5 Best Methods to Measure the Effectiveness of a Fundraiser (Part 4)

By Sarah Tedesco, Guest Blogger
Executive Vice President of
DonorSearch

4. Manage Your Mission

Perhaps the most important of all your fundraising aspects: determining your mission.

Despite the absolute importance of donors to the success of a fundraising campaign, you cannot properly focus on your donors without understanding the true focus of your organization’s mission.

“What are we all here for?” “What is our mission?” “What are we fighting for?”

If you cannot answer those questions, you cannot produce relevant content for your donors nor can you convince them that your organization is worthy of their support.

A little bit of nonprofit self-love will go a long way.

The foundation of your nonprofit should be your mission, not your donors. 

You need a solid, coherent, and powerful mission to garner the support of donors, corporations, and even your fellow colleagues.

Donors and missions are like two peas in a pod—one naturally accompanies the other. Operating a mission-focused fundraising organization attracts mission-hungry donors. 

Appealing to donors who are loyal and dedicated to your organization’s mission will reap wonderful benefits in both volunteer hours and financial gifts.

If your mission is not well-defined, you risk annoying your donors and prospects by sending them irrelevant content.

When evaluating your fundraising campaign for effectiveness, consider whether your funds for your mission had the intended impact you promoted.

If not, was it your communication strategy? Was your messaging clear and direct or superfluous and vague?

Was it the donors you targeted? Did you utilize your donor data to the best of your ability?

If yes, how can you best utilize this achievement to reach current and potential donors?

Never neglect the power of storytelling as a fundraising tool. 

Stories create an empathetic connection between the donor and the cause by making it personal. They can visualize and quantify the donor’s impact.

Sarah Tedesco is Executive Vice President of DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. Sarah is responsible for managing the production and customer support department concerning client contract fulfillment, increasing retention rate and customer satisfaction. She collaborates with other team members on a variety of issues including sales, marketing and product development ideas.

Wayne GurleyComment
5 Best Methods to Measure the Effectiveness of a Fundraiser (Part 3)

By Sarah Tedesco, Guest Blogger
Executive Vice President of
DonorSearch

Part 3 - Decipher Donor and Prospect Data

Your organization must be keen to the changing environment and respond accordingly to ensure continued support and effective fundraising campaigns.

The one thing that does not change, however, is the impact and effectiveness of properly utilized donor data. Discovering more information about donors and prospects through prospect research allows you to:

  • Strategize to maximize valuable in-person contact

  • Ensure all direct communication is mailed to the correct list of recipients

Assess whether your current prospect research practices align with prospect research best practices. Did your fundraising campaign exceed expectations or could incorporating prospect research strengthen future fundraising events?

Prospect Research: 365 Days of Benefits

Many organizations consider prospect research to be a segmented aspect of the campaign planning process, but there is tremendous value in integrating prospect development techniques into all of your donor interactions year-round.

Consider the fundraising benefits possible from implementing prospect research into your fundraising strategy and enacting them throughout your fundraising calendar:

  • Constantly uncover new donor prospects and cultivate more meaningful relationships to convert more prospective donors into major donors.

  • Illustrate the importance of your donors’ existing community to transform your organization into a donor retention powerhouse, capitalizing on recurring donors and enhancing donor stewardship.

Categorizing donors and prospects based on the valuable data archived by your prospect search tool is a key strategy for optimizing and cultivating your donor base.

Focus on these key facets of donor data to maximize your fundraising outreach:

  • Donor type

  • Interactive initiative

  • Demographics

  • Connection capabilities

Pinpointing preferred methods of communication and solicitation can prove useful during fundraisers, end-of-year asks, invitations to events, and regularly scheduled mission updates.

Are you using the right prospect research tool for your campaign?

Just like any other facet of your organization’s fundraising strategy, you want to operate with tools that optimize the best practices of effective fundraising campaigns.

Look for a prospect management tool that can:

Merge with and maximize your marketing strategy.

Learn the language of prospective donors to communicate relevant and effective information.

  • Preferred Communication. Contact your donors in the method that they appreciate most. If they prefer mail, do your asks align with the critical factors of donation solicitation for direct mail?

  • Preferred Donation. Does this specific donor prefer to donate with a good, old-fashioned check? Online? With their phone?

  • Relationship. Constructing a natural relationship with donors requires you to relate to them on a personal level.

Aggregate the best donor data into one automated system solution to achieve streamlined management and effective evaluations.

  • Past Support. See what types of causes a donor supported in the past to get a better sense of how likely they will support your cause.

  • Mission Relation. Determine which aspect of your mission donors respond to most and how they express their support—social media, volunteering, donations, etc. - to customize communications that highlight each donor’s specific interests.

  • Giving Capacity. What can this donor contribute to your cause— time, finances, networking?

