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Fundraising Training Needs

€60,000 of extra fundraising revenue — and that’s not all!

Corinna Wagner of ADRA Austria faces a situation a lot of us struggle with: A small donor file. Her donors are great. But without the scale of a larger file, it can be a challenge to make campaigns really work well.

But she’s making it happen.

And she’s doing it with the help of Moceanic Coaching+.

Her experience has been even better than she expected, resulting in astounding fundraising results … at year-end alone, she brought in more than €60,000 in extra income. Coaching was a great investment.

Speaking from her office in Vienna, Corinna shares what Coaching has meant for her.

Book a free exploratory call with one of our Fundraisingologists and find out if Coaching+ is right for you. You’ll get some great free advice too!

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FundraisingFundraising Training Needs

Help! I Did Everything Right, but My Fundraising Still Didn’t Work!

It’s so exciting to watch: Someone gets some solid fundraising advice. They put it to work.

Results come in: “We doubled the response!”

I hear about this a lot. Really, a lot. Doubling. Tripling. Even more.

But not always.

Now and then, someone tells me, “We followed the recommendations, and our results hardly improved at all!”

When I look into it, I sometimes see that they didn’t really follow the advice or best practices they were given. It was on the right path, but not strong enough.

But more often, the reason the project didn’t do as well as they hoped was this: They don’t have the number of appropriate donors it takes to light up their world.

It’s that simple. It’s the number of the ‘right’ type of donors.

Often, their low number of donors is disguised by the fact that they have a much larger mailing list than donor list. They have a big list that includes people like…

  • Beneficiaries of their services who are not donors.
  • People who donated to event participants or peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.
  • People who signed up for an online newsletter or other free resource and have not yet made a donation.
  • People who have only ever made a donation in memory or honor of someone.
  • Donors who haven’t made a gift in two or more years.

You may call some of these groups ‘donors’, but these people are unlikely to give again. No matter how great a job you do at asking them.

It’s not your work that’s the problem. It’s your list. It’s too many people who are unlikely to donate.

What can you do about it?

  1. Get expert advice. It’s a complex situation, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
  2. Get Moceanic Coaching+. We can work individually and directly with you on who you should be communicating with and how.

If it happens to you, don’t beat yourself up! It may be them (your list packed with non-donors), not you!

And finally, remember this: When something goes wrong, it is a major opportunity to learn something new. Sometimes, failure like this turns out to be positive in the long-run!

Wondering if Coaching+ is right for you? Book a free 25-minute call with one of our Fundraisingologists. They will give you great free advice, and help you identify which Coaching+ program might be right for you.

Related posts to read:

Here’s a Powerful New Way to Be a More Effective Fundraiser

9 Truths about Fundraising I Wish I Had Figured Out Sooner

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Fundraising Training Needs

Moceanic Coaching Has Been an Amazing Investment for My Organisation, My Staff, and ME!

Rose Young of Baptist World Aid Australia made a smart decision. She signed up to Coaching+ with Moceanic.

In just a few coaching sessions with Moceanic Fundraisingologists, she saw an immediate jump in her revenue. More important, she and her staff have learned things that’s saving time, money, and energy — allowing them to spend their time doing more productive things and coming up with amazing new ideas.

You should hear what Rose has to say about it in this short video.

Would you like to have experience and results like this under your belt?

Book a free exploratory call with one of our Fundraisingologists and find out if Coaching+ is right for you. You’ll get some great free advice too!

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Direct MailDonor CareDonor Love

4 Ways to Secure That All-Important Second Gift

I met up with a fundraiser — let’s call him Brian — a couple of years ago to talk about the work my team had been doing for their donor acquisition program. The direct mail acquisition was doing really well. Great response, strong average gift, acceptable ROI, in a tough market … I was there to find out why they had decided to do less of it, not more.

Brian was late for the meeting. He had been with his team making welcome calls.

