In this webinar, Rachel Clemens will explore great content, unique thinking and delightful design through emails, websites, online advertising, donation pages, videos—and anything else that increases online donations.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, Rachel. My watch just struck 1:00. Is it okay if I go ahead and kick us off officially?

Rachel: Yeah, let’s do it.

Steven: All right. Cool. Well, good afternoon, everyone, if you are on the East Coast and good morning, I should say, if you are on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “The Best of Digital Fundraising Examples: 45 Slides in 45 Minutes.” We’re going to get through them all. I promise. Thanks for being here. This is Steven Shattuck talking. I am the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang. I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.

Just a couple of housekeeping items before we get going here officially. I just want to let you all know that we are recording this presentation and I’ll be sending out that recording as well as the slides later on this afternoon. So, if you have to leave early or maybe you want to review the content or share it with a friend or a colleague or a boss or something like that, I’ll get all that stuff in your hands, have no fear.

Most importantly, we like these sessions to be as interactive as possible. So, while you’re listening today, please feel free to send in your questions and comments right there on that chat box. I know a lot of you have already done that already. That’s great. We’re going to save some time at the end for Q&A. So, don’t be shy. Don’t sit on those hands. We’ll try to get to as many of your questions as we can before the 2:00 Eastern hour. You can also do the same on Twitter. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed there as well for questions and comments.

If you’re having any trouble with the audio through your computer. We find that the phone audio is usually a little bit better since it doesn’t rely on internet connections or browsers or anything like that. So, if you have any trouble, don’t give up on us completely. If you have a phone and you don’t mind dialing in for audio, try that before you ditch us totally. There is a phone number that you can use that is just for you in the email from ReadyTalk that went out around noon Eastern today. So, check that out if you have any problems.

If this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I just want to say an extra special welcome to you folks. We do these webinars just about every Thursday afternoon. We bring on a great guest like Rachel, totally educational, total value add presentation that we like to do here. It’s kind of one of our favorite things to do, these Thursday webinars, but you’ve never heard of Bloomerang, our core sort of business and offering is donor management software.

So, if you are interested in what we have to offer or maybe just want to check us out, don’t do that now, but look at our website after the presentation and you can get all the information you need. You can even download a quick video demonstration of the software, don’t even have to talk to a sales person if you want to. Who wants to do that anyway? So, check us out later. Don’t do that now because I am really excited about this presentation. We’ve got a rock star here. I am very pleased to welcome Rachel Clemens to our webinar series. Hey, Rachel, how’s it going?

Rachel: Hey, Steven, it’s going well.

Steven: All right. I am so excited for you to be here. I got to hang out with you last month in New Orleans, that was really fun. Rachel came highly recommended from another one of our favorites, Rachel Muir, who has been kind of a stalwart on our webinar series. So, I just want to brag on this Rachel real quick before I turn it over to her because she’s got some really cool stuff for you.

If you guys don’t know Rachel, if you don’t know Mighty Citizen, you’ve got to check them out. She is the Chief Marketing Officer over there at Mighty Citizen. Rachel got her start as a designer, actually. She has been working here in the States. She’s worked internationally in London and Australia helping out in advertising with some serious household names, but right now, she is in Austin, Texas, where she hails from where, for almost the past 11 years, she had been working on her own communications consultancy where she worked with organizations like United Way, Habitat for Humanity, University of Texas, lots of nonprofits, helping them raise money and improve their communities.

Back in 2016, she merged with another agency and that is how Mighty Citizen was born. Since then, she’s been working with all their nonprofit clients on branding, marketing, digital campaigns. She’s going to show you some examples from some of that work. If you see her at a conference. If you see her on the schedule, definitely attend her session. She was at AFP in New Orleans last month and a much of other shows. Actually, she was in New Orleans for like a month, it seemed like, speaking.

Rachel: I was.

Steven: Check her out. I have already taken way too much time away from her. So, Rachel, I’m going to hand things over to you to show us all these digital examples. So, take it away, my friend.

Rachel: All right. Thanks, Steven. Thanks for having me. So, we’re going to talk about the best of digital fundraising examples today. I’m really excited to share these with you. As a former designer, I geek out on things that are creative and interactive and just do a really good job of engaging audiences. So, putting this together was like a dream come true. I just presented it at the Nonprofit Technology Conference, which was in New Orleans in April. If you weren’t able to go to that conference, you’re getting some of that great content for free.

So, really, my goal for today is to get you guys inspired, get you thinking about things you could be doing differently, and then to bring you guys a few takeaways that you can take back to your organization to make real change with your fundraising, specifically around digital. I’ve got a lot of examples for you today. The examples run from—we have a $200 million org, we have a $280 million organization. So, they run the gamut, all the way along that spectrum. So, hopefully you find an organization that’s roughly your size.

I’ve got a lot of different services in here as well. So, we may have one of yours in here as well. Where I could gather success metrics, I did that. So, not only are we looking at it from a creativity perspective and then an engagement perspective, but also trying to share how they were successful from a fundraising example.

So, to get us kind of—Steven did a great job of introducing me. What he left out is that I happen to be the mom of a seven-year old, who is quickly on his way to becoming a Mighty Citizen. So, that’s an exciting part of my job and my world. I am the Chief Marketing Officer at Mighty Citizen. In a nutshell, we help nonprofits and other mission-driven organizations with their fundraising communications, fundraising campaigns, their branding.

A lot of times we’ll help with messaging or an evolution of an organization’s brand. Websites and technology, especially on the digital front as well as data and analytics. So, we’re full-service, anything that relates to your communications and fundraising from a creative or messaging standpoint, we have probably touched it.

This is our website. Again, don’t go there now, but we do have lots of freebies and goodies on the site in the insights section. We have lots of tools and templates that are available to you guys for use and I’ll share a few of those at the end as well.

