EOY fundraising: 5 things you can do right now

About this webinar on EOY fundraising and GivingTuesday tips

You won’t want to miss this jam-packed (but bite-sized) 30 minute webinar with Yoonhyung Lee of M+R and our own Eric Rubin as they discuss 5 things you can do right now to optimize your EOY fundraising and GivingTuesday campaigns.

This is the first in a series of three EOY fundraising webinars led by nonprofit pros from across the industry. “The Quick Pivot” series offers pithy advice, tactics and tricks for making changes mid-stream with your EOY fundraising strategy.

Check out the second webinar led by Brenna Holmes of Chapman Cubine Allen + Hussey and Molly Kelly of Zuri Group and third webinar led by Henri Makembe, CEO of Do Big Things.

This event took place on Wednesday, November 9, 2022 @ 1 PM EST.

Thank You

A special thanks to Yoonhyung Lee of M+R for her time and expertise in presenting this informative webinar.

The webinar presentation slides can be accessed here.


[00:00:07.210] – Eric Rubin
Really excited to be on here with you, Lee. This is the quick Pivot end of year fundraising webinar series. We’ve got two more of these coming up later this month and into December. And the main idea here is you guys are busy giving Tuesday the end of your fundraising. So we don’t want to give you a ton of content that you can’t use. We want to give you some quick nuggets that you can immediately implement and add into your strategy as you go to Tweak and be as impactful as possible. So again. Yoon lis with us. I’ll let you do a quick introduction.

[00:00:40.240] – Yoonhyung Lee
Yeah, thanks. Thanks, Eric. Yes, my name is Yoon and I’m a partner at MNR. And MNR is an agency based in DC. And we have offices all over the country, although everybody is primarily remote now, so you can reach us from everywhere. We do communications and marketing and fundraising, digital organizing and social media and advertising, and do it solely for nonprofits. I myself work with a handful of really amazing science museums across the country, including the Boston Museum of Science, Calacadian of Sciences, and American Museum of Natural History. And I work on clients such as March of Dimes, the International Rescue Committee, and International Fund for Animal Welfare. So we do work with large and small organizations and bringing our experience to bear here coming from all of these different types of sectors. OK, Eric, I’m going to dive in unless there’s anything else you want.

[00:01:42.570] – Eric Rubin
Actually, do you want to back up one slide? Let me just do a quick did I drop mine into the right deck? I think you might have gone from the template to this. Anyways, really briefly. I’m Eric Rubin. I’m a director of nonprofit services Adeng Networks. We are a digital engagement platform. So that is email marketing, SMS, online forms, peer to peer advocacy, all tied into one space. So really best in breed for all things digital that you’re doing to engage your supporters. And then we tie in with integration to back end CRMs like Salesforce or BBC RM or Raisers Edge or Microsoft Dynamics. So really excited to be here, really excited to be on the call with Yoon and Yoon, take it away.

[00:02:22.120] – Yoonhyung Lee

[00:02:23.140] – Eric Rubin
Drop questions into Q and A. Drop questions straight into the chat, which is now enabled, and we’ll answer as we go.

[00:02:30.340] – Yoonhyung Lee
Great, thank you. Okay, so let’s see, that was a little bit about M and R. And now my topic today is five things you can do right now. And I will say I was thinking about this topic and I really wanted to make it very realistic because it is November 9 and there is time, but not a whole lot of time. So the first question I was thinking for myself to frame today’s discussion is considering a very likely scenario that you have your emails planned, probably written or close to final, and you’ve been seeing potentially some soft results from other appeals that have gone out recently. That has been the case for some of our clients, probably with the election and everything happening as well. So the question is, what can you do right now to make sure you have a really strong finish to the year? The first thing that comes to mind is adding a text component. Two things we know that boost overall response for many of our organizations. One is cultivation messaging and the second is mobile fundraising. And this is certainly a place where both can come together. So if you already have a texting platform, this is really a great time to sharpen up your text messaging, maybe even doing some testing and anticipation of a higher volume of responses that you probably get for end of year.

