Personal touch works

COVID19 nonprofit fundraising response

Work from home is the new norm, at least on LinkedIn. There are benefits but we have growing concerns. In a recent conversation with a Nonprofit representative, I was welcomed to the challenges of being a working mother.

“With all the work from home, work never stops. The calls go on sometimes till 9 PM because hey you at home and nowhere to go. I have a young kid and a family to take care, cook, make sure the home is in order while I am working for my Nonprofit organization.”

I thanked myself for having a comfortable life in this extended partial lockdown.

“Corporate donors that may have provided employee campaign donations and corporate sponsorship might now be out of business forever or at least have their charitable checkbooks firmly closed,” reported NYN Media.

Like almost every other business, Nonprofits adopted a new way of living in the COVID19 world by adopting digital. The consumer had made the choice and she wanted to be informed, find out how her favorite Nonprofit organization was making difference and how she can do the same. The consumer wanted to listen more than ever from the Nonprofits.

Personal interaction matters

Data from Bloomerang shows that the donors wanted to hear from their Nonprofits. Personal interactions increased engagement and donations. While there is a belief that people are not giving during such tough times but surprisingly people have been more than willing to help in their capacity. 

A random sampling of about 4,000 Bloomerang customers found that those who reached out to donors personally (phone, email, text, in-person) in March and April 2020 saw significant year over year increases in revenue compared to those who didn’t. The same trends followed in for the month of May 2020.

See the below screenshot.

As you can see, In-Person interactions(video calls) made the biggest difference, followed by phone calls. What is also noteworthy that both these mediums were also not utilised - 74% Did Not Call and 82% Did Not Interact.

Another noteworthy data point is that 42% of Nonprofits avoided the personal email interactions and their revenue was down by 27%. While 58% of the largest percentage trusting the medium saw an uptake of 10% of revenues.

According to NextAfter: The number of emails being sent each week has been steadily increasing. 49% of the emails sent included some form of Solicitation, followed by Cultivation and Engagement (43%) and Newsletter (7.5%). After March 2020, that is when the world was hit by COVID19, saw a jump of 64% of Solicitation emails mentioning about the pandemic.

NextAfter defines Cultivation and Solicitation in the below manner.

  • Cultivation - An email like a story, newsletter, update, video, etc. It could ask you to take an action like volunteer, sign a petition, or advocate for the organization in some way other than donating. 

  • Solicitation - The main purpose of this email is to get you to do something tied to money like donate, purchase a product, or fundraise.

The below screengrab shows you how the purpose of the email has varied across each vertical. “The verticals that are directly dealing with COVID-19 such as Health, Human Services, and Public Policy are sending more solicitations than any other messaging type while many others seem to be emphasizing cultivation efforts. The environment seems to be the only outlier,” says NextAfter.

But has the average number of gifts changed?

According to NextAfter, the number of gifts being given online has seen a decline post-April. This when the US economy started feeling the heat. However Poverty-focused organizations have seen gift volume nearly double. The Education-focused organizations in the benchmark had an emphasis on online-learning which is likely the reason behind their increases. Faith-based Nonprofits are the worst hit.

Don’t wait. Reach out to your donors

It isn’t late and this is your best time to reach out to your donors. Obviously, they won’t respond if you pick up the phone and try to tell how you need their hard-earned money. Probably you will be blocked next time. So here is a simple way of reaching out to your donors:

  • Open your email provider and find out who is your active donors. Or just make a list of the people who open your emails actively. It won’t be a big list but your job is to trust in the quality and not on quantity.

  • Pick 5 of them and draft simple personal emails telling them why you need their help and not their money. Do it every day and target 50 in the first batch of this activity. Even if 10 respond then be very happy and if 5 do then don’t be sad. You have broken the clutter.

  • Convince the interested people for a video call or a phone call. Listen to them, find what they are doing and how can they be a part of your COVID19 fundraising work. Can they start a personal campaign for your NGO? If not can they spread the word about the work you are doing? The idea is to convert your donors into brand advocates. 

  • Once you have 10 brand advocates, do a zoom call and give a platform to them to speak. Spread the word on social media, everyone loves a little bit of fame and love. This is how you start building and engaging with your community.

  • Have you roped in your employees? They are your biggest asset can they start personal fundraising or spread the word. There would be few waiting to join once you show the way forward.

  • Try reaching out to your donors on Whatsapp and see what is the response. Make sure you have a simple conversation. Don’t send a marketing message. Explore this once you see some traction. If you already have a Whatsapp Donors group then you already know where to start from. If not then depending on your results you can think of creating one. Just don’t misuse, mobile is a very personal space.

The above steps look easy but they require patience and the conversion rate will be always low. Don’t worry they will give you compound returns going forward.

In the times of automation, I understand that personalization has taken a back step. But from my experience, I am vouching that a personal message still does the magic. For my ongoing personal COVID19 fundraising - I wrote a blog post, posted on social media, and did videos. Social media organic reach is negligible and especially when everyone is raising funds it becomes impossible to break the clutter. Besides I am no social media celebrity or influencer. 

I crafted a simple message and shared with my close circles with a big personalization on Instagram DMs, LinkedIn Messaging, and Whatsapp. 30 minutes every day for a week and after 3 weeks, I am happy to say that people have contributed more than 52,000/- (I have to check for the latest figures). So if an idiot and a lazy man like me can do it then Nonprofits you guys can do way better. Make an effort, show them you care.

Your donors are waiting to hear from you. The personal touch works.

P.S. In the last three weeks, dear ladies and gents you have donated more than ₹52,000/- to my personal ongoing fundraising COVID-19 campaign. Thank You! Sorry for spamming you enough on your social networks and inbox. If you want to contribute then here it is: Donation Link