Tag Archives: Fundraising

Direct mail isn’t dead. But then neither is email.

Good news all your ardent fans of a direct mail piece.  It’s not dead.

You’d be forgiven for thinking it was as if you read the many blogs and content pieces delivered to our inbox seemingly daily,  you will hear that email is king – and prolific studies of the ROI of emails will be quoted at you.

Having not realised Direct Mail was past its expiry date, you will be relieved to note that there’s also a survey behind this news that it’s not dead, so it must be true.  The renaissance of direct mail (or DM as we lovingly refer to it) seems to be related to several market trends that are happening right now according to an agency that specialises in <drumroll> direct marketing.

What are these marketing trends?

Well, since you ask:

  • We’re all a bit wary of digital – if you’ve tried to get an audience for your Facebook post without boosting your post with cash, you’ll know how much harder it is getting. Ad blockers and algorithms make it harder to get your message out via digital and there’s a lot more email “noise” than there was a few years ago.  In amongst this, our survey doesn’t account for the fact that for most non-profits, DM has never really stopped, or gone away as we might like to mark our returned records.
  • Letters have regained some love – a letter (that’s not a bill) or something through the post that’s not a bill is a welcome thing indeed. With all the digital noise we live with, it seems that consumers have embraced a resurgence back to the old-school tactile brochure and something to have a bit of a browse through. This is certainly true for audiences of over 30 years old – the younger generation finds a catalogue a bit of a fuddy-duddy novelty it seems.
  • And with a click, you’re gone – it’s very easy for a digital customer – or contact – to simply ghost you out – unsubscribe from email or unfollow your social feeds so says this survey.   This point is very true.  I’d argue that this is ultimate data protection for the customer, so is good for them and we must keep putting their interests at heart. From a brand focus though if you’ve got no other way of making contact, it’s effectively killed your connection.  So DM once again becomes a player – especially in the GDPR focused future.

The truth for most non-profits is that DM has always been king. 

The appeal cycle remains a constant stalwart of delivering fundraising success.  Why?  In part, because you’ve got your segmentation down to a fine art, in part because of your demographics (older people like the paper as this survey also quotes).  I suspect that the reason DM is so firmly fixed for fundraising is that there is no way you can risk losing out on essential income by shifting a successful model to a more trial-based dynamic approach.

There is no getting away from the fact direct mail is expensive though and while it still delivers ROI, the rising costs (postage etc) give us reason to question. There’s been a shift towards email in non-profits for e-news, and most of us have a donate now button (which is also occassionally in the e-newsletter), but for many it is an adjunct channel for fundraising, rather than the heart of fundraising operations.  Considering that email is relatively inexpensive,  this is disappointing.

Setting aside the risk element of shifting a successful DM approach to digital multi-channel, why haven’t we made more of a shift to integrating email into our appeals cycle?

For some it is going to be the time that’s a factor – to get the income in that’s needed for operations, it can be a bit of a hamster wheel (newsletter, appeal, social media, event and do it all again).

For most charities though I suspect having the right technology in place is also a factor.  Answer this question honestly, with your charities current tech set up, do you feel confident that you could deliver a seamless customer journey?

So here’s one of the challenges.  We seem prepared to invest significant funds in the infrastructure around expensive direct mail (mailing costs, printing, mailing house files, data cleaning and segmentation … ), what’s holding us back from email?

The reality is that you can deliver great journeys with even the most basic email tools (MailChimp has good functionality if you pay for their Pro edition starting from £150 per month on top of your mailing costs, Campaign Monitor offers smart automation as part of their basic package so cost depends on your contacts – in most cases it is less than MailChimp though). The challenge here is that you may need to a bit more manual work and (technical term here) playing about to get some of the stages where you want them, but it is perfectly possible to deliver a journey via email.

The theory that you can use these to start is very sound – they deliver and work. They work best when integrated with your CRM solution so you can transfer data back and forth. When your programme is proven to be successful, then the business case for moving to a more robust marketing automation solution or marketing platform becomes more watertight – and the investment in this against say the investment in your direct mail infrastructure a lot more understandable.

To get to that point though, we have to do the time.  One commodity we’re all short of.

To prove that email is as successful (or even more successful) than direct mail will take some thinking through for your organisation.

The arguments for email as part of an appeal campaign are strong – cost, relative ease of delivery.  What needs the thought is the segmentation approach – which of your constituents are you going to trial for this approach?   Of course, customer preference could – and should – come in here.

My low-risk suggestion for trialling email appeals is to look at the segmentation that is trailing off via direct mail, the least successful groups.  Or the group you exclude on cost grounds.  Narrow out your audience and trial a small segment in a different format.

