Giving Tuesday is all about giving back and supporting the charities that you care most about. At HMA, we like to celebrate Giving Tuesday by working with smaller organizations that wouldn’t normally be able to hire professional consultants to help grow their programs.

This year, we’ve selected three different organizations which we’ll be providing our services to completely free of charge:

Richmond Animal Protection Society (

Mission Services of Hamilton (

Think Upstream (

If you’re interested in donating to any of these organizations or any of your favourite non-profits make sure you share your support through social media with #GivingTuesdayCA. This will help to spread the word about Giving Tuesday ensuring that even more organizations benefit. 

Read more


If you have teenagers (or have been one), you know the person the world revolves around.

Or if by some quirk of nature your kids are model cherubs, think back to that blind date. "Enough about me," your companion said. "Let's talk about you. What do you think of me?"

Have you ever spent time with someone who talked only about him- or herself and never once asked a question about you? Of course you have. If this hasn't happened to you, then maybe you are that person!

Or perhaps it's an elderly neighbor you meet on the street. You ask with civility, "How are you?" only to be subjected to a list of ailments spanning your neighbor's entire anatomy.

In short, Me is everyone's favorite subject.

So it's no surprise that a would-be supporter's first question (whether spoken or not) is ... Why me?

It's a loaded question. By asking it, the donor is trying to situate himself in the world, or at least in your world. Going through her mind—simultaneously—are related concerns: How do you see me? Do I approve of the way you see me? Do you really know me? Do you care about me? Am I important to you for reasons other than my money?

You are looking for common ground that helps a donor to express his or her values. The "Why me?" question can also be answered with:

Read more


One of my favourite questions to ask when presenting at conferences is ‘What percentage of retail sales come from e-commerce (online purchases)?’ The guesses are usually pretty high – 30%, 50%, 70%. I’ve even heard some people say 90%. The correct answer is 7.2% (yes, that’s 7 point 2, not 72%) This is according to the US Department of Commerce. This is a figure far lower than most people expect. Many of us feel like we do so much online shopping, but it’s still a small percentage of our overall purchases.

According to Blackbaud, the percentage of total fundraising that came from online donations is approximately 6.7%. Essentially even with retail sales.

The 2015 DMA Response Rate Report also tells a similar story. This research shows that direct mail outperforms all digital channels combined by nearly 600%. Last year direct mail saw a 3.7% response with house names, and a 1.0% response with prospect names. The best digital channel was Mobile with a combined 0.2% response. E-mail was second at 0.1%.

So while online/digital giving is certainly still rising at a fast pace it’s a very small portion of what most organizations are bringing in today. So what does this mean for you? Should you give up on social media and stop e-mailing your donors? Certainly not. These are still very valuable channels, but they’re not channels that you should rely on to raise you a ton of money. Direct mail is still the best channel for that.

Read more


This weekend you will encounter some of the scariest creatures of all. Ghosts, ghouls and goblins. But for some organizations these haunting hallows-eve characters don’t come close to giving you the same fear and anxiety as online integration.

This Halloween I urge you to no longer be afraid but to face your online fears. If you are just starting to plan your holiday communication and are thinking of trying to incorporate online integration into your campaign this year here are a few top tips to a successful integrated campaign.

  • Create a holiday brand that works across print, social media and e-mail channels.
  • Create a social media and e-mail schedule that includes all communication and event pieces for the remaining part of the year to rule out any messaging conflicts.
  • The holidays are very busy so ensuring you are making a daily presence on Twitter and Facebook feeds. Consider testing pictures, video or text to get a true sense of what your followers respond to best.
  • Create a specific web banner for your homepage to help drive your holiday campaign awareness.
  • If you are driving people to your website ensure you test your donation page for any broken links or irregular messages.
  • Less is more. Although you need to be present in online channels the shorter the content the more likely someone will read the whole thing. Studies show our attention spans only last 8 seconds so use it wisely.

Happy Halloween! 

Read more


The Walking Dead premieres for its sixth season this Sunday. It’s remained one of the top shows on TV for many seasons now. The show is of course all about the zombie apocalypse, but there’s more to it than just that. In fact, there’s a few fundraising lessons that can be gleaned from the show too:

Lesson # 1 – You’re most effective when you work together as a team

If you’re a fan of the show you know that anytime someone goes off alone there’s a good chance they’re not coming back. While the consequences with fundraising might not be as dire, there are still risks when you fundraise alone. To ensure you’re maximizing your revenue, it’s important that your annual giving team is working effectively with your online team to ensure that all your fundraising is integrated across multiple channels. This means using consistent content and creative to ensure that donors are getting the same message as they connect with you through your various channels.

Lesson #2 – People are more similar than you might think

Wouldn’t it be nice if your donors were somewhat like the zombies in The Walking Dead? Grouping together and literally knocking down your front door? Well this might not quite be the case your donors likely are a lot more similar than you might think…

There’s an assumption that social media and online are the channels that will be best for finding ‘younger’ donors. The truth is that younger donors are just as likely to respond to a direct mail pack. And older donors are increasingly using online and social media channels.

