Let’s Not Be Cryptic


Be honest, you don’t know what Blockchain is, or exactly how it works.

Facebook recently introduced Libra, a cryptocurrency built on blockchain and there are some very direct connections and implications for nonprofits.

Before we get to what this could mean for nonprofits, here is a simple introduction to blockchain, and to cryptocurrency.

What is blockchain?

At the highest level, it’s a decentralized, publicly available warehouse of transaction data. This warehouse relies on a vast network of computers to encrypt or “hash” the personal particulars, verify details and validity, and then add each transaction to a “block” that is inserted into the chain that connects all the blocks.

What makes this a more secure solution? Here’s a great explanation from Investopedia:

“Let’s say a hacker attempts to edit your transaction from Amazon so that you actually have to pay for your purchase twice. As soon as they edit the dollar amount of your transaction, the block’s hash will change. The next block in the chain will still contain the old hash, and the hacker would need to update that block in order to cover their tracks. However, doing so would change that block’s hash. And the next, and so on.

In order to change a single block, then, a hacker would need to change every single block after it on the blockchain. Recalculating all those hashes would take an enormous and improbable amount of computing power. In other words, once a block is added to the blockchain it becomes very difficult to edit and impossible to delete.”

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and the aforementioned Libra are essentially digital currency. But, what really distinguishes cryptocurrency is the fact that it is not issued by any central party and therefore is not subject to regulation by any government or regulating authority.

Yes, that does make it a channel that seems custom built for money laundering – but we will ignore that for now.

[Sidebar] Does anyone out there watch Ozark? Somebody ought to clue Jason Bateman’s Marty Byrde character in on cryptocurrency – they can’t keep buying funeral homes and rundown resorts forever.

Satoshi Nakamoto is credited with inventing cryptocurrency, referring to it as “a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party.”

However, Satoshi may or may not exist. He hasn’t been seen or interviewed; Satoshi could be multiple people, or a pseudonym. But he is credited with writing the whitepaper that introduced the idea of bitcoin and clearly doesn’t want to be found… he’s encrypted himself. 😉

What makes Libra most interesting to those of us in the nonprofit space is the inclusion of a couple large nonprofits amongst the founding members: Mercy Corps and Women’s World Banking.

But what does Libra (or cryptocurrency generally) mean for nonprofits?

For one thing, moving money from the people who give to the people in need can be done quickly and with significantly lower processing fees, a huge benefit.

In developing countries where aid and support are most needed most, the unbanked or underbanked often comprise the majority. For context, here is a chart provided by the World Economic Forum.

Crypto World Chart

According the World Bank Group, almost 60% of those without bank accounts cite lack of money as the reason.

There are 1.7 billion people in the world without bank accounts, but a percentage of these people do have inexpensive smart phones; the ability to get money to them and allow them to transact without the burden of fees could have a significant impact.

Do we need to start accepting cryptocurrency in our appeals? Probably not yet.

But the gradual integration of cryptocurrency into the global market and our day-to-day is certainly something worth watching.

Our journey continues…

THD Team

“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s a quote we’ve all heard and a sentiment we are all reminded of daily.

Last week THD’s journey took an exciting new turn. Thanks to the continued support of our amazing clients, we outgrew our previous home and moved into a beautiful new space in historic Lincoln, MA.

THD Office

Our bright, healthier new home is the culmination of a year’s worth of work. We kicked off with a workplace survey to better understand the needs of our people as well as a commute analysis that outlined our best geographic options (if you live or have lived in this part of the world, you know just how important that analysis is!). Once complete, we engaged architects, interior designers, furniture suppliers, and technology experts to develop a workplace that would meet our needs and align with our culture of openness, transparency, teamwork, and collaboration.

The result is an environment with tremendous natural light, open areas for impromptu collaboration inside and out, standing desks, an on-site fitness center to keep us healthy, and better technology to keep us all seamlessly connected.

Change and evolution are the defining themes of this part of our journey.

Just as the journeys, needs, and wants of the donors we work together to engage are evolving, so, too, are the needs of our clients and the teams we’ve built to support them.

