Pamela Grow will provide an understanding of how a strong, multi-channel donor communications builds sustainability through any crisis.

Full Transcript:

Steven: It looks like it’s going. Okay. Pamela, we’re recording. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started?

Pamela: Sure.

Steven: All right. Welcome. Well, good afternoon, everyone, if you’re on the East Coast. Good morning, if you’re on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Donor Communications to See You Through Every Crisis.” And I’m Steven over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.

Just a couple of housekeeping items, just want to let you all know that we are recording this session. We’ll be sending out the recording, the slides. I got a handout from Pamela. We’ll get all that good stuff to you later on today. I’ll email it to you. Don’t worry. So if you have to leave early or maybe get interrupted, we’ll get all that good stuff to you, I promise. Just be on the lookout for me.

And most importantly, as you’re listening, please feel free to send us a chat right there on your webinar screen. There’s a chat box, there’s a Q&A box. Use whatever one you want. I’ll keep an eye on both of them. We’re going to try to save some time at the end for Q&A. So introduce yourself now if you haven’t already. Tell us about yourself, where you’re from, what your organization does. We love to hear from you. But don’t be shy about sending in questions because we’re going to try to save a little bit of time towards the end of the hour for questions. You can also do that on Twitter. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed as well.

And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, just want to say an extra special welcome to you, folks. If you never heard of Bloomerang, just for context, we are a provider of donor management software. So that’s what Bloomerang is. We love doing these webinars. We do these webinars all the time, a couple of times a week now since March. But if you’re just interested in software, you know, check us out, check out our website. There’s all kinds of stuff there you can download. But don’t do that now because my buddy, Pamela Grow’s here from beautiful Philadelphia. Pamela, how’s it going?

Pamela: Pretty, pretty, pretty good. I’ve been watching, catching up on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Steven: That’s good. Yeah. It’s a good time to catch up on those TV shows. It’s good to see your face and hear your voice. You’re one of the stalwarts of the Bloomerang webinar series. So it, you know, we can’t have a year go by without having you on. You’re awesome. You’re my bud. I wish you would adopt me sometimes, honestly. I want to . . .

Pamela: Well, I will definitely get you some chocolate vodka.

Steven: I’m going to come over for that baking you’ve been doing. If you all don’t know Pamela . . . I’m surprised if you don’t, but if you don’t, now you do. You got to subscribe to her stuff, get the “Grow Report.” Really good newsletter. She’s got an awesome blog. You know, she’s been doing this a long time. She’s got her own webinar series and classes she does. And when we can get out on the road, you know, she’s at conferences too. Hopefully, we’ll get back to that soon. But she’s been collecting a lot of examples and paying attention in the last three months and has got some good stuff for you. So I don’t want to take any more time away. Pamela, I’m going to make you the host so that you can share your slides. There it goes. Did it work?

Pamela: And then can we . . . Where is it?

Steven: I’m going to let you share your screen. Should be a share button on there somewhere.

Pamela: There we go.

Steven: Nice. Looks like it’s working.

Pamela: How’s that?

Steven: Yeah. If you could just hit Play, I think it will go full screen, right? You’re going to leave it like that?

Pamela: Sure. Am I still . . .

Steven: There you go.

Pamela: Can I just take my video off?

Steven: Yeah. I’ll turn your video off about that.

Pamela: Just because I find it a little distracting.

Steven: Actually, I can’t turn your video off. I think you have to do it yourself, but there should be a Stop Video button. Don’t know if you see that.

Pamela: Oh, yeah.

Steven: Boom. There you go.

Pamela: I’m also going back and forth between Go-To and Zoom, like I’m still trying to make up my mind. I don’t think you mentioned it, but Steven, Bloomerang actually sponsors a weekly session that we do called Motivate Monday. And so I switched over from Go-To to Zoom for that.

So, hey, everybody. Finally. Well, welcome. Welcome to how to create a donor communications plan that is going to see your nonprofit through any crisis, really. Steven did a great introduction. These are just some of the folks that I’ve worked with over the years. I am in Philadelphia. I’m actually in the suburbs of Philadelphia. And in addition to fundraising, well, I live in the Philadelphia suburbs. I am the mother to two daughters. If you were on a little earlier, you heard us talking about my youngest, Abbey. There she is in her power pose. This was for her graduation shot. She just graduated law school. And I love baking, painting, reading, museums, and really the nonprofit sector.

