If you are ready to ride an epic wave of generosity with an airtight end-of-year fundraising strategy join our special guest Rachel Muir.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right. Rachel, I got two o’clock Eastern. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started?

Rachel: Absolutely. 

Steven: All right. Awesome. Well, good afternoon, everyone. Good morning if you’re on the West Coast. If you’re watching the recording, I hope you’re having a good day no matter when and where you are because we are here to talk about end-of-year fundraising. That’s right, folks. It’s time. I can’t believe it, but we’re here to talk about it. We’re getting in the action a bit early. It’s August. So we’ve got some early bird tips for you. So thanks for being here. I’m Steven over at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always. 

And just a little housekeeping items for you. I just want to let you know that we are recording the session, and we’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides later on today. So be on the lookout for an email from me with all those goodies. You will not miss anything. If you have to leave early, don’t worry, we will get that all in your hands later on today. 

But most importantly, we love for these sessions to be interactive. So send in your questions and comments along the way. There’s a chat box. There’s a Q&A box. You can use either of those. If you use the Q&A box, it might be a little bit easier, a little higher chance that we get to that question as insider tip for you, but we won’t discriminate. We’d love to hear from you. Introduce yourself if you haven’t already. You can also send us a tweet. I’ll keep an eye on those as well. The bottom line is we’d love to hear from you. So don’t be shy. 

If this is your first Bloomerang webinar, welcome. We do these webinars just about every Thursday, one of our favorite things we do here at Bloomerang. But if you’ve never heard of Bloomerang beyond these webinars, we’re actually a provider of donor management software. That’s what Bloomerang is. That’s what we’re all about. So check us out if you are curious about that offering. Maybe you’re thinking of switching sometime soon. You can go on our website, learn all about us, watch videos, pretty easy to find. But don’t do that right now. At least wait an hour because we’ve got some good year-end tips for you from my good buddy, Rachel Muir, joining us from beautiful Austin, Texas. Rachel, how’s it going? Are you doing okay?

Rachel: It’s going awesome. 

Steven: You’re like the reigning queen of Bloomerang webinars. This has got to be like your 50th one or whatever. It’s not a full-year schedule without Rachel. So it’s always awesome to have her. She keeps coming back. So we must be doing something right here. But if you all don’t know Rachel, she’s super awesome. Like I said, she’s all over the place, writing, speaking. You can read her awesome advice in many leading industry publications and blogs, as well as her own website. She’s got a lot of really good information. You’re going to want to sign up for that after this presentation. And most importantly, and I say this a lot, but she’s a friend of the program, for sure, and has been in your shoes. She is a nonprofit founder, former ED herself, and I always like to get that perspective whenever possible. So I’m going to pipe down. Let me stop sharing here. Rachel, you can pull up your slides, and then the floor will be yours. 

Rachel: Awesome. We’re so glad to have everybody with us today. Thank you, guys, for joining us. And I just want to say kudos to all our early birds out there. I’m wearing my Bloomerang green today. I love Steven, I love everybody at Bloomerang. I’m so thrilled that you guys all came and joined us today. We’re going to be talking about “Early Bird Gets the Worm.” Lots of great advice for you on getting a kickstart for your end-of-year fundraising campaigns. 

Like Steven said, my background is in fundraising. I like to joke that I have had every job that is a Rubik’s cube in the nonprofit world, staff member, board member, founder, executive director. And I absolutely love helping fundraisers fundraise more confidently and delight their donors and boost their donors’ loyalty. And I love saving people the headaches and hassles I had as a fundraiser. I have a lot of great guides I’m going to be sharing today that are completely free, and I put those in the chat. And I’ll pop those in there again. If you want to learn more about me, you can find out more about me at rachelmuir.com. Like I said, I’m really passionate about helping fundraisers save time and raise more money and delight their donors. And that’s exactly what I’m going to be helping you do today through the lens of getting your early bird start on end-of-year fundraising.

You can grab today’s slides. I will pop this in the chat for you. And I want to say I love what Steven said earlier. Pretty please with sugar on top, any questions that you have, just pop them in that Q&A box. I’m going to be using the chat to chat you up. I’m going to be kicking things off in a couple minutes with some awesome polls to get to know you better. And I have a really neat program that I started in the pandemic as a very inexpensive low-cost way to give people some fantastic fundraising training. So if you want to check that out, I just put that link in the chat for you as well. It’s called League of Extraordinary Fundraisers. And I basically do a live workshop every single month, and it’s only $49. So, if getting a little more fundraising training is the way that you want to rock your 2021 and your end-of-year fundraising, we’re going to be covering that. This month we’re covering building a major gifts program, but we’re going to be digging right into end-of-year through September as well as October through, you’re creating your campaigns, copywriting, how to ask, and everything in between. Yay. Susan is in my program. She’s giving me up, it’s an amazing workshop. I love it. Yay. 

So this is all the fun that we’re going to be having today. I’m going to share some end-of-year fundraising truth bombs. I’m going to give you a timeline that starts right now in August of everything that you need to be doing from today until the end of January to help you sail through a revenue-rich end-of-year. I’m going to give you a checklist for writing really great fundraising appeals. I’m going to talk to you about warming up your donors before you ask them. Just a quick heads up you, guys. GivingTuesday is a little bit early this year. It’s in November. It’s on November 30th. So if you’re planning to participate in GivingTuesday, just a heads up, my fundraising friends, you’ll want to keep your ears perked for that. 

But I’m going to give you lots of really great stewardship ideas to warm people up. I’m going to share some website tweaks to help you boost your conversion rate for online gifts. And I’m going to talk about the number one mistake in appeals, and, of course, I’m going to be handling your questions. 

So type your questions in any time today. And I’m going to start off by doing some polls, and I’m going to launch this poll right now. And this is a question to ask you just how much of an early bird are you. So humor me. Take my poll, fundraising friends. Yes is, “Oh, my goodness, Rachel, I’m so on this. I’ve already written my appeal. I’ve proofed it. I’ve tested it. I’ve scheduled it.” Kind of is like, “I’ve got a draft. I’ve put pen to paper,” and no is, “I haven’t even started.” 

Okay. So I love that my early birds are here, and I’m going to be encouraging you right now to get started on drafting your campaign, your theme, your appeal, your offer, your appeal, your thank you, and you’re reporting back. And you’re going to hear more about this as we go along. But it looks like for the vast majority of you, 70% of you have not even started. 28% of you kind of have a draft. I’m going to share the results here. And only 2% of you have already started. That’s okay. I love you guys, and I’m totally fine with that, and I embrace that. So kudos to those 28% of you, and like mind blown on the 2% of you that have already done it. You are still going to get a lot of really great ideas, but kudos to you. 

So I’m going to move on here to my next poll, which is right here. So this is just to find out a little bit more about you and who you are so I know like how you do things in your organization. So DIY is we write all our own appeals, and we do all our own stunts. Copywriting only means you just contract with the fundraising copywriter, and full service means we work with an agency. They write our appeals. They do the segmentation. They do the printing. They do the mailing. We got a turnkey thing going on. 

So wow. Okay. So 97% of you guys are DIY. You are doing it yourselves. It looks like it’s got an even split here. 2% of you work with a copywriter, and 2% of you are full service. I’m going to share those results. So the vast majority of you guys, I mean, a whopping 97%, holy smokes, are DIY. So I want you guys to download all my goodies today because they will save you time, and they will help you raise money. So I want you to do that. 

