Fundraisers live and breathe by the data. But how do we project our way out of this extraordinary past 18 months? Join Liz Murphy, EVP of Client Relationships, Allegiance Group and Roger Hiyama, EVP, Solutions and Innovation Group, Wiland for a look at the fundraising trends and what they tell us. We’ll share acquisition and retention trends pre-COVID, during COVID and now (coming out of-COVID) to set the scene and show you the landscape. Then, we’ll provide advice on how to optimize your fundraising program for EOY and going forward, as well as how to forecast revenue.
Liz is an integrated fundraising expert with in-depth knowledge of direct response marketing, digital strategy, fundraising, conversion optimization, and creative strategies. She leads Allegiance’s digital fundraising team and health practice.
Roger leads the solutions and innovation group at Wiland, where he develops new product initiatives and data solutions to meet the evolving needs of the nonprofit sector. His focus is on data trend analysis, mid-level and major donor fundraising, and new donor acquisition solutions using digital marketing”
Liz: Thank you for joining us for today’s webinar, which is Fundraising Trends and Strategies for Year-End and 2022. We’re also going to be taking a look back at 2020 as we look ahead as well. A few housekeeping rules before I start, which is that this is going to be recorded and you will get a copy of the slides. And with that, I am going to go forward and meet the speakers. So I’m Liz Murphy. I work for the Allegiance Group. I’m the practice manager for health civic and social justice organizations, but I’ve worked with non-profits in every industry sector over the last 35 years.
If you’re not familiar with the Allegiance Group, we create integrated digital and direct mail campaigns. We create award-winning websites and mobile apps, and we have custom fundraising software and loyalty programs. And I’m going to hand it over to Roger.
Roger: Hi everybody, I’m Roger. I’m executive vice president solutions and innovation at Wiland, and I’m very pleased to be co-presenting with my dear friend, Liz Murphy.
Thank you, Liz.
Liz: You’re welcome. I am the same. So my goodness, look at everything that we have been through in the last 18 months. Honestly, when I was putting together this slide, I had much more to put on here and I couldn’t fit it. It’s frankly, a miracle that we persevered and frankly continue to fundraise through all of these very challenging and some unprecedented, a word that certainly has been overused, but is appropriate, including some of the things at the end here, which are popping up. Nice little challenges like paper shortages, and also a new policy from Apple for iOS users preventing us from telling whether somebody is opening our email program right in time for year-end. So we’ve been through a lot. But how has this affected fundraising? And let’s go through that.
For, today’s presentation you’re going to see a number of data points and data sources. And I just want to talk about that for a second. This one is from the AFP and the Fundraising Effectiveness Project. And this is for the calendar year of 2020. I’m going to be showing you a number of data sources and Roger’s going to be sharing some data from the Wiland Co-op as well.
There will be some variation in the numbers, but I think the trends are the same. So the great news is that the Cares Act, the Paycheck Protection Act and the generosity, honestly, of our donors created an amazing boost. The number of donors is up by seven something percent.
Donations were up almost 11%, which is the highest they’ve been in five years. Revenue per donor, new donors, all good, except for this little sticky little thorn, which we’re going to talk about a little later. But it’s been a continuing thorn in the side of our fundraising programs.
And who, saved it? It’s really interesting, because if you look at this group of different types of donors, and they’re the bookends here, right? It was the people who are the new donors, new people to your new people who’ve never given before in huge amounts, is 19% increase in new donors.
This is overall, of course. And recaptured donors, interestingly, really stepped up to the plate. Those who didn’t give last year, but had given prior, they did so much better than even those who had been on your file and had given previously. So that’s an interesting point. COVID, certainly the urgency and the global kind of scale of this really captured the attention of both new and recaptured donors. And all donors at all levels gave more. Certainly those under $250, which is a 15% year-to-date change led the way.
But look at that 10, 11, almost 11% for major donors, a boost and 8% in mid-level giving. So wonderful news to see it across the board. And surprisingly, because I remember at the beginning of COVID talking to my colleagues about monthly givers and whether or not they would be concerned about continuing their monthly gifts.
