Who would have thought 2020 would bring a worldwide pandemic and an economic recession? It’s hard to prepare your nonprofit for a crisis like this – or is it? History has told us that anything can happen anytime, like a hurricane, tornado, flooding, or wildfires. Today, we see protests for justice reform across the country. We may be unable to control when a crisis hits, but we can prepare for one. Learn the 8 steps for fundraising during a crisis to prepare your nonprofit to weather the next challenge.
Kathy: Thank you all for joining us. Today’s session is Eight Steps to Fundraising During a Crisis. We’re so happy that you’re here to join us and thank you for sharing your time with us. My name is Kathy Giles, Director of Client Management, and my co-presenters are Scott Hinckley, VP of Client Relations, and Liz Lowe, Data Analytics Director.
And to get us started, are you ready for your next crisis? As we’re all aware, unfortunately, a crisis can hit at any time anywhere. It could be national, regional or a local event. Even just yesterday, Louisiana was hit with yet another hurricane and fires are burning in multiple states. You may not know when a crisis will hit, but you can be prepared for when it does.
And of course, who was expecting a worldwide pandemic to strike. COVID is testing everyone on a personal basis. It’s impacting businesses, large and small. And of course non-profits. Based on a survey conducted by CAF American, the voice of charities facing COVID-19 worldwide, which was conducted between April and May of this year, they found that 73% of charities around the world have reported a decline in revenue. Additionally, half of them are expecting to see another 20% decrease in revenue over the next year, while only 6% of charity are reported to see giving increase. These really are staggering statistics and it’s really illustrating the larger impact that a crisis can have on an organization and ultimately communities and the constituents that they serve.
Just a couple of anonymous organizations, again, from that CAF America survey, just sharing what’s on their mind as COVID was coming in. Their thoughts are what the future holds if something else happens, whether it’s an increase in the need for support because of the pandemic or will another natural disaster that will push those needs on the community as well. All of it compounding the effects of COVID. As we mentioned, there are storms and fires that are burning right now across our communities, across the country. So how does that really impact an already struggling area and the nonprofit organizations within those areas to help serve the community?
Having a crisis plan in place can be instrumental in helping you to weather the next storm. So we’re going to have a poll for you. We just want to get a sense of, do you have a crisis plan in place?
So let us know. Do you have something in place already that you can leverage during a time of need or not? Is this something that you need to work on? Just give it a couple more seconds, let you all share your answers. Because what we will be talking today is really some of those ideas and the steps to put that crisis plan in place.
All right, let’s see what you say.
Overwhelmingly, everyone does have a crisis plan. Some of you do not. it’s good to know that a lot of you have started to really think about this. So let’s see what those steps are to help everyone move forward.
Scott: Eight steps to success in a crisis. Why eight? I don’t know. We could have had 10, 15, 20 there’s tons of different steps that we could have narrowed down. I have an eight-year-old daughter that loves Family Feud is one of her favorite game shows. And she said I should do a survey like Steve Harvey and say 30,000 development directors asked him what their successes steps when a crisis were. Survey says. No, we’ll do 8. The first one that comes to mind for us, is maybe the simplest one, but sometimes the toughest for us to do is to stay calm and carry on. The take a deep breath and repeat after me, as it says, we’re prepared, and we will make the best of this.
I always feel like after that, that I want to grab a pillow and put it to my face and scream into it, because I think all of us are going through a lot of stress. Our not-for-profits, our donors our prospective donors, the people that we serve. The other day, I had a coworker, un-named coworker who heard me texting sounding stressed, sounding worried about getting things out before the holidays, things that we do in our daily basis, broken machines, things like that. And she gave me back some words of wisdom and just told me to be, it sounded like right out of this piece, be calm, relax. It’ll be okay. And I needed that at that time, like a slap upside the face of wake up Scott. I’m usually pretty calm person when it comes to being in a situation like that. So we all need to look out for those people who are managing this crisis in different ways. Especially our donors because some of them are being affected by it.
Many of them are being affected by it. This may sound odd, but one of the things that some of the not-for-profits we work with have to deal with right now in this crisis or in any crisis is should we be asking? We deal with a lot of food banks in our work. This is their time, human services, shelters, things like that, it’s a huge time.
