How to quickly pivot your EOY campaign when things go wrong

About this webinar on EOY fundraising and GivingTuesday tips

Coming in hot – the second in our series of jam-packed (but bite-sized) 30 minute webinars! This time, Brenna Holmes of Chapman Cubine Allen + Hussey, Molly Kelly of Zuri Group and our own Eric Rubin discuss how organizations can quickly pivot EOY and GivingTuesday campaigns when things go wrong.

This is part of 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 first webinar of the series led by Yoonhyung Lee of M+R and third webinar led by Henri Makembe, CEO of Do Big Things.

This event took place on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 @ 12 PM EST.

Thank You

A special thanks to Brenna Holmes of Chapman Cubine Allen + Hussey and Molly Kelly of Zuri Group for their time and expertise in presenting this informative webinar.

The webinar presentation slides can be accessed here.

eoy fundraising quick pivot webinar

[00:00:07.440] – Eric Rubin
So let’s dig in here. We’re going to do some quick intros and then we’re going to dive into the content. This is the quick pivot. This is the second in a series of three that we’re doing for the end of the year, together with some really cool partners of Engaging Networks. Hi. Winnie. Welcome. And yeah, today we’re going to focus on some of the challenges we can run up against as we’re midstream, focusing on end of year and then some solutions, some quick pivots that we can do. Want to go for a quick intro, Molly?

[00:00:37.910] – Molly Kelly
Oh, sure. Hi, my name is Molly Kelly and president of digital with Zuri Group. You’re going to go to the Zuri slide. I’ll just tell you really briefly who Zuri Group is. We skip right through engaging networks. Intro.

[00:00:52.870] – Eric Rubin
That’s okay, I’ll go back. Molly. We’ll go back.

[00:00:55.080] – Molly Kelly
Okay, we’ll go back. We are an accredited, full service partner of Engaging Networks. I have a Cheesy colleague who likes to say we do everything from A to Z, and that is executive guidance, digital marketing and fundraising, web development, change management, and a lot of onboarding for clients moving to Engaging Networks.

[00:01:18.190] – Eric Rubin
Sweet. And Molly, by the way, is one of my favourite human beings. Gets to know her, she’s brilliant and fun and hilarious. Take it away, Brent.

[00:01:29.510] – Brenna Holmes
Yeah, so we too at CCH are accredited partners. Not quite all full. We’re on technology design and development and then on the account services side. And we’re a fully multi channel, integrated direct response firm, working exclusively with nonprofits and democratic political campaigns. And as you can see here, we’ve been doing this for 30 plus years and really focusing on the missions. We work with organisations that we are passionate about and help them really fund the ways that they can make the world a better place. So, email marketing, Engaging Networks, advertising, SMS, along with offline direct mail, postcards, out of house, CTV and telemarketing too, all.

[00:02:16.500] – Eric Rubin
The things you other platforms, right?

[00:02:20.220] – Brenna Holmes
We do. We’re technology agnostic. I think Molly is too, but of course. But we love engaging networks. I’ve known Graham since he basically launched in the States, so it was very fun to see how you guys have grown and be a partner.

[00:02:35.080] – Eric Rubin
Amazing. Austin, you want to flip back up to the Engaging Network side briefly? Cool. So, for those who don’t know on the call, I assume folks are familiar, but Engaging Networks is a full integrated set of digital tools. So from your email marketing and SMS, to marketing, automation, donation forms, events, pages, RSVP and Ticketed, a great peer to peer platform. We also do advocacy, and again, it’s all about having an integrated set of tools where your email speaks to your pages. And then we have a wide open set of APIs and we integrate with Salesforce, Razors Edge, Bbcrm, Microsoft Dynamics and on and on. So building that complete ecosystem to grow your list and engage supporters. Awesome. And we love working with Molly Brennan and their teams and many other folks. So let’s dive into content. Alright, so this is about how to quickly pivot campaigns when things go wrong, right? So this may feel like starting with a downer, but let’s be real, right? Stuff happens, stuff breaks, situations change. The world is not always the most stable place that lines up with your perfect plan. So what do we do when things go wrong?

[00:03:49.860] – Eric Rubin
We’re going to talk a little bit about what can go wrong so we’re not caught with blind spots. So take it away, Molly.

