Fundraising Strategies Despite Recent Staff and Budget Cuts

Nonprofit organizations have seen budgets slashed and staff furloughed due to COVID-19. This has made it difficult to raise the funds needed to provide vital services to the community. Despite budget cuts, staff layoffs, event cancellations, and economic concerns, fundraising is possible with the following strategies:

1. Use Automated Technology 

There are many fundraising tools available that automate routine tasks like email and social media scheduling, e-newsletter template creation, and website user data analytics. Though it may be tempting to invest in every fundraising tool, you need to look at the needs, budget, and manpower of your organization first.

You’re probably familiar with MailChimp, Constant Contact, GoFundMe, Buffer, Raiser’s Edge, and Hootsuite. These programs are easy to use and some are inexpensive or even free. 

You can segment your donors, set up online fundraisers, and schedule social media postings and emails. These online tools can save your team time and effort, without breaking your budget. They are great ways to quickly get information to your donors and prospects.

In addition to these automated fundraising tools, WealthEngine has a host of donor scoring and campaign management software that works in conjunction with the abovementioned digital tools. This automated online fundraising technology helps you identify the most promising donors to send your message to. It also helps you create and manage donor campaigns that utilize the tools listed above. 

Budget cuts due to Covid-19 have forced nonprofits to take a fresh look at the costs of the tools they are using. You may need to cancel software subscriptions that are not delivering or being used. Be careful not to cancel too many as automation is crucial for organizations with smaller staffs.

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2. Use Targeted Messaging for Categorized Audiences

Despite possible income reductions facing your donors, you shouldn’t stop asking for gifts. There are donors who are willing and able to make financial contributions. 

Some prospects may feel powerless due to state-mandated lockdowns and event cancellations. Many donors will see the opportunity to give, even a little amount, as a way they can make a difference.

It is recommended that you research, follow up on, and categorize your donor lists. Not everyone on your lists should get the same message as they donate different amounts, donate to varying projects, and at different frequency rates. 

Once you segment donors, it is important to have tailored fundraising messaging that doesn’t include a hard ask. Remember, the current financial strain may be affecting your donors. When your donor list is segmented, it is easier to send the right message to the right people at the right time. 

If you haven’t invested in a tool like WealthEngine that analyzes supporter behavior and gives them a score based on their giving capacity, you can miss finding eager and willing donors. You will also miss out on the opportunity to share your organization’s messaging.

Donor Prospect Scoring

Many nonprofits use donor segmentation to group supporters into categories. Common segmentations include the amount given, donation frequency, giving capacity, and the length of time a donor has supported the organization. Scoring helps the fundraising team narrow down which donors and prospects to pursue.

At Northern Nevada HOPES, the fundraising department assigns individuals scores based on their ability to make a major gift and whether they’ve given in the past. For example, an individual with the highest score of 1/0 means they have given in the past and that they can give at least $50,000 over five years. In this case, the “1” represents the category the prospect falls into and the “0” indicates their priority within the category.

Donor management systems like WealthEngine help nonprofits focus on donor prospects through the assignment of a score. The wealth score, a number between 1 and 100, assesses the financial health of a prospective donor. Unlike the Northern Nevada HOPES score, where the lower number is better, you’ll want to focus your efforts on donor prospects with a wealth score of at least 90.

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Look-Alike Modeling

Look-alike modeling is a form of marketing that notes common characteristics of an organizations’ most qualified donors. These common demographic characteristics can include:

    • Area code
    • Car type
    • Profession
    • Life stage
    • Age
    • Interests and hobbies
    • Family size and makeup

Once you note all these common characteristics, you can run it through a donor prospect platform like WealthEngine. This helps you find more donors that may have otherwise gone under your radar.

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Follow Up with Donors

Your fundraising messaging needs to go beyond the ask. Now is a great opportunity for your nonprofit to reach out and empathize with your donors.

One organization that did this is Northern Nevada HOPES, a community health clinic. The organization realized its staff and donors were experiencing the same difficulties, making it easier for them to empathize with donors. As a result, they were able to secure large donations of “$5,000, $10,000, even $15,000.” 

Northern Nevada HOPES sent out emails, handwritten notes, and made phone calls to donors and prospects with simple questions of “How are you?” “How is your family?” “Are you okay?” 

This introduction opened the door to one-on-one conversations where the donors asked Northern Nevada HOPES how they were doing. That question from donors helped form the messaging on the organization’s website, email, and social media channels: ‘We are okay and our doors are open.’

Besides letting the donors and community know their clinic was fine and their doors were open, they mentioned the need for a community health clinic. This messaging went out through their email database.

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Personalize Your “Thank You” With a Video

Donors want acknowledgment and appreciation for their financial gifts. You may have an automated “thank you” page, email, and phone scripts set in place. While these are fundraising must-haves, are yours engaging or personal?

Videos are powerful ways to take your “thank you” message to the next level. Videos should be short and feature your organization’s CEO, the fundraising or marketing manager, or someone who has benefitted from the nonprofit. All your representative has to do is sit in front of the camera and thank the individual for their contribution.

