Online Fundraising Academy Posts

Online Fundraising Academy: Corporate Outreach & Relationship Building

Online Fundraising Academy: Corporate Outreach & Relationship Building

For the final session of the 2015 Online Fundraising Academy, we invited Ingrid Embree, GlobalGiving’s Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, to join us and discuss how she identifies and builds relationships with prospective corporate partners. Ingrid has helped more than 60 different companies achieve their philanthropic objectives with GlobalGiving. She has a history of helping organizations meet their operational objectives, develop fundraising capacity, and achieve legislative victories. Check out the session summary below!

Session Recording: http://www.meetingburner.com/b/globalgiving/view_recording?c=WR6Y63&h=f

Session Notes:

Tips on how to get recommended to GlobalGiving’s corporate partners

  • GlobalGiving recommends Superstars and Leaders, so the higher your partner rewards status, the better! Learn more about the Partner Rewards Program here.
  • Make sure your project list up to three themes that reflect your work! Our corporate partners are often interested in certain themes and topics, so your project will only get pulled if it includes the appropriate themes. Likewise, make sure your project title is compelling and accurately and succinctly reflects the work you’re doing! Your project title should be simple, but not confusing.

What’s Important?

  • Finding the intersection of the employee interests, the community needs, and the corporate interests.
    • Is your project meeting community needs? Are there employees who want to support your organization? Does it somehow fit with a corporation’s strategic goals?
  • Corporations do consider you, the nonprofits in the community, the subject expert and the barometer of community needs.
    • They’re interested in learning from you what the needs are, what the statistics are — they want to hear from you, and they’re relying on you to understand what’s happening in the community

“Development” is a lot like sales

  • Development takes a lot longer, but you can use lot of the same techniques as sales:

1. Research

    • It makes a big difference if you take the time to look up details of the corporation you’re interested in.
    • It can be as simple as using Google, and searching different terms:
      • “Company Name” + CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)
      • “Company Name” + Corporate Giving
      • “Company Name” + Community Involvement
      • “Company Name” + Citizenship
    • Take advantage of Google News and Google Images as other outlets of information.
      • Have there been recent layoffs? A recent merger? Are the stock prices doing really well? Who are the decision makers?

2. Commitment to Outreach

    • Set your strategy; monitor your tactics.
      • Set goals for your outreach for the week, the month, the quarter, etc. How many companies or individuals will you or your team reach out to?
      • The more people you reach out to, the more people will eventually say yes! However, don’t waste your time – make sure to do your research first to identify if the relationship would be a good fit.
    • Track your outreach!!
      • Once you commit to your outreach, be sure to keep track of who you’re contacting and their response.
    • Pivot as necessary.
      • You may have a grand outreach strategy, but be flexible if it no longer works. Be ready to change your outreach tactics if necessary.

3. Referrals

    • Warm introductions are more likely to be successful. Cold calls can work, but they’re not always preferable.
    • Utilize board members, community members, friends, and classmates to get introductions.
    • Develop trust with individuals so that they want to assist you.

4. Personalization & Layering

    • Tailored introductions – establish common ground!
    • Personalized news
    • Studies in your field
    • Good news from stakeholders
    • “I’ll be in your area…”
      • Search for companies in the area that you’ll be visiting. Do research on those companies, and then decide who to reach out to. Would they be willing to get together over coffee?
    • Be conscious not to bombard individuals with communications. As well, use a variety of outreach mechanisms.
      • Snail mail, phone calls, send program materials or photographs, etc.
  • Use trust indicators

Corporate Employee Engagement

  • Companies with engaged employees have a much higher earnings per share. Successful companies have engaged employees.
    • Thus: magnified productivity, higher retention, consumer loyalty, and profitability.
  • Cultivate employee volunteers! They’re the most trusted spokesperson of the company.
    • Edelman Trust Barometer – measures trust in companies all over the world. One of the ways to mitigate low trust in companies is to have employees be company ambassadors in the community.
    • As employee volunteerism continues to grow, think about ways to engage these employees. Many companies will only grant to organizations where their employees are involved.

There’s so much to do! How can I prioritize?