Every single new donor who had provided a phone number received a welcome call. They attempted to get through up to 12 times! They really wanted to connect on those calls.

Turns out the second gift rate of their new donors who were reached with a phone call was higher than those not reached. The value over 12 months was also higher. It wasn’t just the call making the impact, information gathered in the phone calls was impacting … more email addresses captured, giving a wider reach for their multi-channel communications and critically understanding the donors relationship to the cause (a major health issue / killer) was sought and used to personalise subsequent communications.

Brian was prioritising this donor care for new donors. If he recruited even higher volumes of donors, they would not be able to keep up with the calls and do all of their other work.

The best outcome would have been Brian being able to get more budget to staff the welcome calls so he could continue to invest in higher volume acquisition. He couldn’t. But he made the tough decision — and I think this was the right one … better retained and engaged donors for a longer life time over as many donors as possible.

As a follow up to my recent blog, The Most Important Gift from Your Donor – It’s the 2nd, Not the 1st!, I’ve got four evidence-based ideas you should plan to do, after your brilliant first gift acknowledgment (like Brian’s welcome calls), as part of your new donor engagement and second gift conversion strategy.

1. Ask again, quickly, and many times, giving the donor more opportunities to have even more impact.

I have seen many donor communications plans that do not prioritise asking again quickly … I think this comes from the unsubstantiated idea that we need to rest donors after they give. Analysis shows that those most likely to give again are those who have given the most recently. Testing I have run has demonstrated that the sooner you ask, the higher the second gift rate.

2. Focus on what they have demonstrated they care about … not EVERYTHING you do. Ask them to support the same thing they just gave to again.

What did you ask the donor to support? Tell her she supported it. Show her how the thing you are asking her to support now links to what she has shown she cares about. Even better — the best thing to ask for is the same thing she gave to in the first place. The idea that you have to ask the donor to support something different seems to come from an idea that donors need lots of options or that they might get bored with the same thing. The data DOES NOT support this. A donor is far more likely to give to the same thing again than something different.

Many donors work on a 12-month giving cycle … which can stretch out, particularly if the number of opportunities to give again from you is few. If after 12 months of opportunities to give you have not had a response, ask the donor to give to exactly the same thing they gave to in the first place … it works.

3. Offer Monthly Giving.

Monthly Givers are retained at much higher rates than one-off or occasional givers, and new one-off givers are great prospects for Monthly Giving, when asked correctly.

Asking soon, like within 6 to 8 weeks of their first gift, maximises response as the memory of giving and how great it made them feel is still fresh. And don’t give up! Some donors need more time experiencing supporting you to see the value in Monthly Giving.

4. Send them a survey.

A “new donor survey” can be a great engagement tool, and donors who respond are more likely to keep supporting you.

A version of your Supporter Connection Survey can be used for new donors really effectively. If you haven’t already taken our Supporter Connection Survey course, it’s available for members of The Fundraisingology Lab. Check it out.

Acquisition is hard. Make your life easier by planning to get that second gift and to keep those new donors giving from the outset.

Discover how you can connect more with your donors, grow your fundraising income, and master your career. Join The Fundraisingology Lab and you join the thousands of smart fundraisers who are becoming EXTRAORDINARY FUNDRAISERS. Check it out.

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Donor Love

5 Reasons You Must Invest in Donor Service

In the commercial world, there is no arguing that: 

  • Customer service has long been recognised as an incredibly important revenue driver. 
  • Excellent customer service vastly lowers churn rate (loss of customers). 
  • When complaints are handled well,  customers become more loyal than they were before the issue.

Why then, in the fundraising world, is donor service often the last thing we invest in? 

These things are just as true for donors as they are for customers. If you need empirical evidence check out Adrian Sargeant’s work. One of his major findings is that loyal donors give more and stay longer — and the quality of service and care you provide donors directly impact loyalty

I personally know this to be true. I started my working life in customer service, and I got my first job in the nonprofit space because of my customer service experience. I was the only person in that organisation at the time providing donor service.  

