In this webinar, Robin L. Cabral, CFRE will provide simple steps into developing a framework for your calendar-year end fundraising campaign to help raise even more contributed income this year towards your mission than ever before.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, Robin, is it okay if I go ahead, get this party started?

Robin: You go right ahead.

Steven: All right, awesome. Well, good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon if you’re on the East Coast, I should say. Good morning if you’re out on the West Coast. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Jump-Starting Your Calendar Year-End Fundraising.” Never too early to start after all. Thanks for being here. My name is Steven Shattuck. 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 presentation, and I’ll be sending out the slides as well as the recording later on. I’ll get that to you, I promise, by the end of tomorrow. Probably, we’ll get it out today, though. So if you have to leave early or maybe if you want to just review the content or share it with a friend or a colleague, don’t worry, I’ll get all the good stuff in your hands for sure. Just be on the lookout for an email from me.

Most importantly though, as you’re listening over the next hour or so, please feel free to use that chat box right there on your webinar screen. We’re going to try to take some time at the end for Q&A. So don’t be shy, don’t sit on those hands. We’d love to answer your questions live. We’ll also be checking the Twitter feed. If you want, send us a tweet or two. I’ll keep an eye on that for sure.

And then one last thing, if you have any trouble listening to the audio through your computer speakers, we find that the audio by phone is usually a little bit better. So if you have any trouble, try dialing in by the phone if you can, if that’ll be comfortable for you. There’s a phone number that you can call in the email from ReadyTalk that went out about an hour or so ago today. So just look for that if you have any trouble.

If this will be your first Bloomerang webinar, I just want to say an extra special welcome to you folks. If this is your first time with us, welcome, welcome. We do these webinars just about every single week. We’ve literally only missed a couple of weeks for major holidays and my vacation. That’s okay. But if you have never experienced Bloomerang or don’t know what we’re all about beyond this webinar series, we are a provider of donor management software. So if you are interested in that or maybe just want to check out what we have to offer, maybe you’re thinking about switching software sometime in the near future, check us out.

You can watch a quick video demo to see everything in action without having to talk to anybody. I know that’s kind of hard to do sometimes, but you can get a behind-the-scenes look. Check that out. Don’t do that right now. At least wait an hour, because we’ve got a really awesome presentation in store for you. I got a peek at the slides earlier this week.

Really excited to welcome back a buddy of mine. She’s joining us from my actual hometown in Massachusetts. We kind of bonded over that fact. Robin, how’s it going? Are you doing okay? Thanks for being here.

Robin: Hey, I’m doing okay. I’m doing great. I can’t wait to get this started.

Steven: Yeah, this is awesome. This is a much-needed presentation. We got like 800 people signed up for it. I love talking about year-end summary thing. And we were kind of planning this thinking, you know, people usually get a late start, so we don’t want you guys to get a late start on this. So we’re going to give you some . . . I’m not going to do anything, Robin will do all the work. She’s going to tell you about year-end fundraising. But I just want to brag about Robin real quick.

I actually ran out of space when I was making this slide. She’s done so many awesome things. If you don’t know Robin, check her out over at Development Consulting Solutions. Really cool, she offers outsourced fund development consulting as well as interim staffing. So actually, Robin did a great presentation on that for us last year. Maybe you are in between development directors or EDs, she can help with that, which is important. You don’t want to go too long without that role. But she’s been doing this a long time, raised a lot of money, tons of accolades and credentials, super involved with AFP. She’s on the board of AFP – Rhode Island.

She’s a master faculty trainer. She’s a CFRE. She has served on lots of committees for event planning, including AFP International, NCDC. She’s got her master’s of arts in philanthropy, and is going to give you a lot of really good advice. So, Robin, I’m going to hand things over to you to tell us all about year-end fundraising. So take it away, my friend.

Robin: Awesome. All right, thank you very much. Well, welcome, everyone, to “Jump-Starting Your Calendar Year-End Approach.” And one of the reasons for doing this webinar so early because I believe that your calendar year-end approach should resemble a campaign, and campaigns need a lot of forethought behind them.

So here’s what we are going to cover today. There’s a ton of material that we’re going to go through in approximately about an hour. So just bear with us. But as Steven was saying, love to get your questions in the chat box. So for sure, type them in because I have my left eye looking at them right here on my screen. So we already talked about who I am. We don’t need to hear any more about that. But here’s what we’re going to cover today.

We’re going to look at how we go about determining fundraising campaign targets, what goes into that. And then I created, I would say, Steven, about a year or two ago, a framework document, and I created this document when I was planning for a calendar year-end fundraising campaign for one of my clients. It was the Hartford Seminary. And so I’m going to walk you through that framework document that I helped to create and everything that goes into it.

One of the things that goes into it is looking at defining some key annual fund or calendar year-end metrics that you should be looking at while you’re developing your campaign, what donor audiences you’re going to be soliciting or seeking support from, and then the all-important question of, “How do you follow up on your calendar year-end efforts?” I said, “You know, this is more than just the send-out-one-direct-mail appeal and then use the hope-and-pray method.” There’s really some follow-up that really needs to happen, and I’m going to provide you with some concrete suggestions.

