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Tips, Tricks and Tech for Managing Your Donor Relations

DMA Lately
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Consumers are being bombarded with email from all sorts of companies and organizations. At the same time, they’re spending more time on mobile and at a growing rate. Facing these challenges, how does your organization stand out within the shifting digital landscape?

Kim Taylor from nonprofit consulting firm Russ Reid hosted a trio of digital fundraisers working on wildlife and environmental issues to explore these issues during DMA’s 2015 Washington Nonprofit Conference: Amy LaPorta from The Nature Conservancy, Emily Stevenson from Environmental Defense Fund, and Keira Piette from Defenders of Wildlife. The group led an insightful discussion on all the latest tips, tricks and tech available for fundraisers seeking to reach and connect with their donors online.

Here’s a sampling of the insights they shared:

Build value and engagement now to drive revenue later. Sometimes, the most effective campaigns may not raise any money at all. LaPorta discussed a photo contest The Nature Conservancy hosted, which encouraged email subscribers, social followers, and website visitors to share photos of nature that were “breathtaking.” The subsequent campaign drew over 15,000 submissions through their website and Flickr, and resulted in increased traffic, subscribers, and engagement. While the campaign didn’t raise revenue on its own, it drew in and connected with both new and existing donors, making the future ask to these individuals that much easier.


Speak differently to loyal donors. As always, testing in digital fundraising is essential. “Every email launched without a test is just a wasted opportunity,” said Stevenson as she outlined some of her results. An interesting item found that existing or recurring donors responded to a more direct approach. By adding “Donate Now” or “Renew Now” to the beginning of an email’s subject line, Environmental Defense Fund brought in more clicks and larger contributions. Sometimes, it helps to be straightforward!

Follow up with those who fall off. Ever wonder about those who begin to donate and stop with only one click to go? Piette went after these potential donors with Defenders of Wildlife, following up with three emails over the next two days after visitors abandoned a nearly complete donation page. Contrary to what you might assume, these emails did not encourage more unsubscribes (they only received four). Instead, they saw a 40% open rate with 5% completing their donation.

One final item to note is that every list and organization is unique. These strategies must always be tested. Even if that test is unsuccessful, it will teach you about your list and bring you more insight.

Interested in more great insights and strategies for improving your fundraising and donor management? Check out DMA’s FREE report from the 2015 Washington Nonprofit Conference! With over 10 pages of great content from fundraising thoughts leaders from Russ Reid, ASPCA, PETA and many more, this report is sure to help your fundraising strategy get extraordinary results.

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