So, it’s appropriate that we drive through the battlefields of Lexington and Concord each day on our way in. Our industry is going through a period of dramatic change, and our individual journeys into the office are reminders of how important change (and a little revolution) can be to growth as well as discovering new and better ways of doing things.

And now, as our journey continues, we can’t wait to have you in for a visit to see where we can all go together.



P.S. That quote from Emerson is incredibly appropriate, as our conference rooms have all been named for famous literary figures from the area – Emerson being one of them.

A Conversation With Michelle Hurtado, Head of Google Ad Grants

Michelle Hurtado
Global Head of Google Ad Grants

Jeff Ostiguy, Vice President of Marketing at THD, sat down with the Global Head of Google Ad Grants, to discuss Google’s commitment to the nonprofit sector, Ad Grants program changes and how nonprofits can be successful with Google Ads.

THD: Michelle, thanks for taking a little time to talk with us today! Can you give us a brief history of the Ad Grants program?

Hurtado: Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google Search is critical in this. We saw how effective ads on Google Search results pages were and so we started the Ad Grants program so that resource strapped nonprofits could have good access to share information on Google.com. We’ve now been giving free Google Search ads for 16 years, directly in alignment with Google’s mission. We hope that we’re helping nonprofits amplify their vital work and grow with Google: by supporting nonprofits to raise awareness, get people involved, and fundraise.

THD: What does the Ad Grants team look like? We often hear it is a small team of volunteers.

Hurtado: Ad Grants has been a small team historically but we have doubled in the last year! We are a dedicated group of 12 and we have team members who have been with Google for 14, 15 and 16 years, sitting across 6 different offices.
We also have partners we work closely with. For example, we have our Certified Professionals Community of agencies and consultants who are knowledgeable about Ad Grants and dedicated to nonprofits, so we recommend their services. We also partner with universities to offer a program for students learning online marketing to volunteer with Ad Grantees through the Google Ad Grants Online Marketing Challenge.

Last year we served about 51,000 nonprofits so we also rely on volunteers to scale our support efforts. You’ll see many of our volunteers on our educational resources such as videos and livestreams on YouTube and our new Community forums which are great platform for nonprofits to ask questions and get help quickly.

THD: In January of 2018, a number of new performance and structural guidelines were put in place for the program. Have the changes had the impact on performance that your team had hoped? What trends or changes have you seen since you made the changes?

Hurtado: Yes! We reviewed our program policies to add clarity and raise standards of quality for our free advertising grants. We want our Grantees to all be in compliance with these policies and we hope they act as a guide to optimize accounts. For example, we don’t permit single word keywords because they don’t often make a good match with a relevant ad and a user taking action on your site, so that policy prods nonprofits to build out keyword lists.

Performance metrics like conversion goals met show positive results and click through rates have more than doubled. My team is committed to helping nonprofits use their Ad Grant successfully.

THD: Have a large number of Grantees been suspended since the policy changes were implemented in January of 2018? Are more nonprofits opting to use automated options like Smart Campaigns?

Hurtado: Many nonprofits have been impacted by the policy changes but almost all fix the issue and are reactivated. Smart Campaigns is an excellent option for Grantees that can’t invest the time to manage their online ads regularly. This campaign type can be set up in just 15 minutes, and then works to constantly improve an ad around a goal, measure its performance, and show clear, understandable results. More nonprofits are using Smart Campaigns as they see the ease, but it’s still a low proportion of our Grantees.

THD: How do you plan on making compliance more smooth for all parties involved?

Hurtado: We want our Grantees to have a good experience with us and we have provided a lot of educational opportunities to nip compliance issues in the bud. Currently, we are developing an on demand report so Grantees can check compliance proactively that we think will help a lot. We send out a monthly report by email and recommend Grantees confirm their correct email is associated with their Ad Grants account to ensure they don’t miss our notices, and check spam folders just in case.

THD: One of the biggest challenges – and opportunities – nonprofits have is balancing the role of Ad Grants with their paid programs. What is Google’s point of view on how to manage that? How should nonprofits view Ad Grants vs. paid Google Ads and how can they avoid competing with themselves?