The best “thank you” videos are candid and appreciative, say the donor’s name, thank them for their contribution, and include a touching message.

Some “Thank You” messaging tips to consider include:

    • The message resonates with donors and pulls at their heartstrings
    • The message is warm and welcoming
    • The message elicits gratitude
    • The message acknowledges the receipt of the gift 
    • The message mentions where the donation is going

3. Get Creative with Online Events

Since traditional in-person fundraising events have been canceled due to COVID-19, nonprofit organizations have the opportunity to be creative with online events. Roughly two-thirds of nonprofit organizations reported they were either considering or have already held a virtual fundraising event. Below are examples of what some nonprofits have done instead of holding in-person gatherings and events:

 

Northern Nevada HOPES

Northern Nevada HOPES held a town hall for donors and prospective donors of their recently built Hope Springs facility. The CEO hosted the event. 

A few weeks later, a virtual gala took place. The virtual gala event was a one-hour cocktail hour held over a Zoom call featuring an online, silent auction.

 

March of Dimes

With their signature walk canceled, March of Dimes created a March Madness bracket-style competition called March for Babies Step Up! Teams and individuals compete against each other to raise money and get virtual badges and ribbons. Through the middle of May, participants tracked their progress and completed a series of contests using a mobile app called Charity Miles.

 

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan)

PanCan turned to a virtual walk followed by an event called Virtual is the New Purple that featured virtual town halls, forums, and one-on-one conversations. Volunteers, team captains, sponsors, and stakeholders took part in the event.

 

St. Baldrick’s Foundation

St. Baldrick’s Foundation provides treatment and services to children with cancer. The organization wanted a fun and creative way for people to get involved and raise funds

their solutionVirtual Head Shaving.

These virtual head-shaving events allowed people to raise funds through peer-to-peer fundraising that encouraged donor contacts to shave their heads in return. Participants filmed themselves getting their heads shaved by hosting an event on Zoom or Twitch, which allowed friends and family to watch.

With virtual events, the sky’s the limit. If any of these virtual events inspire you, be sure to check out more online events at Double the Donation. Other virtual online events nonprofits have participated in include:

    • Webinars
    • Podcasts
    • Virtual Golf Tournaments
    • Online Charity Concerts
    • Calendar/Cookbook Giveaway
    • Virtual Dance Marathon
    • Virtual Game Night

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4. Safe In-Person Meetings are Still Possible

The health concerns of Covid-19 may have canceled your traditional fundraising events. You may be re-thinking all in-person meetings. However, in this time of stay-at-home orders, business shutdowns, and social distancing, in-person meetings are more important than ever. 

During times of economic downturns, nonprofits who have “used the time to create stronger relationships come out ahead.” With the increased social isolation, health concerns, and economic uncertainty of your donors, they need someone to come alongside them and show empathy. Organizations that go out and listen to the needs and concerns of their donors will build closer relationships with them. 

While digital communication tools are great, they cannot replace in-person meetings. It is important to have strong relationships with donors and online meetings lack the personal touches needed for relationship-building. With donor consent, appropriate safety measures in place, and the “green light” from your state health authorities, you can still have those crucial in-person meetings.

Instead of the traditional lunch or dinner at a restaurant or sitting in a nice coffee shop, you can both enjoy a boxed lunch or a coffee-to-go on a park bench or any outside space. For these meetings, it is important to wear a mask and stay at least six feet apart. 

These in-person meetings will allow you to share information about your organization and provide the personal connection one cannot get online. However, the choice to meet in-person will be up to the prospective donor. If he or she is uncomfortable meeting face-to-face, there is nothing wrong with a virtual Zoom or Skype meeting.

5. Ask Your Board Members for Help

80% of nonprofit organizations have fewer than 20 board members, with the average being around 15. For many organizations, board members are chosen using a list of requirements. It is a rule for most board members to donate a certain level to the nonprofit each year.

During this challenging time of fundraising, it is a good idea to ask more from your board members if they haven’t already stepped up. The extra responsibilities for board members can take many forms. You can ask them to increase their level of giving or ask them to do more volunteer or pro-bono work for the organization.

Your board members should be willing to help in any way possible. When asking for board member support, here are some things to consider:

    • Give members advance notice of  your heightened expectations 
    • Be transparent and ask for their opinions, feedback, and suggestions
    • Make sure there is consensus around the decision
    • Be sensitive to the financial situation of each board member
    • Be consistent in what you ask each board member
    • Be open and specific about the needs of your organization

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Now is a great time for creative fundraising, using technology, connecting with donors, and getting additional support from board members. Fundraising is still doable even though Covid-19 seems to have negatively impacted nonprofits’ bottom lines. A good first step is to use tools like WealthEngine to find donor prospects. 

Once you know which donors to focus on, you can segment your supporters and write appropriate fundraising messaging. It is also important that you continue asking for donations, conduct socially-distant in-person meetings with prospects, and ask your board members to help with fundraising efforts. 