So, for this session, particularly by the end, we’re going to talk about how you can use creativity and interactivity to engage your donors and supporters. So, how can we interact with them in a way that piques their interest and engages them with our organization. We’ll talk a look at what makes these specific examples successful. Again, I’ll share metrics as I have them. And we’ll look at takeaways for each one that you guys can share with your team to create real change and talk about what needs to happen to create that change.

So, let’s talk about why this matters in the first place, like why are we even talking about digital fundraising? So, I’ve got a quick poll for you guys. That’ll come up here in a moment. The question is what percentage of your donations are you currently receiving online. So, is it less than 10%, 10% to 25% or 25% or more. I’m seeing results coming in. For the organizations we work with, they tend to be in the 10% to 30% range. You guys are saying less than 10% is the overwhelming majority, about 90 of you and then about half of you are saying 10% to 25% and about I would say 10% to 20% of you guys are saying 25% or more. So, let’s take a look at what the data actually says.

So, this comes from Blackbaud’s Charitable Giving Report. They showed that currently in 2017, 7.6% of total fundraising comes from online giving. We know why that’s the case. Most of our gifts are still major gifts. They’re coming in through checks or other means and they are not necessarily coming in online, but the key takeaway here is that this is increasing and it’s increasing in a growing pattern. We can see that there with a chart. So, as younger audiences specifically start coming to their own, we will know that we will expect this to continue to increase.

From a mobile perspective, it’s actually growing even faster when you talk about the percentage of online donations that are made from a mobile device. So, in 2017, all the online donations that are made, 21% of them came from mobile. So, of course, we see that growing even faster. We know that as our mobile devices get more sophisticated and larger, in fact, that we’ll probably see this, the adoption of those devices just continue to increase. So, it’s important because it’s growing and a lot of us are starting to turn our attention to digital fundraising because maybe we’ve had more traditional means in the past.

So, the first example we’re going to look at is United Way for Greater Austin. They do happen to be a former client of Mighty Citizen. This is the one example in the presentation where we’re showing our own work, in case you’re curious. They serve the Central Texas area, the Greater Austin area. They have a $15 million operating budget, just to give you some idea of their scale.

Now, their goal, they have the challenge that because they are part of United Way, research showed that people thought the money they gave to the United Way in Austin went outside of Austin. So, it either went to DC or it went across the globe. Formerly, their name was United Way for the Capital Area. So, that didn’t help that perception. So, they went through a name change. They went to United Way for Greater Austin. The goal with the fundraising campaign and the awareness campaign was really to let local donors know that the money they give Austin stays in Austin.

So, if you’re part of a larger nonprofit, if you’re a Habitat or a YMCA or something like that, you may have felt this challenge as well. So, in thinking about how to spread the message that the money that is given here stays here and that United Way is embedded here in the Austin area, we started with a concept.

When you think about your fundraising efforts, think about what the big is. So, if someone asks, “What’s the big idea with this campaign?” You should have a good answer for them. What a big idea does for you is it makes it easier to be consistent across the campaign. I’m going to show you how we did that for United Way. It’s also easier with limited resources. I’ll show you want that means as well.

So, our goal was to tie in United Way to the Austin community. So, we happened to develop a Make Austin Greater campaign, which is what you’re looking at here. It’s a fill in the blank campaign. Austin is really a unique city. It’s different for everyone who interacts with it. Everyone gets a little something different out of it. So, here’s an example of how United Way used this in their campaign.

So, the first one says, “Queso makes Austin greater.” If you’ve been to Austin, you know this is true. We have the best queso. So, that one is tying into Austin specifically. We also having, “Giving back makes Austin greater,” “Your support makes Austin greater.” So, those two are tying into how the donors make Austin greater or potentially volunteers. Then you’ve also got music, again, an Austin attribute.

So, as you can see with this campaign, it ties into a variety of messages, both bringing in the Austin component with some of the queso and live music, but also tying in to the nonprofit itself with giving back and your support.

So, we ran this campaign in lots of different ways. Digitally, we ran it through online advertising and through emails. So, the online advertising was actually donated from our main newsletter here in town. You can see those on the left. They say things like overcoming barriers to success make Austin greater, investing locally makes Austin greater, tying in the local message with the donate, call to action. Then on the emails, helping our vulnerable kids makes Austin greater. These all pointed to the fundraising page of their website.

We also pushed it on social a lot. When I say we. When I say we, I really mean United Way. We were involved in the creation of the campaign and some of the strategy of the campaign, but once we had the materials in place, they were able to run with this campaign and do a lot of execution. So, you’ll see on the left, they created a poster where they could write in whatever they wanted to fill in the blank.

So, in this case, giving makes Austin greater and on the right, they’re using the frame or we call it the mag, because it makes Austin greater, to frame one of their volunteers. So, in this way, they’re using social to really call out specific people who are embedded in the organization and really helping out. They do a great job. On Thursdays, they do a thank you Thursday. So, they will highlight a volunteer or a donor and give them special credit.

Here’s some additional look at extended social media graphics and how the campaign has been used. So, on the left, they have—they’re thanking Affiniscape, which is one of their corporate partners. They use it for holidays. AJ on the third image there is a member of their young leadership society. So, he’s an influencer. So, he’s got a large audience. They’re highlighting AJ and his work with the United Way, not only giving him special attention, but also tapping into his audiences on social.

This is another great view of how the campaign has lived. As I mentioned, it’s lived over three to five years or so by now. They’ve been really managing it in house. What this does is show you the breadth of the campaign. So, keep in mind we tend to work on our campaigns and give them what feels like a life time. We start to get sick of our campaigns. So, by the end, you might be like, “I am so sick of seeing Make Austin Greater.”