Hurtado: Indeed, Ad Grants doesn’t cover all online ad opportunity. We encourage Grantees to get to know online ads through Ad Grants and learn about what’s worth investing more in. Ad Grants is limited to Search ads on Google.com after paying ads, so investing in some paid ads extends your reach significantly and has additional features to market specifically to supporter lists and use image and video ads to drive retention and advocacy. Additionally, when something is in the news or when there is high seasonality, Grantees can capture more of that increased interest by supplementing their Ad Grants account with a paid account.

It’s important to note that Ad Grants accounts do not compete with paid Google Ads accounts. Grantees can literally duplicate their Ad Grants account to a paid one if they wish to ensure they get the top ad position. Investing in paid Google Ads may result in significantly more volume so it’s worth considering.

THD: We have seen many nonprofits be very successful with Google Ad Grants. What are your top tips when managing and evaluating the performance of ad campaigns?

Hurtado: Whether a nonprofit is brand new to online marketing or already feels pretty comfortable, I have a few recommendations: First, define success metrics. What are the few things your organization wants people to do when they come to your website and how do you know when a goal is reached online? Second, make your organization’s website a priority. Structure the website around key goals and ensure each webpage has a clear call to action. Make the user experience easy and mobile friendly – and refresh content often. Next, set up free Google Analytics to understand what happens on your website and link your goals in your Ad Grants account. The first will help you understand who views what content and the latter will help you improve your ad performance. Then, have a dedicated owner who can be proactive with new ads: learn from user experience on your website, test new ads, be ready to respond to current events and seasonality like Giving Tuesday.

THD: The Google Academy for Ads is a tremendous resource, but it can be a little overwhelming. For a nonprofit marketer, who is familiar with Google, but not with all of the tools and programs available where would you suggest they start?

Hurtado: There is a ton of information out there for nonprofits to educate themselves on how to successfully manage their Google Ads accounts. As for the Google Academy for Ads, it is a fantastic resource but we suggest nonprofits using Ad Grants get started with our tailored educational resources that are program specific and use nonprofit examples for easier consumption. We offer a range of educational and support options for our Grantees because successful online marketing takes commitment and we want to help nonprofits achieve their goals online. A few support options to note:

First, our Help Center hosts tips on how to be successful with Ad Grants such as outlining how to create effective ads and automating your bids. Second, we have our Community forums which we actively monitor for questions. Third, we host educational livestreams and videos on a variety of topics on our YouTube Channel, including how to raise ad quality and how to select keywords. We also develop case studies regularly to highlight how our Grantees are using our program and specific product features to reach their goals. These can be found on our website. Lastly, our Grantees can also leverage the Google Ads support line for help and optimization suggestions. The number is 1-866-2GOOGLE.


Everything you do in market – brand marketing, direct marketing, content, PR – it all contributes to building awareness for your organization. With awareness comes interest, and that interest is an opportunity. A solid search strategy is a critical part of how your organization can rise up and meet that interest.

If you feel like you aren’t getting the most from your Grant account, get in touch with us here at THD – we can help.

The $2.3 BILLION coffee cup

This past week a simple setting and editing mishap resulted in $2.3 billion in free advertising for Starbucks. And the best part, it wasn’t even a Starbucks cup – it was a generic craft services cup.


GoT Coffee Cup Blunder

It certainly speaks to the strength of the Starbucks brand (people just ASSUME it’s Starbucks), but it’s also a lesson in influencer marketing and how nonprofits can be a part of popular culture.

Sure, it’s unlikely that Jon Snow will show up wearing your company’s golf polo. But cultivating those relationships online and making sure your celebrity and athlete advocates have a bunch of your “swag” can better your chances of them tweeting on your behalf, or showing up somewhere (and having their photo taken) in your T-shirt.

Greenpeace opportunistically – and creatively – capitalized on the buzz by inserting themselves into the conversation and making the case for the dangers of single-use plastics.


Food (or coffee) for thought…

Experience Matters

Before you read the rest of this blog, I’d like to ask you a question.

How do you think your donors would rate their experience with you? On a scale of 1 to 10. Not your mission or your purpose, but the experience they have with you?

