Overall, Bloomerang customers that sent fundraising appeals raised $1.35MM more during the COVID-19 crisis than they did during the same time period last year! We wanted to highlight some of those success stories here.
Maggie’s Place | Steady Support From Segmented Email Appeals
In this video, Steven from Bloomerang sits down (virtually) with Laurel from Maggie’s Place to talk about how they maintained a steady stream of support while the COVID-19 crisis changed how they provide services.
With multiple locations closing or partially-closing to in-kind drop-offs, MP needed to communicate what changes were happening on-site while also explaining that there was still a need. Several consecutive update emails were sent, each with a contextualized appeal for support. If that wasn’t enough, they also had a statewide day of giving to navigate. Laurel says that weaving in stories from service recipients and thank you’s to supporters was critical to their success.
Facility Restrictions + Appeal Email
With locations in two states, the first notification email since the crisis began was segmented to groups: supporters in AZ and those in OH. Subsequent emails would explain any changes or updates to services, but each contained an appeal. Even though item drop-offs would be prohibited, MP gave supporters additional ideas for how they could be supportive.
47% open rate, 1.7% click-through-rate
Subject: Response to COVID-19
Segmented Thank You + Appeal Email
MP was sure to send thank you emails to supporters, but in a segmented fashion. Recent donors received a thank you without an ask, while those who hadn’t given received a version with an appeal.
Subject: We are Thankful for the Helpers and Supporters.
AZ Gives Day Appeal Email
Early April brought an annual statewide day of giving, which MP didn’t shy away from. Laurel says that they’ve raised 3x as much as they did last year.
Subject: Maggie’s Place stays committed to our moms.
Full Video Transcript
Steven: There we go. All right, cool, I got my new friend, Laurel, joining us from beautiful Phoenix, Arizona. How’s it going, Laurel? Are you doing okay?
Laurel: Yeah, we’re doing good. Yeah, it’s, you know, getting a little stir-crazy, especially, as you said, beautiful Arizona mean the weather right now is beautiful. It’s like our perfect little spot of perfect weather.
Steven: Oh, right.
Laurel: So I’m trying to get in those morning walks as much as possible . . .
Laurel: . . . but, yeah, yeah, doing okay.
Steven: Well, thanks for doing this. You’re awesome. I was telling you before we hit record that you were in the top of the list of folks that I wanted to talk to because you seem to be making light of a tough situation in a way that’s, you know, kind of funding your mission. So before we jump into it, maybe you could just tell folks who you are and what your organization is all about and all the work you do.
Laurel: Sure thing. My name is Laurel Petsas. I’m with Maggie’s Place. We’re a nonprofit here in the Phoenix Valley, and as you’ve mentioned before this call, we have one home in Cleveland, Ohio also. We provide life-changing services for pregnant and parenting women. So we’re actually 20 years old this year. It’s a big celebration year for us and a big achievement. But we have four maternity homes here in the Valley that women can come at any point in their pregnancy, and they typically stay with us until the baby is around 9 to 12 months old, getting back up on their feet. We’re connecting them with resources, kind of giving them that family support system that maybe they’re missing.
And then we have our Family Success Center. So we kind of have a phrase, “Once a Maggie’s Place mom, always a Maggie’s Place mom.” So they can continue to receive our services there, whether that be counseling, different trainings and parenting courses, financial literacy courses, whether they just need to use the laundry and go through our donation closet there. We have donation dollars, so they can kind of earn those throughout the year and shop that. We just have fun events for them and for our community. Yeah.
Steven: Awesome. Yeah, and you have it seems like a lot of unique challenges. You’ve got all of these physical locations that people come to you to get services and to make donations also. You’ve got a location across the country. What’s been the impact of all of this? Have you had to stop doing certain things or put restrictions on things? What has happened on the services side?
Laurel: So once the crisis really hit home here in Arizona, we made the decision to kind of change our policies for the time being and stop the in-kind donations. We have an amazing community here that kind of in the different parts of the Valley are our homes, so they connect with our specific homes and drop off needed items there or at our Family Success Center. And, of course, with this virus, you can’t really take too many precautions to restrain that, especially since we’re working with pregnant women. So we had to halt the in-kind drop-offs at those locations and kind of tailor our needs and kind of that no-contact drop-off for those. And then our volunteer time looks a little different now, and, you know, all these different efforts that we’re going strong that needed to be a little switched up.
Steven: Yeah. Well, I know you had to communicate all those things. And what stood out to me in all those communications — we’ve got one here on the screen — is you also took that opportunity to say, “Hey, we still need help. Like even though things are changing or maybe some things are going away a little bit, we need help.” And we were talking earlier about being very strategic, because you said it’s such a unique time to fundraise. Can you talk about maybe what that strategy was, maybe where it came from? I mean, maybe you talked to your board or your leadership and you made the decision to ask for money, where I think a lot of people are maybe hesitant to do that. Can you kind of walk through that decision and maybe what the strategy was there?
Laurel: Yeah, I think we decided . . . I mean, people, especially in times of crisis, I don’t think they expect us to have all the answers. They just expect us to communicate why we’re doing things the way we’re doing it or chose to do them in this time of pandemic and how they can help. And I think our asks for financial donations have been soft, and I think they’re more relatively based on positivity instead of this fear of, “Oh, my gosh, we’re in a crisis, and we need your support for this immediately or else we’re going to shut down.”