And I’m going to ask you a question here. I want to know what is your budget for what you are going to spend on your end-of-year fundraising. Okay. So this is what you’re going to spend on a copywriter, what you’re going to spend on printing, what you’re going to spend on, you know, social media ads, like all your printing, your design, your ads, your Facebook fundraising. Like what are you going to spend? What is your budget? Like you have an allocated budget. What is it? 

Okay. So it looks like the vast majority of you guys are less than $2,500. 56% of you are planning to spend less than $2,500 on your end-of-year fundraising. 22% of you are willing to spend a little bit more. You’re willing to go up to . . . I’m just writing this down, up to $5,000. 11% of you are going to spend somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000. And 5% of you are going to spend zero dollars or at least you think you’re going to spend zero dollars. I’m going to share those results so you can see them too. So this is interesting. 57% of you and then 22%. And I’m writing this down because you’ve probably heard in fundraising, you have to spend a little bit of money . . . you have to spend money to make money. 

And I’m really curious to find out what your thoughts are from my next poll, which is all about, excuse me, what is your revenue goal for your end-of-year fundraising. So maybe you’re like, “Goal? I haven’t even set one. Oh, my God, Rachel, I should totally do that,” or maybe you know, “Hey, last year we did 20,000. We’re hoping to do 30,000.” You enter in, excuse me, what your revenue goal is. 

Okay. This is interesting because 57% of you are planning to spend less than $2,500 on end-of-year fundraising, and 35% of you expect to raise somewhere between $15,000 and $50,000. So, if there was one place where I thought you could save yourself time and save yourself money, it would be hiring a fantastic copywriter to write your end-of-year fundraising appeal, someone who is a great copywriter, who has a good portfolio, who has a lot of experience, someone to help you with your email campaigns. If there is one area where you’re like, “I have $5,000 to spend, or I have $2,500 to spend,” or whatever your budget is, if there’s one place that I would tell you to spend your budget, it would be on having a fundraising copywriting expert write your appeal. 

I’m going to get off my soapbox now, but that would be for those of you who like, “Oh, I want to double my goal. I want to triple my goal.” You know, we only have an hour-long webinar, and we have a whopping 45 minutes left. And I’m going to cover as much as I can about end-of-year fundraising. But you’ll see this more when I talk about the number one mistake that most nonprofits make. And since a lot of you are DIYing this, and you’re doing all of this yourselves, yet you have pretty ambitious fundraising goals, 35% of you expect to raise $15,000 to $50,000. You guys have really high goals. You don’t want to spend a lot of money, and you want to do it all yourself. So, if you want to reach those really big goals, and you were asking me what is one place where I could put some money where I could really see some impact, that would be my advice.

Now, my next question for you guys, and thank you for humoring me and allowing me to ask you lots of questions, I want to know how many appeals you send. Maybe you just send one. Maybe you send one email, and you don’t do any direct mail. Maybe you do like, you know, five emails and like four direct mail pieces. Type in or choose . . . don’t type in. Just choose in the poll how many appeals mail and email you sent. So just type in. 

Okay. So this is so interesting because a lot of . . . If anyone picked only one, and 10% of you did pick only one, I want you to send more, at least three emails appeals, at least three. I want you to send a heck a lot more than one. One is not enough. To get through, more than one message is going to have to do, my fundraising friends. So 35% of you send two to three. 30% of you send four to five. 

Pretty much everybody. My advice for everybody, and I’m going to share these results, I want everybody who’s joining us right now to double their number of appeals that they’re sending out. If you’re sending one, I want you to send out three. If you’re sending two to three, I want you to double that. I guarantee you that you need to be sending out more appeals than you are doing right now. 

And I also want to talk to you, and I’m going to talk to you a teensy tiny bit about segmentation, which brings me to my last question. This could break Steven’s fundraising heart depending on how you answer it. But I want you to be honest. Steven’s a big boy, and he can handle it if you break his fundraising heart. But I want you to tell me if you segment your appeals based on your audience, as in when we do a GivingTuesday appeal, and people donate to our GivingTuesday appeal, they don’t get another appeal treating them like they’ve never donated before, or the same thing for end-of-year fundraising appeal. Once they donate to our end-of-year fundraising appeal, we don’t send them another email again treating them like they’re a stranger, and they haven’t donated yet. Maybe we segment our monthly donors. Maybe we segment our major gift donors. 

Okay. I think Steven’s fundraising heart is feeling pretty happy today because 54% of you, the vast majority of you, do segment your appeals based on your audience so that people are getting a different message based on who they are. Thank you. I’m sure Steven’s fundraising heart is full, and I really appreciate you guys humoring us with your polls. You guys are awesome, and thank you so much for taking our polls and answering all those questions. I really appreciate it.

Okay. I’m going to move on, and I’m going to give you some end-of-year truth bombs. And I love it that there are already questions in the Q&A box, really, really great questions, love it. And, yes, the recording is going to be available. So don’t worry for a second. Just a couple of quick questions. Meghan asked. If you want any recommendations for fundraising copywriters, I’m certainly happy to recommend them to you. I can think of a few fantastic people off the top of my head, including Julie Cooper. Her website is fundraisingwriting.com, as well as Julie Edwards. Those are two people that I know that are . . . as well as Sarah Masterson. Those are three fundraising copywriters who I adore who I highly recommend. And it doesn’t matter if your copywriter is local. That really makes no difference whatsoever. Their skill is in writing, and that skill extends whatever state or place they might choose to call home even if it’s giddy. 

Okay. So these are some end-of-year fundraising truth bombs. I love this one from our friend Shanon Doolittle who I know Steven adores as much as I do, “Saying thanks is a privilege.” I’m going to give you some tips to warm up your donors before you do the ask, and if you don’t think that really works, I’m going to show you the proof in the pudding and the actual statistics of how much that really does influence your donors giving again and giving larger amounts. And I want you to be prepared this end-of-year with enough staff and enough resources to properly thank your donors. And I also want you when you’re writing that fantastic appeal to also write your thank you and you’re reporting back to tell the donor how their gift made a difference. 

Just because it’s end-of-year fundraising doesn’t mean that’s any reason to give. The season to give is not a reason to give. You have to have a very compelling offer, and I’m going to talk to you about why that is so important because not having a compelling offer is the number one reason to tank your end-of-year fundraising appeal. 

And then my last truth bomb right here from my other fundraising friend, Misty McLaughlin, “The ask is never a one-day affair.” No, it is not. It’s going to take more than one message to get through, and it’s going to take multiple message on the last day of giving. Your donors do not read every email that you send, truth bomb. So you’re going to need to send several in order to get through, and you’re going to need a really good job writing really compelling subject lines to get them to open it. This is the reality of end-of-year. It’s a mad dash. 

There’s a lot of noise. There’s a ton of noise in your inbox, not just from fundraisers. There’s Black Friday sales. There’s doorbuster specials. There’s the Amazon list or the deal-of-the-day. I mean, there’s just a ton of noise. And you are going to have to be brave, and you’re going to have to just take a deep cleansing breath and hit send more times than you want to send because you think that your donor reads every message you send, but the truth is they don’t. And you may feel like you’re sending too much email or like you’re really bothering those donors. 