Be honest.

Do you think they would tell you that they feel truly heard, appreciated, and recognized? That they are getting something out of the value exchange? Do they feel like you know something about them — beyond when their last gift was or how much it was for?

So, with that rattling around in your brain, I’d like you to meet my friend Jane, your donor — everyone’s donor, really.


Who is Jane?

Well, Jane gets direct mail and email, and sees your social posts and banner ads. She’s largely channel agnostic in how she consumes information, and as she bounces between channels, her peers play an important role in her decision-making process.

She’s busy, impatient, maybe a touch skeptical — and her favorite consumer brands (Amazon, Patagonia, et al.) have raised the bar in terms of what she expects experientially in return for her money.

Finally, maybe most importantly, Jane doesn’t define herself in the way many fundraisers do. She doesn’t see herself as an active, mid-level, major, or lapsed donor.

She probably doesn’t even know what a “sustainer” is.

She’s a person, a person who cared enough to make a contribution to your organization.

Once we have acquired Jane and she’s gone from being unknown to known, what do we want her to do next?

Make another gift, right? So we ask her — probably a lot.

But what does Jane want? What does Jane expect?

Maybe she wants to make another gift, and if she does, great! Or maybe she just wants to learn more about who you are or what you do, what her contribution will help accomplish — maybe she wants to be an advocate or start a fundraiser of her own.

Maybe she doesn’t want to do anything at all.

As fundraisers, we look at retention rates and we get excited (with good reason) about multi-year retention rates of 70% or 75%, but that’s a percentage of a percentage. Truth is, somewhere around three-quarters of your donors make one gift and are never heard from again. Our research shows that the average lifespan of a donor is less than two years.

Of course, this leads to a never-ending (and costly) search for more Janes.

To mitigate this, we tend to ask “how?” How do we retain Jane, how do we get her to deepen her investment?

At THD, we propose it’s time to start asking “why?”

Why did we lose Jane? What about her experience caused her to drift away?

It’s time to shift our focus to understanding Jane the person, not the donor — what motivates her, what excites her, and what will keep her engaged with us longer.

How do we value a donor?

What value exists in a donor who’s empowered and motivated to go deeper? There is real value in advocacy. There is earned media value in that social video share. And we have all seen the explosion and tremendous impact of peer-to-peer fundraising.

Our data makes a compelling case for the value of multiple relationships. On average, donors with two organizational relationships (e.g., donor/advocate or donor/fundraiser) are 49% more valuable in year one and 38% more valuable five years in. With three relationships, the value factor is even greater (e.g., donor/fundraiser/advocate), 97% and 85%, respectively.

Heck, in 2017 alone, 63 million Americans volunteered 8 billion hours of their time to nonprofits. At $24.69 per hour, that accounts for a staggering $197.5 billion in value*. That’s billion, with a B.

Bottom line: the key to increasing donor value is a better experience that gives the donors options, multiple ways, and reasons to remain engaged — which ultimately extends donor lifespan.

The more ways they connect (or don’t), the more we can learn. And the more we know, the better we can make the experience.

We call this the Donor Experience Value Chain.

With so much data available to us, we can develop strategies offering touchpoints that continually inform us about what is important to donors. While every stage might not include giving, the bond between an organization and the donor becomes stronger, the term of the relationship extends, and the opportunities to ask become greater and land with more authenticity and impact.

Initial Engagement

We have identified six key stages in the donor experience. These stages will seem familiar in many ways, but it’s not the definition of the stages that is important. It is understanding the value of donors in these stages. Having a view into how people are migrating can help us refine our approaches and move people into/keep people in the most valuable stages.


So, this might be starting to sound a lot like donor journeys.

Journeys are presented as a set of predicted or preferred paths. While these are helpful, we think that looking at an experience, and the value of a donor at various stages of that experience, is of far greater value to a fundraiser. We aren’t trying to map people along a particular journey because, ultimately, with the amount of channels and engagement points available to a donor, the number of journeys is almost infinite.

This is where things are getting pretty exciting here at THD.