I think of a nonprofit that we work with is a performing arts center. COVID hit back in March, right when they were starting their big season. For them, it was a time to pause, a time to communicate with their people, their audience, their donors, come up with strategies. But at the same time they didn’t feel comfortable putting out appeals like it was just any old time. They didn’t feel like they had the case to do that. Probably a smart decision on their part. They’re doing much better now. And they delayed going out and took time to prepare how they were going to put together a season and think about that instead of going out and really not know what they were asking for, except that they were struggling with the budget.
It’s ineffective to ask if we don’t know what we’re asking for, because the donors are looking, and this isn’t news to you, but they’re not looking to support you, they’re looking to support your mission and what you’re doing. So if we can identify what they’re giving through you to, then it’s going to be powerful. Your mission and your impact are what are going to resonate with your donors.
And that’s why they’re donors. So don’t let a crisis change your message. Don’t let a crisis make you jump out there with a message that isn’t you, and isn’t what you need, and try to focus that message and think about it. Now if the crisis is intensifying and you’re feeling that impact on your mission, food, banks, shelters, things like that, depending on what the crisis is, by all means, that’s another story. In that case, highlight what’s relevant in your message. If you are a food bank or healthcare organization or shelter, you should be talking about the increased need and how you’re helping. Or even if you are an organization that is directly responding to the current health and economic crisis, your mission might be impacted too. For example, civil rights organizations, they’re confronting increase in xenophobia during the pandemic. If that’s the case, they shouldn’t be missing highlighting that impact and the increased need when they’re reaching out to their donors. But keep the message focused on the mission and cause for your organization. Looking at these a little bit, some of our bullet points here, to be present, most people are not looking backward at this time or forward. We’re trying to live where we are. Donors are trying to feel their way through the current crisis. When we deal with hurricanes in our business, things like that, people tend to be focused on what the immediate needs are. I saw a quote recently that said that all we know about fundraising and not for profits and where things are going right now, is that we know nothing at all. And that’s a sad statement, I think, but it’s also very realistic that we need to be preparing for what we don’t know is coming. We can’t assume that things are going to get better quickly or listen to one talking point or another about where things are going.
The next one, staying the course, we talked about staying on-mission with everything you do. Showing empathy and concern, this is a big one. I think we all feel like we show empathy and concern, but you’d be surprised at some of the not-for-profits that we’ve worked with through the crisis that we’re in right now, got themselves into trouble back in March and April, because they, I can think of one example of an organization we work with.
It really didn’t feel like COVID was affecting them or the racial unrest wasn’t affecting them. So they wanted to put out an appeal, digital and direct mail, but they didn’t want to acknowledge anything about what was going on. Fought tooth and nail with them, tried to coax the messaging to make sure that we were acknowledging what was going on, even just acknowledging that we hope you and your family are doing well.
Couldn’t hear it at all. That appeal didn’t do so great for them. When they came back and did a mop-up piece, saw the error of that, and really focused on talking to people where they were and making sure that people understood that, even if it was through an email or through a direct mail piece right off the bat, they were acknowledging that people might be suffering, you and your family might be impacted.
Yeah. It’s just something that we can’t take for granted during a crisis that if people get something in the mail or through email, or they get a phone call, that they want to know that you’re thinking that, hey, it could be me too.
Keep revising your messaging. As I said, we don’t know what is coming. Even though we think we have the plans in place, we have the crisis plan, sounds like many or most of you have a crisis plan in place, but as with all things, those are fluid. Those are changing all the time.
I think people should be revisiting those every moment during a crisis. I can think back when we had a hurricane coming to an area in Florida where we have a significant client who was preparing three different messages to put out in an appeal after the hurricane. One was for if they received a direct hit, whole different message, something we could fill in quickly. One was going to be if it completely missed. And another one’s going to be if it hit an area near them, that they could be also helping support. Thinking of the different ways that your messaging could change in the months ahead are a big thing,
We dealt with a group a number of years ago, not that it’s a crisis, but with the election in 2016, and this organization was putting out an appeal that was going to go out right after the election.
And they actually had us create two different versions of copy, images, the whole messaging for a campaign based on who they thought might win the campaign. For them, it was their way of making sure they covered the bases because they knew how they were going to, at least they felt like they knew how they were going to feel no matter how that ended up coming out.