 

Maximizing Your Targeted Marketing by Optimizing Your Email List

This article focuses on ways you can optimize your email list by making use of social media platforms and email list segmentation. By personalizing your messaging, you make your product or service more relatable and show how it can be beneficial to a particular subset of clients. 

Email marketing probably isn’t a new term if you spend time creating a marketing plan for your organization. It is important to understand how to make the most out of your email list. There are around 3.9 billion active email addresses in the world, which means there is a lot of potential when it comes to using email marketing to reach your target audience. 

Given all the time and resources spent cultivating your email list, maximizing the effectiveness of your list is crucial to your success. By going beyond a traditional email campaign strategy to use this information in other ways, you can increase your return on investment (ROI) and your target audience reach. You can also pick up new leads and look-a-like audiences.

On average, email campaigns generate $38 ROI for every $1 spent making it one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing. While simply focusing on creating email newsletters and placing your message in your client’s inbox is important, there are ways to expand the use of your email list. 

Email preference graphic

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Direct Email Campaigns

The simplest way to start using your email list is to begin a direct email campaign. 87% of B2B marketers say email is one of their top free organic distribution channels. Getting your message into your target audience’s inbox is one of the easiest ways to reach out to prospective and current donors. 

While it is possible to send an email blast to your entire target audience, by being intentional with your messaging, your campaigns will be even more successful. Email segmentation is crucial to increasing your conversation rates and engagement with your message.

By dividing your email list into segmented audiences, you will be able to reach your target audience with personalized calls-to-action that will encourage engagement from the recipient based on their lifestyle, interests, and donation ability.

WealthEngine’s platform digs deep into the preferences of your target audience to help you get a better idea of which messages will resonate in their inboxes. By analyzing wealth profiles, WealthEngine helps you prioritize the perspective and current donors who should be receiving your emails.

When segmenting your audience, it is important to remember appropriate messaging for each group. Segmentation is a great strategy, but it needs to be implemented correctly to work. Use the information provided by WealthEngine to see which type of call-to-action each group will be most likely to engage with. 

Facebook and Instagram Custom Audiences

Mixing social media ads with email marketing helps you target your audience on other platforms enabling you to share your messaging using different types of content. Facebook allows you to build custom audiences by uploading identifiers like email addresses, so you can target your email list with Facebook ads. 

By using this feature, your email list goes a step beyond the inbox and helps you expand your target audience by matching Facebook profiles from your list with similar profiles, known as a look-a-like audience. Maximizing your Facebook ad reach by using your existing email list will help you increase your ROI and expand your target audience to new prospects. 

Instagram acts as the visual partner to Facebook, and its platform uses the same settings to create custom audiences for targeted messaging. By marketing to your email list through these platforms, you can create quality campaigns that encourage traffic and put eyes on your message, increasing your conversion rates. 

Twitter Audiences

Twitter has a different format compared to Facebook and Instagram, but its ad strategy is similar. Twitter is another social media platform that can enable optimization of your email list. Like Facebook’s Custom Audiences feature, Twitter allows you to tailor your messaging to certain segments of your email list. 

Rather than focusing on ads, Twitter ultimately focuses on messaging. This social media platform allows you to promote your profile to your chosen audience or sponsor tweets to raise awareness about your message. Like Facebook, Twitter can use the email addresses you upload to create look-a-like models to extend the reach of your message to potential new users. 

Google Customer Match

Google Ads is a huge tool for digital marketers, and the Customer Match feature allows you to use your email list to customize your message to specific audiences as needed. Since Google works as a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising service, conversion rates are crucial for gaining the ROI needed for your campaigns.

Customer Match allows you to upload your email list and segment the audience as needed for your message. When using this feature, you can choose which segment of your email list sees a particular ad. You can also choose to exclude your email list altogether, allowing you to target only cold leads and prospects.

Google Customer Match can also create a similar or look-a-like audience based on the email list you upload. Better yet, the feature will retain the data of those who interact with your advertisements, so you can add these similar audience members to your email database.

CRM Marketing and Retargeting 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a tool that allows you to get the most out of your email lists when used with segmentation and retargeting tactics. Working with CRM marketing to retarget your email list can help you nurture your leads and cultivate them into donors. 

Retargeting, in simple terms, works when a user is targeted by other ad campaigns after engaging with your email. This is efficient because it keeps your message at the top of the recipient’s mind and continues to nurture the lead from your email list. 

WealthEngine’s platform integrates well with CRM systems, so you can have access to wealth intelligence technology that helps you better understand your audience. This is important for retargeting because you will be able to segment your retargeting emails to continue the cultivation of leads in the most efficient way possible. 

 

How to Find and Appeal to Today’s High Net Worth Donors

Hight net worth donors

Jim Lintoit is the founder and chairman of the Sterling Foundation, which has created over 350 nonprofits using funds from high net worth donors. On a regular basis, he interacts with the 1%, managing their money and finding ways for them to achieve their philanthropic goals. Below he shares wisdom and advice you can use to appeal to higher-end net worth donors, getting them to fund your organization. 

