How to Track Down High Potential Donors in a Mountain of Data

data mining for customer segmentation

Understanding how to efficiently use data to identify top-performing prospects is important to all aspects of nonprofit fundraising. Michelle Tilton, VP of Marketing at Infutor, discusses constantly evolving data collection methods and the importance of data accuracy for finding prospects who will be receptive to a donation request.

Infutor, a partner of WealthEngine, is a company at the forefront of consumer identity data management and identity resolution. Their mission is to help clients instantly know what they need to understand about consumers.

Increase and Advancement in Data Collection Methods

Each day, data is collected from millions of consumers across multiple channels. This information ranges from donor profiles to website engagement. While data collection has steadily increased as data collection methods have advanced over the years, 2020 has seen a huge influx of new activity.

The pandemic has driven almost all demographics and businesses online. Because of this, new people, like the boomer generation, are beginning to navigate the digital world. Shopping, business meetings, and social events have begun to take place in virtual settings.

Nonprofits are directly impacted because of these shifts. There has been a permanent change in the way people engage with digital content. Now, organizations are competing with more commercial companies for consumer attention. 

Data Breakage

This term defines what occurs when your donor profile doesn’t line up with the true information about a person. Michelle explains, “We’re seeing about 30% of data breakage within a donor database over a 12-month period.”

Many factors contribute to data breakage. Michelle observes that it’s common for data to be entered incorrectly during the first capture of donor information. 

Michelle notes another contributing factor is that consumers often try to be purposefully elusive. To support this contention, Michelle points out that surveys demonstrate that up to “60% of consumers intentionally provide wrong information.”

Data is always evolving. Personal information like addresses, phone numbers, and emails, are dynamic. To illustrate this fact, Michelle notes: “One in three consumers change

email addresses, 50 million phone numbers change annually.” When these components change, your database becomes full of obsolete profiles. 

The main problem with data breakage is its impact on your return-on-investment (ROI). Impressions and engagement rates fall when data leads your marketing to the wrong destination.

Data Cleansing Ensures Data Accuracy

Infograph of the process of data cleansing

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Letting data go unrefreshed for a long period of time can cost your organization in the short-term by causing you to lose out on donations. In the long-term, the time staff must take away from vital fundraising efforts to manually cleanse and restore your donor profile data is detrimental to overall campaign success. 

Customer relationship management (CRM) maintenance is a major factor involved in data cleansing. Regularly working with a system that provides data enrichment will keep your information up-to-date. 

Referential data plays a key role in ensuring data accuracy. It provides context for time-sensitive data and helps to provide key identifiers for each profile in your system.

Activation Improvements

After gathering and refreshing data, organizations need to activate the information against an audience. This plays out as successful targeted messaging across multiple channels of communication. 

For example, Infutor works with a highly recognizable nonprofit healthcare organization that is primarily funded through public donations. 

They receive information across multiple platforms including inbound forms, call centers, direct mail, and social media. Infutor identified the organization’s need to bring together all of the data their channels collect into one database.

As a solution, Infutor implemented a single-point entry master database. They took all of the donor information, added intelligence from Infutor’s data, cleansed at all points in the process, and made this database accessible to key members.

Through this process, Infutor was able to identify 42,000 donors who were incorrectly marked as deceased in the organization’s records. Taking the time to have quality data allowed this group to add 42,000 new names to their list of prospects.

Building First Party Data

Bar graph showing the ROI on first, second, and third party data

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The importance of first party data emerges in three overarching patterns: cookies, walled gardens, and privacy.

Third party cookies are becoming obsolete. They expire quickly, are easy for consumers to opt-out of, and cannot be used cross-device. 

Walled gardens refer to sites working with a company that has a closed data ecosystem, like Google and Facebook. You can use the technology on these sites, as well as access the audience, but you cannot export this data to other channels.

Privacy is one of the most influential factors when building first party data. Understanding privacy implications is more than knowing laws and regulations. Michelle stresses it is crucial to have a deep empathy toward a consumer’s right to opt-out of marketing communications.

Utilizing Your Data Collection

The first step in producing high potential donors is to find the key indicators of your top customer base. WealthEngine’s WE Screen feature is a great way to discover insight into a person’s lifestyle. 

This information allows you to build out profiles on each of your highest performing donors. Using these indicators will make it easy to analyze the information.

WealthEngine’s WE Analyze feature automates this process for you. With a couple of clicks, WealthEngine provides specific segmented lists, like major donor profiles or annual gift donors. With this access, it’s possible to personalize marketing efforts for higher engagement rates. 

Look-alike Modeling

After figuring out who your top donors and prospects are, the goal is to multiply your contact list by finding other people with similar profiles. Look-alike clients share the same attributes, such as similar lifestyles and wealth scores, as your highest performing donors.

With WealthEngine’s prospect tool, there are 300 million Americans that WealthEngine can search through to generate your look-alike list. 

Understanding Channels and Deep Data Analytics

Looking at channels helps organizations understand how and where consumers spend their time. This information guides marketing dollars to personalize messaging, which allows for targeted engagement during fundraising campaigns.

Although this insight into consumer activity is important, it’s just as crucial to remember that it is always changing. Constantly analyzing data for data accuracy and new trends can help maximize your ROI. 

For example, Infutor was able to help a client conduct an in-depth segmentation analysis to identify five clusters out of their 130 that were producing 3-4 times the results of the median. Conducting deep analysis helps to make sure you are optimizing all of your data. 

Want to know more about how the WealthEngine comprehensive platform can assist your organization in making the most of its data? Request a free WealthEngine demo today!

Smart Engagement: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Work Smarter Not Harder

This article summarizes a podcast hosted by Raj Khera, Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer of WealthEngine, and Blake Groves, VP of Products and partnerships at Salsa Labs. Blake offers several timely fundraising tips for nonprofits struggling to fundraise in the face of resource constraints.  

Fundraising Tips Despite Resource Constraints

Nonprofits encounter numerous challenges caused by limits on staff and other resources. These resource constraints contribute to the following issues:

  • Pressure to balance the necessity of continuing to meet organizational needs despite budgetary and other resource shortfalls 
  • Limited budgets going toward supporting the mission rather than advancing marketing initiatives
  • Funding cuts resulting in remaining staff having to adapt to wearing “many hats” 
  • A conflict of priorities between gaining new supporters and retaining current ones
  • “Not enough time in the day” for effective fundraising

Smart engagement emphasizes devoting more time to those supporters who are most willing and able to give. Rather than spreading a wide net, target specific supporters with customized messaging. Focusing on who will best achieve your marketing goals results in effective fundraising campaigns. 