[00:03:56.740] – Molly Kelly
Oh, okay. So we just kind of were going through Brenda and I, thinking of things that can go wrong. Certainly early in your campaigns, you might be seeing that emails are not cutting through the clutter, people aren’t opening them, or you’re getting low conversion. Other things that can go wrong is sloppy delivery. Like, we’ve all gotten that email that corrects the last email that we got. So it’s linking to the wrong form, you have dead links, that kind of thing. And Brenna has a few others here.

[00:04:29.910] – Brenna Holmes
Yeah. So sometimes it’s not technical in nature, sometimes things in the environment, a celebrity’s tweets may happen, or personality, just decision makers making decisions that contradict the plans that you already have in place. Copy needs to be written.

[00:04:45.090] – Eric Rubin
It never happens. Brenna right.

[00:04:46.770] – Brenna Holmes
Never happens. We have complete control over everything. And speaking of complete control, the post office kind of a hot mess, especially last year. We’re hoping it’ll be better this year. So we’ll talk about how you can deal with that as kind of multichannel elements that your donors aren’t only reading about you in screens. Right. So how do we help kind of lift up areas that kind of go.

[00:05:12.520] – Eric Rubin
Sideways and that’s for folks that have a direct mail campaign alongside there, or just doing multi channel in general. Right, multi channel in general, advertising, all of these things can kind of go right. Right. But you’re talking specifically about snail mail and direct mail there.

[00:05:26.050] – Brenna Holmes
Yes. In that bullet.

[00:05:28.460] – Eric Rubin
Cool. All right, so that’s just some pointy things that can happen, folks drop in the chat. What are some things you even countered as you are behind the eight ball, putting your campaigns out to the world for giving Tuesday end of year, you’ve got a great plan in place. What are some of the things that what are some hiccups that you’ve encountered? Let’s drop those into the chat as we go. And we’re also going to quick pivot to talking about what we do and some of these things arise. Do you want to talk about a couple of the solutions you’ve worked through?

[00:06:11.960] – Brenna Holmes
Yeah. We actually really are big fans of planning for worst case scenarios, so being ready to react before anything goes, quote, unquote wrong is critical. We deal with a lot of elections, as I mentioned. So making sure you have a plan B and you have fallback creative when certain people don’t go the way you want them to go in an election per se. Or for instance, we work with quite a few health care and hospital organisations and many of them don’t like to talk about deceased patients. We’ve had this actually happen this year where the story was approved and in the system and ready to launch and then we needed to pull it because that person was no longer able to be shared. Their story was no longer able to be shared. You also need to make sure that you have expedited approvals in place, right? So if everything is locked and loaded and you have to start, quote unquote, over, you need to make sure that you’re not going just the regular old route to go get that creative approved. Who can you cut out of the process or how can you change the process to shorten it, expedite it, make sure it’s really just the people who make the real decisions and they’re going to be able to stand with and stand for those decisions are in line.

[00:07:34.950] – Brenna Holmes
We have organisations again this year that changed their entire plans after Kanye tweeted the horrible things that he tweeted. And it really just made the original creative feel out of touch with the national zeitgeist. And so having that pivot and setting expectations for us with our client contact, but also internally with the clients, to be able to set them with their chain of higher ups is just so important. And these are all things that you want to put in place before wrong.

[00:08:05.710] – Molly Kelly
I have a question for you on that. That’s the kind of crazy thing to happen now, there’s no way they could have had all their digital messaging, a whole backup messaging ready for that, right? So they had to recreate brand new messaging. But you’re saying by having the Expedited approval, at least there wasn’t a backlog when they wrote that new messaging.

[00:08:29.880] – Brenna Holmes
Exactly. And I will also say that the beautiful thing about giving Tuesday an end of year, even though it is so crazy for all of us and certainly the most lucrative time for nonprofits to fundraise, it’s also very routine. You should be relying on best practises, ensuring that you have those basics and institutional messages in place. Many organisations have matching gifts, things like that. So while you are updating content because of these things that happen in the world, hopefully you are not truly starting from scratch because you should have those base points or the boiler point message points that you can still leverage. But the Expedited approvals really do come in necessary and it’s not typically something that you can spin up on the fly. You need everybody buyin ahead of time about what steps are going to be skipped.

