Retain Donors Through Effective Stewardship

Retain Donors Through Effective Stewardship

Retaining donors is one of the most difficult initiatives for a fundraiser to do. With more organizations asking people to support their cause or mission, there has never been a more important time to optimize donor retention strategies. One strategy that helps with donor retention is stewardship.

Instilled in people from such a young age is the concept of saying, “Thank you.” How many times have you, or someone you know, given a child something and the adult with them says, “What do you say?” and they look at you and say, “Thank you!” Probably countless times! Being a fundraising professional should encourage you to use this phrase now more than ever. Simply thanking donors and showing the impact of their donation can go an extremely long way.

Stewardship is a vital part of an annual giving plan as it helps you retain donors – if it’s not a significant piece of your plan now, this is something that you should take into deep consideration for the future.

Here are 5 stewardship tips to help retain donors:

  1. SIMPLY SAY, “THANK YOU.” A thank you can go a long way. It makes people feel that they are appreciated and when they feel appreciated, they will start to build a loyalty and sense of pride to your organization. Saying, “Thank you,” through all different platforms is a great way to show your donors how much you appreciate them.
  2. SHOW THE DONOR HIS/HER IMPACT. Infographics are a great visual tool to show donors how they made an impact. By associating the contribution – whether it be a dollar amount, time, or other resource – to the exact area(s) it impacted, people are able to say, “I helped make that happen!” Without your donors, it is impossible to reach your goals. So, when they donate, show them what they did and how they helped make the organization better.
  3. PERSONALIZE THE THANK YOU. Personalization helps build a bond between you and the donor. It makes them feel that they are special and unique. Yes, most occasions and initiatives call for individuals to receive the same designed piece. However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t able to personalize or segment it. Data segmentation and personalization enable you to target your donor or donor segments. For instance, you can have different variations of the stewardship piece, with personalization, if you segment donors by areas they contributed to.
  4. DON’T JUST WAIT UNTIL YOUR FYE. Have you ever thought about incorporating a stewardship campaign into your annual direct marketing plan? You might want to consider how many times per year you are currently thanking donors and how many times you could be thanking donors. Is it once a year? Twice a year? After each time they donate? You can never thank donors too much. Wondering some ways that you can thank your donors? Some clients thank their donors through designed postcards, letters, self-mailers, or other creative direct mail pieces. Connect with us to view samples.
  5. IF YOU ASK THROUGH A CHANNEL, THANK THROUGH THAT CHANNEL. There are many different channels nowadays where donors can be reached. If you ask through a particular channel, you should thank through that channel. For example, if you are sending your donors asks through direct mail, and they expect to hear from you through direct mail, then you should send a thank you through direct mail.

Interested in seeing samples of stewardship pieces?

To sum it all up, stewardship is critical to success. You did so much work identifying and acquiring your donors, you can’t forget one of the most important parts – retaining your donors. By thanking your donors, you’re one step closer to retaining them. They’ll feel like they made an actual impact as they start to build or continue to build an affinity to your organization.

BCG Connect helps clients to identify, acquire, AND retain donors through effective annual direct marketing plans. If you need help implementing stewardship pieces into your plan, or would like to talk about different direct marketing ideas for your organziation to effectively identify, acquire, and retain your donors, connect with us to learn more!

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BCG Staff Writer
Ugly Betty Giving Day History Table

Ugly Betty is Definitely Not Ugly

To most of the world, “Ugly Betty” was the name of an ABC original TV series starring America Ferrera. However, in the world of fundraising professionals, an ugly betty is an effective way to renew gifts from prior donors using a very direct, invoice-style approach. Fundraising appeals can vary in style – from creative self-mailers and postcards, to standard letters and invoice-style appeals – and they are used for various reasons.

A common misconception of an ugly betty is that it is indeed ugly. This is not the case! An ugly betty is simply an invoice-style appeal so, although it may not include many photos, there are plenty of creative elements that can be incorporated.

What’s so effective about an ugly betty? If you look at all of the mail that you get throughout the year and you see the piece of mail that looks like it may be an invoice or some sort of bill, it is often that it will be one of the first pieces that you open or set aside to open. It is an instinct to pull out the “more important” looking pieces to make sure that you don’t miss any official documents.

You might ask, “Why wouldn’t every appeal be an invoice style then?” If every appeal were an invoice style, you would reduce the effectiveness of why the concept of an ugly betty was created. Many organizations send ugly betties towards the end of their fiscal year to try to capture those prior donors that haven’t given yet.