The implementation of smart engagement enables nonprofits to work efficiently, not harder. Blake asserts that for fundraising success, nonprofits must “cut through the clutter and noise.” Organizations must understand their donors and know where they are on their fundraising journey. 

Blake emphasizes that smart engagement begins with data. Combine this data with the appropriate technology to identify and interact with your prospects. The right strategy comes from knowing your audience, their interests, and donation capacity, and includes “day to day techniques.”

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Targeting the Right Prospects and Supporters

Technology makes it easier to target and familiarize yourself with prospects and donors. Gathering and using data to create specific messaging will vary. Blake proclaims, “Smart engagement technology is not a single piece of technology.” 

Blake asserts Salsa Labs partners with WealthEngine to develop automated, targeted data and messaging. The propensity to give (P2G) score and additional wealth indicators on WealthEngine’s WE9 platform are proprietary data analytics tools. These features identify supporters and prospects’ ability to give and their giving histories. 

The Wealth Score assigns a number from 1 to 10 to each supporter. The score reflects a person’s wealth, giving capacity, and inclination, intent, and affinities.

The two scores help nonprofits focus on the most qualified prospects and donors. You can set and adjust scores for specific donor types including major gift donors and annual donors. Your fundraising efforts are made more efficient by focusing on high-potential donor groups. 

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While data technology has changed, the traditional cycle of targeting donors hasn’t. Every nonprofit organization utilizes some form of the following cycle:

  1. Target potential donors
  2. Connect with donors
  3. Convert donors
  4. Understand the data
  5. Rinse and repeat

Blake remarks that machine learning improves this cycle to better meet fundraising goals. He further states that leveraging technology enhances “the ability to do the targeting” when “prescriptive and automated” methods are used.

Organizations can’t achieve all of their goals, initiatives, and campaigns, even with all of the necessary data and fundraising tips. The prescriptive method looks at compiling donor data to direct the next actionable step of a fundraising strategy. Instead of getting overwhelmed pursuing a range of donors, focus on those who can make the biggest difference. 

A key component of the prescriptive method is the use of automation. Blake gives an example of how important automated reminders are in reaching and engaging donors:

“The system lets you know, ‘Hey, Raj did something with us.’ We know Raj is a good supporter; you should call him rather than wait for that monthly report. Having a system alert you, do automated messaging, and automatically score supporters, lets me know these are my best prospects and I know what I want to do with them.”

Even with the data, your ideal supporters may not be who you expect. They may be overlooked. Machine learning helps expand your search for these supporters. 

Blake gives an example of targeting the wrong donors: 

“Imagine your best supporters happened to be in their mid-50s. They have kids in college, and they have an interest in social reform. I want to look at finding look-alike audiences for prospecting.” 

Blake suggests asking, ”How do I find other people that look like them in terms of profile, interests, and wealth scoring? How do I find those people so that I can say, ‘Well, these are my best supporters?’”

Blake goes on to ask whether his system can identify and alert him of his ideal prospects. Additionally, he wants to know their engagement levels and how he can move them toward a higher ask. Blake suggests people in their 30s with no kids in college could prove to be a key demographic that should be looked at to identify and target top supporters.

Choosing The Best Campaign Strategy

Blake relies on what he calls the “five minutes from concept to completion” idea. He explains, “I should be able to create a new donation form specifically targeted to that campaign within five minutes.” He can pick a template, find the data, and push out the content using automation tools. 

Blake suggests easily putting together a donation form featuring smart asks. This technique allows the donor to easily click the form to generate a specific ask. 

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 Having a “Day-to-Day” Strategy

The amount of technology and data can be overwhelming. When you analyze the data and present it in an actionable way, it becomes powerful and manageable. Blake states data is valuable but numbers aren’t as useful if they can’t be immediately acted upon. 

Some successful, actionable strategies are virtual galas and mini-galas. COVID has made these events necessary; ingenuity and adaptability have made them an effective fundraising tool. These smart engagement strategies allow virtual community-building around shared interests.

Only invite specific supporters. The small number of targeted invitees makes virtual mini-galas successful and cost-efficient. These online events focus on the invitees’ common interests, familiarity with the organization, and giving capacity.

Peer-to-peer initiatives are another actionable smart engagement strategy and fundraising tip. It embodies the “word of mouth” concept. Identify and target loyal supporters who will share your organization with their networks.

Data identifies ambassadors and machine learning streamlines donor communication and engagement processes. WealthEngine can gather, analyze, and incorporate data into your nonprofit marketing initiatives. For more information about how WealthEngine can help your organization optimize its fundraising potential, contact us for a free demo today.

 

Making the Most of Year-End Giving Trends

nonprofit fundraising ideas

While many businesses are closing out the final quarter and tying up loose ends, nonprofits tend to hit their stride at the end of the year. The last three months of each year are crucial for fundraising and year-end giving.

This period, known as giving season, typically drives millions of dollars to organizations. Understanding what motivates donors during this time will play a huge role in maximizing contributions during annual giving campaigns.

Creating an Actionable Plan for Year-End Campaigns

Chart explaining the percentage of nonprofits that begin year-end planning early in the season

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About one third (31%) of annual giving occurs during December. On top of that, about 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year. With these statistics in mind, successful implementation of your donor strategy will help maximize year-end fundraising.

While December tends to see the most action in terms of donations, organizations must plan early and implement marketing strategy months in advance. Over half of all nonprofits begin planning in October.

Focus on building awareness and motivating donors during October and November. Use this momentum to convert donations in December. 

Successfully Target Potential and Current Donors

Key components of donor strategy include data about current and potential donors, donor segmentation, and targeted messaging for each group. WealthEngine’s next-generation prospect engagement platform, WE9,  includes We Clean technology to correct data inaccuracies, providing you with the most up-to-date information on your donors and potential donors.

The WE9 WE Screen feature offers valuable insights into donors, allowing you to understand each donor’s propensity to give (P2G). WE’s quality data analysis allows you to segment donors into groups based on income, ability to give, and shared personal interests. Armed with this detailed information, you can easily tailor your messaging to each group.

While planning is important, be prepared to adjust as necessary as the months go by. Don’t be afraid to switch up your segmented groups or rewrite your messaging to keep things relevant. 

Planning the Ask

Statistics show that most donors are active during December, but your ”ask” should come before then. 7.7% of organizations start asking in September, followed by 46.2% in November, and 30.8% in December. 

