Client Highlight: Mercy for Animals

A team of Mercy for Animals undercover investigators is exposing the cruel and secretive factory farm and slaughterhouse industries. Last year, through the use of undercover investigations and hard-hitting advocacy work, abusers were brought to justice and major corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s were convinced to introduce sweeping animal welfare policies.

Mal Warwick | Donordigital is working with Mercy For Animals to create its direct mail program and expand online fundraising. MFA just experienced the most successful year-end fundraising season in its 16-year history, with an increase in number of gifts, response rate, and total revenue.

We worked with Mercy For Animals to brand its sustainer program “Investigation Allies” and create a series of appeals inviting supporters and advocates to become monthly donors. We also helped introduce a tracked welcome series promoting monthly giving to new advocates and supporters.

The organization now has over 1,000 sustainers, helping to fund its core programs month after month. Many sustainers made additional gifts this December thanks to targeted appeals.

Read more about MFA’s undercover investigations >>

Growing your sustainer program

Mal Warwick | Donordigital Senior Account Executive Wendy Marinaccio Husman joined forces with Jeanne Horne of Share Our Strength, to present a dynamic session on “Growing Your Sustainer Program” at Blackbaud’s BBCON 2015 in Austin in October.

The session covered numerous facets of growing a sustainer program with a discussion of strategies for retention, stewardship, and upgrades. Wendy and Jeanne outlined No Kid Hungry’s multichannel promotion of monthly giving, with efforts spanning email, online advertising, social, direct mail, and telemarketing. They provided exclusive examples for how to improve retention, create a communications calendar for monthly donors, and more.

Here are the presentation slides:

Three online strategies to improve a monthly donor sustainer program

Fresh from the 2014 Bridge to Integrated Marketing Conference in Washington D.C., I’d like to share a few digital strategies for improving your organization’s monthly giving program. I co-presented with Jeanne Horne, Senior Manger for Digital Communications at Share Our Strength, and I’ll share a few examples below of techniques Donordigital has implemented for Share Our Strength.

Monthly donor upsell lightbox

upsell-lightboxThis technique encourages single gift donors to convert their donation from a one-time gift into a monthly gift. Donors are presented with a “pop-up” lightbox while making a donation on the website, with a recommended monthly gift amount that is proportional with their intended one-time gift. If they choose to convert their donation into a monthly gift, their credit card is immediately processed with the initial sustaining gift only; if they prefer to make the one-time gift, their credit card is processed with that gift only. The process is completely secure and does not involve any additional steps for the donor—the next page is simply a thank-you page.

Donordigital has tested this lightbox technique to ensure that they do not significantly increase donation form abandonment. We have found that this technique increases the number of monthly gifts collected via a website donation form above simply including a monthly giving checkbox on the form. For Share Our Strength’s current campaign, the lightbox is mobile optimized and also mentions the $100 match offered by the Arby’s Foundation for each new monthly donor.

Upgrade request to current sustainers

Increase your monthly gift email topIt’s important to ask current monthly donors to upgrade their gifts after they’ve participated as a monthly donor for some time. We recommend asking at least once per year—but waiting at least four months after activation to request an upgraded gift. Of course, prior to this request, you need to ensure you’ve properly stewarded your monthly donors.

When requesting an upgrade, it’s best to choose a specific upgrade amount based on the current monthly gift amount. We created a special field in the database to house the requested upgrade amount so that we’re able to use it in donor communications. We also created a special form on the email landing page so that the donor would not need to re-enter their credit card information to upgrade their giving—saving hassle for the donor as well as eliminating the hassle of duplicated monthly gifts for Share Our Strength.

Triggered email series to prevent attrition due to credit card issues

Please come back Hunger Core triggered emailOne of the most difficult issues with a monthly giving program is involuntary attrition as a result of credit card expiration and re-issuing. Donordigital worked with Share Our Strength to create a triggered email series for monthly donors whose cards were about to expire, whose cards just expired or were not charged because of another issue, and donors whose cards lapsed several months ago. These messages are launched automatically on a rolling basis and direct people to call the donor services line or make a gift online if they prefer.