“Personalization in Today’s *World is Vital” 

We live in the age of the internet, personalization has never been easier. If you want to find donors for your nonprofit organization that has a higher-end net worth, you need to know as much about them as possible including their interests, dislikes, family members, financial situation, and so on, so that you can appeal to them in the most effective way possible. 

If you aren’t personalizing your appeals, then you are putting yourself at a complete disadvantage because the truth is, someone else is, and they will steal that donor right out from under you. You aren’t asking for pennies, you are asking for large sums of money, for missions that will change the world, so you need to put in the work. When it comes to donors, “Get to know them, and I mean really know them” because you need to “Be prepared to change the world together.” 

    • Personalize with WealthEngine 

Using Wealth Engine’s WE Screen feature you can easily personalize your campaigns through wealth and lifestyle indicators. Our comprehensive platform uses real-time intelligence to update donor profiles and automatically segments donors through wealth scores and ratings. 

Using the data on WealthEngine you can determine information about donors like: 

    • What is the giving level they are comfortable with? 
    • Where do they have houses? Do you have any events near those houses you can invite them to? 
    • What kind of investments do they normally make? How is your campaign similar to those investments? 

This kind of information will make or break your campaign, so you better have it. 

WE Screen feature to find donors for nonprofit

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Be the Difference Donors Want to Make 

Donors genuinely want a chance to make a difference. Of course, things like ego enhancement, tax breaks, and legacies matter to them, but in the end, the people who come to Jim want to donate to help fix problems and be a force of positive good in the world. 

They often come to him with a burning issue in mind, sometimes with just the general desire to bring about change, and what they want to know is: how? 

You have to be the “how.” 

Jim emphasizes there is one question above all others you need to be able to answer when donors come to you: “What won’t happen if you don’t get this money?” 

If the answer is nothing special, or not one that will personally appeal to the donor, then you have lost them. 

“Wealthy People Seek Out Experts for Almost Everything” 

If you want your campaign to be effective and find donors for your nonprofit organization, you have to show donors why they need you to accomplish their goals. Let’s be real, wealthy people are used to getting the best, so you need to prove to them why you are the best. 

Either show that you are an expert in what you are proposing, or that you have talent working for you that is highly regarded in their field. They need to feel secure that their investment is going into a project that is going to make the difference it sets out to. 

Welcome them in by offering the security of knowing they are working with people who have the skills and capabilities to achieve the donor’s stated goals, and once these are accomplished, keep reinforcing that feeling of security by sharing measurable results from the project. Transparency is instrumental in continuing the cycle of giving, ensuring more donations in the future. 

Get the Next Generation Involved 

Another great way to continue the cycle of giving is by getting the next generation involved in donating. It’s not just a stereotype, it is actually very common for the very wealthy to involve their children in managing their philanthropic contributions. 

After all, it’s excellent management experience if the kids are being groomed to take over their parent’s business. It can also relieve the head of the family of the additional responsibility of managing philanthropic endeavors. Additionally, Jim explains that most second-generation super-wealthy tend to have trouble finding their life’s passion and philanthropic opportunities can deliver that passion to them. 

Identify Next Generation Givers with WealthEngine

You can easily find donors for your nonprofit and utilize information about next-generation givers using WealthEngine’s WE Search feature. Its extensive database uses information from 60 sources, looking through 300 million profiles and 122 million households, covering past charitable contributions, stocks, assets, and more for high-profile donors and their family members. If a family member has shown an interest in a charitable organization similar to yours, WE Search can find them, their contact information, and an entire profile’s worth of other useful information. 

WE Search feature to find donors for nonprofit

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Don’t Get Trapped in the Short-Term of Your Organization 

You should be thinking about continuing the cycle of giving into the future, but you should also consider the future of your organization and how you can use the donations you are campaigning for to grow it, making it more appealing to other donors. 

The donors you are pitching don’t “care about the oddities of your organization versus another organization, or the fact that you’re a nonprofit versus a for-profit. Your client wants to make a difference.” You have to think outside your own organization and outside of what you have always done before to find donors for your nonprofit. Ask yourself what will appeal to your client and what will make the difference they want to make. 

Be Flexible With Your Gifts 

Be flexible, not only with your organization’s path but also with how you accept money. Jim explains, “You may need the money now, you may need the money in the future. There are all sorts of ways to be flexible with how gifts are given.” 

You can use charitable lead trusts, charitable remainder trusts, pledges, and so on, instead of just accepting gifts in one lump sum. Jim deals with a lot of, “depression-era givers” who genuinely fear becoming poor again, despite the fact they may have hundreds of millions of dollars now. A charitable remainder trust is a great way to put those clients at ease. 

Ready to Effectively Find Donors? 

Don’t campaign without doing your research. Try a Free Demo of WealthEngine Today! 

