Envelope Creativity Boosts Response Rates

Entrepreneur opening a padded envelopeOne of the biggest hurdles of direct mail? Getting people to open the envelope.

Postcards and self-mailers have the advantage of standalone, eye catching content. The graphics are immediately visible, compelling the recipient to read on.

But for many mail pieces, an envelope is essential. Using an envelope doesn’t have to be limiting, however. In fact, today’s printing technology allows envelopes to be more personalized and attractive than ever before. Customization turns envelopes from basic commodities to effective direct marketing tools.

Why Direct Mail?

cartoon envelope with megaphone

In our digitally saturated world, direct mail stands out:

Creative & Customized Envelopes: Reach More of Your Audience

Basic return address printed envelopes have long been a standard for many businesses. While they get the job done, inkjet technology has made it possible to completely customize envelopes, making your campaigns more personal, relevant, and compelling for your audience.

Some reasons to personalize envelopes for your business or organization include:

Increase Visibility

Generally, envelopes have the information necessary to get the mail piece to the recipient. But there’s a lot of white space left over that can be used to include a compelling call to action. You may not always open envelopes, but you’re sure to look at the outside to see who the mail piece is from. An envelope is a highly visible space available to tee-up the theme or message of your campaign.

Improve Open & Response Rates

Creative envelopes not only enhance visibility. They also raise curiosity, making recipients more likely to open and respond to your message. You can use the envelope to create a sense of urgency, letting recipients know there is a limited amount of time in which to respond.

Send a Timely Message

Customized envelopes have the advantage of timeliness. You can print for a specific theme, referencing your current campaign or a seasonal or time sensitive offer.

Stand Out from the Crowd

group of pencils one red among the blue
Background image created by Yanalya – Freepik.com

Giving a unique touch to your mailings separates you from your competition. In a mailbox of white envelopes, an envelope with color and interesting graphics stands out, making you more memorable than your competitors.

Segment, Budget, Personalize

The ability to customize means that you can create envelope designs that are more personal to the recipient. Maybe your mailing is targeted to past customers, or to your top donors. Whoever your target audience may be, you can make your envelopes specific to that group and the goals you have for them. With Variable Data Printing, you can even print each individual’s name on the envelope as part of the call to action.

No Overstock or Rush

When you print custom envelopes at the time of production, your printer can produce just enough for your mailing. That way, you won’t have to worry about storing overstock, or having a pile of extra envelopes specific to a campaign that you won’t be able to use again. On the flip side, you won’t have to stress about coming up short and placing a rush order. If the printer needs a few extras to finish the job, they can print more at no added cost to you.

The creativity of your imagination is the only limit when it comes to printing envelopes. Custom sizes, stocks, and colors are all available, making it easy to create a stand out envelope for your next campaign.

Ready to step up your direct mail? At Paw Print, we can assist you every step of the way, from designing your mail piece to printing to mailing fulfillment. Contact us today to get started!

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Key Reasons Your Nonprofit Needs Branding

Chalk board with branding and marketing words

When you consider the word “branding,” what comes to mind? You may think of well-known companies like Apple or Target, that advertise on a large scale and whose characteristics are immediately recognizable to most of us, who come into frequent contact with them.

But the concept of branding is just as important for small businesses as it is for large companies. And, it’s an essential piece of increasing awareness for nonprofits as well.

The obvious reason for nonprofit organizations to spread awareness of their brand is to increase donations and build a reliable donor base. However, according to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, many nonprofits are stepping up their brand management in order “to explore the wider, strategic roles that brands can play: driving broad long-term social goals, while strengthening internal identity, cohesion, and capacity.”

Why Should You Build a Brand?

Like any other entity, your nonprofit has a unique set of goals, characteristics, and stories. When you bring these together to form a recognizable and repeatable persona, you have a brand. The first thing most people think of when they hear the word brand or branding, is an entity’s logo. While this is one branding element, it’s only the beginning. The style, graphics, and words your organization uses to communicate all convey your brand.

But what can branding do for your nonprofit?

Differentiate

Creating a brand around your nonprofit allows you to separate yourself from the crowd. There are a lot of nonprofits out there (over 4,000 in VT alone!) and invariably there are other organizations with the same general mission as yours. To make a connection with donors and bring precious fundraising dollars your way, you must tell a story that illustrates the unique mission of your nonprofit.