I know many organizations created a safe script for when people called in to see if they could postpone it for a couple of months or whether they could offer them the opportunity to reduce their gifts, their monthly gifts. But I think it all sorted itself out and more than sorted itself out.
Recurring giving increased by almost 18% year-over-year at a rate actually higher than one time giving. One time giving increased by 15 to 16%. You know, huge leaps. Year-over-year sustaining givers increased by 14 to 20% every month. Still seeing an 85% retention rate for multi-year sustaining givers. So that is just a huge win.
I’m going to assume that all you wonderful fundraisers out there really doubled down and had done your homework before 2020, and during 2020 and optimize your forms, made sure that there was a sustaining gift option because people were very receptive to it. This is probably not a surprise to anyone, but online led the growth in 2020 fundraising.
Certainly with human services. We saw it with the food banks and the like. But across the board depending on whose metrics you’re looking at, I pulled Blackbaud’s and MNRs, there’s a 21 to 32% growth year-over-year in online giving, which is massive, honestly. And for the first time ever, 13% of total fundraising came from online. And that’s a 4% growth from the previous year.
Also growing is the number of donors who are giving on a mobile device. So depending on the metrics you’re looking at, from 28 to 35% of donors are now giving on a mobile device. So that number is really increasing. It is wise to make sure that you have a really optimized donation form for end-of-year and Giving Tuesday, because some folks are certainly using it, the option to do so.
And not really surprisingly, but 40% of all online giving occurred in October, November, and December. Which is pretty typical that those last couple of months of the year are really bringing in most of the revenue. But we did see this just huge response in giving to year-end 2020.
Some other changes in fundraising is that more gave locally. I know I did. I gave to my local food bank I had never given to, so I’m one of those folks who gave to orgs that have never given before. We saw the 250, less than $250 givers really increased. The lapsed donor reactivation was amazing, and some became donors for the first time.
So I was thinking about this, and I think we’re going to call it the year of activation and reactivation, because that’s really what happened. So I wanted to take a quick look too, at what’s continuing cause I’m sure that’s on your minds. What should I look forward to for 2021?
The sources that I found for data, which is Fundraising Effectiveness and Donor Centrics really only have Q1 data, but Roger’s going to present some later data to you. So we’ll have a more complete set, but in terms of this data set from Fundraising Effectiveness Project saw really good increases.
We’re seeing the same thing across the board for our clients increases in retention, which we desperately needed, increase in dollars and increase in donors. So that’s a wonderful trend. This is Donor Centric. And for the majority of nonprofits, we certainly know not all of them, the majority I think, and you’ll see it in Roger slides, did benefit from in 2020.
Certainly we saw some downturns in Arts & Culture and maybe a few others, but for the majority, if you look at this for those major kind of metrics, donor growth, revenue, multi-year retention rate, revenue per donor, the majority of nonprofits saw pretty huge gains. So 2021 at least Q1 is off to a good start.
So I’m going to hand this over to Roger.
Roger: Okay, here we go. So one of the things we’re going to do is take a look at what’s really happening in various nonprofit categories, because it’s certainly been different for different categories over the time. In addition, I’ll be showing both information through Q1 of 2021, plus monthly information to show more recent trends.
And then finally, I’ll be taking a look at some second gift conversion data as well. And then finally, I’ve started a new project that I’d love to share with you as well. So let’s just take a quick look at the impact of the pandemic. This looks at full file revenue. These reports are looking at quarterly year-over-year change. As a background, each of these categories have anywhere from 40 to over a hundred organizations represented within each of them. But I think that taking a look at the various categories, it’s pretty clear that everything changed really at the end of March or the middle of March of last year.
Pre-COVID, we were really seeing flatness across almost every single category. And in fact once COVID hit, you can see that Human Services really goes off the charts and continues through the rest of the year. There were other categories, notably Health, that had a lag for the first really almost through the end of the year with total fundraising dollars.
