Have you made a donation lately?

Are you a donor as well as a fundraiser? As non-profit professionals, we have a different perspective on giving than most people do. We’re insiders, so we look at thank-you letters and email campaigns the way a gardener sees a flower—it’s something we know intellectually, no longer emotionally. However, our donors are driven primarily by emotion, not intellect. So if our donor touches strike the wrong note, they may not be effective and we, the hard-working professionals, may not know why.

Of course, professional development helps us with this—we are asked to consider our asks, our touch-points, our thank-yous, our campaigns, and our landing pages, to make sure they’re current, relevant and getting our message through. However, another way to shed light on our fundraising practices is to become a donor again.

You may already make donations, but if you haven’t made a gift to a new charity lately, you’re missing out on the welcome series. Pick a couple causes you think are worthy of a small gift and donate whatever you’re comfortable with; for extra credit, sign up for newsletters for a couple more. (Don’t forget to write down the date you donated so you’re not wracking your memory later.)

After you’ve donated, sit back and see what happens. Do you get a thank you by email, by mail, or both? When do you get the next ask, and how? Is it after the first thank-you, a second thank-you, or later? Do they offer any benefits for donating, like membership, events, or newsletters, and did they communicate that before you gave? Do they tell you where your donation went? Are you addressed as part of a giving level or club, like “animal champions”? Do they personalize the appeal? Consider their messaging—how do they frame their work and where the funds go? Who does the appeal come from, whether online or by mail? The six months or so after you give is key for looking at the welcome, thank-you, and renewal and will likely be rich with information.

The questions are similar for the newsletter sign-ups: how soon did you get your first message? Was the welcome just one email or a series? When did you get the first ‘regular’ email? When did they include their first ask? Is there an ask in every email? Who are the emails from? Do they explain the mission, invite you to events, talk about fundraising goals, share projects that were completed, link to articles? How often are they sent out?  How are they branded?

This exercise should help you look at your work in a new way. You’re looking to see what the other organizations are doing right, as in what makes you feel good as a supporter; you’re also looking at what could be improved. You’re hopefully going to see some choices that aren’t necessarily right or wrong, even though they may be different from how you do things: in this case consider how they fit into the larger picture and whether they may work for a different type of donor or whether they work because of how they’ve built out their entire plan. And if there are things that are wildly different from what you’re doing that are very effective, that can inform your own work as well: could this work for me, how could I tweak it, would it supplement something I’m already doing?

In the best of all possible worlds, you would realize you’re already doing everything right—which would be great! Probably, you’ll learn some things that you can apply to your own fundraising, and for the low cost of a couple gifts to worthy causes. Everybody wins!

It’s June, so start thinking about December

Welcome to June! The weather is lovely, kids are getting out of school soon, and hopefully you’re thinking about a summer vacation—which also means it’s time to start planning your holiday/end-of-year campaign.

“So soon?” You’re probably thinking. “It’s barely summer, I don’t want to think about snow and winter holidays and year-end gifts already!” I know, it seems premature—but trust me on this. A recurring challenge with nonprofits is not enough time: we’re always trying to keep staff lean, and consequently often feel under-resourced. This year, get in front of it: take advantage of the lead time you have now to plan ahead.

This is a challenge, but you’re up to the task! To help you start thinking about your year-end campaign in time to not only pull it off successfully but also finish with a smile on your face, here are some things to get your planning started.

What did you do last year?

We are creatures of habit: when planning this year we look at last year. That’s a great place to work from! It can tell you a great many things, but it’s also important not to let it restrict this year’s plan. You can:

–learn what your donors are used to, i.e. we usually have a matching gift with a direct mail piece and an email campaign.

–review what’s changed and what it effect it had, i.e. we used to have a calendar offer with every gift, now it’s a minimum $20 gift—did that affect the total amount given, or average gift size?

–consider all the variations on messaging, big or small, and whether they had an effect. Did you ask for a ‘special gift’, or ask people to ‘start today’? Did you ask for a gift amount, or have a benefit attached to a certain amount? Do you have a fundraising target for your campaign, that people could track in real-time?

Don’t forget to reconsider your assumptions: maybe every year you’ve been doing the same thing without much change. It may be because it’s successful, but it may be because no ever asked why we do it that way.

How did donors respond?

Dive deep into the data and figure out who responds to what. How many donors only give at the holidays/the end of the year? How many people make their biggest gift in December? How many new donors do you get from your year-end campaign? Can we figure out where the new donors are coming from? How many monthly donors make additional gifts at the end of the year? How many year-end gifts are new monthly gifts vs one-time? What is the average gift size, and how does it compare to the rest of the year? When did the most gifts come in?

By answering these questions you can develop some great new tactics, taking your campaigns in directions you haven’t considered before.

Who do we target, and what is the goal?

Your data mining told you about your donors’ giving at this time of year, and if haven’t done it already, now is the time to start being strategic with your year-end resources.

–do we want new donors, or do we want existing donors to renew?

–do we want one-time gifts, since most people are considering year-end receipts, or do we want monthly gifts, since people may be feeling charitable at this time of year?

