RuffaloCODY Your goals. Our passion. Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:39:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Here Are Some of the Top Tweets from the Aligning Experts Conference Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:43:18 +0000 tweet_pinOver 30 Fundraisers, enrollment managers and marketing experts attended the 2014 Aligning Experts Summit in Chicago organized by RuffaloCODY, Stamats and Scannell & Kurz. Here are some of the top tweets from the fundraisers at the conference:

A like is not a check:

Seven Foot Cowboy @sevenfootcowboy Follow Gearing up to celebrate #WrigleyField100 super pumped to finally see a game after many years of just sightseeing visits #AligningExperts There are a few tweets on the feed with pics of Wrigley, you may want to look at those, I couldn’t find one from an FM client.

Gil Rogers @gilrogers Follow I would like I thank #AligningExperts for the incredible blueberry/coffee cake hybrid muffin. I’m now inspired. 8:33 AM – 23 Jul 2014 Chicago, IL, United States

Mike Brucek @MikeBrucek Follow “Every database has a valuable story hidden inside. It’s the Data Analyst’s job to find it” – Andrew Means @meansandrew #AligningExperts

Stacie M Byers @Stacie_Byers Follow Use data=success. Don’t use data=fall behind. @SabraFiala #AligningExperts

Vernon Johnson @Vernontheiii Follow You can’t increase what you don’t track. #AligningExperts 12:33 PM – 22 Jul 2014

Gwendolyn Doyle @GwenInCO Follow Great job to the @Wesleyanfund on their Day of Giving presentation at #AligningExperts! #aigivingday 4:06 PM – 22 Jul 2014

Graham Carlson @teleGraham09 Follow It’s crazy to see how many colleges are running automated phonathons. So many more call attempts that way! #AligningExperts 5:21 PM – 20 Jul 2014

Aligning Experts @AligningExperts Follow Thanks to all of our guests at the #AligningExperts Summit. Best wishes as you travel home to make a difference where you work.

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Hot Topics at the Aligning Experts Conference Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:22:03 +0000 aligning_experts_tnWe just returned from the Aligning Experts Conference in Chicago, which we co-hosted with our friends at Stamats and Scannell & Kurz. The conference was a great opportunity for over 300 leaders in fundraising, enrollment, and marketing to share ideas and solutions about how we can better engage our students, alumni and supporters.

Hot topics included:

  • Data integrity drives success in annual giving programs, and many institutions are investing in data enrichment. Andrew Means, the founder of Data Analysts for Social Good challenged us to make evidence-based decisions and be data-driven in our fundraising investments.
  • How do we compare? As we come further out of the recession, many programs are seeing increases in dollars, and are investing more in their fundraising programs. However, attracting new and reactivating long-lapsed donors to grow the loyal base continues to be a struggle.
  • Fundraising Fusion. Contacting donors through multiple channels requires significant coordination and investment. Integrated, multichannel fundraising is about engagement, and you may not be able to evaluate your efforts through traditional metrics. In many respects, it takes an army to break through the background noise and really engage/ connect with constituents.
  • Building a culture of giving is at the heart of student philanthropy programs. Sharon White shared how Duke students are leading the charge with philanthropy education. Chad Warren from Ohio State challenged us to leverage an integrated marketing plan to build a culture of philanthropy at our institutions.
  • Crowdfunding is gaining traction and many institutions are investing in engaging the next generation of donors with social technology. Since we’re all using smartphones and social media, this investment also has an impact with more mature donors / spans generations.

If you attended the Aligning Experts Conference, what common themes or new trends did you pick up? Let us know with a comment.

Check out some of the top tweets from the conference here.

P.S. About 100 of us also went to historic Wrigley Field, and the Cubs won 6-0.…proving, once again, that fundraisers can influence miracles.

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Why You Should Consider Using More Postcards in Your Direct Mail Strategy Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:46:27 +0000 postcard_tnOne often overlooked option for direct mail is the use of postcards.  This is probably because, in the past, a donor’s sole response to a direct mail was to mail in a check through a BRE or CRE – which is clearly not an option with the postcard.

However, in an era where people do most of their financial transactions electronically, postcards can be more effective than ever at generating gifts.  Why is that?

First and foremost, postcards have the highest read rate of any direct mail.  According to the 2013 USPS Household Diary Study:

  • 56% of postcards will be read by at least one member of the recipient household
  • 33% of standard letters will be read by at least one member of the recipient household


Second, postcards force fundraisers to sharpen their message due to less space available.  A tighter message with a distinct call to action can be very powerful – even more so if you integrate variable images and text into your postcards.

Third, postcards cannot only be used for solicitation, but also for cultivation and stewardship campaigns:

  • Create a unique URL alias and send postcard recipients to a web page related to their interests in your organization.  The unique URL allows you to track responses.
  • Place a giving button or other noticeable link on that web page.  Now you cannot only track responses, but gifts directly related to that direct mail!
  • Postcards can be very effective for time-sensitive giving such as calendar year-end, fiscal year-end, or “giving days.”

