A Special Way To Thank Major Donors

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One of the most important pieces of the nonprofit fundraising puzzle is discovering new and creative ways to thank your donors. Promotional products are an increasingly popular way to say thank you to donors while also spreading awareness of your organization.

When you add promo to your fundraising strategy, you may want to do so by developing a gift program. Presenting your top donors with a special gift in the form of a promotional product can solidify your relationship with them. And, when you provide a donor with a quality item they’ll be using frequently, you’re helping to spread the word about your organization even further.

What to Remember

A good practice to follow when gifting promotional products is to use the gift as a surprise. Depending on what the item is, you can present it before the donation is made or after. However, you want to avoid presenting the item in a transactional way, as in, give $50 to receive this mug. A study conducted at Yale found that we feel positive about giving when it instills a sense of altruism in us, a feeling that we’ve selflessly done something to help others. We’re giving to get that feeling. But, when we know that our contribution will be rewarded in some way (my dollars for this mug) we tend to feel selfish rather than selfless, leading us to give less.

Instead, presenting a potential donor with a gift before a donation is made instills a sense of reciprocity. And surprising donors with something special after they’ve selflessly given helps build a positive feeling for your organization.

In addition to when you present the gift, consider how you will present it. The language you use is important. Donors will feel more positive about the gift if you present it as a tool to further your mission. You can tell the donor how their use of the item will help to spread awareness of your organization, increasing their engagement with you and making them eager to use the gift you’ve given.

Top Gifts to Thank Top Donors

brown leather journal with tie laying on wooden boards
These debossed leather refillable journals have a soft feel and a high-end look donors will love.

While you may have varying levels of gifts to thank all your donors, your top donors deserve something special. These are the individuals who consistently make game-changing contributions to your organization. This often means financially, but it may also be someone who invests their time and expertise into helping your organization to grow and its beneficiaries to shine.

Whomever you are looking to thank, here are some gifts your donors will appreciate:

Branded Journal

Journals and portfolios are a popular item on today’s promo market. With a range of sizes and styles, it’s easy to find an item that fits with your brand and your message. Decorating a journal with a deboss or hot foil stamp is a subtle and professional way to brand, giving the item added texture and depth.

Etched Pen

There’s no getting around it—we spend a lot of time in front of screens. However, there are still times when only a hand-written note will do. You can make the writing experience enjoyable for your donors by presenting them with a higher-end metal or hardwood pen. Decorating the pen with an etching will give it a classy look.

black metal pen etched with Panasonic logo

Apparel Item

young woman wearing red fleece jacket and khaki pantsA high-quality apparel item embroidered with your logo is something many donors would love to receive, and to wear. Apparel is the most popular group of items in the promo industry. And it represents a major way to spread awareness about your organization. You could present your top donors with an embroidered jacket, vest, hat, scarf or socks. They’ll be sure to wear the item throughout the day, bringing your name with them to everyone they meet.

red metal hydroflask water bottle imprinted with white CSI logoDrinkware Items

I use a water bottle and a travel mug nearly every day. It’s likely many of your donors do as well. It’s important to me that these items are durable and functional, and that they are representative of myself and the things that matter to me. Presenting your top donors with a stainless steel etched tumbler or water bottle is sure to make an impression, both on your donors and their friends, families, and coworkers.black coffee mug with Fenton Construction Logo

Want to make your gift even more personal? Some products can be decorated using variable data printing methods. This means that in addition to including your nonprofit’s logo or tagline on the gift, you can personalize each item with the name or initials of the donor. If you want to wow your donors with a unique gift, this is the way to go.

Paw Print & Mail offers a wide variety of promotional products, and we’re ready assist you with finding the right promo for your donors. Explore our online catalog, or contact us today and start promoting your nonprofit with promotional products.

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Boost Your Fundraising with Celebrity Status Donors

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$44 million. That’s how much was raised during a telethon last September hosted to support victims of Hurricane Harvey. Oprah and Beyoncé joined a cast of celebrities encouraging people to give and fielding calls from donors.

And remember those sad ASPCA commercials starring Sarah McLachlan? The ASPCA raised $30 million in just the first two years of that campaign.

These numbers are admittedly larger than many nonprofits can expect to see from any one campaign. But they show the effectiveness of influencer marketing. It’s an increasingly popular marketing trend, where companies partner with well-known celebrities, politicians, and business people to promote their products. And, it’s an effective sales tool—in 2016, revenue generated from influencer marketing on Instagram alone topped $570 million.

You’ve probably seen countless celebrities starring in commercials as a spokesperson for one product or another. But influencer marketing can be much more involved, with influencers sharing their personal stories and placing themselves behind brands.

As we can see from the examples above, having influential people spread the word about a company or product isn’t limited to marketing. It is also an effective fundraising tool that many nonprofits have made use of.

Consumers trust word-of-mouth much more than any advertisement. Fundraising is similar. According to The Georgetown Digital Persuasion Survey, 65% of donors learn about causes from friends and family. Even if potential donors don’t know an influencer personally, seeing a friendly face creates a connection. This often leads to greater awareness of and engagement with that organization.

And, as we know, compelling a donor to give requires making a connection with them. If you’re struggling to do just that, influencers can be helpful, because their stories come across as personal, legitimate, and real.

What Constitutes an Influencer?

Sometimes influential people will discover your organization on their own, organically sharing and promoting your mission. Often, however, it’s up to you to cultivate a relationship with individuals you believe have significant influential power to impact your nonprofit.

So, who will you reach out to? Just because a person is influential does not mean they are a good fit to promote your organization. You’ll want to consider how this person and the audience they influence are connected to you and your mission.