The average nonprofit sends almost 10 emails just in December alone. That’s just for end-of-year fundraising. It doesn’t even include GivingTuesday. So take a load off. Your donors don’t read all your emails. They only read the ones that speak to them with compelling subject lines that they want to open. And it isn’t a bad thing to send more email. It’s actually a good thing to send more email because the more email you send, and the more people open and read your email, the better your deliverability rate. So don’t be afraid of sending too much email. Just send really, really great email. 

I just want to invite you, and you can check out my checklist right here. You can download this. I will pop this in the chat for you. I love sending email. I sent out an email just for this . . . yesterday just to promote this webinar. I work really hard on my subject lines. If you download something and end up on my email list, then you’ll get to see me hard at work writing compelling subject lines to inspire you to open my emails. And who knows. Some of those might inspire you as well. 

But check out this checklist. This is a really good guide for all the things that you need to do. Once you’ve written that appeal, it needs to . . . these are all the things it needs. It needs to be warm. It needs to be conversational. It needs to be personalized. It needs to have a sense of urgency. So this is just a really good checklist for you to have and go through. 

And Laura gave me some love that she loves my emails. Thank you. Because I work really hard at it, and I have a lot of fun with my subject lines. And I keep a Google Doc of my all-time favorite subject lines, and I get inspired all the time. Believe it or not, I literally got inspired this morning from a subject line from my twins’ high school. They just started high school, they’re freshman at high school. And they had a really good subject line, and I was like, “Oh, my God, there’s a lot of places I was expecting subject line inspiration.” But there you go. So feed yourself some good inspiration. 

End-of-year countdown, you guys. If I did the math right, which is totally questionable . . . And no, I am not sharing my Google Doc of subject lines, Emily, because it would not help you at all, because even though I’m in the nonprofit industry serving nonprofit clients, my subject lines are all about getting you to watch my free webinar, or getting you to download something that I created, or getting you to join my League of Extraordinary Fundraisers. And they have nothing to do with saving whales or puppies or kittens or anything else. So it wouldn’t help you, but I encourage you to look at your file, look at your appeals that have worked, what didn’t work, and don’t be afraid to recycle a really good subject line if it did work for you. I’ve been known to do it myself. 

End-of-year countdown. I did the math right, which is literally questionable, if I did the math right, we are 134 days away from the ball drop, 134 days away from New Year. So if you’re feeling like that’s a lot of time, sure, take a deep breath, but let’s plan now. These are all the things that you should be thinking about right now, getting your match, planning your campaign, writing it. And I want you to write the appeal, your thank you, and the report back where you tell the donor, you report back on that offer in your appeal, that ask that you made where you said, “Your gift of this much money will do this.” The reporting back is you’re telling them exactly how their gift made a difference. I want you to write that. If you’re doing GivingTuesday, you’re going to write that for GivingTuesday. If you’re not doing GivingTuesday, you’re going to write this for end-of-year. 

I want you to be doing your pre-ask stewardship. That’s your thank-a-thons. That’s your, you made a difference. And I’m going to be showing you examples of that. I want you to be thinking about your segmentation. How are you going to communicate to first-time donors? How are you going to communicate to existing donors versus people who have never given before? How are you going to communicate to monthly donors? Most importantly, how are you going to communicate and successfully segment a donor once they made a gift to your GivingTuesday campaign, so they don’t get three more asks to make a gift to your GivingTuesday campaign? Because that can really break my fundraising heart and Steven’s too. And I want you to prepare and allocate resources. 

Jennifer asks a good question. Do most organizations do both GivingTuesday and end-of-year? We’d have to do a poll of the . . . like what is it? Are there 1.3 nonprofits in the United States? That number maybe even higher by now. We’d have to do a poll to find out how many are participating in GivingTuesday. For many nonprofit organizations, GivingTuesday is the start to their end-of-year fundraising season, and a lot of organizations participate. I don’t have an exact percentage for you, sorry. 

But those are all the things I want you to do now. These are the things that I want you to start doing come November. If you’re participating in GivingTuesday, you would be a genius to make your donation form your homepage. That’s also called a homepage hijack, and I’m going to talk a little bit more about that. Test, test, test. Test everything in your email. Test every link in your donation form. Test every link on your path to your donation form on your website. You would be shocked how many broken links are out there sabotaging people’s end-of-year fundraising effort. Pick up the phone and ask. This is a very inexpensive way to solicit gifts, and it’s often overlooked in favor of email. But picking up the phone to steward and thank donors, picking up the phone to solicit donors during end-of-year, very inexpensive affordable way to boost your end-of-year fundraising. And thank everyone properly so they’ll give again. 

I’m going to be talking about harvest time, which is loving on your donors and stewarding your donors before GivingTuesday and end-of-year. But I also want you to thank your donors after they give, especially those GivingTuesday donors so that they’ll be refreshed and ready and motivated to give to you for end-of-year. 

And, of course, I want you to segment. I want you to segment so that if I give to your GivingTuesday campaign, I don’t want to get three more emails from you that day asking me to give. I want to be taken off the merry-go-round, and the next communication I get from you is I want it to be all about the difference I made and how my gift made an impact. 

So this is like the money shot here. This is it. If you want to like take a photo of this, if you want to screenshot this, this is everything that I want you to be thinking about doing. Right now I want you to be thinking about planning, drafting, and scheduling your end-of-year campaign and your GivingTuesday campaign. Again, GivingTuesday’s November 30th. 

I want you to set some goals. How many new donors do you want to get? How many upgrades do you want to give? Yeah, be thinking about some concrete goals that you want to set. Be thinking about your segmentation. Be thinking about your personalization. How are we going to make those monthly donors who are getting this end-of-year campaign feel special? Be thinking about a match. If you want to do a match, now is the time to line it up, not in October, not in November, not in December. That’s too stressful. Now is the time when you want to line that up. 

And I want you to plan your harvest time. That is when you are thanking donors when you’re telling donors how they’ve made a difference. It’s also a great time now to start planning. If you’re going to be participating in GivingTuesday, start planning what you’re going to be doing along with your end-of-year campaign. You’re going to start writing everything and testing it and scheduling it in October. 

October’s a great time where you can build and test if you’re going to do a lightbox. That’s also known as a homepage hijack or a web overlay. I have one on my website at rachelmuir.com. Love them, hate them, they actually really work in converting people to make a donation to your site. So you could have one, and I’m going to show you some examples of just making the donation form like a web overlay that people see when they go to your site. It’s a great thing to do on GivingTuesday. It’s a great thing to do the last week of the year for end-of-year. 

Prepare your email segments. Do some cleaning of your list. Test your subject lines. Do some split A/B testing. It takes time to pick the winner when you do a split A/B test. And if there’s anything that I forget about when I’m about to do one, it’s, “Oh, my God, I didn’t give myself enough time to test this.” Write your phone ask scripts and plan your list of who you’re going to call and what you’re going to ask for. Start testing your emails and your website across all different platforms. 

November is officially harvest time, and I want you to be doing your harvest time early this year because GivingTuesday is November 30th. That’s when you’re doing a thank-a-thon. That’s when you could have board members call and thank donors. That’s when you’re doing a thanks for giving campaign where you could be sending cards, you could be doing an email campaign. It’s telling your donors . . . it’s thanking them for being a part of your family and making them feel good about all the great things that they accomplish. It’s not an ask. It’s just awesome stewardship. Yay. Nancy says, “We do a gratitude month in November with video shares from our community that listen to a grateful give Tuesday.” I love it. Nancy, way to go. 