[00:09:25.120] – Eric Rubin
I love that have those hard conversations in advance. Right. Amy Bridges actually brings up a specific scenario that she’s faced where a former boss who shall not be named I’m just kidding. No names to protect the innocent revenue isn’t where we thought it would be. We need to drop another appeal on the calendar. It’s like, oh, fun, right? Is this something that you guys have seen? And again, that just sounds like it’s the fallback creative, like having that speak.

[00:09:51.490] – Brenna Holmes
Very specifically, Amy, to padding that schedule. So we very regularly plan for this upfront and you might have experienced that with us previously at other organisations where it looks like a really aggressive email schedule, but we know not everybody is going to get every email and we want to make sure that we have that extra creative. What we think is going to be the best performers by all of the data that we have behind us from previous year ends, campaigns earlier that year and pad that schedule, it’s much easier to just X out a launch and not use it than it is to scramble and spin it up last minute. And then the last thing on here I just wanted to touch on too is we talked about those mail delays. I hope if your organisation is trying to grow year over year, you are thinking about offline contacts. Many of the organisations we work with are actually legacy direct mail programmes, very large national direct mail programmes, and digital is sometimes newer for them. That’s not the case for everybody, but even if you’re just kind of dabbling your toe into direct mail, there’s so many ways to use digital to help with those potential delays.

[00:11:05.980] – Brenna Holmes
So having things like teaser and potential chaser emails scheduled, having co targeting in the mix for advertising where you are uploading your house file or specific segments of your house file, depending on who’s receiving which mail package to. Facebook Ads to Google Ads to other programmatic display partners. You can target them very specifically and ensure that your brand stays top of mind, even if that package is delayed. We’ve also seen a lot of success there with SMS kind of boosters, watch your mailbox. You should have just received this reply if you didn’t. You can use voicemail calls as well that are recorded by a voice and a name that in your organisation is maybe the signer of the letter or the signer of emails too.

[00:12:00.340] – Eric Rubin
So what I hear you saying is this is not news to anyone on the call, but omnichannel. Right? So, again, it’s like, set up as much as you can in advance, have a plan B. So, like, prepare, prep, prepare, prepare, prepare, prepare. So that when the upper hits the road and it’s the day before giving, tuesday is December and a pivot happens, or the need for a pivot, you’re not scrambling to now generate a tonne of content or get new ads ready or whatever. Now, what if a team is like, what if someone on here is like watching the recording says, okay, I’m a team of one or two and that all sounds amazing, but I didn’t get bandwidth for that. What’s the one thing you would focus on here if you are a smaller team and to have that plan B in place or to have as much ready as possible?

[00:12:55.910] – Brenna Holmes
Yeah, no, it’s a great question and I think that is really planning ahead. So Molly is actually going to talk a little bit about how to not stress about giving Tuesday quite as much because you really do have time to make it up. But in addition to that, not to make it sound like it’s too late to do this now, talk to your boss about those expedited approvals and then look at what creative you already have again. Maybe from last year end or just mission mission critical, institutional evergreen type of creative that could be tweaked with a subject line change or a header banner change. A very small copy change to make it relevant to the current campaign. None of your supporters, sorry to say, none of your supporters are going to read literally everything as closely as you and I read them.

[00:13:48.340] – Eric Rubin
Brenna. I assume they’ll all remember verbatim, I’m sorry, I’m sure they’ll remember verbatim the content from last year’s email.

[00:13:54.700] – Brenna Holmes
No one’s going to be like, oh.

[00:13:56.320] – Eric Rubin
My God, this is the same content they use in last year on December 27.

[00:14:01.330] – Brenna Holmes
As long as you don’t have the exact same subject line so they thread together in Gmail, you’re going to be okay.

[00:14:08.060] – Eric Rubin
Awesome. All right, cool. Well, and folks, please drop into any questions, comments as we go. I see some more folks have joined. I know. Also, this is the folks in the recording if you want to drop questions in the chat shake. Hey, that’s not possible. Okay, so we’re going to pivot now to talking about some things you can do specifically end of year. So actually Molly is going to talk.