These numbers help organizations find the right time to reach out. Make appeals early to beat the rush of emails during the later months. If you are aware others will start asking in November, begin communicating with potential donors earlier to secure their contributions. 

Over one-fourth (28%) of nonprofits raise between 26-50% of annual funds from their year-end ask. The timing of these conversations is crucial for fundraising as much as possible. 

Maximizing Donor Potential

Understanding the P2G of each donor is important to make sure they are contributing as much as possible. WealthEngine provides information to help you understand the ability each of your prospects has to give. 

Tailor ask amounts based on different factors including the ability to give, interest level, and potential to become a recurring donor. Double down on mid-level donors during this time. If someone donated earlier in the year, make sure to reach out again and see if they are able to make another contribution. 

Find new ways to entice current donors while cultivating prospects. Participate in gift-matching during year-end giving and the annual giving campaign. Add to your offer, such as including exclusive perks, to increase donor interest. 

Let WealthEngine expand your insight with donor matching. WealthEngine’s platform has a 90% match rate when it comes to donor lists. Utilize this data to accurately target and segment potential donors during your year-end giving campaigns.

Communicating With Donors During Year-End Campaigns

Two-thirds of donors do little to no research before giving to an organization. This means your marketing strategy may be the only thing a donor hears before making the decision to give. Find ways to use this to your advantage, and target donors by helping them connect to your mission.

Using the Right Platform to Reach Your Audience

Email marketing and social media allow for constant communication with prospects and donors. Make sure your digital presence is accurately portraying the mission your organization is working toward. 

Targeted email messaging helps create organic connections between donors and nonprofits. By using donor segmentation with groups created by the insights WealthEngine provides, tailor each campaign to meet the donor’s interests.

Email generates $42 for every $1 spent. Your message is important in getting prospects to interact with your mission. Make sure your content is relevant, socially aware, and shares concrete examples of what your organization does. 

While digital campaigns are great, word-of-mouth plays a huge role for donors as well. Since many donors do not research organizations before giving, they rely on recommendations from friends and family.

Don’t neglect your direct mail campaigns. While technology has allowed for quick contact, 59.9% of nonprofits make 1-3 touches before receiving a year-end contribution. This means your campaign should integrate direct mail and email to maximize your reach. 

Target Active Donors

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Make sure your current donors feel appreciated, and find ways to help them get more involved with your organization. Volunteers are twice as likely to donate compared to non-volunteers, and their opinions may help sway prospects. 

Provide visuals to break down how a donor’s contribution is being used. The California Symphony created an infographic to demonstrate exactly where donations were being spent. 

Donors like to see the difference they are making. It will motivate them to continue giving to your organization during the busy holiday season.

Remember Donor Stewardship During Annual Giving Campaigns

Avoid neglecting the basics of donor retention during year-end campaigns. The goal is to encourage donations during this time and create lasting relationships between the donor and your organization.

Donor stewardship remains a high priority year-round. In an increasingly digital world, personalization and human connection will help your organization stand out. Make sure to thank your donors as they make contributions.

Continue the communication by expressing gratitude once more after the year ends. Reach out via phone call or email to share how their donation has been used. While immediate contributions are exciting, donor retention is important for starting the new year off right. 

 

What We Learned From $100 Million in Software Sales to Nonprofits

Software Sales

Adam Tiberian, Senior Vice President of Sales at WealthEngine, recently spoke at the third annual WE Prosper Summit. Covering the topic of software sales to nonprofits, Adam was able to provide insightful takeaways gleaned from his six years of experience at WealthEngine.

Changes in Software Use Among Nonprofits

As the industry continues to evolve, fundraising for nonprofits has advanced. Phrases like artificial intelligence (AI) and data analysis dominate the conversation, yet they were infrequently mentioned just five years ago. 

Analytics has become the driving force behind fundraising efforts. These changes call for a push in automation. Organizations must do more with fewer resources, which opens the door for software to shoulder some of these responsibilities.

The Evolution of Data Analysis

Line graph showing the evolution of data analysis

 

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Tiberian describes the effect of automated analytics on companies like WealthEngine: “As you’re looking at analytics, the analytics has really changed the way organizations are looking at us and they’re using wealth data and wealth intelligence system across so much more than just the fundraising space, but throughout the whole fundraising organization, not just in major gifts. Those are probably the two biggest changes I’ve seen.”

WealthEngine’s technology has become more sophisticated over the years, including improved wealth screening and data analysis. With these features, WealthEngine gives its partners and fundraising organizations the ability to use software to perform data analytics. This information encourages targeted messaging based on propensity to give (P2G), mutual personal interests, and potential donor shares.

Using Personalized Data for Targeted Marketing

These innovations provide insight into who you should engage with, along with how to best engage. This information provides crucial pathways for successful targeted marketing campaigns. 

Nonprofits are able to start meaningful conversations with prospects to create connections over common interests.

Understanding Donors’ Propensity to Give

Personalized data, such as a wealth score, P2G, and donor segmentation, drives engagement to create lasting relationships with donors. Rather than simply knowing a prospect’s P2G, organizations can nurture these relationships through targeted marketing based on data analysis.

Understanding the P2G relies on a wealth score as well as having a clear idea of the donor or potential donor’s motivations for charitable giving. This information allows organizations to segment donor contact lists based on income, interests, and engagement patterns. 

WealthEngine’s Partnership with Salesforce

As stated previously, technology has undergone significant changes in the past five years. To keep up with an evolving industry, WealthEngine has stayed on top of software integrations.

For example, the partnership between WealthEngine and Salesforce means organizations don’t have to change platforms to access information. In keeping with the ‘less is more’ approach, this integration streamlines the process of receiving and using data.

  • Fundraising Initiatives During Unprecedented Times

Traditionally, fundraising plans were developed on an annual basis and implemented throughout the year. In the wake of continued uncertainty, organizations are now adjusting their strategies.

  • Planning in the Era of a 24/7 News Cycle

With constant access to content, things seem to be happening in a matter of seconds rather than over a period of days. This means quick access to updated data is crucial. Flexibility and timely reactions have become fundamentals in fundraising strategy.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Nonprofit Fundraising 

Infographic explaining uncertainty among nonprofits during COVID-19

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Many organizations are seeing a decrease in donations during the pandemic. With economic uncertainty, donor fatigue is a huge challenge many nonprofits are being forced to confront. 

By using tactful, targeted messaging, and properly utilizing data, organizations like the CDC Foundation and Fidelity Charitable have reported high donation numbers despite the pandemic. While COVID-19 continues to disrupt business as usual, adapting marketing tactics and reaching the right prospects will play a crucial role in combating donor fatigue.