You do need confidence in your data and in channels and preferences to do this, but that’s kind of a basic given for all approaches in today’s fundraising and marketing world.  This shift to multi-channel is something that many charities are needing to build towards rather than being able to deliver straight away. Many large scale commercial organisations struggle with it, and they have the resources to push this, so let’s be kinder to ourselves.  Work on data, work on preferences (we’ll have to for GDPR in any case) to get results by ‘baby-steps’.

Keep plugging away at direct mail for fundraising appeals – it still has a key place, but look at where you can diversify the costs and results from shifting to another channel.

My colleague Ian and I spoke about ways to splice and dice our data to start to use it more effectively at the IoF Fundraising Convention in 2016, so you could start by reviewing our slides. Or give us a call to ask about this and how we could deliver something similar for your organisation.

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Steps to success with Purple Vision non profit success pack partner, Purple Visiom

Steps to success with Salesforce

This blog by Purple Vision CEO, Steve Thomas, is about the new Non Profit Success Pack.  Purple Vision has been supporting charities to adopt NPSP since we became Salesforce partners in 2010.

NPSP. 

Same acronym, slightly changed name – from non-profit starter pack to non-profit success pack.

A casual observer would be forgiven for suggesting that this change, announced recently by Salesforce.org with much fanfare, is little more than a minor makeover.

The technical enhancements that accompany the name change are comparatively light additions to the established core of the product which remains unchanged. But the change is significant – we believe that this shift  recognises the maturity of (arguably) the most successful software solution ever written for non-profit organisations.

In this way, we regard the Non-profit Success Pack more as a ‘coming of age’ than an ‘upgrade.

What makes NPSP unique and valuable?

Even in the world of charities it is unusual to get something for nothing. But NPSP really is a free gift. Salesforce.org, the philanthropic arm of Salesforce.com, launched the Nonprofit Starter Pack back in 2008 as an enhancement to its previous Nonprofit Template.

Since that time they have supported the solution through substantial upgrades as well as continuous enhancement releases. NPSP can be provided pre-installed with the Power of Us donated licence programme, as well as in open source code from Github.

Perhaps more significantly, by consolidating NPSP as the de facto framework for all non-profits that use the world’s best CRM system, Salesforce.org is paving the way for a whole new phase of development that will leverage its ever-evolving technology platform.

Salesforce today is almost unrecognisable from its origins as (unsurprisingly) a sales management tool. It has become a comprehensive customer-facing technology platform with

The Non-Profit Success Pack continues to provide the essential baseline that enables all non-profits to take advantage of these features with a structured but flexible framework that models their unique needs.

connected-np

This unique approach to donated licences with an open source overlay has helped build a substantial and active community of tens of thousands of organisations that benefit from Salesforce.

With the latest facility for developers, partners, and even customers to build and customise their own apps and features, NPSP will encourage and support a future with even greater diversity, innovation and collaboration.

What does NPSP actually do?

In a nutshell – it’s a special layer on top of the core Salesforce system – a data architecture designed to meet the special needs of non-profit organisations.

The key effect of NPSP is to adapt the Salesforce focus on business-to business (B2B) activities so as to more closely resemble a business-to-consumer (B2C) model that is common to charities.

NPSP sets up structures to manage

  • the relationships between individual donors,
  • their households,
  • the organisations they are associated with.

It also establishes a standard model for

  • creating and managing pledges,
  • donations,
  • recurring gifts,
  • volunteers.

Where next?

NPSP as the standard for quality, reliability and innovation

NPSP was originally intended to provide an entry point for smaller organisations to get started with Salesforce – hence the former name Starter Pack.

Those with additional requirements take advantage of the 3000+ pre-integrated third-party applications in the Salesforce AppExchange, together with bespoke development by a growing cadre of certified developers and partners (like Purple Vision).

Crucially, the success of NPSP means that it is increasingly accepted as the standard model, providing an industry-wide benchmark for organisations of all types, sizes and geographies.

The development focus for Salesforce.org in future is to constantly reinforce the central role of NPSP whilst actively encouraging customers, partners and developers to innovate on this platform.

Examples of this in the Success Pack include new features such as:

  • personal profiling,
  • in-memoriam donations
  • in-kind donations,
  • campaign tools
  • upgrading the user interface to the latest Lightning standard,
  • enabling NPSP for more languages, starting with Spanish, German and French.

Innovating with the security of a solid platform

The flexibility of the Salesforce platform means that customisation is safe and straightforward to undertake, especially with the extensive frameworks for formal accreditation and informal learning and support. With such a large community, developments evolve in all sorts of new directions. This leads to innovative and successful outcomes but also, in some cases, organisations find themselves with a system so heavily customised that they lose some of the flexibility of a common standard architecture.

At Purple Vision we believe passionately in future-proofing solutions so that our clients retain maximum flexibility around their long-term strategic objectives. We strongly support the development of universal standards such as NPSP, which mitigate the danger of over-customisation and we have been accredited by Salesforce.org as one of just four International Impact Partners formally supporting NPSP.