First, define your audience. Who are you trying to reach? If your nonprofit works on a local level, consider regional politicians or local celebrities as influencers. And if your work covers a wider area, look for individuals recognizable nationally or internationally.

Also look at demographics. Maybe you’re hoping to increase the number of millennial donors, as your donor base is aging. Reach out to younger influencers who know how to communicate with that demographic. They’ll understand how to best connect your mission with outcomes millennials are looking to achieve.

Lastly, does this influencer embody your mission? If you’re promoting environmental advocacy, it makes sense to connect with individuals known for supporting this cause. Whatever your goals, make sure your influencer makes sense for what you want to accomplish and who you want to reach.

Influencers don’t necessarily have to be known to a wide variety of people. If they are influential within their field or niche, and the field or niche you’re looking to reach, you can create a successful partnership.

The Power of Social Media

One place that influencers have power is on social media. They often have a large, established base of followers that look forward to hearing from them. By generating compelling content that’s tied to the message or mission of a nonprofit, social media mavens can attract a lot of attention for your organization. They’ll make a wider audience of people aware of you and compel them to give.

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The Georgetown Digital Persuasion Survey found that 68% of donors decide to give after interacting with a cause through social media. Donors may first encounter one of your social pages. Or, their first contact with you may be from an influencer’s post.

Think of the viral ice bucket challenge from a few years back. Many people became aware of the cause and chose to donate from seeing celebrities and friends completing the challenge, rather than engaging with an official page from the ALS Association.

You can identify potential influencers by examining engagement with your social posts. There are likely certain individuals who frequently share or comment on your content. Social media influencers can have a larger or more modest following, popular on a national or regional scale. Adding a few of these individuals as influencers can have a larger impact than you might think.

It may seem intimidating to ask a well-known person to promote your organization. But it doesn’t have to be. Not every influencer has to be a VIP. Start small, whether by reaching out to people with a smaller circle of influence or just by asking for a minor commitment to start. You could invite a potential influencer to attend or speak at an event, or to volunteer with you for one day. Over time, it will feel natural to increase the influencer role as your relationship with that individual deepens.

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What Makes Donors Tick?

Making a personal connection with potential donors is a critical piece of the giving process. But how much should you really know about your donors?

In this video from Movie Mondays, Brent Hafele from NewDay Nonprofit Solutions discusses how understanding the passion that compels a donor to give can lead to deeper relationships and larger, more meaningful gifts.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of Brent’s experience? What insights do you have about what makes donors tick? Comment and let us know.

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Essential Tips for New Year Fundraising

Take a moment to breathe–you’ve made it through another busy holiday season. If you’re like many nonprofits, year-end fundraising is both a critical and a crazy time for your organization.

A lot of effort goes into crafting and executing year-end campaigns. Though you may be finished promoting your 2017 holiday campaign, your work is far from over. Now that you’ve got some breathing room, it’s time to consider how your organization will handle the fundraising challenges of a new year.

Looking Back

First, make sure to wrap up your holiday campaign. Often gifts will continue to come in through January, so it may be difficult to immediately determine the outcome of last year’s campaign. When you’re able to compile the results, take some time to evaluate them. Your best direction for the year ahead is to look back at the past year.

Your first move with these results is to share them with your donors. You need to thank everyone who gave to your organization, and let them know what you accomplished.

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Don’t try to evaluate the campaign on your own. Get your team together to discuss the past year. What did they like about how each campaign went? What takeaways did they have from the year as a whole? Now that things have slowed down, you can take time to talk through experiences and assess the results to be better prepared for future campaigns.

And don’t be afraid to look at negatives as well as positives. The only way to avoid the same pitfalls in a new year is to critically look at campaigns that performed poorly.

Looking Ahead

You’ve got an entire year ahead of you—how will you spend it?

Set Fundraising Goals

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By identifying where you want to go now, you can stay on track to fulfill the goals you set this year. Identify what objectives you want to achieve and what specifically will allow you to achieve them. For instance, if you know you want to increase donor retention, also specify a percentage or number to increase it by. You can only achieve trackable growth if you have exact figures to evaluate and work towards.

Measure What You Need to Manage

It can’t be emphasized enough how important and valuable it is to take this time to measure your recently completed campaign results. Knowing fundamental metrics like money raised, donor count, average and median contribution per donor, cost per donation, and ROI, compared to previous years’ campaigns, and in relation to your goals, are all key decision-making measurements. If you applied an A/B split to your campaign, measuring the performance difference between the two mailings is why you invested in a split in the first place. Taking these measurements while a campaign is still fresh adds more value to planning your next campaign than trying to reconstruct data later on.

Continue Doing What Works

How often might we become distracted to think there’s a slicker, more innovative way to build upon current success. Not that looking for better, more creative, or technologically innovative ways to improve upon our fundraising isn’t a worthy pursuit. But if something’s working well, do more of it. And if you have a reliable approach that consistently works well, that’s the perfect environment to work in a different approach to test without swaying from what’s tried and true.

Develop 1 New Strategy

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Over time, you’ve likely come across strategies you want to implement into your organization. But doing so takes time: time to learn a new system, time to put it into practice effectively, and time to make it useful for your donors. Now that you have time to consider your next step, list these strategies and pick one that you think you can reasonably incorporate into your fundraising this year. Since marketing strategies are constantly evolving, it may seem necessary to follow as many trends as possible. But it’s better to focus on one and master it than to spread your resources too thin.