Keep in mind as you the organization just starts to get tired of something, that’s your audiences start paying attention and start noticing. It takes a while for them to go, “Oh yeah, I’ve been seeing this around.” So, just keep in mind that people don’t think about us as much as we think about us. So, just when you’re starting to get sick of it, just know that’s when people are starting to pay attention.

We also took this campaign offline in some really unique ways. So, if you’re familiar with United Way, they do a lot of employee workplace giving. So, they’ll go into a workplace and talk to the employees about giving a percentage of their paycheck. So, they did a great job of really pulling their corporate partners into the campaign as well.

On the left, this is a piece of sidewalk chalk art that was done on site at an elementary school. Deloitte was volunteering time as part of United Ways giving day. So, they chalked in Deloitte makes Austin greater. It just makes an immediate connection to that partnership. Then on the right, this is the breakroom wall of Samsung. Samsung is a very key partner for United Way here in Austin.

The employees who give to United Way through their paychecks created Make Austin Greater basically posters that they then hung in the breakroom wall and shared what makes Austin greater to them. So, there’s funny things like Ryan Gosling sightings. He happens to be in Austin a lot. Somebody thinks that makes Austin greater, dog parks, pedicabs, things like that.

We also used it for events. We created a frame, like a physical frame, nice and lightweight so people could stand behind it and frame their images and basically showcase the same Make Austin Greater in their own ways and you will see some students here from United Way’s Middle School Matters behind the frame. We also use this backdrop for events. You can see that on the bottom right and then as thank you notes, things like that. So, really giving it a lot of character.

Some of the results of the campaign—the first number is a three-year number. So, in three years, they increased their online donations 1,200%. Like a lot of you guys, that’s not a huge percentage for them overall because again, a lot of their money comes from employee giving, but that is a great huge number over three years, so 1,200%. The rest of their numbers are yearly numbers, so in the first year of the campaign, they saw a 10% increase in their employee giving campaign, a 600% increasing in people talking about United Way on Facebook and they saw 4 million targeted impressions overall for the campaign.

So, some of the takeaways that I hope you guys get from this campaign is consider inviting others to participate in your brand or potentially in your campaign. So, for my fellow communicators who are out there, this can be really scary. It’s hard to let people do with your brand what they want to do, but you can give them direction in that and give them components that allow them to do that in a way that’s just going to heighten their connection to your organization and help you spread the word out in the audiences that you need to reach.

Remember that the best campaigns make donors feel powerful and special. So, we talked about how they call out certain volunteers, certain audiences and really highlight them as someone that makes Austin greater. So, think about how you can do that.

One thing I didn’t mention they do is on their business card, on one side, we have the Makes Austin Greater with the blank and they can fill in before they go meet with that person either the name of the person or the name of the corporation. If they’re meeting with me, they might write in, “Mighty Citizen makes Austin greater,” or, “Rachel makes Austin greater.” So, again, it’s tying it back to that personal connection.

Then lastly, you’re going to hear this from me a lot. Creativity goes a really long way. Of course, I’m a former designer. I believe in this, but we have to make people feel something, either they need to identify with our organization or we need to pique their interest in some way and this campaign did a really good job of that.

So, moving on, the next thing we’re going to talk about is Literacy First. They’re a local organization and they have an operating budget of about $3 million. I’ll go into them a little bit more in a moment, but just know their goal was overarchingly to diversify their income by increasing the number of individual donors to the organization. So, to tell you a little bit more about what that means, Literacy First is actually part of the University of Texas.

So, they are a program within a program at the University of Texas. That means that UT funds a lot of their operational cost and that’s about it. The rest of their money comes from major gifts, grants, things like that. They really wanted to increase the number of individual donors they have because they’re so closely tied to their other organization, UT, they don’t want to always have to count on UT. So, they needed to increase individual donors.

What they do is they are a K through second grade literacy group. They go into the school. They work with kids on a daily basis, kids between kindergarten and second grade to get them ready for third-grade reading level. Research shows that that’s a really important time. So, they’re in there from kindergarten to second. They use AmeriCorps volunteers. So, their volunteers are typically younger people who have given a year of service and they go in, they work in these schools and they are there every single day with the kids as part of their tutors.

We’re going to talk today about a campaign Literacy First did as part of a giving day. We have a giving day here in Austin called Amplify Austin. It’s in March. It runs 24 hours. Literacy First really made it a larger component of their fundraising this year. So, again, they wanted to increase their number of individual donors. They started email communications about four weeks out from the giving day and they sent about four emails in those four weeks.

The emails talk about the fact that Amplify is coming up. So, they’re raising awareness that Amplify is on its way, letting people know when it is and also letting them they know that they can pre-book donations. You can actually go ahead and commit to make a donation before the actual giving day.

One thing you’ll notice in the work for Literacy First is they’ve got these great photos. So, they’re custom photos for them. They are not stock photos. You can see their logo on some of the t-shirts. They do a great job of really showcasing the work that their tutors are doing in the space. A lot of times we want to go with stock photos. It is cheaper, but they do tend to make a difference when you have custom photography. So, Literacy First also shared on social. You’ll see that the message is consistent across all the digital platforms and really pushing this idea that Amplify is coming.

One of the great things they did is they got their board involved. Literacy First is also a former client of Mighty Citizen. We have not done fundraising materials for them. We did their brand and some work with that. One of the things we found when we worked with them a couple of years ago is that their board was not really a donating board, meaning there was no give or get. They were an advisory board. They were not only not giving to the organization, but not fundraising for them either.

So, they made a real effort to integrate their board into their fundraising, get them involved. So, during Amplify Austin, they gave them all the materials they needed to fundraise on their behalf. So, on the left, you’re seeing the step by step guide for how to fundraise during Amplify Austin. During Amplify Austin, fundraisers can create their own fundraising pages. That’s telling them how to do that, what that looks like, walking them through each step.

