Why Match Rate is Critical When Selecting a Wealth Screening Platform

Match Rate

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

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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

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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. 

 

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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Data-Driven Major Gift Campaigns

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. 

 

 

Communication Strategies for Donor Retention

Donor Cycle Image

In times when operational costs for organizations are increasing and donor prospects are lower, the need for a donor retention strategy takes on renewed importance. With the unprecedented economic upheaval and evolving business practices due to COVID-19, finding ways to communicate effectively and retain donors is crucial. Donor retention is part of the ongoing donor process that includes identifying prospects, building relationships, and donor stewardship.

Donor stewardship is the process that occurs once a donor has given to your organization. Stewardship refers directly to the continued communication and relationship building that happens after the initial transaction, which directly affects your donor retention rate. 

This guide covers the importance of donor stewardship in order to maintain donor retention, explains why donor retention is economically beneficial compared to acquiring new donors and how it increases your organization’s rate of return (ROI). The critical components of a consistent messaging plan to facilitate keeping donors informed of the impact their donations are having on the cause they care about and highlighting your organization’s continued appreciation for their support is explored in detail.

Keep reading or “jump” ahead to these sections:

Building and Maintaining Donor Relationships

Donor Cycle Image

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  • Beginning the Cycle with Donor Cultivation

Donor cultivation is the process of identifying and engaging with possible prospects, sharing your organization’s mission, and beginning to build a relationship before requesting a gift. Donor qualification determines which potential donors have the ability to give to your organization, and at which level they can be expected to contribute. WealthEngine’s wealth modeling feature works to help determine the status of each prospect, so you can easily identify which areas of your organization will appeal to them and which level of contribution is the best fit. 

The donor cycle begins as soon as a prospect is identified. Help these potential donors familiarize themselves with your organization’s mission, and explain why your cause is relevant to each donor. WealthEngine 9’s Engagement Science feature allows you to utilize personalized information and interact with your donors through targeted campaigns designed to increase engagement.

Insights provided by the WealthEngine 9 comprehensive platform dig deeply into the lifestyle of your donors, so you can understand what motivates them, which allows your organization to create meaningful relationships centered around your mission and your donors’ interests. By analyzing relevant wealth and lifestyle signals, WealthEngine gives you the necessary tools to personalize your campaigns and boost your donor engagement.

Once you have utilized this information to appropriately target your messaging, continue the conversation, and explain why their contribution is important. Provide examples of the impact their support will have and make it clear where their gift will be going. This provides your donors with a clear understanding of their impact. Remember, it is important to find ways to personalize your message to make it relatable to each donor. 

  • Continue to Build Relationships Through Donor Engagement

Once a relationship has been established, it is crucial to continue nurturing a connection between the donor and the organization. Focus on keeping an open line of communication with supporters through consistent emails and newsletters featuring updates of your work and achievements. 

It is vital that the relationship between your organization and its donors be one built on two-way communication. Use all of your communication channels to solicit donor feedback through interactive surveys, polls, and reviews, and be sure to announce when elements of initiatives contain suggestions gleaned from donor feedback. This will demonstrate to your donors that their suggestions are listened to and when viable, acted upon.

Invite donors to events or activities your organization is hosting so they can witness how their gifts are being used. Donor engagement will increase the likelihood of recurring gifts while strengthening your relationships with donors, which will encourage them to remain active participants in your organization.

Cost of Acquisition

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  • Increase Your Donor Retention Rate

Once a relationship has been established, donor retention is the process of retaining donors and keeping them involved in your organization after their initial gift. The goal of donor retention is to have donors give more than once and see these donors become more involved with your cause. 

Using the model above as an example, assume the initial cost to acquire a new donor is $85 while the cost of sustaining donors is $12. This graph illustrates how donor retention is economically necessary for a nonprofit to survive, as sustaining donors is significantly less expensive than acquiring new ones. 

The average year-on-year donor retention rate in the United State is 46%, which shows that less than half of all donors remain active after their first contribution. This low percentage illustrates how easily money is lost through poor retention rates, as the cost to onboard new donors is greater than the cost of sustainment. 

It is also worthwhile to seek out donors who can donate their time to initiatives. Just because a donor’s financial outlook may not make them a promising cash donor does not mean that the resources they could bring to the organization as a valued volunteer should be overlooked.

The continued cycle of donor cultivation and stewardship is vital because sustaining current donors has a positive effect on your organization’s return on investment (ROI), and plays a crucial role in your organization’s survival. Maintaining relationships and encouraging donor engagement leads to a higher ROI as your sustainment costs continue to lower and your revenue stream increases during a donor’s lifetime involvement in your mission. 

By continuing the donor cycle past the first gift through communication and strategic donor engagement, the experience donors have with your organization can improve, and your donor retention rate will increase. 

