Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The next 'big' thing?

We're always looking for 'the next big thing', right?

It's a conversation that I've been having with lots of people over the last couple of months.

Fortunately, for us in North America, the biggest areas likely to impact our programs dramatically are staring us right in the face. Specifically:

1 Finding lots, lots more of those wonderful monthly donors. By doing the following:

- Spending more where you'll get the greatest return. Often to take a quantum leap we need to make a sizable investment. It's not the answer we may want to hear, but its often the reality. Refer to previous posts about looking and understanding the relative net value of different types of supporters.

- Finding hand raisers. In seeking out and attracting new people to support on an ongoing basis, this offers the potential to find serious numbers of new individuals.

The concept is simple: asking someone to do something really easy, really simple. "Would you sign this petition?" .... "Would you stand beside me and say no to....?"

Quickly followed by something else. Perhaps another simple action or campaigning piece. Then once this person has had the chance to know you a little better, we ask for a regular, monthly gift. It opens up a conversation for many you couldn't have has minus the two-three stepped approach. Bingo.

- The above ties into another question which I'm regularly asked: where do I find younger donors? The simple answer is on the street. There is no better mechanism for finding younger donors that face to face fundraising. Large volumes, and quickly. There are caveats as always and this blog has dedicated a lot of time in the past talking about street fundraising.

- The next best place is moving into the digital space. We know through benchmarking that the average value of online recruited monthly donor is between $900 and $1,000 after five years. The challenge is finding them. Needle in a hay stack. Volumes are tiny.

My suggestions here:

- Don't use any one vehicle in isolation. Banner ads, Google AdWords, cold eblasts. All great sources to 'push' people to do something. But very difficult to make them work on their own. Sheerly as a result of volume.

- Keep it really simple. Send prospects somewhere, preferably a custom built site. When they land there, make it hard for them to get out. Don't have lots of distractions. Keep the space really clean and simple.

- Get a phone number. Even if you need to incentivize people to provide it. The difference between success and lack of it, when it comes to multi staged approaches and conversion is the penetration level of telephone numbers.

- Put your personal feelings aside. If I had a dollar (actually maybe ten) for each meeting I've been in where someone has said "I would never do that", I wouldn't be blogging right now. I'd be off sailing in the Caribbean. Gut feeling and instincts are great, especially in direct response where you can test.

But data is critical. If Greenpeace had listened to what I'm sure the gut instincts of a lot of their staff were thinking in the early 90's, we likely wouldn't be writing about face to face. And the sector would be billions of dollars worse off.

2 Getting back to basics on bequests. By doing the following:

- Looking at your data. Our work through benchmarking uncovered recently that the things that intuitively make sense (yes, our "gut" instincts) in this instance are spot on. Loyalty is a driver in someones propensity to leave a bequest. Number of gifts, cumulative value and how recently someone has given a onetime cash donation are indicate how likely someone is to have confirmed you in their Will.

There is likely an element of targeting here, in other words we're asking these people more often, but it's mostly a reflection of the relationship.

- Repetition. Follow the logic of all fundraising: ask, ask and ask again. You're planting seeds here. Whilst we have seen supporter surveys as one of the biggest drivers of delivering prospects and those who have self identified as confirmed bequestors, those who have the most success are the gardeners who planed those seeds long before.

Once, twice a year we need to be telling people the enormous difference they're lasting legacy could make. And of course, not just educating, but asking.

- Not overcomplicating things. Ask for residual bequests. They're worth far, far more because they hold their relative value over a time. For some organizations 20, 30 or 50 times more than a specific amount.

And almost in all circumstances the large majority of planned giving income is from actual bequests left, that is not gifts of stock or securities. Yes there are always exceptions, but I've found these incredibly rare. Which means, keep it simple. Push for residuals, offer specific bequests as an option.

- Focusing on the why. A much more effective way to introduce, and quite frankly, sell bequests. The how needs to come afterwards.

- I mentioned getting back to basics. The mail, whilst helping spot those people with a greater likelihood of leaving a gift in their Will (older, loyal, long term donors) also happens to be one of the most effective ways to 'convert' supporters. In fact the mail plays an integral role through bequest packs, surveys and follow up conversion letters. However of course the best approach strategically uses the telephone and some face to face solicitation (including things like bequests events).

That's it for a Tuesday morning. The next big thing for us North American fundraisers just happens to be right here, on our doorstep. There's a hell of a lot of growth still to be driven from more effectively generating lots of new regular supporters, and helping people leave us their most significant, lasting gift.



Anonymous said...

Hi Jonathan,

I have monitored your blogs frequently and I must say I am highly impressed with the articles you post. Some of your articles have been exteremely useful in my research about implementing web 2.0strategies in non-profit fund raising and communication plan.

One thing that I find useful about the artcle - "the next big thing" is by refering to your article last year on "eight ways to get more by getting it monthly". As part of my measuring metrics in evaluating the behavioural pattern of donors, I conducted a survey and I realized all generational cohorts targetd in the survey (Gen. X, Y & boomers) all feel as if someone really appreciate their kind gestures when messages are personally targeted towards them.

Still conducting more research as to the impact of using social media for different generations and I'll keep you posted if I need any information from you.


Jonathon Grapsas said...

Hi Adedoyin

Thanks for your comment and feedback.

Glad to know your learnings are mirrored by the stuff Ive been covering throughout this blog. Certainly makes sense intuitively that if we talk to individuals personally that they're more likely to stick around.

Keep in touch and keep sharing. :)