They also provided logo files, image files to give them the assets they need to help them spread the message. They gave them text for everything. You’re looking here at a Facebook message, also an email thank you message. They gave the board members every possible they could need to take it really easy for the board to fundraise. They had 100% participation with the board. That’s a long way from where they were just a couple years ago.

They also created a video, I don’t know how many of you guys are using video yet in your fundraising, I think we have a lot of hesitancy to work with video because we think it’s expensive, we’re worried about the production value. Literacy First, like I said, they have these young tutors, volunteer AmeriCorps tutors in their ranks every year. These tutors have great skills and they manage to—actually, the tutors came to Literacy First and said, “We want to create a video that shows the work we do every day.”

So, they create a day in the life video that really brought the mission home. If you went to school in America, this looks like every school you’ve ever seen. It looks like my school from 30 years ago. Let’s be honest, maybe 40 years ago. It gives you a good feel for the mission of Literacy First and really gives you an idea of what’s happening and what the tutors are doing every day.

Keep in mind with video that most of the videos we watch these days just as your average consumer are shot on iPhones. They’re not the high production quality. A lot of them, everybody has a phone that has video on it primarily, so we are seeing that kind of video. It’s come a long way in terms of its quality. I would encourage all of you guys who have not started down the path of video to begin to experiment with that and see what you might be able to do with the tools you have at your disposal.

Okay. So, we can’t talk about fundraising and fundraising campaigns without talking about thank you’s. Literacy First did an amazing job of this. Full disclosure, I did donate to them during Amplify Austin. Rachel, who is their Director of Development sent me an immediate thank you. I talked to her later and they did a great job of being on call so that when these donations came in during Amplify, they could send immediate personalized thank you’s.

So, you’ll see she’s got some language in there to that effect, but really, the point here is that they sent very timely, immediate, personalized thank you’s. The next day after the campaign, I did get a mass email that said thank you as well. They also covered their bases there. And they had a thank you video. This is Jaden. He’s one of the students they serve. He is a natural in front of the camera. We’re all going to be watching Jaden someday on TV. He does a great job saying thank you and showing what the support means to the kids who are a part of Literacy First.

They also said thank you—they followed up on social and let their social followers know the results with the campaign. They also gave me a thank you call. So, this was unexpected. I did not donate a lot of money, full disclosure. So, they gave me a thank you call, they left me a voicemail, and then because I didn’t answer, they sent me an email that says, “We just called to say we love you, sorry we missed you.”

I donate to a lot of organizations. It is rare that I feel like, “I’m getting thanked a lot.” I think for nonprofits, we say thank you all the time and I think our donors hear, “Well, I think you thanked me.” It just doesn’t resonate with them like it does with us. So, they did a great job of saying thank you in lots of different ways.

So, some of the results, they saw a 50% increase in their online donations over last year’s giving day. They saw 20% of the campaign revenue was raised by one board member. Again, these were board members that were not raising money a couple years ago. They really stepped up in that regard. One person had raised about 20% of the overall revenue. That’s big. And then you may remember their original goal was to increase the number of individual donors to the organization. So, they saw a 50% increase in new donors as well.

Some of the takeaways we can tap into here is tap into your board, fundraising potential. Give them all the assets they need and make it really easy on them. They have day jobs. They have big jobs, big important lives. Make sure that they are taken care of in that regard. Make it easy on them. Video does not have to cost a lot of money. I can talk a lot about that. You might tap into starting with some videos if you haven’t already. And then of course, again, I cannot say this enough, thank you and thank you and thank them again.

So, let’s do another quick poll leading into our next example. This is kind of a tricky one. Is your organization using Snapchat as part of your fundraising efforts? So, there’s the poll. I’ll let you start filling that out now. I’m guessing that the overwhelming majority and actually the data is showing this, have not used Snapchat. That is not a bad thing. We’re going to talk about how one org did use Snapchat to tap into some younger audiences. Just to get you guys thinking about how you might need to tap into specific platforms for specific goals.

So, this example is from the World Wildlife Fund. Globally, they are a $280 million organization. This particular campaign came from the Danish branch of the World Wildlife Fund. Their goal was to raise awareness among young audiences and increase the donations for endangered animals. So, overarchingly, they always want to increase donations for endangered animals. That’s their goal and their job. But they also wanted to raise awareness specifically for this campaign among young audiences.

So, this is the last selfie campaign. They’re tapping into something that younger generations know instinctively, which is selfies. They wanted to find the right medium and the right message to hit these audiences and to engage with them. So, they chose Snapchat, which is a photo messaging application that’s really popular with Gen-Z and millennials as well. For those of you that aren’t familiar, when an image is sent with Snapchat, once it’s viewed, it disappears in seconds. That’s sort of the native Snapchat functionality and it has no chance of being seen again.

Having said that, because the image disappears, a lot of time users of Snapchat will take a screenshot and capture that image before it disappears. So, it’s just things native to the Snapchat platform. They tied in this native functionality of Snapchat and its platform to this idea that our wildlife could disappear as well. So, they used the idea of disappearing images and Snapchat to tie in this idea of disappearing wildlife with the last selfie campaign.

So, to get a look at how this works, they sent it to influencers first, people they knew had a large following. They asked people to follow them on Snapchat and when they did that, followers then received a last selfie image. Followers were then taking screen captures and sharing them on other platforms. So, while it started on Snapchat, it did spread to other platforms, particularly Twitter and Instagram as well as Facebook. You’ll see the middle image here, “Better take a screenshot. This could be my last selfie.” So, they were really tying into that functionality and using the native platform to spread the message.