 

Grow Your Organization by Incorporating Disruption and Personalization

Data Driven Personalization

Disruption and personalization aren’t limited to retail industries. Nonprofits, higher education, and other organizations can reach more people with their mission by incorporating disruption and personalization into their fundraising models, too.

The key to making these traditionally consumer-based business techniques work for other organizations is to use them in conjunction with the right software. This guide discusses the types of business disruptions, how to build experiences using data driven personalization, the three essential elements of one-to-one personalization, and the software that makes it all work at scale. 

This guide is based on a presentation given by Bob Ghafouri, the Founder and Senior Managing Director at Accenture Bloom, a group that helps companies turn their existing assets into new revenue streams.

How Personalization Has Caused Disruption Across All Industries

Before the era of online shopping, an individual’s interaction with a brand was limited to the time they spent in a brick and mortar store or perusing a printed catalog. Advertisements on TV, radio, or in magazines were intended to appeal to a wide audience. Potential customers were exposed to few if any personalized experiences that could have increased the likelihood of a sale.

Online shopping and advertising have completely revolutionized this process. Now, companies can infer what products are the best fit for potential customers and present relevant advertisements to those prospects on any platform. Marketing is tailormade to the individual using curated merchandise choices based on their preferences and behaviors. 

On top of this, companies have revolutionized the ways they do business. These disruptive elements combined with personalization techniques allow relative newcomers to overtake entire industries and leave long-established businesses in the dust. 

3 Elements of Disruptive Businesses

There are three primary ways to disrupt an industry: through experience disruption, business model disruption, or technology innovation. Companies that have successfully disrupted their industry have mastered at least one of these elements.

    • Experience Disruption

Experience disruption occurs when you create a unique customer experience that causes consumers to pivot because the platform is so frictionless. 

AirBnB is a prime example of this type of disruption. With AirBnB’s website or app, you can instantly find a one-of-a-kind place to stay anywhere in the world. 

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Not only that, but AirBnB can help customers find curated experiences or monthly stays, all in a simple and pain-free platform. Customers have no need to supplement their travel experience with any other company. 

    • Business Model Disruption

New pricing models, product delivery methods, and different ways of allocating capital are all types of business model disruption.

Dollar Shave Club is well known for having a disruptive business model. Part of what made the company so disruptive was the simplicity of their idea. 

Dollar Shave Club's Disruptive Business Model

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They sidestepped traditional retailers and rethought pricing. Instead, customers pay a monthly subscription to have Dollar Shave Club razors and cream delivered to their door. 

    • Technology Innovation

Data and technology have reached new levels of democratization. That means you no longer need massive amounts of capital to get a product off the ground, rather, you can make use of technology ecosystems that are already there. 

“It makes it a lot easier for disruptors to get into an existing business or industry and quickly consume the most profitable elements of the profit pool,” Ghafouri noted during his presentation.

For instance, you could start a kombucha company today that could compete with Nestlé by building a business on top of Amazon’s Redshift platform. You could market through Instagram and Facebook, then source and create the product through on-demand manufacturers. 

Incorporating Disruptive Business Elements Into Fundraising

What do these disruptive business elements mean for nonprofits or organizations who are trying to raise funds? It basically boils down to how fast and easy it is for donors to give amounts and gift types that make sense for them. 

If your organization has an outdated website, is using buggy software, or doesn’t offer personalized giving options, then expect to miss out on a few new donors. That effect is compounded if a similar organization touts a more streamlined experience. 

“There is a set of experiences that consumers are expecting from you,” observes Ghafouri. “Whether you’re in nonprofit, banking, retail, or luxury, there are expectations around those experiences that come from other places.” For example, customers are, “expecting an Amazon, AirBnB, or Netflix experience on Nordstrom.com.”

Technology innovation is perhaps the most accessible disruptive business element available to organizations like universities or financial services who aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel in their industry. A prospect screening tool like WealthEngine not only makes it possible to comb through prospects at scale but also automatically updates their profiles with new data about their wealth and lifestyle. 

Prospecting Screening Tool Assists with Data Driven Personalization

WealthEngine then uses predictive lead scoring to hone in on prospects that are most likely to give to your organization. With this level of intelligence at your fingertips, you can simplify and automate the process of converting prospects into donors. 

How to Effectively Use Data to Drive Personalization

Companies gather a lot of data about customers. It’s a hot topic of conversation, and while that data collection gets a bad rap, it shouldn’t put you off from making use of it. 

In fact, Ghafouri asserts that 82% of customers are willing to share their data. The secret to that sort of buy-in is in how you collect and use their data.

    • Be Transparent 

Customers want to know what data you’re collecting and why. They also want to know that you value their data and will do whatever it takes to protect it from being compromised. Finally, it’s important for them to know that you won’t sell it to third parties. 