When I left five years later there were six staff dedicated to donor service and we had one of the highest retention rates in the industry. The people in the Donor Service team helped to retain donors, upgrade them, save them from cancelling, made them feel amazing about their giving, helped them understand the real impact they were having, dealt with their concerns, feedback and complaints. It was great donor care

For several years I was part of a major industry wide Mystery Shopping program in Australia and New Zealand. Over 100 charities mystery shopped, with service being one of the key things we were looking at benchmarking. 

Those that came out on top with great Donor Service also had the best retention.  

And I’ll be honest: I saw some appalling service. And there was some inspirational service. The really poor service came from organisations that had no investment in Donor Service. In fact, most of the really bad organisations did not even have a resource dedicated to Donor Service … It was database administrators answering the phones — not acceptable for good Donor Service.  

Getting the money to invest in Donor Service can be hard. Here are some reasons for investing in Donor Service that have helped many fundraisers make the business case for spending some budget on quality Donor Service: 

  1. Your Donor Service people are the face of your cause to many donors. They are the representation of your brand, your mission and your values. Are you putting your best foot forward here? 
  2. Your Donor Service people will speak to more donors than anyone else in your organisation. They are in the best position to listen to your donors – they can help you understand your donors’ needs. Have you worked with your Donor Service people to ensure that they are in a position to help build your body of understanding about your donors? 
  3. Your Donor Service can differentiate you from other causes your donors give to. When it comes to donors making the hard choices between who to keep supporting and who to stop supporting or who to consider including in their Will — poor service could be your downfall.  
  4. Your Donor Service people will save, retain, and upgrade donors. Trained Donor Service staff can save over 20% of inbound Monthly Giving cancellations. They can upgrade gift amounts to appeals. They can identify highly engaged higher value donors and provide critical insight into their motivations. They can help frustrated donors resolve their issues. All of this will happen as long as you consider the following point …  
  5. Donor Service is a skill that requires the right people, trained and supported under a clear mandate. Just like any other part of your fundraising you can assign an ROI (Return on Investment) to your Donor Service. And just like other parts of your fundraising you need a strategy, investment, and a way to monitor, measure and report back. Is Donor Service considered as important as your acquisition program?  

Related post: 6 Ways to Measure Your Fundraising to Understand Your Donors

If you are a small organisation or just starting out with fundraising, you can still invest in Donor Service. It may be part of someone’s job but ensuring it is considered as part of your Donor Care Strategy will give it visibility and help you to understand its value. So as you grow you can make evidenced cases for further investment.  

We can help you explore your Donor Service needs and opportunities through our one-to-one Coaching. To find out more and book a free call visit: www.moceanic.com/coaching-plus/ 

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Bequests and LegaciesDirect MailDonor LoveMajor and Mid Value DonorsMonthly Giving

This Survey Type Is Better Than Almost Anything Else You Can Do in Fundraising

One of the first things I learned about when I joined Moceanic a few months ago was an amazing fundraising technique we called the Supporter Connection Survey.

I was blown away…

But now I’m even more blown away because I’ve seen it at work first hand.

Listen: If the Ice Bucket Challenge and the LiveStrong Bracelet got together and had a child, that child would be lame and ineffective compared to the Supporter Connection Survey!

When I learned about the Supporter Connection Survey, I blogged about it.

I want to quote extensively from that post, and then tell you how I missed the mark at that time. I simply wasn’t amazed enough!

Here’s that post:

I’ve just learned about an exciting new direct mail fundraising technique. Yes, I’m using the word “new” in the same sentence with “direct mail.” I know we all tend to think everything about direct mail is older than dirt. But this is new.

And it just might blow your mind the way it did mine.

It’s called a Supporter Connection Survey. It’s a direct mail pack that features a survey.