We are working to aggregate the data available to us into views that will help us understand how donors on file are progressing through their lifecycle, the value over the course of their lifetime, and how our work is influencing these moves.


In addition to the standard KPIs we all live by, we are introducing a new way to understand the health and composition of your file. This will help us augment and improve the way in which we segment and communicate with our donors, extend the length of their relationship with an organization, and, ultimately, improve the lifetime value of a donor.

We will be at the DMA conference this week in D.C. talking all about donor experience. If you see someone wearing a button that looks like this, come say “hello”!

Experience Matters

*Independent Sector https://independentsector.org/news-post/value-of-volunteer-time-release/

You Say You Want a Resolution…

It’s the New Year. Make any resolutions? Broken any yet?

Oh, and please, that friend that says “My resolution this year was to make no resolution.” You know they have a list longer than a CVS receipt.

Big or small, some we talk about, some we keep private — we all make them. And why not? Even a broken resolution provides us with some motivation to be better, right?

It got us thinking here at THD about resolutions that fundraisers and fundraising agencies like ourselves might want to put into place in the year ahead. How can we make better connections with one another — and our donors — in a year that will no doubt present challenges and opportunities, both familiar and new?

Here are a few (nine in fact) we thought of and WE’D LOVE to hear yours.

So leave some in the comments, send us a note, heck, give us a call — whatever works. As a follow-up, we’ll publish some of what you told us. And maybe even create a big list to inspire us all this year.

We resolve to…

  • Focus on developing a comprehensive marketing strategy for those “valuable with so much potential” mid-level donors
  • Collaborate with colleagues (who are also struggling) to design manageable solutions to the ever-elusive revenue attribution challenge
  • Pick up the phone! A two-minute phone call instead of 18 emails can do wonders for a relationship… and carpal tunnel
  • Break down data silos that impede a truly representative view of our donors
  • Stop blaming Trump (this is not an endorsement, but rather a challenge to dig deeper)
  • Continuously remind ourselves that donors, regardless of the labels and names we give them, are people. Their total experience, not just past giving behavior, is what will motivate them to stay engaged
  • Pay attention to what the file is telling me — and take steps to set up my program for long-term prosperity, even if it means short-term pain
  • Take risks with creative and push boundaries
  • Place a buzzword jar in every conference room (all contributions going to charity, of course) to end the use of terms like ‘viral marketing’, ‘content marketing’, and ‘synergy,’ to name a few

So, there you have it. A start, anyway.

Happy New Year from THD. Let us know what you’re resolving to do more of, less of, better than before, or just differently in 2019 — and here’s hoping we see you soon.


If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

We have all heard the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” While this may be effective at times, as fundraisers we need to constantly strive to grow revenues and fund the critical missions we serve.

This can mean countless hours trying to improve the weak links within our program – a strategy which can yield mixed results. And with a finite number of hours in a day, we must concentrate our time and energy on addressing the problem areas, right?

Not always.

I’m certainly not going to suggest that you ignore problem areas in your program. But I also strongly encourage you to carve out time to focus on your highest performing audiences and already successful strategies — all with the goal of generating even stronger results.

With advanced analytics and predictive modeling, you now have the tools to accomplish this.

There are lots of case studies that illustrate this point. Today I am going to focus on just one example – the “SuperDupe” strategy (aka “Lapsed Matches”) used by many organizations to identify names for lapsed reactivation campaigns. In short, SuperDupes are lapsed names that match rental and exchange lists within your acquisition program.

Mailing SuperDupes is a successful strategy for many organizations. And with predictive modeling, you can generate even stronger results.

At THD, we consistently see modeled names outperform SuperDupes by a wide margin:

Most Recent Head-to-Head Test

For the client, these results were exciting…and unexpected. Before this test, the organization believed there was no room for performance improvement within the SuperDupe audience in their lapsed campaign.

This is just one example where we have been able to generate substantial gains in client programs by applying advanced analytics and predictive modeling to audiences and strategies that were already high performing and considered very successful.

So when it comes to your fundraising program, I urge you to ignore that catchphrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – and look for opportunities within your program that you may not have known existed.