Prepare for Events

Be conscious of what events you have planned to host or attend this coming year, and don’t try to squeeze in a lot of extras. One well-executed event can have more of an impact than three or four time consuming and hastily organized ones. Consider how you need to prepare. Do you need volunteers? Are you hoping to give away promotional items? Know your strategy early, so you won’t be scrambling at the last minute.

Digital Reigns

If your digital fundraising strategy is patchy or unsuccessful, make updating it a priority. Donors need to be able to find you on the web, and online donations are becoming increasingly popular. Also, 55% of people that engage with a nonprofit through social media end up taking action, whether by volunteering, donating, or sharing your message.

Create Content Consistently

It’s important that your audience hears from you on a regular basis. To keep them engaged, you’ll have to share a variety of content. It can seem daunting to frequently come up with new content. But you can employ different strategies to make the process easier. First, develop a content calendar for the year. When will you send direct mail? How often do you need to email? What blog posts will you publish? Then, look at content you’ve already created. Maybe you take an image or quote from a long-form blog post and use it in an email newsletter or social media post. If you have donors and followers, you’re likely already producing effective and compelling content. So, don’t forget about it—look at how you can re-purpose your past efforts to stay on track now.

Try Testingdigital artwork two open laptops

This can be a good time to test new strategies. Do some A/B testing with your direct mail and marketing emails, to better understand what touches and compels your donors. Do certain images or words resonate more than others?

Run Other Campaigns

A holiday is a great theme to plan a campaign around, and luckily there are plenty of them throughout the year. While year-end appeals are important, as 1/3 of annual funds are raised during the month of December, don’t make that campaign your sole focus. A compelling message will have an impact at any time of the year. You can relate your mission to certain holidays to keep your donors excited and your message relevant.

Need help developing your fundraising strategy and materials? At Paw Print & Mail we specialize in nonprofit fundraising appeal services. Contact us today, and let us help you make 2018 your best year yet.

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6 Strategies for Engaging Millennial Donors

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What does the term “millennial” mean to you?

For many fundraisers, it means a struggle to find ways to connect with a diverse generation that has different expectations than those established by their parents and grandparents.

But millennials don’t have to mean a struggle, and they can mean the future of your organization. Millennials currently make up 25% of the U.S. population, and will compose half of the American workforce by 2020. It’s essential that you’re able to reach this generation with your fundraising efforts. It represents a significant number of potential donors that may be interested in giving now, and for many years to come.

More so than previous generations, millennials are very receptive to cause marketing and fundraising. Nearly half of millennials are more willing to purchase from a company if that company supports a cause, and 37% will pay more for a product or service if it will help a cause they believe in.

Millennials’ desire to do good makes them qualified potential donors for your organization. But to reach them effectively, you may have to adopt some new practices.

1) Invest in Digital Marketing

Millennials grew up using computers, and they’re quick to adopt new forms of technology. If you want to make millennials aware of your nonprofit, you have to be tech savvy, too. You can:

  • Be active on social media by sharing, posting, commenting, and responding to any actions on your page.
  • Ensure your website is updated regularly, easy to navigate, and optimized for mobile devices.
  • Set up search engine optimization (SEO) for your nonprofit’s website.
  • Try using or creating a mobile app so that it’s easy for potential donors to give at any time (millennials tend to be impulse donors).
  • Develop consistency across marketing channels so that potential donors will have a seamless experience.

2) Millennials Like Direct Mail

Though millennials are digitally focused, they place value and trust in direct mail. 84% of millennials regularly read through their mail, and 64% would rather find useful information in the mail than from an email. Part of the reason is that direct mail can be extremely personalized for the recipient. Personal touches give your nonprofit a human, friendly side that millennials will connect with.

3) Be Approachable

Present your organization as approachable and encourage potential donors to engage in frequent conversations with you, whether on a blog page, social media site, in an email, or in person.

Millennial_Volunteers_Paw_Print_And_Mail
Business image created by Peoplecreations – Freepik.com

By connecting with millennial donors now, you are beginning a long-term relationship with them, that will hopefully transition to a regular gift. Many younger people may not be in a position to make a financial gift, but are still passionate about helping. Encouraging them to volunteer with you keeps them involved while creating a deeper bond between them and your organization.

4) Think Global, Act Local

Millennials have a global consciousness, and they want to feel they’re contributing to a larger cause. If you can, connect your mission to a larger issue, and show how an action in your community can relate and support a global need.

5) Enhance Trust

42% of Americans believe brands are less trustworthy than they were 20 years ago. A good practice for reaching donors of any generation is to be transparent. Millennials want clear and specific information on the impact their individual contribution will have.

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Building trust also means staying in touch with donors on a regular basis. Since millennials value the relationships they build with organizations, it’s essential for you to communicate with them for more than just an ask. Reiterate the good you’re doing with regular updates on the impact you’re having.

6) Step Up Storytelling

Millennials tend to feel connected to causes rather than individual organizations. But you can use stories to show the impact, importance, and personal side of your nonprofit, helping millennials to build a stronger connection to you. It gives your organization a human side, and potential donors can see and hear from specific individuals they’ll be helping. Use a lot of images and videos in your fundraising materials to help your stories make an impact.

At Paw Print & Mail, we specialize in nonprofit fundraising appeal production. Contact Paw Print today to enhance your nonprofit’s fundraising approach.

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What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About Blogging

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If you’re regularly on the internet, you’re probably encountering blogs on a daily basis. Blogs are everywhere—some people even blog for a living. Content development has become an established piece of marketing and fundraising strategy. It’s important that both for profit and not for profit organizations can give their audience value and information, and blogs are a popular way to do that.

Blogging is an effective way to stay in touch with your donors in a format that is informative and engaging. Whether you have an established blog for your nonprofit or you’ve never written a blog post in your life, these ideas can help you create a top-notch nonprofit blog page so your organization will stand out from the crowd.

