In this webinar, Mazarine Treyz will show you how to create a fluid communications plan that produces stories that stand out from all of the crisis messaging.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right. Mazarine, I got 4:00 Eastern, 1:00 your time. Okay if I go ahead and kick it off?

Mazarine: Please do.

Steven: All right. Awesome. Well, welcome, everybody. Good afternoon if you’re listening live, if you’re watching the recording, or if you are outside of that time zone, whatever time of day it is, I hope you’re having a good day. We’re here to talk about yearend fundraising appeals. That’s right. It’s yearend time. I know time has no meaning, but we’re going to be talking about yearend. It’s getting close. It’s late September and we got some specific coronavirus COVID crisis examples of what’s working, what’s been working, and how to do that in yearend. So I’m excited.

I’m Steven. I’m over here at Bloomerang in my home office, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always. And just a couple of housekeeping items, just want to let you all know we are recording this session. We will send the slides and the recording later on. You’ll get those by email. So don’t worry if you miss something, if you get interrupted, if you can’t watch it all, we’ll get all that good stuff to you. Don’t worry. Just look for an email for me. But most importantly, we love for these webinars to be interactive. So use that chat box. We want to hear from you, introduce yourself. If you haven’t already, there’s a Q&A box, so you can ask questions. You can ask questions in either of them, no problem. I’ll keep an eye on those. We’re going to try to save as much time at the end as possible for Q&A. So don’t be shy. Love to hear from you. And you can also do that on Twitter. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed as well.

And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, welcome. So glad you’re here. We love first-timers. We usually have a few first-timers for every session. If you’re wondering what the heck is Bloomerang, we are a software. We’re donor management software. Not what we’re here to talk about today, but if you’re just wondering, just for context, but we do these webinars quite often. We do these multiple times a week. We love it. One of my favorite things we do here at Bloomerang just to kind of give back. But if you’re invested in software, if you need something, need to make a switch or put in software for the first time, check us out, go to our website. There’s videos. You can get an inside look. You don’t even have to talk to anybody if you don’t want to. But don’t do that right now. Wait an hour because we got Mazarine Treyz here. How’s it going, Maz? Are you doing okay?

Mazarine: Yes. Thank you for having me back, Steven. We’ve like done this for like what? Five, six years now, I feel?

Steven: Oh, it’s got to be more. This is maybe like your seventh or eighth. You’re a stalwart of the Bloomerang webinars series. I remember back in like 2013, you probably got an email from me, like who the heck is this guy begging you to come on. But it’s been fun to learn from you and you’ve been blogging for us for as long. You had a great post on our blog yesterday, I think, it was. Check that out. Check her out. She’s over at Wild Woman Fundraising. She does all kinds of awesome things. She does her own events. She does trainings all the time. Subscribe to her blog. I love getting your newsletter, Mazarine, because it always puts a smile on my face because you tell funny stories and there’s always a funny meme at the bottom.

Mazarine: There’s jokes at the bottom. Sometimes there’s memes. Always a joke.

Steven: Better than my jokes. Yeah. I just have dad jokes, but she has real jokes. So you’re going to want to subscribe to that. She’s got an awesome event coming up in November that we’re sponsoring that you’ll definitely want to check out. And one of many things I like about Mazarine is she shares my passion, probably more passionate than I do about diversity, equity, inclusion. And you’ll see some of that come out if you get to know her, which I think you should. Connect with her, especially after this presentation, you won’t be disappointed. So Maz, I’m going to stop sharing because people want to hear from you, not me. So let’s see if you can get your beautiful slides up here.

Mazarine: Yeah. Maybe what I’ll do, what you did and just put the slides up here so I can still see your face. Is that okay?

Steven: Yeah. For people listening, it’s kind of hard for us to fullscreen the slides and still be able to see all the Zoom elements. So I think it’s pretty big. I don’t think that that . . . Yeah. Oh, yeah. Let’s do it.

Mazarine: Let’s do it this way? Okay.

Steven: Why not?

Mazarine: We’ll do it this way. Okay. We’ll do it this way. All right. So yearend of fundraising appeals during coronavirus, what works now? Everybody, thank you so much for being here. We’re actually going to, after this crazy year, drop into our bodies. So I’m going to lead you through this right now. So I wanted you to ask yourself, “Are my shoulders up or down?” For me, the answer is always up. And then drop your awareness down into your spine, into your pelvic bowl. Put one hand on your heart, one hand on your belly, breathe in, breathe out and feel your energy expand beyond your pelvic bowl. Feel your feet on the floor or wherever they are.

All right. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for dropping in with me. And I hope today that you find exactly what’s working for others and you get a chance to brainstorm with us about how this can work for you. So this is for you if you want clear, effective tools to help your organization and community, you want to know how to wisely use your resources financially and emotionally, and you want to be proactive about donor engagement. So quick question for you, what have you given up for COVID and what have you gained? And Steven and I were talking just before we got started here about giving up seeing my family, and it really sucks. So feel free to put in the chat what you’ve given up or what you’ve gained. I’d love to see. And I don’t know why I can’t see the chat right now, but I can’t, go figure. Maybe, Steven, you can help me see what’s in the chat.

Steven: Yeah. Lots of people saying they’ve had to give up hobbies like traveling, dancing, going out with friends, seeing family like you said, meeting with donors. Yeah. That’s a tough one for sure.

Mazarine: Thanks, everybody, for sharing that. So what worries you the most right now? Please type in the chat. And maybe, Steven, you can share anything about people are writing.

Steven: People are worried about losing a job, finding a job, funding their mission, you know, hitting their goals. Industries recovering. Funding, a lot of people saying funding and fundraising, for sure. Meeting goals. Yup.