–do we want to encourage the way people are learning about us and making donations, or do we want to try a different strategy?

Who and what should be involved?

Now that you’ve had a chance to review, use that to inform your plan. Figure out which channels performed best, which messages resulted in the most gifts, and build your integrated campaign around that. This step may mean you need more people than usual involved to implement the campaign (like your digital team) as a result of re-examining your goals, what has been affected, and how you roll it out. That’s why you need to start early! There may be bumps in the road when it comes to messaging, funding decisions between various budgets, and existing plans that need to be sorted out to fit in the revamped campaign.

Extra credit: check your donations page

A donations page with clear messaging that’s simple to use will make it easy for your supporters to donate. If you haven’t reviewed your page recently, take a look to make sure it’s clear and simple to navigate.

Start small if necessary, but start

Planning out a whole campaign can seem intimidating, but doing things differently this year probably amounts to tweaks to what you’re already doing. If you’re dreaming big but your budget is smaller, just look at one or two things you can change and where you can get the most results for your efforts.

Now enjoy the summer! But don’t forget to think about the end of the year.

I’d Like to Teach the World to Click: the Resurgence of Values-Based Marketing

Quick: have you seen any values-based marketing campaigns? They’re popping up everywhere lately, by companies and even non-profits taking advantage of a drastic shift in marketing trends.

Which of these campaigns come to mind first? First, here are some of the biggest and splashiest.

The New York Times’ Oscars campaign:


Tiffany & Co:

And perhaps the values-based campaign that started it all in the 70s, Coke’s “The Hilltop”:

In an article in Adweek, Deutsh’s Pete Favat describes the era in which Coke’s famous campaign debuted: “It was a terrible time in culture. It was extremely negative. There was violence everywhere. And then this piece of film comes on TV. And basically it was a bunch of these kids singing on a hilltop about sharing a Coke.”

Does this sound familiar? It sounds a lot like the current milieu: a divisive election resulting in starkly drawn cultural and political lines, during which a cola behemoth makes a commercial showing us how they can make it all better. Except Pepsi’s version in 2017 angered basically everyone (except, probably, Coke) when Kendall Jenner used their fizzy beverage to blur the lines between resistance and oppression in the most tone-deaf fashion possible.

Dove too recently struck the wrong note. Their “Campaign for real Beauty” usually resonates with their uses, but the recent ad campaign showing Dove bottles in different shapes was discordant and people responded accordingly.

So yes, values-based marketing has a lot of potential: it can reach and connect and inspire, but it can also crash and burn and take the whole brand down with it. When a values-based ad goes wrong, it goes wrong more disastrously than any regular boring ad ever would. I suspect Pepsi is going to stick with traditional advertising ploys for the time being.

But where did values-based marketing appear? What is driving its growth, and how can charities take advantage of this trend?

Younger demographics are driving this shift, and companies are responding. Global brands like Pepsi and even companies like the New York Times realize that getting consumer loyalty from people in their 20s and 30s results in a lifetime of profits. The results of the 2016 election didn’t actually reflects the electorate, by several million votes (and those are only those who cast votes: if the votes reflects the country at large; that’s many millions of people who didn’t like the result of the election). Appealing to these disenfranchised voters means millions more potential customers than directing your message to those happy with the election’s outcome: if people’s values don’t align with those in power, they seek sympathetic elsewhere, and brands are only to happy to deliver.

Does AirBnb care about politics, or about its bottom line? Regardless of the answer, AirBnb wants to appeal to the values of its demographic, younger people with a little money to spend but who want to save, who are likely more open to new ideas experiences than people who wouldn’t travel across the world and rent a stranger’s spare room. In addition, older generations have entrenched loyalty to specific brands—their favourite hotel for example—so it’s much harder to convince them to try something now than a younger person with a tighter budget who’s willing to use an app to find a place to stay. Companies will happily get new users on board with  values messaging while reaping the profits.

Charities can take a lesson from this: loyalty is high among donors as well as consumers. Charities don’t often specifically target people in their 20s and 30s since they’re not typically as charitable as older generations or often have as much disposable income to donate. However, the advantages of finding a supporter who’ll be loyal to your organization for the next 40 years are just as clear, especially if your stewardship, renewal and upgrade programs are in place. Today’s engaged and caring 25-year-old with entrepreneurial zeal is tomorrow’s major donor: ten dollars a month or even ten dollars a year from a supporter now could turn into tens of thousands in the years to come. Charities have an opportunity to engage not only new supporters and but also new supporters in demographics they might not have otherwise considered with an appeal to values. And while consumers are more likely to distrust brands, charities are in a better place to used values-based marketing convincingly.

There have been several examples of this in the last year, but can you think of a charity that has been doing this for decades?

Greenpeace’s early model was values-based: a clear message based around a single issue, originally nuclear disarmament. Because Greenpeace’s work was values-based, the connection to values-based branding was simple and natural—much more so than for a profit-driven brand to make a heartfelt, resonant values-based message, which shows how charities can have an advantage in this regard.