[00:14:31.050] – Molly Kelly
About some other things, right? These are just best Practises that we all know. But when you’re planning your campaign, you might not have taken the time to think of every single thing on the list, the best Practise list. So your emails aren’t they’re not getting open, right? You’ve already thought you wrote the best subject line, but certainly like take the time, set up a test, use the tools to make sure that you’re delivering the one that’s winning. Make sure it’s so silly, but the stats are out there and we all say like, duh, but dear Molly, right? So make sure you can personalise the subject, make sure their name is in there and that’s personalising the content and the theme. A thing that out there in the stats from industry is when you take that email and strip it down, make it look like it’s just a regular email from a person. It doesn’t have to be all stiffed up in a template that makes it feel very generated, right? It’s very effective. And did you add urgency? Do you have a ticker? Do you have a timer? Did you put one not only in your email, you could go in your email, but also on your website?

[00:15:51.340] – Molly Kelly
Are you doing those kinds of things? And maybe you didn’t maybe you thought you didn’t need one this year, but now you’re looking at your numbers and you’re thinking, you know what we need to get? Let’s get a timer out there, let’s get a clock out there, let’s get it on our emails, let’s get it on our website. So not a huge effort to initiate something like that, but proven if you do your research.

[00:16:17.590] – Eric Rubin
Love it. Any other comments on that? Go ahead. Go ahead, Molly. Sorry.

[00:16:22.500] – Molly Kelly
Yeah. So then on your website, right, sure. You’ve got this great email campaign that you planned. Did you take time to integrate that into your website? Did you take over your home page? And all those people who don’t want you to because they want their latest blog post to be on the home page. Sorry. Like it’s end of year, right? So take over the home page, add a banner with the deadline and a goal to your home page, or a light box, or just embed the donation form right there. Or do a light box donation form which we have a version of. Remove anything that you know all year long that everyone in your organisation is like, no, we need to have that on the home page. Sorry, it’s a distraction right now. Take the time to give that a look and see what you can do there. If you have a matching campaign or something like that, running, work with your web team to make it sticky as a banner on the top of your website. Little matching banner that’s sticky so that everything is kind of reminded and everyone can tell all your energy is focused on this goal.

[00:17:41.060] – Eric Rubin
Love it. Awesome. And what about end of year? So let’s pivot and to talking. Just going to keep using that word. As many if anyone’s keeping track of the number of times we’ve said pivot, that will be you. Get an extra. Austin is going to send you his iPad, his personal iPad. Awesome. Okay, cool. So let’s look at end of year itself. What can we do on those final couple of days of December? Molly, take it away to talk a little bit bigger picture about no, just.

[00:18:13.230] – Molly Kelly
Like, okay, it’s early, don’t sweat it. Next after did a really great survey out there. They say Giving Tuesday brings in 4.3, right? But most of your money all happens that last week of the year. So you still have time. You have time to focus on those last three to the last week of the year. If you need to drop an extra, like Brenna said, if you need to pull out and drop your extra campaigns that you had ready to go. If you need time to get that ticker up, if you want to get a matching campaign up on your website, etc. You’ve got time. And now is the time to start thinking about those things because that’s when all your funds come in.

[00:19:04.160] – Eric Rubin
Love it.

[00:19:05.510] – Molly Kelly
Yes. There you go. So somebody said December 31 is a Saturday this year, so that’s a Pivot everybody needs to kind of think about.

[00:19:15.090] – Eric Rubin
Yep, how do we plan for that? Cool.

[00:19:19.590] – Molly Kelly
Maybe brenda, do you have any ideas on that? Given this is an email, most people are using a lot of email campaigns. Emails. People might not be checking email on a Saturday or you’re probably going to think the Pivot to SMS or something, right?

[00:19:34.600] – Brenna Holmes
I mean, I think yes and no. I still think, well, we know over 50% of emails are read on your phone anyways, right. So making sure that you are using the channels that are going to be most effective. And SMS is great. If you don’t already have it, put it on your list for next year as something to grow into. But I think you’ve got a slide to Molly talking about it’s, not just one time, one day. Right. We can do multiple touch points on December 31 to make sure that we are staying in front of people and get those subject lines to be eye catching 100%.

[00:20:16.060] – Eric Rubin
That’s awesome. So talk a little bit more about the final days of the year.

[00:20:25.010] – Molly Kelly
Well, just that, you know, and I’m giving credit here to next after, but they’re like focus on those days where these slides are coming from. We change that to two days, but that’s okay. Focus on those last two days. December 30, your first email, then the morning of the 31st and then the evening of the 31st. Make sure you’re growing in your urgency. Add that count on clock to the December 31 morning one. Let people know that you’ve got a time limit and a goal. I’m following kind of the recipe book. Go ahead, Brenda, you’re better at the recipe book.