Store actionable data to maximize donor data efficiency and relevant utilization.

  • Knowing Before Growing. Understand what your donors are interested in to help develop existing relationships and cultivate new ones.

Keep track of individual profile data to determine potential major donors and subsequently significant donors.

Capitalize on the conversion of one-time donors into recurring donors by targeting prospective donor opportunities.

Identify matching gift opportunities to enhance your fundraiser’s effectiveness.

Thank your donors with ease and consistency.

  • Stewardship Savvy. Stewardship is emblematic of your relationship with your donors and is a vital aspect of prospect development. 

  • Sincerity. Major contributions to nonprofits are invaluable and should be treated accordingly.

  • No “Ghost” Zone. Slighted donors are less likely to return. Don’t “ghost” your donors and only contact them when you need something. 

  • Favor Frequency. Especially with the millennial and Gen Z donors, you are bound to lose a large chunk of your support without frequent and relevant communication about your organization.

The ideal software will organize your current donor data and optimize prospective donor research for the benefit of your organization’s fundraising effectiveness.

Invest time into discovering a consumer relationship management (CRM) tool—like Salesforce’s CRM, which utilizes prospect research—that can wholly manage and incorporate donor data into your fundraising campaign and marketing strategy. 

Sarah Tedesco is Executive Vice President of DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. Sarah is responsible for managing the production and customer support department concerning client contract fulfillment, increasing retention rate and customer satisfaction. She collaborates with other team members on a variety of issues including sales, marketing and product development ideas.

Wayne GurleyComment
5 Best Methods to Measure the Effectiveness of a Fundraiser (Part 2)

By Sarah Tedesco, Guest Blogger
Executive Vice President of DonorSearch

Part 2 - Fundraise, Reflect, Respond, Repeat

If you have ever tended to a garden before, you know that if you leave your crops untended, you will not have a healthy, viable yield.

Nonprofit fundraisers are not entirely different from gardening. 

Working as the fundraising farmer in the fields of the nonprofits means that you are susceptible to the varying seasons and the slew of independent variables outside of your control:

  • Unforeseen weather that dampens your ambitious outdoor festival

  • Donors who are unaware of their ability to match their gift and double their impact

  • Changing and tracking donor information

  • Keeping up with the latest technology

  • Updating your donation website

  • Creating relevant and tailored content

No matter the potential issue that arises during your fundraising campaign, your nonprofit’s main goal should be to constantly evaluate how you can do better.

It may sound depressing and you may be thinking: “Will we ever be good enough?” But, don’t think about it as an unattainable goal that your organization will never accomplish. 

Think of it as a continual learning process of fundraising, reflecting, and responding.

Fundraise

Your fundraising campaign this past year may have been wildly successful! You gained thousands of new donors, raised more money than you thought possible, and reinforced donor stewardship as a best practice in your organization. 

Fantastic!

But, times and technologies change. So, what you implemented well this year may be outdated by the next.

Document the methods your organization utilized each year and their outcomes to compare the effectiveness of each fundraising campaign’s technique. This will prove handy for years to come as your organization grows and seeks to solidify its strategy.

Reflect

With the fundraising campaign over, it’s now time to reflect.

Reflection is a chance to improve, to grow, and to cultivate new skills. 

Do not slip into fundraising complacency and allow your campaign to unthinkingly meander on without any real direction. Try listening to feedback from your fundraising team and self-evaluating your methods each year to determine where your organization can improve.

Respond

Once your organization has successfully reflected on its recent campaign’s productiveness, it is time to turn reflective ideas into actionable responses.

Begin to craft tangible steps with your fundraising team to be taken throughout the planning, execution, and successive measurement periods for the next fundraising campaign to achieve your outlined goals.

As the fundraising farmer extraordinaire, your fundraising goals should be reactionary, not resistant. Do not maintain stagnancy in favor of experimenting with dynamacy. New issues may arise and new technologies will develop.

Your organization must be keen to the changing environment and respond accordingly to ensure continued support and effective fundraising campaigns.

Sarah Tedesco is Executive Vice President of DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. Sarah is responsible for managing the production and customer support department concerning client contract fulfillment, increasing retention rate and customer satisfaction. She collaborates with other team members on a variety of issues including sales, marketing and product development ideas.

Wayne GurleyComment
5 Best Methods to Measure the Effectiveness of a Fundraiser (Part 1)

By Sarah Tedesco, Guest Blogger
Executive Vice President of DonorSearch


You and your team did it!

You finished your fundraiser and you could not be happier.

You had a large turnout, you surpassed your fundraising target, and you even converted some prospective donors into major gift donors with direct communication and honest appeals to their interests.

Well done!

And while it is perfectly acceptable to celebrate your achievements, do not think that your work on fundraisers ends when the fundraising campaign is complete.

