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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We’re one week into 2015. If you made a new year’s resolution there’s a chance that you’ve already broken it. Only 75% of people are able to maintain their new year’s resolution through the first week. And it’s estimated that only 8% of people are successful in keeping their new year’s resolution all year.  There are a few main reasons for this:

  • Making unrealistic resolutions
  • Not setting specific criteria for what success in the resolution will look like
  • Using guilt or fear as a motivator

The good news is that it’s not too late to re-make your new year’s resolutions. And to make some fundraising resolutions that will help you raise more money at your organization. The important thing is that all of your resolutions are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Based. You’ve probably heard this before when talking about goal setting. A resolution really is just a long-term goal though, so you should use the same process.

Rather than striving to ‘raise more money in 2015 than we did last year’, make your resolution clear and SMART – ‘raise 20% more money in our Annual Giving program in 2015, than we did in 2014’. If your organization has only grown at 5% over the past 3 years, 20% probably isn’t realistic, so consider revising that down to 7%, or maybe 10% if you’re really looking for a stretch goal.

And if your boss is demanding that you increase your fundraising by an unrealistic 20%, then you’ll need to set many smaller goals/resolutions to give you the best chance for success.

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2014….it’s been quite a year for our industry! CRA audits, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Canada Post changes - to name a few - have all caught our attention this year. 

At HMA, we are celebrating 2014. And we want to share some success stories from our lovely clients with you (look out clients, you may even spot your campaigns in here!).
Each of our Top 10 represents a different client. As you can see, their achievements are wide-ranging and inspiring.
Well done everyone for your hard work this year.
Merry Christmas and here’s to an even better New Year!
HMA Top 10 from 2014

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It’s flying through our mailboxes, blasting on our radio stations and spreading like wild fire on our social media sites. You guessed it! Your holiday fundraising campaign is here…

Each new holiday season we hear the growing concern “Are we doing too much?”, “Are we speaking to donors too many times over the holidays?” For a majority of charitable organizations, the holiday season is responsible for a large percentage of their annual revenues. Some even receive as much as 80% of their revenue in December alone.

Each year direct mail continues to take the cake for gift revenue but the growing popularity in online giving has become a bigger factor for many organizations in their annual holiday campaigns.

With a new willingness to try emails, social media adverts, hashtag campaigns and infographics the question of “When do we stop?” has become even more apparent.

The simple answer is don’t stop. And keep integrating. 

Here are a few things to think about:

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The results are in and Giving Tuesday 2014 was a resounding success! Gifts to charities participating in Giving Tuesday totalled nearly $46 million, an increase of 63% over last year. There were 32.7 million Twitter impressions, and nearly 700,000 hashtag mentions of #GivingTuesday. These are the worldwide numbers, and they’re likely to continue to increase as gifts continue to be processed.

HMA also had a hugely successful Giving Tuesday. We were able to help 15 small charities with all sorts of fundraising projects. Most of our team was in the office past 9:00pm doing as much as they could to help our new clients. The teamwork really was impressive to get so many projects completed in just a short time. From account managers, to the production team, and our digital and creative specialists, everyone came together to make it a huge success.

In the past few days we’ve received some very heartfelt messages from the organizations that we were able to help. We’ll try to share more about some of the specific projects that we worked on in the coming months as the organizations are able to execute the plans and projects that we helped them develop on Giving Tuesday.

And be sure to check back around this same time for details on Giving Tuesday 2015. If possible, we’ll try to expand our efforts to help even more organizations next year.


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While our Toronto office has already been hard at work for a few hours, we’re just getting ready to kick off HMA’s Giving Tuesday in Vancouver. There’s a buzz through the office as everyone is arriving. And we’re very excited to be giving back by providing our consulting services free of charge to 15 very deserving small non-profits.

Our new ‘clients’ stretch nearly 5,000 km from Vancouver to Labrador (and there’s even one down in the US). The projects that we’ll be delivering include digital fundraising strategies, year-end fundraising strategies, database audits, program audits, and direct response campaign development. We’re very excited to be giving back this way this #GivingTuesday and we hope that you’ll give back to your favourite charities too. Maybe even to one of the below ;)

Here’s the complete list of the charities we’re working with today:

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