Wherever possible we advocate well-built, proven apps over DIY customisation.

We have tested, installed and supported scores of AppExchange solutions and we know where they work well (and where they don’t), and whether they offer value for money. As the saying goes, we prefer “clicks not code”.

Our solutions almost always involve NPSP, and we have delivered scores of successful solutions that work very effectively within this standard.

For example:

Be a non profit success with NPSP and Salesforce.org.  

Find out more about being a Salesforce success:

Take action – get started with Salesforce NPSP and Purple Vision

Purple Vision NPSP Resources

 

 

Fundraising Tag

No, not a new game,  but maybe it could be?  Antonina Romanova, our german-speaking lead consultant headed to Germany for Purple Vision recently… 

Fundraising Tag

Over 300 representatives of non-profit organisations gathered in Potsdam and Dresden in September for Fundraising Tag. Fundraising Tag PotsdamOrganised by fundraisingmagazine.de, and supported by sponsors including Purple Vision, the days offer a mix of sessions, workshops and networking time.

A fairly standard format, but for us the exciting element was that it was in German and would give us an
opportunity to learn more about our fast-expanding customer base in Germany.

We saw these events as not just an opportunity to share our knowledge and experience but also to learn the needs and and requirements of German organisations and get a deeper  understanding of the technology and tools they use and problems they face in their day-to-day activities.

We’ve all got something in common … 

All non-profits, regardless of where they are in the world share some common factors, but it’s the specific requirements that determine best practices, internal processes, applications and solutions.  These will always be different as they depend on range of factors including market, political and economic situations as well as regulations at a market and government level too.

Of course the other major factor influencing the people, processes and technologies in non-profits around the world is the vision, mission and strategy of the organisation – which will vary widely.

In the exhibitor area of the event we were interacting with Fundraising Day attendees. We shared our experience in non-profit industry, explaining how a proper strategy and a vision in combination with modern technology solutions can lead them to a more successful fundraising and brand recognition. Together with Account Managers from Salesforce.org Christiane  and Lisa, we showed a number of people the power that Salesforce offers non-profit organisations.

Some of the common questions about Salesforce were related to various functionality modules, such as  donation management, contact management, digital marketing, event management, grants, volunteers, data protection and, of course, costs.

A number of people were excited to hear that Salesforce.org grants 10 free licenses. However, a couple of people noticed that if you need a higher number of licenses, than they become quite expensive. I should mention that Salesforce licenses are heavily discounted for non-profit organisations. But them being not entirely free means that resources are actually invested into the product development.

Network and Learn

But Fundraising days are not just about representatives from non-profit organisations talking to the exhibitors who offer various solutions and services. Fundraising days are also about learning and networking. There was a number of sessions and seminars that attendees could attend. Each seminar was dedicated to a specific area or functionality.

fr-tage-1For example, a Purple Vision speaker Klemens Karkow was talking about fundraising for small and medium clubs and associations.

Some other speakers were sharing their knowledge on how to build a successful partnership with corporate sponsors, how to better understand donors, how to work with major donors and how to benefit from social media and e-mail marketing. Each seminar provided not just a lot of content but also gave attendees an opportunity to ask their questions and get answers from the experts.

I have also attended one of the seminars. You can never know everything and I decided to use this opportunity to improve my industry knowledge. I attended a session on Practical Tips or How to Make Friends from Enemies.

It was very interesting to hear all the tips, related to organisation and contact donor journey communication. There were, however, a couple of aspects that made me think on how to bring together time proven best practices and the tendency of donors becoming more and more digital. One of the things mentioned by the presenter was that a research showed that if you send donors handwritten Thanks You letters within 7 days after the first donation, a chance to receive the next donation within 12 months is 16% higher than if you thanks them by email or print a letter and send it per post. I agree that for certain groups of donors, this will be the right approach. But if an organisation wants to attract younger donors, it should also consider other ways. And that’s were a marketing journey with 1:1 communication comes into play.

See you next time! 

I found Fundraising Days to be a great experience for non-profit organisations that could learn best practices, talk about consultancy and technical solutions to exhibitors and discuss their problems and successes with other non-profits.

2016-09-08-dresden-fundraising-tage-2At the same time it was a fantastic opportunity for Purple Vision and for me personally as it allowed us to get a better understanding of our current and future customers on the German market and learn about other solutions offered within it. As we are an independent consultancy, we should keep looking and investigating what tools are available in order to be able to offer our clients the best options.

See you at the next Fundraising Day!

 

 

Antonina is one of Purple Vision’s Lead Consultants for non-profit projects.  As well as being a Salesforce whizz, she also speaks Russian and German (hence being asked to help our German clients) and loves dancing.  She’ll be attending the next Fundraising Tag days in March.