In November I want you to set up all of your acknowledgments, your email autoresponder, your thank you cards, your thank you scripts. You should have all of those ready. You’re going to be scheduling your emails and your social and your mail drop. You’re going to be scheduling a new donor welcome series to welcome all those new donors that are giving to you for GivingTuesday. I want to make sure that you’ve got your suppression. If I make my first gift to you for GivingTuesday, I shouldn’t get three more asks that same day. I need to be taken off the merry-go-round. And suppression and tagging is what allows me to be taken off that merry-go-round. 

December you’re going to be sending those emails, making those calls. You need to be making sure that everyone in your office can handle it if they pick up the phone and it’s a donor who’s like, “Oh, my goodness, Santa was really generous to me this year, and I like to share the wealth and make a donation to you at sweaters for penguins. How do I do that?” So everybody on staff should be ready to handle any last-minute calls from donors. If you are planning to be out of the office, you really need to think about what is your out of office, and are you writing a really great out of office that like maybe reinforces your campaign? Do you have your cell number when you’re out of office so if people need anything, they can call you? 

I encourage you to do a homepage hijack the last week or last three days of December. You’re going to be splitting up your campaign. You might split it up into your holiday campaign where you’re sending out three to four appeals before the 25th, and then after the 26th to the 31st, it’s just end-of-year. Maybe you’re doing three to five email appeals for that. You could easily do three of those the last day. 

January is when you are looking back on how you did with a fresh pair of eyes, and you’re looking at, “How did I do compared to my goals? I set this goal to bring in this many new donors. How did I do?” You’re also going to be doing really great stewardship. People should already have received a welcome thank you, and you made a difference because you already have those written because you wrote those when you wrote your appeal. 

But January is a great time for you to think about a new donor survey for all those new donors that you might have brought in through GivingTuesday or through end-of-year. It’s a great time for you to implement your cultivation plan for those new donors. Put donors who upgraded into a major gift portfolio. 

So that’s like a really quick survival guide for the next like five months of your life, my fundraising friend. Five and a half months of your life. There it is. And I’m going to talk to you a little bit about warming everyone up, warming those amazing donors up before you come in with your ask. And don’t worry because I’m going to be showing you proof of how this works. I’m going to talk about thank-a-thons, thanks for giving stewardship, and reporting back. 

So be honest. Type into the chat. I know. I’m sorry about that, Cheryl, but you can download the slides. And I’ll put a link in here, and you can see them in the slides. So everyone, you can download my slides. I know you can’t see that last line of that table, but you can download my slides and see it there. 

Be honest and type into the chat fundraising copy, thank you letter. Which one stresses? Which one do you spend the most amount of time on? Just type in and tell me. Everyone is like fundraising copy. Are you kidding me? Okay. One person. Okay. One person said it’s equal, and then Sandra said the thank you. Sandra and Jan said the thank you. Matt said the thank you. Okay. You guys are unicorns. Sandra, Matt, they’re unicorns. 

Most people really stress out about fundraising copy, and I totally get it. I feel your pain. That is stressful. If you want to write a really good appeal, and I’m going to show you later the number one mistake that people make when they’re writing their appeals. I’m going to make the thank you letter a little bit easier for you right now, and I will put this little guy. This is like a checklist for writing killer thank yous. I will put this into the chat, dos and don’ts of thanking donors. 

So I encourage you, and you’re probably getting bored of this now, write your appeal and write your email autoresponder, and your thank you letter, and your reporting back of how you tell the donor how their gift made a difference. Write all of that at the same time. If you’re doing a separate campaign for GivingTuesday that’s different from your end-of-year campaign, do all that at once and then do it for your end-of-year campaign.

Thank-a-thons. This is all the love you’re going to give donors before they get your GivingTuesday campaign, or if you’re not doing GivingTuesday, before they give to you for end-of-year. You could have board members start calling donors and thanking donors. If you do that, I recommend giving them a script to make it super easy. Board members are a great target to having you assist with this, and this is actual research from Penelope Burk. This is, donors who received a thank you call from a board member, they gave 39% more money, and 14 months later, they were giving 42% more money than donors who didn’t get a thank you call from a board member. And they had 70% retention. So this really does work, and it really does have an impact. 

And why does this have such an impact, you’re wondering. This has a big impact because your donors are smart, and they know that you’re a staff member, and they know that you make a salary. And it’s really something special to get a thank you from a volunteer who is selflessly giving their time and their energy just to say thanks. That really matters to them. And it’s also not just any volunteer. It’s a leadership volunteer. 

This is just a sweet little postcard, thanks for giving. You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, you know, is this really going to work, Rachel? I mean, is this really going to raise me more money?” So I showed you the stats of board members calling to thank donors. This is an actual example for a thank you postcard that I got around the holidays, which is really sweet. But there was an actual study that was done, and in that study, the copy that was used was this copy that’s typed down here below. You know, this was just sent out to people. Just a thank you, not a solicitation, just a heartfelt thanks. Donors who got the thank you gave $45 more than those who didn’t. So donors still gave this . . . Donors still responded in equal amounts, but the donors who got the email thanks gave $45 more than those who didn’t. And that is a 67% increase in giving. You are quite welcome, Debra. 67% increase in giving. 

So here’s another stewardship test. This was done by Food For The Poor. In test A, 25,000 donors got an extra thank you at the beginning of the year. It was a thank you. It wasn’t a vast where you’re cramming a thank you and an asking. It was just a thank you, simple expression of gratitude. The other test did not get the extra thanks. 12 months later, both groups gave the same number of gifts, but those that get the extra thank you gave a total of $450,000 more that year. That’s a chunk of change, $450,000 more. These are from two organizations that studied this and tested this, and thank goodness they did. And kudos to them for doing that because now all of us can learn from their results. You can do this, you can study this, and you can test this to see what results you get.

Now, I talk a lot about reporting back, and when I talk about reporting back, I’m not talking about an annual report. I’m talking about you sending a letter to your donors that thanks them for their gift that they just made a gift in response to your appeal where you talked about a specific need that you had, and you encouraged them to give. And you tell them in that reporting back letter how much their gift made a difference. 

So this is a really great one. I was given permission to share this from Boy Scout, Blue Mountain Council, “You have no idea how much we appreciate your recent gift. Thank you for responding so quickly and generously.” Thank them for responding rapidly and generously. “The fact that you’re thinking about others during this worrying time says everything there is to know about your generous and caring spirit.” That’s a beautiful way to reflect on their kindness. 

You want to thank them for their gift, but you don’t want to stop there. You also want to reflect on what a kind and compassionate human being they are because they are. They are the kind of compassionate human being that thinks about other people and that cares about other people and has a big, kind, and loving heart. And sharing that, your communications are a mirror in front of your donors, and when you make them feel good about who they are when they choose to give, they’re more inspired to give again because you’re making them feel good. You’re releasing a lot of endorphins for them. “Your generous gift was put to work giving kids unforgettable moments in scouting.” So describe the need that was facing the beneficiaries and how the donor met the need. And this is telling them exactly how they met the need by sharing these photos of these girls are getting their master fire-starting skills, and there’s photos of them, and it’s a really short story with a photo of how the need was met. 

