In this webinar, Rob Wu of CauseVox will equip you with new fundraising ideas, tips, and proven strategies to help you increase giving on your next fundraising initiative!
Steven: Okay, Rob Wu. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started officially?
Rob: Yes, let’s do it.
Steven: All right. Awesome. Well, good afternoon, everyone, if you’re on the East Coast, I should say. If you’re on the West Coast, good morning. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Fail-Proof Digital Fundraising Ideas That Will Raise You At Least $10,000.” And my name is Steven Shattuck, and I’m the chief engagement officer over here at Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always. And just a couple of housekeeping items before we get going here.
I just want to let you all know that we are recording this session, and we’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides later on this afternoon. So if you have to leave early or maybe if you get interrupted over the next hour or so, I know how it can be working in an office with coworkers, I get it, don’t worry, we’ll get all of the good stuff into your hands later on this afternoon. I’ll send out the recording to you as well as the slides if you didn’t already get those.
But most importantly, as you are listening today, please feel free to make use of that chat box right there on your webinar screen. We’re going to try to save some time at the end for Q&A. So don’t be shy about sending in your questions and comments. Introduce yourself if you haven’t already done that, tell us all about where you work, and all your burning digital fundraising questions. We love for these sessions to be as interactive as possible. So don’t be bashful.
I’ll also keep an eye on the Twitter feeds for questions and comments if you’d rather send something over on Twitter. And if you have any technical difficulties, especially by your computer audio, we find that the audio by phone is usually a little bit better quality as well as the connection. So don’t toss that laptop right out the window without trying to at least dial in by phone if you can, if that’s comfortable for you. There’s a phone number in the ReadyTalk email confirmation that you got when you registered, and I think you probably got another one about an hour ago. So try that before you totally give up on it. It’s usually better quality by phone.
And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, just want to say an extra special welcome to you folks. We are a provider of donor management software if you’re not familiar with Bloomerang. If it’s your first webinar, we love having you here. We do these webinars every single week, but what we are most known for is that software, that donor database software like I mentioned. So check us out online, check out our website if you’re interested in our offering. But don’t do that right now. Wait until at least an hour goes by, because you all are in for a real treat, a friend of the program joining us today from beautiful Brooklyn, New York, Rob Wu, from CauseVox. Rob, how’s it going? Are you doing okay?
Rob: Yeah, doing great. Thanks for having me today, Steven.
Steven: Absolutely. I’ve been looking forward to this one a while. Rob has been especially good buddy and partner of ours at Bloomerang and has invited us to do lots of webinars for him. In fact, they just recently wrapped up a great day-long webinar that I spoke a little bit on last week. It was really awesome. So it’s great to have Rob kind of return the favor and share all of their expertise. And like you see on your screen, Rob is the CEO over at CauseVox, which is an awesome provider of fundraising tools to nonprofits. I can vouch for it personally. You’re going to want to check them out after the end of this session.
Rob’s the man. Like I said, he’s kind of my go-to for all things crowdfunding and peer-to-peer. He has been featured in mega publications and networks such as CNN, Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal. He’s spoken at South by Southwest, NTEN, Nonprofit Technology Conference. He’s written for a lot of awesome publications like VentureBeat and Social Media Examiner. And not only is he a thought leader in the space, but he’s also a practitioner. He, himself, has raised over $200,000 in his own personal fundraising efforts, which is . . . it’s hard to do. I’ve got a boy scout at home, and it’s kind of tough for us to crack a couple of hundred dollars even selling off popcorn. So he’s got a lot of great advice for you, and I don’t want to take up any more of his time. So, Rob, the floor is yours, my friend. Tell us all about those fail-proof digital fundraising ideas. Go for it.
Rob: All right. Well, Steven, thanks so much for the intro, and the tables have turned. It was just last week where I was hosting you, and I’m so grateful that you’re hosting me today. So welcome, everybody, to the “Fail-Proof Digital Fundraising Ideas” webinar. As Steven and I were putting this together, I was thinking about, you know, “What would be the most beneficial for Bloomerang’s audience?” So I’m really excited to share a few of our ideas that resulted from that.
So my name is Rob Wu. Again, I am the CEO as well as one of the founders of CauseVox. CauseVox, we’re a digital fundraising platform for nonprofits. I’ve been working in the digital fundraising space for over 10 years. So it’s been over a decade where I’ve been helping thousands of nonprofits overcome all of their online fundraising challenges, helping them grow their digital fundraising, as well as helping them increase their social impact.
But before I kind of talk too much about CauseVox and digital fundraising and fail-proof ideas, I just want to share one thing with you. Steven did such an amazing job at the Digital Fundraising Summit that we just held on Friday that I think, personally, he was one of the best speakers. So don’t tell anybody else, only between us and hundreds other people on this webinar. I think Steven was one of the best speakers.
So what we actually did was that if you want to catch up on that summit, you can go to causevox.com/dfsnotes. We actually put together Steven’s video, as well as all his session notes, and we, for Bloomerang, decreased the price of these notes down to 25 bucks from 50. So if you guys want to check it out, you can if you missed that. Tons of great folks. Love that summit. But if you want to expand your digital fundraising, if you want to learn about SEO, if you want to learn about paid media, if you want to learn about donor retention, if you want to learn about peer-to-peer fundraising, that summit recording will be great for you to check out.
So today’s webinar, we’re talking about fail-proof digital fundraising ideas. And the one thing that I want to help you solve here is . . . I can’t help you solve all of your fundraising problems, I can’t help you solve and optimize everything about what you’re working on, but the one thing I can do within 30 to 45 minutes is I can help you solve how to get more donations and to get new donors. So in this webinar, that’s the only thing we’re trying to accomplish, a very small scope, and hoping that this will move the needle for you for year-end fundraising, for Giving Tuesday, as well as for your fall fundraising.