Read more


As you might know, I will be leaving Canada to return to the UK in October. I have had an absolutely fantastic couple of years working for HMA and with my lovely clients (you know who you are!).

I’ve learnt a lot about fundraising in North America. And I will take back my valuable learnings to the UK to share.

Whilst being in Canada I’ve kept on track with fundraising in the UK. Although the fundraising culture is slightly different – the basic principles remain the same.

I often share with the HMA team and clients new ideas, tests and results from the UK. And there is one last subject I’d like to touch upon.

In the past few months, there has been an unprecedented attack on British charities from the national media outlets. The level of dissatisfaction with fundraising and the way donors are treated is at an all-time high. The media, the government and the general public are all calling for change.

Ken Burnett, one of the top UK fundraising consultants, is also calling for change. He wants fundraisers to focus on donor experience. To analyze what donors what, what they currently get and how we, as fundraisers, can invest in making sure we build happy, lasting relationships with our donors. Without making these changes, the future for charities in the UK looks bleak.

What can Canada learn from this? Well, at a time where charities are already being scrutinized by the current government, it is crucial you take the time to look at your donors’ experience. Are they getting what they want? Are they treated the way they deserve? Is it a two way conversation?

Read more

By building a monthly giving program, organizations can ensure a steady cash flow and deepen relationships with existing donors. Here's a few important steps to help you build your monthly giving program:
1. Organize a backend system for payment processing
We recommend organizations collect donations through electronic funds transfers and credit cards. You should sort it out with yourbank or use a third-party supplier who processes the gifts. Be warned though that in the United States credit cards are compromised more often, so extra precautions should be taken to protect donor information.
2. Make donation amounts seem manageable
Many organizations use lines like 'For just 50 cents a day', to make the gift seem manageable to donors. Find a way to present a monthly rate which teh donor can easily justify paying. This way people will have a harder time finding a reason to say, “No”

Read more


If you’re like most people, you thank people every day. You probably even say thank you to the waitress that gave you bad service. That’s just the way we’re wired. But when’s the last time you really said thank you? When’s the last time you wrote a thank you note?

For most of us it probably wasn’t that recently. You might not even remember when you last did it. With how busy we are its much easier to just send a quick e-mail or text message to thank a friend for something they’ve done. And while this is a nice gesture, it doesn’t have nearly the power of a hand-written thank you.

The same is true for your donors. They’re likely regular donors to many organizations. So they probably receive thank you letters at least monthly. Sure, most of these are personalized with their name, and maybe the area they supported. Some might even have a hand-written note or PS. But even that doesn’t have the power of a thank you note or card that’s actually hand-written. That comes from your heart.

As one example of how powerful a personal thank you can be I’ll share a story from one of our clients. The client had just received a $10,000 gift from a donor who’d only given smaller amounts in the past. The client has a policy that the highest ranking person on staff calls the donor as soon as a gift at that level is received. So they called. And when they did the donor told them ‘You’re going to be very happy you called today’. The donor went on to advise that he’d made five $10,000 gifts to five organizations he cared about, and he had an additional gift of $122,000 in stock that he was going to give to the first organization that thanked him. That was our client.

Read more


When you host an event, you see all sorts of passionate people come together to support your cause.  And you might think these people have great potential to become a regular donor to your next direct mail campaign. 

The truth is though, that these individuals tend to be passionate about the cause and passionate about possibly supporting a friend but unfortunately they generally do not have the same connection to your organization. When we talk about prospecting you would think that event donors are the best lists to turn to but in many cases they do not perform nearly as well as you may have thought. In fact, the response rate is likely lower than that of your rental or trade lists. 

It is a slippery slope trying to convert these event donors into loyal direct mail donors but if you don’t at least try you may be missing out on some potential long-term loyal donors.

Read more


How many of your likes do you expect you’re reaching through your Facebook posts? 100%? 75%? 50%? The truth is that you’re likely only reaching 5-10% of your likes. Maybe 15% if you’re lucky. Why? Because this is exactly the way Facebook wants it.

They continue to refine their algorithm to ensure that the only way you can reach most of your supporters is through Facebook Advertising. Luckily though advertising on Facebook is still fairly inexpensive, and it’s something you should be testing for your charity.

There are three primary tools within Facebook advertising that you should be considering – Boosting your posts, increasing page likes, and sending people to your website. Each can be effective depending on what your purpose is.

Boosting a post (or multiple posts) is most effective for increasing your visibility and awareness. You can choose to boost your post to your likes (ensuring they all see it) or you can boost it beyond your own page, choosing demographic selections that work the best for you.

Increasing page likes is viable as an entry strategy if you eventually plan to boost posts to your likes. Just increasing your likes won’t do a lot of good on its own as you’ll only reach a small percentage of your actual likes. If one of the goals set out by your board is to increase the likes on Facebook this could be the tool for you.

Sending people to your website is most effective if you’re looking for donations. Be sure that if you are using this you send them to a page that clearly identifies your mission and provides an easy way to donate. Ideally this would already be part of your homepage, but if it’s not be sure you make the updates before testing.

Read more

Syndicate content