So this is a really great example of reporting back. And I encourage you to . . . don’t just thank your donor. Thanking me tells me that you got my gift. Reporting back tells me how you used it. And don’t just tell me how you used it. Also reflect back on what a kind and generous person I am for so generously giving. So write your appeal and your thank you and your reporting back letter at the same time. Why do I want you to do that? Because you learned this about me at beginning. I’m super passionate about helping you save time and helping you save money and helping you raise more money, and this is going to do all of those things. And you’re writing your appeal for something specific, a specific need, a specific project. Write the report back and tell them how that’s coming along. 

This is some really great advice from Steven Screen, and I’m going to be bragging on Steven and Bloomerang later because they both have some really great free resources you should absolutely take advantage of. You know, you thank them responding quickly. Describe the need. Tell them how their gift met the need. Have a short story with a photo if possible. Thank them for meeting the need and other needs of your beneficiaries. Reflect on what an important part of your organization they are and what a generous person they are. 

Winning formula, right there. Don’t get on my naughty list. It’s a terrible place to be, friends. You want to be on the nice list. To be on the nice list, you’re going to report back on your donor’s last gift. Heck, that could be what you do during harvest time. To be on my nice list, you’re going to have well-crafted emails that are written, that are proofread, that are tested, and that are scheduled. 

You’re also going to take me off the merry-go-round when I make a gift. Now, I’m fine with you making a gift you’re GivingTuesday again and being invited to give to your end-of-year campaign. That’s fine with me, but you do need to thank me, and you do need to report back and tell me how my gift made a difference before you solicit me for your end-of-year appeal. Once I make one gift to GivingTuesday, I shouldn’t get four more asks the same day asking me to make a gift. 

Pretty please with sugar on top, do your segmentation so that doesn’t happen. That’s a great way to get a lot of unsubscribes and to have your donors feel like they don’t even know you. And in case there’s someone wondering in the back of their mind what if I just do a little [clumping 00:40:33] here, and I just say, “If you already gave today, thanks a lot. If you haven’t, there’s still time to give.” No, no, no, no, no, don’t do that. You’re going to break Steven’s fundraising heart, you’re going to break my fundraising heart, and you’re going to make your donors feel like, “You don’t even know me. You don’t even know what I did today, and I made a donation to you.” And that’s a terrible feeling that donors shouldn’t have. And I want you to make sure that you’ve got the staff and the resources to thank donors. 

So Roy asked how to weigh a written letter versus an email for the ask. A direct mail ask and an email ask together doing both of those things will get you a greater response than just choosing to do one of those. So I recommend that you do both. And on thank you, at minimum do an email, but if at all possible, I would do a letter as well, and I would definitely do a letter for your reporting back. 

The naughty list is not thanking donors for their last gift. The naughty list is you haven’t updated or checked your autoresponders since like, you know, the Obama administration or something like that. I mean, I want you to be checking your thank you autoresponders with every single campaign that you were doing. And the naughty list is that you’re not doing any segmentation or any personalization. Don’t be on my naughty list. 

Okay. I’m going to give you some tips for increasing online donations, and we might go about 5 or 10 minutes over. And then I’m going to talk about the number one mistake, and then I’m going to dig into all your beautiful questions. 

All right. Pop-ups. You may hate pop-ups, but they work. Love them, hate them, they work. They can boost your conversion rate 5%, 10%, as high as 27%. They really work. And they’re great for you to use on GivingTuesday, and they’re great for you to use on the last day of the year or even the last week of the year. They are really great to do. Is this a web overlay? And depending on what your website is in, your CMS platform, you can do these. And it has a big red donate now button. You want to use the best photo image that you have. Ricky Bobby is looking directly at the camera. He is ridiculously adorable. Very short story about Ricky Bobby. Grab some tissues and make a donation. Lovely, beautiful, I’m all in. 

This is another example of a web overlay from Best Friends. Hello animal lover. Well, hello there. This is an example of a web overlay that is inviting people to . . . like direct them to the site. But I encourage you to use it for your GivingTuesday appeal, for your end-of-year appeal. 

This is an example from Amnesty International from a few years ago of them having their donate banner follow each page so that people see it front and center. You need to have a prominent donate button. These are your tips for closing more end-of-year gifts. It needs to be in the contrasting color that stands out from the rest of your site, and it needs to be above the fold, meaning like it is the first thing that I see. It’s obvious, and it’s easy to find. Don’t make me look for it, right? 

So this is a great example from Big Brothers Big Sisters. Big green contrasting lime green color, donate today. This is at the beginning of the pandemic. So they had their COVID response. I’m sure their site looks different now. The only thing that would make this better is if she was looking directly at me in the eye. I would like for you to use images of people looking directly at the camera. 

This is a great example, excuse me, of a . . . this is their homepage, and we’ve got this donate button that stands out from all the other branding on the page. And I love that cute little heart button. It draws me in. 

Compelling images to use. I love this image from Hope Services. They’re looking directly at the camera. They’re smiling. They inspire me. I want to learn more. I want to be able to help them. And they’re giving options here for donations, and they’re telling me what my gift is going to do. This is a compelling image, and it’s a very crystal clear call to action. 

This is a donate page for Lady Freethinker. So you saw their page earlier with the donate button. Once I click on that button, I’m taken here. We’ve got a call to action, support the fight against cruelty, telling me what my gift is going to do. I’ve got a trust logo down here at the bottom. Trust logos are important to use on your donation page. I’ve got options of giving a one-time gift or making my gift monthly. 

One thing that I really want to stress here about making monthly gifts is if you give people the option to make their gift monthly . . . it’s fine to give people an option. But if you really want to get more monthly gifts, you need to tell people how much more good their gift will do if they give monthly. It’s not enough to just like have it there. For me to pick it, I have to really believe, “Oh, my God, only $25 a month is going to feed a kid after school for an entire year. Sign me up for that.” You got to tell me how much more good my gift is going to do if I make my gift monthly. 

So I’m just going to share a few things that I don’t want you to do because these are some fails and websites not closing end-of-year gifts. This is an actual autoresponder that I got. So type into the chat and tell me what is wrong with this autoresponder. 

And Terry asks, “Is there a best practice for how long a pop-up CTA on a website should be up?” So when I’m talking about these homepage hijacks and these web overlays, people have to either . . . It stays up there, Terry, until they do one of two things. They press X, and they close the box, or they click the donate button, and they’re taken to your donate page. It stays up there until they do one of those two actions. 

Interesting. Okay. Too long. There’s too much text. Oh, my goodness. Yay. Natalie, your name didn’t populate. Yes, I highlighted it in yellow to make it easy. Don’t just set it and forget it. You would be floored how many well-intended, hard-working brilliant nonprofits have little tiny typos like this that really destroy a positive giving experience. Okay. They really destroy it. 

This is a subject line from another organization I made a donation. I did this thing last . . . was that last? No, it was the year before last. I did this thing a couple years ago where I did this donor experience optimizer where I made donations to all these nonprofit organizations. I wrote up an entire analysis. I did all these screenshots. I went like undercover. I Nancy Drewed my way through all these nonprofit websites, making a donation and telling people what they needed to fix and better examples of what they should do instead. 

And this is an example from that. Literally, this is a subject line, “Thank you for your donation from all of us at [Organization].” Ouch, this happens more than you know. Don’t assume that you’ve set it, and it’s working. Test it. Okay. Test it. And please don’t ask for another donation when I make my donation. Just thank me. Don’t ask me for another gift. Pretty please with sugar on top. 