WealthEngine’s Latest Security Feature

WealthEngine recently rolled out a new security featuremulti-factor authentication. As Tiberian observes, “there’s a new data world out there…security is a major driver of how they move forward.”

The multi-factor authentication tool helps protect data on your phone by requiring an access code. This feature greatly reduces the risk of an unauthorized party gaining unlawful access to clients’ accounts.

Protecting Your Organization’s Data

Security is an ongoing conversation. With constant technological advancement, protecting data is necessary for any organization. 

Damage happens when data leaks. So, it’s always important for an organization to be prepared and for the software company to ensure information protection.

The Evolution of Fundraising Software

Several years ago, the WealthEngine platform was just a screen and search. This static piece of information contributed to fundraising planning every 2-3 years when organizations chose to run a screening.

Now, the technology has developed. Screening is simply the foundation of WE9

With a constant stream of content, information needs to be available instantaneously. Rather than capturing and reporting donors’ actions after they happen, WealthEngine can provide the data in a matter of moments.

For example, when a new user visits an organization’s website, WealthEngine’s software can screen and provide an immediate wealth rating. By running this captured information through analytics, WealthEngine is able to provide a full profile of the visitor.

The Importance of Match Rates

A match rate means the software has actually found the individual. From there, it is able to provide ratings, scores, and information about the person. WealthEngine has a 90% match rate compared to an average 60% match rate from its competitors. 

This is attributed to the 45 data points the software utilizes to identify online visitors. In a database of 1 million records, WealthEngine can identify 900,000 individuals, whereas a competitor may identify 600,000.

By providing an extra 30% of profiles, WealthEngine’s match rate helps organizations reach out more effectively to potential donors. Nonprofits can see profiles on all of these prospects, which helps formulate a plan to reach out and cultivate new relationships.

These numbers come into play when evaluating a donor’s potential as well. Rather than just alerting you that someone has shown interest in your organization, WealthEngine can help optimize donation amounts. Using data helps you know how much to ask for, and how frequently to reach out. 

 

CDC Foundation’s New Technology Strategy Raises Millions

As organizations continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, foundations like the CDC Foundation are creating new technology strategies to raise millions.

Cloud for Good, a WealthEngine partner, is the largest Salesforce.org consulting partner dedicated to nonprofits and higher education institutions. 

Cloud for Good’s Marketing Director, Jenn Tate, spoke for a webinar to explain how the CDC Foundation continues fundraising during the pandemic via its new technology strategy.

As partners, WealthEngine and Cloud for Good share the common goal of helping nonprofits create transformational value in their platforms. 

Tate says it best, “The WealthEngine platform is powered by half-trillion, yes, you heard that right, half-trillion data points, and uses proprietary learning science to create unique profiles for more than 180 million households and 250 million people in the US.”

This webinar also features Raj Khera, Executive VP and CMO of WealthEngine, Monique Patrick, C.O.O. of the CDC Foundation, Laura Croft, VP of Advancement with the CDC Foundation, and Laura Maker, Director of Professional Services with Cloud of Good. 

The CDC Foundation

The CDC Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit established by Congress 25 years ago. 

By using private funds, the CDC Foundation has reached lives across the world and mobilized millions of dollars in COVID-19 donations.

As the COVID-19 threat emerged in January, the CDC Foundation activated its Emergency Response Fund to mobilize private sector support to
address needs where government support was not available or available rapidly enough to meet the need. Donors facilitated
the rapid deployment of emergency resources to fill in the gaps to support CDC and State and local health departments on the ground.

  • Helping Under-Resourced Communities

The CDC Foundation focuses on supporting these groups throughout the pandemic crisis. As communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the virus, the foundation is working with partners to better understand and address health inequity issues brought forward by COVID-19, as well as provide on-the-ground support to meet crucial needs such as housing, clean water, handwashing stations, food and medical necessities.

The CDC Foundation’s Technology Strategy

Modernizing the CDC Foundation’s technology strategy has been an important undertaking, particularly as the organization transitioned from paper-based work to Salesforce.

Switching platforms allowed for communication between the team members and safe data storage. This proved to be a tremendous help when COVID-19 hit and the foundation shifted to virtual work.

Utilizing New Technology and Data

Salesforce allows the CDC Foundation to improve its workflow. New technology facilitates data analytics, data feeding through Netsuite, and even simple tasks like signing documents using DocuSign.

As for donor outreach and streamlining contributions, WealthEngine contributes to positive growth through targeted wealth screening. Within a couple of months, the CDC Foundation’s CRM grew from 42,000 to over 150,000. 

Data analytics have been instrumental in providing the CDC Foundation with background information on first-time donors, which leads to a targeted communication plan.

  • Cloud for Good’s Aid in Transition

Laura Maker discusses Raiser’s Edge Migration Accelerator and how the feature facilitates a smooth transition to Salesforce. This is implemented to work with the standard fields of Salesforce and Raiser’s Edge for common usage. It provides a starting point while acknowledging how data is mapped by both systems to ensure the information is used properly. 

Positive Impact on the Organization

Chart of how nonprofits have been affected by COVID

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As Monique Patrick describes, “You can see in the middle, we’ve grown the organization…We’ve saved time with our reconciliations and our financial systems…It’s real-time, it’s quick, it’s at our fingertips, and we see that on a daily basis.”

With increased remote work, having this technology is pertinent. The CDC Foundation watched in real-time as this unfolded. These tools have successfully given us access to real-time information to inform strategy and increased our speed and flexibility to deploy emergency response funding to the area of greatest need.

Before COVID-19, the group on average raised approximately $70 million per year. To date, the foundation has raised over $260 million, with $160 million of this raised specifically to fight COVID-19.

The data found by WealthEngine’s Wealth Screening feature helps the CDC Foundation adapt during this time. With groundbreaking donation numbers, it’s clear to see how effective these advancements have been.

  • Giving Back to the CDC Foundation

As the group embarks on a second phase to tackle COVID-19, Laura Croft gives the reminder, “The next seven months are going to be more challenging than the last seven months.” 

Communities are suffering due to the pandemic, and the CDC Foundation continues to help. Its “Crush COVID-19” campaign aims to directly support immediate public health needs during this time. 

Innovative Event Fundraising

While the CDC Foundation is seeing a wave of interest during this crisis, Croft points out, “Again, going back to how we operated pre-COVID and then COVID hit…we needed to meet our donors where they were and talk to them in the way they wanted to be communicated with.” 

