Show Impact

How Do You Show Impact?

One of the questions that gets passed around within the nonprofit development world is: how do you convert a non-donor to a donor? And the answer that is commonly floated is: show the impact of their gift.

I know what you’re thinking:
But that seems so abstract.
And time consuming.
How do you show the impact of every gift?
How do you really show impact?
What do donors really want to see?

And then you’re down a rabbit hole of everything you’ll have to put in visual form, everything on your website you would have to change to really show impact, and suddenly you’re overwhelmed. And that’s on top of everything else on your (already overfull) plate.

Pfew! Take a deep breath.

I’m here to help. Let me guide you through BCG Connect’s 5 step process:

Step 1: Don’t get overwhelmed! You’re a professional, you’ve got this handled (that’s how you ended up here, looking for help, right?). Keep reading!

Step 2: Choose one campaign to start with and show the impact of a new donor’s gift to illustrate it.

BCG Connect worked with Hopkins School, an independent, coeducational, college-preparatory day school for students in grades 7-12 in New Haven, CT, on their campaign to acquire new donors via their fiscal year end campaign. By creating a personalized message for these appeals, Hopkins spoke directly to these non-donors and showed the impact of a first gift.

Step 3: Remember that people donate to people – so, show donors who their donation affects & impacts.

Working with Hopkins to show the vibrancy of their student body – who are directly impacted by the donations made by new donors – BCG Connect featured a collage of the people at Hopkins to draw donors in to the appeal.

BCG Connect featured a collage of the people at Hopkins to draw donors in to the appeal

Step 4: Make a simple and concrete ask of the donor, then tell them how this multiplies over all new donors giving, to show how every $1 matters.

The inside of Hopkins’ appeal clearly lays out the impact of a $25 gift: not only is the panel clean and easy to read (especially important since our attention spans are now shorter than a goldfish), it also makes a concrete ask and then shows the larger impact of that gift.

Your gift makes an impact

Step 5: Thank the donor.

If there was a second golden rule of fundraising (after the 1st one: donors don’t give if they’re not asked) it would be: you can never thank your donors too many times. So, thank them and show them who their gift impacts. And then, thank them again when they give.

Thank the donor

Looking for more examples of how to show impact? Check out our portfolio for more great ideas and contact us to learn more about how BCG Connect helped Hopkins strengthen this campaign.

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BCG Staff Writer
Fundraising Possibility is in the Air

Possibility Is In The Air

The weather is warmer than ever, it’s light out earlier, and before we know it, the first day of spring will be here. Everything feels fresh and new once the weather is warm enough to not wear a coat out of the house in the morning. Don’t you agree? It feels like possibility is in the air.

And with possibility comes the opportunity for fundraising. While this can be a challenging appeal season, it’s also an opportunity to harness that feeling of possibility and be more creative with a campaign in order to bring in the essential funds that support our communities.

Two months ago, in January, I had the pleasure of speaking at the CASE District 1 Conference, introducing keynote speaker Dr. Talithia Williams of Harvey Mudd College. I told the crowd of more than 600 about an appeal success story of one of BCG Connect’s educational partners, Regis College, a university in the Boston area. This campaign was creative, ambitious, and very successful.

Every time I tell this story it tugs on my heart. And since the best fundraising campaigns reach both your head and heart, this is an all-star.

Below is an excerpt of the speech:

A few years ago, Regis launched a campaign to fund the full cost of iPads for all current undergraduate and graduate students. They would be given new iPads upon entering school and when they graduated they would take the iPads along with them on their next adventures.

As we all know, the cost of technology can be a serious hurdle for many young people, and Regis wanted to ensure that all of their students had equal access to this technology, no matter their economic status.

BCG Connect worked with Regis on this campaign to create personalized, targeted, direct mail marketing that honed in on the message of the need for universal and upgraded technology for all students on campus and how donors could make an impact on that need with their donations. Additionally, the campaign focused on prospects under the $1,000 level in order to try to engage that alumni group further.

Approximately 2,500 past and prospective donors were solicited as a part of this campaign.

The appeals had designs and imagery based on the graduation decade of the potential donor and the story was told through an emphasis on the advancements in technology since the donor’s graduation decade.

If you graduated in the 1980’s, you received this appeal – you can see how the photo from is both similar and different from that of the one from with the current Regis students and the iPads:

Regis Comparison iPads

The campaign was so successful that Regis was able to fully fund iPads for their current students long before the close of the campaign. Through those 2,500 appeals, Regis raised more than $51,000. By the close of the campaign, iPads for all future students were also fully funded ensuring that essential education technology would be available to Regis students no matter their financial hurdles and easing one of the many roadblocks students encounter on their way to success.

Our personalized, targeted, direct mail marketing for this campaign helped fuel the school’s fundraising to bring greater technological resources to their community. And since then, all Regis’ undergraduate and graduate students are given a new iPad when entering the school and then take it with them after graduation to keep using as a tool along their journey.