Okay. So there’s lots of great questions, and I’m just going to give you some more tips for end-of-year gifts. And if you want some help on any of this, you can check out League of Extraordinary Fundraisers. If getting some fundraising training right this hot minute on end-of-year is how you want to rock your 2021, we are going to be covering that in two live upcoming workshops, but we also covered it last year. And we even covered how to convert more online gifts plus how to launch a monthly giving program and a whole lot more. 

So here’s some strategies for you being able to test how your online giving experience stacks up. You can check out this link a bit.ly/DonorGuru, capitalize the D, capitalize the G. This is my friend Lynne Wester. She is awesome and hilarious. And she makes donations every year, and then she analyzes what happens with her gifts. And she like publicly shares it. 

So these are some checklist items. You need a prominent donate button or call to action on your homepage. That link needs to work. It should be one button that I click to get to that donation form. I shouldn’t get lost, or I have to comb through five pages to get there. Obviously, it should be mobile-friendly. Obviously, you want to invite them to make their gift monthly. And I highly encourage you, if you want to convert more monthly gifts, you need to tell them how much more good they will do if they make their gift monthly. Just giving me the option isn’t going to like suddenly give you some sky-high conversion rate. They should get a personalized email autoresponder. They should get a text receipt. 

If it’s GivingTuesday, they sure as heck need to be invited to share their gift on social media, if it’s GivingTuesday because, you know what, friends, GivingTuesday is a social kind of day. It’s very social, and people want to share that they made a gift, and they might want to invite other people to do it too. So test your social sharing. Test the what does it say when they share on Twitter. What does it say when they share on Facebook? Does it automatically just point them to your donation page, or does it have a good call to action? 

So you need a donation form that’s clearly visible on your homepage and one click away. You need to have multiple giving channels with the same theme and branding. I’m a big fan of lightbox. I guarantee you, a good lightbox is going to get you more conversion. You need to test to make sure that every link works. No global navigation means on your donation page. They shouldn’t be able to like click on programs or click on volunteer and get lost because you’ve got them there, and you want to keep them there like the captive audience that they are. You need a mobile-friendly design, short one-page donation form, no unnecessary anything. Offer a variety of donation amounts. Prefilling one has been shown to boost your odds, and you can say like most people are giving here. That’s called social proofing. And show that your donation form is secure with security certificate logos. 

So the number one mistake that tanks any appeal is, you guessed it, not having a strong offer. Your offer tells the donor what their gift will do. $50 is going to give kids back to school backpacks. $100 is going to give, you know, kids in third-world countries their full set of newborn vaccines. $100 is going to pay for a month’s worth of baby formula for a hungry orphan. The offer tells the donor how the money will be used. It tells the donor the outcome that is going to result from the dollar amount that you are requesting. And there are so many fundraising appeals I see that are vague, that are aspirational, that are clear as mud, and there is not a strong offer. This is telling me how my gift is going to change a fate. 

In any appeal, you need a problem, you need a solution, and the donor’s gift is going to solve it. Problem. Kids are being born with cleft lip palate in third-world countries. Solution. Only $225 is a life-saving surgery that fixes it forever, and your donation is going to do that. Give the donor a role in the story. The more you put the donor in the story, the more they see themselves as an active participant in solving the problem, and the more motivated they are. It’s not that your $100 will allow Boys & Girls Clubs to give kids who can’t afford school backpacks backpacks. It’s your $100 is going to give kids like Billy this. Take yourself out as the middleman. Put the donor in there front and center with a role in the story.

I’m going to share some free resources, and then we are going to dig into the questions, my fundraising friends. So this is one that I’ve shared, and I will pop this in here. This is a checklist for your end-of-year appeal. I’m going to pop that in there for you. I’m also going to pop out the link in here to today’s handouts. And finally, for my next trick, I’m going to pop in the link for the thank guide, the dos and don’ts of a thank you. So you’ve got all those available to you that you can download. 

I got to brag here on Bloomerang here. They have this awesome test, and Steven can correct me if I’m wrong. They’ve had this awesome “You” test for a while. If I’m understanding it right, it was available to customers. And recently, I don’t know recently, it could be in the past couple years, they made it available to everyone because that’s just the kind of generous awesome people that they are at Bloomerang. So I have this like bookmarked. So I’m going to pop that into the chat as well. I use it all the time, and what I love about this is this tells you how donor-centered your appeal is. You can use this for an appeal. You can use it for a thank you letter. You can use it for your newsletter. You can use it for anything that you’re writing that’s communication that you’re sending to your donors. Not only does it tell you how many “yous,” and you want twice the “yous” as “we” words. It also tells you what reading level you’re at, which is very important because a lot of us, especially for all you guys that are DIYing your way through your appeal, a lot of people tend to write like their college professor taught them. And that’s not how you want to communicate with your donors. You want to be at a sixth to eighth-grade reading level. 

This is super awesome. I bragged on Steven Screen’s formula for reporting back, and he talks about this a lot. It’s a virtuous circle. You ask, you thank, you report back. The problem is not sending too many appeals, fundraising friends. The problem is sending fundraising appeals before you’ve reported back to your donors and told them how their gift was used on the appeal that they gave to. That, my fundraising friends, is the problem. If you thank donors, and you tell them how their gifts made a difference, there’s no such thing as fundraising fatigue or donor fatigue. There’s no such thing as long as you’re doing that. 

So Steven has this awesome thing that he does where he gives you . . . you submit your appeal, and he does these live reviews, and he might pick your appeal and give you feedback on it. I don’t know. I haven’t looked at it in a while. Oh, it’s paused right now. Okay. It’s paused right now. Someday when it comes back up . . . He’s probably too busy doing end-of-year stuff. Someday when it comes back up, check it out. 

And if you want some help from yours truly, if you would enjoy this, if you’re like, “I like Rachel’s comforting voice and funny, reverent style,” then you can get monthly training from me. We’re going to be covering end-of-year, and we covered it a lot. When you join, you get all the workshops that came before. We’ve covered everything from how to create a development plan, to how to do a donor survey, to GivingTuesday, to end-of-year made easy, to how to launch a monthly giving program, to how to create a stewardship plan. Every month, we do a new 90-minute workshop, and next week, we’re covering building a major gifts program. So you can check that out if you are interested. These are all the things we’ve covered so far this year, including something I’m super passionate about, email systems, segmenting, and deliverability, but also planned giving, how to change your board, how to find new donors. You can check that out at League of Extraordinary Fundraisers if you are interested. And that’s my information. That’s where you can grab the slides. 

I’m going to check out some of these awesome questions now. Meghan asked, “Do you suggest trying to tie the end-of-year campaign into GivingTuesday, or do you think that’s too much noise?” It actually goes the opposite way. You start with GivingTuesday, and then you end with end-of-year. And no, it is not too much noise to participate in GivingTuesday as well of end-of-year. You think that your donors read every single email and every single piece of communications, but all you have to do, my fundraising friends . . . I’m not just here to like rain on your parade. All you have to do to prove this to yourself is look at your open rate. Most nonprofits’ open rates hover around like 20% to 25%. Okay. So there you have it. 75% to 80% of your donors are not reading your emails. 

So don’t worry about sending more emails. Sending more email is not a crime. Sending more email is smart. It needs to be good email. It can’t be bad email. But it needs to be good email, and it’s smart because it boosts your deliverability. If you’re sending compelling content that people want to read, they’re going to open it. And Google’s going to say, “Look, you know, Rachel really loves all these newsletters from Bloomerang. Keep them coming. Keep them coming. No spam here. She’s gobbling these up.” 