The foundation’s focus is on connecting with donors while providing support during the pandemic. Innovation in its strategy continues to lead to higher donations.

  • What is Cross-marketing?

Traditionally speaking, cross-marketing is the process of using partnerships to market philanthropic causes across different channels. With this strategy, the CDC Foundation raised more than $7 million dollars. 

The group also embarked on employee giving. This plan includes setting up micro-sites through the platform and online events for promotion. Cloud for Good also participated by partnering with the foundation through their own employee microsite to encourage employee donations.

  • Navigating Donor Fatigue

What is donor fatigue? Simply put, it is the slowing down of donations from past donors. With so much happening, donor fatigue is a serious problem that must be addressed.

Speaking for the CDC Foundation, Croft notes, “We have experienced a drop-off in donations…However, it’s understandable. As you were talking about earlier, people are tired of this pandemic. It’s been very difficult.” 

The foundation continues to strive to listen to and understand donors’ priorities. Effectively identifying the correct target audience and tuning its messaging accordingly is crucial for combating donor fatigue.

Cloud-based Organizations

The benefits and reality of virtual work

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The CDC Foundation’s technology switch came when a need for cloud-based operations was essential. The implementation of user-friendly technology and an efficient workflow were driving forces for the transition. 

The CDC Foundation’s new technology strategy with Salesforce allows for an integration of all systems. This encourages the dissemination of transparent information for all staff to see, promoting better communication.

Analyzing New Data

A realistic understanding of high donations levels experienced by the CDC Foundation is crucial to sustaining these numbers. To wade through this data, the foundation relies on WealthEngine for wealth screening and additional donor information. 

Additionally, the foundation has focused on a massive data clean-up to keep information up-to-date. This is important for dealing with duplicate records because it helps maintain high-quality data.

  • Importance of Data Analytics

Prior to the foundation’s technology upgrade, data would remain stagnant for periods of time. Now, with software integration, this data is analyzed and put to use quickly. 

As Patrick states, “We wanted to be able to see where they are, are we reaching the health disparate populations without funding? Now we’re starting to see all that to make really crisp-clear decisions going forward. We’ve had to do this overnight, but it’s been amazing work.”

Data analysis breaks down the best strategy for targeted communication. This information helps you decide when to reach out and which messages to convey. 

Role of Wealth Screening and Donor Matching

With a surge of new donors, hitting the correct next steps is crucial to cultivating relationships. WealthEngine’s WE9 platform facilitates this process, enabling organizations to make informed decisions in cultivating fundraising strategies.

Using the donor matching tool during wealth screening, WealthEngine gives you a 90% match rate to your list of clients. What does this mean exactly? If you have 10,000 contacts, WealthEngine is able to find a 90% match, or 9,000 names, from your list.

Up-to-date Analytics and Accessible Dashboards

Clean data helps your contact list stay fresh. Knowing the most recent financial activity of your donors makes it easy to maintain personalized relationships. 

Combining WealthEngine with Salesforce creates constant data refreshment. These platforms understand that money is always in motion. They utilize predictive models and analytics to give you the best donor outreach strategy.

Customization of these platforms is great for companies to help with personalization. WealthEngine tailors these predictive models to your donor base. Salesforce has adaptable dashboards that can be customized for any occasion, which increases efficiency.

  • Continue Moving Forward

The surge in new donors requires personalized messages to nurture relationships. This strategy helps overcome donor fatigue and motivates donors to give at their capacity. 

With WealthEngine’s platform, you can identify a donor of $25, while helping them reach their wealth potential of $2,000. It is all about cultivating these relations to increase potential.

Automating Processes and Staying Flexible

With the sudden shift to remote work and the increased reliance on technology, automation of daily processes has been imperative.

Salesforce allows the timeline of daily work, like signing folders, to shorten. Moving these tasks to a virtual-based platform frees up time and allows for distanced work.

  • Embrace Flexible Solutions

When asked about lessons learned from the pandemic, Patrick shares her thoughts, “Stay nimble and flexible and be creative of how you can be even more efficient.”

Tough experiences from COVID-19 can be used to benefit your organization. Learn from these times and embrace virtual adaptations to excel in your brand’s mission. 

Budgeting for a Technology Overhaul

While switching completely to new technology can be beneficial, it does require budgeting to get things done.

Start with a plan, like the CDC Foundation did, and work your way through each department. The foundation started with its Human Resources platform and continued through its financial and fundraising teams.

Raising funds to support the core mission can be helpful as well. If your core mission requires advanced technology, allocating and fundraising for these overhauls can be to your organization’s advantage.

Data Migration Strategy 

The flow of data migration

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Having a clear strategy is key to a seamless transition. Start with the discovery phase. Assess how each aspect of your organization works to understand the best steps to take and continue from there.

Before going live, try a mock data conversion. Migrate the data exactly as planned but into a test environment. Once in this setting, final tweaks can be made for the true switch.

Adaptability and Leveraging Relationships

Leveraging your client, vendor, donor, and influencer relationships can help spread your mission and increase visibility during this time.

For example, the CDC Foundation was approached by an online gamer, Jack, after the death of his grandma due to COVID-19. He reached out to donate his annual birthday fundraiser earnings and was able to raise $500,000 for the cause.

Messaging in the Time of Virtual Meetings

Industries are facing unprecedented times and most organizations have quickly shifted to virtual workspaces. Effective communication between employees, as well as other organizations, puts an emphasis on appropriate messaging.

Newsletters are spreading awareness about the nonprofit’s impact. Brief virtual meetings cover these efforts as well. 

Virtual meetings allow the CDC Foundation to listen to donor’s needs. This allows the foundation to hear donor concerns and share ideas for improvement.

Trying out virtual events and continuing a strong online presence helps ease the transition to remote fundraising. Follow the lead of successful brands, as your organization finds the best way to navigate virtual galas.

Embrace new resources, and continue learning through this time. WealthEngine is here to help you. Events like the WE Prosper 2020 Summit can help you navigate the new normal.

Cloud for Good’s Success Stories

Like the CDC Foundation’s technology strategy, other organizations have seen positive impacts from the implementation of these technologies. 

The National Aquarium has used technology to recreate the experience of its facility, even when visitors were restricted from touring. This includes live feeds of exhibit loops on their website, Facebook live sessions of aquarium tours, and Q&A sessions with staff.

The LGBTQ+ Community Center saw a 40% increase in demand for services during the pandemic. This required rapid response and technology has allowed for new avenues to open for quick connection and support. 