1) To Blog or Not to Blog?

It’s important to consider a few things before you get down to blogging:

  • What host will you use? WordPress is a popular website tool, but there are other options.
  • Do you have a goal or goals for your blog? Have key members of your organization sit together and come up with some concrete guidelines for what you hope to get out of blogging. Maybe you’re trying to attract volunteers. Over time, you can measure whether your blog is succeeding based on the numbers of new volunteers you’re seeing.
  • Who will be in charge of posting? Maybe one person is always in charge of blogging, or duties are shared throughout your nonprofit. Whatever you decide, ensure everyone knows their role and the publishing timeline.
  • Does your organization have the time and resources for a blog? You can read more about this below. But if you know upfront that regular blogging is not a feasible possibility for your nonprofit, it’s best to focus on other projects. Having no blog is better than having a lackluster one.
  • Who is your audience, and what questions will they have? Different causes appeal to different groups of people. You know your donors, and you’ll want to consider what language/tone you should use to speak to them in your blog, as well as what they want to know about your organization.
  • How will you promote your blog? You can share your blog on social media, include a link to it in an email newsletter, feature it on your website’s homepage…think about what channels you have a following on, and use them to your advantage.

2) Consistency is Key in Blogging

Blogging requires frequent updates of fresh content to keep followers engaged. If you’re going to start blogging for your nonprofit, make sure you have the time to regularly devote to it.

Part of being consistent is publishing content on a regular schedule. It could be once a week, twice a week, a few times per month—whatever timeline you feel you can keep up with. When you update on a regular basis, say, every Wednesday, your audience will come to expect your posts on Wednesdays and will be more likely to come back to your site looking for them. A blog that is only sporadically updated is not going to receive that kind of attention. Readers won’t view it as a reliable, regular source of content.

You’ll also want to be consistent in the feel of your blog. You want your readers to come to see your blog as a friendly and trusted resource. Keep your tone of voice and the look of your blog similar from post to post. For instance, if many of your posts start with an image, make sure to include an image at the beginning of every post.

3) Blogs Give Your Nonprofit Authority and Build Trust

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Business card image create by Katemangostar- freepik.com

There are a lot of nonprofits out there—1.5 million in the U.S., in fact. And it’s likely there are other organizations with goals and missions that are similar to yours. Blogging is a way that you can showcase your unique story, while also establishing your knowledge of your field.

You can use a blog to inform your audience on topics centered around your nonprofit’s mission. By showing you have an extensive knowledge of the issue and topics surrounding it, you present yourself to donors as an authority in your field. This helps to give your organization credibility, and donors will feel that you have the experience to put funds to best use and truly solve problems.

By showing your knowledge, along with proof of the work you are doing, you build trust with your audience as well. It’s important to think of your donors as friends, individuals you’re building a long and sociable relationship with. Typically, we trust our friends. Blogging is a way to deepen that trusting relationship by showing that you’re listening to what your donors have to say and are actively working to achieve goals they’re looking to you to solve.

Consistency helps build trust as well. If you are consistent in your efforts and consistent in your blogging, your audience will rely on you to provide them with regular information that they want to know about your organization and its work.

4) Engage your Audience with Blogging

Enhancing donor loyalty requires you to think of your donors as friends and develop relationships with them. One of the best ways to do that is to create opportunities for donors to engage with you and share their thoughts.

Blogging is an effective way to enhance your engagement with a wide audience. People can comment on your blog, contact you based on a post they found interesting, attend an event or volunteer after reading a post, sign up for your email list, and share your content on social media. Sharing is huge for blogs. It allows people to see your blog and learn about your organization who might not come across you otherwise.

Engagement is truly one of the main goals of blogging, and while everything you post won’t lead directly to a donation, giving people exposure to your organization and getting people talking about it is going to have an impact.

5) Blogs Tell Your Story

Stories are a compelling way to give your nonprofit personality and heart. You may have stories that you regularly use in fundraising and marketing materials. But there are all kinds of stories you can tell about your employees, volunteers, and beneficiaries of your nonprofit that make for great blog posts.

Event coverage is an effective blog topic. You can show who is involved, how you’re working to make an impact, and what you achieved. Your events may not get a lot of coverage from external media groups, so covering them yourself ensures people will see the good work you’re doing.

Talking about the stories and goings-on at your nonprofit shows your audience that you are actively working to achieve your mission and that your efforts are effective at doing so. Being able to communicate that you are active and making a difference is important to donors, because they can be sure their donations will be making an impact for good.

6) Blogs Convey Your Purpose

Your nonprofit is up against a lot of competition. Your blog is a place for you to separate yourself from the pack and convey not just the story of your organization, but also its purpose. Why does your specific nonprofit need to exist? How is it going to provide something different than organizations with similar goals? What is your blog’s purpose? How will it work to contribute to your mission and the betterment of your community?

7) What Types of Content?

smiling woman blogging on laptop
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You want to achieve consistency in the look and feel of your blog. At the same time, you’ll need a variety of content to keep your blog interesting. Sometimes you may want to share an interesting article you find, or you’ll be writing your own. Some posts will be more text-heavy, but visuals are helpful for readers to visualize what you’re writing about. Take lots of pictures and videos of different events and happenings you’re involved in. That way, you’ll have a lot of content to draw from.

You may also want to feature a guest blogger occasionally. A board member or a volunteer could write about their experience with your organization and why they’re so passionate about helping you to achieve your mission. Or an expert in the field related to your nonprofit can contribute a post to help further educate donors about the issues you’re working to solve.