Here are 3 components of an ugly betty to take into consideration:

CREATIVE: An ugly betty at one point in time might have lived up to the name, but these invoice-style appeals most definitely do not need to be ugly. Yes, there may not be many photos on the appeal, but there are certainly different creative elements that help with the effectiveness of the piece. The simplicity of an invoice-style appeal emphasizes prior giving, lack of giving this fiscal year, and has a strong call-to-action of donating.

ENVELOPE: How do you know when you get a bill in the mail? There is usually a special type of envelope. Whether it is a window envelope, or it has messaging on the envelope, it’s important to entice your donors to open your direct mail piece.

DATA SEGMENTATION: Organizations often have an immense amount of data. It’s important that you use it! When data and direct mail align, there are endless possibilities. Data is a critical component to an effective ugly betty. It helps with showcasing the donor’s history and know the appropriate level ask to do. For example, including a chart that shows that Donor A has given $25 in 2015, 2016, 2017, and has yet to give in 2018, it would be appropriate to include an ask that has $25 as an option as opposed to $1,000.

Interested in seeing samples of creative invoice-style appeals?

BCG Connect works with fundraising professionals to implement creative direct marketing solutions into their annual giving campaigns. By sharing new marketing and fundraising information, BCG Connect helps clients identify, acquire and retain their donors.

Have you incorporated and personalized ugly betties to optimize your annual giving direct marketing plan? Connect with us to learn more and request samples of these invoice-style appeals!

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MCPHS Leadership Giving Piece

Case Study Download: MCPHS University’s Leadership Giving Program

Within an annual giving plan, there are different initiatives targeted at different segments to personalize asks and connect with donors more effectively. One segment that organizations typically target is leadership donors. Leadership giving communication is an opportunity for organizations to speak to donors that have invested at a higher level in a different way than non-donors or other donors.

“BCG provides knowledgeable, fundraising-savvy, and most importantly highly responsive team of professionals with which to work throughout the course of planning, developing, and executing a project. From initial ideation of project concept to the development of print materials and their distribution to constituents, BCG has earned our trust as a worthy collaborator.”

– Lawrence Townley, MS, Executive Director of Development Operations, University Advancement

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, MCPHS University, had a leadership giving initiative to connect with leadership donors and communicate the importance of donor contributions.

BCG Connect collaborated with MCPHS University on this initiative that produced successful results for this campaign. What did that collaboration entail? Learn more about the creative ideas, campaign steps and results in the following case study.

Personalization in your direct mail pieces can take your campaign to the next level. What is important to Donor A? What is important to Prospect B? What about Donor C, D, E? Segmenting your donor base and personalizing asks and messaging based on certain factors can increase your chances of their donation. You always want to target the right people with the right message at the right time.

Targeting leadership donors and implementing a leadership giving campaign can be a strategic element of your annual giving campaign. For more information on leadership giving or to request leadership giving samples, let’s connect!

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SBHF Leverages Donor Impact Report for Hurricane Relief Efforts

Case Study Download: SBHF Leverages Donor Impact Report for Hurricane Relief Efforts

St. Boniface Haiti Foundation (SBHF) is dedicated to providing essential health services to the people of Southern Haiti. Creating urgency to help those in need is a critical element of a successful direct marketing program and SBHF did just that when the 2016 Hurricane Matthew caused the largest humanitarian crisis in Haiti since 2010.

With 2.1 million people affected, 1.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the weeks after the storm, and 800,000 people at risk of hunger and starvation due to destroyed crops and food supplies, it was critical that the Donor Impact Report fused influential photos with stories that would catch the attention of donors immediately and result in action.

“Working with BCG CONNECT is always a pleasure – the team understood what we were going for with our Hurricane Relief Newsletter and executed it beautifully.”

– Liz Schwartz, Marketing & Communications Manager

In the following case study, learn more about how SBHF collaborated with BCG CONNECT to produce strong results that allowed them to provide additional health services to the people of Southern Haiti following a dreadful natural disaster.

Does your organization want to…

…incorporate infographics that show powerful statistics?

…include influential photos and stories that catch the attention of donors in a segmented donor piece?

…thank donors and show their impact creatively?

…segment data so direct mail is personalized depending on constituency?

…work with a partner who has many years of annual giving direct marketing experience?

If you answered, “Yes,” to any of the above questions, let’s connect. BCG CONNECT can help with your annual giving campaign. Connect with us to learn more!