So how are you guys doing? I’m going to encourage you in the next couple of slides to just type into the chat box because yeah, this is kind of weird. It’s still kind of weird. We’re going on what? The fourth month? And it still feels kind of very, very strange and the world is going through a lot of changes right now, our country, in particular.

So how do you feel about fundraising right now? Can you just type into the chat box and let me know. How do you feel about fundraising right now? Let’s see if I can check that. Overwhelmed, anxious, weary. All in favor of doing it, worried about fundraising and the future of donations. Tentative. Good bump. I’m on pause. Somewhat confused, not so good. Hmm. Like walking into a fog. That’s a good one. That’s a good one, Cam. More important than ever. Nervous. Yes. Excited. Apollo says, “We have 90 new donors since COVID started. Yes. I talked with another client, I guess it was on Monday. They brought in 1400 new donors last week.”

In today’s webinar, we’re going to be talking about how consistent donor communications builds trust and why that’s so important right now, the importance of empathy and vulnerability, how to ask for monthly gifts in a pandemic and really why you should be. Oops. Your most important message and your solidarity statement. I actually forgot to put in how to write a thank you. Welcome email series. Sorry about that. I will send some notes over to Steven so he can forward them to you afterwards.

So why donor communications? Why do I focus so much on donor communications? And why should you? It’s really simple. Your donor communications, they actually drive everything we do in fundraising. They’re the engine behind your major donor program, your monthly donor program, and your legacy giving.

But let’s start at the very beginning. Your board and your ED wants to know where exactly does the money come from. And I think it’s always really, really important to point out to your board members because they are the ones, right? That are always asking you to write that million-dollar grant or to get a listing of the wealthiest donors in your region. Or why can’t we put in a grant proposal to the Bill Gates Foundation? But this is where charitable giving really comes from. Five percent comes from corporations, bequest gifts 9%, foundations 18%, and individuals 68%.

So roughly 80% of philanthropic giving comes from individuals. That’s why you need to be really focusing your attention on individual donors and building your individual giving plan, and an individual giving plan that really includes everyone.

You know, and as if our current global situation wasn’t enough, there is also the issue of trust. And it’s a really, really important one because you have to think about how trust in nearly every single institution has failed, right? Trust in education, trust in government, trust in religious institutions, trust in the police force even now. But we, nonprofits, we are doing the work that holds our societies together, and it really is critical now more than ever, that we are going to maintain that trust, the public’s trust.

So this came from a recent article, covering a really extensive survey and “The Chronicle Philanthropy” reported that only 52% of Americans have faith that nonprofits will do what is right. It kind of blew my mind. So how can you gain trust with your donors? What are the best ways to gain trust with your donors? Well, number one on the list is a reputation built over time, and that’s where your donor communications comes in. Total honesty and transparency. And then last on that list is the research, ratings, and credentials, you know, that little Charity Navigator insignia that you put on your website. And most importantly, and where your donor comes in is the consistency over time, is trust. And Steven talked a little bit about, you know . . .

I started, I guess it was in 2008 online and started with a newsletter. And my point in creating the newsletter was to give you really what Steven does all the time, is to give you the best that’s out there in an easily digestible form. So you didn’t have to go searching because I had seen over the years when I was in trainings myself as a nonprofit development professional that so many trainings were just not worth my time. And so, anyways, I set out to put out this newsletter and the one consistent thing I did was to put it out every single week without fail. And yeah, those first couple years were tough. You know, the first week I put it out, I think I had five subscribers. So you have to really make a commitment to consistency. I can’t overstate it enough.

So how simple can your donor communication systems be? Well, I think we are all pretty familiar with the Ask, Thank, Report model. We always start with the story, the emotionally compelling story about your organization and how your donor plays a role in that story. And then it’s basically a system of ask, thank, report. Report is when you’re making that phone call, you’re sending out that donor newsletter, you’re letting your donor know what their gift accomplished. And once you’ve got that system built in, all you have to do is rinse and repeat.