The Importance of Communicating the Impact of Donations

So you’ve received a donation, now what? Making sure your donors see how their gift is supporting your cause will be vital in retaining them for future contributions. Some organizations give the option for donors to specify where they would like their donation to be used. Finding ways to showcase these impacts can strengthen the donor relationship. 

Start with a plan for communicating the value of each donation. Share the ways these contributions are being used to sustain your organization’s guiding mission, while also enabling the pursuit of important new endeavors that align with the values of the organization. 

Continually emphasize how the generosity of your donors makes these actions possible. In the digital age, it is easier than ever to keep in touch with donors, so you can easily focus your social media messaging to showcase the impact that is being made to benefit your cause.

It’s also extremely important not to forget the importance of personal contact. Send a handwritten note thanking your donors for their gifts; have a plan for you or someone from your team to speak with them personally when they attend events, and make a point of discussing all the ways their donations are being used, being sure to listen to any suggestions donors may wish to share. Making the effort to meet and speak with them as individuals and discuss the progress the organization is making thanks to their generosity can make all the difference when it comes to donor retention. 

Communication Strategies for Retaining Donors

Communication is the most important factor when working to retain donors. Focus on maintaining early contact with your donors. Personalization is also vital in nurturing the donor relationship and small acts such as remembering to acknowledge and express gratitude to donors right away, with a quick post-gift follow-up, such as a brief phone call or a personalized email thanking them for their continued support, increases the likelihood the donor will continue to feel connected to your organization and its goals. 

Timing is important, and maintaining consistent and efficient communication will ensure a donor feels seen and appreciated by your organization. Always let donors know that the important role they play in the organization’s success is appreciated and go out of your way to ensure each donor feels welcomed by your group.

Share meaningful content and a consistent narrative. When reaching out to donors to give updates on the impact their support is having, focus on driving your messaging through intentional content. Donors will appreciate, and most likely respond to, action-driven messages rather than fluff, and a consistent narrative illustrating how their gifts are being used will encourage continued donations to your organization.

Ask for donor feedback by conducting surveys and polls, and do your best to integrate their suggestions into your work. Don’t be afraid to use your communication lines to ask your donors what they think. Reach out and hold conversations with them, so you can tailor your communication strategies to their needs and avoid donor fatigue

Developing and Implementing a Successful Donor Stewardship Program

Donor Stewardship Program

Source

As you continue to search for new prospects, and implement donor stewardship programs, start by gathering and analyzing your information. Create personalized campaigns, segment donors according to their financial capacity to give and their shared interests, based on insights gathered by WealthEngine 9’s We Analyze tool, which features look-alike modeling, and use this information to create a plan to reach your target audience. 

Find ways for donors to get involved beyond their initial gifts. Reach out when you need volunteers, especially if you have an event coming up that is being funded by their contributions, or when something exciting is happening within your organization. 

Donors who are actively involved in initiatives will see the impacts of their gifts first-hand and feel inspired to continue giving, which increases your donor retention rate. Donors who give of their time also need to feel they have made impactful contributions and be shown that their endeavors are making a difference. Continually prioritize highlighting the impact donor support is having on the sustainability and success of your mission using every form of communication available.

For more information about how your organization can more efficiently search for new supporters while retaining its current donor base and increasing its donor retention rate, check out a free demo of the WealthEngine platform today.

 

8 High-Conversion Fundraising Tactics in the Wake of Coronavirus

Donor Pyramid

While everyone is contending with some level of financial uncertainty in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this does not mean your fundraising efforts need to stop or even decrease. In fact, continued fundraising activities during this time are essential for ensuring you maintain a strong relationship with your donors.

However, one important element of fundraising has changed as a consequence of COVID-19the manner in which organizations need to go about identifying and reaching out to their donors. This guide details ways fundraising organizations are pivoting to continue their capital campaigns, explains the types of messages that are proving most effective at this time and outlines specific actions you can take to continue raising money. 

Read on or “jump” ahead to each section:

This guide is based on an interview between Rick Dunham, Chair of the Board at the Giving USA Foundation and the CEO of Dunham + Company, and Raj Khera, WealthEngine’s EVP and Chief Marketing Officer. Listen to the webinar here

The Importance of Fundraising in the Time of Coronavirus

Given the global impact of the sudden economic downturn, it’s imperative that nonprofits continue fundraising in this difficult time. It is important to bear in mind that many nonprofits are founded based on mission statements declaring a commitment to increasing equity in fair treatment and opportunities for advancement among underserved sections of society.

The societal challenges members of these groups face are only exacerbated when a catastrophe like COVID-19 shakes the foundations of social and financial norms. As Dunham noted, “If your mission was relevant before all this hit, then it’s still relevant today.” 