Illustrate Your Goals

black and yellow dart board with multicolored darts
Business image created by Waewkidja – Freepik.com

Helping donors to understand the specific goals your organization is working to achieve is a critical reason for developing a brand. Branding allows you to project your mission as an indelible piece of your organization. Potential donors can recognize these goals as the core of your brand, helping to reinforce your purpose.

Establish Authority

Nonprofits follow the same sales and marketing rules as businesses—it’s going to take multiple touches before a potential donor will make a gift. They will have to encounter your organization several times until it becomes familiar to them. Having a brand allows you to create one cohesive image that you can present to the world. The more a potential donor sees that image, the more recognizable you become, and the more likely they are to engage with you. Branding can also give you a professional image, increasing your sense of authority.

Strengthen Internal Identity

man and woman volunteers posing
Business image created by Peoplecreations – Freepik.com

The Stanford publication referred to branding as a way to reinforce internal identity. While your brand works to become familiar to potential donors, establishing a brand also helps to give your employees, volunteers, and board members something to rally around. They will feel like part of a team, helping to strengthen internal bonds.

Importance of Consistent Branding

A key piece of developing a brand is consistency. By constantly presenting your nonprofit using the same language, imagery, and message, you’re helping to build awareness and create a reliable image for your audience.

You should update all your marketing and fundraising materials to reflect your branding. Your social media content should echo what a visitor to your website or a recipient of your postcard will see. Consistency helps to establish the notion that you have clear, defined goals, and the experience and authority to achieve them.

Consistency can also apply to the frequency of your communications. You may have more activity leading up to an event, but work to stay in regular contact with your audience without being overwhelming. For instance, you could send one mailing per month, rather than several mailings during your campaign period and none the rest of the year.

The Power of Print

Like many nonprofits, you may be using direct mail for your fundraising campaigns. If so, you know that direct mail is an effective way to spread awareness and increase gifts. In part, this is due to the physical nature of a mail piece in our digitally saturated world. It reflects the power of print to connect with an audience—print boasts a 70% higher recall than digital.

In addition to direct mail, do you have other print collateral, such as business cards, brochures, banners/signs, or letterhead? These are all elements that contribute to the building of your brand. Where do you source these from?

By collaborating with a single source for all your printing, you can ensure that the donor experience is consistent. Each print piece can be consistent in terms of color, paper stock, and the overall look and feel.

Also, when you work closely with a source for something as important as fundraising, that source truly comes to know your organization, and can suggest avenues to explore that will accurately and effectively reflect your organization.

Want to talk about building your brand? Paw Print can assist with all your printing, mailing, design and promotional product needs. Contact us today!

 

5 Ways Direct Mail Enhances Digital Fundraising

Emails with young woman holding a tablet

Are your fundraising campaigns multi-channel yet?

Digital developments are changing the way many non-profits fundraise. If you aren’t making use of digital channels to reach your donors, you risk falling behind.

While digital is vital to success, the most effective fundraising campaigns make use of direct mail and digital resources to create a cohesive donor experience, increase gifts, and be more impactful.

Here are 5 reasons to implement digital strategies into your next fundraising campaign:

1) Increase Your Reach

Direct mail is popular because it’s personal. There’s a lot to be said for being able to hold something in your hand, especially when it’s been personalized to you. We are inundated with so many emails throughout the day, and it’s easy for your message to get lost in the shuffle. At the same time, we’re receiving fewer pieces of physical mail. When we do receive mail, it gets our attention. According to MobileCause.com, donors are 3 times more likely to give online due to receiving a piece of direct mail versus an email.

man with megaphone to communicate
Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

Direct mail is effective for making a connection with donors. And it’s even more effective when combined with other methods of communication. It’s likely that your donor base is a diverse group that wants to receive communications in different ways. Donors may be more likely to give online after receiving direct mail. But they also are more likely to act on direct mail if they are getting your message across multiple channels.

2) Create a Cohesive Experience

Because you have so many channels at your disposal, and you know that receiving messages across platforms increases giving, it’s important to be consistent with the look and feel across platforms. That means the same language, tone, imagery, color scheme, message, etc. should be reflected in each piece of fundraising material that you produce.