Another great post idea is to address frequently asked questions about your organization. If it’s content that people are regularly looking for, a blog post can pull double duty.  While contributing to your regular posting schedule, it will also provide evergreen content that can regularly be referred to.

And as we know a thank you is always welcome, your blog is another way to show gratitude and appreciation for your donors. Make a fun video with volunteers, employees, and beneficiaries saying thank you, and weave a tone of thankfulness throughout all your communications.

Paw Print & Mail specializes in nonprofit appeal production services and copywriting and content marketing, including ghost blogging services. If you need assistance with your nonprofit appeal strategy, contact Paw Print today.

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10 Tips to Increase Donor Loyalty

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Think how hard it would be if you had to find a new pool of donors every year just to keep your nonprofit going. Not only would it be exhausting—it might even be impossible.

Which is why it’s important that there are donors who choose to give on a regular basis. Statistics show that repeat donors give more to nonprofits, not just over time, but also per gift. Which makes sense—once a donor has become invested in a nonprofit, they are often willing to give more to increase the organization’s impact.

Repeat donors represent a significant chunk of fundraising dollars, and are a key piece of achieving year-end fundraising goals. But donor retention is following a troubling trend.

According to a 2016 report from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, while nonprofits are seeing an increase in the number of new donors, the overall donor retention rate in the U.S. has been below 50% since 2008—and it’s declining.

There are 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S., and over 4,000 just in the state of Vermont. That means more pressure than ever for your nonprofit to retain donors and raise the necessary amount of fundraising dollars. One of the best ways you can ensure your organization will meet its fundraising goals is by focusing on increasing donor loyalty. Here are 10 ways you can work to do just that.

1. Treat your Donor as A Friend

We’re talking about increasing your donor retention rates, but it’s not about a number. It’s about building meaningful relationships with your donors. A gift is a step in your relationship with the donor, not just a transaction that increases funds. This may seem obvious to you if you work for a nonprofit. But it’s important to always keep in mind as you look for ways to enhance your fundraising efforts and ensure donors remain involved with your organization. Make sure there are multiple ways your donors can engage and interact with you, through blogs, social media, email, and more.

2. Create Trust with Your Donors

One of the key components of developing deeper relationships is building trust. Creating trust in your relationships with your donors is essential to engendering loyalty. If you are consistently dependable when it comes to communicating with donors, thanking them, and making significant impacts with your fundraising dollars, donors will want to keep giving to your organization.

3. Keep in Touch

Donors typically need multiple “touches” from an organization before they commit to making a gift. According to Professor Adrian Sargeant, a fundraising professor and philanthropy expert in the UK, 53% of donors stop giving because of a lack of communication from the nonprofit. It’s important to communicate with donors regularly, with updates on how their dollars are being spent and what’s going on at your organization. Keep lines of communication open between you and the donor so that they truly come to feel they are a part of your organization.

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It’s essential to include touches that don’t ask for a gift of any kind, but are solely meant to inform the donor. Don’t structure your communications with donors based on giving, only to disappear from their lives once they’ve made a gift.

And, it’s just as important to give donors the option to request fewer communications from you. If they are hearing from you too often for their liking, they are less likely to give than if they have the choice to hear from you when they want to. Creating options for your donors helps your organization to build greater credibility.

4. Create Specific Fundraising Appeals

A major reason why donors don’t give is from a sense of futility. It may be hard to put their donation into context: how is my $30 really going to make a difference?

That’s why specific appeals are so important. You need to be clear about the direct impact that donor’s funds will have. For example, you can say “your $50 gift will feed [x amount] of children for one month.” This type of appeal is compelling. The donor can see exactly how their individual contribution can have an impact on someone’s life.

5. Make an Emotional Connection with Stories

Using stories to create an emotional connection is a common marketing tool. They can be used in fundraising to give credence to the successes and struggles of your organization. When you tell a story about a specific individual who needs or is receiving help through your organization, you are giving donors a face that they will want to help. Stories are often about helping a prospect see themselves in the tale. Even if your prospective donor has never been in the exact situation, you will tap into their compassionate side and give them a compelling reason to give.

For your story to have the strongest impact, keep your donors updated. If you can show how someone was directly impacted by your organization, it helps donors to see the good work you are doing and will make them want to keep giving.

6. Establish Opportunities for Repeat Giving

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Instead of framing a donation as a one-time gift, use language that will compel your donors to turn their gift into a monthly or yearly contribution. Ensure there is a clear and easy process for making this happen.

7. Use the Language of your Donors

A key rule of copywriting is to write in the language of your prospect, and it’s true for donors too. You may use jargon or industry-specific terms when communicating with others in your organization. But technical or unusual terms have a greater chance of confusing your donors than convincing them to give.

If you speak and write in consistently clear language that the prospect will understand, they will see you as a resource for comprehending an issue. They will feel a greater affinity for your organization as someone they can trust and relate to.

8. Reach Out to Lapsed Donors

Some of your donors may not have given in a while. But if they have in the past, you know that at one time they felt a deep enough connection to your nonprofit that they wanted to contribute. Lapsed donors are an important group you don’t want to overlook. With the right communications from you, they could return as regular donors.

9. Segment Your Donor Communications

Loyalty is built by adding personal touches. Your pool of donors will be at all different stages of the giving process, giving different amounts for different reasons. It’s easy to segment mailing lists and add personalization to your communications, and this should certainly be a part of your fundraising strategy. When you clearly speak to donors right where they are, they will like the added level of personality and feel they as an individual are important to the success of your nonprofit, rather than just a name on a list.