But what is the real secret to these donor communications? Something that you’re going to embed in every single piece that goes out from your donor newsletters, to your thank you letters, to your annual report, every single communication. You really want to infuse them with gratitude. You really want to develop a culture of gratitude within your organization. It’s going to take you far. But what does that look like?

These are a few sample donor communications plans, similar to what my students have. And I thought if you could see it kind of laid out, you could see what I’m talking about. And typically, when they start with me, they’re sending out maybe one direct mail ask a year. Usually their yearend fundraising ask. Sometimes it’s a spring appeal. And we start by growing that. And then you want to introduce a print donor newsletter. And that is part of the reporting portion of your system. And you also want to include a bare minimum of three monthly giving asks a year.

And here’s another one. And you notice that we do both print and digital. And the five campaigns, they’re a combination of direct mail and email. And there is a reason for that. And I know Steven has talked a lot about this. This is a great stat from Steve McLaughlin over at Blackbaud. Just notice how your very best donors, and those are your donors age 55 and up, notice the retention rate for multichannel as opposed to direct mail only. So how many times can you ask your donors a year for gifts? Any answers?

Well, Jeff Brooks in a . . . I guess it was at the first Storytelling Conference. He mentioned that they had a client that asked . . . They tested this and they found that they could ask, I think it was 20 or 21 times a year. So what does that look like? What does it look like for you, and how do you get it all out? I’m just going to share a couple of real quick examples, regular examples, and then we’ll talk about the COVID fundraising.

This is a multichannel appeal that one of our students sent out. This was actually her very, very first direct mail campaign that she had ever done, first letter she’d ever written, and she did beautifully with this. She sent out five emails in addition to the letter. And this is a print newsletter from one of our students. This was her very first donor-centered print newsletter. She mailed it out to donors only. I think it was roughly about 1,000 donors, if memory me correctly, and they raised $20,000. The thing with a well done donor newsletter is that you can raise sometimes even more than a fundraising appeal. You can see how this is all centered around what your gift makes possible because of you. Bringing you closer to the lives you help change. I really love the way that she brought the donor into the story, into the picture.

This is an example of an email newsletter from, again, another one of our students. And when it comes to newsletters, I hear all these excuses. When I ask about them, last summer’s newsletter didn’t go out because we were in the middle of an event or the spring appeal didn’t get mailed because we just lost our development director, or we used to have a newsletter but after our last development director left, the next thought we should focus on grants.

So what about now in the middle of a global pandemic? Well, I’m going to share an example from one of our students. This is from Mandy Fisher over at the Intervale Center in Vermont. The Intervale Center is a sustainable food organization. I think it’s in Brattleboro, Vermont, and they have done a Mother’s Day campaign for the last 10 years.

So as you can see, when it came time for the campaign, COVID had hit, they’ve gone into quarantine, shutdown there. So this is what they did. This is what I received in the mail. Give a gift that grows, a lovely little card with a personal note and then an insert. They took the campaign email as well. I believe they ran five emails with this particular campaign. They posted it on their Facebook page as well as their Instagram. And yeah, their spring appeal absolutely crushed. And I haven’t caught up with Mandy in a couple of weeks, but I know that this is really helping to cover the loss of revenue from their events that they had planned as well as some of their earned income.

We’ve heard a lot during COVID-19 about how you need to really express your vulnerability when you’re writing your donor communications. And I’m wondering if there’s anyone here who’d like to share, what does that mean? What does that mean to share vulnerability? Let me look and see if I’ve got . . . Oops. No, I can’t get my thing back. Any thoughts on what vulnerability means? Steven, am I still on?

Steven: Yeah. You’re still here. I think you just ended your screen share, is all, Pamela. We can still hear you.

Pamela: But you can’t see me?

Steven: Yeah. We lost your slides.

Pamela: Oh. Let me see if anyone responded. Ask the donor. Being transparent about the impact of COVID-19, we had to share the real possibility that our organization could close without support. Honesty in all aspects of client needs and honest fear of not being able to meet needs. Sheila. Excellent. Sorry about that. Let me get back. Yes. Yes. Well, I love these quotes from Brené Brown. “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage, they’re not always comfortable, but they are never weaknesses.” Oh. God, you guys already got it. This is great. I love this from Martha. “Vulnerability is being honest with the current situation, share the challenges, pain points and ask for advice.” Exactly. Exactly.