You might be saying right now, “Surveys are not new in fundraising, you idiot!” That’s more or less what I said at first. But a Supporter Connection Survey is different. It’s so different, it’s not really a survey at all — even though it looks and acts exactly like one.

Sean and Paul, the co-founders of at Pareto Fundraising used similar surveys in the UK in the 90s, and Pareto developed them further with charities in Australia from 2003. This type of survey is now common in Australia and New Zealand and used in some form by the majority of successful fundraising charities there.

In short, a Supporter Connection Survey is meant to discover what individual donors think and say about your cause… so you can talk back to them about the things they care about. It’s not unlike an actual conversation!

It also helps you find solid legacy giving leads and other forms of valuable connection with donors. (And this — revenue-wise — is even more important.)

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you’re an organization called the Australian Animals Alliance. One of the questions in your Supporter Connection Survey might be this:

Which of these projects interests you most (check one)?

  • Saving wombats from spreading urbanization.
  • Providing rescue homes for orphaned echidnas.
  • Rescuing emus that have wandered into cities.
  • Providing medical care for sick platypuses.

Then the money question: Can you tell me why that is important to you? And leave a blank space for them to write an answer.

These are all things the Australian Animals Alliance does. Now here’s the cool part: You’re going to put your donors’ answers into your database. And later on, in direct mail, you’re going to have a paragraph like the following:

I believe you’ll be thrilled to support our Kookaburra Habitat Campaign this year, because, as you told us in the survey you filled out, you believe in saving wombats from spreading urbanization.

And for some of your higher value donors, you literally repeat back to them what they wrote to your question about why it’s important. Like this:

I believe you’ll be thrilled to support our Kookaburra Habitat Campaign this year, because, as you told us in the survey, “I really care about wombats because my father was a wombat conservation activist.”

And that’s fundraising magic. Telling donors you know what they care about is a powerful thing. It meaningfully improves future results.

But that’s not all. You’ll uncover some highly valuable donors by asking:

  • A question about bequests.
  • A question about being a high-level donor.
  • A question about being a monthly donor.

This uncovers an almost unbelievable amount of valuable information about donors who are ready to do more! You still have to connect with them and cultivate them, but that first step of finding them is the beauty of it.

A Supporter Connection Survey looks almost exactly like other kinds of surveys, so let me show you what it is not:

It’s not a research survey

You are not going to get useful, statistically valid findings about your donor file with a Supporter Connection Survey! In fact, you will almost surely lead yourself astray if you try to use it to get valid research. (Real research is hard. If you need to do some research, get professional help if you want to do it right!)

It’s not a fundraising “push” survey

That’s the type of survey more widely used in fundraising. This type of survey is also not for research. In fact, you don’t get any usable information from a push survey.

If you were the Australian Animals Alliance and you did a push survey, your questions would be like this: Do you support conserving the unique wildlife of Australia? (Yes or no.) The goal of a push survey is to build a sort of momentum of YES, so saying “yes” to making a donation is easy and natural.

Push surveys work quite well in many areas of fundraising, especially those that have an advocacy flavor, like the environment and civil liberties. They are a mainstay of political fundraising.

But they’re not at all like Supporter Connection Surveys.

Supporter Connection Surveys are all about creating two-way communication between organizations and donors. Done right, they are virtual magic.

Okay, that’s what I said a couple of months ago. Since then, I’ve walked alongside an organization as they created and launched a Supporter Connection Survey. They got more donor interest, more bequest leads, and more major donor leads than our most optimistic projections. A lot more! So many more that they are looking at a future with many times the revenue they get today.

This single survey (and you can bet they’ll be doing it again) will transform the life of the organization. They’ll be able to do more of their good work than they’ve dreamed possible — until now. And they’re dreaming!

Thus the reason I’m telling you this.

Interested in learning more about this amazing tool?

Check out our online course about supporter connection surveys. It’s available for members of The Fundraisingology Lab and will show you how to raise more funds for your cause from every channel!

