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 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.

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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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What’s All the Buzz About Data?

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We live in a world where technology is advancing faster than ever. Making use of technology has allowed information to spread and be gathered on a previously unseen level. Though data has long been collected for many reasons and across many industries, “data” is now a buzzword that has taken on new meaning. We worry about protecting data and recovering from data leaks, analyzing data and paying to access it. Data has become a cornerstone of economics, with 40 percent of companies around the world using big data analytics in their marketing strategy. We create data with every web search, every phone call and every purchase.

But what does data mean for business owners? And how can all this data be used to make a business more successful?

Where Does Data Come From?

According to Falon Fatemi, CEO of data intelligence company Node, “without data intelligence to prescribe the right prospects, creatives and number crunchers are stuck in separate worlds.” However, bringing data into the equation can create “a powerful revenue machine.”

Data has strong potential to strengthen your current marketing strategy. Having data to work from can be an integral part of finding your target audience and increasing ROI.

One way to help target your marketing campaigns is to directly reach out to your audience. Allowing those you’ve already built a relationship with to determine their preferences for the type and amount of content they receive from you can be a way to strengthen the relationship and ensure their continued interest in your company. This data can be used to target specific content to more specific audiences.

It is also possible to develop a database based on information you already have about your clientele. Keeping track of what services or products your consumers are utilizing can be valuable data that allows you to more deeply consider who may be interested in what, as well as how your services could be altered and improved to generate more interest.

Making use of data for direct mail and email campaigns can lead to a higher response rate, because by using it, you are focusing on an important term: relevance. Data can tell you which recipients will likely be more interested in your particular campaign, based on how relevant it is to their situation. By streamlining your campaigns, sending to fewer, more receptive members of your audience, you can save money by not sending to uninterested clients, and you can increase response rate and potential results, as you market to those who most need or want your services.

Business is also about generating leads, and there are external sources from which you can gain access to data. You can pay certain companies for access to lists containing information about consumers and businesses that can be used to find new prospects and areas into which to expand. All of these techniques allow you to segment your marketing content into variables like interest level, gender, and geographic location. You can even separate businesses by size, annual revenue, and trade.

Data has power when it comes to marketing, and it has power under the law, too. Issues related to privacy go hand in hand with data, so it is important to respect both the laws surrounding how you can use data and the promises you make to your customers about how their information will be used. Do keep in mind that, according to a BlueVenn study, 81 percent of marketers only collect strictly necessary data, but 61 percent of consumers would be willing to give up some of their privacy in exchange for better products and services.

How Else Can You Use Data?

There is an obvious benefit to using data as a way to increase campaign response rates and better connect with your audience, but it can also have benefits when it comes to the internal workings of your company. It is possible to collect data about almost anything to do with your business, and this is a valuable tool.

However, it is just as important to know how that information can be used as it is to collect it. Depending on your industry, different information will be gathered about different things. But according to a study by BARC, the Business Application Research Center, four main benefits of data analysis include being able to make better strategic decisions, improving control over operation processes, understanding customers better, and reducing costs.

Once you know what the data is telling you, it is important to consider it in light of how the information will improve your business, and what you are going to do with it. You may want to use software that can better help you to visualize the data you are collecting and determine how internal data can be used with external, client-centered data to strengthen your company as a whole.

The BlueVenn report found that 64 percent of marketers in the US and the UK believed they should collect customer data, but shouldn’t analyze it on a daily basis, as 51 percent of marketers felt data analysis took too much time away from the more creative aspects of marketing. Just as it is important to find a balance between how much personal information you divulge and make use of, it is important to find the right balance between analyzing your data and implementing the knowledge you have gained from your analysis. If you’re looking to make data analysis a larger part of your business, consider hiring an expert or training your staff to make the most of the information available to you.

Data collection and analysis can be implemented across any industry and any size company for a variety of purposes, and it will continue to add value to your company as tools and processes become more streamlined.