Jeanne and I will present more information about these ideas in August at the DMA New York Nonprofit Conference. If you can’t make it to the conference, you can still view our slides from Play it again, Sam: Monthly giving programs for sustaining donations ‘As Time Goes By.’

Donordigital can help your organization craft a monthly donor strategy, implement that strategy, and/or complete projects like the above and more. We love giving advice and can let you know what we think would help your organization the most.

photo-thumbnail-wendyWendy Marinaccio Husman is a Senior Account Executive at Donordigital, the  online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company.

No Kid Hungry grows its monthly giving club with an integrated marketing campaign

During the month of April 2013, Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign grew its monthly giving club, The Hunger Core, by over 300 new members. The Hunger Core now boasts more than 2,500 members for the first time!

Donordigital and Mal Warwick Associates worked with No Kid Hungry to create a month-long multi-channel campaign. Efforts spanned email, web, social media, direct mail, and telemarketing and were integrated wherever possible. For example, for the group that was receiving a phone call asking them to renew their monthly donation, those with email addresses on file received an email message beforehand alerting them that they would be called the next week and inviting them to give online instead. Those who responded were then suppressed from the telemarketing campaign and those who didn’t were primed for their phone call. Prospects receiving the mail piece received an email message three days after the mail drop that referenced the direct mail package and let them know they could also give online.

Throughout the campaign, we targeted audiences with slightly different messaging. Segments of non-donors and current or former single gift donors were asked to join The Hunger Core with a monthly gift, lapsed Hunger Core members were asked to renew their monthly giving, and current Hunger Core donors were asked to upgrade their monthly gift amount. We suppressed anyone who joined The Hunger Core in the three months prior to the campaign as well as anyone who had called the No Kid Hungry offices with an issue with their Hunger Core membership.

Before embarking on this campaign, we conducted donation form optimization tests on the monthly giving donation form to ensure it was achieving the best possible conversion rate. Other special features of the campaign included a “monthly donor upsell lightbox” added to the main donation page on the website, which provided single gift donors the option to convert their gift into a monthly donation with a simple click of the mouse. We also tested a Facebook Custom Audiences ad campaign for Hunger Core recruitment, targeting online donors that we matched within Facebook. That campaign recruited new monthly donors at a cost comparable to other channels. Finally, we created a thermometer on the donation page that tracked new Hunger Core members throughout the month.

The consistent support made possible by monthly giving is making it possible for No Kid Hungry to aggressively pursue its mission of ending childhood hunger in America by connecting kids with healthy food where they live, learn and play.

Build a robust monthly giving program for long-term growth

Organizations with robust monthly giving programs fared much better during the recent economic downturn than those with stagnant programs.   The most profitable programs have specifically harnessed the online medium to recruit, cultivate, retain and upgrade their monthly donors.

My colleague Mwosi Swenson and I presented examples of robust monthly giving programs in July 2011 at the Direct Marketing Association of Washington-Association of Fundraising Professionals Bridge Conference at a session entitled “Anatomy of Hot Monthly Giving Programs,” as we were joined by colleagues from PETA and the Human Rights Campaign.

These two dynamic monthly donor programs incorporate some of the following techniques to keep growing their file:

  • Rolling online campaigns inviting recent donors and non-donor action takers to become sustainers.  The messages highlight the urgency of why sustainers are needed “for the long haul,” and why monthly giving is the best way to support a cause
  • Create month-long “campaigns” to recruit and upgrade
  • Monthly giving opt-in option on donation pages (especially renewal campaigns) and links from offline campaigns Monthly giving option on every donation page
  • Feature monthly giving button on the homepage (in addition to Donate Now button)
  • Use email to capture declined credit cards … making it easy for the donor to update information and fulfill the gift … using a Netflix-like declined credit card message.  Make it easy!
  • Use a hot premium to secure the upgrade from current sustainers

With year-end planning happening now, it’s important to not forget how monthly giving strategy plays in with these plans.  Even subtle opportunities to offer the monthly giving option can go far in building a robust program for long-term growth.

Dave Dogan is Vice President of Client Services at Mal Warwick Associates, Donordigital’s sister company.  Dave has two decades of experience directing the membership and fundraising programs of progressive nonprofit organizations from both the agency and the client side.