One final note here is that as we look at these numbers, we actually normalize the data for these reports. So any thousand dollar or more gift is normalized at a thousand dollars, so that we take out as much of the skew of those super large gifts that occur.
Taking a look at the other key metrics that can impact overall fundraising, I wanted to just take a quick look at average gift. So as you can see, overall average gift, been relatively consistent in for several years. However, we can see during the beginning of the pandemic, where there was an initial spike in Human Services, those tended to be food shelter type charities. One other note is that within our categories, international relief actually sits within the Support, Assist, Improve Lives & Rights. But you can see overall some up and downs, but for the most part average gift has been fairly consistent over time.
Some improvements in the very beginning part of the pandemic, but overall average gift has been consistent.
So likewise, when we look at revenue per donor is really a function of both average gift and gift frequency. Again, relatively flat, very similar to the previous page. But revenue per donor has been relatively consistent over. time. And then certainly Human Services saw that big increase in Q2. But when we look at the next page, you’ll see that the fundraising drive has not been driven by revenue per donor or average gift. It’s really been total donors.
So as we look at the total donors, this has truly been the greatest driver. Liz mentioned earlier that in looking at some of the Fundraising Effectiveness project numbers, that it was really reactivated donors, those that had been lapsed for a period of time, that saw significant increases.
In addition to that, it was also the successful acquisition programs. The key thing here is, as we look on a monthly basis, you can see some pretty dramatic fluctuations. And especially as we look at full file, we begin to see some changes occurring in the April, May 2021 timeframe. Interestingly here, Human Services and also this Support, Assist, Improve Lives & Rights, these categories really had very significant growth over time. And it’s really almost impossible to think that they are going to sustain that level of growth. So when you see a downturn here with Human Services, they’re still up overall, but month-over-month compared to the prior year, they’re certainly seeing a slight degradation in total revenue.
Interestingly here, Health over the course of last year, was really down. I think most of this might be related to research dollars. So within our cooperative, we have hospitals and a lot of others, organizations that are more the voluntary health organizations, which tend to focus on research. Also within the co-op you’ll see some data where some of the special events that couldn’t occur, you’ll see some downgrades because money wasn’t coming in over the transom that was during that same period. But you can see that beginning really in March of this year that the health started really taking off. But overall, May tended to be more difficult month for many of the sectors.
In fact, if we look at all the sectors, you can begin to see a downturn in terms of overall year-over-year growth by category. So we’re actually going to change our focus here a little bit and start talking a little bit about acquisition. This was a slide I’d used in a previous presentation a year ago.
And my, comment was that, as we look at the total number of new-to-file donors, the industry had been really on 12 straight quarters of decline that really was through the end of 2019.
So if we’re really looking to see what happened, it was all as a result of the pandemic. As I mentioned earlier, pre-COVID showed 12 consecutive quarters of decline of new-to-file donors. Now it wasn’t this way across the board. Certain categories had little blips up and down. But it was beginning with COVID, the red line there, where the American public really came to the rescue, and they gave in unprecedented ways.
And it happened almost across every single sector. Interestingly Arts & Culture took off beginning in Q2 of last year. It had a quarter where it dropped but has been on the recovery since then. Human Services was truly off the charts. Most of the human services organizations saw high double-digit growth.
And in many cases, they acquired four times as many donors as they had in the previous year. Religious Affiliation/Association are faith-based did well as did the International Improve Lives & Rights. And then also Veterans & Frontline Responders, they were one of the only categories, pretend -pandemic that had shown growth in terms of new donors.
And then the other final thing here is if you look at health concerns and cure, there’s the delay that happened through Q3 of last year, where they began to see changes in Q4. So as we look at more recent trends, the solid growth performance for Animal Protection & Welfare has continued really through the end of May. Many other categories have begun to see a drop-off compared to the same period the prior year. Veterans & First Line Responders showing solid growth.