Users could take action by sharing those screenshots on other social accounts. At the bottom of the email, they were also asking people to SMS text messages for donations or to go online to the website and sponsor and adopt an animal. So, you can see here, here are some examples of how it lived on Twitter from Snapchat and how it also lived on Facebook.

So, some of the results from the campaign—40,000 Twitter users posted it in one week’s time. That’s a lot of people engaging with this campaign. It’s so many, in fact, that 120 million Twitter users saw the campaign within one week’s time, which at that time was 50% of all active Twitter users. So, 50% of all people who actively used Twitter saw this campaign in one week. So, it has a great effect really spreading that awareness.

From a fundraising perspective, they raised the money that is typically raised in a month. They hit their fundraising goal for the month in just three days. So, they raised the money 10 times faster than normal in three days’ time. It was so popular and so innovative that news headlines about the campaign ran in six different languages.

So, again, most of us are not using Snapchat. I am certainly not advocating that you use Snapchat. What I really want you to take away from this is you can run a very specific campaign for a very specific audience and see great success from it. So, I do not have data about how much money they spent on this campaign, but I have read that they did not spend that much money because the big idea was there. It was really about the idea and then they used Snapchat and did not pay for that. I don’t believe they paid any influencers. So, they saw great success from a campaign that was really targeted. So, think about if you’ve got targets that you could reach in unique ways.

The biggest takeaway from this too is that they used the platform to really reach their audience. They said, “Where are audiences that we need to reach and how can we go where they already are and how can we pique their interest there?” They used the medium to help convey the message. It’s just really clever. Using disappearing images to convey disappearing animals, that’s compelling.

Our next example is from Habitat for Humanity for Greater San Francisco. They are about an $18 million organization and they have the great job of dealing with affordability in San Francisco, which even if we’re not from there, we know what that might look like.

So, we had two goals for this campaign. One was to have an authentic conversation. What I mean by that is this campaign launched in spring of 2017. So, we had recently had a presidential campaign, a lot of conversation happening about our new president and what that might mean for ordinate people like the people that Habitat helps, the underserved. So, they wanted to be part of that conversation and not just part of the conversation, but part of it in a way that tied into their mission and felt authentic and true to them.

So, I’ll show you in a minute how they did that. They also had a fundraising gap to cover. So, there is a giving day that happens typically in the spring in San Francisco. Just like Amplify Austin, it’s a big day for San Francisco. They had planned and built some of their expected revenue projections with the idea that the this giving day would be happening. So, we had a projected revenue that was going to come from the giving day. But then the event was cancelled.

So, the org that put on the event decided not to do it. So, they were left kind of like, “Well, we budgeted with this idea we were going to get money from this campaign. We need to find a way to cover this revenue we thought we were going to get. So, we’re going to move forward anyway and we’re going to go ahead and launch the campaign as if the giving day is happening.

So, they developed an, “I Stand with My Neighbor” campaign. Basically, this image is from their organization. They sent a photographer out with some of their volunteers for a couple days and they just hung in the background and took images. Our volunteer on the left actually does repairs for the woman on the right. So, he sees her fairly regularly. They have a relationship now that they have cultivated over the years. So, they captured this photo of them holding hands while they walk down the street.

The campaign is I Stand with My Neighbor. So, again, in this time of divisiveness, they’re all making a stand and saying, “We’re all in this together. We are a community. That’s what Habitat stands for.” So, they developed the, “I stand with my neighbor campaign.”

They launched it using social, web and email. Here’s an example of some of their social posts, again, using that photography, carrying that consistently through the campaign and also showcasing those relationships between the org and their clients and volunteers.

Keep in mind, again, everything should work together consistently. So you’re looking here on the last, I believe a letter that actually went out and on the right, an email pointing people to the landing page. I’ll show you the landing page here. You can see the landing page, again, is consistent. One of the things they did differently and I want to call your attention to is on the right there. So, they did their seven-week pledge. A lot of their communication was really around asking people to sign up to commit to seven weeks of furthering community beyond their doorstep. I’ll show you in a minute some of the details from that.

This is actually really brilliant because research shows that if you get people to make a minor commitment, they’re more likely to make a larger commitment. So, taking a minor commitment like signing up for a pledge or signing a petition leads to people more likely to make a bigger commitment later in the form of something like a donation.

So, how this works, it focused on seven weeks of action. So, when someone signed the pledge, they got an intro email, asking them to share the campaign via social and explaining the campaign. The second email was a local advocacy email, talking about taking a stand for neighbors, some of the things we can do in that regard. The third email was around acts of kindness, paying it forward, connecting through kind gestures, giving some ideas of what people could think about that week and be mindful of.

The fourth week was around emergency preparedness, being prepared for an emergency, especially in San Francisco, where they’re thinking about earthquakes, making sure they were protected, making sure their neighbors were protected and well cared for. Environmental awareness was the fifth email, talking about preserving communities, working with our neighbors to do that.

Six was celebrating diversity. So, not only knowing who are neighbors are, but learning from them, understanding their perspective, having conversations around that. Then lastly, the summary email did have a donation ask in it and an invitation to share what they love most about their neighborhood. So, they saw quite a bit of donations. I don’t have the actual figure for those that converted to donors, but I know it was significant. I actually spoke with Habitat on this at NTC. Unfortunately, I don’t have the notes from that, but I know that those that did the pledge tended to give afterwards.

Some of the actual results for the campaign, they were raised 50% above their goal and 38% of their donors were new. So, again, reaching them, the pledge went a long way to getting new donors engaged with them. Forty-two percent of their volunteers participated. That’s much higher than they have traditionally seen. But again, that’s resonated with their volunteers because it put them front and center and it allowed them to make a commitment to an organization, which they had already committed to in some form or fashion, previously.

