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Seeking to revitalize Oxfam's long-standing holiday campaign, we sent donors a piece of cloth in their mailing packs, asking them to fill it in with their message of hope to people living in poverty around the world. Our message was that - like small pieces of cloth sewn together to make a warm, protective blanket - their donation along with those of many others could help Oxfam create great change.
The response has been fantastic.
The campaign has already surpassed its target for donations. And Oxfam have had hundreds of heartwarming messages of hope like you see here. What a lovely warm 'n fuzzy feeling to take into the holidays - and into next year's work.
Next steps: we'll be seeking volunteers and community groups (and a few HMA'ers who are good with their needles) to sew the pieces into a quilt. Then it will be sewn together with pieces of cloth from Oxfam projects around the world (hopefully complete with photos and videos of the people who sent them), truly becoming an international Thread of Change.
Watch the web, Facebook and Pinterest early next year for updates!
You have a dramatic, interesting, compelling story to tell about someone who has been helped by your non-profit organization. You are sure that this story will stir your donors’ emotions and boost your response rates and revenue.
So how should you tell the story? You have two options.
You can either (A) tell it from your point of view, or (B) you can let the person who experienced your organization tell their story in their own words. I recommend you go with Option B whenever possible, although this style of letter has its disadvantages.
In a first-person letter, the person that the story is about writes and signs the letter. For example, if you are a hospital, and you have an amazing story to tell about a patient who was dead on arrival but is alive today because of the intervention of your hospital staff, this type of story would be told in the patient’s own words.
The letter might begin like this: “On a sunny afternoon last September, I arrived at the Metro Health Hospital dead. I had no pulse, no blood pressure, and I wasn’t breathing. Not good, you’ll agree. But here I am a year later, telling you my story, and all because of the amazing staff of the hospital, who saved my life.” The letter would continue with the patient telling his story, and conclude by asking the reader to make a donation.
1. A story told in the first-person is invariably more dramatic and interesting than when the same story is related second-hand by a staff member. The writer of Amazing Grace wrote: “I once was blind, but now I see,” not, “John Newton once was blind but now he sees.”
I’m thrilled to announce that HMA is back to our winning ways!
We just received the results of the 2012 Commuter Challenge, and HMA placed in the Top Five in our business category (1-25 employees).
With 100% staff participation, our team collectively managed to travel 1,258 km sustainably (on bikes, foot, transit) – avoiding a whopping 235 kg of C02.
As an additional bonus we also burned 6,408 calories.
Meaning that it’s high time to grab some chocolate and celebrate!
When the campaigns you develop are “successful,” how much incentive do you have to aim for greater success?
For example, let’s say your organization mails out an acquisition that has consistently achieved around a 2% response rate. You may be unwilling to mess around with it too much since it's successful enough – especially now that response rates to acquisition mailings are declining. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
But, what if making a change might increase that response rate by even .5%? If you are mailing out 50,000 pieces, that's 250 new donors – donors who will feed into your monthly donor program, planned giving, and even major gifts. That's 250 new donors from every mailing that you are not reaching because you are "successful" in your acquisition mailing.
In the for-profit world, current success leads to greater amounts of testing – if we're getting 2% now, why aren't we getting 4%? If we're getting 4%, shouldn't we be getting 8%? Every success leads to more efforts to reach a greater success. But non-profits play it safe.
And we run the risk of letting our current success lead to future failure.
In how many areas of your work (and life, for that matter) are you playing it safe and letting your own success hold you back from even greater success?
One particularly successful campaign we developed was an email campaign that augmented their year-end mailing.
We wrote and sent 5 emails – 2 as follow-ups to the mailing and 3 to the rest of Sea Shepherd's email list. This was the first time Sea Shepherd had done a concerted and integrated year-end campaign.
The results were fantastic: $100,000 raised from the emails alone.
See examples of the emails and some more details on the case study page.
While you're there, take a look at some of our other work that has increased our clients' net revenue.
The difference between a good donor newsletter and a poor one comes down to donors and dollars. A good newsletter retains donors and makes money. A poor one doesn't. Here are 12 ways to improve your donor newsletter so that it works harder for you.