So when thinking about this problem that you have around getting donors, there are three causes to it. The root of your fundraising problems is people, its process, or technology. From the people standpoint, donor behavior has really changed. The way we fundraised 10 years ago is really different than the way we fundraise today. The way that people buy is different. People buy online. They want a fast way to check out. What they look for, how they look through reviews, and how they support organizations, and how you do crowdfunding is all different. So the donor has fundamentally changed, which has caused us to need to adapt in order to gain new donors.
The second reason why we have problems around fundraising is around process. So a lot of times, when I talk to small, medium-sized nonprofits, which is what a lot of CauseVox does, a lot of nonprofits fundraise twice a year, so they don’t have a fundraising engine built in that allows them to gain feedback quickly, as well as allows them to spin up new fundraising initiatives very easily.
And the third problem of why fundraising is frustrating and difficult is that a lot of people’s technology hasn’t caught up, that you’re fundraising . . . your technology stack, so dealing with clunky websites that haven’t been updated, or ugly donation forms that lose donors, they have tools that don’t talk to each other. At the end of the day, they give your donors a frustrating donation experience that’s not as easy as just checking out something on amazon.com, for example.
So technology, clunky. And what I’m looking at this chat today, a lot of you are chatting in your fundraising stacks. If you’re not using Bloomerang for your donation database, then check it out, because they’re going to make your fundraising a lot easier. And if you’re not using CauseVox for your donation pages or your peer-to-peer fundraising, check us out too, because we can help you out, too.
So, what do these problems do? You know, what’s at stake? So if you don’t fundraise well, if you don’t get donors, then the public’s trust, as well as the social impact that you can create as an organization, is in jeopardy. At the end of the day, it’s your time, your effort, your reputation, as well as your job. So if we don’t fundraise, if we don’t grow our organizations, if we don’t help more people stay true to our nonprofit mission, then we’re leaving a lot of chips on the table.
So that’s why I’m here today. I just want to present to you nine very, very tactical things you can do today, as well as this week, in order to help you raise more funds. Now, I fundamentally believe — and this is after working with thousands of small nonprofits — that everyone on this webinar can be successful. You have what it takes, even if you don’t feel like you have all the resources. So that’s why I have some tips here today, some tactics that you can easily just flip the switch and go live with and generate a lot of funds, as well as some longer-term things that you can work out to reach 2020.
A little about me. We’ve kind of played through this. CEO, founder, CauseVox, 10 years. Super happy with helping nonprofits. That’s the main reason why I quit my job, started a company, and ever since then, have dedicated all my time and attention to nonprofits. I run a fundraising platform called CauseVox. What we help you do is we’re a digital fundraising platform that helps you raise more with less effort. Now, a lot of times, typical fundraising software is clunky, complex, it’s hard to use, but we actually help you tidy up your fundraising. I don’t know if you guys have read the book from Marie Kondo, but that’s kind of like what CauseVox does. We help you declutter all your fundraising tools. We declutter your fundraising processes so you can actually raise more with less effort.
Some tangible things you can do with CauseVox include running donation forms and donation pages. A lot of times, we help out nonprofits where they’ve put so much effort into the strategy, into the messaging, into the video. At the end of the day, they direct all the donors to an aged out donation form and they lose donors. So we’re going to replace your outdated donation form. We’re going to help you convert more donors through the CauseVox platform.
Additionally, we’d help you acquire new donors through peer-to-peer fundraising. So if you run peer-to-peer fundraising before and if you didn’t generate results, then our way of doing peer-to-peer fundraising can yield more donations for you with less effort. Or if you’re just getting started with peer-to-peer fundraising, if you want to put it into your Giving Tuesday plans or strategy, your year-end fundraising, then we can also help you acquire a lot of new donors with that.
And very lastly, crowdfunding. So this is one of our bread-and-butters, where instead of just directing people to your transactional-based donation form, you have something that’s more engaging. You can create a crowdfunding campaign that converts donors with CauseVox. End of the day, by using our tools, you can raise more with less effort, less frustration, less clunky tech, less of everything, even less budget. So you can use CauseVox cheaper than other tools out there.
All right. Well, without further ado, I present to you kind of these nine things that I’ve learned along the way that can help you raise funds through digital, as well as I’ve talk to you two of our nonprofits before this webinar, and I want the glean a few of their ideas and their secrets as well. Now, these are organizations, which I’ll present to you, that have generated ton of results. So just want to share some of their ideas as well.
The first one is the Irish International Immigrant Center. I’ve worked with someone over there named Megan Miller, and after she started working with CauseVox, she raised $60,000 more in the same time period versus their old donation page, which is amazing. So $60,000 just by switching technology. So the first tip that Megan told me that we’ve kind of worked together with is that in order for you to raise more funds — this is just to distill it — donors like pretty things. So what donors want is something that’s really easy. Now, a lot of times, a lot of nonprofits that I see, they’re still using something that’s very generic as their donation page. This is what donors would see. It’s not inspiring. It doesn’t really show you the impact of your work. And sometimes, it’s slow loading, it’s not mobile-optimized, it’s not really geared towards what donors want to see.
So donors go through this process, they think about amount, and then they’re presented some form. And then you want them to make a donation. Well, one of the issues, the reason why you’re not converting donors is because you’re not giving donors an experience that’s easy, that’s delightful, that shows your impact. So the best thing you want to do today is take a look at your own donation form and your own donate button.