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BB&N Annual Fund Direct Marketing Plan

Case Study Download: BB&N Optimizes Their Annual Fund Direct Marketing Plan

How important is an annual fund direct marketing plan? Extremely! Annual fund marketing plans help with budgeting, forecasting, consistent outreach, benchmarking for the next year, and overall strategic preparation for fundraising efforts. By having a fully integrated marketing plan that has a consistent look, theme, and message to it, constituents can expect an update or outreach from your organization throughout the year. This can lead to more engagement, more loyalty, and more donors.

Buckingham Browne & Nichols (BB&N) partnered with BCG CONNECT for their FY17 annual fund direct marketing campaign. Through collaboration, BCG CONNECT and BB&N discussed a theme, goals, and timeline for the year for their annual direct marketing initiatives.

 “Reflecting back on FY17, BCG CONNECT helped us create a fully integrated marketing look throughout our appeals and stewardship pieces. It has been a wonderful partnership.”

-Audrey Wallace, Associate Director of The BB&N Fund

BB&N knew the importance of consistently reaching out to and engaging with donors. Download this case study to view a sample of what was sent out each month and some results of their campaign.

Consistency is key to branding. Here are three benefits to having fully integrated, consistent branding for your appeals:

  1. It gives your organization a personality and identity that constituents can relate to.
  2. It effectively delivers and reinforces key messaging.
  3. It drives donor loyalty and brand recognition.

BCG CONNECT works with clients on their annual direct marketing plans to ensure constituents are consistently being reached throughout the year. For more information on how BCG CONNECT can help your annual fund direct marketing campaign, connect with us!

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BCG Staff Writer
Giving_Tuesday_Blog_Photo

Will Your Organization Be Participating in #GivingTuesday?

As we’re in the midst of fall and most appeals are underway, #GivingTuesday will be here before you know it. On November 28th, people from all over the world will participate in the #GivingTuesday movement. The global fundraising phenomenon of Giving Tuesday is known to kick off the charitable season when many organizations transition their focus to holiday and end-of-calendar-year giving.

Giving Tuesday is not only about monetary donations – it’s about getting people to join in acts of giving and committing to the charitable movement. That could mean volunteering, lending a helping hand, spreading awareness, or any sort of giving back to a person, community, or organization.

Although #GivingTuesday is popularly known on social media, it’s important to make your audience aware of your organization’s participation through different channels. Having a consistent and planned strategy ahead of time is key to optimize your success. Here are some questions to think about when evaluating this year’s campaign:

  • Did we mail a save the date in September for November 28th?
  • Do our constituents know that our organization will be participating in Giving Tuesday?
  • Have we been ramping up our social media so our followers feel committed to give on Giving Tuesday?
  • Do we have web graphics ready for social media platforms on the days leading up to, the day of, and the days following Giving Tuesday?
  • Do we have a stewardship campaign prepped to thank donors?

You might be wondering, “How successful was last year’s #GivingTuesday?” According to GivingTuesday.org, here are the 2016 results:

  • $177 million total dollars raised online
  • 1.64 million contributions
  • 98 participating countries

The inspiring day full of donations, participation, and engagement can leave you ecstatic and motivated to get even closer to your goal, which is great! Remember, all of those people who donated need to be thanked. People can feel like all organizations do is ask, ask, ask but the new model should really be: ask, thank, ask, thank, ask, thank. Thanking is just another touchpoint to your donors to make them feel appreciated.

If your organization will be participating in this year’s #GivingTuesday or your organization plans on participating next year, remember these 3 things moving forward:

  1. Plan ahead of time and mail a Save the Date to constituents making them aware your organization will be participating.
  2. Have a consistent brand across mailings and web graphics throughout the Giving Tuesday campaign.
  3. Always thank all of your donors in an organized stewardship campaign.

Harness the power of BCG CONNECT, direct mail, social media, the charitable season, and #GivingTuesday to take your fundraising campaign to the next level. BCG CONNECT proudly partners with clients on their direct marketing and fundraising campaigns – connect with us to leverage our expertise and experience to elevate your campaign.

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NEC Madness Case Study

Case Study Download: NEC Madness Yields Successful Results

“One of our goals for our FY17 Annual Fund was to increase participation rates among alumni. Our plan was to create a competition that could flow across channels to engage the largest number of alumni, faculty, and staff as possible. BCG CONNECT worked with us from the brainstorming phase to the execution of the project. They connected us with another school who had done a similar campaign, designed a bracket logo and mailer that served as a solid foundation for our challenge, and created some great social media graphics that were flexible and useful throughout our two-week campaign. BCG CONNECT was helpful in both developing and designing the concept and content for our NEC Madness campaign. Looking forward to working with them on our FY18 projects!