So in the end it kept them moving quickly through the crisis, made them reach out to their donors right afterwards. I think of it like you think of sports events where they have a championship and they always have t-shirts printed up as if you’re the winner even if you aren’t the winner, just because they want to be prepared.
Talking to your board and volunteers. This is very underestimated by some organizations. Development directors out there know that this is very important, to talk to your board and make sure that they feel like they’re in the know of what’s going on. It’s not the time necessarily to be asking for gifts in a crisis from board members, but you never know how that will turn out.
If you’re expressing what your needs are as an organization, what your concerns are, your board members are experienced people and people committed to your mission and your volunteers are also, and they all come from different walks of life. They might be chiming in with a connection that they have at Home Depot that could be someone that could be helping with something, or they could be someone that has access to a significant amount of trucks that might help with the food delivery that’s needed. Anything like that. We really encourage our executive directors, CEOs and our development directors to really focus on keeping people informed, keeping transparency going so that those people feel like they are part of the solution, and if it means they open up their checkbook, you’ll take that to.
Motivating your staff. We know internally we know talking to not-for-profits it in this crisis, it became a whole different world for many not-for-profits who were used to all being in the same building or easily talking to each other. Now they were having to try to figure out webcams and things like that. I think of this as a time where in a crisis where we need to remember to reach out to our people and really bolster their spirits a bit and make sure that that we appreciate them, but at the same time, give them something that maybe they don’t see coming. I can think of just in our team, we have a big production team that’s been isolated during COVID while most of the rest of our team are working remotely. You forget about them there, and they’re pretty much a team that’s working in isolation, doesn’t have anyone to deal with on a regular basis. So I sent them a box of goodies anonymously one day, just to have that show up and, an email went out to our whole team saying, oh, thank you, whoever sent that. To me, that was a little way of just making sure that the production team knew that the rest of us were thinking about the work that they were doing there.
Doubling down on communication is one of the last things here. That goes along with refreshing your communication all the time. I think that the communications people in your organization should be working hand-in-hand with a development team in a crisis, even more. Just making sure that you’re not saying the same thing over and over and over.
Kathy: All right now we’re on to step two, which is keep acquisition efforts. When a crisis hits and there’s uncertainty about financial impact or what’s going to happen in the future, one of the first things that gets placed on the chopping block is acquisition. And as we know, as designed acquisition is an investment into your donor file. And it is about the future of your revenue. And it’s expensive. It’s not a revenue generating program, it runs at a loss. And it’s because of this, that a lot of times when things start to get hard, you start to think of ways to cut back on expenses. And so acquisition gets placed at the top of that list.
That’s one of the programs to get cut all with the idea of a cost savings effort, because to some, acquisition can be seen as non-essential. Except it is extremely essential for the health of any program. We know donor files are like leaky buckets. You need to have that constant proven source of new donors to come in and offset the attrition that you have annually.
And if you start to skip acquisition, you really are looking at damaging your program in the long run. Because a lot of times that cut is not an immediate impact. It’s for a number of years down the line that you will really start to see the impact of cut cutback on acquisition.
You need to have that continual replacement of the donors to make sure that your active donors year-over-year are healthy, and with that you will see revenue growth. So when you start to think of acquisition, you really have to not think of it in the immediate sense, but really think of how any changes in acquisition will impact the future, your future active donor counts, which will also impact your future revenue.
So all of this goes hand-in-hand. And without acquisition, you get donor decline. You lose donors, you lose revenue. So here’s just an example, just to give you an idea of what can happen. So this is an organization that cut back all acquisition in FY13 and 14. And you can see, during those years there was little change year to year.
But you start to see in FY15, there was a 9% drop in active donor counts due to the cut in acquisition. And then by FY16 donor counts dropped even further and they dropped 15% compared to FY13. Even though acquisition was reinstated in FY15, those donor counts continued to drop. Again, it’s that long trending impact that acquisition does have.
And you have to think of the future because it’s not until FY17 that we see those trends start to go back up. And even by FY18, so this is five years past the time that acquisition was cut, they still were not able to rebound fully, and to get back to that same level that they started from.