Even if you surpassed all expectations, measuring the effectiveness of your fundraising campaign is the only way to ensure that all of your fundraisers are as successful, if not more so.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the 5 best practices for measuring the effectiveness of a fundraising campaign:

  1. Do Your Data Due Diligence

  2. Fundraise, Reflect, Respond, Repeat

  3. Decipher Donor and Prospect Data

  4. Manage Your Mission

  5. Mind Your Time

Incorporating these practices into your nonprofit’s assessment of your fundraiser data will guarantee that you maximize on your successes, grow from your failures, and optimize on new opportunities.

Part 1 - Do Your Data Due Diligence

Analyzing your data at the end of your fundraising campaign enables your organization to highlight the successes and understand the errors. What worked? What failed? More importantly, why?

Completing a data analysis of your fundraiser is one of the best practices to measure its overall effectiveness and identify areas of opportunity.

Data Analysis Essentials

When completing a data analysis of your fundraising campaign’s efficacy, it’s important to start by asking yourself:

“Was our goal met? What was our metric of success? Where did we fall short?”

Analyzing these fundraising metrics provides concrete numbers to illuminate the impact and effectiveness of your campaign:

Matching Gift Rate

Even if your recent fundraising campaign reached its goal, is there a way your fundraiser could go even further next time? Is there a way to maximize the impact of every donation you received?

Let’s examine the best kept secret of the nonprofit world: corporate matching gift programs.

Corporate matching gifts allow your donors to increase the value of their donation without having to contribute more of their own money.

With matching gift programs, an employer will match the donation of any employee that gives to an eligible organization. Depending on the matching gift ratio of the specific corporation, a single donor’s gift could be doubled, tripled, or more!

Educating your donors about the power of the matching gifts program is a pivotal fundraising strategy to apply to your next fundraiser if your organization does not currently receive matching gifts.

According to Double the Donation's matching gift statistics, 1 in 3 donors indicate they’d give a larger gift if matching were applied to their donation. 

Thus, the more informed your donors are about their giving potential, the more likely they are to contribute larger sums to be matched.

There are vast opportunities to maximize the impact of the donations you already receive through corporate matching gift programs.

How can you ensure that you are capitalizing on all of your matching gift opportunities?

Examine your current strategy for matching gifts and consider if including a matching gift database would optimize your return of investment results.

Streamlining your matching gift system will maximize your donors’ potential and effectively increase the impact of your fundraising campaign.

Gifts Secured

You succeeded in raising the funds to achieve many of your campaign’s objectives. But, an analysis of the quantity of each type of donation gift will be important for future strategy sessions.

Examine how many of each gift category your fundraiser secured:

  • Major gifts

  • Planned giving

  • Mid-level giving

  • Small donations

  • Annual fund donations

  • Monthly donations

Once you have the numbers, your organization can better assess the areas you need to optimize, where you are succeeding, and where your next opportunities lie.

Preferred Giving Platforms

Look into the methods of donating that were most popular with your donor base. 

Ask yourself these three questions:

  • How many alternatives do you offer? 

  • How convenient are they? 

  • How can you improve?

Check out this guide to see if incorporating text fundraising, one of the latest donation methods, would increase your fundraiser’s effectiveness.

Return on Investment (ROI) of Campaign

What was the percentage of donors who increased their annual contribution? What was the percentage of donors who decreased their annual contribution? 

For the amount of energy, time, and resources your fundraising team expended to secure prospective donors and engage current donors, did your organization see the expected return?

Consider these metrics to help determine the effectiveness of your campaign’s ROI:

  • Asks made

  • Gifts secured

  • Average major gift size

  • Donor retention rate

Utilize these metrics to understand where you need to focus your efforts to make your next fundraising campaign a smashing success.

Differences in data should translate into differences in strategy!


Sarah Tedesco is Executive Vice President of
DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. Sarah is responsible for managing the production and customer support department concerning client contract fulfillment, increasing retention rate and customer satisfaction. She collaborates with other team members on a variety of issues including sales, marketing and product development ideas.

Wayne GurleyComment
8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn’t work (Part 7)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

7. Your mailing list is made up of “donors” who aren’t really donors, and “prospects” who aren’t really prospects.

When I ask an organization how many donors they have, they usually give me a number that is the total size of their mailing list, including donors and in-house prospects. They do this because they’re used to printing that quantity for an entire mailing or to send out a newsletter.

But a mailing list is not a donor file, and what you may think of as prospects are probably better categorized as “suspects” or simply “people we’ve added to our mailing list over the years.”

A lot of mailing lists have donors on them who may have paid to attend an event. These are not donors. You also may have a lot of people who have made memorial gifts. Technically, these aren’t donors, either. The motivation for making a memorial gift is the death of a person someone knew, and they responded because they were asked to send a gift to your organization “in lieu of flowers.”