[00:03:49.610] – Yoonhyung Lee
So the first thing, SMS is a great tool for cultivation. Our benchmark studies show that lists are growing. Last year mobile lists grew by 5%. So we know also that click through rate is generally much higher for text or peer to peer text than it is for email. So experimenting with cultivation is a really key way to engage your lists. November in particular gives you some great opportunities for this. With Thanksgiving, of course, you can offer something really fun, like a great recipe or a link to health do’s and don’ts if you’re at a health organization. Or you can link to a video message from your president or a celebrity that you might be working with. So this is an example from an RDC who is fortunate enough to work with Julia Louis Dreyfus. That’s the National Resources Defense Council and she recorded a really great short video for them last year. There’s like a soft ask at the end. This video is very popular and of course this is an asset that gets used on other channels as well. So SMS is reinforcing and amplifying this amazing content.

[00:05:01.690] – Eric Rubin
Talk a little bit about the use of MMS versus not MMS, like using the images and the video and the sort of results that you’ve seen teams have.

[00:05:12.490] – Yoonhyung Lee
Yeah, that’s a really great question. So I was going to say for cultivation, we definitely recommend you doing a lot more with MMS. We’ve seen that it does tend to kind of amp up engagement. And in particular, it works really well when you have somebody famous to speak of or if you have another really cute thing we’ve done is like a handwritten note, a very short handwritten note from, like, your president or somebody like that, and you have an image of it just like to add to your MMS. And that makes it very personal feeling. So I think for cultivation, we strongly recommend going out with MMS if you have that capability. I did want to ask because we have like a small group, eric, this makes it a perfect opportunity to see if we can see who in our audience is using text messaging right now.

[00:06:02.980] – Eric Rubin
Yeah, that’s great. And folks, go ahead the chat is enabled now, so please go ahead and say and give a quick word on what you’re doing with that SMS.

[00:06:15.790] – Yoonhyung Lee
Yeah, just curious if it’s like a yes or no to are you using.

[00:06:18.930] – Eric Rubin
It totally simple yes or no. Didn’t mean to make a task for folks to write a novel.

[00:06:28.840] – Yoonhyung Lee

[00:06:30.490] – Eric Rubin
Got it. Got some yeses. Some interest in exploring plans for 2023. Question about whether a concern the SMS could be too intrusive.

[00:06:42.710] – Yoonhyung Lee
I think a lot of people were worried about that, particularly because of the election cycle, people were being bombarded with messaging. If you signed up for anything political, and I think the good news is you will see a lot less of that coming from the political space. And so in terms of volume, I don’t think people are going to be as inundated as they were in terms of being intrusive, especially for cultivation. We have not found that to be the case. We’re not getting huge amounts of unsubscribes or anything, especially around cultivation. Messaging, people tend to find it welcome and it’s through a medium that they’re used to and can appreciate. So the example that I said of the letter, the handwritten letter that was actually from Feeding America, I believe was our client that did that. We do work with a number of food banks, too. And that kind of personalized experience, I think, is actually the opposite of intrusive. It really creates like a more welcoming type of relationship.

[00:07:47.210] – Eric Rubin
And what are your thoughts about you mentioned the election. Right. Obviously, folks up until yesterday have been probably getting bombarded with things like SMS. I know I have. And I’m not even in a swing state reelection versus now the new moment that we’re in. Do people need a breather before we start hitting them with end of year stuff? Or is it a good moment because they’re paying attention?

[00:08:15.040] – Yoonhyung Lee
I think we’re ready. I’m going to say that because I’m a fundraiser, right? Every time is a good time for some type, like the right type of engagement. And that’s why I’m leading with cultivation, because we do see cultivation list response for fundraising as well. So whether or not you’re engaging in text or via email, cultivation is like a very critical component leading into end of year. So I do think that it’s worth doing. And because we have so many appeals going out in November and December, we would expect that you want a two to one ratio, actually, of cultivation to fundraising on SMS specifically. So we don’t want to overdo it on fundraising. We actually want to make sure more of it is cultivation than not on text.

[00:09:07.420] – Eric Rubin
And just to clarify, when you say when you use the term cultivation, you’re referring to engaging, connecting, speaking to donors without making a specific asked, right?