Their average open rate was nearly 30% for the life of the pledge. So, that’s over seven emails. That’s pretty high as far as keeping people engaged and interested and committed. The takeaways from the campaign is think about if they’re actionable items you can provide that are outside of giving. So, what are ways that you can have your audiences raise their hand to interact with you even if they’re not giving, maybe someday cultivate them and get them to give.

Think about how you can engage new donor bases. So, for these guys, they had not really seen their volunteers participate in any sort of fundraising campaign before. They saw that this time. I think if there’s ways—maybe one of the goals could be, “How can we get our volunteers to engage with the campaign?” And you can think about some of the takeaways from this one. And then don’t be afraid to try out new language. That pledge was really new for them. But they took a chance and it paid off in the end.

So, let’s look at another poll. This feeds kind of off the last one and into the next example and the last example. Have you taken a risk or been bold with your fundraising communications? I’ll let you guys answer that there. What I mean by that is you kind of know you’re being bold when you get a little nervous, maybe, right? You kind of feel like there are some people that are going to love this and some people that are not.

So, the results are showing that about 60% of you are saying no and about 40% of you are saying yes. So, I actually love seeing the yes answer. I’m kind of surprised by that. That is great. For those of you that feel like you haven’t, we know why. We have boards we have to please. We have donors we have to please. Sometimes it can be really difficult either within our organization or sometimes outside of it to be a little bit more risk taking and progressive but let’s take a look at an example of an org that did a really good job of this.

So, this is the Animal Protective Association of Missouri. They’re based out of St. Louis. They are an animal shelter. They adopt out about 3,500 animals every year. They have an operating budget of $2 million. They’re actually our smallest example in this presentation. Their goal is to increase senior dog adoptions. It’s actually not a fundraising campaign, at least not to start, but it is to increase the number of senior dog adoptions.

I’ll show you the first image from this. They launched the campaign. It’s a very timely campaign. It literally launched at the end of March. So, it’s brand new. They kicked off the campaign with an adult happy hour. The text here says, “I’m a grown ass adult. Let’s celebrate National Puppy Day with an adult happy hour.”

So, they’re basically setting the scene for this campaign that’s to come where they’re telling people hey, senior dogs have something to give and they’re using a little bit of—the fact that they’re using the word ass gets people’s attention.

So, here’s how this campaign looks, primarily in the every day. They shared mostly so far on social. I’ll read this to you guys in case you’re having trouble seeing it. The left image said, “When you kiss me, you’re not kissing all the poop that I’ve also kissed because I’m a grown-ass adult. Get a dog who gets you, adopt adult.” On the right, “I won’t try to rip the squeaker out of your throw pillows because I’m a grown-ass adult. Get a dog who gets you. Adopt adult.”

So, these are great. They have a big idea. That’s the idea of the grown-ass adult. They have great content. They make people feel something. They make me laugh. They’re not going to go past me without me noticing them. I actually got introduced to the campaign, I think it popped up about two or three times in one week in my Facebook. That’s about the time I actually start paying attention to things when I see them a couple of times. So, they sparked my interest that way. I’ve seen them shared multiple times since then.

I actually was able to talk to the ED, although as you can imagine, she’s quite busy right now. I called her up. They said the idea came from the marketing committee on the board. So, it was actually brought to them by the board. Obviously, the board is willing to take risks and then they took it to their creative agency to have them execute the campaign.

So, just to give you some more ideas of what this looks like, let’s take another look. You can see it’s got all kinds of options, all kinds of dogs spread out in all kinds of ways. I’ll give you a quick anecdote on the success of this.

So, they’ve been posting these for a few days. Amelia, who follows them on Facebook, decides to put the whole group together. So, she basically creates what you’re seeing on the right, which is a bunch of these images all together. She shares it on Facebook. Amelia’s friend, Meredith, sees it and says, “Hey, Meredith, I’d like to share this. Can you make it public?” Amelia makes it public, and goes to bed. The next morning she woke up and she had 8,000 Facebook notifications from the number of times it had been shared overnight.

So, that is insane. It resonates with them. I have a 12-year adult. So, those of us that have grown-ass adult dogs, it resonates with us. They also got a lot of PR, news stories picked it up, it’s been shared in lots of different ways. They also are selling posters now. I think you can get them on the website. She sent me a few of those and you can see them there. They just got more content, they’re a little bit more interesting. They’re also selling t-shirts as well.

So, some of the results for the campaign—now, I talked to Sarah, their ED, in early April, before the NTC. So, these were about, as you can see, about two weeks, they were brand new. In the first ten days of the campaign, they had 30,000 social shares and a half-million-person reach on Facebook in ten days. They saw a 254% increase in their Facebook page followers and 84% average increase in their post-engagement.

They’ve seen donations from a fundraising perspective, again, early days, but they had seen donations come in from all over the country, they had a lot of inquiries about the campaign. They had people call them up and ask if they could use the campaign. She did let me know that cats are next. So, if you’re a cat fan, they have a kitty season. I would expect to see those rolling out shortly.

They’re also thinking about how they can further it as a fundraising campaign. I think they’ve shown today that a lot of our campaigns start as awareness campaigns and then tend to, because we’ve raised awareness, we’ve gotten people engaged, they tend to turn into fundraising campaigns, even if that was not our original intention. Again, their goal was to increase the number of senior dog adoptions. They had seen that happening.

Then increasingly adopting out breeds that are notoriously difficult to adopt—she told me they had a Pitbull mix who traditionally would take a few months to adopt. That dog was gone in 24 hours once it was posted on their Facebook. Again, they’re going to continue to further the fundraising. They talk about the campaign that might be around give in honor of your grown-adult. There are a lot of us.