So again, it’s just really an example of the long trends that any changes an acquisition can have to a program. And when you think of during a crisis, you could possibly expect to see the attrition of your donor file increased slightly, all depending on what the crisis is, but you might expect to see your donor file just have a higher-than-normal attrition rate.
So it becomes even more imperative to allow you to weather whatever that crisis is, to make sure that you are not cutting back on acquisition.
So it’s really about the need to maintain acquisition, to help pull through any crisis, help set you up for success on the other side. We’ve seen the decline that can happen when an organization stopped acquiring new donors. The impact lasted years. Even after acquisition was reinstated, there was still another year of decline.
So stay the course. It might be that you have to readjust the amount that you’re spending on acquisition. Maybe look at how to augment that. Look at lapsed recapture and are there different ways that you can go in and mine your deeper lapsed file. Anything that can help you replace those active donors that are being lost and also look at alternative channels to reach potential new donors.
So is acquisition essential? Absolutely. It is the base of every fundraising program. It is how an organization is introduced to new prospects. That is how a base of support is built. So stay the course and be creative in how you raise new donors.
And with that, we come to step three, which is diversify your channels. So we just discussed the investment and the importance of investing in your donor file and why it is needed to successfully manage a crisis. Most of the time we think of direct mail, which can be expensive, but what if you already had in place various sources of new donor acquisition?
It may allow you more flexibility and maneuverability to make those necessary changes. So not to just acquire through direct mail but look at additional channels to allow you to reach new prospects, new potential audiences, to help you, again, weather that storm a little easier.
So the reasons to diversify, it reduces dependency on a single revenue channel or source, provides more flexibility to alter communication channels as needed and quickly so you’re able to make those changes immediately, whether it’s through acquisition or just appeals or stewardship. Whatever that is, you have those pieces in play already. And it increases the opportunity for donors to donate through the channel of their choice. So if you are active, email, mail, phone, whatever other channels you would like to leverage, you are allowing all of those options to your donors to choose the way they want to give. But to take advantage of what a diversified channel program can provide you, you need to have those in place, to allow you to take advantage of those benefits.
Here we see a sample analysis looking at channels, new donors use to make the first gift. We do see some overlapping from someone who had received a direct mail piece but use a different channel like online to give. We also see small percent of donors who received both mail and online message.
But a large take from this analysis is the fact that communications from each channel are working independently for this organization and reaching unique prospects. If this organization did not have the multi-channel approach to their acquisition, they would be missing out on a number of new donors.
This example really helps explain the need to diversify your program, you’re giving channels to help further your fundraising program in good times. But when a crisis looms, the ability to pivot between channels is all the more important.
So now is the time to start to evaluate your channel mix, to get you prepared for any crisis and get that as part of your crisis plan.
Liz: So now that we’ve discussed the importance of diversifying your channels, let’s talk about relationships. The goal for any nonprofit organization should be to raise donors and not dollars. The donors are the ones that stick around with you rather than a transactional effect of them just depositing their gift and taking off.
Number one, we always work on getting that second gift just to get them more integrated with your organization. But typically nonprofits go through a three-year cycle following a disaster. Year one, you’ll see a dramatic influx of new donors and a rise in gifts. Year two, you’ll see declines in revenue, active donors and retention rate as the file begins to normalize, go back to normal. Wouldn’t we all like to keep the dramatic increases that crisis bring. But again, it’ll normalize, we all know this. And then in year three, percentages bounce back up to account for a return to pre-disaster trends, but to try to alleviate some of that rollercoaster effect, we have a few steps for you.
As new donors come through your files, the first step we recommend is coding them as such, because I’m the data person, and keeping them that way until they behave differently. So they’ve given three, four times, they’re still technically a disaster donor. They came on the file because there was immediate need that they needed to fulfill.
So keep them coded that way so you can easily identify them. Then you should take the following steps. Create messaging that details the difference their gift is making, donor impact, right? Like we all should be showing lengthy impact to your mission, to further the relationship. So not only did their gift help make X possible, but this is what X does to our mission.
So make sure that you’re promoting how their impact is affecting your mission as well. Provide periodic updates on the work that you’re doing during the pandemic. Keeps sending them updates of how their gifts are making an impact so they really realize what their gifts are doing for those in their community.