[00:09:17.190] – Yoonhyung Lee
That’s right. Giving them things of value that they can appreciate and then when it comes to fundraising, I’d also encourage you to do some Giving Tuesday promotion. This is a really great opportunity. I think you’re going to see a lot of text messages from nonprofits around Giving Tuesday this year. And I think one of the key ways of doing this is matching it up so it’s reinforcing your fundraising efforts. So send a deadline text. You know when your deadline email goes out. We actually tested into this for the League of Conservation Voters. They saw a 57% lift in donor conversion across all channels for that group that also received the deadline text versus the control group that didn’t see. So I mean, that’s really for us, powerful data that goes to show this is a great way to amplify your fundraising messaging. As with everything else, what works in fundraising on digital channels works here too. So talk about your deadline, talk about your matches, use personal signers and make it personal if you can stop. I think there’s a particular SMS platform I think I can’t really say. I know that there are some CRMs that are trying to include SMS now.

[00:10:44.500] – Yoonhyung Lee
I think the one that we use most commonly, I don’t want to mess it up, but maybe it’s mobile cause.

[00:10:51.940] – Eric Rubin
And just to name what agreement that Engaging Networks also has just released as part of our new messaging module, which is an update to our email marketing. But alongside SMS, we do also have now bulk SMS for things like keyword responses and all that good stuff, dropping MMS into messages and then linking that up sort of in a true like sort of omnichannel approach with the targeting and segmentation that you’re doing across email and SMS.

[00:11:19.160] – Yoonhyung Lee
Oh, I love that.

[00:11:20.070] – Eric Rubin
Just to name that.

[00:11:21.190] – Yoonhyung Lee
Yeah, if you have that option, which I hope all of you do with Engaging Networks, I do think that’s a really great way to see that visibility across platforms. Okay, so fundraising messaging, the other thing is like, this is like as I mentioned, a really good time to test things because you are going to get a lot of response I think, during these winter months. So a few things you can test for fundraising, in particular SMS versus MMS. We’ve actually seen some data that shows SMS is more effective for fundraising appeals and MMS messages are that’s really interesting. You don’t want the actual image or extra stuff to go along with it. But every organization is different. So that’s one thing you could definitely test. You could test like casual language versus more direct language. Adding a permission component that could be something more of an interactive feature where you actually stop and say, I’d like to send you a link to the donation and explain why it’s really important that they give right now and expect a yes or no. You know, request a yes or no response back. So like a little bit of a permissive feature testing something like that could be helpful because we’ve seen it work and we’ve seen it not work.

[00:12:33.930] – Yoonhyung Lee
So those are a few ideas for you as you move forward for email. A lot of your strategy and probably your copy is baked is what I’m going to guess. But you still have time to throw in some segmentation and I’m guessing you have the usual suspects like prospects and active donors lapsed. Maybe you have midlevel and sustainers in there too. One thing we’ve tested with several organizations is showing that there’s efficacy in targeting your prior Giving Tuesday campaign donors. If you can do that, that’s been shown to be really positive in referencing their gift to Giving Tuesday last year, talking about that, talking about the impact that it ended up making, that boost response rate. So we have seen that be an effective way to segment your list that’s beyond just kind of like the typical things that you might do and that works for end of year as well. Is anybody doing that targeting prior years donors in that way? Like really specific way?

[00:13:38.060] – Eric Rubin
And feel free to drop that into the chat folks or Q and A if you’re a quick yes or thumbs up. Cool.

[00:13:46.690] – Yoonhyung Lee
Okay. And another quick win is social. Okay. So don’t say this to your social media directors that it’s a quick win. I know that social media directors tend to labor over their content well in advance for them, like it’s a really well thought out process. But putting together a post that promotes a Facebook challenge can be really effective. And I’m using challenge with like a lowercase C. I know there are tools out there that do Facebook challenges with a capital C, like really thought out months long activity based, peer to peer challenges. I want something really simple like you’re putting out that you have a challenge to drive 1000 gifts. Like this example from Union of Concerned Scientists we just promoted. We’re trying to raise this much 1300 gifts by giving Tuesday. This is the challenge that we’re trying to meet right now. Use your deadline. Hopefully you have a match to that you can promote and promote it with a little bit of budget. So make this a boosted post. If you don’t have a big ad budget in the moment, things like this can be effective ways of just getting your message in front of people, reminding them again with a little bit of surround sound that you are raising funds and they’re really critical at this point in time.

[00:15:04.390] – Yoonhyung Lee
They don’t tend to generate tons of money. I will be honest, this is not going to bring in necessarily huge amounts of revenue versus like a really specific ad campaign might. But nevertheless, I think they’re a really good source of incremental new donors that are new to your list. They’re usually not people on your email list already.