Jeff Brooks

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FundraisingFundraising Training Needs

Here’s a Powerful New Way to Be a More Effective Fundraiser

People ask me why I’ve joined my Australian friends in this new company with a funny name.

It’s because we’re doing some of the most important and impacting work in the fundraising industry: Helping fundraisers become more effective. So they can raise more money, transform the lives of more donors, and make the world a better place.

Or, to use a phrase I advise fundraisers never to use: capacity building. (It’s incomprehensible jargon for your donors, but you know what I mean!)

One of the ways we do that is Coaching+.

What’s that? Fair question.

Coaching+ is a new way of working with fundraisers that is different to coaching or consulting.

Coaching+ is about increasing the knowledge and effectiveness of people. Showing them how to apply best practices and the long experience of others to their own situation. And it is about them getting their projects done, and done well.

We don’t intend to replace coaching or consulting. There are many top-notch coaches and consultants at work in our industry. If you’re fortunate enough to have a relationship with them, good for you!

Coaching+ with Moceanic is about skills — giving you a deep and complete understanding of specific projects so you can either effectively supervise, outsource… or do it yourself.

Coaching+ is personalized, hands-on training and coaching that you connect with online, in bite-sized chunks, wherever you are.

Example: Bequest Moceanic Coaching+ project… Depending on what you already have in place you might write and produce your bequest marketing letters and bequest brochure — or brief an agency to do those things. You might even develop your budget, KPI measures, conversations guide and training for your bequest staff who call and visit donors. We walk with you every step of the way to guide and encourage you.

Coaching+ sessions are usually 90 minutes, and structured this way:

  • Review: look at your situation, or progress following any previous session.
  • Learn: make sure you know what you need to know to take the next step.
  • Act: identify and outline the action you need to take before your next Coaching+ session.

Think of it as a super-focused, media-rich webinar aimed exactly at your needs.

Here are some of the Coaching+ topics that are ready to go right now:

  • Supporter connection surveys (you may not have heard of this, but it’s something that could revolutionize your fundraising program! Check out my recent article about that here)
  • Mid-value donor fundraising
  • Nonprofit communications
  • Everything you need to know about direct mail
  • Digital fundraising
  • Legacy and bequest fundraising

And there’s even more to come. Coaching+ just might be the thing for you and your organization.

Sean Triner and I would love to chat with you if you’re interested in finding out more about how we can help you become an even smarter fundraiser.

You can book a free 25-minute call with either of us to find out more – book quickly because there are only a few of these calls available each week. It’s really simple to do, just click here.

If you cannot see any availability for our free 25-minute calls, then put a note in your diary to try again in a few weeks.

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Boards and FundraisingTrends

Shocker: The Biggest Problem in Fundraising

You spoke, I listened, and you freaked me out a little!

I’ve been in the fundraising space for a long time — approaching 30 years. That’s enough time to get married, have a couple of kids, and raise them into productive adulthood. Which is exactly what I’ve done during that time.

I thought 30 years would also be enough that I could legitimately say, I’ve seen everything.

Turns out I hadn’t seen everything.

They past couple of days, I’ve been reading survey responses from our recent Contest to give away some of my time to deserving organizations in the form of free 90-minute online Coaching+ sessions. To get a chance to win a session, we asked folks to fill out a quick survey about their organization, including a description of the main issues they struggle with — and most need help on. Nearly 300 people took the challenge.

Here’s where it got interesting. The most frequently cited area of trouble was this:

Bosses and/or boards who don’t get it and won’t allow us to do effective fundraising.

Whoa.  Think about that.  Our biggest perceived problem is the people who are supposed to be leading and empowering us!

I wasn’t born yesterday. I’ve been here long enough to know that bosses are often a problem.  I might have placed it in the top five problems.  Maybe as high as #2 or #3.

