I can’t count the number of times an organization has asked me something like ‘Our CEO wants to find younger donors. How can I use social media to acquire new 20 year old donors?’.

The truth is, you can’t. Social media is great for a lot of things, but it’s not the magic tool to help you find 20 year old donors that will give to your cause. This is because 20 to 30 year olds just don’t have the means to do so. They certainly care about your cause, and they’ll get involved if you ask them in the right way, but they’re not going to help you meet your fundraising targets. At least not in the short term.

If you build a good engagement strategy with these donors you will eventually convert them into financial donors. But this could be 10, 15, even 20 years down the road. So it’s important that when you’re setting targets for social media you keep your goals realistic. Set targets for increasing likes, shares, comments, etc. but don’t expect a big windfall of cash.

Yes, some organizations are starting to raise money through Facebook and other social media tools. Most of the success is coming from animal, environmental, and disaster relief charities. The Ice Bucket Challenge last year raised millions through social media, but this is not something that’s soon going to be replicated. In fact, it may never happen again.

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I remember loading MS Publisher onto my home computer for the first time.  It was pretty exciting and gave me a basic introduction to the world of newsletter design.

I went on to create a newsletter with my family as the main subject.  My parents, brother, aunts, uncles and cousins got a real kick reading about our family (and in particular reading about themselves).  They were interested because the content and pictures spoke to them – they could relate.  I’m pretty sure if I’d created a newsletter that was all about “me” they would have said it was great but would have wondered what about them?

I bring this up because the same can be said of many non-profit newsletters.  If they’re all about the organization and don’t speak to the people who make the work they do possible, the organization will miss a chance to really engage their supporters.

We recently re-designed a newsletter for one of our clients.  We put the spotlight on the donor in each article and used lots of images to help tell each story.  The results have exceeded our expectations both in response rate and average gift.  One donor even called to give a gift of $250 – they usually give $25 a year.

So what can you do?

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How often do you think about your donor journey? Whether it’s online or offline, thinking about, and building a great donor journey is key to your success.

A great donor journey ensures that your donors don’t get lost along the way. You need to lead them along the path that will lead them to making a 2nd gift, 3rd gift, and eventually a major and/or legacy gift.

This means doing more than just asking them over and over. Once they’ve made their first gift you need to thank them right away. Ideally within 48 hours. From there, you might consider engaging them further with a survey or petition to build their connection with your organization. This is especially important for online acquired donors. We’ve found that it can take anywhere from 3 -7 steps to convert an online donor to an offline donor. Trying to make this conversion is important, as the retention rate for offline donors is far more than online donors.

It’s also important to think about your donor journey on your website. When a prospective donor arrives, what’s the first thing that catches their attention? It should be your ‘donate now’ button. And when they click that they should be immediately directed to the donation form (which hopefully just requires one click to donate).

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Normally we don't talk about food on our website, but we are making an exception this week to let all of the delegates visiting Vancouver know where some of the great restaurants are located.


Welcome to the 2015 AHP Convene Conference in Vancouver, BC.

While here we assume that you would like to eat food. Preferably great food. So I have prepared a list of some of my favorite restaurants for you. I hope that this little guide leads you to sample some great food, and enjoy some of the best of what our city offers.

Vancouver is a great restaurant city. It's full of creative chefs, and an abundance of local delights.

You will not go hungry.

I've split this recommendation list into a few different categories to make it somewhat easier. First, since virtually all delegates will be staying in downtown Vancouver, I focused my choices on what will be close by. Second, I've tried to divide it into low-budget, medium, and high end. Frequently, but not always, the best restaurants tend to charge you a lot more money. Nonetheless, sometimes it's worth it.

I've also added some vegan and vegetarian recommendations. If I didn't mention where they are, the restaurants are in the downtown core. Other restaurants I mentioned are still within 3 to 7 miles from the conference center.

Good Budget restaurants

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We are often asked what non-profits should do on social media. Should they spend their time getting to know Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, You Tube…etc. What can they expect out of it? Will it raise any money?

Social Media is top of mind for most of us. We use it every day. We constantly see updates from family, friends as well as our favourite causes and companies. And when we are at work we think, surely we should be doing this too?

Generally, the non-profit world has been a bit slow to embrace social media. But there has been a shift in attitude and resources in the past five years. In 2014, online donations accounted for only 6.7% of all fundraising in North America. Not much at all.

But when you think that online giving grew by 8.9% in 2014 compared to the previous year, it represents one of the fastest growing areas of fundraising today.

And now we are seeing some exciting fundraising developments from social media. In the UK, The Good Agency launched #DONATE last week enabling you to donate to your favourite cause via Twitter. All you need to do is tweet or retweet your chosen charity with the amount and hashtag #DONATE. You will receive an automated reply confirming you are happy to donate. You then use your PayPal account to make the transaction. It will be a very easy way to donate for the majority of Twitter users in the UK.

With 1.35 billion active users worldwide, Facebook gives you an immediate international platform for your fundraising campaigns. There is huge potential to use Facebook as a key acquisition channel.

And when it is planned, tested and executed in the right way, a well-integrated fundraising campaign with a focus on digital tools can attract thousands of new donors for your cause.

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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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