In fact, the number of individuals in need of assistance can increase significantly. This has certainly proven true in the wake of COVID-19. As Khera observed, “We saw [recently] there were over six million people that had filed for unemployment. Our country is hurting…there’s a lot of need out there.” 

Donors also depend on consistent communication for assurances that the organizations they support are still functional and fulfilling their mission in times of crisis. If you go silent during a critical period for fear of being perceived as insensitive, it may end up damaging your relationship with your donors rather than helping it.

Dunham urges people to remember, “It’s not about the organization, it’s about what the organization is actually able to accomplish in the lives of people.”

8 High-Conversion Fundraising Tactics in the Time of Coronavirus 

The pandemic hasn’t put an end to fundraising. It’s only changed how fundraising is done. These tactics ensure that you’re appealing to and communicating with donors effectively.

1. Find Alternative Touch Points With Donors

Social distancing protocols and specifically, bans on public meetings in groups have disproportionately impacted religious-based nonprofits that now find themselves searching for alternative fundraising strategies. 

Dunham, whose company is a global leader in providing fully integrated marketing and fundraising strategies for nonprofits, offers the following suggestion: “Part of what I want to encourage churches to do is to consider a midweek eAppeal, that is more like an offering, if you would, that encourages people [and] reminds people of the ongoing work of the church.”

The same is true for museums and community organizations that primarily interact with people through face-to-face interactions. Just because your doors are closed to the public doesn’t mean that communications with them need to cease. You simply need to find a more appropriate method of interacting with them. 

2. Segment Donor Lists

Before sending a single email, segment your donor list using a donor pyramid. A donor pyramid can accurately identify which donors nonprofits should pursue at specific target amounts. 

Donor Pyramid

A behavioral trend has emerged where high-level donors are continuing to give but in smaller amounts, while mid-tier donors are increasing their gifts. Take advantage of this trend by targeting donors in these tiers with relevant messages and requests for donations.

WealthEngine recently unveiled the first artificial intelligence-based donor pyramid modeler in the industry. This advanced tool allows nonprofits to easily and quickly visualize how major fundraising endeavors should be broken down among giving tiers. 

With this tool, you can automatically segment your existing donors so you know who to target for planned giving, major gifts, mid-level gifts, and more. You can also easily see how many prospects you need to meet your goals. WealthEngine then works to find those prospects for you. 

Khera detailed how the donor pyramid modeler works by giving a hypothetical fundraising goal and explaining how you can use this new tool to create an accurate visualization of how close you are to meeting your fundraising objective: “Let’s say you want to raise a million dollars. All you do is type that in and our pyramid will actually help figure out how many gifts you need for each tier. You can change the thresholds for each tier…and it’ll recalculate everything for you, including your conversion ratios of how many people you need to meet, and how many you would close.”

3. Identify Donors Most Capable of Giving

It doesn’t make sense to reach out to a particular donor if their financial situation has drastically changed and they’re no longer capable of making their usual gift. Instead, use data analytics to focus your fundraising efforts on those who have experienced less of an impact.

WealthEngine’s WE Data tool enables organizations to quickly identify those individuals most capable of giving.

WealthEngine Profile

The We Data feature analyzes information from 60 sources, 300 million profiles, and 122 million households, and then offers insight into a prospect’s net worth, income, assets, history of giving, and more. With that kind of detailed data at your fingertips, you can easily find donors capable of supporting your mission, even at times of challenging circumstances on a global scale.

4. Be Authentic With Email Marketing

The subject line of your email campaign is the first thing donors see, so make it count. Aim to strike a balance between being sensitive to donors’ current situations and leaving the door open for them to continue participating in your mission.

Dunham shared the experience of one of his clients who supplemented its fundraising efforts with an email campaign that began with a simple yet impactful subject line: “How are you doing?”

Dunham explains this subject line was so effective “because . . . it immediately let the donor know how much and how important that donor was to that particular organization.” 

The body of your email should be equally engaging. In the case of Dunham’s client, the body of the email began with, “How are you doing in light of all that’s going on right now? We’re concerned about how you’re doing.” The message also addressed the health of the organization, its plans for moving forward, and expressed gratitude for the ongoing support it had received. 

This lone email blast generated $50,000 in donations. While certainly an impressive return, Dunham was quick to point out that this example of successful email marketing is not an isolated outcome: “For the month of March itself, that would be the last three to four weeks, we’ve seen a 26% increase year-over-year in revenue, but it’s because they’re actively engaging.”

5. Be Honest About Your Need

This is no time for organizations to hold information back from donors: If your nonprofit is genuinely struggling, do not attempt to downplay the stark reality. Efforts to downplay financial distress could negatively impact the carefully cultivated relationship between a nonprofit and its donors. Dunham emphasizes the importance of maintaining a relationship built on trust by asserting, “Nothing could be more distressing to a supporter, somebody who has invested in you, [than] to find out that you were in trouble and you never said anything about it.”  