Now, how long does it take your donors to go through the process? The benchmark is two minutes, in three steps. So if your donation form is above that, meaning it takes more than three minutes for someone to make a donation or it takes more than three steps for them to make a donation, then that’s something you want to consider optimizing or revising so that you can actually convert more donors.
So what Megan did is she used a donation form that sat on her site. So no redirect, it just sits on her homepage, and then it pops up, it’s branded to the organization, it’s very easy for donors to use. And through this one method, she was able to convert a lot more donors, and in fact, $60,000 more in donations by making this minor tweak.
So just to break out the math for you, so with an easy donation form versus a hard donation form. So let’s say you have the same amount of viewers, the same amount of clicks. But with the easy donation form, you’ll get more donations, more donors who convert and successfully make a donation. Versus a hard donation form, you have folks struggling. So estimated, you’ll lose out on $750 for every 100 viewers if you have a hard donation form. So this is why it’s so important, because you’re doing all the work in planning, all the work in storytelling, making your video, writing up an email. And if you’re directing your donors to something that’s hard to use, then you’re going to leave your chips on the table. So that’s tactic number one, have an easy donation form, make it pretty, make it focused on the impact.
The second tactic that we see that helps generate 5% more donations, just as a baseline, just by flipping the switch, is to add donation tipping to any of your donation forms or campaign. So what donation tipping is, it allows your donors to cover your transaction fees. So anytime online donation happens, there’s always a Visa/MasterCard/American Express/Discover fee. Sometimes, if we’re using platforms, so CauseVox included, there may be a platform fee that’s charged as well.
So what you want to do is in order to increase the amount of gift that we get. What we’ve seen is that organizations that use this donation tipping function, around 75% of donors or more opt in to covering it. So think about your own donation form. Are donors covering your fee for you? If you’re not, then you’re leaving about 4% to 5% of that donation on the table. So in order for you to increase your gift, you can easily just turn this on. So we’ve seen hundreds of organizations on CauseVox use this, and they can automatically increase their gift just by 4% to 5%. So that’s tactic number two.
Tactic number three. So when we look at a lot of donation pages and when we think about how to make it easy, one of the best practices is to add in suggested levels of giving. So suggested levels of giving, they basically allow you to present different donation amounts for your donor, but you want to take it one step further. It’s not just us saying, “Hey, donate 25, 50, 100, 250, etc.,” because they’re just financial rules. And a lot of times, as fundraisers, when we’re looking for money, we think in financial terms. But at the end of the day, your donors, they don’t give a shit about your financial terms. What they care about is what kind of impact that they can create. Now, what is $25? What kind of impact does that buy me? Or $100? Or $1,000? You know, what is it?
So what you want to do for your donation form and donation page, and especially as you’re crafting digital fundraising initiatives, is to tie your dollar suggestive level of giving amount into some type of impact. Yeah, we work with the North Texas Food Bank, about 200 to 300 different campaigns so far, and what they’re doing here in this example is that $25 provides access to 75 meals, $100 provides 300 meals. This way, your donor knows, “Hey, I want to help 300 folks. Let me donate $100.” This is a lot more impactful and ties your narrative and your storytelling directly to a financial transaction, which helps to convert to donors.
The second benefit is that the average donation that we’ve seen across our platform is around $75, $80. So you want to make sure that you have donation tiers that are around that area. What we don’t want to do is set donation tiers that are well under the average amount, then you’ll be leaving funds on the table by making a smaller ask than necessary. As well as you don’t want to price out your average donor by not having donation tiers that are around the average amount. So a couple of different ways for you to increase your gift size, increase your average donation through donation tiers that are impact-related.
Now, if we don’t have impact-related donation tiers, then this is kind of what it looks like. So very, very different, you know, something that’s dollar amount with impact versus something that’s just financial. And we’re in the business over here to help nonprofits to create impact, to sell impact. So we’re not in the business here to take transactions. Fundamentally, as an organization, do not think you’re here fundraising just to take transactions. All right.
Tip number four. So this is a super easy one, where I really love, and I’ll show you some of the financial impacts of it as well, is that the other fail-proof tactic is to add a CTA, which is a call to action, to make a recurring donation. So a lot of times, when you think about fundraising, you think about, “Hey, we need a one-time donation,” and then later on in the year, we’ll make another ask. So if you can convert a donor into a recurring donor, then you can not only increase the gift size, but you can retain them. And the best way to do it that I love to do is take your donation receipt that you send to a donor and then just include a further call to action, just as like a P.S. or like another way for them to help out, is that they can upgrade their donation from a one-time to a monthly recurring donation. And if you give a donor a good reason why, if you craft it in a way where it’s about dollar amount impact, then there’s a high chance that they’ll upgrade from a one-time to a monthly recurring.
So all you need to do is just take your donation receipt today, and most nonprofits are not doing this, because I donate to a lot of organizations and I don’t see this, but just put in just three sentences into your donation receipt, especially as you head into the busy season of the fundraising. Put that in, give donors a link to upgrade their donation, or even simply, if you don’t have a recurring donation functionality on your donation form, just say, “Hey, just reply back to this email,” and then maybe you can manually set them on recurring donation. So this way, you can increase your gift.
Steven did a great presentation for us on donor retention. So donor retention on monthly giving is about 80%, while donor retention on one-time gifts is 47%. So you can double your retention rates on your donors just by doing recurring giving. And recurring donors are also more likely to upgrade in the future.