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

Personally speaking, I have already thrown out that old hat. Will you join me?

For more information or to get in touch, click here.

Honored to Be Honored

On July 23rd, THD and many of our client partners were recognized for creative excellence at the 37th Annual NEDMA Awards in Boston including Best in Show for the Wounded Warrior Project’s “Tangible Giving” Package, aimed at encouraging donors to upgrade giving

Of the 20 awards received, work for seven different client organizations was recognized with Gold, Silver or Bronze distinctions including Operation Homefront, Wounded Warrior Project, Birthright Israel Foundation, Feeding America, Mercy Corps, Autism Speaks and Make-A-Wish. THD itself also won awards for blog copywriting and for a series of promotional space ads.

Wounded Warrior Project

“This was a record year for THD and our clients,” said Sherri Mayer, Senior Vice President of Creative Services.

“We love that the NEDMAs reward more than creative execution. Judging also takes into account the ability of campaigns to move our clients’ missions forward and more importantly, generate results – and that makes them even more meaningful.”


While the team at THD is thrilled to be recognized by NEDMA, our greatest sense of pride comes from the company we keep – our clients. To those organizations we say, “Thank You!” While data drives the work we do, our inspiration comes from you and your incredible missions.

The New England Direct Marketing Association is a professional resource center for all forms of direct marketing media and brings together the best and brightest across many different sectors.

For more information or to get in touch, click here.

Google, Facebook, Network for Good and The Unknown Known

Facebook and Network for Good have done a good thing.

Partnering for native, embedded, fee-free donation processing helps nonprofits gain increased visibility, delivers a seamless experience and ensures that 100% of the money collected goes to supporting your organization, which is great for you and exactly what the donor wants.

So, everyone wins, right?

Uh... yahh... about that...

Not so much.

Turns out that all the donor data collected stays with Facebook in accordance with their privacy policy. What exactly will they do with this information is unclear, but odds are the answer isn’t ‘nothing.’

There’s your fee.

They have also partnered with Google and others to embed this giving experience (like on Google’s Knowledge Panel), and in addition to donor data never reaching the nonprofit there are real fees ranging from 3 to over 5%, but that information is not immediately clear to the donor.

Now, let’s be honest, your donors are smart people, many a bit cynical, and they have no idea who Network for Good is…

But, if they thought for a moment that any part of their gift was going to end up in Mountain View or at 1 Hacker Way, or that the act of making a gift would only be adding to the deep reservoir of data that Facebook and Google have amassed, I’m guessing they might be more than little reluctant. The partnership helps mitigate that.

Let’s be honest Part II. Both Facebook and Google need this.


Attaching their name to doing good in the face of repeated data scandals and eroding consumer sentiment is just savvy PR. Facebook in particular has been going out of its way to promote the tools to potential fundraisers and nonprofits alike. They are also offering new features like allowing individual fundraisers to be able to set up their own matching gift campaigns and all the tools and resources available for nonprofits through Facebook for Social Good.

No doubt, some of you reading this have seen nice, even significant, returns showing up from Network for Good thanks to people ‘donating’ their birthdays and prominent donate buttons in the Google Knowledge Panel. And while the checks are wonderful, they must come with a nagging sense of frustration that you don’t know who these people are and you certainly can’t do anything to nurture your relationship with them.

We know the online donor is harder to attract, acquire, and even more difficult to retain.

So, what can you do when you don’t know who they are? How can you bridge the data gap?

Take a look at your donor journey and see where you can tighten up.

A couple of quick thoughts:

  1. Optimize email collection on your site. If they find their way to your site to learn more about where their money is going, make sure you are prominently promoting email capture.
  2. Don’t forget mobile. 80% of social media time is spent on mobile devices* and nearly 60% of all Google searches are on mobile devices**, so inquisitive donors are likely to find their way to you on their smartphones. Make sure your site is optimized to convert.
  3. Page Abandonment. Don’t give up without a fight. If people get to your site and sit on key pages (particularly donation forms) for too long, serve up a pop up encouraging them to complete their gift.
  4. Tighten up your remarketing strategy. Odds are, if someone makes a gift to your organization through Facebook or Google they have or will eventually show up on your site. With the knowledge that only 1.2% of nonprofit site visits result in a donation***, what about the other 98.8%? Set up remarketing campaigns through Facebook and Adwords (display, Gmail, similar audience targeting) based on site visitation, donation page bounces and/or views of key pages that appear along the path to donation. Stay in front of them so next time they come to your forms.
  5. Friends of Friends. Take advantage of Facebook’s targeting capability. If someone sets up a fundraiser on your behalf, there’s a pretty good chance they are following you. With a few hundred dollars you can set up campaigns to target friends of your friends with asks to like your page, subscribe to emails, etc.

