According to a new report, online giving to nonprofit charitable organizations increased by nearly 8% in 2016 — continuing the trend upward for online giving that's been happening for the past few years. This is not to say that the traditional means of fundraising have fallen out of style with donors. Over 90% of nonprofit charitable giving still takes place through traditional means of fundraising like direct mail, major gifts and events. But clearly, online fundraising is becoming more and more important for nonprofits. With that in mind, here are five important tips to help your nonprofit get the most out of digital fundraising: Integrate – Make sure that all of your nonprofit’s fundraising channels are working together. Let your direct mail campaign drive the train, and let your online giving platforms mimic that in terms of message, design and goals. “Joint online and offline campaigns improve donor engagement. People who give both online and offline are more likely to keep giving than those who donate exclusively online or offline. Organizations retain about 58% of multi-channel first time donors as opposed to retaining only 29% of offline-only donors and 23% of online-only donors.” Email Is Essential –Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels are great tools, but only account for a small fraction of a nonprofit’s total donations. Email fundraising, however, represent a full third of all online giving. That is especially important when you consider the significant cost of online advertising. Although email has a cost as well, it is not nearly as much. Sure, it takes a lot of effort to improve your nonprofit’s email list, but it’s an effort that can pay real dividends. Be Mobile Ready – We've given a few important stats on online giving. Well, here's another one: In 2015, 18% of online donations came from a mobile device. That's a significant percentage, expected to increase over the next few years. So make sure your nonprofit’s webpage, email templates, and donation pages are all mobile friendly. If they are not, you are, as they say, leaving a lot of money on the table. Close Out the Year Strong – There are two essential campaigns at the end of year that your nonprofit needs to gear up for: Giving Tuesday and the Year-End Email Series. If you don't know about these, you need to quickly become familiar with them. “Online giving is most prolific at the end of the year. Eggnog, twinkly lights, bonus checks, Giving Tuesday, and the closing fiscal year means a spike in generosity. 19% of 2015 online giving happened in December with Giving Tuesday as a major catalyst (Giving Tuesday donations increased 52% from 2014).” Use Email and Social Media to Promote Campaigns – As we mentioned above, online and offline campaigns run in tandem do much better. But there is another important relationship that must be cultivated between different online platforms: one of harmony. Your nonprofit’s various channels of communication with supporters shouldn’t be competing with each other. You need donations to do the important work you do, it shouldn’t matter where those gifts come from. Every channel should work together in support of the same goal. To learn more about digital fundraising, download our Fundraising Email Tip Sheet, by clicking on the icon below:  
  We’re almost two full months into 2017, but there’s still plenty of time for nonprofits to tweak their fundraising and marketing strategies this year to reach and exceed goals for growth. There are certainly tried and true, effective methods that nonprofits can utilize to reach supporters and raise money for their worthy causes — such as direct mail. (See “How to Get Donations for Your Non-Profit.”) Read more...
You probably can’t scroll through your social timelines very long before being prompted to sign an online petition. New online petitions are launched every day on a host of different website platforms. These platforms are often organized as a “community” of registered users (many times in the millions) who can easily be reached through the website. They also provide nonprofits with a means to reach out to an audience that is predisposed to online activism — millions of untapped potential leads. Recognizing the potential for acquiring new online donor leads, Lawrence Direct Marketing, Inc., approached one of our international nonprofit clients about running an online campaign on one of the most popular petition websites in the U.S. The petition site charged a fixed cost per lead, but guaranteed delivery of new leads. We hoped to acquire donor leads who would convert at rates comparable to direct mail acquisition. LDMI drafted a call-to-action description for the petition and a letter that were published on the petition website. The campaign described a timely issue that required an urgent response. LDMI also created and executed a compelling and timely integrated multi-channel conversion series for the client that was sent to each petition signer. Every new supporter first received an email thanking them for joining the cause. After a few days, an email newsletter was sent out updating supporters about the petition. The leads acquired through the online petition also received both a house direct mail appeal and prospect appeal created by LDMI for the client. (Online fundraising is important, but direct mail is still the heavyweight champ of direct response.) Following up, LDMI kept leads engaged with at least one cultivation email and one fundraising email each month. Results The campaign was launched within a week, and it was fulfilled in just three days. It only took seven months for the campaign to break even with an ROI equivalent to a direct mail acquisition. After 18 months, our client received 8,514 donations through the online campaign totaling $103,619. Many of the campaign supporters were already on our client’s house file list, but, “We also were able to capture email addresses for people who had only ever received direct mail from us, which allowed us to start cultivating and converting them online as well,” our client stated. Quick summary: 8,514 donations Over $103,600 raised 7 months to break even Campaign was fulfilled in just 3 days To learn more about LDMI’s online fundraising services to help take your nonprofit organization to the next level of growth, please contact us today.