Again, here’s more stuff about me, but we’ve already gotten a very great introduction to who I am already. So we’ll just skip right over that.

Now, I do have some resources for folks. I don’t know, Steven, if you have them as well, but be willing to send them to you if you wanted to send them out to folks, those who attended the webinar or who signed up. But there’s like a gift chart, there’s the framework document itself, there’s a pre-call letter, lapsed donor postcard, all of those things. I am just giving to you to use in your own calendar year-end planning.

So the question is, how can you get a jumpstart on your calendar year-end approach now before the hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer come in? But obviously, I’m looking out of my left eye here, and some of you either have beautiful weather or you’re, you know, really, really hot. So those days of summer are quickly approaching us. So now is the time before you head out for a vacation to get your calendar year-end campaigns in order.

So you know, we’re going to look at determining some fundraising campaign targets, but when you do that, number one, you have to start out with what is your campaign budget, right? So, do you have one for calendar year-end? If you do, type it into the chat box. I’d love to see, and I’ll share some of them.

And then, how many of you actually, actually, actually just use a gift chart? We think of gift charts for a big capital campaign, but in essence, I highly recommend that people use gift charts for more than just capital campaigns. And I’m going to show you where you can find an easy one to use. And I see Rochelle here says 5,600, no, no, no. And then we have a $50,000 goal. How much you intend to raise, Melissa, is what I’m curious about. Paige is saying 67,000, my goodness. Terry will use gift charts. Awesome, awesome. So let’s look at how do we actually develop those campaign targets. Some of you are saying you don’t have a budget or a goal, so let’s get you there.

First, you need to determine your monetary goal and establish a campaign budget. Someone had a great question. “Is that how much you intend to raise or does that include income and expenses?” What I highly recommend is that you outline both projected income and expenses. You know, you want to know what you’re projecting for that net to be and plan accordingly.

Now, oftentimes, a campaign goal can be tied to a direct budget line item, but often not. And I highly recommend, if we are still doing this, stop, stop, stop, and I have many clients who still are, but they’re saying, “Oh, we have a budget gap of 160,000. So, therefore, that’s what you need to raise.” No. You know, a goal should be really realistic and developed according to your prospect base and your donor base. And why I say prospect is that once you do a gift chart, you’re going to see that, for every one donor, you’re probably going to need four potential prospects.

So in order to set a really realistic goal, you need to figure out where are folks within your lifecycle, both prospects and donors, and how much you could, you know, think about, “Here’s my donor A, donor B. Can they be upgraded to a higher gift? Are they at the stage that they need more cultivation?” Really, really take a closer look at your database and who it is, and do not take the budget gap goal method that I refer to it as.

So once you’ve looked at income, expenses, and now you actually have defined in your prospects and your donors, and now you actually have a monetary goal, what I highly recommend, and some of you say . . . Tracy says, “I use a gift chart.” Terry says, “We use gift charts.” How many others? Danielle says, “Haven’t used a gift chart for end-of-year campaign.” I recommend it. I recommend gift charts for a lot of things. I think it’s the one most underused tool besides cases for support that are in our toolbox.

I recommend that you take that and create a gift chart with that. And really, a gift chart is going to show you . . . it’s going to test and say whether or not your goal that you’ve come up with is realistic. Again, we’ve got to look and see, “Wow, I need five donors who are giving, you know, $10,000. Do I have five donors? And if I don’t, you know, for each of those 5 donors, I need 4 potential prospects, so that’s 20 people in total. Do I have what it takes?” Oh, great, so we’ve got a link to a gift range chart. Ah, that’s great, I’m going to check that out.

So here are some resources that you can use. And I say, you know, some of these, yes, I highly recommend the Blackbaud one. They had it down for a little bit. But what I want to caution you and say is, just because you’re using a gift range chart calculator, think about your particular organization when it comes to building a gift chart. What do I mean? Well, your organization may be more mature than others, so your gift chart may look different. Meaning, you may have higher level donors that you have prospects for. If you’re a new organization just starting up, your gift chart will look different. You may need a bigger base on your gift chart than you would of higher donors. Does that make sense? I hope it does.

So again, use the calculators, but use them and custom-tailor them to the reality of your particular maturity level of your development program. Again, you know, they can be adjusted as necessary based on your assumptions about your existing donor base.

Now, your gift chart should include giving levels, number of gifts needed, number of prospects required, and then have things like subtotals, cumulative totals, and cumulative percentages. Again, you know, I have folks who focus specifically on the number of donors, and what I say to them, “No, the column that you really, really need to be looking at is the number of prospects required.” Because if you don’t have that universe available to you, you’re probably going to not reach the number of donors needed.

Ah, great questions. Anne Marie says, “What is a gift chart?” Well, a gift chart is kind of like that . . . I wish I had included a sample here for that question. But if you use the calculator, the link to the calculator, Anne Marie, you will see a gift chart designed right for you. And then a lot of folks just have not used gift charts. So that’s great.

So, how do you use a gift chart? I have a whole webinar on how do you use a gift chart to drive strategy. Well, it will show you, right, if you need, you know, two gifts at $50,000, let’s say, you know, how are you going to obtain those? Well, you’re probably going to need to do some kind of major gift component to your calendar year-end effort.

