A common misconception in fundraising is that when sending an email appeal, the most effective method of receiving donations is to simply provide the donor with a link that takes them directly to a Donation page. Lawrence Direct Marketing, Inc. tested this theory for an International Non-Profit client. (Click here to see the full Case Study.) In order to test the effectiveness of Landing Pages versus Direct-to-Donate pages, LDMI ran a series of campaigns with different 2 emails that were similiar in content but had different conversion paths.  Once the emails were received and the “Donate” link was clicked, 50% of the recipients were sent directly to a Donate page, and the other 50% were sent to a landing page which expanded on the content they had received in the email, and also provided another “Donate” button that they could click on to take them to a donation page. The Landing Page results far surpassed those of the Direct-to-Donate Page. Overall, the landing page test group resulted in 223% more donations than the group who was sent directly to the Donation Page. In addition to an overwhelming number of donations, the landing page also resulted in a 202% higher average gifts. These results can be seen here. These tests continued for several months, and the results were the same. In every instance, the Landing Page group had more positive results. Although LDMI’s results may seem to oppose the concept of making donations path shorter, the results of the tests run by LDMI are convincing. Please click here to see the full Case Study.
One of the most effective, but underused, fundraising strategies for non-profits is the Monthly Giving Program. A Monthly Giving Program is a smart strategy for all nonprofits, but particularly for small shops. Your fundraising dollar goes further with each acquisition of a monthly donor, because those donors will likely continue to increase their giving over a longer period of time. Monthly Giving Programs can make it easier for donors to give more annually and build a stronger relationship with your organization. According to Network for Good, the average recurring donor gives 42% more in one year than donors who give one-time gifts, and retention rates are over 80% for Monthly Giving Program, especially for donors who reach the one-year mark. Some Quick Tips on Starting a Monthly Giving Program If you don’t have a Monthly Giving Program it's important to start one soon. Here are some things to keep in mind. Name It: Usually, non-profits give a name to their group of monthly givers – something like The Founders Club or President's Circle. Giving the group a specific name gives your donors the feeling of joining a club or exclusive circle because, essentially, that is what they are doing. By joining the named Monthly Giving Program they are joining a group of dedicated supporters who help keep the organization going.   Ask for it: It is not enough to just start the program, you have to promote it. Putting a link on your website, or an ad in your newsletter isn’t enough. You have to invite people into this elite program. You do this by running specific Monthly Giving Campaigns through direct mail and online. Once or twice a year, invite people who are already on the donor list to become monthly donors. Make it very clear what they are doing, let them select a gift amount, and let them know clearly that their credit card or checking account will be debited for the amount they commit to on a certain day each month. Explain it: Make sure you explain to them the benefits the Monthly Giving Program offers to both the donor and your organization. We make it very clear that for donors it is just like paying a utility bill automatically with your credit card or your mortgage payment through an automatic draft from your checking account. Make it clear that they are able to opt-out of the Monthly Giving Program anytime they want, for any reason at all.  The Benefits of Monthly Giving At LDMI, we have found that establishing a Monthly Giving Program as part the non-profits' regular or annual scheduled mailings has several very significant benefits. One major benefit is that once the donor has agreed to become a monthly giver, the cost of bringing in their monthly gift is low. The transfer of funds is done electronically from either a credit card or checking account at a bank.  It “is among the most cost-effective, long-term fundraising methods. The gift is only solicited once, and, because it is handled electronically, processing costs are kept low.” Another benefit of Monthly Giving Programs, and something we make clear in our appeals, is that it helps with planning and budgeting. Let's say the Monthly Giving Program is triggered on the 15th of each month. The CFO now knows that on the 16th of every month, he/she is going to see another $20,000 or $200,000 or $2,000,000 deposited into organization’s bank account. It's like a paycheck for the organization that you can count on. The third thing we found is quite surprising. The people who give these monthly gifts do not want you to stop sending them other mail. They still want to receive your mail. They like what your organization is doing. They want to hear from you. They are your most loyal supporters. So they still want to get the newsletters. They still want to get the monthly funding appeals. They may or may not give as often to those other appeals as they have in the past, but they definitely want to continue receiving them. Once people are in a Monthly Giving Program, they tend to not leave that exclusive group. Of course, some leave. Some die, some never get around to giving you their new credit card account number when the old one expires. (That's why it's important to have somebody responsible for cultivating those donors and trying to get the new credit card account numbers.) But for the most part, the retention rate is very high. Sometimes retention rates are as high as 85-90% year to year. So, if they sign up for one year, they're probably going to stay in that program for five or more years. The Bottom Line You will never get all of your donors to join the Monthly Giving Program. But look at your own numbers and do the math. Let's suppose 5% of your donors were to opt into a Monthly Giving Program and calculate the cost at $19 a month. ($19 is a common average). So take 5% of your list and multiply that by $19 a month, 12 months a year. That is going to be reliable income for your CFO to use to pay the bills. There is very little downside for non-profits to begin a Monthly Giving Program. So, if you don't have one, get started right away. And if you'd like to benefit from our years of experience managing these programs for our clients please contact me today To learn more about Fundraising for Non-Profits, please click on the icon below:  
Direct Mail is a type of Direct Response Marketing. For non-profits, it is not only a key fundraising technique, it is also essential to raise awareness about your organzation. When Development Directors consider non-profit fundraising ideas to grow their database and organization, they must consider direct mail. Read more...