Dunham advises struggling organizations to issue “a very clear request for funding” detailing why money is urgently needed. 

One of Dunham’s clients was an organization that could only sustain itself for approximately 18 days before operations would be forced to close. The solution was a quickly assembled multi-channel campaign that honestly addressed the situation, clearly stating the urgent need for funding. The ensuing donations allowed the organization to survive.

Dunham asserts, “Without being vulnerable and communicating the severity of their situation, this company could have potentially ended up closing their doors.” 

Smile FM, a Christian radio network based in Michigan, is another organization that saw similar success using the same tactic. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the station averaged a loss of three ongoing givers per month. When the pandemic hit, they began losing roughly three ongoing givers per day.

In response, the organization crafted an honest, compassionate email and sent it to 2,557 people, generating 25 donations within the first hour. Less than 24 hours later, the station had received 68 gift pledges, totaling nearly $20,000. Aside from on-air pledge drives, no fundraising initiative in the station’s history had ever generated such a generous response in such a short amount of time.  

6. Match Messaging to Donor Demographics

In addition to being authentic and honest, the messages you craft and their delivery system should be relevant to the demographics of your donors.

WE Analyze, a tool by WealthEngine, gives organizations an in-depth look at donor demographics so they can create messaging that matches the personas of their supporters.

Demographic Dashboards

For example, if your donors tend to be older, a fundraiser driven by direct mail is likely going to be more effective than one through an Instagram campaign or Facebook ads. 

Of course, there’s some messaging that you can land on without needing a demographics analysis tool. A faith-based organization such as a church, for instance, should tailor the content of their emails to reflect how they would engage with their congregants in person.

Dunham noted, “We’ve seen a tremendous response to a message around ‘How can we pray for you?’ For the faith-based organizations, there’s been tremendous engagement around that.”

This message works because it’s the same approach a person would take if they were comforting one of their faith-based peers in a face-to-face encounter.

7. Offer Gift Matching

Gift matching, a process in which a high-value donor or sponsor matches lower-value donations, is another powerful fundraising strategy. This approach may include a traditional gift-matching program or be implemented as a challenge, in which a larger donation will be made if a certain threshold is met through the combined efforts of several small and mid-level donations. 

Dunham maintains that the “true match” approach is the stronger of the two gift matching fundraising initiatives. Explaining his preference for a true match gift challenge, Dunham argues that true match has more of an impact, “especially if there’s some sort of a time frame on it, that if you run the potential of losing a portion of the match, and the donor’s intent is to get people to really be engaged” this approach can be very effective in getting people to commit to giving. 

The doubling effect of a person’s gift is also a powerful tool. If a donor realizes meeting a certain gift threshold will result in their donation being doubled—increasing the impact for the organization—their incentive to give is increased. 

For these types of programs to be efficient, it is vital that fundraisers have a firm grasp on the capacity for giving among their potential donors. This information allows nonprofits to set realistic fundraising goals. 

We Analyze assists organizations by monitoring and tracking donor giving history. This gives organizations a more accurate prediction of how gift-matching initiatives will perform.

8. Host Virtual VIP Events

Virtual tours and online performances help organizations remind supporters that they’re still offering value to the community and that their societal impact, as well as their financial needs, continue even as the nation works to emerge from “stay in place” restrictions.

However, interest in virtual tours has tapered off as the pandemic has progressed, so organizations need to get creative about differentiating themselves. Virtual events like webinars, live music, speaking engagements, or other distinctive experiences are still seeing success.

Virtual events have proven to be effective tools for cross-promotion and working cross-functionally with other organizations with whom you have established relationships, enabling you to expand your reach to a wider audience. Virtual events also offer ample lead time in promotion and can be used in conjunction with email messaging.

Before scheduling an event, organizations should consider how their donor audience will react to the offering. Ask yourself whether featuring the content online makes sense or if it feels forced; proceed with the event only if you feel that what you’re offering will truly appeal to your core audience.

Key Takeaway: Intentional Messaging Fuels Fundraising in the Time of Coronavirus

Although the pandemic is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, nonprofit organizations remain committed to their founding mission statements. Now more than ever, certain sectors of society depend on the assistance offered by nonprofits, making fundraising and garnering continued financial support for these organizations increasingly essential.

Organizations must pivot their messaging and delivery systems to show donors the importance of continuing to support them. Being honest about your needs, staying true to your mission, and being careful about how you construct messaging and virtual offerings are all essential for fundraising in uncertain times.

To learn more about the full assortment of tools included in the WealthEngine platform that elevates fundraising initiatives in uncertain times, sign up for a WealthEngine demo today.