You know, let’s say you have a lot of donors in the midrange level, but your donors are not giving at that level yet. Well, you’re probably going to need to do a ton of upgrading within your campaign strategy. So you know, gift charts will show you the number of gifts needed, the number of prospects, and you know, use that, like the doctor wouldn’t say, “Okay, what’s the plan of action here? How are we going to reach those goals at the upper level, the mid-level, and the lower level?” Very, very important driver of strategy.

So I created this framework document, and this is what this whole webinar is based off of, is this framework that I developed. And again, we can get you a sample copy of that framework so that you can use it to actually plan your own year-end efforts. But I recommend today, if you haven’t already, how many of you have started preparing for your calendar year-end efforts? How many of you? Type in. “Oh, me,” Minta says, “Me.” Perfect. Yes, yes. Awesome. We have, perfect. You are ahead of the game.

You know, those groups that go take the summer off and wait, then, and you come back in September, you’re behind the eight ball, as I say. You know, it’s already getting to be too late to have a very comprehensive campaign. And I believe, you need a plan. The hope-and-pray method, that should be banned. How many of us are still using the hope-and-pray method? Patty is saying, “I had to act now because last year was so rushed.” Patty gets it. Don’t wait until September to start planning.

So, what should you be considering when you are developing your, what I call, an annual fund framework? Basically, you know, things to be thinking about. How do you plan the structure of this campaign? Yes, it should have a defined structure. What elements do you need to have in place before you develop your calendar of strategies, and what does that framework look like, and what does it consider? And here’s, I’m going to show you, exactly kind of what that framework should look like.

I believe that your calendar year-end . . . how many folks run your calendar year-end campaign like a little, mini-capital campaign if you’ve run one? I’m looking at the comments here. Somebody is saying, “We have a huge grant available, but we have to match funds. It’s an audacious amount.” We’re going to talk about matching gifts, but that’s great.

So I believe, you know, people will say to me, “How do you run a capital campaign,” and I say, “Well, it’s no different than any other fundraising campaign, and vice versa.” So when you’re developing your calendar year-end campaign, you’re going to need all of the elements just at a reduced level that you would need for a capital campaign.

And for me, years ago, a calendar year-end or annual fund or whatever you call it, that’s why I’m using both names interchangeably, it doesn’t have to be that one direct mail letter. How many are still just sending one mail appeal letter at the end of the year and calling it the end? Love to know. So a capital campaign, you know, any fundraising campaign should have . . . “Oh, we are,” Patty says, “Yes, must admit, year-end letter is it.” Okay. Minta says, “We do three.” Oh, hot, hot, hot. Great.

So basically, you can have major gift work done in there. You can have digital and a very comprehensive and integrated approach. I highly recommend that you do more than just one letter, that you have a follow-up sequence that happens. And we’ll talk about what that can look like. But you know, don’t let annual fund guidelines stop you from making your campaign a success. The idea here is that this should be very sequenced and have multiple components to it. And that’s why you need to start planning it today, after we get off this webinar.

So if you have greater structure, guess what, you’re going to raise more money, right. So, what should your framework include? What is your message, right? So in a capital campaign, we have case for support. Well, what’s your messaging? What is it that you’re trying to relay? What is the giving structure? What is your timeline?

How many of you actually sit out, sit down, and time out your calendar year-end campaign week to week? “This is what’s going to happen. This is when we’re going to send this email. This is when we’re going to make these phone calls.” That’s actually what needs to happen. So I’m going to define each of these areas, right, so case messaging, and I’m going to define giving structure and then timeline.
So case messaging, think case for support on a smaller scale, right. So case messaging, you need a message of need. You know, what are you calling donors to act upon? You know, it’s not just that you had, and we probably should all know this by now, a budgetary lapse of, you know, 160,000, so give to us. Donors want to give to you or through you. You’re just the facilitator of philanthropy. Donors want to give through you to do things that are passionate to them. So think about that. What are they solving through you because they are supporting you?

You want to demonstrate how those gifts that they make are going to have an impact on someone else, a life change, whether it’s a scholarship, whether it’s, in one case, it was an organization I worked for, rosary distribution, whether it’s for homelessness or hunger. How is that donor, by giving, going to make a difference?

And then urgency. For those of you who have used matching gifts or have a matching gift, don’t forget to remind me to talk about how that creates some real urgency that you can plan around. And then, from there, I highly recommend, yes, for one of my clients last year, more than one of my clients, we had case messaging that was actually developed into a tri-fold brochure that was sent out to donors. So you can see why we started developing the brochure in July of last year for a fall campaign kickoff.

Now, what do I mean by giving structure? That was the second piece of what I was referring to. And I believe that you have to have a well-defined structure to your campaign, you know, that you really outline. Here are the different, what I call, divisions. Are we going to have a division on board giving? Certainly, we want 100% of board giving, okay. Staff giving, are you looking at staff to support your calendar year-end efforts? Major gifts, again, the gift chart is going to drive the strategy. Special gifts, which are kind of those mid-level gifts.