 

Why Match Rate is Critical When Selecting a Wealth Screening Platform

Don’t purchase a wealth screening tool without first considering the match rate. Often, organizations opt for platforms with lower match rates in an effort to save money. While at first glance this may seem like a financially savvy decision, this error could cost you tens of thousands or even millions of dollars. 

If you’re shopping for prospect research software and this is the first you’ve heard of match rates, don’t worry. This guide covers what a match rate is, how it works, and why it’s crucial to consider when selecting a platform. In just a few minutes, you’ll learn how to avoid an expensive mistake and guarantee thousands in new capital for your organization. 

What Is a Match Rate? 

From wealth and income to lifestyle and affinity, you need to understand everything you can about the people in your donor database. This kind of data tells you who is ready to make a donation and what amount they’re likely to give. In short, in-depth information helps your fundraising team bring in more money, more easily.

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Of course, you can’t research each person individually. You also can’t analyze the data yourself to determine which prospects you should prioritize cultivating. This would simply take too long. You either need a massive team—which usually isn’t realistic—or you need wealth screening software to automate the process.

Prospect research tools work by supplementing your contact list with information collected from the software company’s database, which is gathered from the internet. The percentage of records in your list that can be found in the tool’s database is known as the match rate.

The biggest difference between software options boils down to their match rates. This can vary significantly between wealth screening companies. 

Typically, tools with a lower match rate are less expensive. However, opting to go with a cheaper product can end up costing you exponentially in the long run.

Why is Match Rate Important?

Imagine that your list of current or potential donors includes 10,000 contacts. That’s a lot of people who could support your mission. 

Perhaps you opt to use a cheaper donor research software, one with a 60% match rate. With this rate, you can expect to find insights on 6,000 people within your list. That means you still don’t know anything about the wealth, income, or other details of the remaining 4,000 contacts. 

In any given population, expect about 10% to be major donors. So, if your wealth screening platform fails to find information on 4,000 contacts, you’re missing 400 qualified, major gift donors. If your average major gift is $5,000, then you’re overlooking an extra $2 million because the budget-friendly software can’t match more names.

At a close rate of one person for every five asks, that’s $400,000 in new gifts left on the table from a list of just 10,000. This sum is far less than what you’d invest in a wealth screening service with a higher average match rate.

A tool with a 90% match rate might be more expensive than the first option, but it delivers information on 9,000 people. Again, assuming an average major gift of $5000 and a close rate of 1:5, that’s an additional $300,000 your organization can raise. 

Even with smaller lists, like one with 2,000 contacts, a higher match rate can raise an additional $60,000 more than a lower-quality tool. For bigger lists, such as one with 100,000 contacts, software with a 60% match rate could cost you $3 million. However you look at it, lower quality software ends up being more expensive than a tool with a 90% rate.

Consider the case of the Houston Grand Opera. The organization’s fundraising team used WealthEngine—which has around a 90% match rate—to conduct their prospect research. Over a three year period, their return on investment (ROI) from WealthEngine was a staggering 2,766%.

The University of Pennsylvania also used WealthEngine for its Making History campaign. The program added over 14,000 new prospects to the university’s list, 9,000 of which became campaign donors. Those 9,000 contacts made commitments totaling $600 million. 

How to Increase Match Rate

A high match rate relies on something called identity resolution, which is the process of matching information from multiple sources with one contact.

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For example, perhaps there’s a Steven Brown on your donor list. One source in your screening platform indicates Steven Brown has a net worth of $10 million. If there’s more than one person named Steven Brown in your contact list, identity resolution seeks to determine which of them has the $10 million net worth. 

One way of resolving the data is to standardize the format of names and addresses. You can do this by making sure contacts are listed under formal names instead of nicknames. 

Removing punctuation from names, such as the suffix Jr., is also recommended. Finally, addresses should always match deliverable USPS addresses.

Another way to facilitate identity resolution is to account for misspellings. For example, if a data source omits one letter from a contact’s name, screening software like WealthEngine could recognize the mistake and correct it. 

While the math that makes identity resolution possible is difficult, WealthEngine has spent 20 years fine-tuning its algorithms. As a result, WealthEngine has one of the highest match rates in the industry at 90%.

Don’t Miss Out on Big Opportunities

If you’re considering an inexpensive wealth screening solution that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Software with a lower match rate ends up costing you more money because you miss a significant amount of qualified prospects. The gifts those donors will bring in more than justifies investing in a higher quality tool. 

WealthEngine has an average match rate of 90%. This can mean an extra $25,000, $100,000, $1 million, or more in capital raised for your organization. Schedule a demo today and see how well WealthEngine matches your list. 

 

How to Ensure Customer Excellence with Big Data and a Human Touch

The lifeblood of any business or nonprofit is happy clients or donors. The challenge is in knowing how to create experiences they’ll enjoy, remember, and keep coming back for. Luckily, innovative analytics has made it easier than ever to ensure customer excellence. This guide covers why you should use big data to guide client interactions and the best strategies to use. It’ll also touch on some tools that automate the process and save you money.

This article is based on a presentation by Chady AlAhmar, Head of Strategy and Finance for U.S. Bank. 

Why You Should Leverage Big Data and Analytics

Customer excellence is when someone will choose your business or organization over anyone else in your industry. However, it hinges on the individual. What delights one person isn’t necessarily going to work on another.

That’s where client data comes in. With the right info, you can take a prospect on a unique journey that has a high probability of converting them. As AlAhmar found out, there are also customer trends that encourage data usage, including desires for experiences that are:

  • Simple – People want it to be easy to do business with you, e.g. no complicated forms
  • Personalized – Clients want to feel like you understand exactly who they are
  • Cheap – People need to know that you’re efficient with their money
  • Responsible – It’s important to customers that the product or organization has a higher social good or purpose

People are also becoming more comfortable with algorithm-based technologies. It doesn’t bother them when Alexa predicts their thoughts or grocery lists. They value this convenience. 

For the same reason, they anticipate you have and will use data about them to improve their interactions with your organization. However, as AlAhmar points out, customers are still thinking, “If I’m doing business with you, I still expect you to really, really take care of my data.” As such, make sure you’re following General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines

Five Top Tips for Customer Experience Strategy

AlAhmar’s team at U.S. Bank uses and recommends this strategy for cultivating customer excellence:

1. Know Your Client

AlAhmar notes, “The client is saying, “I’m a client of the bank. You have my social security, you have all the information on me. So, I expect you to know me.”