Event and memorial donors don’t easily convert to regular donor status. You can try, but the success rate is often low.

For this reason, it’s important to segment your file into groups that are similar so you can track response. Inadequate response from certain groups means you can eliminate them from future mailings.

© Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

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8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn't work (Part 6)

By Wayne Gurley
President & Creative Director

6. You asked for an inappropriate amount of money.

If there is such a thing as a 100% “truism” in direct marketing, it’s this…

The more money you ask for, the lower your response will be. I’ve tested this many times, and it always ends up the same: If you ask for more than the prospect or donor thinks is appropriate, instead of sending something less than what you’ve asked, they simply do nothing.

(For another excellent take on this subject, read Jeff Brook’s blog by clicking here: Because we need it is not a fundraising strategy”.)

In many cases, a person will give you a gift that’s a lot smaller than what they’re capable of giving. They do this because they’re not that committed to your organization – at least not yet – and they want to see how they feel about you after making a gift. Or as Jeff suggests, your donors may not think you’ve given them enough of a reason to send a larger amount.

First time donors often use their first gift as an “audition.” They will send a smaller amount just to see how you’re going to treat them. If you pass this test, they may send you a second gift. But if you fail, you may lose them as a donor forever.

Thanking your donor via a letter and phone call (if at all possible) is an EXTREMELY important first step in the cultivation of a new donor. It’s also one of the best ways to avoid high attrition rates

© Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

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8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn't work (Part 5)

By Wayne Gurley

President & Creative Director

5. Your outside envelope left no mystery as to what was inside.

If your outside envelope “telegraphs” what’s inside your package, your donors and prospects may decide to trash it even before they open it.

That’s why it’s always best to leave a little mystery about what you’re sending.

Your logo without a picture or teaser on the front is probably the best way to craft an outside envelope. Why? Because if you put a lot of stuff on the envelope that leaves nothing to the imagination, then the decision as to whether or not to take a look inside can be made before it’s even opened.

If you know how to “tease” with copy and art, then by all means, proceed. But most people are woefully inadequate at this task. They usually say too much, and as a result, response can be negatively affected.

When they first see your package, you want them to think, “Hmmm…I wonder what this is about?” Your #1 objective is to get people to OPEN your envelope.

That’s half the battle of being successful with direct mail. If you can get a person to open it, then there’s a chance they’ll read your letter, understand your message AND send a gift. But that will never happen if they trash it first.

© Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

Wayne GurleyComment
8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn't work (Part 4)

By Wayne Gurley
President and Creative Director

4. Your graphics were very colorful, creative and vibrant, but they distracted your audience from making a gift.

Anything that distracts a donor or prospect from making a gift is to be avoided at all costs.

Pictures can be used successfully if used judiciously. But too many pictures, or too many things to look at can distract your donors and prospects from figuring out just what you want them to do – which is to send a gift.

People have a “timer” in their heads, and it’s set for just a few seconds. When they first see your package, they don’t even know how much time they have before it goes off. (It’s longer for some and shorter for others).

But when it does go off, that’s when your envelope and its contents go into the trash. If your readers can’t quickly and easily figure out what you want them to do – or if you make it too complicated for them to focus on your main objective – they won’t take the time to figure it out. They’ll just move on to the next thing on their mental “to do” list.

Do you really think your package is so important your donors will give it unlimited time? If so, think about what YOU might do under similar circumstances with lots of pieces of mail to go through and a timer in your head ticking down to zero.

© 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

Wayne GurleyComment
8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn't work (Part 3)

By Wayne Gurley

3. You wrote about something your audience cared about, but you wrote it in such a way that it bored them to tears.

Sure, you can have an exciting and motivating message.  But you can write it in such a way that makes your audience yawn and want to throw it in the trash can. For example…

  • You can include a lot of statistics, which are deadly in direct mail.

  • You can write using the institutional “we,” which comes across as cold and impersonal.

  • You can brag about what your organization does or has done, instead of bragging about what the donor has done to help you achieve your goals.

  • You can use big words, long sentences and long paragraphs.

  • You can write at a college reading level, instead of a 6th-grade reading level.

  • You can try to change the way your donors think, instead of meeting them where they already are.

© 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc. All rights reserved.


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8 reasons your direct mail appeal didn’t work (Part 2)

By Wayne Gurley

2. You wrote about something your audience didn’t care about.

Many times an organization will pick a copy theme THEY think is important for their organization to talk about. However, it may not be something their donors care much about.

To be successful, direct mail appeals must be “donor-centric.” The copy theme needs to be something that will resonate with donors and motivate them to give.

Remember: It’s all about the donor and what THEY can do to change lives and help you achieve your mission, not about your organization or what you might think is important.

Copyright 2019 Allegiant Direct, Inc.

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