Recently, I attended the Direct Marketing Association of Washington’s (DMAW) “Lunch & Learn – The Retention Roadmap: The Guide to Converting, Retaining and Reactivating More Donors.” Caity Carver, the CEO of DonorTrends, and Ben Miller, the Chief Analytic Officer of Donor Trends combined their nearly 40 years in the industry to provide some extremely valuable insight for nonprofits on the importance of retaining donors. In 2016, an average of 99 donors were lost for every donor acquired throughout the direct marketing industry. Carver and Miller stressed over and over again that nonprofit organizations MUST routinely, even monthly, measure their: Overall donor retention rates, Repeat donor retention rates, and New donor retention rates. Metrics that are not measured cannot be moved, so every nonprofit should be measuring those metrics in order to improve them. Nonprofit organizations should also remember to benchmark only against their own retention rates, not industry retention rates. If you measure against industry rates, the data will likely be skewed. Reviewing this data will help nonprofits to know roughly how many donors they can expect to lose and how many they can expect to reactivate during the year. As part of the evaluation process, nonprofits should determine how much they are willing to spend to convert a donor, retain a donor, and reactivate a lapsed donor. Here is a short list of “Do’s and Dont’s” when measuring and improving donor retention rates: DON’T try to move retention without measuring it. DON’T set a goal and forget it later. DON’T measure retention only once a year. DO pick up the phone and connect with your donors. DO try and grow your monthly giving file. DO have superior donor service. DO properly identify your target market through thoughtfully examining your data. And last but not least, DO practice smart donor investment and selection.   For a Complimentary Fundraising Analysis, click on the icon below and fill out the form. LDMI will perform a thorough analysis of your fundraising efforts, at no charge and with no obligation.  
Adam Cassandra is our Creative Director at Lawrence Direct Marketing, Inc. Recently, he was featured in the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMAW) monthly newsletter Marketing AdVents. The piece is a short profile of Adam that discusses how he got involved in direct marketing, the importance of challenging yourself as a writer, and more. Check out the interview from the June 2017 Marketing AdVents below: Read more...
This blog was originally published in May of 2016. Because of the interest in the topic we've decided to republish it here. All non-profits have to develop strong fundraising campaigns. And like it or not, direct mail is still the key to a good fundraising campaign. Social media seems cheap and easy, but it remains a tiny portion of non-profit's revenue.  One of the first questions many non-profits ask when starting a Direct Mail campaign is, “How long should the letter be?” Those of us who have been in the business for decades know two things.    Read more...
  “Clean your room, please. Hey, clean your room. Did you clean your room? CLEAN YOUR ROOM!!!” If you have kids, you know the struggle of trying to get them to take action. You often need to repeat yourself multiple times — sometimes loudly. You know they heard you, they just aren’t responding. In marketing, there’s an old adage that someone needs to hear your message at least seven times before they take action. This repetition of message is applicable to fundraising in many ways as well, which is why there’s such a big push toward integrated marketing. This integration should include direct mail and email at a minimum, and social media networks should also be part of the plan. For nonprofits trying to communicate with their supporters, Facebook is a great tool. But according to a new report, most nonprofits aren’t reaching many of their Facebook fans with their posts. No matter how important, or loud, the message, it’s just not getting through like you hoped. M+R’s recently released its 11th Benchmarks Study of nonprofit digital advocacy, fundraising, social media, and advertising. 133 nonprofits working in a variety of sectors were surveyed for the study. The study found nonprofits increased the size of their social media audiences over the previous year, but on average, “a nonprofit will reach just 8% of its fans with a post that isn’t promoted.” Facebook’s ever-changing algorithms play a huge role in the lack of visibility of nonprofit Facebook Page posts, along with Facebook’s desire for ad revenue. “You can pay to increase that [8%] reach, of course, and that kind of paid promotion can be an effective part of your social media and digital advertising strategy,” according to the Benchmarks Study. “But the truth is, resources are limited and nonprofits do not pay to boost the vast majority of their posts. Only about 3% of posts by our participants had paid reach.” But even though only 8% of your Facebook fans will see any given post, some “good news” is that other people who aren’t fans of the page will see the post as your supporters engage with your content. “In fact, 45% of Facebook users who saw a given post were not already fans of the nonprofit. So most of the people who follow you don’t see your Facebook posts, and about half the people who do see your posts don’t follow you on Facebook,” the study found. To help nonprofits more accurately gauge how many Facebook fans they can expect to reach, the Benchmarks Study introduced a new metric: the Earned Reach Average (ERA). The ERA is the “average number of people who see a given post for every Facebook fan you have.” Here’s how it works: “Overall, the ERA for our participants is .225. For every 1,000 Facebook fans a nonprofit has, their next post will reach about 225 people. So if you’re a completely average organization ... with 60,000 fans, a given post will be seen by about 13,500 people (60 x .225=13.5).” More testing is needed to see just how accurate the ERA metric is and how it can best be utilized in a nonprofit’s marketing strategy. But it’s not all a numbers game. As the study rightly points out, “If you want to be seen on Facebook, the nature and quality of your content are just as important as the number of Likes you have.” Contact LDMI today for help creating, posting, and monetizing your nonprofit's Facebook posts. And click the icon below to download our free e-book, "5 Engagement Strategies for Non-Profits to Use on Facebook."  
Many nonprofits struggle with the idea of striking a balance between asking supporters for donations but not asking them “too often” — turning them off from giving entirely. The truth is: There’s no magic number for donation asks. Just as every nonprofit is different, the audience of supporters for each organization can react differently to the number, or type, of donation requests. For any nonprofit, consistency of communication with your supporter base is key. Mailing direct mail fundraising letters to your donors twelve times a year (or once a month) is a good starting point. But you need to find other ways to communicate with you donors to avoid coming off as an organization that only contacts their supporters to ask for money. Your supporters continue to give you money because they like what you do, and they want to hear more about your good work. A great way to communicate with your supporters and bond them to your cause is the donor newsletter. Donor newsletters can be sent out monthly, quarterly, or even bi-annually. Unlike your monthly direct-ask fundraising appeals, the purpose of the newsletter is not primarily donations, rather it is donor retention and engagement. The newsletter informs supporters of all the work your nonprofit is doing and the successes achieved — thanks to supporters’ gifts! — and keeps the donor emotionally invested in the organization. When informing supporters of your nonprofit’s success, be sure to craft the copy of the newsletter to reflect the donor as the real hero. Your organization’s staff may be directly on the ground having an impact, but you wouldn’t have that staff without the generosity of your supporters. The struggles your nonprofit is facing in advancing its cause and upcoming campaigns your organization have planned should also be part of the donor newsletter. You can use these stories to set the stage for future direct-ask fundraising appeals. In addition to sending a donor newsletter through the mail, your nonprofit should explore: Sending the newsletter via e-mail. We suggest sending the lead story through e-mail with a link and landing page to the entire newsletter. Posting the newsletter on Facebook. You can do this with an image of the entire newsletter or just the headline and picture. Linking to it through all your other social media channels — tweet about a story or the release of the newest newsletter, put a “Newsletter” tab on your website, make sure your blog readers know you have a new one out. Again, these donor newsletters, or e-newsletters, need not have a direct ask, they are “soft asks.” But make sure your readers are given an easy way to respond to the newsletter with a gift should they be moved to donate.

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