                  -Genevieve Andress, Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, New England College

In preparation for New England College’s (NEC’s) FY17 annual fund, they partnered with BCG CONNECT for their annual giving direct marketing campaign. One of their initiatives was a March participation challenge with a goal of 400 donors.

Participation challenges are a great way to engage donors and raise money simultaneously. It brings out the fun and competitive spirit in individuals while supporting a great cause. By incorporating a theme into a challenge or giving day, constituents can really captivate themselves into the event and participate in something entertaining that they can relate to.

New England College’s challenge took place in March of 2017 and took the theme of March Madness by being branded as NEC Madness. Most people associate March Madness with the “basketball-packed” month full of strategic brackets and friendly competition. By having a challenge branded as NEC Madness, BCG CONNECT aligned with that theme and designed a bracket logo, mailer, and social media graphics that were enticing to constituents.

Did NEC reach their goal of 400 donors? How did they do it? What was part of their campaign? Download the case study to get these questions answered and learn how NEC generated successful results.

As a leading provider of creative direct marketing services, BCG CONNECT can partner with you to optimize your campaign creatively and strategically – connect with us to learn more!

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Storytelling - What's Your Story?

Influence Donors through Consistent Storytelling

As development professionals, you aim to successfully influence how your audience thinks and feels to get their support for your organization. A key component of reaching and influencing your audience through direct marketing efforts is by storytelling.

Once upon a time in a…

school far away, there lived development professionals who sent appeals after Labor Day.

nonprofit far away, there lived development professionals who were getting appeals ready for their next Giving Day.

healthcare organization far away, there lived development professionals who were starting to think about Giving Tuesday.

No matter what type of organization you’re a part of, having a consistent story for your brand is key.

 No, you don’t have to be Dr. Seuss.

 No, you don’t have to be Nicholas Sparks.

 No, you don’t have to be Stephen King.

 Yes, you do need to have your own story.

One of the first things to ponder is, “How am I going to make sure my story consistently connects through each platform that we send something out?” Well, it all comes back to having a strategic annual giving marketing plan. By having this plan, it’s easy to map out your storyboard and the messages you would like to send throughout the year, the channels you’d like to send them through, and when you plan on sending them.

Storytelling is strategic, especially when it comes to fundraising. It does not simply mean that you must get numerous stories from people saying how the organization had an impact on them and send those out through various channels. This can be a great tactic for some organizations but every organization’s story is different.

Here are some other ideas that might spark your storytelling muse:

Listening: Before developing your story, you need to listen to the stories of your donors. Listening helps you truly understand donors and what parts of your organization are near and dear to their hearts. It can help you align your story with theirs. When crafting an ask with this information in mind, you are more likely to relate to them and convert them to loyal donors. Take the time to listen to a handful of your potential donors and learn about what’s most important to them – you might want to think about incorporating a survey into your campaign, which can allow you to learn a lot more about your donors than you already know.

Values: An organization may have a set of 3-5 values that are core elements that support the vision of the organization. If your focus of the year is on the organization’s core values and mission, think about how you’re going to get that message across throughout the year. An idea could be to feature a different value on each appeal and incorporate a quote or story that correlates with that value. This not only shows how important values are to the organization, but it also enables you to remain consistent throughout the year and strengthen your emotional connection with potential donors.

Photos: One of the most common English idioms is, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Photos can go an extremely long way when storytelling. It gives a visual to the audience of what you want them to see and helps support how you want them to feel. Depending on the type of appeal being sent out, you can incorporate a photo that is indeed worth a thousand words in addition to a powerful message that is consistent with the organization’s story. Photos are a great way of increasing an emotional bond with a potential donor and influencing that person to donate.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wow, this blog post is quite repetitive using the word, ‘Consistency.’” It is! Consistency is vital to incorporating storytelling into your fundraising efforts. When telling your story, remember these three things:

  1. Listen to your donors and create a story for your organization that your donors want to support.
  2. Build an emotional bond with your donors and make your donors feel a certain way when they receive your appeal.
  3. Tell your story consistently throughout the year through creative direct mail appeals.

…And the storytelling fundraisers lived happily ever after!

To learn more about how BCG Connect can help you consistently deliver your story through direct marketing initiatives, connect with us!

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BCG Staff Writer
Stewardship

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! – The Importance of Stewardship

Did you know that Thanksgiving doesn’t only come in November? You might be thinking to yourself, “Huh? Everyone knows that it’s always in November…” Well, stop for a moment and think about Thanksgiving and the strong aura of gratitude that time of year. Thanksgiving is known to be a time of thanks and appreciativeness for what and who you have in your life.