So our messaging kind of went the more positive route of, “Hey, if you want to still help, these are the ways that we’re looking for it,” and one of those being, of course, funding because we need to, you know, keep our doors open for our moms and keep our programs running smoothly. It just might look a little different. But I think communication is key, and I think we’re blessed with such a great community already that reached out immediately with, “How can we help?” and what our specific needs are. And I think communicating those specific needs made it easy in that regard.
Steven: Yeah. I mean, you know, pat yourself on the back, because, you know, no matter how generous a community is, it seemed to really tap into that generosity. And what’s been the response? I mean, I just kind of looked at some numbers in your system. It seems like thousands, tens of thousands raised, whereas maybe that may not have happened without sort of the reason to ask for money. What has been that response?
Laurel: Yeah, I think we definitely saw an uptick in giving over the last few weeks, and I think that was sort of they know . . . I think a lot of it was built on trust and like donor cultivation prior to this. And I think that really have benefited us now because we’ve really tried to build that donor loyalty with everyone prior to. But I think them knowing that our programs, while they may look a little different, they still need the funding and they’re still going on. I mean, I have to take off my hat to our programmatic staff who are, you know, still every day going to the office, making sure our moms are served, and we have our live-in staff. So I think our structure and our models too, our donors, especially the ones that have a certain relationship with us, where they know our everyday needs and they know how to help in that regard, they’ve been so quick to donate, which has been awesome.
Steven: Yeah, I can tell that you already were doing a good job of stewardship before all this happened, because, I mean, you said it, without that, I don’t think there would be nearly as much success. And one more thing before I let you go. I noticed that you’ve got a Day of Giving coming up, which probably is required.
Laurel: It was yesterday.
Steven: It was yesterday? Okay. Wow, and I know there’s another Giving Tuesday happening next month. But what was sort of the pivot there, because I assume there are a lot of other organizations in the community also asking for help?
Laurel: Right, and we already have kind of a general idea of how we did that day as far as through the Arizona Gives Day platform. And last year, we received around $3,000 in funding, and this year, we tripled . . .or not tripled that. Well, basically, I think it was close to $7,000, and then online donations through our platform made it about $9,000.
Laurel: So, again, I think it’s focusing on the positivity and the impact that their donations still give to us and not playing on the fear of a crisis and more, “Hey we’re in a crisis. We all know we’re in a crisis at this point. We’re getting an email about it every single day.” But more so, “This is what we’re doing, and this is what you’re helping with and providing for our moms and their families.” And I think that impacts it more as this is everyday life for our moms, and a lot of the times, it’s everyday like for the overall community, right?
I know we sent out one email about this is how we’re staying busy in the homes, and it’s baking, it’s taking daily walks, it’s painting. It’s all the things that our donors are doing as well. So that connection I think really helps as well, because we’re a family just like the outer community is a family, and they’re a part of our family. So knowing what they’re supporting during this time too and how we’re staying busy using our programs, and kind of pivoting with our resources and all of that, I think that helps resonate with why people should still give. Does that make sense?
Steven: Absolutely. Yeah, you’re doing it right from all I can see, so hats off to all your team, and thanks for all the services you’re providing as well. Maybe before I let you go, what would you say to someone who is may be on the fence, hasn’t asked for money yet, is maybe thinking, you know, “Now it’s not a good time,” what would you maybe say to that person?
Laurel: I would say . . . I mean, I know it’s uncertain times, right? Like, we all know . . . and it’s uncertain for everybody in the community as far as if you’re a nonprofit organization or a family deciding how you’re budgeting for the year. I mean, I think what we’ve realized in every time . . . I mean, we haven’t had a crisis like this, I mean, you know, in my lifetime, but we know that people still want to give. And we emailed something about that, Fred Rogers quote, “Look for the helpers.”
Steven: Yeah, I saw that.
Laurel: I mean, because I think that in times of crisis, people want to give and reach out and support in the ways that they can, and some people, that’s going to be financial support. Some people, that’s going to be whatever that it looks like to them. But you’re not going to get the donations without asking. So I would say make sure you’re, obviously, giving a healthy mixture of your communications of advocacy and appreciation and then those asks. So maybe start with the softer ask and see where that leads you. Or if you know who your donors are and you want to segment those asks a little bit. We sent out . . . so this email that you have up, some got an ask and some didn’t. We segmented that so that anybody that had given since the crisis really started didn’t receive the ask. They just got the thank you.
Laurel: And then those we haven’t heard from for a little while, we sent the ask. So I like segmentation, so we played around with it a little bit.
Steven: Yeah, me too. You’re talking my language.
Laurel: Yeah, we played around it a little bit, and I think that’s a good strategy to begin with when thinking about asking for financial gifts during this time.
Steven: Yeah, versus sending everyone the same thing and that can lead to hurt feelings more than just asking.
Laurel: Yeah, exactly. If we had sent the ask to somebody who had just given us a nice gift two days ago, what does that look like, right?
Laurel: So I agree with you. I think that really helps.
Steven: Well, you all are awesome. Keep up the good work. I mean, you’re inspiring me. Hopefully people watching this will pick up some tidbits and also be inspired. So thanks for doing this and taking your time.
Laurel: Sure. Of course.
Steven: I know it’s busy. You’re just starting your day, but I really appreciate it. Thanks.
Laurel: Awesome. Thank you, Steven.