Kayla asks, “When you say year-end, does this cover October to December, November, December, or just December?” That is a really good question. I mean, different organizations refer to this stuff differently. There’s year-end. There’s GivingTuesday. There’s your holiday campaign, which some people consider to be like just up until Christmas, and then end-of-year being like those few days afterwards. You don’t need to overthink it. This is kind of like, you know, how the sausage gets made. It doesn’t really matter. The most important thing is you have a good offer and that you thank your donors before you send out your offer and that you have a compelling well-written offer.

Sarah said, “What if you have a very small donor base? How do you avoid donor fatigue?” You follow the formula. You ask, you thank, and you report back. As long as you report back, you don’t have to worry about fatigue. And I will put in some websites of some copywriters that I like, and I will keep answering these awesome questions. 

Okay. I’m going to put in some websites of people that I like. First, I have my friend Julie Cooper, and she is doing a really fantastic . . . It’s like a special program where you can learn. You can send her your appeal, and she’ll give you feedback. There’s my friend Sarah Masterson who’s also a fundraising copywriter. I don’t know what availability people have. I will share my friend Julie Edwards who is a fundraising copywriter as well. This here. Yay. Oh, that’s someone in Australia. Julie Edwards Consulting. Let me get this right here. 

Okay. I’m going to answer a few more questions. Should your yearly appeals have a theme, or is it okay to have a different message with each appeal? Your end-of-year appeal should have a theme. You can have a different theme for your . . . like a different ask. Someone asked about the end of year . . . my program, the League of Extraordinary Fundraisers, it’s a monthly program. You can sign up. You can quit anytime. But I don’t sell them monthly. That’s way too complicated and too much of a headache. But you can sign up for one month and then cancel. Your payment runs every 30 days, and you can cancel any time. 

Kristen, you can have a different appeal for GivingTuesday and a different appeal for end-of-year, or they can be within the same theme. You can kick off with a GivingTuesday campaign, and you can continue with that theme for end-of-year. It’s okay to have a different message for GivingTuesday and end-of-year. It’s okay. When you’re doing a multi-message fundraising campaign for end-of-year, all of those messages should have consistent branding and theme. And a lot of organizations choose to have like similar campaign theme and style with GivingTuesday and end-of-year. And you know what’s beautiful about fundraising, is you can do all this stuff, and you can test it. 

The theme is what you’re raising money for, the main thrust of what you’re raising money for. Is it to, you know, feed all the orphans in a village? Your campaign theme is what you’re raising money for.

Kinsey asks, “When you recommend doubling your appeals, what should be the breakdown between mail that email be? Do social media appeals count towards that? No, social media is not included in that. And when I tell you to double your appeals . . . if you’re sending one email appeal, I want you to send three, and the next year I want you to send five. If you’re sending one direct mail appeal, if you can afford it, double that. 

Most people aren’t sending enough appeals, and most people aren’t doing a good enough job with their fundraising copywriting in their appeals because we have an internal bias. We write at too complicated level. We assume our donors know everything about our programs and are familiar with it already. We don’t use enough emotion in our fundraising. We don’t write simplistic enough compelling copy. We may feel like, “That’s not my voice.” 

And that’s why I’m a big fan, and I always tell people. People are like, “Oh, I can’t afford to work with fundraising copywriter.” And someone asked earlier how much is the cost. It depends on your project. It depends on how many appeals you’re doing. It depends on who you work with. Different fundraising copywriters have different rates. So, you know, that’s up to you to talk about based on the campaign that you’re doing. But that is my advice there. 

I’m going to say this too about fundraising copyrighting on my soapbox. Sometimes people are like, “Oh, my God, it would cost us let’s just say. This fundraising copywriter wants to do like a direct mail appeal, and she wants to do like three emails, and like the total package of all this and what it’s going to cost us is going to be like $5,000. And we just can’t afford that.” If you were going to spend $5,000, and you were going to raise $40,000, that’s a really amazing ROI. So I encourage you before you think, “Oh, my God, I can’t spend $1,000. I just can’t do that,” you could be doubling, tripling, quadrupling what you’re raising with their appeal. 

So I would just think about that because I see so many people have these hard limits around investing any money. And many of you guys when I asked like how much you were going to spend, that number was really, really low, but how much you want to raise? Well, that number was really high. And do you know what I want? I want you to be right up there. I want you to really hit that goal, and I want you to raise that money. And I don’t have a problem with you spending a little bit of money. That is a good ROI. That’s a really good investment if you’re spending a little bit of money to make a lot more money. And you could really be learning about how to be a better fundraising copywriter yourself, which is worth learning.

“Is there a website that scores headlines?” Bobby Joe asked. I use a website that I love called subjectline.com, and I’ll put it into the chat. And it tests your subject line. I’m obsessed with email. I did a program in April on email, and I gave some off-the-chain free tools for testing email, testing whether it lands in a spam folder, testing your subject lines, improving your subject lines, rewriting subject lines, tons of free stuff. 

The subject lines from my kids’ school was . . . I love the questions you guys are asking. Okay. You’re going to laugh, but stick with me. My kids go to an arts high school, and they were promoting a SpongeBob SquarePants musical. You’re sticking with me? And the subject line was . . . it was like a SpongeBob SquarePants. It kind of had a Patrick emoji, the starfish emoji that was pink, and they had the little wave. And it was, “Did someone say best day ever?” That’s just like joy in my inbox. I mean, best day ever, yay. And, yes, Anne-Marie, my kids are in high school now. It’s insanity. They just started, and it’s like they’re 14 going on 18. They think they’re going to stay until 10:30 on a school night or something crazy. 

Kristy, you can download the slides, and I will put a link in here where you can do that. You guys are awesome. Thanks for letting us go a little bit over. Jennifer asked a really good question, and Charlotte did too, tips for the ask for a match donation, or who is a good prospect? Is any match too small? How do you find companies or a match? You develop relationships with companies, and you offer them compelling benefits and a good tie-in. Maybe they want to get in front of your target audience. Maybe you are helping their employees because you have an after-school program or some like enrichment program. I said mask. We were talking about match before we started. Typically, matches are . . . we’ve got a generous donor that’s going to double every gift that’s made. It could be up to a certain amount. It can be anonymous. You certainly don’t have to name the name of the donor. That’s helpful.

Rachel said she’s a fundraising newbie. I love the way Rachel spells her name, just like I do, the right way. Thank you, Rachel. She said, “Can you briefly explain what securing match means for the timeline campaign?” You want to do it early because it takes time, you know, to get someone to dance with you at the dance, right? You want to like ask early because you’re going to get some nos, and it takes time to find someone. Typically, matches do really well in terms of boosting your results, but it is something that you want to do it strategically. 

If you set an outrageously too high fundraising goal, and you have like a terrible appeal and a terrible subject line, and it’s written in 12th grade reading level, and the offer isn’t there, and it’s totally vague and squishy, and you set a really ambitious pie in the sky goal for your match, that’s not going to work. But if you set a totally doable match that you can reach, you create a lot of momentum and a lot of excitement, some information about matches . . . Bessie says, “What’s an A/B test?” An A/B test, Bessie, is splitting up a statistically significant number, and you have to have a statistically significant number, to test something, test your fundraising direct mail appeal, test your email subject line. That is what a split A/B test is. If you do a split A/B test, for example, in an email, it’ll tell you, “This subject line got a higher open rate than this subject line.” A lot of smart fundraisers use split A/B testing like in examples that you saw to test stewardship, to test subject lines, to test appeals, etc.