So how the math works out is that, on average, the one-time donation is at $75, versus a monthly recurring donation, you know, let’s say, we take a third of that, 25 bucks with 80% retention rate per year. You’re raising 240 versus a 75. So by being recurring giving, you can 3X your giving easily that way. So if you’re not doing recurring giving, if it’s not in your plan for the next three months, then I highly encourage you to do this so that you can actually predict your revenue when it comes to fundraising heading to 2020, as well as you can raise more with less effort this way.
So a great way just to do that is through that CTA, your call to action on your donation receipt. But we’re going to also be using . . . include this in your donation form. If you have the option on your donation form, turn that on so that people can have a self-upgrade. Or we can do, as well, the last tactic is to take a look at your highest performing donors, so donors who have given year after year. And then what you want to do is take a segment of those folks and then present them an opportunity to upgrade it to a monthly recurring donation so that they’ll be more likely to do a monthly recurring gift. All right.
So I also talked to one of our other highly successful gurus. This is Kelly McLaughlin. She works at Old Greenbelt Theatre, previously at Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and she’s grown fundraising from an individual gift level 25% a year, every single year. She runs both marketing and development, and on her last position, she increased individual giving by 51%.
So I had a discussion with her in terms of what are some of the fail-proof fundraising tactics, and this is what she told me. She said the number one tactic for her is to use peer-to-peer fundraising. So, what is peer-to-peer fundraising? Peer-to-peer fundraising is a way that allows you to empower your networks, your board members, your volunteers, anyone that knows about you to easily go to a campaign site that you own, create a personal page, send it out to your friends and family in order to drive donations to your organization.
So what this does is it allows you to reach other folks that you don’t have an email address with. For example, the Blevins family here. They sent it out their networks. You don’t have those second-degree email addresses, but this family does. So it allows you to increase your reach, your story gets told, and then you get more donors.
Organizations that we’ve seen that use peer-to-peer fundraising, on our platform at least, they’ve raised twice as much as organizations just doing ticketing, versus organizations just doing a donation page. The reason why is because social media allows folks to easily share this, as well as it makes it more personal and authentic, so more people will listen to the message and donate to the organization. So peer-to-peer fundraising, it can increase your giving by 200%. So check that out.
Another tactic that Kelly mentioned to me is to, when you’re running peer-to-peer fundraising at least — and I did see a few questions come in around peer to peer, so I love to kind of share this tactic — is if you’re not being successful with peer to peer, one of the tactics they can use is to private launch your campaign with a small group of hooks. She calls this the quiet phase.
So what you want to do is make your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign exclusive to a small group of people, whether it’d be your board members, a core group of volunteers, which is highly engaged folks, so that not only can you test out the messaging in a story, but then it allows you to get a lot more activity on your event or campaign. So that once you publicly launch it, once you make it inclusive to your whole list, that people see there’s activity going on and there’s folks who want to join.
Very easily, this is kind of the analogy of there’s only a handful of people that want to be leaders, but then the majority of folks, they want to be followers. So you want to find who the fundraising leaders are that can help you out with your peer-to-peer campaign, get them involved, private launch it. And then once you have more than $0 displaying on your campaign site, then publicly launch it to everyone else. Kelly did this every single year for the past four years, and she’s been able to increase her peer-to-peer fundraising campaign from $85,000 to $125,000. And I think that’s just incredibly amazing by just including this technique.
So another tactic they can use when it comes to peer-to-peer fundraising that allows you just to easily get more donations is to add a call to action for your peer-to-peer fundraisers to make a donation when they create their personal page. So when you’re doing peer to peer, what folks do is they go to your campaign site, they either donate or create a page. As they create a page, then what you want them to do is to also donate to your page. So this is the exact language they should use for the email that you send out to your peer-to-peer fundraisers. So once they create a page, send them an email, include, “Make the first donation on your personal page,” and include a link. And this way, it’ll drive more donations very easily. Kelly did this, and this is her secret. So I’m telling all of you folks today, this is her secret. She’d put this in, and she generated well over $15,000 just by doing this one thing.
So a lot of you folks today are small nonprofits, $15,000 is a lot when you’re spending a lot of time crafting a campaign. What we can easily do is thinking about some of the minor tweaks you can do. You just add in an additional sentence into your donation receipt or your welcome email, and you can easily just increase your funding this way. So I love this secret over here. Include this in your peer-to-peer fundraising. Again, when someone creates a personal page, ask them to make the first donation onto their page. This will increase your gifts very, very easily.
And tactic number eight that will help you with your digital fundraising is if you’re doing peer to peer for the last few tactics that we’ll talk about, you want to change your KPI. A KPI is your key performance indicator. This is what you probably look at as the metric to see if you’re doing well. So what you want to do is you want to shift your metrics about being about donor retention and amount of gift you get to actually to be around fundraiser retention and fundraiser recruitment.
So this is about the number of folks that you recruit to become peer-to-peer fundraisers as well as the number of peer-to-peer fundraisers that you’ve retained that come back the next time you do your peer-to-peer fundraising. So what you want to do is shift that. So for example, if we look at one fundraiser, on average, they get about 10 donors, there’s an estimated value of about $750 a year. If this one fundraiser doesn’t return the next time you do a peer-to-peer fundraising, then you’ll lose out on the majority of the $750 that they generated previously. So for every fundraising your churn, you lose significant donors. You want to shift this a little bit, so it becomes less about just messaging to donors and more about nurturing and messaging to fundraisers. This is the source of your peer-to-peer fundraising.
