RuffaloCODY Your goals. Our passion. Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:30:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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.

]]> 0
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.

]]> 0
Best Practices: Looking Outside the Nonprofit Window Thu, 03 Jul 2014 15:23:22 +0000 DMA-Statistical-Fact-Book-2014-front-coverWhere 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?

]]> 0
I am a Fundraising Analytics Nightmare: A Case for Fundraising Fusion Fri, 20 Jun 2014 20:33:16 +0000 phone_participation_graphEvery year, I get a call from a great student at my alma mater. I always pledge, and request a pledge card because I want to see what they’re sending out. They also send me an email. I pay all my bills online once a month, so the email gets deleted, the pledge card goes on the pile. At the end of the month, I just type in my school’s website address and click the “give now” button. My alma mater has no idea that this gift was inspired by the phone call.

The days of being able to say “this appeal brought in $X” are gone. Alumni can fulfill pledges through any number of channels, decide to give all by themselves by hitting your websites, and once you add in socially-enabled giving like crowdfunding, it’s not going to get any easier to “track” donors.

Your appeals may have a greater effect than what you are tracking in returned gifts with that appeal code. Here’s an example…

We worked with one school to try to figure out what the effect of being a recipient of multiple channels meant to their phone pledge rate. Mike Brucek looked into their database and found some compelling results.



Receiving appeals on multiple channels had a big effect when we got the donor on the phone.

Should we mail to everyone we phone? Not necessarily.

Should we email everyone we mail and phone? Yes.

Should we get better about considering the total picture of what makes a gift happen? Definitely.

I think it’s important to remember that our fundraising needs to be donor-centered. Rather than lament the fact that alumni are responding in a way we can’t track, we need to get better about looking at the total picture, each “touch” that might have influenced the gift. This is new thinking, is frustrating, and makes return on investment a much more complicated equation.

Fundraising Fusion is your best appeal, and the donors are in the driver’s seat.

Giving is a donor’s job. Figuring out what made it happen is ours.

Brian Gawor, CFRE, is an Associate Vice President in the Fundraising Management Division at RuffaloCODY.  Brian is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on benchmarking and analytics to drive fundraising strategy.

]]> 0
Phonathon Results: How Do You Compare? Wed, 21 May 2014 13:35:42 +0000 Benchmarking Your Phonathon: The Donor Stream

stream_150pxWhen I was an admission counselor a long time ago, we used to talk about the “funnel” that brought us students. We then started talking about the “recruitment cycle.” Smart organizations now are thinking of recruitment more as a “stream.” In a time when the money may be good, but attracting participation and total donors is tough, I think fundraisers should adopt the “stream” thinking. Unless we’re focusing on the next step for each donor, we are going to see donors move in and out of giving at a high rate, making it impossible to build a donor base.

We’ve had an opportunity over the past six months to look at the phonathon and donor total data from over 300 institutions and presented benchmarking reports to institutions looking to compare their phonathon results. This process has helped answer the most common question we’re asked:

“How do I compare?”

Generally, the questions have centered on pledge rate, average pledge, how many credit cards and how many dollars per phoning hour. What we’ve noticed is that these questions should be asked much earlier in the process. We’ve found many institutions that have great pledge rates and average gifts, but are only contacting a small percentage of their donor base, even when they decide to load the whole group in CAMPUSCALL or other calling system each year.
Who you make contact with can have a huge effect on your total results. Let’s take a sample institution. This school is concerned about their pledge rate and average gift, so they work hard with the student callers to make a change and improve.

Year 1 Year 2
Records Loaded 25,000 25,000
Completion Rate 40% 40%
Contact Rate 55% 55%
Pledge Rate 24% 28%
Average Pledge $92 $100
Pledges 1,320 1,540
Total $121,440 $154,000

That’s a great improvement and a solid increase of about 21%.

Let’s consider a slightly different strategy for the same institution. They invest in finding more alumni which increases their callable base, and they also decide to include everyone in the phonathon, rather than removing a group each year. They also manage to get through the records at higher rate, about 60% complete. Their gain in pledge rate and average pledge isn’t quite as high because they are calling more new and long-lapsed donors.