    • Focus on what you can do, on what your organization has the capacity to do!
    • Don’t spend too much time on cause marketing
      • The average Chief Marketing Officer only lasts 23 months, so there is a lot of turnover.
      • Don’t turn it down if offered, but don’t spend time cultivating marketing people.
    • Don’t spend too much time on cold proposals
      • Before you spend too much time, you must determine their interests
    • Avoid the people who say no (but keep them on your list)
      • The lukewarm introductions sometimes work (the LinkedIn types of introductions). They might say no at first, but it seems that the door is left slightly open – don’t give up in those instances. Feel free to approach them at a later date, make sure to stay on their radar so they know you’re still there. Don’t be afraid to stay in touch.
    • If there’s only one thing you do, however — commit to measurable outreach!

Q: When I call companies, I often get connected to HR or marketing. In this case, do you think focusing on employee volunteering is the better approach?

A: Absolutely! HR is looking for ways to engage their employees, so if you can figure out how to engage those employees, they often will then request that their company sponsor or support your organization. CSR/Global Citizenship and HR are merging in many companies, so the community involvement and employee engagement are very closely linked now.

Q: How can we cultivate relationships if we don’t know anyone in the company?

A: It is a challenge, however, it helps to generally start with snail mail to the person in charge of corporate giving (the decision maker). Put in a personalized note and include a photo or program materials. Let them know that you would like to talk more with them about your program, if possible tie it into that company and what the company cares about. Describe your program, explain what is different about your program and why they should care.

Q: How can I continue to engage a company without sending them a barrage of emails?

A: Send a report via snail mail — include their logo, thank them for their support. Give them a shoutout in social media. Send them pictures or a signed note from beneficiaries. Donors really can’t be thanked enough.

Q: How exactly can you measure outreach?

A: Track your outreach every week so that you ensure you’re contacting your major supporters. Have a list of organizations you will reach out to — then aggregate that outreach so you can track your activity. It really is about setting clear, specific goals and targets for yourself — maybe its reaching out via phone or email to 40 people a week — and then setting up a tracking system to measure your progress against those goals. We track prospects and opportunities from beginning to end: prospect, negotiating contract, closed “won”, closed “lost”, declined.

This post was written by Destiny Nobles, Program Team Intern.

Online Fundraising Academy: Fundraising Evaluation and Analysis

Online Fundraising Academy: Fundraising Evaluation and Analysis

In GlobalGiving’s eighth session of the Online Fundraising Academy, Nick Hamlin, GlobalGiving’s Business Intelligence Analyst, joined us to discuss GlobalGiving’s rigorous goal-setting and ongoing monitoring of fundraising activities. Nick and his team support the organization in financial goal setting and benchmarking. Leading the charge in tracking annual progress and evaluating year-end results, Nick is responsible for compiling a weekly analysis of site activity and donations.

Session Recording: http://www.meetingburner.com/b/globalgiving/view_recording?c=7XUVUV&h=f

Session Notes:

Fundraising Evaluation

  • Why should data evaluation and analysis be a priority?
    • Think of data like a roadmap for your operations. When you’re going on a road trip, you will need to know:
      • Where are you currently, where are you trying to go, and how will you get there?
    • Rather than just focusing on getting funds in the door, make sure to define a concrete starting point and goal
    • Allows you to maximize your impact!
  • Data is your map! If you have this map, it makes your journey much more clear.

 Step 1: Finding your baseline

  • Right now? Strong platform of donors and organizations
  • GlobalGiving examples:
    • Right now? In the future? In your mission? In your fundraising?
    • Start with the right questions: Where are you? What’s important to your organization?
    • In the future? Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals!
    • In our mission? Information, Ideas, and Money to nonprofits
    • In our fundraising? Long-term sustainability
  • How to map questions to metrics?
    • GlobalGiving uses a Cheat Sheet to keep track of where we are currently.
      • Cost Recovery, Annual Volume, Facebook Fans/Twitter Followers, etc.
    • Relating it all back to your important questions and reminding you of what’s really important and how you’re doing in relation to these goals
  • Key Questions
    • What questions is your organization interested in, giving the work you do and the mission you have?
    • Once you’ve asked these questions, what metrics can you use to track them? How can you put them into your own cheat sheet or dashboard?
    • You don’t need to have a million different numbers, rather figure out what’s important for your organization and then make sure you have a handful of relevant, actionable numbers