This should not be the only time of year for that feeling, especially when it comes to fundraising professionals.

You should not only be thanking your donors after they donate to your annual fund throughout the year, but also at your fiscal year end. Donors want to know how they made a difference and feel that they are appreciated.

There are different ways that you can implement stewardship ideas into your campaign. The best stewardship campaigns typically have a combination of the following:

1.Direct Mail: Often, organizations send out an impact report or a “Donor Honor Roll” to recognize everyone who contributed to the annual fund. If you’re thinking you want to send an additional direct mail piece or deviate from an impact report thanking donors, you might want to consider sending out a postcard, letter, or self-mailer. Direct mail is a terrific way to incorporate data segmentation and personalize the thank you based on each donor’s contribution.

2. Email: By sending a thank you message via email that remains consistent with the stewardship campaign brand, you can reiterate your appreciation to your donors through another channel.  Email is a great compliment to direct mail.

3. Social Media: Social media is an effective way to thank those donors who are followers. This is typically used for a broader way of saying, “Thank You!” and is less personal than other communications. A great graphic to share alongside the “thank you” text is an infographic that shows results from the annual donations.

4. Video: Video is a strong element that can help strengthen your brand message and it is a powerful way to deliver a thank you. It provides the opportunity to develop an emotional bond between the organization and the donor through influential visuals of the impact donors have made. A video or a link to a video can be distributed through different channels such as your website, direct mail, social media, and email.

An effective way of thinking about your stewardship campaign and the best channel to send a thank you through is: if you ASK through that channel, THANK through that channel.

Take a minute to think about this scenario:

You just got married and received numerous, thoughtful gifts from your wedding guests. The gifts all varied in price but nonetheless, each gift was a gracious gesture.

In this day in age, it’s common to see a broad “thank you” posting on social media from the two getting married, thanking guests for making their day so special. However, it is ALSO typical to receive some sort of thank you through the mail – sometimes they are handwritten; sometimes they are typed; sometimes they are extremely detailed and personalized; sometimes they are more generic.

Relating your fundraising efforts to other life events makes you realize just how important a thank you is.

Now, ask yourself, “Have we made our donors feel valued?”

Always remember that you can never thank someone too much! It shows that person how much of an impact they had on you (and your organization). By showing someone that his/her donation is appreciated, they will start building a loyalty to your organization. You never know… a thank you could make a first time donor a lifetime donor! Don’t let the aura of gratitude only come around Thanksgiving.

Recognize your donors. Praise your donors. Thank your donors.

The growth of your annual fund is in their hands and you have the power to make your donors feel appreciated.

BCG Connect can help you implement your stewardship campaign into your direct marketing efforts and remain consistent with your organization’s brand – connect with us to learn more!

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Wheelock's Giving Day Case Study

Case Study Download: Wheelock College’s Successful Giving Day

As the end of the fiscal year for many institutions approaches, an integral step to future success is to evaluate what worked this year and what could be improved next year. Planning your annual fund marketing campaign is critical to the success of your institution’s annual fund.

A great way to boost alumni participation and engagement quickly is to incorporate a Giving Day into your overall strategic annual fund plan.

Wheelock College ran a successful inaugural Giving Day in 2016 and hoped to generate more interactions and participation this year. As a small, private institution located in Boston, MA, they aggressively raised their goal from 250 donors in FY16 to 500 in FY17.

Fast forward to April 1st when the giving day was over – Wheelock’s community came together to give over 760 gifts totaling more than $200,000 along with increased participation in every area of their community.

How did Wheelock have such a successful Giving Day? Find out more information below.

“Wheelock Giving Day was a great success this year and BCG’s involvement was invaluable. We received many positive responses to the direct mail pieces — they really stood out from past solicitations. Overall, the campaign surpassed all of our expectations. Thank you!”

Steve Muzrall, Assistant Vice President for Development, Wheelock College

Giving days are just a sliver of an annual fund plan. They require strategic outreach well in advance along with following the giving day. While getting donors acquired through a giving day is great, it’s important to acknowledge that these donors require a subsequent plan. All the outreach before the giving day contributed to the engagement and participation the day of – consistent engagement throughout the year is critical to the success of fundraising.

Fiscal years are coming to a close for many institutions at the end of the month and now more than ever is the time to start thinking about your overall annual fund plan. We know you’re busy. Let us help! To learn more about how to strategically craft your annual fund plan, connect with us and we would be glad to help you!

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BCG Staff Writer