Add these donors to your media targeting. Whatever channel they come in, add them to other channels as well. So they are getting the message across. And ask for a second gift within the first 60 days. I know that their disaster donors typically 2 to 5% renew, but we’re seeing different things with COVID donors.
We’re seeing that in the food bank sector, for example, they’ve already renewed to a point of 20%, have given two to three to four more gifts, and that’s incredibly unusual and wonderful at the same time. So make sure you’re asking for that second gift.
You’d be surprised how many donors are willing to give again, once they know their donation is helping you fulfill your mission. So remind them of their previous support, remind them the impact that it’s made. And you have a better chance of converting these donors to your mission.
So I’m sure you all know the donor-centric fundraising model. If not, you should, I highly recommend reading up on it.
It basically makes the donors more of the focus and it’s creating relationships rather than a transactional relationship with them. So after you’ve done all your work cultivating these donors, it’s time to take a second look at your data, how their behavior changed. There’re three primary segmenting options here that you can do.
Move them into your active donor file. If they’ve made a second gift and it’s time to transition these donors into your active file. Based on the commitment they’ve shown, they are interested in your mission, and you can continue cultivating this relationship. If they haven’t given again, you can add them to your lapsed donor campaigns.
Don’t give up on them yet. They obviously felt the need to give something to your mission. So don’t give up on them. Try again, try again. And thirdly, if that still doesn’t work, you can set them aside as a disaster donor. You’ll know that after 13, 15 months, maybe they don’t have all that signs of interest there.
Even if you’ve sent them an anniversary reminder message, highly recommend that, they should remain in the disaster donor segment. So you’ll know that if the time comes that there’s a need again, an immediate need of disaster or any kind of, hopefully not a pandemic again, that you have them in your pocket, you have a set segment of disaster donors that you can reach out to in times of need, and they should step up and help you again.
And by segmenting these donors and tapping into the emotion that led them to give in the first place, how that drive your copy and creative, and you can form a lasting relationship between them and your organization. Ways to work on these reactionary donors is build positive relationships with them.
Don’t make everything so dire. Show how we together are meeting the mission and make sure they know how much you value them every day. Show their impact again, and that the needs are still ongoing. Just because the disaster immediately is over, that doesn’t mean you’re not going to have an ongoing impact.
Especially with COVID, it’s still ongoing. There’re still people that don’t have employment. There’re still people that can’t go to work because they have to take care of their children who are now remote learning. So there’s still going to be an ongoing need even after next year. And when it finally, if finally it goes away.
Emphasize the value of membership or commitment. In order to encourage giving beyond the one-time donation, your nonprofit needs to emphasize the value of membership or long-term commitment to donors. So showcasing that membership has its privileges, whether it’s through expansive benefits, recognition, or helping to achieve national awareness, you must support those who support your mission.
Remind donors of the ongoing challenge your organization is going to need continued support, still. And balance the asks. If all your communication with donors is about transactional giving, you’re raising dollars and not donors. So steward these donors. Make sure that they realize how important they are to you and that everything is not about the ask.
Scott: Okay. So step five is making that connection. Much of this continues on from what Liz said, but some of making that connection is to, we talked about earlier as far as treating your donors as the heroes that they are. They want to hear what their gift is, how it’s making an impact. When I make a donation to a nonprofit organization that I support, nothing makes me feel better than when I get a quick response in the mail, thanking me for the donation, and at the same time telling me what that donation is going to do. And then even a follow-up with the next piece that comes to me, as Liz said about segmenting as a new donor, I want to see in the next piece that comes out to me, that they’re acknowledging me as a first-time donor, as a longtime donor or someone that’s a monthly donor that’s giving an extra gift. Everyone wants to see a piece coming to them, email, phone call, direct mail, that speaks to them where they are as a donor. Especially in a crisis, it makes you feel like, hey, they do see that I’m making a difference here. Even at crisis, more than ever, we should be doing it all the time, but it’s a time where things sometimes get busy, and things go by the wayside. Sometimes you see the thank you notes that are going out slow because we’re dealing with workplaces that are separate and trying to figure out how to get those things into the computer and out on time.