And then I would consider direct mail goes to everyone else. And certainly, you can have special events as part of that. I highly recommend that solicitation, just like with a capital campaign, they go from a top-down/inside-out approach, right. How many of us have heard that terminology, right? Top-down/inside-out approach, meaning you solicit your top donors first, you solicit your family first, you solicit your board members, your staff members, your volunteers to support your campaign first. And whether or not it’s a capital campaign or a calendar year-end giving, that’s how I run them for my clients. We appeal to the board and the staff first and volunteers before we go out to the rest of our donor and prospective donor lists.

Timeline, that was the third thing that I talked about with framework. It should include when are we starting this, you know? Is there going to be maybe a kickoff event or just a kickoff date when we know this is going to be launched? What are the sequences that are going to happen as a result of this? How long is the campaign going to take, and when is it going to be over?

I love to give examples because I work with a lot of clients. I’m going to share one with you. We had one client who we decided to start in October, and we would have, what was called, a Homecoming Sunday when all pledges and gifts were due back. And we knew that the follow-up was going to happen in the month of December, and the campaign was going to end in December, on December 31st so that they could develop their budget in January. We knew it had a definite start. We knew the sequence of events, what campaign materials, you know, what communications were going to happen, and when it was going to be over.

So let’s talk about this kickoff. It can be just a date in your calendar or it can be a bigger thing. It can be an event that you have at your organization. If you’re a church, it can be a special Sunday or something like that. And I recommend that you have, if you can’t do a brochure for this particular campaign, I get it, but you have some kind of materials available with a gift form or a pledge form, and that you have those available at your kickoff if you’re doing a physical kickoff. If not, then that’s the date that you would get everything mailed out. Okay?

Now, for the campaign period, I highly recommend that you sit down and you look at week number one, “This is what we’re doing,” week number two, week number three, week number four, and that you clearly outline the activities that are going to take place in each of those weeks. And I recommend that a campaign should be, for this magnitude for calendar year-end, approximately six weeks. So you see what you need to start planning that now, but make sure that you list out the weeks and what’s going to happen in terms of messaging, strategies, and appeals.

And Laurie is, I’m looking and my left eye is seeing a question, “Is the kickoff for board members and volunteers?” I would say, board members and volunteers, staff members should have given pre-kickoff so that they can go to that campaign kickoff, or before the campaign kickoff, knowing that you have 100% support of your campaign.

Now, the campaign period, consider advertising, looking at your newsletter and how that’s going to be sequenced out. Email sequence, targeted ads, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn posts, and having staggered communications.

One thing I want to share with you, I just spent a lot of time in Australia, and they do some really targeted digital techniques where they actually have targeted Facebook ads that are driving people, this is fundraising campaigns, driving people to either donate now, donate one time, donate monthly, or donate later. And for those people, and this is just a case study of one that I did, for those people who were choosing the donate now, for those of you who have a matching gift, save it for the last two weeks of the campaign, go back to those folks who donated now and say, “You have an opportunity to match a gift to give a second gift.” And those who said donate later, you’re collecting their information from the popup, then you go back to them and say, “We have a matching gift, can you donate now?”

There are other ways of driving people to your website, to a campaign landing page, to targeted Facebook ads. You know, Facebook is about relationships. You’re not going to get tons of gifts nor do you want to get them there, but your website is where you make the sales and people go with actions, call to actions. So you’re using Facebook as a way to drive people to your website to be able to do that, and hopefully, to a particular landing page.

Now, the campaign closing, victory. Whether that’s, you know, a newsletter, or an email that announces the victory that you’ve had, or you actually have an event around that, certainly, you need an endpoint to your campaign and a point where you do the acknowledgments.

So next step, write all of this down. I can send you, again, if the folks at Bloomerang can’t get you the framework, I can certainly get that to you so that you can use that framework document as a sample. Do not wait until the last minute. Get off this webinar, email me, or have the folks send that out to you, and start planning your calendar year-end tomorrow, next week. Because if you wait, it’s going to be too late to develop an effective strategy. All right. And I highly recommend that you share this framework with the powers that be—your development committee, your CEO, whomever it is, but that you share it with them and get buy-in into the concepts, the strategies, and the timelines. So I really don’t think that you can leave things up to the hope-and-pray method. It really has to be systematic.

Now, one of the parts of this framework that I spent a lot of time with this client on is defining annual fund metrics. I have come up with what I have considered some key metrics around a healthy and effective fund development program. In every fundraising campaign, you should be sitting down and saying, “How is this furthering the key metrics?” You should be analyzing key metrics after your campaign is over and seeing if you have hit the goals that you have thought.

So the questions that you should be asking yourself. Are you seeking new donors? How many? Donor acquisition. Are you upgrading new donors? Retention is a big issue, so are you aggressively retaining your donors? What are you projecting your retention rate to be?

Numbers of gifts. If your donors are giving only once per year, they should be giving multiple times. So look at that. Donors giving online, offline, a lot of these demonstrate commitment to the mission. So, what are some of those key metrics that I call? You know, sometimes we get so focused on retention, and I think there are a bunch of different metrics that we need to be keeping our eye on. And yes, I am saying, for your calendar year-end efforts, I want you, and that framework document is going to do this for you, I want you to identify key metrics, look at what you’ve been doing, design metrics for this campaign that are going to move the notch up.