And then certainly up and down trends in other categories. The Environment & Conservation categories showing up and down, but more recently in the March and April timeframe, they have seen increases. I think we’re beginning to see potential COVID fatigue beginning to impact some of our acquisition programs. As we look at new-to-file conversion metrics, I just wanted to show a couple of quick slides here and we’ll run through these pretty quickly. This looks at new-to-file donors, the percent that have made a second gift at the six-month mark versus the 12-month mark. So when I think about how are people dealing with these added new donors that have come on file, I wanted to take a look at how many of them were converting at the 6-month mark. And as you can see from this report, this 2020 in green shows the actual conversion rate. So they’re 18.8% of the people acquired in January of 2020 that after six months had converted. Compared to the prior retention rate for donors acquired in January of 2019, it was a 41% increase. So as we can see here, the retention rates on newly acquired donors dramatically improved over last year. And then if we compare that to what the 12-month conversion rates would be, you can see just in the various numbers here in the reds being negative numbers, if it was negative at the 6-month mark, it probably carried out and was negative for the 12-month mark. So one of the things that we’ve seen in the numbers is that the retention rates that the second gift conversion rates have varied by sector throughout the year. So for example, this one, the Animal Protection & Welfare category, early pandemic, higher second gift conversion rates, through the summer of last year, lower conversion rates.
Now, overall for this category for the 12-month period, they saw a 2.3% increase in overall retention rates. But you see some big spikes early and then degradation down here towards the end. Those same numbers, at the 6-month mark versus the 12-month mark, continue to hold up.
This takes a look here, Animal Protection & Welfare is shown again, but you can see Arts Culture & Education, their overall retention rates at the 6-month period were up almost 20% for the entire year. But those that were acquired in September, October, November showed lower retention rates, conversion rates than in the prior year.
Environment & Conservation is, a fascinating one. Overall for the year, their second gift conversion rates are only down 4.1%, but you can see compared to prior years, they saw declines in several different months. I can tell you just by looking at these numbers, that they had more donors acquired here with higher retention rates before the pandemic, and then other categories further on in the year or other months in the year where they acquired donors their year-over-year second gift rate was down. Now, Health Concerns and Cure, we talked about them having challenges at the beginning of the pandemic because they weren’t acquiring as many donors, but the ones they were acquiring have actually made their second gift overall at a 26% higher rate than the previous year. So if you’re in the health sector and you’re looking at forecasting, the good thing is even though you may not have acquired as many donors at the beginning of the pandemic, you were able to retain those at a significantly higher rate. And as you then start budgeting, you’ll want to add that into your calculations as well.
Human Services, you can see over here on the far right, there was a 3.2% overall increase for the 12-month period. But you saw several months of much higher overall year-over-year retention rates versus the last two months. Now in looking at the numbers, November and December were very high acquisition numbers in terms of people for the year.
So this 3.2% average would have been significantly higher had they had similar retention rates during the month of November and December acquired donors. And then Religious Affiliation/Association, they had a great year, 11% increase in retention rate year-over-year at a 25.4% versus 22.8.
And this is the final slide that looks at the 6-month conversion rates. If you’re in a Support, Assist, Improve Lives & Rights category or Veterans & Frontline Responders, overall, the donors that you acquired are converting at a significantly higher rate. So this bodes very well.
So as I’ve gone through and begun doing some additional analysis, I wanted to share with you just one screen here and to tease you on some other analysis, that’s coming. This particular slide looks at the Animal Protection & Welfare sector. The pie chart on the upper left shows of the hundred percent of new-to-file donors acquired, there were 35% of those donors that were new to fundraising. So within the co-op, these are people that gave their first fundraising gift in the co-op, so the Animal Protection & Welfare category. So they had never given a gift before, whereas 65% of those new-to-file donors for an organization, they had given to other organizations, other categories within the co-op.
So when we talk about finding the holy grail in fundraising, we talk about trying to find a younger donor and one with slightly higher income. Through the pandemic, it’s obvious here that we were able to acquire a very different type of donor. If you look to the bottom right here, this particular chart looks at the new-to-files by age range.