Aside from being the smart thing to do, it’s also the legal thing to do. If there’s even a chance that your customers or donors reside in the European Union, you’ll want to make sure you’re following all the guidelines in this GDPR checklist

    • Give Customers Control

Instead of predicting what customers want and sharing a potentially irrelevant offer or promotion with them, give customers the opportunity to share their intent data. Intent data basically states what things customers are interested in.

“I think the important thing here is that a lot of the customers or consumers out there want to control that journey that we create for them,” notes Ghafouri. “They want to provide input as they create that journey.” 

Dollar Shave Club puts this into action by immediately giving potential customers the opportunity to share their intent data. This invitation to take a quiz about what products a customer might like is displayed prominently on Dollar Shave Club’s homepage: 

Data Driven Personalization Displayed by the Dollar Shave Club

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The quiz asks questions like what body parts you shave, how often you shave, and if you have any problems, like skin sensitivities. With this information, Dollar Shave Club’s software can infer which products are best for you and create a personalized customer service experience.

    • Create Unique Experiences

Customers are looking for personalized customer service experiences that go across physical and digital spaces. If sharing their data gives them the ease and functionality they’re looking for, then they’ll be more willing to share it.

Nike+ is a connected fitness ecosystem that includes products and services like the Nike+ Training Club App, the Nike+ Running App, and Nike+ SportWatch GPS. Working together, these apps and products collect massive amounts of data about customers, but it’s all in service to their fitness.

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This integrated ecosystem also helps customers seamlessly log and analyze workouts in realtime, which is essential for anyone who wants to improve as an athlete. 

    • Focus on the Four Rs 

The four Rs are to recognize who the customer is, remember them, and make relevant recommendations. If recommendations aren’t relevant, then the customer is going to feel wary about sharing their data. 

Ghafouri offers this anecdote on how jarring irrelevant recommendations can be: 

“If you go to MyFitnessPal, you get offers or promotions that have nothing to do with fitness. I got a travel offer for a Cancun vacation on the app. What they did is they sold my intent to a third party, then that third party advertised to me because I was searching on vacations to Cancun.”

This sort of personalized advertising can feel particularly invasive because it signals to customers that their behavior and activity around the web are being monitored, then the data sold to the highest bidder. 

3 Elements of One-to-One Personalization

Once you’ve gotten permission from customers or prospects to collect their data, you’re ready to put that data to work. These three elements of one-to-one personalization will help you create the unique and relevant experiences that your customers are looking for. 

    • Personalized Shopping

Personalized shopping is the products or services you recommend based on data you’ve gathered about an individual and the intent data they’ve shared with you indicating their preferences. 

A donor pyramid is an example of how personalized shopping might work for a nonprofit or organization. It breaks up donors into different types, with the majority likely being one-time donors and the fewest falling into the planned giving category. Using the right tool, you can target certain prospects with a request for the level of giving that’s best for them. 

WealthEngine’s Donor Pyramid Modeler can automatically determine the number of prospects you need for each level based on the amount you need to raise during a campaign. You can adjust the modeler with conversion rates and What-If analysis. The modeler then shows how much you can raise with current contacts, who you need to contact at each level, and how many new prospects you need to reach your fundraising goal. 

    • Personalized Merchandise

On its own, personalized shopping is limited, as it relies on significant customer profiling in order to make any inferences. Personalized merchandise takes it to the next level by looking at the small details and unique preferences that make up an individual. 

“Profiling isn’t personalization,” says Ghafouri. “Personalization is about that intimate human conversation you have, whether it’s digital or physical and with a consumer or donor.”

Automation can only take you so far. Many exchanges require a human touch and connection so that customers or donors can get exactly the experience they’re looking for. By communicating directly with a donor, you can learn about what issues or services are important to them and what giving options they may be open to that the screening software couldn’t determine on its own. 

    • Personalized Advisor

A personalized advisor is a moment of upselling or cross-selling to a customer or donor.

For example, if you were to order a latte through the Starbucks mobile app for pick-up, the app might also recommend a muffin to go with it.  

“I may want a bottle of water to take with me,” says Ghafouri, “and who knows, maybe I want lunch, packed, so I can buy lunch at breakfast. That’s a curated experience, a pure recommendation which is what you’re finding in a lot of the sites today.”

What should be avoided, notes Ghafouri, is recommending a product that would replace or compete with the original purchase. For example, you wouldn’t want to offer a chai tea after the customer indicates they’re interested in a latte. 

In Summary: Combine Elements of Disruption and Personalization to Create an Unstoppable Organization

Technology like WealthEngine’s prospecting software can help nonprofits and organizations create personalized experiences and disrupt their industry. However, technology alone isn’t enough. 

Don’t let real conversations with your donors or patrons fall to the wayside. These can be critical moments to unearth details about people that software alone can’t hone in on. 

Aside from that, your organization is likely in the business of helping people. What better way to do that than by directly asking donors how you can best be of service? 

The way to make more of those conversations happen is to use software that scales up your prospecting efforts. Get in touch for a free demo to see how WealthEngine makes it possible. 