Mazarine: Thanks, everybody, for sharing that. I really appreciate that. So one webinar isn’t going to solve all your funding problems and there’s a lot of job instability right now as well. I heard that 1.6 million people were laid off between March and June of this year in the nonprofit sector, which is a lot of people. So Steven knows we’ve done research together on how to improve the sector for fundraisers and for those of us who have to fundraise, if we don’t call ourselves fundraisers. And I’d like to say, if you’re a nonprofit leader in this webinar, in this presentation, you’re considering laying off your fundraiser, I invite you to not do that. This is the best time to keep them. So thank you for sharing what you’re worried about. Hopefully today you’ll see some good emails that you can then use to help activate your donors to give to you right now.

So we don’t know when we’ll truly be able to come out of quarantimes, but we have more tools and connection at our disposal than the world has ever known. And as workers and nonprofits, we’re used innovating, adapting, and bringing communities together. We got this, and I am here to help you. So what I want to invite you to do now is to take notes, turn off other apps for the best viewing experience. We’ve got a ton to cover and we don’t want bandwidth issues to slow us down. So if you’re like looking at your email or looking at your phone, I really encourage you to not do that and just try to focus on this because I’m already going to start dropping knowledge right now.

So here’s the first gem for you. Try moving towards a more informal way of speaking with your donors and your readers. A quick email just to say hi, ask how they are, share what’s up with you and end with a smile. So I was working with a Idaho land trust and the one-line email worked really well for this executive director and her donors saying, “Hey, I have a quick question for you.” Or, “Hey, can I tell you something?” Or, “Just want to check in with you. How are you doing?” And then as long as it’s not super long, it invites them to respond to you like a friend. You’re treating them like a friend, they’re responding like a friend.

So I’m going to show you more little tidbits of what’s working for my clients as we go about through the presentation today. This is what you’re going to learn. Why COVID is a diagnostic tool. Communicating what has worked best for us, brainstorming your next fundraising steps together, emails that work now. Going to show you lots of those. And then getting clear on a plan moving forward into fall, an invitation to join us in a new event coming up as we mentioned earlier. So by the end of class today, you’ll have new story ideas, be motivated and ready to take action. You know, new ideas for how to respond as the news shifts.

So a tiny bit about me. I have incredible COVID fundraising results I want to share with you. I’ve spoken from London to Jamaica. I’ve made ten e-courses on fundraising as well as a bunch of books. I’ve cofounded a nonprofit and I’ve risen from development assistant to development director, and I’ve fundraised millions for national, international, and small organizations as well as universities. So for the last 10 years, I’ve taught nonprofit communications and my students and clients have reaped the benefits. So one LA client with only seven employees got 127K in March, more than doubled that with 275 in April, and in the last several months, have continued this incredible success and are on track to raise 2 million having their best year ever. I’ve worked with them for the last five years. So during COVID, a Chicago student of my March webinar got out of a freeze mode and into action mode and she got $18,000 after getting two matches and communicating in a timely way with her donors.

So what I want for you is to get out of overwhelm and worry and start to feel in control of your communications, to make enough money to survive COVID, and still provide programs when it’s all over, and to feel successful in communicating to donors who are scared and feeling helpless right now. In year-end fundraising, it could be a scary time for a lot of people. More people are getting sick, who knows what’s going to be happening politically, but it’s a very uncertain time. So COVID is causing a surge in fundraising. While we watch the facade of capitalist structures crumble, while people are dying alone, while doctors and nurses are getting PTSD, and while donors are sitting there wondering what they can do, and that’s where you come in.

So according to Arundati Roy, COVID is a diagnostic tool. It shows what’s wrong with our healthcare system, with our wage levels, with our corporations, with our governments, and with our food systems. And it lays bare the inequities for black people, for Native Americans, for incarcerated people, people detained at the border, and not the least, the elderly. And that people who have health issues in general. So this is why it’s just really pinpointing for us where our society needs support. And if your nonprofit can speak to any of these issues, it’ll be very timely to get people to give to you now.

So what does this crisis ultimately mean? It means we’ll no longer be able to fundraise or do earned income the way we did before. Steven and I were talking before the presentation started about how we’re not even going to talk about physical appeal letters, because who knows if you could give somebody COVID-19 by licking the envelope, we don’t know. So there might not be more Goodwill or Salvation Armies. That model might go away. Fewer Habitat for Humanities because of less in-person volunteer opportunities. So you’re going to need to change your models, and includes your yearend fundraising model. You need to change your fundraising. And you might need to merge or shut down your organization.

Hard reality. According to the AP and Fast Company, in August, they said 40% of nonprofits could close next year. You don’t want that to be you. We really have to radically change what we’re doing and show our values to our donors. At the end, I’ll share an opportunity to join us for the next event we’re having and get involved in a larger community. And that’s called the New Power Fundraising Conference.

So let’s go. Here’s case study one. I’m going to show you exactly what they sent, when they sent it, and the results that they got. So these emails helped raise 275K for a small homelessness nonprofit with just 7 staff. Aside from these emails, they also get the board to help fundraise. A donor raised 10K in a crowdfunding campaign for them and they also started calling major donors. This organization is called Food on Foot.

So here’s the email they sent in April 3rd. So it said . . . Didn’t even write their first names. They said, “You’re incredible,” club member. Their club members, the people that are their monthly donors. They have over 600 monthly donors giving them over 600,000 a year in income that is unrestricted. So if you want to see how to do monthly giving right, definitely check out what they do. So, “Thank you for your big hearted club support during the crisis because we’re not having volunteers coming out. How else can we help? Here’s how. Please tell everyone you know.” And then they gave them a little snippet about what to say. It goes, “Copy-paste into email and tell people about . . . ” what their organization is doing because of COVID.

If you haven’t yet done, this is a great thing to do. It shows that you’re still relevant. And then the bottom of the email said, “Because you helped us, this is what we’re doing. And then with your help, this is what we’re doing this last Sunday. So thank you again.” And sincerely, and it’s signature of the CEO and founder.