And this is an example, again, from one of my clients. They were actually embarking on their very first acquisition. Well, not actually an acquisition, but their first direct mail campaign. And I thought, you know, after COVID hit, maybe they would want to not send it.

And another great example from . . . Shoot, shoot. Actually, this is the first one. This is from the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. This is a great example. And they’re doing some really great things in terms of their donor communications, particularly considering how tiny this organization is. They only recently achieved their 501(c)(3) status. I would really strongly urge you to sign up to get their email communications. They do a great job. Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection.

So here, this is Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. They have been sending out a quarterly newsletter for several years now and when COVID hit, their printer actually closed up shop and they had to very quickly find another printer to print the newsletter. It ended up costing more, so they ended up sending it as a self-mailer rather than a . . . what we always recommend is sending it in an envelope with a return envelope. And I asked if she noticed a difference in terms of the return from sending it in a self-mailer versus an envelope. And she said she didn’t notice so much of a difference between the self-mailer and sending it in an envelope, but actually hand addressing envelopes makes a major, major difference. So consider that when you’re sending out your next appeal or donor newsletter.

And then we come to Jodi-Joy who just recently sent out her very first spring appeal and went 400% over goal. This is the letter that she sent. And I have to tell you, Jodi-Joy was in one of our classes and she was really struggling because she’s been with this organization still a fairly short period of time, I think a little less than two years. And part of the reason for her . . . She’s had amazing, I have to tell you, amazing success. And I think a huge part of that has been because she hasn’t had any pushback. Whenever she’s gone to her boss with an idea or wanted to do something, her boss always says, “Whatever you say, we trust you,” which I love. But when COVID-19 hit, her boss was adamant, no fundraising.

So I got on the phone with Jodi-Joy and we talked about what they had planned on sending in the spring. And she put this letter together. I want to say in about an hour, hour, two hours, and her boss absolutely adored it. They got it all taken care of, all set up, and ready to go within over a weekend. You can see it’s very reassuring to their donors. It’s probably one of the most gentle asks I’ve ever seen. “If you are in the position to help us during this crisis, we would be grateful.” Four hundred percent over goal.

Now we come to fundraisings’ Holy Grail, donor loyalty. I am such a big proponent of monthly giving. I can’t even tell you. And I’m sure you’ve heard probably a lot of these statistics already from Steven, because I think Steven’s a huge fan of monthly giving as well, but monthly donor retention rates, 90% and up. I talked to one of my students recently and her monthly donor retention rates were at 94%, double the average donor retention rate of 45%. For those of your board members who are asking, you know, “What about younger donors? What about younger donors?” sixty percent of donors under the age of 35 give monthly. The average monthly gift is $288 a year.

This is a little chart that I picked up from “How to Create Lifelong Donors Through Monthly Giving” by Harvey McKinnon. And this book just came out. I would strongly urge you to get it because there’s not a lot out there in monthly giving, but Harvey has written now two of the best books, this one and “Hidden Goal.” The other book I would recommend is Erica Waasdorp’s book, which I forget the name of right now, but those three books are the best.

So this is the lifetime value of 100 sustainers, just 100. Average gift per month, $20. Average years of giving, and this is a combination of channels. So the total lifetime value of monthly gifts per donor is 1500. And then you average in extra single gifts per donor because even though your donors are giving monthly, you’re still going to approach them with their appeals, with your regular appeals. So the total lifetime value of each sustainer is $1,700, making the total value of 100 sustainers, 170,000. And I’m not sure about this, but I not positive they’re even factoring in legacy gifts, which legacy gifts from your monthly donors is huge.

But then I get emails like this one, “We began monthly giving two years ago, but it’s slow to take off.” The thing with monthly giving, it’s not a question of, you’re going to add it to your Donate page, you’re going to include the option. You really have to work it. You almost have to treat it . . . Not almost, you have to treat it like separate campaigns because your action expresses your priorities and monthly giving us one of the most important safeguards against whatever is coming down in the future.