And the last tactic that I want to share, and this is sourced from the Junior Achievement of Greater Washington. I worked with somebody named Lauren Meltzer over there. She raises over $400,000 a year through corporate fundraising. So this is a tactic that’s a little less fully digital and more kind of a combination of major gifts as well as corporate engagement, is that when it comes to digital, there’s a huge opportunity for you to work with corporate sponsors to reach new donors, and whether it’d be their employees or their customers. So when it comes to corporate engagement, you know, small companies, they care about promotions. They always want to get the word out, the brand out. Large companies, what they care about is a long employee engagement. They want to make sure that employees are engaged in a certain way that there’s charitable giving involved.
So what Lauren does is that she has a playbook, and she follows this easy four-step process. She finds a company, typically sourced out from one of her corporate contacts, whether it’d be from like a board member or a volunteer. She creates a campaign site similar to this. This is created on the CauseVox platform, so it’s templatized. So she plops in the logo of the company. This is EY, Ernst & Young. She creates the campaign page over here. And as she works with her contact at that company to share this page to the employees as well as their customers. She creates a package, sends it over, and she’s able to generate a lot of funds very easily. So similar four-step process, I think every organization here today has vendors or they have board members that they can tap into in order to reach new audiences.
The North Texas Food Bank does this as well. For every company they work with, they spin up a campaign site that’s branded to the company. That’s unique to that company as well. And they send it out to them so they can use this to generate additional funds. It’s a huge opportunity here to create micro campaign sites for your digital fundraising. So instead of directing everybody towards a generic donation page, where you can’t keep track of the metrics, you can direct them to something more co-branded so you can actually see who’s donating, how the donations are flowing. It provides a place where corporate entities love that co-branded opportunity. It makes them look really great.
So in a nutshell, those are the nine tactics, and I’m super excited just because I sped through this really quickly so we can go through a lot of the questions that have been chatted in, just I would say 100 of them. So I’m super excited just to go through that.
Just to review the nine tactics fail-proof for your fundraising. One, make sure you have a professional donation experience so it’s easy for your donors to make a donation, so all the work that you’re doing before that can be taken advantage of. Number two, use donation tipping to increase your giving by 5%. Number three, use suggested levels of giving to increase your gift size. Number four, use recurring donations so that you can 3X your donations.
Do peer-to-peer fundraising so you can 2X your fundraising as well. You want to private launch your peer-to-peer campaigns, including your crowdfunding ones such as your Giving Tuesday. You want to use peer-to-peer fundraisers to make the first donation so you can increase the amount of donations you get. Kelly did this, made $15,000. Change your KPI, and then make sure you take advantage of all the partners and corporate sponsors that you have so you can reach new audiences.
Again, this is presented by CauseVox. So you can use CauseVox for some of your peer-to-peer fundraising, your crowdfunding, your donation pages. If you want to learn more, check us out, causevox.com. We have a lot of information over there. At this point, I love to open up to Q&A.
Steven: All right. Awesome, Rob. Thanks so much for that. I love those tips. I never heard of a couple of things you mentioned, especially the CTA and the receipt for monthly giving. That makes a lot of sense. I’m going to actually start recommending people do that now. So we got questions flying in right now. I’m just kind of trying to flag them for you. So if you haven’t asked a question already, probably got about 15 minutes for questions. We want this to be more interactive than you all just sitting there looking at slides. So if you haven’t asked a question, go for it.
But, Rob, I’ll just kind of roll through here. We’ve got one from Angelina. I was kind of wondering this myself. I think this was your third tip about the suggested giving levels. How do you convince people that that’s not necessarily restricted funding? If we don’t want people to think that that’s exactly what the money is going to, but are you saying that’s more just kind of a suggestion of what kinds of things the organization does with that money? Is there a way to kind of word it so that it doesn’t maybe scare donors into thinking it’s super restricted?
Rob: Yeah, yeah. So when it comes to donation tiers and levels, just know it’s not explicitly restricted. So a donor has to say, “Hey, this is a restricted funding,” in order for it to be restricted on the accounting side. That is not accounting advice, obviously, but that’s typically how it works.
When it comes to suggested levels of giving, it’s more about the intended outcomes that can happen. So it starts with the story they’re crafting, where you want to say, “Hey, you know, we’ve created X amount of impact before,” and we want to continue, and let’s say, double this impact the next, like, six months. So, and then you present your donation tiers, and that is more of outcome-oriented, like, this is something where we say we can . . . “We hope to achieve this. We hope to serve 300 meals. You’re able to serve 300 meals if you donate a certain amount.” So it’s a matter of language when it comes down to it and less about it being restricted and unrestricted.
Steven: Okay, that makes sense. And this is something that we recommend that Bloomerang customers as well to absolutely do this. I mean, we’ve seen people increase their conversion, because it just seems to get people thinking about, like you said, the tangible outcomes of what that gift does. Rob, there’s a couple of people . . . Oh, go ahead.
Rob: Yeah. I guess one note to that, too, is it comes also down to how you budget and cost out your projects. So what that means is, a lot of times, donors don’t want to give explicitly to overhead, right. They don’t want to give to pay for your office space. Or they don’t want to give to pay for your computer. At the end of the day, then you’re working like in a crappy office with a crappy computer, and that’s not going to help you create social impact.
So what it comes down to is more on the accounting side, where when we look at the cost of delivering a project or program or creating impact, you want to load up all the cost. From an accounting side, we say, you want it to be fully loaded. So if your direct cost of creating impact is 30 bucks, then you want to add in a little bit more, figure out what your overhead is, your mission cost. Added in, let’s say, is 10%, so your total . . . your cost is actually 33 instead of 30, for example. So once you’re bought in and it becomes part of the narrative, and then that becomes easier to just message without your overhead not being taken care of.