If you want to make online giving a part of your strategy, start by creating a landing page on your website consistent with your mailing. You can use the mailing to get the donor’s attention. Then, drive them to go to the landing page to learn more, engage with you, and ultimately make a donation. You can continue the theme throughout your email, social media, and other print communications.

One way to make the donor experience more compelling is to have a story at the core of your message. Maybe it’s a specific individual or group who has benefited from your organization. You can tell their story through video, imagery, and quotes, using these throughout your communications and campaign period. The repetition of these elements also helps to instill a sense of familiarity with your organization.

3) Make it Easy to Give

According to Nonprofit Source.com, 25% of donors complete their donations on a mobile device. And, 51% of high-wealth donors prefer giving online. Statistics consistently show that online giving is growing from year to year and that donors appreciate the ease of giving digitally.

However, simply having an online giving platform doesn’t mean you’re creating the best possible giving experience for your donors. Put yourself in their shoes, and go through the process of donating through your site or app.  If there are many steps to making the donation, or your platform does not work for mobile devices, you may want to make some changes. Look into using QR codes or text to give to make your donors’ mobile experience even more user-friendly.

4) Step Up Response Rates

Would you be surprised to learn that annually, 1.3 billion pieces of mail fail to reach the intended recipient? Or that 20% of addresses on nonprofit mailing lists are outdated? This means that 1/5 of the direct mail pieces you send out have the potential to be a dead end, with your message not reaching the recipient.

List hygiene digital data That’s why list hygiene is so important. Mailing to bad addresses not only decreases your reach. It also costs you money and gives you a lower campaign response rate. Plus, it’s simply ineffective. Having a smaller, more accurate list ensures that you’re investing your resources more wisely.

One effective investment to make to improve the quality of your mailing list is to add an Ancillary Services Endorsement on the mail piece at least once per year. By adding “Return Service Requested” to the mailing panel, the post office will return both undeliverable and change of address pieces for you to update your list from. You’ll pay the going postage rate for the returned pieces. But considering the money wasted on undeliverable pieces you are not aware of, this is money well-spent.

You can use digital communications to encourage donors to update contact and address info throughout the year, while keeping them apprised of the goings on at your organization.

5) Provide Value

Donors give because they feel a connection with your organization or mission. This means that your communications with them must be more than just an ask.

Send direct mail simply to stay in touch with donors and provide them with updates about your nonprofit. You can use digital resources to engage donors beyond the giving process. Create a blog for your organization that encourages donors to comment and share. A blog also helps to establish your authority when you write about topics that affect or are related to your nonprofit’s mission. You can direct donors to your blog through both direct mail and digital channels, helping them to understand the goals you’re working to achieve and creating more motivation to give. Blogging is also one of the best SEO strengthening tools in your digital marketing and fundraising toolbox.

Ready to make direct mail a part of your fundraising strategy? At Paw Print we specialize in direct mail fundraising appeal campaign production, taking your mailing from design to print to fulfillment. Contact us today to start the conversation.

Make Your Appeal to Out of State Donors

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Donor acquisition is one of the most important functions of nonprofit fundraising. Your donors make the good work you do possible. Without a regular and tactical practice of enlisting new donors , both socially and financially, your organization would be challenged to stay afloat.

It goes without saying that stewarding your current donor base is essential—they’re the ones who’ve continued to champion your cause and are more likely to give consistently, and grow their gifts, over time.

Conversely, compelling new donors to give is more difficult than maintaining a relationship with a regular donor. However, it’s important to not leave donor acquisition efforts for hard times. Your donor base is constantly changing, and your approach to acquiring new donors should be constant as well.

Connecting with Out of State Donors

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Business vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

A significant component of attracting new donors, and maintaining current donors for that matter, is conveying a clear value proposition that you deliver. What ties them to your cause? Your organization? Your purpose? How you talk to donors depends largely upon what messages they are receptive to.

For nonprofits that serve a local community or an entire state, it’s likely that the bulk of your donors live locally. However, over time your donor base will change as people change employment, retire, and transition to out of state residence, either full-time or seasonally.

You may currently have or want to reach out to donors who you determine have ties to your service area. A good place to start is with former residents and also part-time residents who regularly visit your area but live elsewhere seasonally.

It’s easier to determine motivation for contributors who live near your organization. You may see them at events, and their contribution could be a natural desire to create a better community where they will live and work.