Growth in revenues, bottom line numbers, donor acquisition. Yes, not just retention, we have to keep continually acquiring new donors because our donor bases, we’re losing folks, I think it’s 10% to 15% of people just naturally per year of folks who either move, die, or decide not to give to your organization. Retention, what is your retention rate, and how can we use this campaign to increase this?

Upgrades, I see so many, this comes from my clients directly, so many of my clients have a midsection of donors that they’re not doing anything with. The intent is we bring new donors in through donor acquisition, and we use upgrade strategies. So, what upgrade strategies are you using during this campaign to move people up the giving pyramid so that they get to major gifts, or some of them do? And then looking at the number of gifts per donor per year.

So growth in revenues, I’m going to define each of these to you very, very quickly, because there’s a lot of material in here, but you can get this from the slides. Bottom line revenues, take a look at the most recent Giving USA report that was just, just released a week or two ago. What’s your organization look like in comparison to that organization? The AFP Fundraising Effectiveness Project, another great organization to benchmark yourself against. And yes, upgrading strategies, Heather, I will give you some examples in a little bit.

Overall revenue, looking at, you know, how are you doing in terms of foundations, corporations, bequests, and how does that compare with Giving USA. So again, some questions you can ask yourself, “Are we keeping up with national standards? What are the trends? How do we compare against them? And then locally and industry-wise, what are we seeing for some of our trends?”

Donor acquisition, we know that donor bases are. . .people are dying, moving, choosing not to give. So it’s essential that we continue to acquire new donors. This is very, very important. Some questions to ask, “Do we have enough new donors to compensate for that natural lack of attrition? Are our efforts aimed at attracting new donors, our calendar year-end? Are we bringing in more than we’re losing? And if not, we know that your development program is declining.”

Retention, we have an issue. National retention rates average around 48%. So we need to ask ourselves some key questions, right. Stewardship is really, do we have a stewardship plan in place for our organization? If not, you need to think about that for retention efforts and stewardship for your campaign. So, how many donors have we renewed? How many have we lost? What is the total number of gifts that have not renewed? And I’m going to provide some lapsing donor suggestions as well.

Upgrades, how many of us actually think about upgrading our donors? And I say, this is the most often neglected metric, but it is the most reliable indicator of donor loyalty and commitment. So we need to be asking ourselves questions . . . well, I’m not there yet, so let me stop. I’m getting ahead of myself. The lack of donor upgrades may be because we’re not asking them in a more personalized way to make an increase, you know, either in-person, through direct mail, or through the telephone. Our message is lackluster, right. In order to get people to upgrade, you need to say to them, “We have a greater demand or a greater need for you to give more.” So, what is your message? And then, you know, you’re not making a good connection with what they’re interested in.

I see so many groups focusing, number one, on donor retention, number two, pretty good on donor acquisition, but donor upgrades. How many of you out there, type into the chat box, how many of you out there are focusing or do have a component of your time that is spent on donor upgrades? Donor upgrades. So the questions we need to ask are, “How many donors are moving or have moved up the giving pyramid, right? How many new major donors do we have? How many of you look at downgrading of donors? How many of your donors are giving less, right?” Important questions to be asking yourself.

And then another often not looked at metric is the number of annual gifts per donor, right. So if you have donors who are giving one time per year, how can we get them to two or three? And to me, this is my personal opinion, but if you only have donors giving one time per year, that’s not symptomatic of a really healthy development program. And you need to be looking at efforts within your calendar year-end, because this is our biggest campaign, for most of us, at increasing that number. And I gave you a suggestion from a case study on how that could be done very, very quickly.

So, who is your donor audience? Probably one of the most important things you need to know for your year-end campaign, it is directly tied to the metrics provided previously, right, and knowing who your audience is will help dictate or come up with a corresponding strategy. So, who is your audience? Consider a wide range of potential donors, you know, non-donors, right, the acquisition piece, and prospects, how are you going to bring them in, major donors, staff, board, current donors. And then how many of you are looking at lapsed donors as a particular audience for your calendar year-end, as a specific audience?

And as I look here when I asked the question around upgrading, we have some, “Nope,” some do, “We do,” “We have a move management program,” “Not yet,” “Not as much,” “Not as much time as we’d like, but yes,” “Not me.” So it’s all over the chart. But, okay. So some of you do do lapsed donors. Karen says, “We do.”

So really think about what is your outcome for each audience. Non-donors, prospects, you want them to make their first gift. So you’re going to customize your communications to them, your ask in your letter, to get them to make their first gift. Major donors, you probably want to solicit them in person or by telephone, a more personal method. Staff, board, again, you probably want to do that more personally, right. Board would maybe be a letter with the chairperson following up with maybe in-person or a telephone ask.

Current donors, what do you want from them? Upgrades, upgrades, number of gifts increase, right. So you’re going to custom-tailor your ask amount. Yes, you would have a different letter or a slightly tweaked letter for each of these potential donor audiences. Lapsed donors, what’s our intended outcome with them? Well, we want to get them back in the fold. So we want them to begin giving again, not necessarily at a higher amount, but perhaps just getting them back to making a gift.

