Despite a decrease in the number of donors, overall giving to nonprofits increased for the seventh consecutive year according to a recently-published report. "2018 continued the longest sustained period of charitable giving growth since the last recession,” Blackbaud’s 2018 Charitable Giving Report stated. Overall charitable giving in 2018 saw an increase of 1.5 percent over 2017 levels, which analysts believe is a return to normal levels of expected year-to-year increase after spikes in the previous two years. Online giving grew 1.2 percent in 2018 compared to 2017 — reaching a record high of approximately 8.5 percent of all fundraising revenue. And the report found that donations on mobile devices now comprise 24 percent of total online donations, up 3 percent from 2017. While it’s a record high for online giving, these numbers show the overwhelming majority of fundraising still comes through traditional means, like direct mail. Bucking the overall trend of year to year increases, small nonprofits actually saw a 2.3 percent decline in overall giving from 2017 to 2018 according to the report — but their online giving saw a modest increase of 0.7 percent over the same period. Medium-sized nonprofit organizations ($1M - $10M) saw an increase of 2 percent in overall giving and 3.7 percent online, while large nonprofits (over $10M) saw 2.3 percent growth overall and a decrease in online giving of 0.5 percent. The report contained interesting breakdowns of giving by nonprofit size and sector, by monthly distribution, international trends, and #GivingTuesday figures. Some key metrics from the report on U.S. donors include: DONOR AGEAverage age of donor: 62 DONATION AMOUNTSMedian donation amount for gifts above $1,000: $2,049Median donation amount for gifts below $1,000: $20  Average online donation amount: $147  DONOR RETENTIONFirst-year, offline-only donor retention rate for nonprofits: 29%Multi-year, offline-only donor retention rate for nonprofits: 60%First-year, online-only donor retention rate for nonprofits: 22%Multi-year, online-only donor retention rate for nonprofits: 64%  See the full report for further information.   For help with developing your nonprofit’s next fundraising campaign, contact LDMI today.
Great visuals are known to increase audience engagement across almost all communication channels. The right photo or video can be the difference between a post that goes viral and one that only a few see. For nonprofit fundraisers, visual content and art design in emails, on landing pages, and in direct mail packages have a direct impact on the performance of your campaigns. But the most important thing to understand is that the art must support your fundraising copy — not distract from the copy. If your fundraising campaign is all about the art design, your message won’t break through, and your campaign performance will be abysmal. A new report from content companies Contently and Libris, Engaging Your Audience with Visual Content, shows the growth of visual-based content use is only increasing, especially for video. 73 percent of the more than 1,000 marketing and creative professionals surveyed said that their need for videography has increased since last year, and 63 percent say the same about photography. Interestingly, although the demand for good video content is increasing dramatically, only 17 percent of these professionals reported that they considered their company’s video content to be “very good.” But even with the demand for video increasing, the consensus of the marketers surveyed in the report was that photography is still number one in terms of driving engagement: Photography is not only the visual content that drives the most engagement, but as we learned earlier, teams can produce it faster than other formats. This brings up a crucial insight: While video content is on the rise, photography continues to offer high return on investment. As marketers shift the focus to video, they must not lose sight of photography. The right photograph in a direct mail package or email can make all the difference in terms of producing the emotional response you’re looking for to motivate donations to your cause. A compelling video package can also be highly effective in terms of motivating giving. But again, it has to support the fundraising message. Creating high-quality videos can be very expensive, and nonprofits don’t have unlimited budgets. Yet, nonprofits definitely have a story to tell. There are many ways to tell stories that engage your audience and yield solid revenue growth. Finding your niche is key — not copying someone else’s model, but seeing what works, what is available, and finding the best fit for your organization’s budget and your fundraising and communication goals. Visual storytelling done well can be an extremely effective way to bolster support for your nonprofit’s cause — as long as it’s used to support, not overwhelm, your fundraising message.   For help with developing your next fundraising campaign, contact LDMI today.
A sometimes overlooked, but essential, element of a nonprofit’s direct mail program is data analysis. Simply put: direct mail, done right, relies heavily on analyzing data. Your nonprofit may love the way your package looks, or the story told inside, but data tells you if your package is a winner. And setting up valid tests — and being able to properly analyze them — helps to increase the effectiveness of your direct mail. A new digital resource from the National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC) — Using the Right Ruler: Measuring Results in Direct Mail — reviews key metrics of data analysis to help nonprofits better evaluate their direct mail program. A particular focus of the NCDC resource is guidance for nonprofits on making decisions based on ROI (return on investment) and LTV (long term value of donors): “While both tests [ROI and LTV] provide insight into a charity’s mailing strategy, a test analyzed with one method may be better suited for the organization based on their needs.” The report continues: For example, focusing on long term value offers you a smaller pool of donors with a long life and a good dollar average and is best if the charity is concerned with identifying the lowest cost of fundraising. Whereas focusing on return on investment gives you donors with a shorter life, but a larger impact because you have a larger pool of donors, a higher percentage return on renewal, and loyalty in a down economy. ROI helps calculate the break-even point and is best if the charity has concerns over cash flow. Next, NCDC offers timely guidance on interpreting attrition rates, offering a case study that sheds light on decision-making based on the interplay of ROI and LTV considerations. These considerations always involve questions of organizational goals and strategy: What do you really want this particular mailing to do, and how does this fit into our goals as an organization? As the resource points out, even with all of the advances in technology available to gather and record data, there will always be a subjective element to analysis and decision making: “Interpreting statistics is both an art and a science.” Both ROI and LTV play a role in strategic direct mail, and having test objectives in place prior to mailing is crucial. This ensures that the data gathered will actually be helpful. No single formula for decision making is “one size fits all,” however, since each organization’s goals provide the baseline against which such decisions are made. You can download the NCDC resource here. For help with developing — and analyzing — your next direct mail campaign, contact LDMI today. [LDMI is a Corporate Partner of NCDC.]    
Unless prompted on the donation page, the majority of online donors probably never realize that 100 percent of their gift isn’t going to their favored charity. While the entire amount donated is still tax deductible, a small percentage usually pays fees charged to the nonprofit by the provider of the online fundraising platform. Read more...

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