Discovering why a donor stopped giving is one of the most important things you can do. By doing so you gain a valuable insight into how to get them back, and how to retain similar donors in the future.

This applies to both monthly and single-gift donors.

It’s possible that one of your monthly donors is having a touch financial time, and could use a ‘monthly giving holiday’ for a few months. If you call and ask, there’s a good chance they’ll say ‘yes’ to you calling them in a few months to ask if they’ll renew their support.

For single gift donors (especially those who have already lapsed), surveys can be a great tool. Ask them why they stopped supporting your organization. You may find that they didn’t feel they were making a difference, or they hadn’t heard back about the impact of their donation. Now you have a clear action you can take – making sure you’re doing a better job of showing donors the impact of their gifts.

The important thing is that you find a way to ask. Whether that’s on the phone or through a mailed survey, knowing why a donor stopped giving is one of the keys in improving your donor retention. 

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When you receive that flashy gate fold, glossy print marketing piece from your local cellphone provider or fast food restaurant, there is no doubt you are impressed. The entire pack screams brand and yes it is pretty but will it make you switch cellphone providers? Or entice you to purchase that fast food burger from around the corner?

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The conference season has well and truly begun here in Canada. AFP International is next week and along with CAGP and Convene Canada later in April, there is a lot going on in such a short space of time.

If you are lucky enough, you will be attending a conference this year. It’s an exciting event in your calendar. Lots of new people to meet, lots of old faces to catch up with and, of course, a huge amount of learning on offer.

On the first day back in the office I’m sure you feel, as I have in the past, that you want to implement every good idea you learnt about. You are bursting to tell your colleagues about how these changes will improve everything. It’s all great news!

But a couple of months down the line, are these changes implemented? In fact, have any of the ideas you were so desperate to try been agreed to? Perhaps things got really busy and immediate priorities took over. The conference was too long ago now.

This year, why not try a few different tactics? Type up your notes from your conference and send around to your team with suggested action points. Hold a 15 minute meeting where you feedback your ‘top takeaways’ from the conference. Arrange a discussion with your boss to go through the ‘quick wins’ and arrange a follow up meeting a couple of months later. Put some of the longer term action points in your objectives for next year. And make a note of ideas on your budget preparations.

With all the contacts you’ve made at the conference you could start a LinkedIn group where learnings from the conference are discussed further. Perhaps there are a few of you in your city who could meet for a monthly coffee morning, sharing experiences and results from your new ventures at work.

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You’ve probably seen or heard things about direct mail being dead. And that online fundraising is starting to take over. But a recent article in the Winter edition of the For Social Profit newsletter proves that couldn’t be further from the truth. They compiled stats from a number of different sources focusing on how effective direct mail remains for fundraisers. Here are just a few of the stats that might change the way you think about mail:

  • Direct mail is responsible for 78% of donations to non-profits
  • After three or four years, approx. 50% of online-acquired donors are giving offline gifts. And almost 40% are giving exclusively offline.
  • The same is not true for offline donors giving online, where only a few percent will give regularly.
  • Compared to 2004, direct mail response rates are up by 14%. While e-mail response rates have fallen by 57%.
  • People aged 24 and younger are actually among the most mail-responsive groups today
  • Reading a newspaper actually produces 20% less CO2 emissions than running your computer to read an online newspaper. 

So direct mail is on the rise, it will help you reach younger donors, and it’s even helping the environment.

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Do you know what your direct mail donor renewal rate is? Would you like it to be higher?

We’re always keeping a close eye on our clients’ renewal rates and helping them find ways to improve them.
Once you calculate your renewal rate, and if you feel it could use a little pick me up, ask yourself these questions:

Take a look at your communication schedule – are you over-soliciting or under-soliciting?

Are you sending your donors compelling stories and cases for support? Do you really know what compels them?

Are you stewarding them enough, and quickly, and in a way that is meaningful to them?

Are you investing in acquiring the types of new donors that are likely to give again? Who are the donors that will give again?

Are you converting many of your donors to monthly giving? Could you do more of this?

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At HMA, we work with a lot of hospital foundations. Over the years we’ve worked with some of the biggest in the country along with other smaller community hospitals. One thing they all have in common is stories. Patient stories.

But what happens when there is no story available for your campaign? When the story turns out to be unsuitable. Or the person changes their mind. Maybe there just was not enough time to organize it.

What do you do then? Should you cancel your campaign? Wait until you have the perfect story? Absolutely not.