And know them you should. It’s easy to gather data about customers. Use that info to create a seamless, VIP experience that makes their life easier. 

2. Reach Out at the Right Time

This doesn’t mean don’t call a prospect at dinner time—although you shouldn’t do that either. Rather, get a big picture view of what’s going on in a client’s life before getting in touch.

“Do not reach out with every single product every day,” advises AlAhmar. “Try to figure out how to use all that data and prioritize it, so that you can figure out [when the client is most likely] going to engage with you.”

This practice, also known as prospect research, can tell you if someone just had a major life change. For example, if a potential donor recently moved or changed jobs, you likely don’t want to approach them for major gift fundraising. On the other hand, someone who has sold their business might be a great candidate. 

3. Use the Right Channel

Some people don’t want to be contacted by phone or would prefer to talk via email. Always learn your clients’ communication boundaries and stick to them.

“Every person has a different way to engage,” instructs AlAhmar. “If you have a client or a donor, you’d better know how to connect with them. [What are] their preferences? That’s going to be key.”

4. Offer Advice, Not a Sale

The best way to engage with your clients? Try to provide advice or a solution before offering a product or making a donation request.

Of course, you can connect this advice or service to your eventual ask. For example, AlAhmar wouldn’t prod a client to roll over her 401(k). Instead, he would start by giving her advice about the new tax bill and what kind of implications it has for her.

5. Incorporate Machine Learning

It’s vital to know which of the previous four strategies are converting your prospects and what needs tweaking. All your client interactions should be connected to a program that can record and analyze them to optimize the process.

AlAhmar describes how his team uses this kind of feedback loop when engaging with their customers: “We have WealthEngine in front of our advisors using Salesforce where any client, any prospect, you have the score right away.”

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This Propensity to Give (P2G) score indicates how likely a prospect is to buy or donate. WealthEngine calculates the score by analyzing factors like assets, a person’s history of giving, and more.

“I know that client before I even connect with them,” notes AlAhmar, “and based on whether they agree to meet with me or not, the machine is going to learn. It’s going to tell me this specific trigger is working better than the other trigger.”

Final Thoughts: Leveraging Big Data Helps Care for Clients

AlAhmar was once friends with an elderly man in his congregation named John. Although he was initially hesitant about leaving $7 million to the church, he trusted AlAhmar to allocate the money wisely based on their existing relationship. 

The foundation for his trust was simple. “Whenever [my wife and her mom] cook [John’s favorite meal], they send some to John, because he’s in his 80s and he loves that food,” recalls AlAhmar. This humble act between friends imbued John with the confidence that his gift was in good hands. 

The exchange summarizes AlAhmar’s approach to data-driven customer experiences. The right info at the right time backed up by a positive, pre-existing relationship helps clients feel valued and secure in your partnership. A tool like WealthEngine makes it automatic. Get in touch today for a demo. 

 

Planning and Successfully Executing Virtual Events and Galas

This article discusses why and how adopting virtual technology is fundamental for carrying on day-to-day nonprofit operations. Hosting virtual events is key to maintaining your brand awareness during the pandemic. 

Your donor community must be reminded that your organization continues to function. Your messaging should center on emphasizing the fact that those your nonprofit serves still have needs that must be met. Therefore, learning to host well planned and implemented virtual events is a top priority for meeting your organization’s fundraising goals.

Embrace the Virtual World and Its Advantages

Going virtual, in terms of business operations, requires adaptability and flexibility within your team. Doing so can actually have many long-term rewards provided the transition to virtual technology is properly implemented. Focus on the ways technology can assist your team and further your organization’s goals, and use it to your advantage. 

    • Switch Your Donor Outreach to Virtual Connections

Establishing a personal connection can be challenging in a time that requires social distancing. 

Use virtual meetings to connect with donors. Replace face-to-face visits with a Zoom call or online interaction using a similar platform. 

Virtual meetings are a good substitute for in-person meetings. However, you must allow for flexibility, which is crucial because technological difficulties are bound to occur from time to time.  Flexibility is also a necessity for numerous nonprofit organizations because many, if not most, are currently working with a smaller staff. 

Shift your focus to donors who are willing to do virtual meetings and events. Your time should be going to those who can engage and remain involved virtually. To facilitate this, segment your donors into those who are comfortable with the virtual game. 

Go Virtual With Fundraising Events 

Make the transition to virtual events. In-person galas, fundraisers, and events like golf tournaments are not possible at the moment. That doesn’t mean your organization needs to or can afford to completely shut down fundraising operations. 

With proper planning and implementation, virtual events will keep your donors and clients engaged with your mission. Virtual events offer the advantage of requiring less logistical planning, which reduces the increased pressure and responsibilities that are facing your reduced staff. Rather than viewing virtual events as a mere substitution for in-person functions, embrace the virtual experience as a fresh approach to add to your fundraising strategy.

Strategize and Understand Your Target Audience

Be creative, and be willing to try new things. Make a plan with your team, and have honest conversations about what you believe is possible to accomplish. Be willing to think outside the box and innovate. Strategize by familiarizing yourself and your staff with what will be required to ensure the event is a success.

Tailor your guest list to donors and prospects who are comfortable with the virtual experience. It’s important to target your content to those who are in a position to continue giving despite the current economic climate. Donor Segmentation allows you to correctly pinpoint your target audience that should be extended an invitation to your virtual events. Using this WealthEngine feature leaves you and your remaining staff free to focus your energies on hitting your fundraising goals. 

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WealthEngine assists you in accurately identifying your target audience with its propensity to give (P2G) rating. This score is given to an individual based on their financial standing and history of charitable contributions. 

Use virtual technology to do things on a tighter budget to help with your financial planning. Virtual events do not need funds allocated for things like space, food, or drinks. You can capitalize on this to save money. 

Virtual events alleviate the need to plan at the capacity of a typical in-person function. This is important because it saves you time.

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Engaging Content: The Key to Giving Your Donors an Enjoyable Experience

The reduction in event costs is a big advantage during this time of increased budget cuts. Understanding how these things will affect your guests’ experience is imperative to the event’s success. 

Providing engaging content these select participants find to be valuable is key to ensuring your donors have a good virtual experience. Hosting an event donors find enjoyable will lead the way in generating the fundraising dollars your organization needs. 

Renew your focus and encourage your staff to plan as much as possible for these virtual nonprofit events. One of the downfalls of doing things virtually is the heavy reliance on technology. 

Technology offers numerous benefits, but one of its drawbacks is increased vulnerability to issues beyond your control. Be as prepared as possible to address these problems as they occur and make adjustments as needed.