Consider your metrics. What are your metrics, right? If you have metrics centering on acquisition, you may want to develop an appeal to prospective donors. How many of you have a 100% giving expectation for your board? Again, I mentioned, major donors will probably have in-person solicitations. Or those mid-level donors, and you know, someone I noticed out of my left eye, someone asked, “What is that mid-level donor range?” And it depends. It depends what your major gift level is and what your lower gift level is. But it’s the folks who are in the middle of your kind of gift chart or your organization’s giving, you know, whatever you define as a major gift. Those folks are . . . okay, Samantha has given us an example. “Ours is 250 to 999.” I would say that’s probably about right for most organizations that I work with. So those donors upgrade, you know, what are your strategies for them?

So once you’ve determined your metric, your audience, now you come up with your solicitation strategies, right. So for major donors, more in-personal. You don’t want to send them a direct mail appeal letter right off. And I say right off because maybe you’re not going to reach everyone, so at the end of the campaign, you do. But these are the folks that you want to, you know, this is why we’re planning this in advance, because we may have to set up meetings with people, right, we may have to have one-on-ones, and those may take some time, you know. So we want to do those in advance of, and that’s why it’s important that we plan out the campaign, we want to do that in advance of, right, the campaign kickoff. Pre-call note or email, I recommend you sending that out before a visit, and I have samples of that or can make samples available. And then, you know, alternatively, if you can’t reach them in person with an in-person meeting, telephone works as well.

Talked about mid-level gift donors, how do we do that? You know, I would highly recommend some kind of customized appeal just for them and include a component of telephone follow-up. Telemarket, yes, call them up to inspire them to upgrade their gift or email as a fallback. Now, I recommend that you have all personal major and loyal donor solicitations conducted before calendar year-end kickoffs and that you keep your eye on these two components, major donors, who’s going to be lapsing, mid-level donors, who has yet to give a gift and may be lapsing, and who can we work to upgrade.

So really, don’t just hope for the best. What I’m saying is, be proactive. Use this framework or methodology that I’ve developed to help you plan that through. There can be a lot of moving pieces if you do more than just one direct mail appeal per year.

So for those of you who are chomping at the bit to know some particular follow-up strategies, because I see them in the chat box, some questions around them, here’s what I would recommend for a follow-up, right. So you send out your first direct mail, you conduct your major donor visits, you know, let’s say September, maybe even August, September, you know, and then you have an October kickoff. So you’re going to send out your direct mail appeal and perhaps it’s customize for those mid-level donors. And you’ve already asked your board and staff, so you’ve got a 100%, see how this needs to be very well sequenced, what I recommend is, you know, you do follow up. So everyone, you know, in October gets their respective customized segmented appeals.

So I say step number one, three weeks to a month post-appeal, so let’s say November, we want to be keeping our eye on which donors, particularly major donors, because if they lapse, think about the significant amount of revenue that could be gone. So you want to keep your eyes on the major and mid-level donors that are approaching lapsing. So know who they are.

Number two, I’m taking you step-by-step, of those donors, how many of them are major, right, we just said that. Oh, boy, I’m ahead of myself. And again, if you don’t know what a major donor is, be sure to define that in your organization, conduct those visits or telephone calls. And if you have key relationships, leverage them with those folks.

Step number three, for those who are not major, I would recommend, for all those folks, let’s say, in November or December is cutting it a little too close, but November, for those folks who have not sent back in a contribution or donation, and you’ve got your eye on the big lapsers and you’re going to call those folks yourself, for everyone else, you consider sending out a secondary lapsing direct mail appeal letter, email, whatever. I would consider both. Actually, I don’t think you can leave one out or the other. Or you could do a gentle reminder postcard. I happen to like the lapsing letter. The other method, you may want to pick out, again, some mid-level donors that are approaching lapsing or do that telephoning to them and/or telephone for upgrades.

Four, that you have an integrated social media and email blast campaign, and I know, Bloomerang, I love, love, love, love, can do that directly in it and filter out everyone who has already given easily. Again, remember, social media posts drive people to your website, as well as email drives people to your website. And think about the use of Facebook and Twitter targeted ads that, again, drive people to your website. Of course, Giving Tuesday is becoming very well saturated, we know, but it still is an opportunity to talk about your particular campaign to your supporters. This year, it’s December 3rd.

You know, I still ask my clients to focus on the end-of-year to create some urgency. It’s not as urgent as it once was with the tax deadline. But you know, segment out donors. Don’t keep sending emails, and as I said, Bloomerang and other software, you can segment out those donors who’ve already given, but if they’ve given, let them, you know, they’ve already given.

Number five, here’s some additional follow-up ideas, just a random assortment. Have a pledge thermometer. They can be easily done online these days, put it in your e-newsletter or newsletter, and update it weekly, biweekly, monthly. We had one client who is doing it weekly. Telemarketing, again, turn non-responders into responders. How many of us use the telephone with our calendar year-end campaign? It has been shown that direct mail, telephone follow-up generates 2 to 10 times more response than just direct mail with none. Have a Thanksgiving “Thank-A-Thon” event. Holiday cards, how many of us are sending out holiday cards or e-greetings to our donors?