So, the takeaways—don’t be afraid to be bold and take risks. That’s easy for me to say. I sit on the advertising side of this, but if you have some champions within your organization that can help you to push a bold essentially risk taking message, it can have great rewards. You just want to make sure that you’re thinking through your implications of that, but it can be very much worth the risk.

Creativity—again, I said this a million times, it goes a long way. We see that here. Content is what really makes people care. So, that big idea and the content that goes around it is what makes people interact with you in the first place and then raise their hand and offer to participate in your org and donate.

Just a last note—you might get overwhelmed. When I talked to Sarah, I was shocked that she actually—I sent them a message on Facebook and the ED responded. I was really surprised by that, but she said they’ve just been overwhelmed and that can happen. It’s a good problem to have, but just something to think about.

So, as we wrap up—look at that, 45 minutes, I know none of you are counting, we are over 45 slides, but we did tap in at 45 minutes. But let’s take a quick look at some of the things I hope you’re walking away with today. One of the keys is speak to your audiences and their voice. We saw that with the Snapchat campaign using the native Snapchat functionality. We saw that grown-ass adult campaign. We saw that with the Austin campaign. Make sure you’re reaching your audiences in that way.

Be creative—again, I won’t harp on it too much, but creativity goes a really long way. We get hired for our creativity, but we’ve shown that creative ideas can come from anywhere. So, tap into those resources you have in your creativity.

Help others fundraise for you—if you’ve got board members, I know you do, make it really easy for them. Make it as easy as possible, almost so they just cannot tell you no. Make it easy for them and help them do that. Be ready to go when a crisis arises. Actually, this is a hangover from a piece I took out, but we all know that when a crisis arises, we need to pop in and get that taken care of.

Thanks and thanks again. I cannot say this enough. Make sure you are saying thank you for as much as you’re asking, make sure you’re saying thank you and multiples of that. Then lastly, a little risk taking can go a long way. Again, we talked about that. See how you can take it a little further than you’ve got it today.

We’ll tap into questions here. Before we do that, I know Steven is going to share the video. You can also access the slides on our website at We do have bonus tools and templates. I mentioned this early on on our website, We have a marketing campaign strategy template, so if you want to set up a campaign for your fundraising, I’ve got a template that will let you go and plug and play to get you asking the right questions and making considered decisions and then I’ve also got a fundraising campaign metrics template. So, if you want to know if your campaign is successful, if you hit your goals, if you want to set goals, that spreadsheet will help you do that as well.

So, Steven, I think this might be a good time to help with some questions.

Steven: All right. Awesome. First, thank you, Rachel. That was really cool. That was a really cool list of examples. I really loved the Snapchat one. It got a lot of people asking questions. We got a lot of Snapchat-related questions, which is fun.

Rachel: Uh-oh.

Steven: Also, you caused a little controversy with the queso comment, putting Austin . . .

Rachel: Oh . . .

Steven: You may have some emails to deal with later on.

Rachel: I can back it up.

Steven: I’ll let you fight that fight afterwards. I’ll skip the queso-related questions over the next five minutes or so. But yeah, if you have not asked a question, please ask one now. We’ve got a little bit of time, probably won’t get to all of them, but I’ll try to pull out some juicy ones here. Like Rachel said, you can get the slides there on her website. I’ll send them out. I’ll send out the recording. I’m going to get you all that good stuff in case you don’t leave here with that stuff.

So, your first example, Rachel, the Facebook images from United Way, did you have any issues with the quantity of text on there? I know Facebook is weird about how much text they allow for images or is that for paid ads versus organic content? Did you have any issues with Facebook having issues with that content? It seems like not, right?

Rachel: This was a while ago, even a few years ago. So, I can’t actually say if that was a concern back then. This was also before you had to pay before you had to pay for pretty much anything you posted.

Steven: I think that’s a paid ad issue. I think if you just posted organically they don’t care about it.

Rachel: Right.

Steven: Okay. Very cool. So, how were you able to—a couple people asked this, but Kathleen said it here. How were you able to track your online donations from that campaign? Did you have dedicated URLs that were only put in those posts because it was the only way to donate to it? How’d you do the attribution for the success of that campaign?

Rachel: Yeah. It had a custom landing page. We were able to say the donations were coming from that landing page.

Steven: Very cool. That’s kind of the best practice, right? Making sure you have a unique URL to a unique page for every single campaign or image or whatever.

Rachel:Yeah. You know which campaigns are versus not.

Steven:Okay. Very cool. Here’s one from Christina. Christina works at a Big Brothers Big Sisters, struggling a little bit with privacy and specifically child safety and privacy when posting photos of maybe the kids in their program. I think to some extent, every organization deals with this no matter who their service recipients are. How do you get around privacy issues, exploitation issues? How did you guys deal with those issues in your campaigns?

Rachel: Yeah. So, that is a constant question that we get asked and have to deal with. I think one of the things we can do—that’s why people end up using iStock sometimes is because there is an anonymity about it. You’ll notice if you look at some of the Literacy First imagery, the kids, you can understand the relationship between the kid and the tutor, but the kid has their head turned. So, we’re not actually showing the kid’s face, but you do get the feeling of what we’re trying to evoke. I think that’s one way to do that.

I’ve seen orgs too that have really tried to—they’ve tapped into their clients’ parents and worked to help them understand what it does for the org. Having said that, I think everybody has their own rules about what’s appropriate and what’s not. So, sometimes, you’re just going to have to deal with what’s in front of you, meaning if you are working at an organization where you cannot use custom photography of your clients or really give out a lot of information, you can still tell their stories. You’ll have to do that and maybe imagery, you do that in a different way that doesn’t tap into actual photos.

Steven: Okay.

Rachel: I think that photos are best when we can use them, but sometimes we have to find other tools at our disposal.