So going back to our sample donor communications plan, we’ve got one monthly giving ask via direct mail, and this is something you’re going to test, maybe you’re going to pick your most loyal donors for the last five, seven years. You can find a lot more information on that from Erica Waasdorp’s site. And you’re going to do a separate direct mail monthly giving ask. One that makes the case for a monthly giving, one that is specific to monthly giving. And then I actually typically recommend that you do three to five monthly giving email asks throughout the course of a year. And this is going to consist of anywhere from three to five emails per campaign to bring in those new . . . Yeah. It is. Thanks, Denis. “Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant,” fantastic book.

And we’re going back to the Intervale Center because they actually tied their monthly giving program right into that spring campaign. I believe they had a total of three emails and then they included on all their social media. What is the most important thing in your donor communications plan? Absolutely most important. Well, how can you raise an extra $45.32 more with every single gift? In their study, learning to say thank you, the role of donor acknowledgements, Jen Shang and Adrian Sargeant found that those who received a thank you gave on average $45.32 more than those who did not receive the thank you.

How many of you are sending thank you letters for gifts made online? Excellent. Excellent. Yay. I’m seeing all those hands raised. Wow. That’s awesome. I can only assume you guys are so brilliant because you’ve been attending all of Steven’s webinars, right? That’s excellent. Well, why would you miss out on the opportunity of sending a beautifully written thank you letter? A receipt is not a thank you ever, ever, ever.

I wanted to just take a quick minute and share with you probably the best thank you that I ever personally received via email. And this is from Trócaire, an Irish charity. So just take a second to read that while I’m going to have a quick sip of water. “Thank you for every fear that’s eased. Thank you for every unshed tear. Thank you for the lives that are better because you’re here.” I love that.

Even the very best thank you letters oftentimes have room for improvement. This actually came from Julie Edwards over at the Humane Society of North Georgia, and Julie does killer, killer work. And you can see this as already a terrific letter. So how could it be even better? And Lisa even says, Lisa Sergeant did rewrites on some of our participants with our class last year. And she says, “Does lots right. Lots of you versus we.” Tells the story of one dog. Sounds like it’s written by a human being. Largely jargon free and uses a beautiful signoff, “Warm wags.”

So how did she suggest improving it? She suggested going with a serif font, 12 point or higher. This is really kind of huge because I want you to always be thinking about your best donors. Remember back to that Steve McLaughlin’s slide, you know, you really want to be thinking about your donor’s eyes. She also recommends tabbing your paragraphs. There’s a lot of research for tabbing your paragraphs in written communications, print communications. It really increases the readability. And then a couple other little things. So here is the makeover, the thank you letter makeover. I just really love this letter.

So what can you do? One of the best things you can do, and I think it’s so underestimated, is simply rewrite your thank you email and your thank you redirect page. Rewrite your thank you letter. Create a new donor welcome pack.

And the other thing you can do is to create a thank you welcome series. Everybody here familiar with SOFII, because it is one of the best swipe files out there. Let me go back. I’ve got a question here. “I see that these letters are very text-heavy and some donors have mentioned that they prefer less text, but high impact information. These letters are a wonderful communication tool, but what are your thoughts on engaging an audience who doesn’t want to, or have time to read?” And that’s a great question. But I think that when you really study making your communications engaging, people want to read them. I mean, we’ve heard for years that longer letters outperformed short letters. They’ve done tons and tons of studies on it, but, of course, it really depends on the letter, the letter itself.

And the last thing I was going to share with you today is . . . I love this statement. Meghan Markle recently addressed for graduating high school. And she spoke about the Black Lives Matter movement. And she said, “I realize the only wrong thing to say right now is to say nothing because George Floyd’s life mattered.” So I did want to share with you a few of the best statements that I’ve gotten in the last couple of weeks.

And this one came from the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. They made a very strong statement. They tied it to their mission. They included resources for their supporters and their readers. Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, they posted their link to their statement right on the homepage of their website. It’s very short, but it makes the point quite beautifully.

So in today’s webinar, we talked about how consistent donor communications builds trust, how to ask for monthly gifts in a pandemic, the importance of empathy and vulnerability, and your most important message. So what I forwarded on to Steven is our seven communications pieces PDF. There are lots of examples in there, and you can make a plan for growing your monthly giving program, in particular, in 2020. And then I’m going to recommend that you hop on the phone and call at least five donors.