An anonymous person said . . . Okay. So end-of-year. You can start your end-of-year fundraising anytime. The last day of end-of-year fundraising is December 31 because it’s the end of the year. Some people start their end-of-year fundraising programs in August. Some people start in December. Some people start in November with GivingTuesday. There is not a one-size-fits-all in that schedule. I had a holiday campaign running in December and end-of-year called out after Christmas. That’s just one example. Every organization does it differently, and you’re going to do it based on what your mission is, what your orientation is, all that other good stuff. 

Terry said, “How much segmentation of your appeal and custom messaging is expected? What’s the average?” That is an interesting question. It depends on your level of sophistication as organization. At bare minimum, you need to be segmenting people who gave from getting the same ask the same day if they’ve already given. That is like a bare minimum, but you can have higher levels of sophistication based on the type of donor. Are they a lapsed donor? Are they a monthly donor? Are they a major gift donor? It really depends. You can download copies of the slides, and I feel like I put that in here, but I’ll put that in there again. And I’ll answer a couple more here. You guys have really good questions. That’s for you, Janine, the slides.

Kinsey said, “Our donors respond better to mail than email. How can we communicate effectively without spending a bunch of money on postage, letterhead, envelopes?” I will say this, Kinsey, you may think that your donors were . . . okay. I’m sorry. I’m reading it properly. I needed to reread that. If your donors want to give to you via mail, let them give to you via mail. Okay. Meet your donors where they are at. If you were to say, “I don’t want to spend money on postage, letterhead, and envelopes. Let’s get these people to give online,” they may not trust it. They may have issues with giving online. My dad is 84 years old, and he’s like super reluctant to buy stuff online. It’s so strange to me that we’re interesting that we’re in the same gene pool but not. It would take a lot of trust logos for my dad to make a donation online. I’m trying to get him to move towards making more of his doctor’s appointments online. 

Meghan asked, “Do you suggest having next year’s budget done so you can see where the funding gaps are and be able to tell donors in December how their gift is helping?” If you can do that, go for it. 

Can the newsletter be reporting back? No, it can’t, Patrick, because your newsletter is going to like everybody. You can write a really great donor-centered newsletter, and you can include all of these great stories. And you can send that donor newsletter to people who gave, but you’re writing an appeal for something specific. You’re saying, “Give us money to buy kids in third world countries vaccines.” Tell me when you report back how many kids got vaccines. Tell me what better yet. Tell me one story about a kid who got a vaccine and how much it changed their life and how much brighter things are for them.

Regina asked, “How about sending a thank you from a client?” Go for it. Great idea. “Is there a webinar and take the donors off the merry-go-round after they make a gift?” I cover that a lot in my League of Extraordinary Fundraisers in particular in my workshop on everything email where I cover tagging and segmentation and why that is so important. And I know that Steven shares my passion for that. 

Oh, Terry said she just learned that her former development director didn’t thank a lot of donors. “I want to thank them now. Do I apologize for the delay in thanking them?” I wouldn’t. You know, it sounds like Terry is new. If I got that wrong, don’t worry about it. You can play the new card for 18 months, you guys, if you’re a new employee. I wouldn’t say I’m sorry that someone . . . “I’m sorry that we were so remiss in thanking you more promptly.” I would just be like, “Oh, my goodness, you know, it’s been six months since you made your generous gift, and I just want to tell you what an incredible difference you’re having. Thanks to you, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. 

Eric said, “What wording do you recommend for donate button? Is donate shown to be best or support?” This is a great example of testing. So, yeah, you can test. Most people have donate as their call to action, give now, but you can test both and see what works best for you. 

Rachel, “Can you clarify?” Harvest season is when you are . . . Before you ask you’re thanking. And I got that term. I want to give credit where credit is due from my friend Mark Rovner at Sea Change Strategies. He likes to call it harvest season. 

Okay. I’m going to take just like two more. Bridget said, “When people donate a specific gift, but someone else wants to make $100 gifts supporting a different area, how do you segregate your thank yous with impact? Do you make the thank you generalized?” Okay. What I’m talking about . . . write this down, Bridget. When you write an appeal and you talk in your appeal about the formula, and people give to the appeal about the formula, you need to thank those people and talk about the formula. And I don’t think you’re going to have as much of an impact or as much lived or as many donations. But if you do an appeal that’s totally general, the point is you thank the person for the thing that they did. And most nonprofits totally fail to do that. Joe, I have got the link in the handouts, and I’m just going to answer like one more. You guys have a lot of great questions. Thanks for sticking around here.

Okay. Teresa said, “I’m raising money for lung cancer research. How do you have a strong offer when you can’t correlate a specific dollar amount to any specific problem or solution?” Okay. So you’re helping fund the cure, and medical research is going to cost money. Yeah. You’re going to do your best. I would look at other organizations that are raising fundraising appeals for medical research and look at what they’ve done in innovative ways. The good news is for you, Tessa, is that there are lots of other people in your space, and you can kind of look at how they handled it and what you like and what you might want to emulate. Your ask strings could all be about what that donor gave before, which is a very intelligent way to base your ask strings. You could talk about specific kinds of research that you’re doing. 

In general, trying to monetize it and have that the stronger that makes a stronger offer for you, and you would have greater donations than if you didn’t. That is my advice. So do the best that you can. You guys are so welcome. 

Okay. We went like 20 minutes over. So I’m going to be respectful of everybody’s time and invite Steven to come back. It’s been a joy and a pleasure to get to be with you guys today. If you like this and you want a little more helper love from me, I’ll pop this into the chat. I hope that all the fabulous fundraising copywriting ladies I know and adore, I hope that sharing that resources were helpful to you and Bloomerang’s awesome resources on helping people be more donor-centered. 

Steven: Dang, Rachel, that was awesome. You always got some website I never heard of. Every year, it’s like there’s some new thing that I need to bookmark. That’s what I love about it. That’s cool. Thanks for doing this. Thanks for hanging out longer with the Q&A, everyone, not just Rachel. I really appreciate, not just everyone interacting, but hanging out because lots of good stuff. So definitely connect with Rachel. You know, download all that stuff I’m going to send to you. Like I said, I’ll be sending out the slides and the recording here in just a couple of hours. 

I just want to highlight real quick next week’s webinar because it’s a pretty cool one. It’s a little bit different topic than I have seen around certainly what Bloomerang has done. If you are interested or maybe struggle with engaging multicultural communities, specifically Spanish speakers, join us next week. If that is a constituency that you would like to have more engagement with, we’re going to talk about it, our friend Naira Bonilla is going to join us, specifically how to use WhatsApp, which is a social media kind of best-in-breed service. That’s going to be a cool one. So next week 2 p.m., same time, same place as this one I guess. 

But if you can’t make it, register anyway because you’ll get the recording. It’s cool if you don’t show up. You won’t hurt my feelings. In fact, I won’t even notice, honestly, because you can get it right away. And speaking of recording, like I said, I’m going to send this one out right now. So be on the lookout, and hopefully, we’ll see you again next week. 

So, Rachel, thank you. Thanks to all of you for hanging out. Have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a good weekend. Stay safe, stay healthy out there. We need you all, and we’ll talk to you again soon. See you.

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.