But in a crisis, it really says something for your organization, if you’re responding in real time and actually responding faster than you would in non-crisis time. Those are the donors that we should be reaching out to and talking to. One of the things we talked about that should be in every crisis plan for a not-for-profit that makes that connection is taking a list of all of your key donors, your board members, and taking a phone list with you, an email list, a text list when a hurricane is approaching when a wildfire’s happening, in the middle of COVID lockdown, reaching out to those people and just talking to them. some of the best development directors and CEOs I see out there are the ones that all they’re doing is talking on the phone, having conversations with their key players, so that those people feel like they’re part of the solution, and part of the, as I mentioned before, be a part of helping in some way.
As Liz said, welcoming donors, a welcome packet, and then a follow up personally with that, gives them the feeling that they’re acknowledged as that and that they are part of helping make that difference.
Segmenting, as Liz talked about, I like to see a piece come to me that acknowledges my last gift or that is giving me some information about what the next steps are that we need as far as an organization. Transparency, again, a huge thing, and engaging them moving forward in other ways, stewardship wise, other than just making a gift. Asking for them to come and volunteer, if they’re able to, anything that they can do to help make a difference. So those are what’s making a difference right now.
Liz: So back to data again. Step six, prioritize your data. the most important piece of using data is to make sure you’re coding as much of your data as possible to get the most insight out of it. Source coding, appeal coding, restrictions on gifts, whatever your CRM calls it, fill it in. Make sure you’re tracking all of this stuff, because that’s what you’re going to be able to look back at and say, oh, look, this is how this happened.
So it’s not about just having the right donor data, it’s about how you’re using it and how much, you know your data. So using your database to the fullest will give you the best return. I know it can be daunting to collect all the information you can, but you can build a plan for this in advance. Understanding your CRM and the power behind it can alleviate a lot of the stress of data collection. And data analytics can show you donor behavior patterns that you were never aware of. Harness that. Using your data, combine metrics on campaign performance so you can make educated decisions in the future. For example, someone in a meeting can easily say, I think we can improve online giving by 15%, if we post more on Facebook. But if you don’t have the tools in place to measure that online giving, and you don’t have the resources to actually post more on Facebook, then nothing good will happen.
You’re going to be shot down the moment someone says, how are we going to measure that 15% increase. So make sure you have a plan ahead of time of how to collect all the data, how do you use all your tools, and how to be able to pivot with those tools as quickly as you need to. Because we all know the world is not going to wait for us. COVID showed us that.
So here is more information on data analytics. It doesn’t just refer to the donor gift data. It encompasses all the ways you can analyze your donor data in order to gain meaningful insights into your constituency, including things like donor engagement history, donor demographic info, giving habits, giving capacity, propensity to give, communication preferences. If you’re collecting all of this, you’re going to know more about your donors and you’re going to know their preferences for being communicated to. Some are really only going to like online communication; some are really only going to like direct mail communications. And keeping track of that shows that you’re paying attention to what the donors are asking of you.
And having the right team in place to take care of your data is super important as well. Even a simple thing as gift entry, if you’re passing that around just to have somebody fill it in because you don’t have time, that’s honestly how really bad things happen. Trust me on the data end. That’s how it happens.
So the more adamant you are about having a good data plan, the more you’re going to reap in benefits in the future. So trust me on that. Make a data plan.
So here we get back to let’s just ask. Nobody gets what they haven’t asked for. But there’s three things to keep in mind when you’re making an ask. Now that people are probably willing to offer their support more than you think, here’s a few tips to solicit donors successfully. Use storytelling. Storytelling is very big. If you haven’t heard about using storytelling, send me an email. I’ll give you tons of info on it. But statistically it improves all of your donor communications because you’re now making it a story and you’re making it more real for them. So listing off impact stats can demonstrate the effectiveness of your work, but numbers themselves won’t always move someone to action. Your appeal needs to create an emotional connection as well. The key is to weave in elements of storytelling to pull donors into your work. So feature stories about people that have been impacted by your programs, a recent victory, upcoming challenges. Since visual content is especially compelling, make sure to include photos or videos that transport donors to the front lines, visuals evoke a response through your supporter senses, and it brings your stories alive.