I think they sent this about a week later. And they said, “I want to thank you again. This month you helped us provide relief to these people who lost their jobs and the next few months are critical to our continued success. We need to raise this much. And I want you to double your monthly donations.” Because these people are already getting $98 a month. They’re asking them to double it. “Your generous additional funds will allow us to provide the following services, full rent assistance, additional food gift cards, crisis management and counseling sessions, and 300 pre-bagged meals every Sunday when none of the other programs are serving the homeless.” And then there’s a big button that says, “Yes, I would like to double my donation for three months.” So it doesn’t even have the person’s first name and it still made them so much money.

So here’s the case study two, the Momentous Institute. And they do education and they’ve had to pivot to online. So these three emails raised $320,000. They were originally going to be a direct mail piece, but their event was canceled, their golf tournament. So they were in a $2 million hole and they moved quickly to secure $100 matching gifts and then moved the appeal to email. Because the event canceled, they moved up the timeline, they ran the appeal from April 15th to May 15th and this is what they got.

So here’s April 15th, what they sent, “Dear first name, we’re in unprecedented times.” And then maybe you don’t want to say that quote and I completely understand. It’s way more of a cliché now than it was. “So COVID has caused us to move forward in serving students, families, and clients in unique ways and these ways are creating a strain on our budget, a budget that was already stressed.” So what do you notice about the picture, the design, and the wording of this letter so far, this email? What can you tell me that you notice? Please feel free to type in the chat. And maybe, Steven, you can tell me what people are saying.

Steven: Yeah. Lots of people saying, the photo, uplifting photo. It said positive photo. It kind of draws their eyes, you know, a happy kid. Looks like definitely the photo is drawn people in. Some people also saying how the donate button is, you know, prominent and up top too. Yeah.

Mazarine: Yeah. Yup. And it’s a simple design. You know, if you look at this on the phone versus on your screen, it probably looks pretty similar. One thing I would change about this is have the donate button be a wildly different color than the rest of the elements in this email, because it will make it stand out more. And I would put it below the kid’s face or right above his face because over here in the right-hand column, it’s like Siberia. It’s like people don’t necessarily look there because it’s usually where like ads are. So that’s the first part of this email. Remember this email sequence raise $320,000? So, “A generous donor has offered to back to any gift received by May 15th up to 100,000. Please help us raise these much-needed dollars to continue our important work.”

And this continues the email. It’s a pretty long email. “This is how we reacted when we had to close our campuses. We did this, we did this, we did this. Within two days our teachers had restructured their education plans, our therapists were immediately reaching out to clients, and we’d had already 275 therapy sessions via phone or teleconference. And our training team has posted blogs and webinars, providing suggestions and how you can maintain your social emotional health brings difficult time.”

So, wow. There’s a lot of good stuff here. There’s still more to go. This email is a long email. If you feel like you could only do short ones, try a short one and then try a super long one. Like, “This is only scratching the surface. This crisis not only disrupted our method of certain clients, it also canceled our tournament. Today you have an opportunity to be a hero. Take advantage of this exciting chance to have your gift doubled. In these extraordinary times, I know we can count on you. By raising this money, we can . . . ” And so you can add in what you could do with that money, “Continue meeting the needs of our community through education and social emotional learning. Please make your gift.” And again, they remind you, “By this day, to make sure it gets matched.”

All right. So look like somebody raised their hand. Did somebody want to share something or maybe put it in the chat or in the questions pane? Or should we have saved questions to the end? What would you like to do, Steven?

Steven: Yeah. If people chat it, I can definitely answer questions if there of a technical nature, but yeah, I would keep going.

Mazarine: Okay. Cool. So email two, April 23rd. So you can see it went from April 15th to April 23rd. So fairly soon after this, here’s what they’ve got. So what do you notice about this email? It says, “Dear friend, in just one week, friends of Momentous quickly stepped in to help us reach 25% of our 100,000 match goal.” There’s a graphic that says, “We are 25% of the way to our goal. We are truly touched by your generous support. We still need your help to get us to 100%. During this most difficult and uncertain time, social emotional health has never been more important. Just look at what your gift is making happen.” What do you notice about this email? Please type in the chat. And maybe, Steven, you can share with me what people are saying.

Steven: Lots of people are noticing the donor centricity, you, your support, your help, kind of putting the spotlight on them, for sure.

Mazarine: Yup. And one of the things that I really like to bring up here is that their cause is more urgent now because of all of the stress, trauma, and disruption, and change that we’re all going through as a nation. And I would say as North Americans for the Canadians in the audience, so another thing I want you to pay attention to is there’s lots of white space. That really helps people focus on what’s important. In here it looks like 25% is important and donate is important. I would maybe not have all of these little pictures because it’s hard to know what to focus out. The little words, I just put like a big one. They’ve got lots of smiling kids, and that is so cute and that’s so easy to give to. So I’m going to show you more of what this email says now.

There were pictures inside this email of people and their kids and how this nonprofit has affected them. “Alex and his sister will finish the school year at home. Alex misses hanging out with his friends, but he enjoys being able to connect over video in his Chromebook with his classmates and teachers. Joanna received a learning kit filled with interactive projects and materials last week and she now has also by chance to continue learning.” So real people, these are not stock photographs. And maybe it’s really hard to read the light blue on white, and that’s why I read it to you just in case you couldn’t read it.

And then they have another one, “Julia wrestled with whether to continue working at a grocery store or leave a job to keep herself and her children safe from the virus. She needed the income to pay rent and buy food. Through a video call our therapist was able to listen to her struggle, partner with her to make a plan to help her feel confident for keeping herself safe at work.” So that’s good. Again, this is how this nonprofit is helping.