“Time and time again nonprofits make the mistake of not bothering to thank someone for a gift...” I have been in the Direct Response business for over 40 years and have reviewed many clients thank you direct mail programs. More than I can recall I have discovered that either they did not have a “Thank You” program at all (especially for small gifts) or they had a very generic, impersonal Thank You. These “thank you’s” either failed to mention the program that the donor was supporting or even forgot to mention the donor’s name. Sending a prompt and personal “Thank You” letter for every donation is essential in non-profit direct mail fundraising and donor conversion. In fact, one can say it is almost required by law. “IRS regulations require that before a donor claims a tax deduction for a charitable contribution, the donor must have a bank record or a written communication from the charitable nonprofit documenting the contribution.” This requirement can be fulfilled, and should, by sending the donor a direct mail thank you letter. Key Characteristics of a Thank You Letter Here are some of the key characteristics for any thank you letter: Personalization. Donation Amount. Donation Date. Mention of what they gave to. An additional Ask. The first 4 are basic: All your donation thank you letters should be sent promptly after the donation is received (within a week or so). It should include the donor's name and the amount given. It should also mention the date the gift was received and what they sent their money for and how it is going to be used. These are absolute basics of any direct mail fundraising program. So rather then, "Thank you for your support of organization XYZ," a donation thank you letter should read, "Thank you John for your gift of $50 received on X Date towards a new roof for our Orphanage.” Another Ask in Donation Thank You Letters No surprises there, but what is often forgotten is another ask. This may seem greedy but I can assure you it’s not. The most likely time for someone to give a second gift is soon after they have given a first gift. Getting a second gift is essential in turning that first-time donor into a consistent supporter of your organization. And “if you want a donor to make a second gift to your non-profit, you have to ask.” There is no better time to ask than after receiving a gift. We often include ours in the P.S. of the “Thank You” letter. (Remember, everybody always reads the P.S.) The P.S. might say something like, "If this is a good time for you to consider another gift to our XYZ organization, please complete the reply coupon below to send in your donation of $50." (Here you should mention the amount of their most recent gift.) We have found, without exception, that for every client for whom we've deployed a “Thank You” program like this, it has brought in more money than it cost. Your “Thank You” program in the past may have been a cost item on your budget - it costs more than it brought in. But with this program, you transform the “Thank You” program into a positive net income generator, where the donations coming in exceed the cost of doing the thank you mailings, even when you've upgraded the quality of those mailings. We have found that a ”Thank You” program that effectively, professionally and skillfully expresses gratitude to the donor for the specific appeal that they contributed to, and asks if it's a good time for another gift is very appealing to the donor. They don't see a request for a second donation as greedy, rather they see it as an opportunity to give to a program and organization they obviously favor. How can a thank you letter help you create multi-chanell donors? In this day and age most non-profits get new donors who give their first gift online. Many have automatic thank you emails set up to acknowledge that gift. Add in a direct mail thank you letter which begins to start a conversation with a donor offline. This new donor may continue to contribute soley online but more likely than not some of these new donors will respond via direct mail. Some may continue to donate online but still appreciate the direct mail and it may in fact spur them to ake those online donations. So in addition tot hat automated email I reccomend you also send a direct mail thank you letter to online donors.  To learn more about running a Direct Mail Program, click on the icon below and receive our free, downloadable e-book – Keys to a Successful Direct Mail Program:  
  With the ease and widespread acceptance of online fundraising many people speculate that direct mail is a dying fundraising channel. However, “direct mail is over seven times more effective than all digital channels combined, according to the Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report 2015.”  In our Case Study, Growing a Donor Database, available here, we examine the effectiveness of a direct mail program for a US-based non-profit that provides aid and services overseas. Before we began to work with the charity, they had no direct mail program, and their database of donors had been growing slowly and barely outpacing attrition.   As a part of the program, we developed and mailed 2 different prospect (new donor acquisition) packages to 10 donor lists of third party non-profits. We selected those non-profits whose mission gave us some reason to believe their donors might also consider making a donation to our client. We split all the lists in half and mailed each half one of the two separate packages. This allowed us to determine which lists worked and which of the two packages worked best.  After the initial mailing was successful, we mailed two more rollouts of the more successful package. In addition to these prospect mailings, LDMI began developing and mailing monthly direct mail to the house file consisting of the newly acquired donors and the charity’s existing donors. The results were astounding.  Despite the fact that Prospect mailings tend to lose money, every round of Prospect mail profited.  The Prospect mailings brought in over 3,000 new donors, resulting in a 297% increase in the total number of donors.   To read more, please click here for the full Case Study, Growing a Donor Database.

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