Is there anyone here who hasn’t seen this? I just love this. This was an Instagram post. And actually, I think it was Lisa Sargent who first shared it with me. And I just love it. A year we finally band together instead of pushing each other further apart, the most important year of all. How cool is that?

So thank you, guys, for being the change. I am super excited to be answering questions. You want me to go ahead and take them, Steven?

Steven: Yeah. I’ve been collecting them here, so I don’t mind forwarding them to you here if it’s okay if I moderate a little bit.

Pamela: Okey-doke.

Steven: So first, thank you, Pamela. I love seeing those examples. I hadn’t seen a bunch of those. And is that Jodi-Joy O’Keefe? Is that the same Jodi-Joy?

Pamela: You know Jodi-Joy. Yes.

Steven: Jodi-Joy. So awesome.

Pamela: Well, I think she’s with you, isn’t she?

Steven: Yeah. She does use Bloomerang for a couple of clients. Yeah. She’s awesome. So people should look her up too.

Pamela: She is absolutely awesome. She’s so much fun to work with. So much fun to work with. Alice asks, “With that newsletter, did they include a return envelope since there was no ask?” Yeah. We do include a return envelope. The newsletters are written according to a very specific formula that was actually originally, I believe, designed by the . . . not the Veritus Group, the Domain Group, but that was Richard Perry’s company in Seattle and Tom Ahern then adopted it. It was called the domain model, I think.

Steven: I never heard that.

Pamela: Yeah. And it’s a very specific model. It’s actually a four-page newsletter. The one that I showed you is actually . . . Oops. I did that again.

Steven: That’s okay. We still see the dog.

Pamela: Yeah. Let me see. The one that I showed you was written very much according to formula. So typically, they’re mailed in an envelope. And this has always been a really clear part of the formula that Tom has taught and that I always teach too in my newsletter classes, that you mail in an envelope. And this was actually the first time that they mailed it, I think, as a self-mailer. And she said, “What really made a difference between the self-mailer and mailing it in an envelope were those personal handwritten signatures.” Another great job you can give to your board.

Steven: Yeah. Right. It looks more like something you want to open up because, you know, you get maybe five or six pieces of mail and they’ll have been printed and then one of them has the handwritten. That’s what’s going to get open first.

Pamela: Exactly. And it’s a super tip, not just for your donor newsletters, but for your appeals, you know. Segment out your major donors, segment out your most loyal donors, and hand-write the envelopes.

And then did that have a BRE in it so that they could mail a check back?

Pamela: Yes.

Steven: Okay. That’s what that is. That little one’s a BRE. Got it.

Pamela: Let me see. Do you have some examples on how organizations report back? Well, you report back through the use of a print newsletter, an email newsletter, your annual report, sometimes a one-page impact statement is a great way to report back. I’ve got a lot of examples of those on my website.

What are examples of your favorite welcome packs? I could go to my site real quick and show you one, but typically, your welcome pack is going to come anywhere from two to six weeks after the original thank you letter, and you’re going to include another thank you letter, another, kind of like a welcome to the family type letter. You can test all kinds of things with this. I’ve seen organizations include their last newsletter or maybe Nashville Rescue Mission, they include kind of like an evergreen newsletter that they reserve specifically for their welcome pack. You can include a short survey. I can also send Steven some links to some examples as well.

Steven: Yeah. SOFII has some too, I feel like.

Pamela: SOFII?

Steven: Yeah.

Pamela: Yeah. They do. They do.

Steven: I’ve also gotten the last print newsletter in a welcome kit. It said, “Hey, Steven, you know, here’s the last edition of our print newsletter since, you know, you missed it.” I thought that was a nice touch, especially if it goes out like quarterly and it may be awhile before you get the next one, depending on . . .

Pamela: Yeah. And it’s a great way to repurpose.

Steven: Yeah.

Pamela: Just order a few extra.

Steven: And you probably got some laying around.

Pamela: How often do you suggest updates to donors? That’s a great question. Outside of the thank you. That’s from Marilyn. In all my programs and in my book, I always recommend sort of like 12 touches a year that could include a newsletter. It could include a short phone call. Could I see a show of hands of people who have called their donors during COVID? Yay. Look at that. Look at that. You guys are awesome.

Steven: Yeah. They’re a smart group, like you said.