I know enough about surveys to know that lot of people saying something in answer to a question does not show us absolute Truth. The important thing as far as I’m concerned is that a lot of people perceive that their top problem is their boss.

So here’s my pledge to you:  I will help you overcome the “Boss Barrier.”  Either directly via our courses or Coaching+ at Moceanic … or indirectly because we’ll be talking up this issue and maybe get through to a few more people. Your own bosses, maybe!

Poor leadership is not unique to the nonprofit sector. (Oh boy is it ever not unique!)  But maybe we can tackle it here in our own backyard.  Let’s make it a priority.

Best wishes for non-interfered-with fundraising and we’ll be announcing the winners of the free 90-minute Coaching+ sessions later this week so stay tuned.

If you would care to share your experience with bosses and boards, please comment below!

Want some practical and experience-based help? Schedule a free 25-minute call  with one of our Moceanic Fundraisingologists. They will give you great free advice and help you identify which Coaching+ program might be right for you. Click here to book your call.
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Donor Psychology

“Sign the Enclosed Placenta”: The Weird Power of Errors in Fundraising

Don’t you hate making errors? They make you look and feel stupid.

But errors are funny things. It’s impossible to predict what damage they’ll do. Surprisingly often, they hurt your pride a lot more than they hurt anything else.

We here at Moceanic recently made an error, and we still feel a little sick about it. If you’re signed up for our emails, you might have noticed our error.

Boy did we feel like schmucks.

The outcome? We investigate. We work out the problem. We do our best to make sure it doesn’t happen again (much harder when our email provider is responsible for the error). We apologize.

Some of you may have been annoyed by it.

But our unsubscribe rate stayed at the low level it’s usually at. And some people take the time to write to us to tell us there’s a problem. Thank you!

With mistakes like this, we always send an apology. That apology email often results in almost as many clicks or responses than the first, and sometimes even more!

Twice the result!

Which is often how it goes when you make errors. Especially when you apologize.

Since I know you like to gloat about other people’s errors (well, I like to gloat, so I think you might also) … here are some examples of painful errors I’ve been part of through the years:

  • Two embarrassing typos: We meant to say, “Sign and return the enclosed placemat.” What we got was, “Sign and return the enclosed placenta.” Second: a “Fill the Pantry” campaign somehow became “Fill the Panty” (I’ve heard from quite a few people who have suffered this exact error!)

Result: No discernable difference in response from normal. A couple of donors sent back the errors (with their donation) pointing out the typos.

  • The unreadable newsletter: We produced a multi-page newsletter, and the printer failed to trim the paper correctly before mailing it. The tops of some of the pages were connected so the only way to read the inner pages was to tear them apart.

Result: The newsletter performed quite a bit better than projections.

  • Mixed up letter: To lower costs, we produced two direct mail pieces for two different clients using the same specifications. The printer got confused so that Client A’s letter had Client B’s page 2. And vice versa. Meaning everyone got letters that dramatically changed topic mid-sentence.

Result: The initial appeal for both clients performed as we’d originally projected. And a handful of donors called or wrote to complain about the error. Response to the apology letter was strong, better than the initial appeal. Meaning we more than doubled revenue to the project because of the error. (It was the printer’s fault so the apology letter was at no cost to us.)

So errors don’t necessarily kill you.

But I don’t want to give the impression that you can be cavalier and sloppy and just let the errors happen.

There’s a class of error that pretty much does kill you. That’s when something happens that makes it difficult or confusing for donors to respond. Like inserting the wrong return envelope. Or a dead link to the landing page. Or an incorrect phone number.

Those errors will get you, big time.

Takeaways:

  • Not all errors are the end of the world.
  • Some, though, kind of are.
  • It’s worthwhile to apologize for errors.
  • Some errors are hilarious, even though they’re upsetting.

By the way, the team at Moceanic didn’t make this mistake on purpose to get more responses!

Care to share errors you’ve made or seen and the outcomes? Please comment below!

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