to immediately get to know your ENTIRE mission, but don’t rush it.
    Introduce them carefully – all you know is that they gave to your emergency ask, you don’t know they will necessarily care about every aspect of your mission.

    Also, your strongest regular appeal may make a strong “conversion” package.

  • (Jay and Vera will show the flowcharts we created for their donors)
    It’s important to map out the next 12 months with deliberate touchpoints.


    Don’t let them “rest” – get them into your mail and email calendar as soon as possible. The sooner you can get the second gift the better.
  • (Jay and Vera will show the flowcharts we created for their donors)
    It’s important to map out the next 12 months with deliberate touchpoints.


    Don’t let them “rest” – get them into your mail and email calendar as soon as possible. The sooner you can get the second gift the better.
  • Brief description of what happened at TAF at beginning of pandemic. Were there any stunning leaps in calls for help? Something concrete and tangible (“our help desk call volume went from XX to XXXX overnight!”)
    Where the heck did these donors come from? (Can you provide a rough number for how many in each category? Feel free to bucket them differently to make it easier. Can include snippets of what the efforts looked like to illustrate – the YouTube channel, the FB posts, the acquisition etc)
    · Mailed acquisition
    · Emails to prospects
    · Online – social and other
    · EVENTS! All those YouTube benefits – the twice a day shows plus the Rosie show, etc.
    Include a bit of description of how disparate this group is – some folks helping TAF, some giving because of a star who headlined a show.


    Who we are/who we serve
  • What we did to raise money and also acquire new donors (and donors vs. members)

    Online events: SITH, Rosie, spurred countless others; some co-produced by AF, some for which we made beneficiaries


    Acquisition focused heavily on philanthropic message with little to no benefits being available
  • 7k new donors through web since 3/9/2020
    Acknowledgement: General thank you, but no physical premium (tote/water bottle)
    First Mail Correspondence:June Note Card Cultivation (Mid-June)
    First Email Correspondence: Welcome series immediately after join
  • Channel-specific Acknowledgments
    auto-generated emails for online gifts
    outsourced letters for offline gifts
    Individual email/telephone outreach, personally thanking and updating progress for all donors of $1,000+
  • Welcome series email to first time donors inviting them to learn more about the programs and services we provide 
  • Regular Appeals
    GivingTuesday now
    Seniors Mini-proposal 
    August Acquisition
  • Cultivation with opportunity to give
    Engagement though YouTube and other “virtual” performances
  • Brief description of the organization
    Brief description of what happened at MSF at beginning of pandemic. Were there any stunning leaps in program changes? Something concrete and tangible
    Where did these donors come from? (Can you provide a rough number for how many in each category? Feel free to bucket them differently to make it easier. Can include snippets of what the efforts looked like to illustrate – the acquisition, emails, digital ads, etc)
    · Mailed acquisition
    · Emails to prospects
    · Online – social and other
    · Media attention
    For MSF this group is more likely to resemble their own donors – people are mostly giving because MSF delivers emergency aid (ie not events like TAF)
  • Respond to the pandemic. We had to be on the ground responding in both places where our infrastructure did not exist and places we were already working - where infection rates were incredibly high, including many countries in Europe and the US.

    Disrupted supply chains. PPE is incredibly important in combating COVID-19 while keeping our staff safe, and it is more difficult than ever to source it

    Travel restrictions. Much of our field staff has faced difficulty in traveling to their assignments, but we are lucky that 90% of our staff is local to the area we serve.

    Adapting all current projects. Every project we run needed to be adapted to COVID-19. In many of the places we work, the threat of COVID-19 is astronomical. People cannot physically distance in a refugee camp, and quite often, access to running water is extremely limited.
  • June Appeal: COVID-19 Follow Up
    July Appeal: COVID-19 Response Report
    August Appeal: Nutrition (first messaging non COVID-19)
    Sept #1 Appeal: Matching Gift (no versioning)
    Sept #2 Appeal: Pediatrics (no versioning)
    Oct Appeal: Supporter Card Renewal (segment and version language with COVID-19 join messaging)
    Nov #1 Appeal: Year in Review (segment and version language with COVID-19 join messaging)
    Nov #2 Appeal: Holiday Card (emergency donors do not get a reply form)
    Dec Appeal: Year End FU (segment and version language with COVID-19 join messaging)
    Jan/Feb/March Renewal Series (segment and version language with COVID-19 join messaging)










  • Talk through a few of the targeted efforts – particularly the COVID specific things like cultivation, appeals etc.
  • Nutrition brochure, and outbreaks letter.
  • Matching gift letter
    Supporter card (2019 example)
    COVID follow up
    Sustainer online

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