Pamela: Yeah. Wow. If you want to type into the chat, I’d love to hear the responses that you’ve gotten.

What does the research say about letter size? This is from Jesse, Jesse Hutchinson. One page or two, shorter versus longer. Again, it’s such a . . . and it depends, you know, because it really depends on the quality of your content. If you’ve got a really masterful copywriter, I’ll sit there and read for 8, 9, 10 pages, right?

Steven: Yeah.

Pamela: But if you’re just telling me how you do, that doesn’t kind of grabbed me. But I think typically, the research shows that the longer letters pull better.

Steven: That’s what I’ve seen too.

Pamela: However, you know . . . Yeah. Go ahead. You answer.

Steven: Well, you read my mind. And you mentioned John Lepp when we were talking before. I know they swear by longer letters also.

Pamela: Yes. I get some of their letters, and they’re typically about four-page.

Steven: Four. Yeah.

Pamela: My letters are typically four pages. I get letters from Lisa Sargent that she writes for a particular organization, and they’re two pages. So it depends on your donors. You also want to think in terms of kind of how your donors have been conditioned. Let me see what else. That’s excellent. Wow.

Steven: We had a couple of questions, Pamela, about emails, specifically. Any differences in the approach there if it’s email versus a print newsletter? In terms of maybe weighing for frequency, what have you seen work there?

Pamela: Again, consistency rules. But I think that when it comes to your inbox, you’re going to have to have at least a monthly newsletter, I think. The most important thing is consistency. I would study really well-done newsletters like the Smithsonian, [Attendance 00:51:22] Museum” in New York. I’m sure you have some examples. Are there email newsletters that you get that you really look forward to?

Steven: Yeah. Do you have the Keep Philadelphia Beautiful Organization in town there, Pamela? I think that’s a nationwide one, but we have Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, and they’re like a environmental advocacy group for the urban area. And they do a monthly email newsletter, and it’s called “Get the Dirt.” And it’s got like somebody’s dirty hands, like planting a tree. It’s really good. I wish they used Bloomerang. I see that again.

Pamela: I will check it out. I will check it out. Do multi-page letters often include photos? Yes. I often include photos in my letters. Can you reshare the SOFII link? Let me see.

Steven: I think it’s just I’ll type in the chat. That’s a great website.

Pamela: It is. I will never forget the day I first stumbled across website.

Steven: It’s a treasure trove.

Pamela: It is. It’s such a treasure trove. If ever you’re stuck, you know, you know that, hey, we’ve got a spring appeal on the books, but I don’t have a slightest idea what to do, go to SOFII. There it is. Did you read some of these about the calls? They’re great.

Steven: Oh, I know. That makes me happy because I’m a big phone call guy.

Pamela: Me too. Appreciation, all positive calls. How do you feel about a personal phone call to a donor? How do you feel about a personal phone call to thank a donor then follow up with written? I’m all for it. All for it.

Finally, I think the sun came out, Steven. I know I’m all for it. I know I’ve told this story before, but a couple years back, I was doing a mystery shopping experiment online. And I remember I made a $10 gift to this one organization. And 15 minutes later their ED called me.

Steven: Wow. Fifteen minutes?

Pamela: Fifteen minutes.

Steven: Good for them.

Pamela: And I was so shocked and she was just lovely and she asked me, “What prompted your gift?” And I said, “You’re part of a mystery shopping experiment.”

Steven: Randomness prompted it.

Pamela: Totally. They followed all these steps. Actually, they do everything real well. It’s Brittany’s Hope Foundation. But now I’m a $35 a month monthly giver. So it works.

Steven: Yeah. We put out some data. We looked at our customers who call donors, new donors versus the ones who don’t and they have higher retention rates, higher second gift amounts . . .

Pamela: Yeah, that’s great.

Steven: . . . just from phone calls.

Pamela: I got to put that link in again, because I know I put it in when you first did it.

Steven: Yeah. I’ll put it in the chat.

Pamela: Yeah. That’s great. Yeah. Great stories.

Steven: We had someone in here Pamela asking about virtual events, canceling physical events because of social distancing. Have you seen any examples of that from your folks?

Pamela: My folks don’t tend to be like big event people, but we met Sherry Truhlar on. Have you had her on?