But out of state donors can be more elusive. And the message you use to reach them will probably need to be different than those of local constituents. Determining their connection to your organization or location is a critical piece of that message.

To acquire these non or semi-local donors, you need to dig a little deeper to try to make a connection with them due to their removed primary residence. Why have they decided to pay additional property taxes to maintain a presence in your locale? An important set of data for acquiring donors near and far gets personal. Ask questions such as:

  • What social values are important to you?
  • Why do you give?
  • What does it mean to you to contribute to your community?
  • What is unique or memorable about the community you once resided in before moving?
  • Do location, community, financial, family or other qualities influence your decision to have a second home here?
  • What does “making a positive difference” mean to you?

These kinds of questions can be asked of both current and potential donors to better understand your out of state donor base and where you fit into their lives. You may not ask these questions in such a direct manner. But you’ll want to get people thinking about these topics in a way that initiates a response with the information you’re looking for.

Acquiring Donors with Direct Mail

woman reading mail at desk

So how do you do this? As with any campaign, you first need to know what you want to achieve. Evaluate past data to set clear, specific goals.

Do you want to acquire a specific number of new donors? Do you want to increase donor acquisition by a percentage from year to year? Even if you’re seeing positive trends regarding new donors, it’s important to keep improving. When you have a goal in mind for a campaign, it’s easier to judge whether the campaign was effective. Goals also allow you to understand how your data is changing over time.

Whether you’re looking to acquire new donors or bring lapsed donors back into the fold, the easiest way to determine what matters to them is to simply ask. While much of your fundraising content may focus on asking for a financial gift, you could approach this kind of campaign without addressing that angle.

Instead, use direct mail as the basis for an introduction or reintroduction to the potential donor. If you can, acknowledge their connection to you and to your region. Maybe they own property here, or have business and investments tied to the region. Also speak to your role. What do you do for your community?

Use that connection to promote a compelling reason/purpose for these individuals to give. Develop a short series of questions that will help you to better understand what matters to these potential donors and what your organization means to them. A best practice with this kind of campaign is to create a landing page on your website tied to the direct mail piece, where recipients can go to submit their responses.

You can build upon this initial mailing with subsequent mailings to engage the donor, build awareness and trust, and make the ask for financial contribution.

Building a list of potential donors and effectively reaching them with a compelling campaign takes time. Donors will interact with you multiple times before making a gift. It’s important to keep up a consistent strategy, so that your message is sure to be heard.

At Paw Print, we specialize in nonprofit fundraising appeal production. Contact us today to start reaching and acquiring more donors for your organization.

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Understand Your Audience for Marketing Success

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How well do you know your audience?

It’s a question that marketers and fundraisers regularly ask themselves. You may have a general idea of the types of people who are purchasing your products or giving to your cause. But crafting compelling messages requires a deeper knowledge of what resonates with your constituents. The most effective campaigns are those that reach people on a relevant, personal level.

To create content that an audience connects and engages with, you need to understand what motivates them to act. Look beyond basic demographics, like age, gender, location, and income (though those are important to know). Think about what your typical customer needs—what will help them achieve a desire or resolve a fear? And, what are those desires and fears?

Once you know what drives your customers, current and potential, you can craft marketing messages that speak to and resonate with them. To learn what those messages are, you can consider specifics about what you’re offering. Why would someone buy this item? What are they hoping to achieve? Or, why would someone give to my organization? What outcomes are they hoping to achieve or be a part of?

The best way to understand what your audience wants and what matters to them is to talk to them. Send an email campaign asking your list what topics or offers they’d like to see more from you. Reach out on social media, encouraging people to share their opinions on blog posts and hot topics. Better yet, sit down face to face with a top client and talk about their needs and experiences, and how you can help them get where they want to be. This kind of information is invaluable as you work to better reach your customers and enhance their trust in you.

How Does Your Audience Consume Content?

young woman seated in cross legged position on floor using white tablet
People image created by Nensuria – Freepik.com

One piece of knowing your audience is understanding how they consume media and access your content. Your current marketing strategy may consist of a blog, email list, and a social media page or two. You’re proud of the content you produce, both visually and for the quality of the information.

But it’s important to remember that marketing is a constantly changing playing field. By sticking with methods you’ve used for a long time without understanding their effectiveness, you may be investing time and money into a channel or strategy that just isn’t performing.