Plan, revise, and continue moving forward as you take part in these virtual experiences. Your guests and staff can provide valuable feedback about what they think works well and what improvements they would like to see. Listening to this information is crucial to making these fundraisers successful. The virtual experience offers something fresh to excite and invigorate your donors and prospects. It can provide a way to avoid the stagnation that occurs when traditional events have become formulaic. 

Get creative with your initiatives, and find ways your organization will be able to adapt your original plans to the parameters of virtual technology. As previously stated, your primary goal is to continue your fundraising initiatives. Embrace the ability to conduct these events virtually with a smaller staff. Be prepared to use these virtual strategies in our collective “new normal” that is a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Use Technology to Make the Most of Your Data

WealthEngine’s platform does the work for you, and can make a huge difference in results when your resources are limited. By understanding your donors and prospects, your fundraising strategy can be implemented in the most productive way possible. Doing so facilitates a higher return on investment (ROI) with donors. 

See how WealthEngine’s cutting edge technology can be used to supplement your team during this challenging time. Check out a free WealthEngine demo today. 

 

Using Storytelling to Personalize Your Message and Grow Donors

Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool that personalizes your messaging and encourages readers to make a connection with your organization. Successfully blending storytelling into marketing involves relaying real experiences to create compelling narratives that elicit a genuine reaction from your donor base. 

Alex’s Story

The original narrative created through the Alex's Lemonade Stand foundation

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Jay Scott, the executive director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand shares the impactful history behind the company’s mission, an example of a genuine story that can be used to inspire donors. Alex’s Lemonade Stand started as the dream of a young girl battling cancer and has since grown into a nationwide research foundation for childhood cancer. Alex lives on through the legacy of the foundation, where her story continues to impact the lives of thousands of people. 

The lemonade stand began as a small business outside of Alex’s home in Philadelphia. Advertising fliers were sent out and eventually, a passerby called the local newspaper. The resulting media coverage spread her story throughout the Philadelphia area. 

In one day, Alex was able to raise $12,000, which she then donated to the hospital where she was being treated. Through her lemonade stand, Alex’s mission to raise money for childhood cancer began to inspire people across the country, allowing her to eventually raise more than one million dollars for her cause. 

Alex’s story resonated with a wide range of people who were all inspired to give so they could help make a difference, showing the power of a story. Now, Alex’s Lemonade Stand continues to use her story in their messaging by including a picture of Alex in all their newsletters, as well as sharing her story during their yearly telethon.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand also regularly shares stories of kids who are currently receiving aid through the foundation. Highlighting individual cases where the organization is continuing to make a difference in the lives of children fighting cancer just as Alex did, is a testimony to the foundation’s commitment to its original mission based on Alex’s dream. 

By sharing Alex’s moving story and relating first-hand experiences of children who are now being assisted by the foundation, donors hear and respond to a message that is simple and relatable. Alex’s Lemonade Stand also encourages donors to give by providing demonstrations of the tangible results the foundation’s work has shown, which are only made possible by donations to this worthy cause.

Storytelling: The Key to Setting Yourself Apart

Every organization has a mission, which is the expression of its purpose and an explanation of the value it offers to the community. For donors to have a clear understanding of why they should give to your cause, they must comprehend the specific unmet needs you fill and why their support is so vital. 

The first step in creating a story that clearly communicates your organization’s purpose, while making its goals relatable to your donors is to set yourself apart from the many other worthy charitable endeavors that are competing for donations from that same pool of givers. How do you distinguish yourself in the eyes of your target audience?

Developing a mission statement that describes the values and objectives your nonprofit was created to accomplish provides the basis for a compelling narrative that will evoke a positive response from donors. Formulating a solid mission statement involves developing your backstory to illustrate the driving force behind the decision to found the nonprofit. A persuasive mission statement also includes a discussion of your future goals and how they were inspired by your original story and fit within the stated values of your organization.

The Power of Storytelling in Personalizing Your Message

 
The 3 C's of Transmedia Storytelling

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Once you have a narrative to share with your audience, you can begin crafting a plan for transmedia storytelling. This is the process of dispersing various elements systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified entertainment experience. 

Why is creating a continuous narrative important? By sending out a cohesive message across your channels, your story becomes easier to personalize, increasing the likelihood it will resonate with donors as they consume content that aligns with their interests. Through your outreach, you can track the types of messaging that evoke engagement. This information allows you to segment donors into groups based on their personal preferences. 

When your story is unified, analyzing your engagement rates and donor reaction to your messaging becomes easier. Collecting and analyzing this information is vital in helping your organization to craft personalized messaging and send it to the correct target audience.

Take Alex’s Lemonade Stand for example. This foundation has utilized the art of transmedia storytelling to continue reaching a wide audience to find and inspire new donors.

Personalizing Emails Equal Marketing Success

Incorporating storytelling into your email marketing strategy will improve your engagement rate, driving more traffic to your online presence. 

Email segmentation plays a key role at Alex’s Lemonade Stand. The foundation makes sure to categorize their donors and share relevant stories based on the interests of each group. Jay Scott shares how this process works, explaining that these groups are broken down into lists of 1,000, 2,000, or 5,000 donors. According to Jay, these segmented email lists tend to have 2-5 times more engagement than their mass distribution list. 

While you continue to use an overarching narrative in your messaging, it is important to take it a step further by breaking your content down into smaller, more targeted subsets. Doing so will maximize your ability to attract attention from specific donors. 

It may seem like extra work to split up your email list into these groups. However, the effort is well worth it. Using personalized emails can substantially grow your return-on-investment (ROI).  WealthEngine’s platform can improve the efficiency of your email segmentation process by easing the manual workload. WealthEngine also offers a pool of 250 million pre-scored profiles the platform analyzes for you to identify which narratives are most likely to resonate with each group. 

Storytelling: The Basics of Custom Content

Custom content develops as you analyze metrics and segment your lists. Just as personalizing your email messages is important for donor engagement so is sharing custom content with your audience.

Avoid sharing stock photos, and find media from your organization to post instead. Your donors will appreciate seeing how their donations are being put to use, so share your organization’s mission through success stories and examples of their money at work.

Avoid “fluff” and filler content. Custom content works best when it is a genuine message that can resonate with your audience. Don’t overwhelm inboxes with constant newsletters and updates that aren’t providing valuable insights. Focus your efforts on sharing meaningful stories relating to all the ways your organization is making a difference. 

 

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

Source

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.