And then they said, “Just look at what your gift is making happen.” And this is like the second part of the email from above. “Your support allowed us to supply Momentus families with needed technology and learning kits to make sure all students can participate in online learning. Our therapeutic service clients are expressing increasingly high levels of stress.” And so we need people to keep giving basically, that’s the message here. “Remember, we still need your help to reach our 100,000 goal. But the more we raise, the more support we can provide to students like Alex and Joanna and parents like Julia and hundreds of teachers during this difficult time.”

And then they also focus on the teachers. This is another graphic that was in this email. “Staff launched free webinars offering support and ideas for teachers, facilitate social emotional health during distance learning last week. Within four hours, all 600 slots were filled.” So, wow. And then at the end it says, “All of us say thank you for continuing to bring hope to our students, families, and community.” So if you have an audacious goal and you’re partway towards that goal, you could take this email and basically copy paste it and put in your services.

Here’s the third email from April 30th. So what do you notice about this email? Anyone want to share? And maybe, Steven, you can tell me.

Steven: Goal tracking, people are saying. And then all of the faces in the photo, for sure.

Mazarine: Mm-hmm. There’s some happy kids here. Even if we can’t be together, you can see how they’re enjoying learning with this group. So it says, “Our fifth grade students were thriving with rigorous social, emotional, and academic . . . ” Right? So it looks like fifth grade students thriving, basically. It’s showing you that they’re actually doing the work that they say that they’re doing right there below it. And it is goal tracking.

So here’s what the rest of the email says. This is what they were preparing to do. “Thanks to their amazing teachers, they’re continuing to thrive via online learning, but they’re still going to miss out on graduation ceremony.” Which sucks. So they’ll miss out on family members, reading buddies, friends and teachers, but what won’t be lost is a strong foundation in academic, social and emotional learning will each carry their journey forward. But even if they’re not going to get this little graduate prepared for academic success. So basically you’re helping the donor frame, this is sad, but this is still happening. This is sad. And we miss this, this hugging thing, I’m just going to raise my head saying I miss hugs. But they’re going to graduate with the thing that we want them to have. So, again, the message is we are doing the work you don’t have time to do. If you’re sad about this, we can help make it less sad.

And then finally, they want to remind the donor of everything they’ve done for the last 30 years, 90% graduation rate on time compared to 85% of comparable peers, 78% enroll in college compared to 46% of comparable peers. There times more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree and the gift will continue to ensure these results. They share their practices across the nation to support children they will never meet. And so maybe they take away large ceremonies, but they’ll never take away students sense of belonging, their strong social, emotional health, and their interest in lifelong learning. And so, again, they’re encouraging you to make the gift day. They’re only 63% towards their goal. So what do you notice about these three emails? What can you share with me? Steven, if people are putting it in the chat, I want to hear what they’re saying.

Steven: Folks like that there’s a lot of impact being shown, their zooming in on the stats, the impact they’re having, the results in the community, to results-oriented. Yeah. Data-driven and positive also.

Mazarine: Yeah. And we really need that right now. You know, last night when I was crying, I was like I just really miss my family. And I’m sure a lot of us have been there in the last several months, missing friends, missing the way life used to be, and grief hits us at different times. And so if you turn on the news, it’s just more doom and gloom. And so for a lot of us, having an email like this come into our inbox, we might read the whole thing. We might say, “Wow, there’s still something that makes me feel happy. There’s something I can look towards the future and hope for.” And imagine if your nonprofit could give people hope in a time that is very stressful, very sad, very chaotic. Like that is what your emails this yearend could do. When they’re saying, “I wish I could be with my family for the holidays,” when they’re saying, “I wish I could just, you know, go out and have life the way it used to be.” You know, when there’s more scariness than ever your yearend letter could be so huge for them.

So here are some takeaways that I’ve taken. So lots of emails work more than you would think. Bigger ask amounts work, $1,200 actually works as an ask amount. So I want to tell you a friend of mine wrote some emails for a nonprofit in Canada recently and she raised a million dollars in a week and she sent eight emails and they were all pretty long and they asked for $1,250 Canadian and they got it from a lot of people. So another nonprofit called [Kosheka 00:28:47] encouraged people who were getting their stimulus checks of $1,200 who didn’t need it to give it to people who are undocumented and they would just give it directly to those people. And they raised millions that way earlier this year when the stimulus checks were being handed out. So $1,200 an ask amount seems like a lot, but it’s working. And so are there other things that you noticed about the two case studies that I’ve shared with you, these are my takeaways. Anything else that you noticed?

Steven: Some people, before we even mentioned the stimulus had noticed that, Mazarine, into that number jumped out of them. “Digestible amounts of information,” Aaron is saying. They’re longer, which I think some people maybe don’t know that that long is okay or maybe they think it always needs to be short, but, yeah. Matching gifts is always good. Yeah.

Mazarine: Yeah. Matching is an ideal situation. And even if you don’t have a match like the first organization that I shared that’s on track to have their best year ever, if you just ask people to double their monthly gift for a certain amount of months until the pandemic is over, maybe for another six months or whatever it is, that can be very persuasive. I’m a monthly donor for a nonprofit in Atlanta and I started out giving $10 a month. Then I give $20 a month. Now I’m giving $50 a month and I’m taking part in their virtual 5k. So those are some things to think about. When you’re looking at asks for your yearend giving, when you’re thinking about how to frame the ask and acknowledging where your donors may be at, because they’re probably at a similar place that you are like sad, worried, wondering what’s going to happen.

And so one of the key physiological responses to remember is that anxiety can also be excitement. And so sometimes to get your anxiety out of your body, you need to talk to your limbic brain and your limbic brain is there at the base of your skull. The limbic brain says, “I’m being chased by a monster. I’m being chased by a large animal, and I’m afraid.” So sometimes you get yourself out of anxiety, or fight or flight, fallen or freeze, you can take a walk around the block. And by the time you get back, if you’re able to do that, your body will have calmed down because it thinks that you got away from the monster. So if that’s possible for you or even doing like some pushups on the ground or something like that, that can really help you discharge that energy that says everything is terrible and you need to freak out right now.