Step 2: Setting data-driven goals

  • Goals are the destination for your trip, and good goals are SMART:
    • Specific: They’re focused on something concrete you can actually understand
    • Measurable: You’re using trackable metrics to know if you’ve succeeded (dollars raised, or something else easily measured/counted)
    • Actionable: There are specific steps you can take to achieve your goal
    • Relevant: They make sense for your organization’s context
    • Time-bound: They won’t last forever
  • Use your metrics to track your progress
  • Use the new information to improve your goal-setting the next time around; your data will get better if you’re using information from the previous cycle to update the next cycle
  • GlobalGiving Example: Overall Volume Goal for 2015
    • Specific: Focused on concrete dollars through the marketplace
    • Measurable: Easily tracked via accounting
    • Actionable: Driven through campaigns, website upgrades, etc.
    • Realistic: Number determined based on previous trends/other goals
    • Time-bound: Limited only to 2015
  • Key Questions:
    • What kind of goals make sense for your organization?
    • How can you make sure they’re SMART goals?

 Step 3: Learning from experimentation and iteration

  • “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better” – Maya Angelou
    • Take the best information you have and do your best with it, then gather more information so you can know better and do better
  • Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat.
    • Listening, Acting, Learning, then repeating these three steps allows you to build on new information as you move towards your goal.
    • Listen to what is working, act by formulating a plan, and then learn by evaluating what worked and what you can do differently next round. Integrate what works, and then repeat by looping through the cycle again!
  • GlobalGiving Example: How can we maximize recurring donations?
    • Listen – economics and psychology experts say that belonging to a group can be a strong motivator for people
    • Act – on the checkout page, we told donors we’d match their first recurring donation if a certain percentage of people upgraded their contribution. We gathered data about how many people agreed.
    • Learn – analyzed whether the offer made a difference in increasing recurring donations.
    • Repeat – tested this same idea with different percentages. Eventually found that 75% worked the best.
    • Result – doubled recurring donations!
  • Key Questions:
    • What information would you gather to start experimenting?
    • What plan would you carry out? What data would you gather to support the plan?
    • Based on the data, how would you change your plan for next time?

Designing a Strategic Plan for Bonus Day: 

  • Step 1: What’s important? How can we track it?
    • Total fundraising: Money gained from new donors, Dollars raised, Matching money earned.
    • Donor engagement: Number of unique donors, Number of project page views, Number of emails opened, Number of Facebook likes/views
    • Take time to think about what’s important for this Bonus Day and for the long-run. What other aspects are important besides just dollars raised?
  • Step 2: What SMART goals should we set?
    • What’s a realistic goal for dollars raised?
    • How many donations have we received previously in similar campaigns? How large were they on average?
    • Who are our potential donors? How will we reach out to them?
    • How many will likely donate given our outreach strategy?
    • Using our estimated average donation size and estimated number of donors, what’s our estimate of how much we’ll raise on Bonus Day?
  • Step 3: What tests will we try to reach our goal?
    • Subgoal – number of donations from Facebook, based on past activity
    • Use Emily’s tips to reach out to Facebook donor networks
      • Previous campaign Facebook engagement: 10 donors, $165 total
      • Goals for this campaign: 30 donors, $25 avg., $750 total
    • How much activity were we able to generate? Did we hit our engagement and donation goals? What other ideas could we try in our next iteration?
    • Learnings from this experiment
    • Over-estimated average Facebook donation size
    • Under-estimated size of Facebook donor network
      • Need to update our goals for next time based on this new data
      • Where are our blind spots? Could we better map our network? Who are our posts reaching?
    • Possible questions for next iteration:
      • Can we increase the average size of donation from our Facebook network without decreasing engagement?
      • Can we replicate this success on other social media platforms?
      • How difficult was it to implement this campaign? Was it worth the effort? (new metric/goal idea: $ raised per staff hour!)

Key Takeaways

  • Find your baseline!
  • Once you’ve found where you are, set your SMART goals!
  • Then go through the iterative learning approach: Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat.
  • Never travel without your “data map”!

Want more Data?

  • Many more options depending on your interests:
    • Storage: Google Analytics, Excel, Facebook Insights, MailChimp, Salesforce
    • Analysis: All of the above, R, BigML, Infogram, Tableau Public, etc.
  • Ways to learn more:

This post was written by Destiny Nobles, Program Team Intern.