At THD, we advocate for a diversification of your fundraising approaches and channels. Understanding your donors and their channel preferences should drive your strategy, so we aren’t going to go so far (as others have) as to say stay away from these programs. In fact, how can you? Facebook is encouraging people to donate their birthdays as they come upon them and you certainly see your friends doing the same. It’s good content.

So, continue to invest in your content and your online presence so donors think of you first and implement some or all of the steps above to make sure you’re doing everything you can to capture folks whenever and however they are showing their support.

***Benchmarks 2017, M+R

Second Gift Strategies that Work!

Sarah Koss
VP, Account Services

We all know that getting the second gift from a new donor is a key objective in the donor journey and crucial to long-term retention. And yet, as many as 70% of all donors leave us after that first gift. How can we enhance & extend the donor journey to reverse the trend?

Here are a few second gift strategies that can make a difference to your program:

Say “thank you” … then say it again

Many times the first communication after the first gift is an acknowledgement, which is meant to provide the donor with a tax receipt for his/her first gift to the organization and solidify the donor’s feelings of goodwill.

Before your newest donor receives yet another request for money, you have an opportunity to begin building goodwill. If you’re using best practices, everyone will receive an acknowledgment with a tax receipt in a timely manner after the first gift. But consider going even further:

  • A real, honest message of thanks. While it’s true that most acknowledgments include a thank you, they also include another ask, which can diminish their impact. Consider a communication that is a pure and unadulterated thank you across all channels. For high dollar donors, consider a phone call. For lower dollar donors, consider cost effective formats such as a postcard or email.
  • Welcome them into the community. It is critical that you educate the donor about your organization and show them their impact in order to solidify their place in your community. You can include all that in a multi part email “Welcome!” series that makes them feel good about their gift and introduces them to many facets of your organization. There doesn’t have to be a lot of content, but showing impact is key.
  • Begin a dialogue. Another important element in the Welcome is to start a dialogue with your donors. Including a brief survey is an excellent way to accomplish this. Let them have a say in how often they would like to hear from you and in what channel.

Pay attention to the age-old best practice: renew as acquired

We’ve seen response rates more than double when the donor’s original acquisition vehicle is sent within the first three months of the renewal cycle!

Speak to donors personally

In the first year of the donor relationship, it’s critical to speak to them appropriately. Often, new donors are simply thrown into renewal segmentation and receive renewal messaging that doesn’t resonate with them or acknowledge their new relationship. Think about:

  • Segmenting out new donors for the first year of their relationship, further acknowledging and thanking them. You can also encourage a second gift in a way that shows you recognize their status. For example, instead of asking the donor to “renew their gift” ask them to consider “an additional gift.”
  • Review and evaluate existing control content to ensure the new donor is receiving information that is relevant. Your GA data and social threads are great sources for what your constituents are consuming & responding to. Newsletters represent a great opportunity to present mission information as well as highlight the donor’s impact and enhance the relationship.
  • Introduce your new donors to other ways of getting involved. This can include volunteering or joining an event. Or it can be an opportunity to join a monthly giving program, subscribe to your blog, or participate in your online forums. We know that the more engaged they are with you, the better they will retain.

Remember, if you can get that second gift, you increase a donor’s chances of retaining by anywhere from 35 to 60%. So if you’re not putting second gift strategies into place, we’ll be happy to partner with you to increase those all-important retention rates.

Similarly, be sure to get in touch if there are subjects you’d like to see in future issues of Straight Talk.

Happy reading!