Another one is, be direct with your ask. I know a lot of us like to include soft asks. Sometimes you just need to be more direct. Explaining it a problem you solve raises awareness. People don’t always get involved if you don’t exactly tell them how to get involved. people are more likely to lend a hand if asked outright plain and simple.
In your appeal, state explicitly how people can get involved. Do you want them to donate? Do you want them to start a fundraising page? Join your monthly giving program? At the bottom of the email appeal, you place a bold high contrast call to action button that presents the next step you want readers to take.
Your website should also display a clear donate button. Place it in the top navigation bar so visitors know right away that you want their support. And if they don’t see it, they’re not going to know how to act. And the third one, extremely important, don’t downgrade your donors. Any amount makes a difference, but don’t underestimate your audience giving potential. Make sure your suggested giving levels are appropriate for your donors and their giving range.
You could do this by creating custom donation pages for different donors. Do this by segmenting your donor base into different tiers, high tier mid tier low tier. And it all depends on your organization on how you tier those, but you can base that all on their past historical average gift size. Again, go back to your data. Then you can create custom donation pages for each group or each person, adjusting default amounts to correspond with their specific giving history. And this will allow you to try and increase some donors’ gifts as well without downgrading larger donors.
So this one is three things to keep in mind when you’re doing your asks.
We’ve talked about storytelling, talked about being direct, and we talked about don’t downgrading your donors. So make sure that you’re doing all three of these and you’re going to have successes. I guarantee it.
Scott: So focusing on not to fear the road ahead, important thing. When I moved to Florida many years ago, it turned me into one of those neurotic people that make lists all the time as we approach hurricane season, as far as what you have stocked up as far as water, as far as generators, as far as chargers for your phones.
Everything that could go wrong, can go wrong in that type of situation, it’s something that, that making lists, checking all of your, you probably don’t live necessarily in a place with hurricane, but what are the things that you would need in a crisis if all the power was out?
Do you have a generator? Is that something that you should be looking at a special gift to make an ask of a special donor that would be something that you might never need, but if you have it, you can continue and keep moving forward. We’re never going to be prepared for everything.
The pandemics, murder wasps, we don’t even know how to prepare for yet. But preparation is definitely the key to make sure that if something goes wrong, you have a plan in place. Even just updated lists of your donors. Hard copies of important paperwork that you would need as far as how to get your server up remotely, how to access your server remotely. How prepared is your team to be able to work remotely if they don’t have power? I remember sitting in hurricane Charlie many years ago in Florida and I wasn’t worried about power until I was sitting in my car, charging my phone in the driveway, making calls to donors and my boss at the office, trying to help be prepared.
Now I have about 10 different phone chargers that I keep charged all the time, just to not miss a beat.
Kathy, Liz, anything you guys want to add?
Liz: Make sure that you’re differentiating between a problem and a crisis. A crisis requires a permanent change in the way an organization operates and threatens its very existence. A problem does not. So in the immediate needs, I know it might seem like a crisis and oh my gosh, we are not going to overcome this. Take a breath. It’s going to be okay. Have a plan in place, but just make sure that you’re differentiating between a crisis and a problem.
Kathy: And the one thing you don’t want to do is be reactive when a crisis hits. Put your plan in place now, so you can be proactive.
You’ll have to have that understanding that you may need to fine tune that plan to meet the needs of that specific crisis that you are facing. But having that plan will put you miles ahead when you need to act. So you are not reactive, you are calm, you have a clear understanding of what is needed, and you can follow what you have in place, as well as everyone in your organization is also agreeing to that plan as a whole.
So, put these eight steps in place to help you be proactive in whatever we may face in the future and help you weather the storm and come out and set yourself up for success on the other side, and to help you rebound faster, as things start to normalize.
Liz: Absolutely and be proud of yourself. On the agency side, on the nonprofit side, we’re making it work. This has not been easy for any of us and we’re making it work. So be proud and remember everything that you went through in this pandemic and know that you can tough it out. It’s going to be okay. Does anybody have any questions?
I only see one and that somebody saying hi to Scott,
Kathy: Thank you so much, everyone. Feel free to reach out to any of us, we’d love to hear from you. If you have any particular questions on anything that we’ve discussed. You will also receive a recording of this session. And we hope you have a wonderful day. Thank you.