The light blue would have been those new to fundraising, new-to-file. And the dark blue represents the existing fundraising donors that were new-to-file to an organization. Much younger for the new to fundraising, much older as it relates to existing fundraising. Likewise, you can see over indexing in the hundred thousand dollars to $150,000 slightly more here and slightly more in the 80 to a hundred thousand dollars.
So we’re doing a lot more research to understand who these donors are, what some of their social media habits are, and to truly try to understand how we find more by modeling and whatnot, to be able to help organizations target a different audience of donors that came to the rescue during the pandemic.
That was my last slide. Liz?
Liz: It was so first of all, that’s fascinating information. I know Roger went through that quickly. We’re going to make sure you get the slides and feel free to post questions in the question room. And we will try to get to as many as we can and follow up with those that we can’t.
But I think that all of what Roger was speaking to is how do we retain both these new-to-file donors, our lapsed donors that responded to this particular year and this particular need, but not prior years. And to those new to fundraising donors, more importantly. So let’s talk a little bit about that.
Oh, I just thought I’d share with you according to Blackbaud, what were the retention rates in 2020? And they do vary somewhat by online and offline. And you can see 25%, for first year versus 29% for offline. Multi-year 66% higher on the digital side, but 59%, for offline.
So that’s sort our benchmark. It’s critically important, following on to what Roger just talked about, that you understand your audience and understand your numbers. So who are they? what did they respond to? When did they come on file? When you look at the slides that Roger presented, those months when you saw your conversion and retention rates going down, what was that? That’s something where you need to go run that same sort of analysis on your own file and look at it. Was it the acquisition channel? Where did these people come from? What did they respond to?
We still have clients who come to us and digital still have, a big W in their source coding and their database. And I’m just going to say, if anything, last year, and this year proved that people are responding digitally and that you really need to understand it in a more granular way.
It’s not a big W. Email’s very different from organic and from SEM or PPC paid media, display, social advertising, telephone should be in there as well. So I’m really going to encourage you if you’re not doing that, that you really get as granular as you can. For prior giving statuses, obviously super, super important.
Those who are coming to you that are brand new to your organization and brand new to fundraising. That’s totally an anomaly, I think. And so they’re going to really need much more education about all that you and your organization do. What campaigns are they involved in, obviously, giving level, those are best practices and demographics.
We had a very large food bank client who, as you can imagine, brought on a tremendous amount of new donors, over 50,000 in 2020. So we did a demographic and giving analysis of these, and we saw what Roger was seeing, which is we saw a big influx of younger donors. We have to pay attention to that. The other is 33% of them gave them multiple gifts and that’s really a valuable donor, right? And interestingly, 15% of these new multi-gift donors actually responded to direct mail and moved to mail as their channel of choice, once they saw direct mail.
So it leads us to think through what are the offers that we want to offer this younger audience in order to retain them, how do we talk to them differently? Do we offer them, lower dollar giving levels based on what they gave in 2020? It’s a whole new strategy that we have to create.
I think that it’s really time, given so many new digital donors that, if you don’t have a really strong digital infrastructure from a technology perspective, that you re-look at it also means your source code tracking, so you get to that granular level.
We do a lot of donation form optimization. So many of these new digital donors came over the transom, responding to media, responding to just, the need, your increased volume of fundraising, it’s critically important that you have the technology in place where you can use best practices for your donation form.
Your website needs to tell your story the best way it can. You need a great donor journey on your website, and you need to be able to demonstrate your mission’s impact persuasively, because you can’t, as we know, people don’t always go direct through an email, they will often come and look at your website, look at everything that you have there before they decide to give to you.
Email has become the critical channel for renewal. I mean, it always has been, but you know, with all these new donors on your file, email’s going to be critical for you to retain these folks and get those second gifts, third gifts, and more. So make sure that you have an email tool that can really segment and personalize as much as you need to.