Recently, the Human Rights Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Commission, and Planned Parenthood have all risen to the challenges they’ve faced instead of being forced into a corner by current events.

Charities that position themselves now have the potential to become marquis non-profit brands in the future, carrying their new supporters with them. And given how few charities are using values-based marketing, there is more potential for those that do so early. So many charities look at their donor demographics and realize how few of their donors are under 40, wondering how they can appeal to younger people without a literal rock star spokesperson or a slick campaign well beyond a charity budget. Values-based marketing can help solve that problem, traversing the ‘cool’ barrier with messaging that 20- and 30-somethings can get behind, like resistance, change and inclusion.

The key elements are to engage and leverage connections on social media. If your values are well-received but supporters don’t know what to do, even the best messaging will fall flat. It’s important not to get stuck on the medium (Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat?) but instead to have a clear message and call to action, regardless of where it’s being shared.

Integrated Marketing tips from Xlerate Day Ottawa

We’ve been sharing integrated marketing tips with Xlerate Day attendees leading up to the day itself on January 26. These tips are collected here for your reference and for sharing with colleagues. If you haven’t bought your Xlerate Day tickets yet, what’s holding you back? Join us for a day of integrated marketing excellence to take your team to the next level: get your tickets now at xlerateday.com. Use the promo code JOINUS2017 for 20% off your tickets as a special thank you from Chris Carter Marketing.

From our own Chris Carter:

Creating your marketing plan well in advance will allow you to tie your communications to timely themes. For example, an animal charity could talk about cats near Halloween, a children’s charity could have a campaign around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and educational charities could talk about opportunities at the start or end of the school year. This way you can make piggyback on an existing holiday and and provide timely content for your supporters.

From Rupen Seoni, Senior Vice President & Practice Leader at Environics Analytics:

In order to get one view of a customer, you first need to ensure that your database has updated constituent information. It’s critical to have accurate, complete data before you can market to them, ask them for money and get them engaged. Focus on your database before you focus on your marketing activities.

From Erik Rubadeau, Founder/Lead Strategist at Yeeboo Digital, sponsor of the Tactical track and its sessions:

Plan what you want to know before you need to know it.

Ensure that you leave time for discussion about tracking during your campaign planning meetings. Think about what metrics will define success for your campaign and ensure that you know how you will track and measure those metrics.

Google Analytics is an amazing tool for tracking your marketing success metrics from source to conversion, however it can often require a few tweaks or some custom code to properly capture the needed data. By planning your desired metrics early on – you leave yourself lots of time to ensure that tracking is working properly through testing and into campaign launch.

From Fraser Green at Good Works:

There are two must have tools you should have in your legacy kit – even if your budget for planned giving is teeny-tiny. The first is a PERSUASIVE booklet of about 8-12 pages. It’s purpose is to tell stories, inspire, and persuade your supporters to want to make a bequest to your cause and organization. (That’s my subtle way of saying that they do NOT need an instruction manual on estate planning!)

Once you’ve created you booklet, replicate your profiles, testimonials and stories on your website. You can’t just cut and paste the copy and images – but you DO want to repeat the themes, emotions and stories in a manner appropriate to the channel.

From Ryann Miller at Care2:

On the digital side of of the integrated spectrum, don’t forget that digital is great at certain things, but not all the things. A good integrated campaign or program uses specific channels according to their skill and value towards reaching your end goal. Not according to how few staff members or staff time one channel will take, or the cost. Digital, for example, is great for finding new supporters, but chances are it won’t be the ideal channel for thanking major or corporate donors or even converting prospects to monthly donors. Likewise, don’t use social to do what an email can do much better. 

From Jennifer Campbell at Canada Post, sponsor of the plenary sessions:

Canadians notice, open, read, keep, share and display direct mail. New research shows that mail lives on in the home and is shared – meaning that your message and brand are engaged with many times, for long-lasting impact.

Our First CASL Seminar

On June 23rd to go over CASL compliance and preparing the non-profit sector for implementation. The free event had over 650 participants from across Canada in person and online. Our expert panel had a team of seasoned fundraising strategists. In addition on our panel was lawyer Frank Pignoli from Scarfone Hawkins LLP on hand to help shed light on the legal intricacies of CASL. CCM held a joint presentation with hjc and Scarfone Hawkins LLP at Ryerson University.

Shortly after CASL came into effect July 1st 2014, the CRTC published a FAQs section for registered charities. As mentioned in the seminar, registered charities are exempt from the regulations of CEMs where the “primary purpose” of the CEMs is to raise fund for the charity. The FAQs from CRTC answers some of the questions when it comes to “primary purpose” but there are still some ambiguities. It may take some time before the impacts of CASL are clear, so it’s important to diligently monitor the implementation of this legislation and its impact on the non-profit sector.

CCM Team

Welcome to our new website!

CCM is excited to launch our newly revamped website. We look forward to sharing innovative and successful fundraising and marketing tips, strategies and news. Visit our website for regular updates.

Don’t be shy and feel free to connect

with us if you have any inquiries!

CCM Team