Fundraising for Higher Education Institutions During COVID-19

Higher education

This guide covers the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the ability of fundraising for higher education institutions and offers donor strategies, tips, and tools to assist schools in fundraising in the current economic climate.

By mid-March, more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the United States canceled in-person classes in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The choice to close was made with student-safety in mind, although it risked the financial safety of the institutions who made it. 

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The empty campuses, online classes, and canceled events that resulted have left colleges with huge financial deficits and no apparent way to significantly increase much-needed funds. Now is the time to fundraise, the question is: how? 

Financial Effect of COVID-19’s on Higher Education Institutions

The first hit higher education institutions took was having to return prorated refunds to students for expenses like dining and housing costs, which previously had been dependable income. That income will continue to be lost for institutions that decide to stay closed during the coming semester. 

Institutions who decide to open will continue to suffer from financial difficulties in regard to additional student expenseshaving to find and fund alternative housing options. Some universities are contracting with area hotels to spread out students, while others are forcing students to move from dorms to off-campus homes. Both of these strategies will result in housing expense shortfalls, with the former resulting in institutions paying more to house students, and the latter resulting in fewer students paying housing fees for higher education institutions. 

Further exacerbating the problem, due to the pandemic and subsequent recession, fewer students are interested in traditional four-year institutions at this time. A survey conducted by Arts & Science concluded that 1 in 6 high school seniors who were planning on attending a four-year college or institutions full-time this fall believe they will now take a different path. This decline in interest will inevitably lead to more lost expense-induced and tuition income. 

If that wasn’t bad enough, higher education institutions are also having to deal with finding a way to effectively fundraise in this unprecedented situation. A survey conducted by Washburn & McGoldrick estimated that 43% of higher-education fundraisers would be unable to meet their goals this year, denoting that a tried-and-true method has yet to be found. Between losing expenses, tuition, and fundraising money, higher education institutions are in an undeniably precarious financial position. 

Fundraising for Higher Education Institutions

There has not been an event like the COVID-19 pandemic in any of our lifetimes. 

Everything has changed, so fundraising strategies must adapt. Below are some tips and tools you can use to help your college or university make it through this crisis: 

    • Personalize Outreach to Donors

Prior to COVID-19, personalized outreach to donors was of utter importance. Now, it is a necessity. 

With an overwhelming number of worthy causes competing for donations, it is crucial that you communicate why your cause is equally important. The best way to make a compelling case is by being informed about what appeals to each individual donor, how much they can contribute, and other background information. 

That information is at your fingertips with WealthEngines’ comprehensive platform. With WealthEngine’s real-time intelligence you can automatically personalize a prospect’s online experience. 

WE Screen analyses donor profiles for you, segmenting them and providing wealth scores and ratings so you can easily find the right prospect to approach. This helps you identify who you should be targeting for fundraising campaigns, and how you should be targeting them. 

Specifically, WE Screen helps you create a donor pyramid with wealth modeling so that you can precisely and effectively segment and target donors. A donor pyramid categorizes prospects based on their engagement levels, mapping out paths for nonprofits to move them from lower levels of commitment to higher ones. 

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    • Alumni Fundraising Strategies: Appeal with Relatable and Immediate Projects 

An effective strategy for increasing donations now is emphasizing to donors how their contributions can help solve relatable and immediate problems within your institution and student body. Hot button projects at this moment are strengthening mental health programs on campuses, creating new programs for increasing student safety, and of course, financial aid. 

One of the biggest problems higher education institutions will face in the coming school year is providing financial aid to students. Higher education institutions have to juggle their financial needs with the financial needs of students who are personally suffering from the recession or whose families are struggling due to the recession. 

State aid to higher education institutions nose-dived during the Great Recession, and to this day, “except for a handful of states, spending per student in public colleges and universities, adjusted for inflation, remains far below pre-recession levels.” Adding to this burden is the likelihood that during and after coronavirus, the increase in financial aid costs will either rival or surpass the increases seen during and following the Great Recession.

In fundraising to provide financial support to students, schools should make a conscientious effort to demonstrate the impact of donors’ dollars, providing them with information about the students who have or will benefit from their financial support. In doing so, institutions will make donors feel more connected to the positive change they are making in student’s lives, increasing the likelihood they will continue to donate.

    • Appeal to Middle-Tier Donors 

Donations from mid-level donors are often overlooked in favor of trying to win over top-level donors. This is a mistake.  As a collective force, mid-level donors can be powerful. 

Experts believe that the trend of mega-gifts from top-level donors will decline because of the pandemic. This prediction is informed by past trends of big-time philanthropists contributing a lesser amount of large cash gifts to institutions during crises. 

However, experts predict that a surge of grassroots financial support from middle-tier donors is likely. Therefore, higher education institutions should direct their energy toward appealing to alumni for small gifts. 

An example of this occurred recently when Eastern Michigan raised 2 million from small donations, often totaling between $25-100 each, which it then turned around and handed out to graduates and freshmen. The institution gave  $600 to each graduate and $400 to each freshman in hopes of easing the financial burdens they were facing due to the coronavirus pandemic. By going for middle-tier donors, and setting a goal that would create measurable, relatable change, Eastern Michigan succeeded. 