The starting point for all effective fundraising appeals is to appeal to the heart, rather than the head. This is true in both the copy and design of your donation request letter. For a donor, the decision to make a contribution to a non-profit is driven by emotion, rather than analysis and sheer logic. (Of the 14 reasons here, almost all have to do with the emotions) People who support non-profits do so because they have a strong emotional reaction to the cause and the stories told by the non-profit. Although they do weigh their options and try to determine the impact of their donations, they find “facts and figures are [less] attractive than narratives.” Whether their motivation is supporting orphans in Africa, funding an organization that's developing a cure for a horrible disease, sponsoring a program that brings the message of the Gospel to people around the world, or advancing their own political philosophy, people want to know who they are helping, on an individual basis and in a personal way, and how their donation is helping real people. When writing donation request letters, this is very important to keep in mind. A donor request letter is not a time for syllogisms or logical exercises. It is a time to express to your donors (or potential donors) the plight of the people you serve, the chaos and pain that families dealing with sickness face on a day to day basis, or the grave danger a particular political agenda presents for their nation. “In a series of experiments, it was found that people are much more responsive to charitable pleas that feature a single, identifiable beneficiary, than they are to statistical information about the scale of the problem being faced.” Take a woman who goes to Mass every Sunday, lights a candle from time to time for a prayer intention, and goes to Confession regularly. Obviously, she feels a connection to her Catholic Faith. But if she is going to contribute to a cause regarding Catholicism, it will be because of a personal connection she feels with that cause. (In 2015, the majority of charitable dollars went to religion) As fundraisers, our job is to make a connection between this woman’s faith and a particular cause. The rationale is already there - people are sick or people are being persecuted and her Christian faith calls her to help those in need. And this woman is well aware of that calling. But when she gives, it will be because she feels a strong emotional reaction to what is described in that letter. As fundraisers, we simply need to find a way to connect this potential donor to the emotional aspect of the work that you do. A Few Tips for Your Next Donation Request Letter Your fundraising copy should not read like a report to your Board of Directors. Your copy should sound like a personal letter from a close friend. For example, it may be from someone who has gone to Haiti to help improve living conditions for the people still suffering the devastating effects of the earthquake that dismantled their lives 6 years ago. Imagine your friend writing to you...In her letter, she describes her experience with the Haitian people. That letter presents 2 different perspectives: her own and the people she is helping (preferably one particular person she has connected with). Your friend shares her experiences travelling the country, how she feels each day – the excitement, the sadness, the conviction of doing this work. She shares with you the level of poverty her new friend faces: her hungry children, her family’s displacement, and her friend’s struggle day in and day out. You want your appeal to leave a potential donor with that same feeling. In order to do that, you must keep these two perspectives in mind. Share your feelings of helplessness when you cannot provide the level of support needed for those struggling individuals you help. Share with your potential donor what would happen if your organization was not there to help these people. Share about the daily impact your organization has on those your serve. Typically during the giving process, negative emotions play an essential role in someone who does give. Many people don't like this, but the importance of negative emotions can’t be discarded. To appeal to these kinds of emotions, you need to let your potential donor know what it feels like for a particular family who can't find work, or has a sick child, or faces persecution. A person who's really good at writing a proposal for a grant is not necessarily going to write the kind of copy that you want to use in a Direct Mail appeal. That Direct Mail appeal should be strongly emotional in tone. Again, present the rationale for supporting your organization in a way designed to appeal to the emotions of the recipient. This is true of your entire fundraising appeal. To be effective, especially in Direct Mail, you have to touch people's hearts. Think of your potential donors as your friends (they are), tell them a truthful and moving story about who you are and who you serve. Take your time in appealing to them, stir up their emotions, and allow their heart to lead the way. To learn more about Direct Mail, click on the icon below and get download our free ebook – Keys to a Successful Direct Mail Program.  
Although instincts are involved, list brokerage is a largely scientific endeavor. When searching for potential lists, you must rely on research, experience, and hard work. Lists are not static, they constantly change, and to find the most viable lists for your client the list broker must stay on top of changes of likely lists to know if they are growing or shrinking. This is especially important when you have a long history brokering for a particular client or within a particular vertical. Read more...

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ICMC, the International Catholic Migration Commission, began work with Lawrence Direct Marketing Inc. (LDMI) at my urging when I served as ICMC President. Despite being... Read more...

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