Online Fundraising Academy: Building a Donor Community on Facebook

Online Fundraising Academy: Building a Donor Community on Facebook

In GlobalGiving’s seventh session of the Online Fundraising Academy, Emily Bell, the Marketing & Development Manager for More Than Me, joined us to share tips and recommendations for building and engaging your network on Facebook. With more than 26,000 fans on Facebook, it’s not uncommon for a post on More Than Me’s page to receive 200 likes, several dozen shares, and handful of comments. Keep reading to learn how the organization effectively taps into this hyper-engaged Facebook network to drive action and donations during campaigns and promotions.

Session Recording: http://www.meetingburner.com/b/globalgiving/view_recording?c=TUMPMX&h=f

Session Notes:

More Than Me:

  • More Than Me is on a mission to make sure education and opportunity, not exploitation and poverty, define the lives of the most vulnerable girls from the West Point Slum of Liberia. When she graduates, she will decide what comes next for her life.
  • From the beginning More Than Me (MTM) has been very social media-based, and started out by sharing stories on various social media platforms. Sharing compelling stories of beneficiaries and program updates, MTM invites donors to understand what it means to live for something bigger than one’s self.
  • In 2014, MTM won $1 million through the Chase American Giving Award, all because of its supporters who spread the word on Facebook and other social media.

Tips and Best Practices:

  • Find out what your audience likes and stick to it! For MTM it was visuals, such as photos, videos, and infographics.
  • Find what your brand is and then keep it as part of your outreach strategy.
  • Make your donors feel special! Whether it’s shout out signs or personalized thank you notes, help your donors to reconnect with the mission, and remind them they’re part of something bigger than themselves.
  • Tell real stories, even if they’re longer than 2 sentences.
    • When Ebola impacted Liberia, MTM made a decision to close their school and instead work to fight Ebola. Although visuals are powerful, MTM found that telling  compelling stories of what was happening on the ground with an authentic voice was just as powerful.

Using Facebook Insights to Design an Effective Strategy:

  • Go to your organization’s Facebook page, click on the admin tools, and then click on the insights tab. From here you can see what is and isn’t working in terms of your Facebook communications and outreach.
  • Learn about your audience
    • Segmentations: fans, people reached, people engaged
    • Figure out how you can tailor posts so certain groups are not just reached, but also become engaged
  • When is your audience engaged?
    • When are they most active on Facebook? What times are best for posting?
    • Measure engagement for specific posts
    • Compare weekly statistics – what posts were more engaging?
    • Which type of post works best for your audience?
  • Add pages to watch – orgs with similar brands or interests – allows you to compare yourself with other pages, to see what other orgs are doing and the average level of engagement
  • Increase your organic reach (versus paid ads)
    • Post at the right times; use strong visuals (high-resolution photos, infographics, videos); be authentic – don’t just promote your brand, but be personal, showcase the people behind the brand; add calls-to-action
  • Consider posting other things aside from updates – what else is going on in the world? What are people talking about on social media? Don’t be afraid to join the conversation!

Bonus Day Strategy

  • Get key buy-in from stakeholders
    • Founder, board members, staff
    • Beneficiaries (depending on your org) – MTM works with at-risk girls and has a Child Protection Policy in place, so it’s very important to think about the safety of your beneficiaries when sharing stories online.
  • Be consistent and clear in your messaging
    • Tell these stakeholders exactly what you need from them
    • Send an email with suggested Facebook photos they can use; and include who, what, when, where details of the campaign
  • Use photos, statistics, hashtags, and events to tell your story and drive donations
    • MTM doesn’t provide the link to donate until the day of, instead, they create a Facebook event, which on the day of the event will display the project page link
  • Create a sense of urgency, momentum for donors to give
    • Keep updating status with updates, how donors can continue to help to get org to a specific goal
  • Write thank you posts following the end of the campaign!
    • MTM includes a link to the leaderboard so donors can see the results firsthand.
  • Check GlobalGiving’s traffic source, so you can see how donors got to your page.
  • Make sure someone who knows your brand and mission really well, and who can confidently start up conversations with supporters is in charge of running your day-to-day communications and social media.
    • Campaigns should be creative and fit with your brand – you don’t want just anyone doing this!
    • IT/Operations are there only there to help you with website updates or other technical needs.