We at BCG Connect are thrilled to have executed this successful campaign with Regis, and so many other campaigns with other educational partners, strengthening their fundraising, and helping their communities in such broad strokes. We truly believe in the investment each of you have in your schools and communities and we look forward to helping strengthen your campaigns in the future.

As we go further into the warm weather, use your past successes to help fuel your creative drive this spring!

Looking for more inspriation? Check out our portfolio for more great ideas and contact us to learn more about how BCG Connect helped Regis strengthened this campaign.

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BCG Staff Writer
Fundraising Appeal Letter Hacks

Stand Out From The Crowd(ed Mailbox): 5 Fundraising Appeal Letter Hacks

Add some muscle to your next appeal letter to help it stand out in a crowded mailbox.

During the holiday season, everything that comes into your mailbox, from bills to credit card offers, are adorned in festive colors and glitter. So, it helps to add something special to an appeal letter to ensure that it will stand out from the colorful crowd.

Have your next appeal letter move into the spotlight, no matter the time of year, by including one or more of these strategies:

1. Include Images in the Letter:

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Adding photos to the body of the letter helps to give a face to the story, to the need, and to the reason a donor is giving. Photos also help engage a reader in the letter by helping them make a personal connection to it.

2. Add a Colorful Buck Slip Alongside the Letter:

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This mailing insert, approximately the size of a dollar bill (which is how it gets its name), provides room for additional graphics, images, and appeal information that can help enumerate the impact of a donation.

3. Use Color and Unique Typography in the Body of the Letter:

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By adding color and typographical emphasis, the reader can easily find the most important parts of your appeal letter. This also helps to break apart larger blocks of text to be easier to read and thus keeps their attention longer.

4. Add Artwork or a Tagline to the Outer Envelope:

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The envelope is an important part of the overall appeal package, but is so often overlooked (both during the design process and once it’s in the mailbox). The design of it helps to encourage the donor to open it.

5. Personalize the letter by including:

  • The recipient’s last gift amount: this helps to remind the donor of how much they previously gave and also gives them a point of reference for another gift.
  • A targeted ask amount: by personalizing the appeal letter with a specific ask for each letter, rather than a general ask, this helps to give the donor an understanding of how they can specifically help.
  • The recipient’s class year: by referencing a specific year, you help remind them of their experiences at the school and the reasons for giving back.
  • Add a P.S. line that repeats the call to action: use this important part of the letter to summarize the entire message – the ask, deadline, and call to action – so that when the reader’s eyes go to the bottom of the page, they have all the information.

What techniques have you used? These 5 ideas are just some of the wonderful strategies available. What have you found to be helpful?

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BCG Staff Writer
Regis College's Challenge Results

School Challenges Unite Alumni & Friends

 School Challenges are one of the best ways to boost alumni participation quickly.

Regis College ran a successful school challenge after receiving a generous pledge to the annual fund of $25,000. A Regis couple asked their fellow alumni and friends to rise to the school challenge and make 600 gifts to Regis by the end of the calendar year. Long story short, they surpassed their goal with 799 donations.

The results showed that the challenge was a great way to:

  • Secure participation rates early on in the fiscal year
  • Get never-donors to make their first donation
  • Increase gift amounts from current donors
  • Show the Regis community that their peers (alumni, faculty, staff, and parents) are actively giving back.

Find out how Regis made it all happen here.

Regis College is a great example of executing a successful school challenge. To reach success, it’s important to remember that you must have ample preparation in your outreach and marketing materials in order to generate the best results.

If you’re interested in learning how BCG Connect can help you with your school challenge to boost alumni participation quickly, connect with us! We have partnered with a number of clients to improve their school challenge direct marketing materials to optimize donor engagement

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Bentley University's Philanthropy Week

Spotlight: Bentley University’s Philanthropy Week

#bentleygives
Bentley created a week of on-campus activities, all centered on philanthropy.

For 2015, this week of events was creatively branded with the slogan, “Bentley Runs on Philanthropy,” a spinoff of the Dunkin’ Donuts “America Runs on Dunkin'” slogan. This played well into the week’s events, which were full of coffee and running.

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Above: Branding the campaign: “Bentley Runs on Philanthropy”

Calling all coffee lovers and do-gooders…
To kick off the giving week, students were given free coffee and donuts. Then, it was their turn to “pay-it-forward” by buying a friend’s coffee. Next, they were asked to donate to Relay for Life with spare, coffee-cup change – every penny counts!

This all led up to the final event – the “Neon Run,” an organized race where students dressed to match the neon theme in glowing garb. It was a chance to show their school spirit, run with friends, and of course enjoy a cup of coffee (waiting for them at the finish line). This was a way to get students involved with supporting the Bentley Annual Fund – their registration fees were donated to the Annual Fund.

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It just goes to show – giving back can be fun too!

Success!
Bentley has had great success with this strategy over the past couple of years. In addition to getting students involved in their annual fund even before they become “young alumni”, Philanthropy Week continually:

  • Raises awareness of the Bentley Annual Fund – teaching students why it’s important to give back
  • Fosters a philanthropic culture among students
  • Provides a fun incentive for students to make a donation

View complete portfolio of event materials (crafted by Boston Color Graphics) here.