10. Always Say Thank You!

Thanking donors for their contributions is essential. Never neglect an opportunity to let your donors know how much their gift means to your organization. A simple thank you can turn a one-time donor into a champion for your cause.

Paw Print & Mail specializes in direct mail fundraising appeal campaigns. Contact us today to enhance your fundraising strategy.

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Get an Early Start on Your Year-End Fundraising

Year_End_Gift_Paw_Print_And_MailHoliday tunes, snowfall, and ringing in a new year—that all seems far away, doesn’t it? But whether we like it or not, the end of the year will be here before we know it.

The holiday season is busy for all kinds of reasons. If you’re involved with year-end fundraising for a nonprofit organization, you know how hectic the last few weeks of the year can be. Nearly 1/3 of annual giving occurs in the month of December, with 12% of all giving occurring on the last three days of the year.

This creates a lot of pressure for nonprofits, as things get down to the wire. Just a few days can mean the difference between meeting annual fundraising goals or missing the mark, and being unable to ensure your nonprofit can still offer the same programs and services it currently does.

But even though a large portion of fundraising occurs in a short time period, the strategic planning for year-end giving can start at any time, even as early as January 1st!

Over 50% of nonprofits begin their year-end fundraising efforts in October. But the earlier you begin asking your donors to contribute, the sooner you can make a compelling ask. And starting early gets you ahead of the flurry of appeals appearing in mid-Fall.

Whenever you decide it’s time to begin your year-end appeals, here are some helpful tips to help you prepare for this critical time.

Develop Targeted Fundraising Goals

It’s critical to have targeted benchmarks to refer to throughout your year-end fundraising efforts. Your goals can be focused on the amount you hope to raise, as well as which donors you’re looking to target. You may be looking to increase your average gift size or donor base, or better reach your recurring donors. It’s also important to nail down early in the game what channels you will use to reach your audience as well as how often they will be used.

Center your campaign around a specific number. This can be a dollar amount you hope to raise or the percentage of donors you hope to increase. These numbers are helpful for measuring the progress you make throughout the fundraising period. Knowing your numbers also signifies what adjustments you may need to make to stay on target.

Maintain a Consistent Marketing Sequence

Starting your campaign early gives you more time to develop a compelling sequence of appeals. It’s effective to connect with donors using a multi-channel approach, including direct mail, email, phone, and social media.

Though each of these pieces will be somewhat different, they should all echo the same theme, including colors, images, and key words. You want to inspire emotion in your donors. Frequently including an image and story of someone who has benefitted from your organization’s services could help tie your campaign together.

Donors often need multiple touches before they commit to a donation. Keeping your message and visuals consistent helps them stay connected to and develop a conversation with your organization, moving them along the path to making a gift. Using multiple points of contact over time allows you to introduce your fundraising plans without immediately asking for a donation, while still expressing your appreciation for your donors.

For some ideas of print appeals, check out our post comparing the use of appeal letters and greeting cards to connect with year-end donors.

Urgency and Personality

Two key ideas should be at the forefront when developing copy and design for your campaign. First, give your donors the sense that your message is vital and pressing. Second, instill the notion that that donor’s particular contribution is imperative to your nonprofit’s fundraising success.

To indicate urgency, write in short sentences using powerful verbs. It may seem like giving your donors as much content as possible will aid them in making the decision to give. But readers will get lost in large paragraphs of text. Your words should create an emotional connection and inspire them to take action.

As a fundraiser, you probably know that fundraising letters are all about the donor. But it’s not always easy to find the right combination of words that will make your letter donor-centered. It’s tempting to make your communications about the needs, successes, and goals of your organization, and donors will want to have information about those.

But, in order for a donor letter to accomplish its goal, it must lead to a gift. The letter should be focused on crediting the donor for your organization’s achievements. Play to what the donor believes in and wants to accomplish by giving to your organization. Using the words “you” and “your” many times throughout your donor communications is critical.

Printing and data techniques allow you to personalize your letters with names and send different letters to different mailing lists. Our digital printing capabilities at Paw Print & Mail enable you to personalize an appeal in highly detailed ways that demonstrate your organization’s connection with your donors. Metrics like giving history, ask amounts, program preferences, and pre-populating remittance coupons are all possible and will add an appreciable lift to your campaign response rates and revenue.

You can also look at your donor base using an RFM scoring system. This indicates how recently a donor gave, how frequently they give, and how much they give. This will help you to better target your messaging. To be extra personal, send personalized appeals to the top 1% of your donors. If they’ve given large amounts in the past they are likely heavily invested in your organization. It never hurts to show them how important they are to you and how you understand their hopes and objectives.

Make it Easy to Give

The purpose of your fundraising campaign is to raise funds. Your materials should make the donation process as easy as possible for donors. A multi-channel approach to fundraising includes the presence of digital resources that further educate your donor base and make giving simple.

Donate_Paw_Print_And-Mail

Digital sources should connect seamlessly to other communications, so that donors can easily transition from one source to another. Ensure your website is easy to navigate. Since donors are using mobile devices, you’ll want to use a responsive template for your website to encourage mobile donations, or at least make the text large enough to be readable on smaller screens. And keep the donation page simple, so that donors don’t have to think about what they need to do.

Any steps you take now to plan, create resources, and connect with donors will make things easier when December rolls around. If you have your year-end appeal strategy in order early, you can take more time to focus on events, personal visits with donors, and other end of year tasks.

We specialize in direct mail nonprofit appeal production. Contact Paw Print & Mail when you’re ready to develop your next fundraising appeal.