Key Takeaways for Facebook Beginners:

  • Find the type of post that works for your audience, then don’t be afraid to use that angle to the fullest!
  • Remind people why they should follow you by keeping posts engaging and relevant.
  • Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with your followers online – they care about your work and want to learn more!

Q: How do you convert Facebook visitors to donors? How can you effectively grow your Facebook network?

A: Keep your brand authentic, tell authentic stories, and pay attention to what your followers are responding to and what inspires them. Find your donor champions who will share your posts with friends and will continue to spread the word. Get your donors to engage with your content – whether it’s commenting, clicking on a link, or liking your post. Once you get your audience engaged, you then can convert them with a clear call-to-action. Take advantage of the target audience tool – where you can select a certain audience for different posts (e.g. by location or gender).

Q: How often should organizations participate in Bonus Days and other campaigns?

A: It’s important to make sure that you’re not constantly asking your donors for money. MTM always takes a look at GlobalGiving’s Campaign Calendar at the beginning of the year to decide when to do the big pushes. Consider when your organization has the capacity to do big pushes, and how often your donors are willing to give to your organization. MTM usually tries to do three or four big campaigns a year.

Tips for Bonus Day Communication:

  • Remind donors that their donations will be matched
    • Not all donors are familiar with the term Bonus Day, so make sure to explain it
  • You may decide not to provide the link to give until Bonus Day officially begins
    • If you do give the link early, recognize donors may give before 9:00:00 EDT
  • Create a sense of urgency early on
    • Don’t wait until the end of your email to talk about Bonus Day or to provide the donation link
  • Keep it brief! Have a compelling call-to-action in as few words as possible.
  • Feature a close-up, high-resolution photo
  • Tell a succinct story about an individual who will benefit
  • For May 13 Bonus Day information see here
  • For July 15 Bonus Day information see here

This post was written by Destiny Nobles, Program Team Intern. 

Online Fundraising Academy: Donor-Centered Retention Strategy

Online Fundraising Academy: Donor-Centered Retention Strategy

Robyn Nietert, the President of Women’s Microfinance Initiative, joined us for the sixth session of the Online Fundraising Academy! Founded in 2008, WMI began without a donor base, but has since expanded its donor network and its annual fundraising budget, now at $250,000. Robyn joined us for the first time to share her organization’s approaches to donor relationship building and retention strategies.

Session Recording: http://www.meetingburner.com/b/globalgiving/view_recording?c=VSPJRV&h=f

Session Notes:

WMI Fundraising Events:

  • Communicate your enthusiasm for your project to friends and family. Ask them for their initial support as well as for their ideas. Make your supporters feel engaged and like they’re helping out your organization.
  • Hold community events to build awareness and fundraise for your organization
    • Consider investing in low cost flyers and posters to advertise for the event
    • These events allow you to build a network among the people you already know, and allows your supporters to invite friends in their personal networks
  • Attend other community events when possible to discuss your organization
  • Reach out to individuals, communities, community organizations, etc. who may be interested in your work and take the opportunity to speak at events they’re hosting – spreading the word about your organization and your programs

Donor Communication:

  • Maintain contact with supporters on a regular basis through a newsletter or email
    • WMI uses Constant Contact for all of its mailings and newsletters
    • We learned who our donors were and what they wanted, and the main segment of donors are interested in reading a newsletter with different stories and pictures
    • This allows us to positively reinforce WMI and the work we’re doing
    • No matter how short your reports or newsletters may be, it’s important to send them out on a regular basis – showing them that none of the work is possible without their support
  • Thank your donors!!
    • Take time to thank your donors without asking for their money!
    • WMI organizes around specific campaigns, so that not all of our communication is focused around gaining financial support.
    • Regular communication allows donors to see updates, to hear from you, and to see what is happening with the money they donated.