And also, I’m going to talk a little bit about automating mail streams as well as the way to create new mail streams. Can you source every channel conversion? And, to my discussion about source tracking, you’re not going to know where to invest more or less unless you know exactly what has been bringing in not only new donors, but the new donors that are going to retain.
So it’s critically important that you get your tracking in place. Also, do you have a dual sync between your eCRM and your database of record? It’s really important. I’m seeing more and more folks responding to mail packages and giving online. And it’s critically important that you understand these donors and what they’re looking for, how they want to give, and that you’re treating them a little differently than the others.
We always want to optimize the donor supporter journey. So in order to give the right message at the right time to the right person, email marketing automation is really one of those things that can make your life so much easier. So you want to look for, an eCRM or a CRM where you’re able to set up these email streams, which are very personalized.
Obviously, everybody’s already been doing Thank Yous and Welcomes to your new donors and new supporters, might be new advocates. But anniversary and second gift renewals are critically important. Mid-level and sustainer upgrade, email reactivations, subscriber conversions, and also those win backs for those lapsed folks.
Acknowledge COVID giving. We’re doing a lot in our direct mail packages, as well as in our digital saying, your support during the pandemic has made a big difference for those we serve. Thank you for your support during the pandemic. Make sure that you’re acknowledging that they served a critical need in a very important time.
Content has always been king, but I think it’s even more important than it’s ever been this year in terms of retention. And a lot of our clients are really focusing on creating really engaging content. This has always been a best practice for us as fundraisers, but I don’t know that we’re as good as we could be at this, myself included. And I really feel that we need to do more. We need relationship content. So newsletters, many of you are already doing newsletters, but really how do we let donors become immersed in the mission? Maryknoll Sisters who work internationally, is doing a podcast every week where they’re taking you to a mission and talking to the people that they’re serving and the Sisters that are doing the work.
We’re doing a lot of direct mail inserts that are educating people, for instance, on a health disease, maybe recipes to live a healthier life. But those are all becoming very important that you have some sort of educational element. We have a health client for vision diseases and they ‘ve been doing phone chats for a very long time, but it’s been serving them incredibly well. It’s a wonderful educational element that is going to serve them well. You’ll see the survey on the right. Philabundance is the food bank. They got a lot of new donors on their file.
They wanted to know more about them. So they had been sending them a couple of surveys a year just to collect a little bit more information about them. Certainly events are also critically important. That has been a problem. We haven’t been able to do events, but food banks were doing virtual tours of food banks.
Now that hopefully things are opening up a little bit more, events are a wonderful way to connect folks to your mission.
Never been more important to invest in your monthly giving program. I talked to you about how monthly giving was up almost 18% last year. This is an example, National Audubon Society in 2018 said they want to become a sustainer-first organization. They wanted to build that solid foundation of sustaining giving, acquiring new sustainers and converting one-time donors and supporters. So in 2020, the plan had always been that they would go and test into this plan and they never wavered. One of the things that came out of the MNR Benchmark Study was that those organizations who did not waver from their fundraising goals and continue to fundraise did much better than those who did. So let that be a lesson to us, right? So, you know, with a year of monthly testing and optimization, just on the digital ad side, that brought in 44,000 new digital sustainers, during a pandemic. They also turned tentpole campaign, something I’m going to recommend to you, into sustain our first campaigns.
So Earth Day like a lot of the environmental organizations, became a sustainer-first campaign. And they also for the first time turned Giving Tuesday into a sustainer-only campaign and were wildly successful. The example on the right is Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Another example of what would have been a tentpole campaign for them, which was National Oyster Day, they turned that into an opportunity to ask for monthly gifts and saw a great return.
So this is my friend Roger’s wonderful quote that I absolutely love, which is, ” When the fishing is good. you want to fish.” So remember, yes, you have all these new donors, but attrition is still going to happen. Keep building your donor file. Don’t stop acquisition. We know that’s absolutely critically important.