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Letter vs. Card Appeal – Which is Best for Fundraising?

smiling woman opening mailAs much as we wish warm weather would stick around, summer is winding down, vacations have been taken, and a new school year is about to begin. If you’re involved in fundraising for a nonprofit, you’re probably looking ahead to the next few months as you prepare fundraising campaigns to meet end of the year deadlines. Nearly 1/3 of annual giving happens in the holiday month of December. A year-end appeal is critical for achieving fundraising goals. It’s never too early to plan your holiday fundraising strategy. One of the most basic questions to ask is, what format should I be using?

Fundraising at its core is like any other marketing effort, in that it relies upon making a connection with your donors. Since 70% of Americans find direct mail communication more personal than digital forms of communication, a personalized mailer is an obvious choice for achieving maximum donor impact. Millennials like direct mail too, with over 90% considering it a reliable source of information. You can be sure a direct mail appeal will allow you to reach a wide audience.

Printing has evolved considerably over the last few years, giving you many format and personalization options. Two of the most popular forms of direct mail fundraisers are appeal letters and greeting cards. Which one should you use for your campaign?

Fundraising “Letter” Campaign

illustration of mailbox with envelopes
Created by Freepik

Though the days of hand-writing detailed, personal letters to communicate with personal and professional contacts is long gone, there are still times when sending letters can be effective. One of those occasions is when sending direct mail nonprofit appeals. Letters are still viewed as a personal form of communication. They offer a chance to speak to your donors in a candid and enthusiastic way.

Letter Tips:

1) Appeal To Established Donors

Appeal letters are most effective for continuing your relationship with established donors. Since they have given previously to your organization, they are more likely to read an appeal letter. They have shown their interest in your nonprofit and made an investment. Now, they’ll want to learn about the developments you’ve made and the goals you plan to achieve with their contribution.

2) Encourage Larger Gifts

Your best audience for an appeal letter is the group who you expect will make a contribution, likely a significant one. Regular donors can usually be counted upon to give the same amount from year to year. They are also more likely to increase their gift than to decrease it. Giving this group a more extensive explanation of your campaign provides them with information upfront that would impact their decision to donate and shows the value of continuing to support your cause.

3) Letter Mailings are Flexible

A minimum mailing includes an envelope and letter. But you can include other pieces of content to contribute to your campaign success. The letter can guide your donors through the rest of the mail piece, which could include images, a pamphlet or brochure, remittance envelope or a reply card with a return envelope. You’ll want to tailor your content to what your donor base expects and has worked well in the past, what they would find most useful, and what makes it easy for donors to give. Personalizing any part of the mailing with each donor’s name and address is easily done with today’s print technology.

4) What’s Your Frequency?

Your donors, especially your consistently loyal donors, enjoy hearing from you throughout the year. There’s a reason these people support your organization. You represent a part of them that feels needed and appreciated at the same time. People love to help and support causes that are meaningful and close to them. Mid-October through December is the signature holiday fundraising season, accounting for more than 30% of annual charitable giving. However, 2-3 additional appeals throughout the year, (for example, one per quarter), increase your ability to stay top-of-mind with your donors and reach your annual fundraising goals. 70% of people believe they receive too many emails. But when it comes to direct mail donor correspondence, including appeals for virtually every touch, you cannot mail too often.

Fundraising Greeting Cards

nonprofit appeal thank you cards

A personalized appeal letter is an effective fundraising tool. But it’s not the only format for a direct mail appeal campaign. A greeting card style appeal can be effective by triggering more visual cues when compared to a letter. Greeting cards allow you to connect with donors by reminding them of your organization while emphasizing the importance of each donor’s individual impact in a more visual way.

Greeting Card Tips:

1) Strong Visual Potential

While an appeal letter can include visuals, an image is a main component of a greeting card, and the first element a donor will see. Choosing a strong visual will grab the reader’s attention immediately. Recipients are going to spend time looking at it. If the image sticks in their mind, your organization will also be remembered. A card is also a great place to feature images of or artwork created by individuals who benefit from your organization’s services.

2) Make it Extra Personal

As with letter mailings, today’s digital printing technology allows a greeting card style mailing to be personalized as well – from a salutation to start the message, to variable text in key messaging locations, and even using variable imaging.

3) Special Treatment for Major Donors

Often, 80% of donations come from 20% of the donors – your major donors. Crafting a card, hand writing a short sentence or two, and signing your name can go a long way towards making a positive impression on your donors. You could have your staff all sign the card. Or send it from an individual rather than the organization to add even more of a personal touch. Sending a more personal card to fewer donors can have more of an impact than sending to a larger audience.

4)  Appeal to Leads and Current Donors

Greeting cards can cost less to produce than an appeal letter depending on the project specifications. Because they can be personalized for each individual, you can use them to connect with a donor who is at any stage in the giving process. A generous message thanking a lead who has shown interest in your organization but hasn’t yet given could be just what is needed to ensure a gift is made. And it never hurts to thank those who have given for the difference they’ve been able to make.

5) Keep Your Message Concise

Engaged donors will read the more specific details and story of an appeal letter. Greeting cards may more readily grab the interest of a donor who’s scanning the mail piece. Again, no one format is necessarily the most read for any given donor, so it is worth experimenting with different methods.

6) Stand Out From the Crowd

Many nonprofits send holiday cards, and it’s likely your donors will receive more than one this holiday season. The month of December is the most popular time to send holiday cards. Try sending a card during the Thanksgiving or New Year’s period to make your message stand out. You could even send a card during a different time of year, like Valentine’s Day, when nonprofits aren’t regularly mailing cards.