Finally, people are accustomed to going online in immediate response to a direct mail.  The DMA reports that 65% of people have made a purchase as an immediate response to a direct mail piece.

When looking at your direct mail plans for the upcoming year, consider using (or testing) a postcard at various times of the year as part of your strategy.

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Corporate Matching Gifts – The Original Challenge Match Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:49:14 +0000 matching_gift_webinar_screenshotCorporate matching programs have the same potential to increase total giving as home grown challenge match programs.  Annual giving programs have been using challenge matches to increase participation rates and total dollars for decades, yet many fail to invest in growing their corporate matching gift results.

The potential for increasing matching gifts is especially prevalent in phonathon work.  Do you know what percentage of your 2014 phonathon dollars were matched with corporate funds?

A recent study of phonathons managed by RuffaloCODY showed that about 10% of all pledged dollars were eligible for a match in fiscal year 2013.  Programs that are below that average have an opportunity to capitalize on “free money” next year simply by making matching gifts a priority at the phonathon.

A review of over 935,000 phonathon pledges recorded at RuffaloCODY managed phonathons in 2013 provided additional insight into the value of corporate matching gift dollars.

  • 7% of the pledges qualified for a corporate match
  • The total average pledge value for pledges that qualified for a corporate match was $139.73, compared to $95.61 for pledges that did not qualify for a corporate match

Organizing a challenge match with major gift dollars can be complicated.  If you are looking to avoid the hassle, remember that the ultimate challenge match program is already in place.  Corporate matching gifts are there for the taking.

Please feel free to watch my recent webinar on “Using Phonathon to Positively Influence Matching Gift Programs” if you are looking to jumpstart your corporate matching gift results where I share best practices and recommendations on how you can enhance your phonathon’s training, scripting, and follow-up materials.

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Your Fiscal Year Just Ended. Time to Start Looking at Calendar Year-End? Tue, 15 Jul 2014 16:44:38 +0000 calendar-dateFor many organizations, the calendar moving from June 30 to July 1 marks the end of one fiscal year and the beginning of another.  At the same time, it marks a time when organizations should begin focusing on calendar year-end giving strategies…and not just for the month of December.  Collectively, the months of November and December mark the strongest consecutive months for charitable giving in the United States.

But you have to start planning now.

Contrary to what others may say, the right marketing mix and multichannel strategy for calendar year-end giving does not have a one-sized-fits-all template.  Every organization is unique.  Yet many of the same questions can be asked from one organization to another.

  • What channels are you using to communicate with your prospective donors and are those channels working in unison?
  • Have you set in motion all of the cultivation and stewardship activities needed during the fall to successfully convert prospects into calendar year-end donors?  Our recent survey indicates that many schools may need to increase that fall cultivation and stewardship activity.
  • Are you able to track responses from any solicitation channel even if the gift is made electronically/online?  Don’t discount the opportunity to solicit via direct mail and generate electronic giving responses.  Recent consumer surveys have shown approximately 2/3 of people in the U.S. (across all ages) have made a purchase online in direct response to something they received in the mail.

Please feel free to check out our new white paper on calendar and fiscal year-end giving campaigns for trends, best practices and recommendations on how you can enhance your organization’s calendar year-end giving results.

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Best Practices: Looking Outside the Nonprofit Window Thu, 03 Jul 2014 15:23:22 +0000 Where do you look for “best practices?” All too frequently in annual giving, we worry about what other institutions are doing. While I’m a huge believer that a lot of great tactics can be “borrowed” from one institution and implemented with slight tweaks at another, using this approach consistently fails to take into account that everyone’s donors and constituents are unique and what works at one institution may fail considerably at another.

I’m a big believer in “looking outside” our industry for trends and statistics that can be used to influence annual giving strategy and maximize results. If you’re wondering why the marketing trends from other industries matter, it’s pretty simple…they want the attention of all consumers and the ones that are successful are changing the expectation of how your constituents want to be engaged and interact with your organization.

This past week I ordered the DMA’s 2014 Statistical Fact Book and was reminded just how much analysis and research is available across multiple industries. A few of the trends from this year’s 286-page fact book that I thought were particularly interesting:

  • 53% of marketers are increasing their marketing analytics budgets.
  • Postcards continue to have the highest readership rate – 56% read by recipients.
  • 86% of marketers regularly test subject lines to optimize open rates.
  • More people reply to a courtesy – reply envelope versus a business-reply envelope.

Other industries are using consumer data, multichannel integration, and analytics to fuel their strategy and determine how they invest their budget to achieve the best return. They are making data driven decisions and testing constantly to achieve success. Imagine how much opportunity exists for both higher education fundraising and nonprofits if we just spend more time “looking outside” our industry.

Is your organization using cross-industry research and trends to optimize your annual giving strategy?

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