Campaigns & Impact:

  • Tell your supporters your organization’s fundraising plan at the beginning of the year if possible, so they know what’s coming and know how best they can support you.
    • Then make sure that you ask for donations according to your fundraising plan. In the rest of your communications, make sure to emphasize your organization’s successes and activities.
  • “Matching” Campaigns are a great way to generate donations – and it allows donors to feel the the impact of their donations is being increased.
    • Campaigns, such as Bonus Day, give your donors a specific window of time, encouraging them to click on the donation button right then.
    • Have a succinct way of telling your donors what their donation will mean, and how it will help move you towards your goal (for WMI, of providing thousands more women with loans)
    • Explain how their GlobalGiving donation will work and provide the link to your project page so donors know exactly where to go
    • Remind donors of accomplishments your organization has achieved thus far because of their support
    • Include pictures!
    • Most importantly, say thank you!
  • If you’ve laid out the campaign schedule for donors, you then can communicate with donors letting them know that if they weren’t able to give for this specific campaign, that perhaps they can consider giving their annual (or monthly) donation during the next campaign.
    • Essentially, treat your donors the way you would want to be treated! Donors feel better about coming back and giving when they know what they’re giving to, and what your organization is doing with their contributions.
  • Issue an Annual Report, no matter how short!
    • Include pictures and success stories. Again, this is your time to reach out to donors without appealing to them for money.
    • Opportunity to emphasize that you’re using their money wisely, helping donors to feel increasingly comfortable about continuing a long-term relationship with your organization.
  • Analyze your organization’s impact on a regular basis
    • Help retain donors year after year by sharing the story of why your organization is successful and impactful.
    • Find a metric that works for your specific program so that you can measure your impact year after year. Make it simple enough that others can follow your metric as well. WMI surveys the women who receive loans every year, showing donors that the profits from the loans translates into output (access to education, medical care, better food, etc.)

As always, it’s essential that you experiment and figure out what works for your organization and your donors. Knowing your donors is the key to maintaining a long-term relationship and keeping them engaged. Find your different donor segments, and learn how to cater your communication to fit their needs and wants. Foster relationships among your community and your donor network, and encourage your supporters to spread the word among their friends and family.

Interested in reading more about donor retention? Check out this post from last year’s session about donor retention strategies.

Online Fundraising Academy: How to Write Earth-Changing Emails

Online Fundraising Academy: How to Write Earth-Changing Emails

In GlobalGiving’s fifth session of the Online Fundraising Academy, we invited our own Will Frechette, Digital Marketing Specialist, to discuss his efforts to experiment with and learn from GlobalGiving’s donor communications, including important take aways and recommendations. In 2014, Will and his team, which is responsible for telling the stories of GlobalGiving and our partner organizations, raised more than $170,000 from donor emails.

Session Recording: http://www.meetingburner.com/b/globalgiving/view_recording?c=ITMMI6&h=f

Session Notes:

Listen, Test, Learn. Repeat.

  • Listen to your users, peers, and theory
  • Test assumptions through experiments
  • Learn from your experiments
  • Do it again! We continuously engage this cycle of learning in order to keep improving communications to our online audience.

How does GlobalGiving Listen, Test, Learn, and Repeat?

Listen

Users – Audience who receives your messages

  • Our email newsletter was in need of improvement, so we listened to the feedback our users had. Some of it was direct feedback, but most of it was their behavior (opens, clicks, donations. etc.) in response to the communication. Here’s what we learned works best for OUR audience:

    1. Keep it short – people weren’t looking to read news
    2. Show users what it means to them – why it’s relevant to them and why they should care. Talk about them, not you.
    3. Make it even shorter
    4. User bigger images – combined with #3, it led to more engagement and higher click rates
    5. Use clear images which feature one person making eye-contact with the audience, create an emotional connection with your users
    6. Make it clever and unexpected – we included puns, mixed up the content (different themes and stories), and made our communication funnier
    7. Use a CLEAR call-to-action – clearly define what you want people to do upon reading the email
    8. Personalize it! Based on users’ giving history on our site, we suggest projects that may be a good fit for donors, increasing revenue from our email list. Address users by name, send personalized thank you notes, let users know they’re being thought of.
  • You may be tempted to assume that these lessons will apply to YOUR audience. Don’t assume! Use simple A/ B testing tools in MailChimp and other email providers to test any assumptions about length, photos, etc. to see what works for YOUR audience.

