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...
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:  

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