We always recommend using a story wherever possible. We know that people give to people. But when there is no story available, your campaign can still be a success.

Recently, we coordinated a campaign for University Hospital Foundation (UHF) in Alberta with no patient story. We chose to keep the design quite simple. And there was no premium included. But the response rate was the highest in years.

Average gift was significantly higher than expected. Response rate was 75% over target. The reason for this success? It could be a number of things…timing, positive media attention, a successful donor event the month before. Above all, we believe it was an engaging topic coupled with a strong letter written by one of our copywriters at HMA.

The topic was stroke. Every ten minutes, someone in Canada has a stroke. It’s something that’s likely to affect us all. And unfortunately most of us know someone who’s suffered from a stroke. UHF hadn’t talked to their donors about stroke in detail before, it was an issue that donors needed, and wanted, to learn about.

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With Valentine’s Day just around the corner it’s time to reflect on those that are most important to you. People that you care about. People like your donors.

In a donor’s giving lifetime they have likely fallen in love with at least 3 to 5 other charities. Possibly even more. So the question is are you, as an organization, doing everything you can to steward them and make them feel special? To ensure that your organizations stays at the top of the charities which they love supporting?

Whether your donors have chosen to make a gift online or offline the efficiency and tact of saying thank you can make or break your relationship.

Here are a couple of things you can do to ensure your relationship survives.

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What’s the one thing you can do to substantially increase the amount of money you raise online? Simple, just send more direct mail. Confused? Well let me explain…

If you follow other fundraising blogs, I’m sure you’ve seen lots of information about the growth of online fundraising. In 2013, it grew by more than 4 times the rate of offline fundraising. And while that growth rate dropped slightly in 2014, it was still the fastest growing fundraising channel. Which has many fundraisers focused on what they can do to capitalize on this fast growing trend.

While some of this growth is from online fundraising tools, much of it can be tracked back to your direct mail donors. As online giving becomes easier and more accessible for everyone (and as the price of stamps continues to increase), more and more of your direct mail donors are going online to make their donations.

Take one example from one of our clients in 2014. HMA worked with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank to build a fully integrated Christmas campaign. The campaign was a great success, finishing more than 35% ahead of the net revenue targets. One of the most interesting findings that we discovered in analyzing the campaign was that 54% of the overall revenue from the campaign could be attributed to direct mail donors giving online. (If you’d like to read more about the campaign you can check out our case study here.)

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Here we are 4 weeks into the New Year. You’ve probably seen most of your year-end revenue, with the exception of a few gifts still to be counted.

This means you are probably at the debrief stage asking yourself what went well and what could be improved for your year-end campaign for 2015. As you review your campaign, we wanted to share some successes from one of ours that you might be able to use to improve your year-end campaign for next year.

The campaign, and by this I mean a combination of direct mail followed by a series of 3 emails exceeded the overall gross revenue target by 12%.  With 25% of the overall gross revenue attributed to online giving.

Donors who chose to make their gift online was 16% compared to 84% who responded by mail.  The average gift from online donors was $126.00 vs. $71.00 by mail.    

We know many organizations are seeing percentage increases in the number of gifts and revenue being given online but what specifically did we do to drive the results for this client?

The first thing we did was:  Personalized the email messages recognizing the donors past giving history for the year.  In other words if a donor had made a single or multiple gift already we thanked them and invited them to consider making a special year end gift.

I should note we used the same strategy in our direct mail letter but it’s the extra personalization in the emails that really paid off. And if our emails crossed each other we made sure we noted this in email copy as well.

Our client also received phone calls from donors who had made gifts already who were more than happy to make a special year-end gift.

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Social Media is an essential tool today to ensure that your non-profit can reach your fundraising targets. But you shouldn’t expect social media to be the silver bullet that will help you attract hordes of young donors. It can help you attract younger supporters that will eventually become donors, but it’s still primarily a tool for connecting and engaging with your donors, not fundraising.

To ensure you make the most of your social media efforts it’s important that you build your social media ROAD map:

Research – How are your donors looking to connect with you? What content will they find most interesting? How often are they visiting your social media channels?

Objectives - What are your donors trying to accomplish by visiting your social media channels?

Actions – What actions do you want your social media followers to take? Are you asking them to share content with their networks? Are you trying to grow your likes or followers?

Devices – What social media channels will be the most effective for you in connecting with your followers? And what devices (phone, tablet, home computer, etc.) are your donors using to access your social media channels?

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