So to get into that frame of mind before you write your emails, I think is important. It really does matter the frame of mind that you’re in before you write your emails. So I want to remind you of that, that how you’re feeling right now is not something to be ignored or pushed down. Feelings just want to be felt. And saying this as someone who has been in therapy since the pandemic started. So I was just repeating therapist stuff to you now, but it’s important if you’re going to get through the end of this year and write incredible emails like this, acknowledges where you’re at, acknowledge where your donor might be at and emotionally connect with them, just like we did at the beginning of this presentation.

So brainstorming your next fundraising step together. If we were in a Zoom meeting, I would say let’s all just break into small groups and talk, but since we’re in a webinar, we can’t do that. So I would just say write down your ideas right now. Based on what we’ve talked about, what could you try now? Time to brainstorm. And please type in the chat what you’re thinking about. What are you thinking for your organization? And, Steven, please feel free to tell me what people are typing and whatever you say can help so many other people who are on this call with us. So I would love to hear your beautiful brainstorm now that you’ve seen what they’ve done.

Steven: Somebody said they don’t send enough emails, which is, I think true of everyone, at least from what we’ve seen in the Bloomerang data. Yeah. So if anyone was kind of shirking about the quantity, quantity is good. Believe me, I can back it up with data. Social justice issues need support. Yup. Definitely. Repeating what we’ve already shared in August and updating people. Yeah. For sure. Fundraising emails that build off of one another. I love that. I think that seems really key right, Mazarine? They’re kind of part of a cohesive, you know, campaign.

Mazarine: Definitely. Definitely. And that’s something I do with my clients. I say, “Let’s write the three emails together. Let’s get on the phone. And let’s make sure that your thank you email also matches your ask emails and that you ramp up the urgency and you can see that when you have a match, the urgency is built in.

Steven: Absolutely. Segmentation. A lot of people are saying storytelling. Asking people to up their monthly donation. That’s a sneaky good one, right?

Mazarine: Yes.

Steven: You know, you don’t just have to leave them at the same amount they’ve always been giving.

Mazarine: Correct. And you’d think $98 was a lot, but this organization with 7 employees that had to close down most of what it was doing for programs, like got people to double it very easily.

Steven: Love it.

Mazarine: Yeah. And on top of that, like we need to think about A/B testing subject lines. So if you’re thinking about sending out our monthly newsletter at the end of the year, please don’t. You want to A/B test. And if anybody here doesn’t know what A/B testing is, it’s simply taking half your list and saying, “We’re going to send this subject line to them.” And then the other half say, “We’re going to send them this subject line to them.”

So maybe you could say test let’s take a look at some people that, you know, talked on the slide before, maybe you’re a land trust, and maybe you’re going to have a yearend appeal that’s focused around doing trail maintenance. And so you might say, “The trails need you” is one subject line. And then another subject when you could try is, “Did you know . . . ” And then inside, you could say, “The trails need you.”

So that’s just something to think about. You can also A/B test pictures. You can A/B test what’s in the email itself. But the thing you don’t want to do is A/B test everything all at once because if you do that, you don’t know what actually works. And so you want to make sure that you are sending enough emails to, you know, A/B test one thing at a time. So anyone else want to share? Steven, is anyone else saying anything else here?

Steven: Some people are saying they’re going to start doing a monthly program campaign, which is good. Getting the monthly giving off the ground. Showing visuals is another one I’m seeing a lot of people say. A focused ask, you know, really honing in on one specific thing they are asking people to do. There’s some good stuff in your, Mazarine. I’ll send you the whole chat when we’re done.

Mazarine: Oh, yeah. Thank you. Yeah. A focused ask is super powerful. Imagine, you know, I mean, this nonprofit just said, “Hey, on our website, in your emails, we want you to give us $1,200.” And then they were like, “Okay. I have it.” Imagine if you had a million dollars or whatever and you sent that 1200, you wouldn’t even feel it. You know? And so that’s also kind of how donor-advised funds work. People like put their money in them and then they don’t have any impetus to use that again because it’s not easy to do a donor-advised fund on someone’s website. So the easier you can make it to give, the better, but the more focused your ask is also the better. And the deadline really helps. Luckily, with your end fundraising, the deadline is built-in. Unfortunately, because of our new laws of the U.S. people get less of a tax write-off than they did so they have to give more.

So what were the results of your brainstorm? We started talking about that. So maybe you want to try a crowdfunding campaign, working with a consultant, revamping your donate page. You can also A/B test your donate page. Making a new series of emails to show the urgency of giving now or something else. And if your website doesn’t do A/B testing, there’s A/B testing plugins for WordPress, but you can also use other software that will do A/B testing of your donate page. So I’m glad people are already sharing what they want to try us. Steven, is there anything else that’s coming up now, people are sharing if they want to try in the chat?

Steven: You got people wanting to look into to A/B testing, for sure.

Mazarine: Yeah. A lot of us don’t realize how powerful that can be. And the example I usually like to give is when I did my first online conference and we had 1,000 people attend, and one of the messages I sent, I did three A/B tests. So I did A, B, and C testing. So the first subject line was announcing the fundraising career conference. The second one was saving a seat for your first name and the third one was this conference will change everything. Which one do you think A, B, or C performed the best? Feel free to type that the chat.

Steven: It’s pretty mixed, Mazarine. You’ve got you got a hung jury here.