And then conducting, again, I’m beating the bush and I’m using that because I’ve just recently come from Australia so I can say that, but you know, those mid-level donors that we’ve identified as 250 to 999, telephone. Personal email, when I say that, that’s not an email blast. That means, you know, have an email that looks like you’re sending it to them personally, and yep, you can do that. And then, again, I talked about a case study of a group that used website popups to promote campaigns, to capture those people in an acquisition manner. Those folks who are visiting your website, you can capture their information and then mail to them, email to them.

And again, the matching gift. I talked about the use of a matching gift strategy around saving it to the end of your campaign to go back and announcing it, then going back to donors who have already given to say, “Give again,” or those that have not given, that you have this wonderful opportunity in the next two weeks with a matching challenge gift, or grant, or what have you.

So we are now at 10 of the hour and our intent is to hopefully keep this webinar to within an hour. We’ve covered a lot of ground. But here are some of the things that at this point you should have gotten out of this webinar, right. So establishing a campaign goal, income and expenses, using tools such as a gift chart to develop strategies and to manage those targets, having case messaging that is urgent, that shows the impact of donors’ giving, and having deadlines, a kickoff, a week-to-week schedule of integrated communications, and a definitive campaign end.

The importance of always building in metrics into our campaign planning, right, those critical four or five metrics that I consider lend to a healthy and effective development program, and you know, develop your donor audiences around those key metrics and strategies around the key metrics. And certainly, be proactive about designing a follow-up program in advance. Do not wait until October, November, December is here and say, “Oh, we need some follow-up efforts.” Those should be planned now, now, now, now, now, now, just like your campaign is planning. It’s just one aspect of the overall campaign, but a very important one to take you from hoping and praying to really raising the most money and acquiring new donors, retaining them, upgrading them, and increasing their loyalty.

So the question is, for all of you out there, and I’ll turn this back over to Steven for some questions and answers because I see some highlighted, is, how will you use this information to plan your calendar year-end campaign? So I’d be curious to know what that is, and you can type that right into the questions box. So I’d love to know what you’re going to incorporate or not. So thank you very much. We have, I guess, a ton of questions, at least, it looks like there’s 12 of them. Is that correct?

Steven: There’s way more than that [inaudible 00:50:49]. Yeah, if you haven’t asked a question, do it now. We’ve probably got about maybe six or seven minutes. And I know, Robin, you’ve answered a lot of these questions as we go along. But first, I just want to say thank you. This was a lot of great info, did not disappoint. You used the right word. I think you said it was dense. There’s a lot of information here, I think dense was the right word. But that’s good, because there’s a lot to do. There’s a lot people can do. So I’m just going to kind of roll through some questions here that look interesting to me, although, I doubt we will get to all of them. So, Robin, are you willing to maybe take questions by email, Twitter, is that cool with you?

Robin: Oh, yes. Oh, yeah, yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Steven: Good.

Robin: And people, if they have an in-depth . . .

Steven: Yeah, reach out for Robin for sure.

Robin: Yeah, yeah. And the resources as well, I don’t know if you wanted to send those out, but I have a whole packet for people with samples and everything.

Steven: Yeah, we’ll get them to you.

Robin: But one of that is. Yeah, yeah, I don’t know if you have it already, but if people want that, they can email me, or you can send it out, or what have you. So yeah, yeah, this is great.

Steven: Yeah, we’ll make all that happen. Here’s an interesting question. We’ve got somebody that had a capital campaign happening during the year-end month. So it overlaps with the traditional year-end timeline. What advice would you have for that person, Robin? Should they do anything different? What’s going on there? Have you ever seen that?

Robin: Well, you know, it’s a customized kind of . . . So I always say that you always need annual fund dollars to keep the lights on in the organization. The problem being is that, you know, some groups can’t do both in reality, you know. The capital campaign is so labor intensive. However, I mean, I’m assuming that this person is beyond the major gift space if they’re wondering how this would impact their lower, and I don’t want to call them lower level donors, it sounds so disparaging, but if they’re at that point, then sometimes what I have seen happen is a dual ask, you know.

So you can do, “Please give a gift to support the Lights On campaign,” but we know it needs to be much more urgent than that and much more emotional or impactful, and, “A gift to our special one time,” it’s supposed to be that a capital campaign is a one-time extraordinary ask. But we know, organizations sometimes do multiple campaigns in their lifetime, but knowing that this isn’t above and beyond one-time ask specifically for the . . . so you can do a dual ask. I’ve seen that done sometimes, or you can just decide, you know what, if you have the liberty of not doing those funds which can be dangerous because this is the most philanthropic time of the year, then you can just ask for the capital campaign. But you’re going to cannibalize those donors from year-end general, you know, support giving. So it’s a case-by-case example, but I think the dual ask could work well, you know, if you want to do both.

Steven: Yeah, I think so. And especially if you’re very specific, like the capital campaign is going to go toward this, you know, semi-tangible or tangible thing, and also the annual fund. That makes a lot of sense for sure.

Robin: Right, right.