Steven:Thank you. You got a lot of people’s juices flowing talking about thank you’s. When you’re sending a digital thank you, an email with a video, whatever you do, a lot of people are asking does that replace the thank you in the mail, is it in addition to? Does it depend? Maybe you do both sometimes and just one other times? How do balance that? You seem to be a multi-channel approach-type person. I’m curious what you think about that.

Rachel: I would definitely send a thank you in the mail as well, assuming that you have your contact information in that way. Yes, because they’re looking for that mail receipt. I know for my family, we take those mail receipts and put them immediately into a tax folder. That’s probably how a lot of people are doing it.

Anytime you can do multichannel and make it as efficient as possible, I would do that, but I would not give up. In fact, I would even advocate that you send the receipt letter via the mail and I would send a thank you card. I actually got a handwritten thank you card from literacy first as well. So, when I say they thanked me, they really thanked me. I don’t think we can do that enough.

Steven: I like it. I agree. At Bloomerang, we’re all about as many thank you’s as possible. You can’t over-thank someone, right? Maybe you can show up that door. That may be a little too much, but hard to do.

Rachel: I don’t think anybody’s going, “Gosh, they over-thanked me.”

Steven: Right. Exactly. Usually, it’s, “They over-asked me.”


Steven: Cool. Here’s one from Lauren that just came in—any advice for their changing Facebook audience? They have seen their following kind of evolve over the years, kind of went from one type of people to another. Any advice for changing up that content or being aware of those demographic changes? It seems like the older generations are always like one network behind, maybe those millennials and gen-Z’s. How can people deal with that?

Rachel: Yeah. I think it’s great that you notice that. It’s important to [see who’s 00:58:00] changed anything. Are they still interacting? Is the content that you were creating previously that met a different audience resonating with this new audience? If so, great. If not, you can start to tweak it and test. I’m a big proponent of testing. Test and see what kind of content does resonate. If for example, your audience has gotten older on a particular platform, do you need to go find that younger audience that may be leading that platform in another place.

So, for example, if you’ve been Facebook heavy and you see that audience is steering older as the older generations get more comfortable with social, then do you need to go look at Instagram? Do you need to find that younger audience that maybe is leaving that platform and make sure you’re still reaching them in other places? I think it’s great that they notice that, but then I would ask some strategy questions about it and think about how it relates overall to your outreach.

Steven: Okay. Kind of dovetailing on that, regardless of the networks, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. How do you increase the audience there? It seems like it’s kind of a catch-22, right? We need the eyeballs to get the conversions, but we don’t have them. So, any advice for increasing the follower counts on those networks?

Rachel:Yeah. You probably have a lot of people in your database that are not following you on social. So, with a lot of these platforms, you can actually upload an email list and reach those people on the social platforms and encourage them to like you. For example, Facebook, if you’ve got a bunch of email addresses, maybe there’s 50% chance that the people that gave you their email addresses use that same email on Facebook. So, it’s not a one to one, 100%.

But that can be a way to reach out to people that are already engaged with you in some way and try to get them to engage with you on social. Another option, there’s a lot of software out there now. There’s one called People Pattern. There’s one called Umbel. There’s a few audience insight software platforms that will allow you to create audiences. You can look at your audience, see how they talk on social, see what kind of conversations they’re having.

You can look at lookalike audience based on your audiences, see how they’re talking, the words they used, the hashtag they’re using. If you use the software like that, it makes it pretty clear that our audiences are using this hashtag about our topic and we’ve never used that hashtag. So, tapping into that kind of data can be helpful as well.

Steven: All right. We’re about out of time. Maybe one question to end it one, we’ve got a lot of small shops listening today. Any advice for people that are maybe just getting started with all this? They don’t have anything going, perhaps small budgets. What’s your maybe your one takeaway for those small shops who want to do some of these cool things?

Rachel: I think if you’re strapped with resources and maybe you don’t have the money to do this huge digital multi-prong approach. I think I would take it back to the basics. So, go back, we talked about the big idea. What’s the big idea? A big idea does not cost a lot of money necessarily. So, the big idea for United Way was Makes Austin Greater. How do we tie into this Austin community?

For APA, it was the grown-ass adult. Well, APA has only spread that campaign on social. They have not spent a lot of money on that. They just had a great idea. For those that are especially strapped, looking at cultivating the big idea is the most important and probably most efficient thing you can do.

Steven: Love it. Rachel, this was awesome. I know we didn’t get to all the questions, but are you willing to questions maybe by email or Twitter or maybe Snapchat?

Rachel: Yeah. So, you can reach us if you want, if you’re a tweeter. You can send it to @YouAreMighty or my email is I will happily take any questions and try my best to answer them. I try my best to get you an answer if I don’t know, I would be happy for people to reach out.

Steven: Very cool. Well, this was awesome. I’ll have to have you back for another 45 to 70 slides, whatever it ended up being.

Rachel: Great.

Steven: Well, cool. Thanks to all of you for hanging out with us for an hour. I know it’s a busy time of year. Maybe you’ve got those spring events going on, spring fundraising. We’re really happy to have you. We’re going to get you the recording and the slides later on today. Be on the lookout for that. Check out our website as well. We’ve got some cool resources there that are totally free and we’ve got some great webinars coming up. We are back one week from today. We’re going to keep it going with our Thursday webinars.

Speaking of events, if you need some help wooing corporate sponsors, be here one week from today, same time, 1:00 Eastern, we’ve got Joanna Hogan, who’s going to talk about how to get those corporate sponsors. So, if it’s too late for your spring events, it will definitely be good for your fall events. So, check that one out, totally free and if you can’t make it, register anyway because we’ll send you the recording. It’s okay if you can’t attend live. We’d still love to get you that information. Check that out.

Look for an email from me later on today with the recording of today’s session and hopefully we will see you next week. Have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a safe weekend and we will talk to you again soon.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.