Year 1 Year 2
Records Loaded 25,000 32,000
Completion Rate 40% 60%
Contact Rate 55% 56%
Pledge Rate 24% 26%
Average Pledge $92 $94
Pledges 1,320 2,796
Total $121,440 $262,779

That’s a 54% increase in dollars and double the number of donors…all centered on effort at the start of the donor stream with investment to find, include, and make contact with prospects.

What’s important to build your donor stream:

Contact Everyone
Your alumni and supporters are being contacted by many organizations, and if you’re not in the mix, you’re making a mistake. Consider very carefully whether you should remove “major prospects” from one of your channels because “we’re going to visit them.” Be very careful removing people from phonathon. If that’s where a gift has been captured before, leave them in and still make that visit.

Find People
Cell phone append is the single largest tool in your arsenal. The forever phone is the only phone for many people, and if you’re not finding people, you’re missing opportunities. In fact, in the age of big data, your alumni may very well expect you to find them. The reliability of research has improved, and it’s time to use this tool in your program.

Get Through the Records
This means making sure your call center is running efficiently, and there is the least friction possible in the process of asking for, recording, and following up on pledges. Good software is key, and making sure that 100% of your call center hours are dedicated to dialing phones is crucial.

Getting Your Potential Donors into the Stream is the First Step
If you’re not finding, calling, and reaching prospects, the highest pledge rate and average pledge in the world won’t get you to your aspirational goals. Additionally, if you already have great pledge statistics, growing your solicitable base is your biggest growth opportunity.

Find out how RuffaloCODY’s data enrichment, cell phone append and phonathon consulting services can help take your program to the next level.

For more information on phonathon benchmarking, be sure to catch Brian Gawor’s presentation titled “How Do We Compare? A Benchmarking Year in Review” on July 22 at the Aligning Experts Summit in Chicago, Illinois.

]]> 0
How Do You Bring Your Phoning Program in Line with the Mobile Revolution? Thu, 15 May 2014 23:34:27 +0000 cell_phone_append_landingA common concern by institutions with phonathon programs is that as alumni and donors drop their land lines and your prospect pool fills with new graduates who only utilize mobile phones, it’s becoming harder and harder to reach people on the phone.


Our contact rates for on campus phonathon programs haven’t declined much over the past few years. In fact, 2012 was practically identical to 2013 with a contact rate of 54%.

One reason for this is that we encourage clients to include cell phone append research into their data plan prior to calling. We call through these researched numbers, confirm them, and receive thousands of pledges via cell phone numbers each year.

Here’s a snapshot of what happened with cell phone append research calls last year:

cell_phone_append_landingWe like to call a mobile phone number the “forever phone number” for an alumnus. Portability of numbers across carriers means that most alumni will be using the same phone number they’ve had since their teenage years well into the time you’re approaching them for a planned gift.

How do you bring your phoning program in line with the mobile revolution?

First, you need to capture as many cell phone numbers as possible before students leave campus. An industry expert recently told me that this should really be a “frictionless” transaction—as easy as possible. Consider a simple web form, even a QR code at commencement rehearsal. Give a prize. Consider a big one that motivates immediate action—as the stats show, you’ll get a strong return.

Second, integrate cell phone research into your annual data investment. It provides an incredible return on investment, and coupled with a quality phone solicitation program, it could be key to increasing your donor count immediately. Cell append research is a bargain, but not all providers are equal. We’ve researched great providers who return good numbers. As you can see, our cell append contacts connect at a rate very close to the overall average.

The bottom line is that you’re more likely to get the first gift from a graduate if you have their “forever” phone number, the phone that rings in their pocket.

We’re happy to tell you more about how to integrate cell phone research into your current phoning effort and share stories of success at institutions just like yours—just get in touch. I’ll watch my phone.

Brian Gawor, CFRE is a former annual fund and major gift professional who now focuses on benchmarking and analytics to drive fundraising strategy. Learn more about how cell phone append research from RuffaloCODY will help you uncover your “lost” donors.


]]> 0