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.
Does your nonprofit have a digital program or the staff to successfully run the program? According to a new report, chances are high it doesn’t. The 2017 Digital Outlook Report, developed by Care2, hjc, NTEN and The Resource Alliance, found a staggering 62% of nonprofits have no digital program. That means these nonprofits don’t have “a digital strategy, a staff member dedicated to digital strategy, measurement and tracking of key performance indicators, program analysis, plus having defined their user personas.” Read more...
Email is a critical element in digital fundraising for nonprofits, and it should be part of an integrated fundraising strategy. Why? About a third of all online fundraising is driven by email. And online giving increased by nearly 8% last year.  So if your nonprofit isn’t using emails in your fundraising campaigns, you should start right away. And no matter how often your nonprofit sends fundraising emails, there are a few simple steps you can take to make sure each email is fully optimized to drive donations to your cause. Lawrence Direct Marketing, Inc. recently released our “12 Essential Email Fundraising Tips” to help nonprofits get the most out of every email. Here’s a summary of our tip sheet: 1. Set Your Goal Before you start typing, determine what you want to achieve with your email. 2. One-on-One Always speak personally to your donors as if you were having a one-on-one conversation. 3. Subject Line!! Your email needs to stand out and compel your donor to open it. So make sure your subject line grabs their attention. 4. Real Sender Putting a real person as the sender makes the email itself more personal and more likely to be opened. 5. Personalize The simplest and most important thing to do regarding personalization is to address the recipient by name. 6. Clear CTA Your CTA should be clear and concise with action-oriented words like “Donate” or “Register.” 7. Moving Images Use images that are pertinent to the story you are telling but also emotionally compelling. 8. Landing Pages Emails are short and to the point, but fundraising often requires a more detailed sell. The answer to this dilemma is the Landing Page. 9. Social Sharing On every email you send, make sure you have active social sharing icons. 10. Unsubscribe When someone unsubscribes from your e-newsletter, it doesn’t mean you’re dead to them. They still want to hear from your in other ways. But that will change if you don’t honor their initial request. 11. Mobile Ready Last year, 18% of all online donations came from mobile devices. And that number is expected to increase. 12. Test and Test Every element of a campaign can, and should, be tested – that includes images, subject lines, overall design, and even content. Find out what people respond to, and use that data to sculpt each and every email.   Click here and Download the full fundraising email tip sheet, “12 Essential Email Fundraising Tips,” from LDMI today.       
Less than 10 years ago, most list clearances, samples, and orders were sent or received by fax. I remember spending hours typing in fax numbers and cursing the transmission error reports. Today, of course, almost everything is emailed, and companies like NextMark have blended the list-research and purchase-order functions into one smooth online process. Read more...
  Integrated fundraising is becoming essential for nonprofits to be able to leverage all available avenues of donor solicitation to reach their donors and potential donors. Your donors find you in different ways, so you should reach them in different ways as well. The technique involves coordinating the various fundraising channels of a nonprofit organization into a single unified effort. Put simply, everything in your fundraising must work in unison. Integrated fundraising doesn’t mean you are using social media or email to simply communicate with your donors. It means that all these channels, along with direct mail, major gift solicitations and fundraising events, are working together for the same goal: increasing donations. In short, it is a holistic approach to fundraising. If your nonprofit hasn’t started integrating your fundraising channels, it should be a top priority. Integration will surely boost response rates and donor participation, and ultimately increase your ROI. Integration is a must across every channel, but here we are going to focus on the two major fundraising channels where most nonprofits begin their integration efforts: digital fundraising and direct mail. Here are five tips for your nonprofit to keep in mind as you start down the path of integrated fundraising: 1. Communication Across Departments Your separate campaigns need to become one campaign. No longer is there a direct mail campaign, an email campaign and a social media campaign. Now, they are one. This integrated campaign will have several moving parts, and someone needs to manage them all so they function as a single unit. This either means shuffling departments or ensuring constant communication between each department so that messaging, timing and design are consistent. The goal is to coordinate messaging towards a single purpose so as to move donors to a specific action. Emails should not ask for a new roof, when direct mail is asking for help with school expenses. And the success of the campaign is not judged by the success of an individual channel but as a whole. Direct mail may see a slight drop in total gifts while email sees an increase, but that does not mean all your resources should focus on email. Not at all. It is the total gifts that should concern you. 2. Use Direct Mail as a Guide Direct mail is here to stay. A few years back, many people were claiming direct mail was becoming a thing of the past. They were wrong. According to Blackbaud’s 2016 Charitable Giving Report, online donations to nonprofits only comprised 7.2% of total gifts last year. That means about 93% of donations came through traditional means, including direct mail. People still trust mail, especially mail that is personalized and concerning a topic important to them. About 70% of Americans, view a letter addressed to them, while only about 25% of nonprofits emails are even opened. Direct mail is still producing great returns, and that’s a good thing. Let that success guide your fundraising efforts. Modify your most successful direct mail creative appropriately for email and social media. The language, design, and even delivery dates of each letter should inform when you send emails, or what picture you post on Facebook and Twitter, or what you tweet. 3. Keep Your Language Consistent This was briefly mentioned above, but make sure your language is consistent across channels, but also be sure to appropriately modify your messaging. Find the language that has proven most successful in the past and utilize that in each channel. Again, direct mail is a great guide, but the language, (and length,) of a direct mail letter is not the same as the language and length of an email. This is true for Facebook, Twitter, and so on. This is where testing the impact of language according to the channel is so important. Your campaign may be asking for donors to help with providing a new roof, and that should be consistent across the various channels. But try to find which type of language works best for each of your audiences. 4. Timing Is Key People are learning about your nonprofit and your efforts in different ways and, at different times, which you can’t necessarily control. But you can control the messages coming directly from your nonprofit, and you should consider when each message will reach the donor. This timing should be carefully coordinated to maximize action. For example, you should have a good sense of when a direct mail package will land in your donor’s mailbox. This means you can send an email letting the donor know that the letter is coming, and follow up with the donor after it has arrived. Your Facebook posts and tweets should do the same. There are studies that suggest people need to see an advertisement seven times before they respond. Sending the same direct mail letter seven times isn’t practical, but your nonprofit can utilize your other channels of communication to transmit your message effectively and spark action. 5. Drive to Other Channels A study conducted several years ago found donors are “more than three times likelier to give online in response to a direct mail appeal than an e-appeal.” Aside from likely proving the necessity of integrated fundraising, this also means you need to make it easy for donors to find you in different places. And just as importantly, each channel of communication should point out and remind the donor to look for them your nonprofit on those other channels, and if appropriate, to give there. Create designated landing pages for every campaign. In your direct mail letter, publish the URL. Let the readers know in the letter, that they can learn more about the campaign online, and even give. As with all fundraising, if you don’t tell them they wont do it. As mentioned above, use email and social media to announce and follow up on your direct mail. Another important point to remember is to make sure all of your online communications are mobile-friendly: “The percentage of online donations made to nonprofits using mobile devices jumped 8% in just two years according to recently released data from the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact’s 2016 Charitable Giving Report.” Integrated fundraising is more then a trend. Applying a sound strategy and discipline to your fundraising efforts will certainly deliver results. Use these tips to start your integrating right away.   For more on digital fundraising, download our Fundraising Email Tipsheet by clicking on the Icon below:      

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