So which is more effective, a letter or a greeting card appeal mailing? As with all marketing and fundraising efforts, it depends, and there is no silver bullet. There’s more than one way to tell your story. Both formats possess their respective strengths for making a connection with donors. What IS recommended is experimenting with nuances on each campaign to build your own database of knowledge and measuring results.  Your best choice may be to mix it up and try both, measure and compare the results, and use the newfound data to plan future campaigns.

If you’re looking to incorporate direct mail pieces as a way to enhance your fundraising strategy, contact Paw Print & Mail today.

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5 Essential Parts of a Capital Campaign Brochure

Capital Campaigns: The Basics

capital campaign growth graph
Created by Creativeart – Freepik.com

Working for a nonprofit, you want to do as much good as possible. One of the most effective ways for nonprofits to achieve larger development goals is with a capital campaign. A capital campaign is a period of heavy fundraising efforts. Nonprofit organizations work to raise a significant amount of money within a specified period of time. Often this kind of campaign is used in order to raise funds to acquire, build, or expand a facility, or to set up an endowment. A large-scale campaign like this can be the only way for an organization to achieve goals that are vital to its efforts.

Targeting your efforts is essential to ensure you meet your goals within the time period specified. Unlike more general fundraising efforts, capital campaigns are specific. They require defined target benchmarks as you move through the campaign timeline. Capital campaigns give your supporters a specific, concrete goal that their dollars will go directly towards funding.

A Key to Capital Campaign Success

Running a capital campaign requires numerous steps and committed individuals. One piece of the puzzle is awareness. When looking to raise a significant amount of funds, it’s critical to develop an awareness campaign that will be compelling and impactful for the duration of your fundraising.

Printed materials like brochures are an effective way to educate your donor base about your campaign. Making use of official printed materials helps to give donors a sense that your campaign is structured and professional. A well-designed brochure can give you the confidence that your campaign is being presented in the best light. It also gives your campaign goals a greater chance of being met.

A brochure helps to tell the story. Mention who is involved, the mission of your organization, the details of the project (including costs and intended outcomes), and how to give. With a brochure, as with all of your campaign materials, you’ll want to focus your message on the benefits your campaign goal will have for the community that you serve, rather than just on the building or item itself that you’re looking to raise funds for.

Capital Campaign Brochure Outline

Part 1: The Introduction

You probably have a lot to say about the needs and deeds of your organization. But you’ll want to keep your brochure’s introduction brief. This is a good rule of thumb to follow throughout the brochure. Your copy should be clear and concise. Write in an enthusiastic tone that speaks to your donors. Help them become excited about your mission and the positive outcomes that will result from their contribution to reaching your capital campaign goals.

Readers may have extensive knowledge of your nonprofit, or they may know very little. To make your brochure accessible to everyone, you’ll want to include a short overview of your organization. Include who you serve and the types of programs you provide. This can help to give your nonprofit credibility as you guide donors throughout the specifics of your campaign.

Part 2: Your Mission

Towards the beginning of the brochure, you’ll want to include a concise version of your nonprofit’s mission statement.  It’s also important to show donors the current impact of your organization. Incorporate specific facts/figures to reiterate to donors the good work that you do and show them why they should contribute to your growth. This section is a good place to include an impactful quote from someone that has benefited from your organization’s services.

Part 3: The Capital Campaign

You’ve shown donors who you are and the good you do, giving them a reason to support you. Now it’s time to outline the details of your capital campaign.

This is the meat of your brochure. Start with describing your need, and make sure to be specific. Show donors that this campaign is well thought out, both in terms of your needs and the intended outcomes. Donors will want to know specifically what their contribution will be funding. Having a concise description of your vision, proposed outcomes/solutions, and how exactly the funds you raise are to be used will give your campaign credibility.

Part 4: Why Now?

It’s important to ground your capital campaign in relevance. You’ve already described the needs of your organization and how you hope to resolve them. Here is your chance to show the larger community impact and the timeliness of your campaign. It’s likely that your nonprofit works to meet the needs of individuals as well as the larger community in which you live. Showing how you fit into the bigger picture can be an effective way to compel your donors to contribute.

 Part 5: Where Do You Fit In?

When developing your brochure, put yourself in your donors’ shoes. Anticipate the kinds of questions your donors will have, and answer the major ones in your brochure. Then, your donors will see your materials as a credible resource for understanding the issue or cause you work to aid. You’ll give them confidence in the necessity and success of your campaign’s mission. Draw the donor in and make it personal with context that makes them part of the solution. Lead with something like, “this is where you come in….” You want your donors to feel that their contribution is vital to your campaign’s success and to show how the larger issue may be affecting their lives. You can also use this section to thank your donors in advance for their support.

Design Tips

  • Strong visuals are crucial to ensure that donors can visualize the intended outcome of the campaign that their dollars are going to fund, as well as the people who are going to benefit from this development.

 

  • Focus on being visually cohesive. Bring design elements from your nonprofit’s website or other printed materials into your brochure, so readers will be quick to associate your campaign with your organization. If you have a logo or design aesthetic in use for other campaign materials, be sure to use them consistently across the board. Consistency and a unified message will enhance the credibility of your capital campaign.

 

  • Leave a generous about of negative space to help the most important information stand out and make it easier for readers to process. Try to keep your information simple, but as effective as possible, with a clear call to action.

 

  • Adopt a multi-channel approach. A brochure can help drive traffic to a website, where donors can learn more about your organization and make donations. Include the essentials in your brochure and integrate it with your digital marketing, making it easy for your donors to donate, contact you, and find your digital resources.

Paw Print & Mail specializes in nonprofit fundraising appeal production, including capital campaign brochures. Contact us for assistance with materials for your next fundraising campaign.

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