[00:15:26.440] – Eric Rubin
To what degree are you using this and targeting folks that might already be on your list to the degree that’s possible with like, Facebook ad targeting. So it sounds like this is sort of really its own standalone way of doing sort of acquisition as well as new donors bringing them in. But are you doing any co branded campaigns that are also happening across SMS that are happening in Social? Like to what degree?

[00:15:52.240] – Yoonhyung Lee
Yeah, so ideally you have an ad budget and you have an ad strategy and a media plan that is year round. This is like supplemental to that because for small campaigns you may not find it worth changing up your ad content for a flash in the pan, giving Tuesday something like you may have in place your end of year ad advertising plan which is much going to be like very robust and you put a lot of money and targeting behind it. This might be something you do in addition to or maybe in place of if you don’t have that kind of sophisticated advertising spending plan in place, you can of course target your existing list. We love that idea. If you don’t have a big media plan already, or you can be targeting your Facebook fans and followers and boosting it to them so that this gets a little bit more traction out there above and beyond your organic posting. So I like it for those scenarios because as I said, this is not going to be the thing that brings in the big revenue.

[00:17:01.760] – Eric Rubin
That’s great. Thanks.

[00:17:04.240] – Yoonhyung Lee
The other thing you can do on social, it’s like super easy. And we have seen with organizations that put a lot of effort behind this, actually shockingly big bumps in the number of people who start Facebook fundraisers just by asking them to start a Facebook fundraiser. So that’s not something that we often do. I see a lot of organizations promoting their own Facebook fundraiser for giving Tuesday and they’ll bring in like a couple of $1,000, which is fine, which is great, right? Like maybe 50 donors and a couple of $1,000. But another way to do this to get engagement is actually to invite your fans and followers to start that for you and you can see a lot of traction happening over your end with something like this. A fun way to approach it is to invite people to start their fundraiser and incentivize it with premiums that you get to send to the top fundraisers or any fundraiser who raises over $200 or something like that. So that could be really interesting.

[00:18:05.580] – Eric Rubin
And we know that the limitation always with Facebook fundraisers versus doing a peer to peer campaign on a platform like engaging networks or other platforms out there is data collection, right? So do you have any like suggestions about because obviously, hey, we’re not going to say no to Facebook fundraiser money, right? But like, how do you bridge that gap of data if you’re doing a lot of acquisition through that, like getting those supporters attract over time.

[00:18:32.860] – Yoonhyung Lee
Yeah. So I like this example of the Facebook challenge ad. You can link it to your own donate form, right? Like it doesn’t have to be through the Facebook Donate in channel platform. That’s one way you can ensure that you’re actually driving people to your own page and collecting that information. The other thing with Facebook fundraisers is if you do incentivize it, you’re giving people an opportunity to connect with you. And those are the people you want. Not the people who donate to them, but the people who start the Facebook fundraiser on your behalf. So if you’re saying, I’m going to send you this beautiful t shirt or whatever, you will get their information right. And that is another way that you can maintain that connection.

[00:19:18.160] – Eric Rubin
And you’d have to be doing that as manually, essentially, like tracking who those people are. But the numbers of folks on raising on your behalf probably won’t be that great. We got about six minutes left. We’re going to plug and just to name you and you don’t have a hard stop on the half hour, is that correct? If we have Q and A that goes over?

[00:19:38.250] – Yoonhyung Lee
Yes, I can go a little past.

[00:19:39.930] – Eric Rubin

[00:19:41.890] – Yoonhyung Lee
Okay. So the other scenario, let’s say the end of your calendar is looking very full. What do you actually need to make the most of the season? So giving is huge. I think everybody knows this. I think it’s on everybody’s radar. So making sure you have an email scripted that is promoting ways to give and promoting an option to give to a donor advised fund I think is really critical. And you know, it’s a softer piece. It’s not like there’s no deadline around it. There’s no like hard urgency. But it’s a reminder we’ve actually done this. I didn’t have this example on hand, but from one of our organizations, we do this as kind of a combination tax receipt and reminder. So it could be that you’ve shown your supporter status and the amount of support are giving that’s been accumulated over the year and remind them this is the time to make their last tax deductible gift or they can gift your daft. Something like that can also be really effective.