[00:21:10.450] – Brenna Holmes
This has said call your donor by name a couple times and I absolutely love that. Nobody loves hearing anything more than we love hearing our own name. That is a human trait that is equal across all groups and especially with donors. They don’t want to think they’re just an anonymous ATM opportunity for you. They want to know that you know who they are, that you have heard them, that you care about them just in the same way that they care about you and your mission and your brand. So a name is such a simple thing to do, but if you’re not already using those merge fields to pull that name in, it is the best thing to start with. And you can put it in the subject line. Don’t do it every time but put it at the front, put it at the end, make it a question, all of these different things that are going to catch people’s attention. And we talk about the morning and the evening here, but we have clients that send three, sometimes even more emails on December 31 and giving Tuesday themselves. When you have that immediate deadline, and nothing is more like well known than December 31 as an environmental deadline that you can do that.

[00:22:35.250] – Brenna Holmes
There’s a lot more tolerance for persistence than there would be at other times of year, too.

[00:22:43.610] – Molly Kelly
Interestingly. Also, the third bullet also lets you know, let those people know that you know who they are because the data is there. Make sure you’re segmenting out right and you have the tools to do it. Let them know right away on that second email or third email, we didn’t receive your donation yet. Then. Also, it’s like they see me, right? I mean, we’re not telling you the stuff you don’t know, but I know we get busy and you just got to go back to the fundamentals, go back to your list, go back to these checklist items and make sure you’re evaluating each one and putting the attention into it and not forgetting.

[00:23:31.010] – Eric Rubin
Awesome. So we’re right up against the end here. Just want to open up and see if there are any questions from the folks that are here with us on the call. Any thoughts, any feelings, any emotions, any fears?

[00:23:52.010] – Molly Kelly
Hey, that last email, make that a forward of the email before it okay, so forward the second email from your primary person. So it’s like the template email is below because it’s forwarded, but the note is from that person, very direct to that person.

[00:24:13.570] – Eric Rubin
Yup, yup, I love that. Awesome. Well again. Go ahead, Brenna. Do you have a point, too?

[00:24:20.920] – Brenna Holmes
I was just going to say on that note, change signers or change your sender address when you use a forward so that the original letter came from Molly or email came from Molly, but then Brenna is sending that follow up to make sure that Eric saw it. Molly can, of course, forward her own email, but it’s much more realistic for another signer, another sender address, and it will pop in where they don’t think they saw it already. It’ll differentiate and they’ll be like, this is new, and it will legitimise that forward.

[00:24:51.940] – Molly Kelly
Oh, thank you. That’s a good tip. Yes. You guys remember also, I know we have two minutes. Actually, engaged Networks has great personalization tools. You might already be thinking about them and using them. If you know somebody who loves flowers, when they hit the page, they can see a flower or maybe a particular cause of yours, it’s not that hard. It just takes a little bit of planning to make sure that when that person hits that donation page, the thing that they care about the most is what they see. And we all know that all those things move a needle.

[00:25:34.160] – Eric Rubin
Sure. And automation as well, right. Engaging Network certainly has good tools for that. But obviously, again, as much as you can automate about this process and still have those decision points where the cat lover sees the cat picture and the dog lover sees the dog picture, but not making it all about individual email sends. But allowing folks, if they do convert on a page, to have some sort of cultivated journey towards the 31st is something else. Would you guys say that that’s another tool?

[00:26:03.340] – Brenna Holmes
I am a big fan of trusting the machines hard for other people and probably doesn’t help when I describe it that way. But if you can and plan ahead, it is so good. There is literally almost nothing at your end that you can’t pre schedule, you know who your audience is going to be. You have the creative preapproved. You can build those dynamic queries so that the recent donors are autosuppressed. All of that can be prescheduled.

[00:26:32.490] – Molly Kelly
It can take some human error out of the process. It can take a risk. It can take a risk of human error out of the process.

[00:26:40.150] – Brenna Holmes
Yeah. No, but the machine is not frazzled and trying to sign off by cob the day before the holiday.

[00:26:47.700] – Eric Rubin
Speaking for yourself, Brenna. Just kidding. All right. And on that note, you guys, half an hour. Thank you so much.

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