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BCG Staff Writer
Data Visualization

Data Visualization

Data is abuzz in the fundraising world right now. We oftentimes have the data at our fingertips, but how to use it properly is the trick. What’s the key to this trick? We were curious too, so our team watched The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s fundraising webinar on Data Visualization.

Here’s some quick tips we took away that help to make data most impactful:

  • Know your audience: Who are they? What do you want to tell them?
  • Tell a story: Make it funny and memorable with infographics, charts, and visual metaphors.
  • Keep it simple: Simple images with limited text make the biggest impact. Don’t overload your audience with too much information!
  • Make it interactive: Clickable or sharable infographics will draw your audience in.
  • Balance esthetics with substance: Choose data carefully. Make sure it’s visual and useful.
  • Don’t make the reader work hard: Use trend lines, colors, symbols, and visual aids strategically to aid scanning ability.

See how some of our clients are displaying their data in impact reports, appeals, and stewardship letters HERE.

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Email Marketing Psychology

Why We Click – The Psychology Behind Email Marketing

There’s a simple psychology behind a great call to action, especially when it comes to email marketing.

Increase your “clicks” with these simple email tips:

  • Color Matters: Use ORANGE to encourage immediate action, or BLUE to build trust and security.
  • Use 1st Person Perspective When Writing: One recent study found that there was a 90% conversion rate when the email in question was written in the 1st person.
  • Be Specific: For example, “Download the guide” is better than “Click Here”.
  • Keep It Short: The longer your text, the less of it your audience will retain. Besides, there isn’t a lot of space, so don’t try to cram a lot of text in.
  • Create Urgency: Simply adding the word “now” to your button can boost conversations.
  • Place CTA Above the Fold: Visitors spend more than 80% of their time there.

Read the Full Article from Emma for more tips.

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The Current Environment of Annual Giving

The Current Environment of Annual Giving

Recently, the BCG team attended CASE’s Senior Annual Giving Conference, and we want to share some great information we learned on the current fundraising climate, donor retention, acquisition, reactivation, and who to target and when.

5 things you should know:

  • Today, 60% of all schools are making 2 or more asks per year and have success with multiple ask programs.
  • New Donors who give their first gift of $100 or more have a 71% retention rate
  • The longer lapsed the harder to reactivate. Those who are 1-2 years out are the best prospects to reactivate.
  • Parents are great donors and should be the first target for major gift officers.

Download more need-to-know facts from the Senior Annual Giving presentation.

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Noble and Greenough School's Rally Day

Boost Alumni Participation and Raise Money – Quickly

Rally Day is Noble and Greenough School’s giving day. Like many schools looking to improve young alumni participation, Nobles designates one day a year to giving. Rally Day takes over the school’s Instagram, Twitter feed, Facebook page and campus grounds, as students display their school pride and thanks for giving with signs and t-shirts, while volunteers take to the phone lines to rally support from recent grads.

Last year was a success, as Nobles surpassed their goal of 500 gifts with an end result of more than 600 gifts and pledges, which set the bar even higher for this year’s Rally Day with a goal to bring in 605 gifts and pledges.

“We certainly would not have had these results without the direct mail marketing and click-to-pledge emails as well as the social media promotion we did prior to Rally Day.”

-Allie Trainor, Assistant Director of Annual Giving, Noble and Greenough School

Giving days and participation challenges are a great way to boost alumni participation, especially with young alumni, and raise money quickly. It provides a friendly competition – whether that’s between different grades/classes, organizations, parents/faculty/students, or being able to unlock a gift from a generous donor.

BCG Connect works with clients on their giving day campaigns to provide direct marketing materials to support the event. It is critical to have an integrated campaign for the giving day to ensure that all individuals are aware and prepared for the day. Learn more about how we helped Noble and Greenough School with their successful giving day in the case study download.

Noble and Greenough successful giving day download!

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Milton-Nobles Challenge

Teaming Up With Your Rival School to Boost Young Alumni Participation

Noble and Greenough School and Milton Academy are rival schools that team up for an annual young alumni challenge to boost participation early in the fiscal year. The competition between the two schools athletic teams is an event that attracts many young alums back to campus. Nobles and Milton saw this as an opportunity to engage them in giving.

After the first couple years of running the challenge, both schools took a step back to the drawing table. They wanted to find new ways to make it easier for their young alumni to give and take their numbers even further.

The solution was:

  • More social media
  • More peer-to-peer asks
  • Mobile Giving option
  • “Click to Pledge” landing pages

With BCG Connect’s help, the schools rolled out a new direct mail and email plan that worked in conjunction with their social media, text-to-give, and on-campus student volunteer efforts.

First, a postcard with a QR code and personalized URL to click-to-pledge page was mailed.

Second, an e-mail, mirroring the postcard design, was sent with the link to their personalized click-to-pledge page, which included a targeted ask array.

Third, weekly follow-up e-mails, including the link to the click-to-pledge landing page and updated stats tracking each schools progress and lead in the competition, were sent out.

Nobles direct mail and email plan download!

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