It’s not to say that your current strategy isn’t working. It’s just important to make sure that it is, and to be aware of which channels have the greatest reach with your audience.

Take a good look at your marketing channels and ask yourself questions. How are people finding your blog? Are they going directly to your blog page, clicking an email link, or finding the post on social media? Are recipients opening your emails? How are people engaging with you?

Also think about your target audience. Are they using email? Are they on Facebook? If you want to connect with older folks, for instance, focusing on Facebook might not be as effective as direct mail.

Your current audience could also be different than the audience you’re looking to reach. Maybe your customer base largely consists of an older demographic, and you want to reach more millennials. If so, it’s important to recognize that a strategy that worked for one group may not work as well with another and to determine, over time, what channels to invest in to ensure you’re reaching your intended audience.

And, you may be surprised by what people are consuming and how they do so. Millennials, for instance, consistently open direct mail and report that they enjoy reading mail, more so than older generations.

Measure for Marketing Success

You want to gain a better understanding of what your audience finds compelling. But where to start?

Before you take on any new marketing strategies, you need to know what’s currently working for you and what isn’t. Tracking your marketing is essential for improving response rates and achieving new goals.

drawing of hand holding magnifying glass over line graph
Infographic vector created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

Depending on the marketing channels you use, there are different ways to track effectiveness. On social media, it’s relatively easy to see what types of posts are performing best with your followers. What content is getting the most shares and comments? Those are the types of posts you want to share more often.

If you’re using email automation software, there are usually metrics available that track data. These include open and click-through rates, unsubscribes, and bounces. For your website, you can use an application like Google Analytics to understand how many visitors are coming to your page, how they get there, and what pages/links they go to on your site.

Direct mail can also be very trackable. Include a coupon or return envelope that the recipient will have to return to you. Or try using a code that must be entered online to receive the offer. When you know how many pieces of mail led to an action, you can determine what content generates a response.

Email and direct mail are also effective for A/B testing. This involves creating two versions of a campaign that differ by one element. For email, it could be two different subject lines, or two different offers or images for direct mail. Try sending out each version in equal quantities. Then, you can track which email is opened more or which imagery or words lead to more gifts from donors.

In addition to reaching more people more effectively, tracking makes it easier to work toward and achieve marketing goals. Setting specific goals for your business or organization is important. Say you want to increase customer retention rates by 15%. Tracking customer data allows you to monitor exactly who is purchasing from you and how certain content or offers are affecting return business.

Now that you know the importance of tracking, you can take on new campaigns with measurement in mind.

 Targeting

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A benefit of having more knowledge is being able to better target your audience. As you get to know your constituents, you’ll likely find several different groups within the larger group of your customer base. Rather than sending a generic message to your whole list, you can now craft multiple messages around what will motivate each group. Sending more targeted, relevant messages to your audience will increase response rates and engagement with you.

Targeting is possible across marketing channels. With direct mail, you can segment your mailing list into groups. Instead of a single mailing, you can create multiple versions of your mail piece with different wording, imagery, or offers, sending a different version to each group based on their needs and interests. You could also send a mailing to just one group if you have something specific for them.

Email is similar. Lists can be segmented based on how often recipients want to receive content from you, the types of content they want to receive, whether they are part of a customer loyalty program, etc. On your blog, you can create content for a variety of categories based on customer interests. At Paw Print, we write blog posts that are B2B and B2C related, and other posts with information specific to our nonprofit clients.

While social media posts appear to all your followers, you can target any ads that appear on social media sites. Today’s algorithms allow targeted ads that will appear to very specific audiences, such as women between 35 and 50 who are interested in travel.

Need help reaching your audience? At Paw Print & Mail, we’re prepared to assist you with developing marketing strategies that are targeted for your intended audience. From direct mail to copywriting to promotional products and content marketing, we have the tools to make your message heard. Contact us today!

A Special Way To Thank Major Donors

woman in white t-shirt holding thank you gift box
Ribbon image created by Valeria_aksakova – Freepik.com

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, often leading 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, making a wider audience of people aware of you and compelling them to give.

illustration reading influencer of social media post with man holding magnet attracting likes
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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. While donors may first encounter one of your social pages, 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. As with any influencer, 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.

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.

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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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