As at most of our client meetings, acquisition was a major topic. The data tells us that is exactly what we should be talking about. There is a troubling trend in American charitable giving that should be sobering to every nonprofit that depends on individual giving.
If you run a peer-to-peer event, you’ve heard or thought this: “If we just charge $35 to every person who shows up at our event, we’d make a lot of money.” The problem with this thinking is that it’s a price tag, and after people pay the price, they’re a lot less likely to fundraise.
Often when collaborating on strategy for events, we get into bookkeeping territory. A typical question sounds like this, “When determining costs of grassroots events, like a walk or a 5K, do you include staff, event costs, or both?” On the face of it, it’s a pretty straightforward question. But it’s not surprising that we hear this a lot, because there is no standard method of reporting across the nonprofit industry.
An article appeared in the Chronicle of Philanthropy last week titled, “Nonprofit Leaders Add to Outpouring of Fury Over Border Policies.” It talks about how nonprofits like the Texas Civil Rights Project and Save the Children are responding to the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy” that has resulted in separating parents seeking asylum at the southern border from their children.
Turnkey’s clients include organizations like Church World Service and UNICEF, groups who address humanitarian crises around the world. We never expected to be confronted by a humanitarian crisis unfolding in our own home, on the southern border of the United States. One created by our government.
We recently hired someone to come into Turnkey and figuratively kick us in the shins. We asked her to “secret shop” us. If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s when someone comes in and acts like a customer, (in our case a fundraiser) goes through the customer experience you provide, and then critiques it. What a horrifically painful gut punch.
Millennial studying is the navel-gazing of our time. We spend crazy time doing it. Don’t take our word for it, ask the Google machine. A Google search of “Millennials and charity” returns 210,000 hits, while searching “Millennials and nonprofits” gets you a whopping 434,000. The reason for the interest is understandable.
We were having lunch with friends recently, and the conversation got around to politics. “How,” one person wondered, “could my friends and family members who voted for Trump still be so solid in their support? Through the porn star payoffs, incivility, and daily displays of ignorance that characterizes the dumpster fire that is this administration? How is that possible?”
My generation talks about millennials like they are a different species. We think they are different at the DNA level. We study them and develop intricate ways to deal with them, with systems and processes and ropes and pulleys and whispers and shouting and…none of it works very well. And we need to figure out why – and soon.
One of the great pleasures in working with nonprofit clients is getting up every day and knowing that you are helping them do good on behalf of their constituencies. They advocate on behalf of people living with autism, cancers, ALS, and cystic fibrosis. Some support people dealing with the hardships surrounding immigration, homelessness, depression, or drug addiction.
I sit in on plenty of calls and speak to lots of nonprofits about rewards, incentives, gifts, prizes, and recognition. (For the record, the word ‘prize’ makes me wince.) On a recent call with Kris Eschman and Wayne Baldaro from NAMI, they relayed that overcoming the incentive mentality with their affiliates regarding recognition programs is challenging. However, they explained, once there is a breakthrough with the chapters and the leadership truly gets it, the fundraising skyrockets.
By now pretty much everyone has heard of the debacle that has befallen Facebook over targeting user profiles in the 2016 Presidential election. It comes at a particularly inopportune time for nonprofits, because very recently Facebook had become a major platform for raising money online.
As any good businessperson knows, it is easier to get a current customer to buy more than it is to acquire a new customer. The analogy in the nonprofit sector is to increase affinity. Affinity can start as volunteerism then culminate as donations, or in peer-to-peer, as fundraising activity.
One of the main tools that we use to motivate people is recognition. Recognition can be delivered in many forms, so deploying recognition for maximum effect takes planning and strategy. One component is almost always the use of email. Recognizing people personally with email is inexpensive, and its effects are measurable.
At Turnkey, we place a premium on analyzing every campaign to provide our clients with the best estimate possible of their return on investment. While reviewing the reports, occasionally someone asks why we report average fundraising of all peer-to-peer participants rather than reporting only the average of peer-to-peer fundraisers (we define a participant as anyone that attends an event hosted by a Non-Profit, and a fundraiser as any participant that raises >$0).
We recently had the pleasure of having lunch with Alan Siegel, a well-known New York City-based brand expert. We had contacted him after reading an article in the New York Times about nonprofits turning to pros like Alan to craft marketing campaigns to sell their causes to donors.
In a recent blog, we wrote about the new tax bill that doubles the standard deduction, effectively reducing the number of taxpayers who itemize deductions from 30 percent to 5 percent, according to experts. That’s a decrease in roughly 30 million households.
We’ve all heard the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Nonprofits routinely use pictures to communicate their messages to their constituents. Usually, the photos are selected to represent the people who will be helped by supporting the mission of the nonprofit.
Recently we met with a major healthcare nonprofit who was reviewing its fundraising portfolio. Their peer-to-peer campaign had become an unholy mix of walks and runs, often holding runs and walks on the same day, mixing constituents who showed great affinity to their cause with others who showed great affinity to running 5K races.
I recently did a webinar for a major nonprofit preparing to roll out next year’s Walk campaign to its local chapters. There were about 200 chapter directors on the call.