 Peers – Organizations that are similar in work, scope, and size

  • We reached out to some of our peer organizations like charity:water, donorschoose.org, and Kiva, to see what works for their email marketing. Here’s what OUR peers had to say:
  • charity:water – emails are well laid-out; include beautiful images; formatted for mobile phones; feature very little text; include interesting lead and subject line text; feature unexpected/humorous (but still large!) call-to-action
  • donorschoose.org – personalize subject line so it’s relevant to donor’s location; simple and short; urgent, clear request; emotionally compelling photos
  • Kiva – personalized; clear call-to-action; used a 2 email series – if the user didn’t respond to the first call-to-action, forwarded the email back to the user using a staff member’s name.
    • Further personalizes the email, the format is different from what users usually see

  • What we learned:

    1. Use beautiful imagery – it goes a long way!
    2. Format images and text to look good on mobile devices
    3. Keep it brief
    4. Use interesting lead text
    5. Try unexpected/humorous (but still visibly clear) calls-to-action
    6. Try unexpected subject lines and formats
  • Using recommendations and ideas from our peers, GlobalGiving has tested many of these lessons in our own email communications. Consider reaching out to YOUR peers–organizations that are similar in work, scope, and size–to hear what they have learned.

Theory – what does the research say?

    1. Increase a donor’s emotional proximity; connect them to ONE person (animal or object)

    2. Tell a compelling story about that ONE person

    3. Donors will give if they feel it will bring them close to people in their network – focus on what you can do for your donors, give them something they can share in with their social network

    4. People give more when it’s easy to do so – make the process of giving as easy as possible.

    5. Not all donors are the same – realize that these tips won’t work for every donor type. Develop different messaging and strategies for different donor types.

 Test, Learn. Repeat.

Now let’s explore a specific example of a GlobalGiving email experiment.

  • GlobalGiving ran an A/B test with two Girl Effect emails (one story, one video), measured the click and conversion rates:

    • Video version had higher open and click rates, the conversion (donation) rate was 2x as much, and the donation amount was 3x as much

    • Our assumption: emails with videos might perform better

  • So we ran another video email test to see if the assumption that videos drive more donations was correct:

    • Though the email still had strong click rates, the conversion rate was much lower

    • Conclusion: the content of the video itself is a big factor when it comes to motivating donors to give

  • When running experiments:

    • Stick to one variable at a time

    • Pick your most important metric – design your test around this

    • Don’t settle on something you learn once – once you think you have come to a conclusion, test that conclusion!

    • Make sure your communications don’t become stale, keep up with what your audience is expecting

    • Keep testing! Keep improving!

 When designing an experiment, consider what you’re looking to measure and what metrics you can use to evaluate the success of the experiment.

QUESTION

METRIC

TOOLS

How good is the subject line?

Open rates

MailChimp,GG Web Analytics
Does the email content make people want to do more?

Click rates

MailChimp,

Bit.ly

GG Web Analytics

 

Does the email (and project page) make people want to give? Conversion (donation) rates

MailChimp,

GG Donation Manager

Is the message consistent with the mission? Qualitativefeedback

Conversations

 

Design your own experiment:

  • What’s your hypothesis?

    • Make a hypothesis: “I believe that trying ______ (tactic) will lead to higher ______ (open rates OR click rates OR donation rates) from my donors”

  • Tools:

    • Pick your tool: “…I will know if I’m correct because I will learn from the data using _____ (tool)”

    • MailChimp, Emma, Constant Contact

      • MailChimp click map – allows you to see which elements in an email are driving the most clicks; ability to see if people are clicking calls-to-action at the bottom of emails to determine best email lengths

    • GlobalGiving donation manager: track your traffic sources, what’s generating donations? Learn more about the donation manager here.

    • Bit.ly link tracker: create a trackable link, see how many people have clicked on it

Project Reports:

So, how can you apply these lessons to your email communications on GlobalGiving? Project reports are emailed out to your donors

  • Required every three months, reports are emailed to all project donors and are posted on your project page.
  • Reports should be 2-3 paragraphs, and should include a mix of: close-up, high resolution photos; stories from your beneficiaries; progress of your project and accomplishments; impact statistics, specific to your project; a call-to-action
  • Your project report title is the subject line of the email that is sent to your donors.
  • GlobalGiving staff review each report and rate it on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). The ratings are not displayed, but are for your benefit so you can see how your report compares and ways you can improve. Learn more about report ratings here.
  • Use your Web Analytics page in the project entry system to track project report open and click rates.

Q: What are the average numbers for open, conversion, and click rates?

A: It depends on your organization size and the number of people you have on your email list. A great resource to look at is M+R’s 2014 online benchmark report, where you can see different rates that you can apply to your organization based on your context.

This post was written by Destiny Nobles, Program Team Intern.