To determine which middle-tier donors you should approach, use the WE Analyze tool. This predictive lead scoring and analysis platform uses one of the largest consumer data sets ever created to quickly give you deep insights into your donors. You can use that information to find middle-tier donors most likely to donate to your institution.

    • Stay Organized in the Chaos 

Every workplace has been shaken up by the chaos caused by COVID-19. The key is to prioritize organization so that you are fully capable of taking advantage of all tasks and opportunities that arise, especially fundraising options. 

A clean and accurate database will save your institution time and resources. You will never need to track down lost alumni or update records with an accurate email address, phone number, and other contact information. 

WealthEngine can provide you with that database, organizing your systems with real-time integration through its easy-to-use technology and strong partnerships with leading software providers. Spend less time organizing, let WealthEngine do it for you.

    • Create Online Fundraising Events 

The inability to hold on-campus events will definitely hurt higher education institutions. After all, a pillar of U.S. universities is the events that campuses hold for prospective students, current students, alumni, and community members. Higher education fundraising events are incredibly important to institutions. 

Higher education institutions receive the majority of their donations from two sources: online donations and in-person fundraising events. Losing one of those sources will inevitably lead to higher education institutions receiving less donation money. You can mitigate that loss with online events. 

Get creative, many organizations have been using platforms like Zoom to hold musical events, social events, and ceremonies in the absence of in-person gatherings. You can easily construct an invite list by using WealthEngine’s database. It contains over 90% of the US population, and you can choose from over 1,500+ attributes to construct the perfect, customizable list. 

    • Stay Updated on Donors 

Some of your donors may be thriving financially right now while others may have suffered considerable losses. It’s important to keep track of changes in the financial outlook of your donors. 

Using WealthEngine’s WealthScore feature, you can quickly identify prospective donors and predict their giving levels. WealthEngine’s extensive wealth screening analytics tools give you a solid understanding of who has the capacity and propensity to give. 

WealthEngine’s data is comprehensive and up-to-date, providing you with the necessary tools to keep your donor list up-to-date. 

Fundraising in the Future

Our present has been completely altered by the pandemic, so naturally, the future will be, too. What the future of fundraising will look like is still not completely clear, but below are some informed predictions from experts: 

    • Large Capital Gifts Will Be a Thing of the Past

Large capital gifts to fund campus building projects will likely be a thing of the past. Previously, some of the largest fundraising growth was in the capital project arena; however, it’s a hard-sell to collect donations for campus buildings on empty campuses. 

    • Funds Will Be Reallocated to Benefit Students 

The immediate growth in student financial need has led some higher education institutions to create initiatives that provide aid to students. Davidson College, UCLA, and Penn State are just a few of the higher-learning institutions that have recently rolled out initiatives to help students who are facing coronavirus-related hardships. 

This push to use donations to help students may be met with some reluctance from donors. A CASE study found that alumni donors prefer to donate to athletics rather than donating to financial aid. 

    • More Donations Toward STEM Programs 

Another fundraising priority schools should consider is raising money for technology upgrades so that they can improve their online learning capabilities. Most economic experts agree that trends toward donating to medical and scientific research and STEM initiatives will develop. 

Donor Responses

Due to the recession brought on by COVID-19, donors are limiting and freezing their donations and gifts. This is unsurprising when you take into account donor responses during the last recession

Paul N. Friga, a clinical associate professor at UNC found that general philanthropic donations in America in 2008 dropped 11.7% from 2007, a drop that was mirrored by a double-digit drop in donations to higher learning institutions. In 2009, UNC experienced a drop of $30 million in philanthropy, along with a significant drop in state support and endowment returns. This totaled out to equal 25% of the previous year’s operating revenue. 

This decrease in philanthropy, when higher education institutions have already taken a huge financial hit due to shutting down campuses, will be detrimental, forcing the closure of even more schools. In 2009, UNC dealt with the loss of income by raising tuition, but that doesn’t seem like an option in the current financial climate. The recession has led to families tightening their belts, an effect that puts expensive institutions at a disadvantage. 

Since 1988, colleges and universities have increased tuition by 213% and student debt is at an all-time high, equaling $1.53 trillion across the US. Because of the recession, and the already dramatic increase in tuition over the years, schools that raise tuition more to make up for losses due to COVID-19 will likely see a dramatic decrease in applications. One of the best options available to schools is to adjust fundraising strategies to try to mitigate losses. 

Looking for Assistance?

Try a free demo of WealthEngine today! WealthEngine’s experts will guide you through using the platform’s comprehensive software, showing you all the benefits it has to offer. WealthEngine consultants take a personalized approach to your fundraising endeavors, making sure you understand how to best apply WealthEngine’s full range of tools including Wealth Search, Wealth Screening, Trend Analysis, and numerous others to optimize your college or university’s fundraising campaign.