Mazarine: All right. It was B, saving a seat for your first name. Outperformed everyone else. So I just like basically plugged it in to my list and then I had the highest click-through rate and the highest open rate. Had like a 15% click-through rate, which was really huge. Most click-through rates were like 1% to 3%. So that was the one I used. And everything else was the same. The only thing was different was the subject line. So if you’re not A/B testing subject lines, you are missing out on donations, and readers, and people who care. So if you’ve had go through all the trouble of writing these beautiful emails, your subject lines have to be incredible.

And one book that I always like to recommend to people, and hopefully someone can put this in the chat for me because I can’t see the chat right now is “Cashvertising” by Drew Eric Whitman. Cashvertising, it’s like advertising with the word cash instead of ad has a list of the best words to use for subject lines in it on page 100. And it’s like got 40 words you can start using. And I use these consistently in my newsletter and people just open like crazy.

So the words new, here’s, this, things like that, free, all of these things encourage people to open. We didn’t even look at subject lines for these emails. All we looked at was what was inside. But if we had looked at subject lines, I could have then shown you, you know, what they were. But if you look at . . . Hopefully you’re sending it for other people’s email lists. If there’s one you want to look at that shows you some really clickable subject lines, mercola.com is one. Smithsonian is another. They have such good subject lines that really encourage people to open. See how you could use these for your nonprofit. Or you can sign up for my email list and copy what I do. I’m okay with that.

So if we’re going to look at donate pages or first pages, for example, here’s one, helping entertainment labor and professionals. This is their COVID-19 page. I wonder, could you think of a way to improve this page? Is there something they could be doing differently for their fundraising that they’re just not doing right now? I want all these brains here to just talk to me. What do you think they could do better to make their cause more urgent to make people give? What’s wrong with this?

Steven: Lot of people saying it’s kind of a busy page. There’s a lot going on. Lots of things to click. And it took my eyes at least a couple of seconds to find that donate page. But yeah, pretty good consensus here on busy-ness, I would say.

Mazarine: I agree. Busy-ness. Yup. Anything else anyone else want to share?

Steven: Also some color. People talking about out some of the gray, on white, and blues all kind of coming together.

Mazarine: Correct. And so one of the things I want to share with people that we often get wrong as communications professionals, as nonprofit leaders, as consultants even is that this is what’s called reverse type right here. Register and Learn More, Click Here, this is reverse type as well, and that’s harder for people with ADHD and vision issues to read. And if your average donor is going in her 80s, imagine how hard you’re making it for her to find out more about you, get involved, or donate. So what you want to do is make sure that the writing is black writing on a white background is the easiest to read. And you can see here, it’s just harder in general. Also the donate button could be bright pink, or bright red, or bright yellow. Just get it to a place where people can find it. Like Steven said, it’s not really find-able. You know what I mean?

So now that we’ve done this page, I want you to go back and look at your page for your nonprofit and say, “Are we committing any of these crimes against readability? And if so, how can we do better?” And the same is true for your newsletter. Some people’s newsletters look like this. Not going to lie. Looks a little bit bad to me and it’s really hard to know where to pay attention to. So another thing I want to share with you is studies have shown that if you have a rotating cover image, it actually makes your donations go down. So you don’t want to have a rotating cover image on your website. This is the rotating cover image. So that’s something else to remember.

There should be one page and one goal. When they go to your donate page, it should be just that for your home page, you can have a few more goals. But you want to ask yourself, “Who are really talking to?” And you want to ask yourself, “What are we trying to get them to do?” Pick one thing you want them to do and then make sure that that is front and center on your page. And if you look at the Food on Foot website, you’ll see that donating is a number one thing on that page. It used to be volunteering, now it’s donating because no one can volunteer anymore. But people are standing by them in this time of great need and it’s incredible.

So this is another acknowledgement of COVID. What could be better about this page? Anyone want to share with me what they could do differently or better? It says, “Letter from the Monell Chemical Senses Center on the Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19.”

Steven: Small font. I’m seeing a cascade of small font here, Mazarine. Big picture too.

Mazarine: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like okay, we know this is the problem, but is this really, really going to help people give, this picture? Are you sure? You know? They are a science nonprofit, but that doesn’t mean that this particular image is going to be effective for their donors.

Here’s Newark Academy. Anyone want to share with me how they could do better if this was a donate page and they were trying to show we are relevant. We are important. We need your money.

Steven: No pictures. No pictures of happy students from some of your older examples. I don’t even think there’s a donate button on here. Is there?

Mazarine: No. There’s not. And there should be. Support.

Steven: Yeah. Giving, I guess.

Mazarine: Giving, but it should just say donate. Yeah. Yup. Thank you. So here’s a question for you. How much are you raising right now? How are your asks going? Do you feel pretty good? Are you having the best year ever? Do you need some support? Feel free to type in the chat. How are your asks going right now? Online, offline, whatever.

Steven: Some people are saying they’re doing really good. Best year ever. Pretty well. Slowing down a little bit. Having an amazingly good year, mostly normal. Good. It seems pretty positive so far.

Mazarine: Good. I’m really, really glad to hear that and I want that to continue for you. So who are your donations coming in from right now? Is it former volunteers, alumni, monthly givers? Is there someone who’s showing you with their money that they’re still engaged? Who is that?

Steven: I’m seeing alumni, monthly givers, usual sponsors, repeat, long-term donors. Looks like a lot of people are keeping sustained support from previous givers. So I love that.

Mazarine: Good. So if people are giving to you now, it’s not too late to ask them to give again, but you need to pay attention to them. I have a friend who she and her husband last year, gave $500 to five different charities and they only heard from one charity a week later on the phone to say thank you. So if you are not reaching out to those people that are still giving to you despite the tremendous instability in the global financial markets, you know, housing values fluctuating and jobs maybe being less stable than they were, are you really appreciating these people for what they’re doing for you? And could you do better? I feel like the answer to that is always yes. I know I could do better at appreciating people. So that’s something I think about. How can you appreciate the people that are giving to you right now?