Steven: That makes sense. And you kind of anticipated a couple of the upcoming questions I had circled here. More than a few folks mentioned that, you know, their organizations, they do things, but they don’t necessarily translate into a tangible description. What advice would you have for those folks, Rob?
One thing I’ve seen that was pretty creative was the suggested gift amounts were numbers that were kind of meaningful to, like, the history of the organization. I think it was maybe American Diabetes, on their crowdfunding page, I think it was them where the dollar amounts weren’t, you know, “$38 will do this,” but you know, “$38 to commemorate the 38 people who are touched by diabetes, like, every hour,” or something like that. Does that kind of make sense to you where they’re just probably maybe thinking a little bit more out of box rather than always run with the tangible kind of goods and services?
Rob: Yeah. I would say that your best bet is tangible. But if you can’t, because like a lot of organizations are working in cause areas that are not, you can’t have the easy unit metric. Then becoming creative with it helps a lot. So the example you shared is a good example of how people can do that, just being creative. Other ways to do it, something more traditional is you have different tiers, where you have a friend level, and then you have a [just ground 00:37:47] level, and then you have, you know, the gold, silver, platinum type of thing. So that’s possible as well, although I don’t think that converts as good.
There’s other things, too, for more kind of small scrappy nonprofits that we’ve seen to work pretty well. That works within their brand, is they actually say, “Hey, you know, 30 bucks will help us pay for a stack of papers that we need,” or, “50 bucks will help us pay for . . . will go towards the purchase of a cellphone or a computer that we need in order to do our work.” So you can actually become creative in terms of how you want to do it. So there’s a lot of opportunity over there. And that is specific to each organization, too.
Steven: Cool. Yeah. There was Matt in here in the chat, he was mentioning that their organization, they fly veterans to Walter Reed, which is awesome. Thanks for doing that, Matt. And their tickets to fly somebody starts at $300. So I don’t think Matt necessarily wanted to have $300 to be his lowest donation amount, but you know, maybe $50, you know, gets someone to the airport or something like that. So I think there are some ways to be creative, right?
Rob: Yeah, yeah, $50 gets you to the airport, or if it’s like $300 for an average ticket, 150 is one-way, for example. Or it could be like 25 bucks goes towards a portion of a flight for somebody we’re helping. If you’re able to do it, I don’t think it’s a good example for it, but if you’re able to do to make it more unitized . . . I’m not sure that’s a word. But if it’s like a per flight hour, let’s say, you know, like provide three hours of flight or six hours of flight, I’m not sure if that’s a good example for Matt, but we’ve seen other organizations do it that way, too.
Steven: Awesome. I’m going to ask you my own question if you don’t mind, Rob, and I’m going to jump the line. And so I’m the moderator, so I’m going to exercise my right. But I’m curious what you think about this, something I’ve heard talked about is donation amounts where the dollar amount is kind of odd-looking. So rather than it ending in like zeroes and fives, it ends in like a one or a three or a seven. Have you seen that actually bear out and make a difference to make the donor feel like the dollar amount is like more real than just kind of having that clean round number if that makes sense?
Rob: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s more of an optimization than like a problem solver. You know, for most organizations that are on this webinar today, they’re probably small, medium-sized, so they’re not seeing like hundreds of thousands of volume. So I think it’s really hard to see like if that makes a big difference. You want your data to be mostly significant. For most small nonprofits, they’re not able to get to that point.
I do think that if you’re thinking about . . . yeah, it’s more of a test. I think if you’re thinking about, “Hey, like, should my donation amount be 16 or should it be 15,” you know, that’s like, who cares? You have other things to [inaudible 00:41:12], like, “Hey, is my story really compelling? Like, are people actually completing their donation?” And that’s all you really need to worry about. And then it’s not about worrying about 15 versus 16. It doesn’t matter for most small organizations.
Steven: Okay. So don’t sweat the small stuff is kind of what I’m hearing.
Rob: Don’t sweat the small stuff, sweat the big things.
Steven: I love it. Okay, here’s an interesting one from Melissa. You know, we’ve been talking about digital for about an hour or so, Rob, but is there a place for those in-mail thank-you letters? Should you still be thanking digital donors through the mail or maybe calling them, or do you need to stay digital? What do you think there?
Rob: So I love the idea of multichannel, because multichannel provides you additional touches, as well as it helps you connect with a donor in a way that they want to be connected with. So I think there’s a ton of value of sending something personal or doing something personal to a donor, whether it’d be a personal call or a voicemail or a handwritten letter. I think those things go really far when it comes to nurturing a donor so that they stay loyal, so that they stay retained, and they provide an opportunity to be upgraded.
Now, the medium, which is like how you do it, I don’t think that matters as much. I think the goal is to be personal. How you choose who to be personal is really up to your organization. Now, if your staff has capacity to write handwritten letters to your donors, then do it. If you don’t have capacity just because you’re getting tens of thousands of donors, you probably don’t want to do that. Because that’s going to burn out your hand, you’re going to spend a lot in postage.
Now, if your staff has capacity to thank your donors with a personal call, then do it. Or you may choose to say, “Hey, I want to just call donors who donate $1,000 or more, and I’m going to send a handwritten note to $500 or more. And then for everybody below that, we’re going to send them a personalized email instead.” You can do that as well. So I would say the medium doesn’t matter as much. What matters is you’re making sure that your approach towards your donors and how you treat your donors is very important.