Steven: Speaking of levels of donors, lots of folks asking for, and I’m also curious to hear this from you, Robin, because I don’t think we’ve ever talked about it offline, but defining a major donor, you know, by dollar amount, and I’ve seen both arguments, like, “Hey, a major gift could be $50 to a donor, it could be $50,000, just based on their capacity.” But you may not want to spend all that time on a $50 donor. I mean, I know that sounds bad, but if you’ve got a whole lot of donors, you have to prioritize somehow. So, what do you think in terms of maybe like a dollar threshold to define, you know, the major category?

Robin: I think, you know, internally, you have to sit down and define what that may be for your particular organization, and there’s different ways of doing that. But I think, you know, externally, I think you bring up a great point, and that being is that every donor, no matter what . . . I mean, a $50 donor gift for someone may be a significant gift. So being cautious to the fact of when we use our language around major donors externally that we have to recognize that a $25 donor to a client beneficiary who would decide to give back to you, certainly could be a major gift for them. But I think, internally, there needs to be a dividing line that you say, “Okay, 1,000 and above is what we consider a major gift and what we’re going to design our strategy around.” And for most groups, although I’ve had groups that it’s been $10,000 and above, but for most groups, it’s roughly around $1,000 above for smaller to those mid-size not-for-profits.

Steven: That makes sense. So you can kind of have the best of both worlds there. That makes a lot of sense.

Robin: Yes, yes, yes, yeah, yeah.

Steven: Cool. I got time for one more question. And like I said, please reach out to Robin. She is super active on Twitter. I bet she’ll engage with you there. But we got her email address, because I know that there’s a lot of really good questions in here, and I don’t think [inaudible 00:56:36].

Robin: I can’t believe it.

Steven: It’s awesome. Well, I think you’ve got them thinking here.

Robin: That’s great. Well, my left eye was looking and I was like, “Oh, my God, there’s no way I can keep up with everyone.”

Steven: I love the Bloomerang crew every week here. They’re the best webinar I would say.

Robin: Yeah. [inaudible 00:56:55], my gosh, yeah.

Steven: Maybe a good way to end it. What’s the timeline in terms of the end of the campaign? Can it stretch into maybe the first or second week of January? Should it end before, you know, the week of Christmas? Does it have to end on December 31st? I guess that’s the real question. What do you think there?

Robin: No, it doesn’t, it doesn’t. As a matter of fact, you know, I’ve had campaigns that have run into the first of the year where we’ve actually planned to do a follow-up, you know, in January and February. So no, it doesn’t have to end there. I think the point of the matter is you have some endpoint, that it just doesn’t continue on, and that you don’t have these, you know, very sequenced pieces to it, meaning, “Here’s when we’re going to mail out the first direct mail appeal. Here’s the second. And then, from this timeframe on, we’re going to be doing our follow-up, you know.” So I think it just needs that . . . yeah, I don’t think that it needs to be definitive, you know, like it has to be done by, you know, December 31.

Steven: Yeah, but decide for yourself. That’ll hold you accountable.

Robin: Exactly. Exactly, exactly. Exactly.

Steven: Very cool. Well, it’s about 3:00. I want to be respectful of people, especially if you haven’t eaten lunch. I don’t want to get in the way of somebody’s sandwich. So, Robin, this was awesome. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing all your knowledge. You really crammed it in. It was awesome.

Robin: Thank you, thank you. I love sharing the knowledge and I think, you know, this is an important time to start planning. So my hope was to inspire people to, you know, use this webinar, and tomorrow, sit down at their desk and say, “Okay, these are my key metrics. Where am I? And how can I use this calendar year-end to increase acquisition and donor loyalty, and so forth and so on?” And then start to develop a strategy so that when they come back from the beach in September, they’re ready to like hit the ground running.

Steven: I love it. Yeah, they’re going to be in great shape. I mean, they’re starting in June. So you, 200 people that listened live, you’re going to be ahead of the curve. This is awesome.

Well, and thanks to all of you for hanging out. I know you are busy probably, maybe fiscal year-end is coming to an end for you June 30th folks. You’re my favorite. So thank you for being here. Always nice to see a full room. We are halfway through the webinar season. We take a little bit of a break around 4th of July, but we’ve got some really awesome sessions planned for the second half of the year. Check out our webinar page. I’m already scheduling 2020 sessions. It’s hard to believe but some really cool topics coming up in the second half of the year. So check out our schedule. I just wanted to call out one that is already getting a lot of attention, “How to Survive Nonprofit Founder’s Syndrome,” my buddy, Rachel, from Austin, Texas, it has to be a good one.

Check that out. Lots of other topics. We’ve got some really diverse, very specific topics that I’m excited about. So we’d love to see you another Thursday coming up here. We’re going to be off next week. So if you’ve been attending every single week, I’m going on vacation. Hope you don’t mind. But we’ll be back with some other great webinars from Bloomerang in the second half of the year.

So look for an email from me, we’ll get you all those goodies. You should already have a lot of them, but check your ReadyTalk email around 1:00 Eastern. But in case you missed them, we’ll send them out again. We’ll make it happen, no problem. But thanks for joining us. Have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a good weekend. Have a safe 4th of July if you’re celebrating here in the States. And we’ll catch you again next month. Bye now.

Robin: Great. 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.