Another thing that we’re seeing is a lot of organizations are also building their email files to convert, bringing in really qualified leads through either great content using advertising or using their own website. And then they’re converting those into donors.
People are now used to giving digitally, so you really need to take advantage of it. It’s also a great time, we certainly learned that last year, to diversify your marketing and fundraising. Let’s try not to do that during an emergency, like we had last year. So if you weren’t able to do it, please explore and test new channels and tactics.
We have a lot of orgs that are growing into SMS and putting their foot in the door for that, several doing things on TikTok, who knows what that will lead to, but you really need to be diversifying and looking at new channels and tactics. I wanted to leave you with some opportunities here too.
There are some opportunities for messaging on some charitable tax opportunities for 2021 21. So this is end-of-year messaging. Thankfully, the Cares Act has come over to 2021. But the government has raised the amount that people can give, people who don’t itemize.
Last year you could give up to $300 above the line. And even if you didn’t itemize, you could take it as a charitable tax deduction. Now, if you filed joint returns, a husband and wife can actually deduct up to $600. So make sure you get that into your end-of-year messaging here. For itemized there’s was also some good news, which is the cap, if you itemize, had always been 60% of your adjusted gross income, but in 2021, the IRS said they’re going to increase it to a hundred percent. I don’t know that every donor knows this information. So I would certainly try to get this out to yours, especially to those who have given to you previously.
It’s a wonderful incentive for those. Also for an IRA, last year, the required minimum distributions for the qualified charitable deductions were put on hold in 2020. But they’re back. So this is an opportunity to encourage those with IRAs, to do a distribution this year and to encourage them to do it during year-end.
Okay. So how do you forecast for 2022? I’m going to actually take a little poll I’d love for you guys to answer. And what we’re looking at is: are you forecasting higher or lower overall? Interesting numbers.
All right. I think we’re there. So it looks like 44%, the majority are forecasting a slight increase over 2021. So that’s fantastic. twenty five percent of you are saying 10 or more percent increase, and 24% are forecasting flat revenues. It looks like 6% is a slight decrease over 2021. So in answer to this question, how do you forecast for 2022?
Obviously, this is something we do every year, all of our lives as fundraisers, nothing has really changed other than looking at the metrics and the numbers that you normally do. You need to dive into the same metrics that Roger and we were showing you and say, okay, how am I doing now?
Unfortunately, you don’t have years and years of data because it’s bounced up and down due to COVID. So it is the greatest challenge that it’s ever been. Scenario planning is of course, something we’ve been doing for many years now, which is, if something happens in the economy, then it’s going to be this.
If all is well in terms of COVID and in terms of the economy, we probably can do this.
I wanted to share with you what the Lilly School of Philanthropy is projecting. It’s totally conditional on economic, and as I said, the vaccine, and the pandemic, and the health honestly, of the nation. It’s pretty optimistic, but the economic factors have been pretty optimistic.
And that is that total giving is to rise 4% in 2021 and almost 6% in 2022. Giving by individuals to increase by 6% in 2021, almost 4% in 2022. Estate giving, which has seen quite a boom, is to increase by about 1% in 2021, and by 12% in 2022. That’s based on the stock market continuing to stay steady at least and increase, and foundation giving to decline slightly in 2021, but to increase in 2022. So you can see it’s quite a positive outlook for 2022. This is of course across all sectors as well. So again, this is the Lilly School of Philanthropy they use a couple of different indexes and guidelines. Again, everything is pretty much predicated on the S and P 500 and the GDP. If those should go down, they definitely believe that these numbers will go down. But right now they feel very optimistic for 2022 and even 2021.
Roger, do you want to talk to this at all?
Roger: Yeah. Forecasting for next year, I think could change almost by the week or the day. We’re one more variant away from changing everything. We also look at the political climate in our country and need to increase the debt limit and so on and so forth.
I think the overall health of non-profits’ files is better than it’s been in several years, mainly because of the total number of donors. And so I would focus on a couple of areas. One is certainly focusing on retention and second gift conversion. The other part, you know, fish while the fishing is good, make hay while the sun shines.