Steven: That makes sense. I mean, a personal one-to-one email can be just as personal as, you know, a letter in the mail, maybe even more so. So I love it. Here’s one that . . . let’s get into some peer-to-peer stuff, since you talked about peer-to-peer for a while here. Mary, “Curious to hear your thoughts, Rob, on recruiting those fundraisers. I think you gave a lot of really excellent tools for once you got the fundraisers. But who do you recommend people ask to do those fundraisers? Is it volunteers, you know, loyal donors? If so, how do you define what kind of donors are good? What do you think, who are the best people?”
Rob: That’s a really great question, Mary. So you want to take a look at your peer-to-peer folks. Treat it as an opportunity to offer somebody versus something you want people to do. So once you reframe it, then if it’s an opportunity, then you’re like, “Well, who wants to take advantage of this opportunity?” Then you start thinking, “Well, probably these 20 volunteers I always see at, you know, Friday’s soup kitchen,” or whatever. So then you’ll write those 20 names down.
Or if you’re doing it in scale, then you could take a look at, for example, like who are the top 100 people that always open our newsletters or who are the top 100 that have donated in the past 3 years. So essentially, you want to get to the folks that are highly engaged, that are participating, that get your story, get your impact, and they’re willing to go out there and do some type of peer-to-peer fundraising. So this will be your quiet phase. Those folks would be your quiet phase folks.
From there, you want to present that this is an opportunity for them to be a part of something bigger, something different. So recruiting them is as simple as saying, “Hey, you know, we’re trying to do this thing. We’re going to pilot it out,” if it’s your first time, “We’d love for you to join this special committee on doing this peer-to-peer fundraising.” That gives them more ownership, makes them feel more exclusive, and provides like more ability for you to convert them into action.
So those are some things. I’ll also just say like making sure you have a great, like, toolkit and great package so that it’s easy for them to go step by step in participating in a peer-to-peer fundraising. So understanding, like, what the peer-to-peer fundraising is going towards, different toolkits like social media, messages, they can share email, they can share . . . and very lastly, providing a platform that’s super, super easy for them to use. And if you don’t want your top folks getting frustrated when it comes to technology, then making sure that the platform side is very simple and easy for your peer-to-peer fundraisers.
Steven: I love it. And I love that you’re encouraging them to donate to themselves early on. I’ve never heard that advice. That seems like a complete obvious awesome, awesome tip. Thank you for making that. Priming the pump is good after all.
What about social media, Rob? Kind of advertising your campaign through social media. A couple of people asking for tips. Do you recommend, not just the organic sharing, but the paid things? I mean, you can boost posts and do all those kinds of things kind of above my head for now, but what do you recommend there in terms of the promotion?
Rob: Promotion. So when it comes to peer-to-peer and paid media, I think it’s a little bit more difficult. The whole concept of peer to peer is around organic. It’s around leveraging those grassroots so they share organically. So that their friends see it and donate. So paid media, the approach is you want to rent attention from folks you don’t know. So these two approaches kind of conflict.
Now, I do see opportunity, let’s say, you have some successful peer-to-peer fundraisers, great amazing stories, let’s say, so you have like a lot of marketing and content assets, where you can repurpose those, not only for your organic social media posts, but also for a few like paid media posts as well. So highlighting like a donor, highlighting like a peer-to-peer fundraiser and their story, using that as your branded paid media campaign where you’re trying to reach folks that never you never talk to.
So I think there’s more value in doing that. Because let’s say, the other alternative is that you spend ad budget on promoting Steven on his personal fundraising page. The people who see his personal fundraising page, they don’t know Steven, they probably don’t care. So you’re not going to get clicks. The people who care about Steven and what his story is is Steven’s friends and family, right. So those are just like something I do.
Steven: Yeah. That makes total sense to me, for sure. Awesome. What about demographics? Have you seen any particular types of people, maybe ages, income levels that maybe tend to gravitate more towards peer-to-peer in terms of a donor than others? It seems like if someone has that relationship with a fundraiser, you know, and if they do a good job communicating the cause, then it should get any kind of age level of a donor. But maybe I’m wrong. Have you seen anything there?
Rob: Yeah, yeah. The cost of a peer-to-peer fundraising is getting folks to ask their friends and family to make an ask for you, or very simply, just to share your story. So the way that people do it I think has changed with social media, where it’s easier for people just to post something on Facebook, for example, or just as easily, it’s easy for people just to share their personal page through text message as well as through email.
So I think the demographics have shifted a little bit, where most folks who, today, have a cellphone, have some type of smartphone, most folks communicate with some type of text messaging, some type of phone calling, less so now, as well as 100% for email. So with peer-to-peer fundraising, I think most folks can be highly successful. There’s not like a demographic issue.
I do think that having a personal fundraising page is a great idea, just because you can have, not only online gifts like donated to your personal page, but then those gifts automatically can go to the nonprofit, so there’s no accounting and bookkeeping issue. Then the other side too, it provides a destination for some of the offline gifts that people can get. So let’s say, you have a demographic of folks who prefer writing checks or even just Venmo-ing their friend, for example. So two polar opposites. Like a personal page still provides a way for those gifts to be accounted for on the offline side so that the donation counter is still there, provides a destination for the fundraising to happen.
Steven: I love it. What about board members? A couple of people, Chris here, are asking about getting board members involved. Let’s just say, board member could be ideal, you know, fundraisers for you if you kind of set them up. But Chris, specifically, is saying that some of their board members are anti-tech, not making any assumptions about what kind of people they are, but their board is perhaps anti-tech. How do you get them on board? It seems like, you know, the kinds of things you said, you know, the onboarding, kind of giving them the tools and the toolkit. Anything different for board members.