1. Make your donor the hero of every story. Take the focus off your institution and put it where it belongs: on the person who pays your salary. Donors want to read about themselves, not your charity.
2. Make each issue a report card to your donor. Prove that you are using donor gifts wisely and as intended. Show how their donations are making a difference. Act as if you won't get another dime of support unless your donor gives you an A Grade, an A for Accountability.
3. Don't celebrate another anniversary. Donors don't care that you're celebrating your 20th anniversary, or that you did something special in 1968. They give to organizations that look ahead, not backwards.
4. Make your donors reach for the Kleenex. Stir the emotions of your supporters so that they identify even more closely with the people you help. Help them feel at a visceral level that they are touching lives with their support.
5. Give your donors "The Because." Doctors Without Borders in Australia has a page in its newsletter entitled "Why We Do What We Do." It doesn't tell you what they do. It explains why they do it, the "because." Do likewise and you will retain more donors and raise more money.
Want to find a new, stable source of income that also works as a loyalty booster to existing donors?
Three Words: SUSTAINED GIVING PROGRAM
This webinar covers everything you want -- and need -- to know about monthly giving.
Starting with the basics, Harvey McKinnon, renowned expert on monthly giving, will discuss why to have a monthly giving program and what it means for donor loyalty, along with the fundamental elements of all good monthly programs.
Next, Teva Harrison of the Nature Conservancy of Canada -- which has made a strategic decision to invest in a monthly program -- will tell what works for her organization while sharing secrets, tips and best practices on how to find, keep and love these valuable donors.
Join us on Thursday, April 19th at 2PM ET for this fascinating tour of the best kind of donor!
In this webinar you'll learn:
-What metrics to look for in a monthly program (eg. typical conversion rates, retention rates)
-How to invite them, what to say, how often to say it
-When to use direct mail and when to use the phone to convert and upgrade
-Great examples from an organization with years of expertise in cultivating these valuable donors
Your donors have only one question that bothers them.
If you want to acquire more donors, you have to answer it. If you want to raise more net revenue, you need to answer it. And if you want to increase the lifetime value of your donors, you must answer it.
Here's their question: "How will my donation change the world?"
Donors are confused
Donors ask this question for a number of reasons. For one thing, they're confused. If they live in Canada and want to support an organization that helps children with cancer, for example, should they donate to the Childhood Cancer Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Research Society, Cancer Recovery Foundation of Canada, Coast to Coast Against Cancer, Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation, Terry Fox Run, or someone else?
Many donors don't know. Or can't decide. So given that your non-profit organization has competitors who do similar work, you must tell prospective and current donors exactly how you will use their gift to transform lives. Otherwise your donors may donate somewhere else.
Donors have limited funds
There's another reason you must tell your donors how their gift will make the world a better place. Some of them are on a fixed income. Others just retired. More than a few have student debt. Or other kinds of debt. Some are broke. Either way, they can't support as many charities as they'd like, so they give their money to the few causes that promise to make the biggest difference with their gifts.
Donors fund specifics, not generalities
Have you upset one of your donors recently? Just how mad do you suppose they are at you, on a scale of 1 to 10? Take this quiz and find out.
1. Your major gift officer met a donor for lunch and ordered five martinis and spaghetti. 5 points
2. The folks in gift processing mailed a donation thank-you letter but it took over a month to arrive. 5 points
3. You spelled the donor's name incorrectly. 5 points
4. Your donor asked for no fundraising appeals by mail, but your annual giving officer thought Christmas was an exception. 5 points
5. Your donor asked your office not to phone her, so your receptionist phoned her to say OK. 5 points
6. You asked for a donation in a donation thank-you letter. 5 points
7. Your donor's spouse died and left you a six-figure bequest, but the folks in direct mail kept addressing your appeals to Mr. and Mrs. 5 points
8. A major donor asked your fundraising coordinator to send him your audited financial statements, but she was busy uploading a photo of her kittens to Twitter and forgot. 5 points
9. Your donor requested that you not acknowledge his gift in your annual report, but you did. 5 points
10. You told a major donor you would follow up in a week, but your Great Dane ate your day planner. 5 points
11. You engraved your wealthiest donor's name on your donor wall but put it under the wrong giving level (a smaller one). 5 points