And we did a digital media spending survey a couple of years ago with the Nonprofit Times. And one of the biggest reasons why people were reluctant to do more in digital fundraising, digital media spending, is because they had no way of measuring attribution. Last year with a 21% increase in online giving, that was amazing and phenomenal, but I can tell you that same thing won’t repeat itself, unless we prime the pump. We still need to drive eyeballs in people to websites and to donation pages. And if you haven’t already started doing testing in digital media, either through social ads on Facebook and other platforms, or by co-targeting of a display ad to your direct mail campaign, now is a great time to start testing into some of those things because truly the fishing is still good.
And although we’re one variant away from changing that, the part of fundraising that makes it so much easier is when you have a healthy donor file. And today we have healthier donor files than we’ve had in quite some time.
Liz: And I was 14 years on the client side and direct mail, and 22 years now on the digital fundraising, or really, I would call it integrated. So I do take a very integrated approach. I second what Roger is saying.
You have a lot of new digital donors you should speak to them digitally. I also feel like you should take a multi-channel approach. We’ve seen very successful campaigns over the last five years where we are showing ads to folks who are getting direct mail, where we’re doing coordinated, certainly an easy one, if you’re not doing it now, is coordinated renewals where you’re sending an email at the same time that you’re sending out your direct mail renewal There’s no reason it will vary tremendously by the client. But some donors who give digitally will respond to direct mail and also give online as well.
Some mail donors will also give online. We’re seeing very large gifts from folks who are giving much larger gifts than they would give in the mail. So there’s some reason to encourage that behavior. But still they’re being spurred by a direct mail package. So really thinking about the donor experience, meet them where they are, and that is if they are on Facebook, we want to meet you there. If that’s the time that you are feeling like you want to give a gift, fantastic. That’s terrific. One of our clients, I just got off a meeting today, one of our donors came in on a Bing ad a year ago, and then they just gave a $5,000 gift through their Donor Advised fund.
Like I said, they want to give where they are and where they feel comfortable. So it’s important that we are represented, that you organization is represented in all of those channels so that we can give donors the opportunity to give when they want to give where they want to give. All right.
Are there any questions for us?
Roger: Liz, I do have a quick comment. one of the questions that always comes up is: how am I going to increase my budget in one area where my overall budget hasn’t changed from an expense perspective. And the only thing I can say is there’s an opportunity to do new things that are going to carry us forward into the future of fundraising and the best way to find new money, I think, is to optimize in some of your other channels.
Look for a three or 5% savings by either reducing volume by 5% or eliminating 5% and going and finding 5% better names. So we have seen a huge increase in the number of our clients that are doing what’s termed as net file optimization, where after the merge in direct mail, we’ll run it through a scoring process, identify five, 10% that they probably shouldn’t mail at all.
And then go and find, through modeling, additional names that score at the very top of models. And so they’re replacing a name that they may end up spending 40 $50 on a CTA basis to one that’s much closer to break even by just doing some simple analytics and optimization.
Liz: I think that is just wonderful advice. I’ve been fundraising a really long time and I do think that changes like this also when CEOs and boards see huge influxes of new donors and things like that, I think they become more interested and more open. If it’s possible to what I call testing, and again, if you need to find the money out of the same budget, that’s a great way to do it with Roger’s advice. But it’s critically important that you make some changes, if you were one of those that did see one of those huge increases, that you get your foundation in order so that you can continue this and make sure that you retain those donors.
We do have some questions. Thank you, Tricia. I see it now. We are considering text communications and pushes and need to add that capability to our record system, interested effectiveness of engagement via text push for religious media. That is a great question, but a very specific one. So I’m going to actually answer that offline to you, Tricia.
Well, if there’s no more questions certainly feel free to reach out to Roger or me. When we send this out, we’ll give you our email addresses and really thank you for spending the time with us this afternoon. And thank you for attending.
Roger: Thanks, everybody.