[00:20:45.110] – Eric Rubin
There’s a whole thing to wrap your head around. Do you have any resources you recommend? Obviously we’re not going to get into that here, but if folks are like still, like, what is a deaf and how do I orient around that? Do you have any resources that you recommend there?

[00:20:57.600] – Yoonhyung Lee
I’m like, I think we did a blog post on it on MNR’s website, which is mirss.com. So I do think we could find something there. If not, I bet we could link to something and send something out after.

[00:21:10.560] – Eric Rubin
The absolutely, yeah, we’ll send her out some resources because that’s an interesting one to wrap your head around.

[00:21:18.190] – Yoonhyung Lee
This one. I love limiting your unsubscribed. So of course, email volume goes up at this time of year, right? Everybody’s email volume is multiplied 2345 times. Actually, we have seen to be very effective asking people who are going to unsubscribe to unsubscribe for a short period of time. So this example in gray here invites people to unsubscribe just for, I think, a number of months. So they return to their regular subscription in January, but they get a limited amount of messaging until that point in time and that way you’re not losing them altogether. And we found that to be like that’s a really interesting thing you could potentially pursue. Another example actually, that Marcia at Engaging Networks provided me with is this one from Amnesty International. And this is another really lovely way to say let’s just limit, I want to receive fewer emails. And I think Engaging Networks has some really great functionality that enables you to be able to do something like this for your end of year if you think that necessary.

[00:22:29.290] – Eric Rubin
Yes, in general, we have really good unsubscribe functionality where you can allow folks at a granular level to opt in or out of different receiving particular content on specific issue areas or in this case, just saying send me less stuff.

[00:22:46.990] – Yoonhyung Lee
Yeah. And the other thing is having an explainer like this one for CHLA in gray here. We know you’re hearing from us a lot these days. The reason is simple, every dollar, just explaining to them why you are sending a lot of email asking them please not to unsubscribe. We’ve seen that very effective too at this time of year. So that might be something worth considering for your footers. Okay, last thing, really the last thing that I want to mention is clustering your sents. A lot of people stretch out their fundraising across November and December across both months. And it’s just the months are very full. You will see here for this is one of our real clients, we have 15 messages going out from December 26 to the 31st. We have other messages that go out to earlier in the month, but they’re really meant to be specific short bursts of time. And we have seen that to be more effective than stretching it across the month. And the reasons why are kind of simple and speak to like the nature of best practice. You know, people are really motivated by deadline. So the more you can do around that December 31 deadline, the better.

[00:24:00.690] – Yoonhyung Lee
Like, you’re always going to see stronger responses as you get closer to that date. So clustering where we have multiple messages going out per day, has been really effective for us. So that’s one thing I wanted to let you know. However, if you do have to raise money earlier in the month and you’re nervous about making your goals and you don’t want to find out on the last day of the month that you’re short, we understand that we have clients too who insist we want to do earlier campaigns. One thing you can do is mid month urgency. Do a short 24 hours deadline in the middle of the month. Don’t make it something that’s part of something larger that doesn’t feel urgent. So this type of urgency where you have like a 24 hours campaign, a specific goal that you’re tracking can be really effective to help boost your performance in that time frame. That’s all I want to share with you today. I’m hoping some of you will be helpful.

[00:25:00.410] – Eric Rubin
Nailed it. Right on the money too, with the power. So the quick pivot was quick. We do have a couple of extra minutes here if folks that are on the call have any questions for you. Obviously you see here her email address. If you want to follow up with questions, I’m [email protected]. That’s [email protected] with a C. So if you have questions about engaging networks, we can follow up as well. But if I don’t see any other questions here, I just want to give a huge thank you to you. Obviously a great expert in the space and some really good tidbits. We’ll send follow on resources as well as a recording for any folks on your teams that couldn’t get here. We have two more Quick Pivots coming up. Austin, do you want to just name when those are and when those are coming up and who’s joining us?

[00:25:50.620] – Austin Dressman
Yeah, sure. We have one each week essentially leading up to giving Tuesday. So we have one next week, the 16th, and then we have one the 22nd as well. Both really great topics there. I dropped a link in the chat if you want to look further into who’s on those and when they are in time and everything. And feel free to sign up to those and we’ll make sure everybody gets recordings for all these for the whole series eventually.

[00:26:17.970] – Eric Rubin
Amazing. So thanks again you and thanks everybody for joining us.

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