People who gave to you two years ago, you can’t do much about. But people who have given to you the last six months, those are your main people and appreciating them by calling them and saying thank you could be so huge. So getting clear on a plan moving into fall, summer, fall, who, when, how much what’s your goal, who is responsible for that goal, how will you raise it, and what are your deadlines? So what are your most effective channels right now? Think about, is it Facebook, YouTube, email, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, word of mouth? Please type in the chat so we can all learn from you, what is the place you’re getting the most movement on donations right now?

Steven: Lots of email, Facebook. Email, online, website. Yeah. It seems very digital-focused for now. Some people are saying that they are doing some physical appeals and having success.

Mazarine: That’s fantastic. I’m so glad to hear that. Everything I’m saying about emails, you could do in a letter. So just remember that if you want to do physical appeals, sending several of them works. So, everybody, thank you for sharing that email is probably the most effective for most of the people on here. There’s a new movie out on Netflix called, “The Social Dilemma.” And surprise, it’s about how all of these platforms are spying on you and how people are vastly moving away from them. Whether it’s Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, all of them are going to become less, and less, and less worth our time. So I say this as somebody who wrote a book about social media and who has taught people how to use it more effectively, email is your best thing to do for social media. If you can do email, you are doing great.

And every one of us can have a free Mailchimp account, even if you’re a brand new nonprofit with nothing. So I want you to know that. So where can you message for the greatest impact? If it’s emails, just know that. But how to message across platforms. So this is something to think about, where are you going to put your message? All these places, appeal letter, texting, Facebook, via newsletter, website homepage, YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, crowdfunding, whatever it is. Then what should you say on these platforms? So if you have a serious letter from your president, website’s a good place for that. Alumni story, put it in the newsletter.

So late last year I was working with a university in Florida and we raised them . . . up from 36,000, we raised them 90,000 and we doubled their number of donors as well. We raised 144% more and we had 144% more donors. Because we did a series of yearend emails and letters that just knocked it out of the park for them. And we did an alumni story. And we also did stories of students that were benefiting from scholarships. So that can still work for you, as you can see, it still works for COVID. So asking you to give, obviously, website, texting, appeal letter, and Twitch. I’m a monthly donor to this nonprofit because the ED texted me because we have a personal relationship. Put the donate link in the text and I signed up on my phone. So I’m not the only one who can do it this way, but that’s something to think about.

So not every story is the right place for, you know, these different things. So these are some things you can experiment. You could take this slide and say, “I just want to experiment with all of this and see which story will give us the most money. You can A/B test all of this. So what do you notice about this page? What can you tell me? What do you think? Feel free to put in the chat and then Steven can tell me what you wrote.

Steven: Striking photo, multiple places to give, you know, that’ll all probably go to the same place, you know, those multiple buttons for sponsorship, which repetition seems good, right? Clear. I mean, there’s only a couple of things to do here. That’s good.

Mazarine: Yup. And the thing I wants you to do is super, super apparent. Give now, donate, sponsor a child, sponsor now, it’s all here. So even though they have these other links here, they’re much less important. And I feel like this child looking at you, studies have shown that if like eyes are looking at somebody directly, you’re much more likely to do the thing that they want you to do.

So this could last for six more months. Yikes. So if you want continued support and resources on how to fundraise into the end of this year and beyond, I have a new online conference coming up on November 11th to 13th. It’s newpowerconf.com. And I can put that in the chat when I’m done sharing my screen. But we’re going to be talking about all the new ways there are to fundraise plus how to fundraise with major gifts now as well as looking at the psychological health that we have, looking at ourselves more deeply, and then looking how to up level our careers.

I know some people here are worried about losing their jobs, a person at our conference is going to be talking about how to do two people’s jobs and become indispensable. So she’ll be speaking directly to that need if you haven’t been laid off but you’re worried about it. And we’re highlighting black and brown women’s voices specifically because we believe that that is the most important thing to do at this time, so that social justice piece Steven was sharing in the beginning.

And I wanted to offer everybody who came today and who stayed till the very end a coupon. So $20 off, good for six more days. So until the 29th. So you use the code, YouRule20, newpowerconf.com, you can get $20 off and it’s a really affordable price. I’m going to have probably 13 CFRE credits at the bare minimum. So it’s pretty good. It’s like $47 for a day and with the coupon it’ll be 27. So such a deal.

And please remember nothing I’ve shared with you today is theory or fluff that might work. This is all the stuff I’ve been using with my clients. This is what people have told me after they attended my webinars and taken my advice. So these are the exact steps I’ve used to make more in fundraising over the last five years. And that’s what I’ve tried myself when I worked full time. And if you want to explore one-on-one work together, feel free to set up a 30-minute call here, bit.ly/COVIDMsg. And COVID has to be capitalized. And the M in message has to be capitalized. So, anyway, I just wanted to share with you, it’s a difficult time, but we can get through it together. I am here and I can help you and I hope you connect with me. So now we are going to take questions.

Steven: Yeah. That was awesome. Let’s leave your contact info up there for a minute, if you don’t mind, Mazarine.

Mazarine: I do not.

Steven: But definitely, you’re going to want our newsletter, folks. And that conference, she sent me the agenda just this morning. That’s going to be a good one. There’s some really awesome speakers there. Some folks I know and can vouch for, not that you need my recommendation, but yeah.

Mazarine: Yeah. Kishana is going to kick us off with a keynote and I’m so excited.

Steven: That’d be cool. I love seeing these examples, Mazarine. The very first one you showed, can we talk about segmentation real quick? Because it was only sent to monthly donors.

Mazarine: Correct.

Steven: I don’t want this to be lost because this seemed to come up again and again into your examples, is that it’s not just sent to everybody right? In your list, in your Bloomerang, or whatever you’re using. Can we talk about that audience thing because I know monthly donors, and we share a passion that they should get very specific things, but can you talk a little bit about segmentation just for folks who maybe weren’t familiar with that that terminology, I guess?

