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29 Game-Changing Insights from the DMA Nonprofit Federation 2014 Washington Conference

Production Solutions

29 Tips from DMANFEver wish you could boil a two-day multi-session conference down into a quick-read list of game-changing nuggets you could share with your clients and colleagues without ever leaving your desk? We’ve done it for you!
If the snow kept you away, the 2014 DMA Nonprofit Federation (DMANF) Washington Conference featured information-packed sessions on all aspects of direct marketing and highlighted the trends and triumphs that are shaping our industry today. The Production Solutions team captured the insights and takeaways that could help propel your organization and your campaigns to the next level. Here they are:

Digital Marketing/Fundraising Tips

  • Social Media Limitations – Social media is not a good donation channel and should not be used to push people to donate (perhaps for a crisis, but not otherwise). However, if a donor or potential donor follows you on a social network and you have their email address, you have a greater chance of getting a return on a fundraising request.
  • Three Ways to Fail Online – The three reasons charities fail at fundraising efforts online are: bad website experience on mobile; lack of urgency/no call to action built into the digital medium; meager follow up efforts.
  • TL/DR – Brevity wins. Make sure your messages don’t fall into the TL (Too Long)/DR (Didn’t Read) category.
  • Audience Focus – The “Digital Process” is: determine audience, customize audience-appropriate offer and craft audience-appropriate message.
  • Be Willing to Not Ask for Money – Non-fundraising messaging and appeals are essential for digital campaigns. And while you may not be asking for money, do ask for an email address…on EVERYTHING! Consider soliciting an email address in the initial communication, rather than a donation.
  • Big Buttons – Using BIG buttons is important. Make it very easy for the potential donor to see where the call to action is. Example: DONATE NOW!!!
  • Resource Alert – Take advantage of Google Grants to get funds to advertise, apply insights gleaned from other campaigns funded by Google Grants to optimize your nonprofit campaign and spend more efficiently for paid campaigns.
  • Winning Formula – For the first 10½ months of the year, send one donation request email for every three cultivation emails. In December, email with ask requests as often as you like!
  • Subject Line Insights – Casual vs. Formal Tone? Casual subject lines in emails increase Click-to-Open Rates (CTO) by 3% in some cases. Institutional vs. Individual sender? One organization found individual sender emails increased CTO by 1.5%.
  • Better Ask Positioning – Try “your best gift” instead of “other amount.”
  • Mobile Newsletter – Adding a “mobile friendly” newsletter can increase click through by 18%!

Integration Insights

  • Be Ready – Don’t integrate until you are ready.  It’s an enormous task and integrating online/offline data is extremely difficult. Develop a solid QC process to verify your product when you sync online- with offline-donor data.
  • Staffing Strain – Integration puts a major strain on resources; be prepared as you embark on the process and build in a solid analysis system to help you make good decisions moving forward.
  • Integration Quote of the Conference – “Integrate where appropriate. Innovate when necessary.”
  • Know Thy Donors – Before integrating, understand how each donor acts in each medium (print vs. digital).
  • To Duplicate or Not? – Some Direct Marketing leaders feel digital and direct mail must look the same in an integrated campaign, while others feel mirroring online messages with offline copy isn’t always the best approach. They suggest evaluating your audience to determine if it’s appropriate or necessary…and of course, TEST!

Testing Trends

  • Join Forces – Collaborative research can yield better experiments. Consider jointly funding research and test along with a group of organizations to get better insights.
  • Make the Best Hamburger – The sacred cows of organizations make the best hamburger for testing. Legacy perceptions or beliefs of an organization are the best things to test.
  • Mobile Requirement – Testing how your programs look in mobile environments is NOT optional – it’s NECESSARY.
  • Digital Testing – Testing in digital allows you to make mistakes on a smaller scale, so test often and test frequently.
  • Document, Document, Document – Clearly state the goal and purpose of each test up-front and document the results to avoid retesting something you’ve already tested before. This is especially true in digital testing due to the quick turn and dynamic nature of the environment.
  • Resource Alert – Consider using Google Developers’ Experiments or Optimizely to assist with setting up your A/B testing strategy, minimum responses, timeframe and cadence when testing landing pages.
  • Avoid the Spam Folder – Make sure to test your email functionality because the wrong copy can send your message straight to the spam folder!
  • Beware the “Outliers” – When evaluating test results, consider the outliers – a single large donation, etc. – because they can skew your data.

Industry Trends, News & Tips

  • Potential Policy Change – Public policymakers are pushing for nonprofits to stop gathering and using personal information, which could affect nonprofits’ ability to do donor targeting.
  • Postal Impacts – Consolidation of post offices is affecting mail deliverability.
  • Workflow Optimization – Work with production partners to find program efficiencies and cost-saving options. Streamlining your campaigns can create a more consistent donor experience, lift response and increase overall revenue. Simple techniques including like-format packages and similar, pre-print shells can reduce cycle times. Printing more of the same stock and size components can reduce costs and packages…and may even create potential for postage savings.
  • Storytelling Takes Center Stage – Is your organization doing enough with the stories it has? Tell your stories through your followers. Carefully interview, gathering even small details in a person’s story and then share that story. You can use stories in all channels, but they will produce different results. Most importantly: Be authentic, be brief, and consider your audience!
  • TIP FOR TAKING DONATIONS: EFT vs. CC – Electronic Funds Transfers (EFTs) are ideal over Credit Cards (CCs), because EFTs are declined less frequently (and therefore, the charity has a higher rate of receiving the donation).  Try to convert CC donors to EFT donors after one year.