Rob: Yeah. If a board member is anti-tech, or board members are anti-tech, try to figure out why they’re anti-tech, maybe they had a bad experience before on a previous peer-to-peer campaign or an online fundraising experience, or maybe they are just not as comfortable for whatever their reason. So I think providing the coaching is really important. So we have a lot of peer-to-peer campaigns, what they do is during that quiet phase, for board members, they sit them down at a board meeting, they put up the campaign site on everybody’s screen, on a projector, and then they go like step by step. This only takes 10 minutes from start to finish, where people can log in, create a page, customize their appeal, and then send them out to a few friends and family.
I’m a board member of a nonprofit, this is what we did for our peer-to-peer campaign to raise scholarships. We sat down after a board meeting, or during a board meeting actually, spent 10, 15 minutes. Everybody, 100% had a peer-to-peer page at the end of it. So, cool. I think that’s the easy technique to do it.
Steven: Make an easy form, hold their hand. Don’t just send them a thing and expect they’re going to sign up and create it themselves.
Rob: Makes sense.
Steven: Kind of winding down here, Rob. I feel like you and I could talk about this all day, and probably have at some point. But maybe a good way to end it is what’s a good way for people to get started in peer-to-peer if they’ve never had dipped their toes in that water. A couple, three, or four people here asking that they’re interested but have never done it. Overcoming the fear, you know, of choosing technology, what advice do you have there?
Rob: Yeah, that’s a good question. So I would just say on peer-to-peer, there’s two aspects to it. There’s the education strategy aspect to it and then there’s the technology aspect to it. So let me kind of answer both sides. So, with the education side, we have a ton of things, because you know, at CauseVox, our bread and butter is peer-to-peer. So if you go to causevox.com/blog, I think recently we have a few articles on peer-to-peer. We have a peer-to-peer primer that I can send in the chat box right now if you want learn about what is peer-to-peer fundraising, how to use it, best practices, and that links to some additional resources as well. So from education standpoint, a lot there.
If you’re looking for more of a one-on-one time, you could chat with somebody from our team as well if you just go to causevox.com and request a demo, and they’ll be happy to walk you through some peer-to-peer best practices as well as how the platform stuff works.
When it comes to the technology side, you can use CauseVox for peer-to-peer fundraising. I highly recommend it, just because, you know, I am from CauseVox and I did start the company and have been running it for 10 years. So that’s a little bit of self-interest, but I would not be doing this if I didn’t think we have an impact. So we’ve helped out just thousands of organizations. Their testimonials speak for us. You can go to causevox.com/customers. They’re just all about peer-to-peer results, crowdfunding results, donation page results.
So if you want to have an easy way to run peer-to-peer, you can always check out CauseVox, see if our pricing works for you. The pricing plan is almost for any budget. We can show you how it works, do a one-on-one demo with you, see if we can be a good fit. If we’re a good fit, then great. We help you get started. If not, then we can stay in touch or make some referrals, give you some other options for you. So check us out.
Steven: Cool. And, Rob, I just shared what I think was the primer you were referring to, but if it’s not, feel free to pop it in the chat there.
Rob: Oh, yes.
Steven: Okay, cool.
Rob: That’s perfect. Thank you.
Steven: And yeah. Well, all that’s at CauseVox. Even if you don’t end up using them, they still have a ton of free resources on their website. Really awesome blog. Obviously, they do that awesome digital summit. And if you missed it last week, you’ll have another opportunity, or you could buy the videos, which is a really good deal. Because I actually got to listen in on some of the other speakers, and that was a world-class conference, even though we say it was remote and kind of in a webinar format. So that 25 bucks will definitely be worth your dollars spent there. There’s a lot of really cool information shared, lots more around case studies like you heard today. I love it, yeah. So check out that. I think Rob has put that in the chat there. So, Rob, this is awesome, man. Thanks for being here and taking time out of your day and sharing all these case studies with us. It was really cool.
Rob: Yeah. It’s really fun. Thanks for having me. Really enjoyed just sharing a few things. I’m hoping that at least one or two of these things, tactics can help move fundraising forward for you. So really excited just to see how things shape up. And if it does result in something, let me know. You can always reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be more than excited just to hear about your progress and results.
Steven: Cool. I love it. And good time of year to do this if you’re listening live, getting ready for Q4 and Giving Tuesday. So good time to put all these things into play. So thanks all of you for hanging out this afternoon. I know it’s a busy time of the year, so I always appreciate seeing a full room. We have a great webinar coming up next week. Special Wednesday session, Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m. Eastern. My buddy Chad Barger is going to join us and talk about event sponsorships. So if you’re planning a fall event or maybe a holiday event and you’re struggling to find some sponsors, Chad has been there and done that. He has been a working fundraiser, really awesome guy, buddy of mine, and this is one of his key areas of expertise, finding event sponsors specifically. So we scheduled this in October for a reason, just as event season coming up.
So join us if you can next Wednesday, 1:00, same time, same place, pretty much same time, same place. Definitely free and informational, so we hope to see you again in another Bloomerang webinar. If you’re not free then, if you’ve got event sponsorship in the bag, good for you, that’s okay. We can still do other webinars. We got lots of other sessions planned now through, I think, February. Hard to believe, we’re already looking at 2020. So hopefully we’ll see you again on another weekly Bloomerang webinar.
So we’ll call it a day there. Look for an email from me with the slides and the recording. Definitely check out all of those goodies, those links we put in the slides, or in the chat box, I should say. And hopefully we’ll see you again next week. So have a good rest of your weekend, or rest of your week. Have a safe weekend, I should say. And we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye now.