Mazarine: I will share with you a human thing. So, Steven, I love you. I love working with you. I think the world of you and I’m still really afraid to ask you for sponsorship. I’m so afraid I’ve put it off for six months.

Steven: That’s silly.

Mazarine: I know it is, but I’m afraid. And so that’s how we act with our monthly donors, is that like they’ve already told us they like us, they want to give to us every month and we act and we feel afraid because we’re like, “What if I ask for too much? I’m afraid even though they said that they like me I don’t know.” And so what this organization did was say, “We’re just going to go for it.” And the thing that this ED does that’s different than just about every other ED I’ve ever met, it says when is the donor’s birthday, he calls them up and says happy birthday. As soon as they donate within 24 hours, he’s calling and saying thank you. Even if it’s $50, he’s calling them to say thank you. Nobody does that. And that’s why he has less than a 5% attrition rate in his monthly donors, which is literally insane for this industry.

So if he can’t get them on the phone, if their credit card bounces or lapses in, you know, the first day of the month, he will try and try and try until he gets them on the phone and then they sign up again or they say, “I lost my job. I’m so sorry.” He asked for a year commitment to his program, to get people in as monthly donors and then he treats them like co-creators of the mission. And he’s like, “This is what you help us do every single month. This is what you help us do. This is what you help us do.” And on top of that, he has the people in the program write thank you notes and sends out five different versions of those notes to the monthly donors throughout the year. And that’s how they have so many incredible, 600 incredible monthly givers. And they’ve raised it from when I first started working with them in 2015, from 350 to 600. And that is a consistent number for them. It’s probably even more now.

Steven: I love it. Because it seems like if you don’t do that, a monthly donor might get an appeal and be like, “Why am I getting this? I’m already a monthly donor. Like don’t you know that? Don’t you see that?” And then you get the cancellations or whatever, or just, you know, cracks in the armor. That makes total sense.

Mazarine: And so you can say to them, “Hey, we know you’re already giving,” and that’s what they said, “But we need you to double your gift now because people have had to be laid off.”

Steven: Yup. Can you talk a little bit about the yearend calendar? You know, we’re recording this in late September and boy, this year has a lot of, kind of, you know, stops along the way. I don’t know if that’s the best phrase where you got the election, obviously Thanksgiving week, Giving Tuesday, you’ve got Jewish holidays, you’ve got a lot of stuff. Should people, you know, sit down and, you know, go through the exercise of, you know, looking at all these different days and planning? It seems like maybe the day after the election should be a huge email day, right? Because people are going to be fired up on either way it goes. It seems like that could be an interesting day for an email. Obviously Giving Tuesday. Is it just a matter of sitting down and looking at those things?

Mazarine: Yeah. I would definitely sit down with a bunch of people on your team or your key volunteers and say, “What days am I not seeing here?” Because not everybody’s calendar has all been days on it. I think you’ll see you’re forgetting the dates of holidays. I’m very guilty of that. I can’t think of every single holiday. Sometimes I forget Labor Day, or Arbor Day, or whatever it is. So like just having other people with you to make sure that like you’re scheduling this at the right time is really helpful. My conference, I particularly scheduled it so it wouldn’t be during like the election, you know, but yeah, right after the election, we are going to need a boost of moral boost no matter what, because we have a long road ahead of us.

So, yeah. So you really have to try to think about how does this all fit together? We don’t have a communications calendar in here, but I do have a sample one that was for earlier this year that you could . . . we could maybe put that in the link at the end afterwards. I have a Google doc that you could copy and use for yourself with like story ideas and everything.

Steven: Cool. Yeah. Reach out to Mazarine. I mean, just a wealth of knowledge, awesome resources, lot of free stuff that she just gives away her knowledge, including this. So this was awesome, Mazarine. I feel like we could hang out all day. But yeah, this is how you find it, right? What’s the best thing people could use?

Mazarine: Yeah. This is the best email. This is the best phone number. You can, if you want to work with you one on one, check out that Bit.ly link. And then also the New Power Conference, it’s such a deal and Bloomerang is supporting it and I’m so grateful. So I’m going to stop sharing and let you talk about what is next. I think you like to talk about that.

Steven: Yeah. I got webinars. I love it. But, you know, thanks to all of you for hanging out. This was a fun one. And thanks for giving your time, Mazarine. We’ll get everybody the slides, the recording, you know, we’ll link to all that good stuff. She has put it in the chat so you can grab it now. But we got a cool one tomorrow. My buddy, Stephanie. Okay. I know nonprofit budgeting, not the most exciting, but she’ll make it fun. She’s one of my go-tos for finance stuff. And I swear, she makes it fun. So if you haven’t put together next year’s budget or if you’re in a fiscal year or, you know, I know everybody’s calendar is different. Join us tomorrow, 2:00 Eastern. Twenty-one hours from now, I think, if my arithmetic is correct, That’s why I need her for the arithmetic. But it’s going to be a cool one.

Next week we’ve got Daryl Upsall who’s one of the top fundraisers in Spain going to give us a little bit of an international lens to look at COVID and crisis fundraising. We got some cool sessions. I mean, you know, this was a good one to get started with for going into yearend. So just check our webinar page. We’d love to see you. Again, totally free. And definitely connect with Mazarine.

So we’ll call it a day there. Like I said, look for an email from me with all the goodies. We’ll get that out today. I might have to cook dinner first, if you don’t mind. I got a hungry nine-year-old, but I swear I’ll get it out today, later today. And hopefully we see you again on another webinar. So have a good rest of your Wednesday, have a good week, stay safe, stay healthy, please. We need you out there and we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye.

Mazarine: Bye.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. She also serves as the Director of Communications for PRSA’s Hoosier chapter.
Kristen Hay