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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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BCG Staff Writer
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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Annual Funds Deserve Annual Plans

Annual Funds Deserve Annual Plans – Is Yours Ready for FY’18?

The long and winding road to annual giving success starts with developing an annual fund plan. Annual giving is complex and having a roadmap ahead of time allows you to prepare for the possible speed bumps and detours. Your road to annual giving success begins today for the next fiscal year – it’s time to start planning!

A strong annual fund campaign requires extensive and comprehensive efforts that organizations need to plan well in advance. By doing this, annual fund objectives are clear, concise, and compelling as well as more apt to be strategically aligned throughout the fiscal year. However, according to Annual Giving Network’s 2016 Report, 67% said that they do not typically have a plan in place prior to the start of a new fiscal year.

Take a step back for a moment and think, “Did my annual fund have a documented, thought-out plan for FY’17?”

If your answer is, “Yes, it did!” – wonderful! How are you going to improve it for FY’18? It’s imperative to use as much data as you have gathered to determine what worked, what didn’t work, and how the plan can be improved. Some questions you might want to ask yourself:

  • Did I have a campaign across multiple channels (direct mail, email appeals, a coordinated social media campaign, and a telephone push)?
  • Did I segment the data to target the right people with the right message?
  • Did I thank donors for their previous donation and ask for another small gift at the same time?
  • Could I have incorporated 2 annual giving days instead of 1?
  • Should I have implemented a challenge day?
  • Could I have leveraged any yearly events to push annual giving (i.e. Pi Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, the Organization’s Founding Year)?
  • Did I tell donors how their donation impacted the organization?

There is always room for improvement by implementing innovative and creative ideas to your program.

If your answer is, “No, my annual fund didn’t have a strategic plan,” then you’re in luck – there is always time to put a plan in place. You might be thinking, “Where do I start? When do I start? What do I include in this plan?” Before summer, you should ideally have your approved plan in place ready to be executed for FY’18. This would put you at the perfect spot to be organized for the year and ready to strategically get donations in. Here are some guiding questions to fuel your annual giving campaign for your road trip to success:

  1. What is the theme of your annual fund? – by having a thought-out, annual theme, the annual fund can have a more succinct, consistent message upon multiple touchpoints.
  2. Do your social media pushes have consistent branding with your annual fund campaign? – as more campaigns implement social media, it’s crucial to have consistent branding across channels to connect all of the pieces for donors.
  3. Are there any yearly events that you want to include in your annual fund campaign? – if you’re focused on a certain theme for the year, you might want to consider incorporating certain events/holidays into your campaign. For example, if the founding year for your institution was 1718, you might want to implement a Giving Day on January 7, 2018 (1/7/18). If you have a theme of focusing on different departments throughout the year, you might want to focus on athletics in March and hold a March Madness bracket challenge. If you’re focusing on raising funds for a new math center, you might want to hold a giving day on Pi Day, March 14th (3.14).
  4. How will you segment your data? – knowing who your donors are helps with segmenting data as you want to ensure you are targeting the right people with the right message at the right time. Personalizing asks based on specific donor interests increases your chances of their donation.
  5. Did you thank your donors? – donor retention is a major factor of your annual fund. Maintain your relationships by thanking your donors and let them know how their gift impacted the organization! When they feel appreciated, they are more inclined to continue contributing to the fund in the future.
  6. How did the campaign do and how are you going to improve it next year? – during your current campaign, you should start thinking about next year’s campaign. Ask yourself questions like, “Should we do this strategy next year? Which approach was most successful? Which approach did not perform as we had hoped? Is there anything going on in the environment that might have impacted positive or negative results for our campaign?” By having improvement at the forefront of your mind, annual fund campaigns are more likely to succeed even more.

An annual fund campaign needs to be kept vibrant, updated, and innovative. These efforts need to be revisited and monitored constantly to ensure the annual fund is meeting or exceeding expectations. In order for aligned initiatives to be effective, goals need to be set and the prior year’s campaign needs to be evaluated at the completion of the campaign. When evaluating the campaign, it’s important to take into consideration the dollars given, participation rates, average gifts, and cost-per-dollar-raised. This will aid in establishing a benchmark that will be beneficial in setting realistic goals.

What do you think would happen if donors heard from you consistently the first year throughout the year and only one time the year after that because an annual plan wasn’t implemented? The purpose of an effective annual fund plan is to establish consistent giving habits in your donors. If they feel as though you only reach out when there is a crisis or when there is a sudden need, they won’t feel the emotional connection as they would if they had received consistent outreach explaining how they can make an impact. Retaining donors is a key contributing factor to developing and executing an annual fund plan.

As a proud partner with our clients, BCG Connect has worked strategically with numerous organizations to develop and improve their annual fund marketing campaigns. Some of the most successful campaigns were planned well in advance of the start of the fiscal year. If your goal is to work with a partner that can help develop a strategic, impactful annual fund marketing program, connect with us to learn how BCG Connect can help you!

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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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