Steven: Yeah. Sherry’s awesome. The auctions? Yeah.

Pamela: Yeah. She’s the best. She’s the best. She did say that one organization that typically raises a million from their gala, they raised like 4,000 this year. But she’s seen some real success with the virtual events. It just depends on how it’s done. And it’s really not anything I’m an expert on, but I know that I’ve got that recording there someone. And I think you probably got something, right?

Steven: Yeah. I interviewed about eight of our customers who converted a physical event into virtual events. I’ll put the link in the chat if folks want to watch those. Yeah. Really successful. Maybe time for one more question, Pamela?

Pamela: Sure.

Steven: Let me see one in there that you’re really . . .

Pamela: Do you have any resources to help with text copy for donors? What do you mean, Anonymous? What do you mean exactly? One thing that I never ever, ever miss using is the Hemingway app.

Steven: Oh, yeah.

Pamela: It is the best. Sometimes I will just actually start writing in it. Also the best for any kind of online copywriting that you’re doing because it really helps you to keep things concise and to just remove all the superfluous.

Steven: Yeah. I use it. I have it installed on my browser so as I’m writing emails or blog posts . . . It’s called Hemingway. I’ll put it in the chat for folks.

Pamela: Hemingway. Yeah.

Steven: It’s free. They have a paid version, but the free version is good.

Pamela: Yeah. I’ve never used the paid.

Steven: Yeah. I don’t actually know what you get because I feel pretty satisfied on the free version. But it tells you the tone too. So if you’re writing an email to like a colleague and it’ll tell you if you’re coming off maybe angry or . . . I need that.

Pamela: You don’t ever want to do that.

Steven: No.

Pamela: Let me see. Did I see another?

Steven: Well, why don’t you tell folks where they can get a hold of you and get it connected to the Motivate Monday stuff and your newsletter and all that?

Pamela: Thank you. I am at You can email me at And Steven is . . . are you going to send on, I think, I sent a little cheat sheet that has way more examples as well.

Steven: Yeah. I got that.

Pamela: And this was fun. This was so much fun. It’s so cool to see Barbara Burns here.

Steven: Yeah. A bunch of our buddies logged on.

Pamela: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Steven: Well, this was coo, Pamela. Yeah. I did get that PDF for me. I got your slides. And I’ll send out the recording to everyone as well. I’ll get that out this afternoon so everyone will have it before dinnertime for sure.

Pamela: Thank you for having me.

Steven: Always. I mean, we couldn’t let a year go by without having Pamela on. And thanks to all of you for hanging out. I think we had like maybe 300 or 400 people on. So that was awesome to see. Hopefully, you guys are all doing okay, staying healthy. Do reach out to Pamela and check out Motivate Monday. She has a really good guests on there for point conversation. Yeah.

Pamela: Let me just say this real quick.

Steven: Yeah. Show us.

Pamela: This coming Motivate Monday, we are having Denisa Casement on.

Steven: Oh, really?

Pamela: You know Denisa.

Steven: Oh, yeah.

Pamela: Denisa is, is like . . . I don’t even know what to say about Denisa. She’s just brilliant. And you remember the study that she did over at the Merchants Quay Ireland?

Steven: Yeah. She was in Ireland for a long time. Yeah.

Pamela: Yeah. They grew this really small organization to like 3 million in a course of like three to five years, I think it was. Anyways, Denisa’s going to be talking very specifically about the Casement Quotient. So you will know exactly where you should be spending your time the most effectively. So I hope you guys join me on Monday.

Steven: I’m going to do that too. I haven’t heard from Denisa in a while. She’s a good Twitter follow too if any of you want to consider.

Pamela: Awesome. She’s awesome. Thanks, you guys.

Steven: Well, cool. Well, we’ll call it a day there. Like I said, look for the email for me with all the good stuff and hopefully we’ll talk to you again next week. We’ve got a couple of webinars happening next week. We’ll invite all those to you. So hopefully we’ll see you again next week. So have a good rest of your Thursday. Stay healthy, stay cool out there. Have a good weekend, and we’ll hopefully talk to you again next week. Bye now.

Pamela: You too. Thanks, Steven.

Steven: See you.

Pamela: Bye-bye.

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.