F&P’s Fiona Atkinson shares her digital fundraising insights from a morning spent with some of the best fundraising minds in the NFP sector.
On 7 October, digital strategy agency, ntegrityhosted a special event for its clients and partners featuring the themes of perseverance, leadership & culture, digital innovation and wellness. The event was called ntegrity nrich and I was lucky enough to score an invite.
There was an air of excitement – about digital innovation spurred on by two years of COVID-19 and what is possible for the future – and speakers were generous in the knowledge and wisdom they imparted to the many curious delegates in the room. Here I share the gems and insights I took away from a digital fundraising perspective.
FROM HERE TO THERE
Richenda Vermeulen, integrity
Richenda is the founder and CEO of ntegrity, an agency she established in 2012 following her role as Social Media Manager at World Vision. It is fair to say she has been on a journey of discovery over the last decade, growing a team that has deservedly built a reputation for digital brilliance and understanding the unique needs of each nonprofit client.
Before I dive into the sessions from some of the day’s NFP guest stars, I will share this pearl of wisdom from Richenda:
“NFPs exist because they are quintessentially market-led. Every time there are gaps, nonprofits are the ones who fill them. You exist because there is need. And if not you, then who?”
A FOUR-YEAR JOURNEY TO GROW REGULAR GIVING THROUGH CULTURAL CHANGE
Rochelle Nolan – National Manager, Strategic Fundraising, Lifeline
I saw Rochelle present a session about Lifeline’s tremendous regular giving (RG) program at this year’s FIA conference, and she wrote about it for our most recent magazine, but I will never get tired of this story.
The approach that Rochelle and the Lifeline team took to growing RG is super-smart, cost effective and it just makes so much sense! And, in the words of Jonathon Grapsas, who nominated Rochelle as a 2022 F&P Mover & Shaker“I can safely say she is one of the brightest and most talented fundraisers in Australia.”
Here is what I gleaned from Rochelle’s brilliant knowledge and enthusiasm for all things RG on this occasion…
Despite high brand-awareness, cognisance around the need for funding has not historically been strong for Lifeline (prior to Rochelle and her team’s magic touch of course!). There was (and to a degree, still is) a widespread belief that the organisation is fully government-funded. It is not.
The need is undisputed. In 2020, 3139 people in Australia died by suicide. On just one day alone – New Year’s Day 2022 – Lifeline’s phone lines received more than 3700 calls. The organisation does receive some government support, but it falls well short of the cost of meeting a rapidly increasing need, especially in the wake of COVID-19.
Then and now
In 2018, Lifeline’s fundraising was around $5 million, mostly from one-off corporate partners. Income for FY22 was $18.7 million. There were 2137 active RGs, bringing in just over $60,000 a month and $721,000 annually. Today, there are more than 4300 active RGs donating $115,524 a month and $1.38 million a year. And the team is feeling confident about achieving their goals of 10,000 RGs by 2025, bringing in $3.8 million of a $25 million fundraising budget.
So what has changed? Rochelle explains.
- Fundraising was moved up the agenda – the fundraising lead was added to the Exec and the new CEO recognised fundraising as the crucial entity that it is. Rochelle was also able to convince the board to invest in RG, even though they would not see a return for almost three years.
- They were realistic – about the fact that change would take time. That striving for perfection would be the enemy of progress (and so they were prepared to test, fail and learn). And that they were (in the words of Lifeline CEO Colin Seery), “Building the plane as we were flying it.” They knew it was a long game and this helped them be strategic.
- They overhauled their telemarketing (TM) activity – and the first thing the team did was to change the ask strategy, using cold lists and moving to an RG ask, with a cash single gift as a fallback (the ask for a single gift had previously been the first ask). They changed the pledge response mechanism from an uninspiring letter with cut-off coupon to a full A4 response mechanism. They allocated specific (confident) callers to donors with a value over $100. They continue to regularly tweak TM scripts. Within 12 months, performance lifted dramatically. The team was spending the same as before — $8.20 a call — but instead of getting a one-off $30 cash gift that they had to spend another $8.20 to get again six weeks later, they were getting a $22 RG gift.
- They trained their telefundraisers – celebrating high achievers and sharing the wins.
- They invested in digital – the team developed a Value Exchange (ValEx) called The Care Kit to generate a viable volume of digital leads for conversion to RG. The Care Kit took learnings from Lifeline’s crisis support training and distilled them into a handy pocket fold-out guide that provides steps for helping someone in crisis. The aim of the ValEx trial was to generate 674 new RGs and determine whether the product had long-term viability. The media strategy was to run six or seven adverts on Facebook featuring a mix of photos and illustrations, along with a small snapshot of the Care Kit. The initiative recruited 708 new RGs, at a CPA of $314, with a 12-month ROI of 0.68.
- They prioritised retention – starting with the belief that EOFY is more than just a receipt. Today, EOFY receipts are emailed with a thank you video. Next, the team introduced welcome calls and a welcome pack, and they have also started implementing onboarding email journeys and SMS which reflect channel of acquisition and what proposition donors signed up to.
- They continue to test and expand – making sure that the complexities they add are a good return on effort.
Trust me, that is just a snapshot! There is much more to be inspired and informed by in the Lifeline RG strategy. Head on over to Rochelle’s article (F&P subscriber content) and have a read of it all!
Rochelle is now Individual Giving Manager at Breast Cancer Trials.
DIGITAL CONTENT AND THE INTERSECTION OF MARKETING & PROGRAMMING
Kelly Hawthorne – Director of Health Content, Movember Foundation
Ophelie Lechat, ntegrity
This November, over 4000 moustaches will sprout across the world as Movember supporters nurture their facial hair, host a ‘Mo-ment’ fundraising event, ‘Move for Movember’ (a walking/running challenge) or ‘Mo their own way’ with their own fundraising challenge.
What started in 2003 as a fun way to talk about men’s health, has become one of the most globally-recognised fundraising campaigns (for prostate and testicular cancers, men’s mental health and suicide prevention), raising over $1 billion from 6.6 million fundraisers since inception.
As the organisation has grown, so too has the programs of support it offers. Speaking to this aspect of the organisation’s operations, Kelly referred to two programs that illustrate the impact of search engine optimisation.
NUTS & BOLTS
Nuts & Bolts is a dedicated Movember microsite that provides tools for people affected by testicular cancer to confidently handle their cancer journey.
ntegrity were tasked with the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for the campaign and before I launch into that, I will share a couple of pointers from Ophelie:
- Put very simply, SEO is the way people find your organisation on the internet.
- SEO is a game-changer in the nonprofit space because it is a way of reading people’s minds, especially when it comes to private questions people are not comfortable asking their peers.
Ophelie and her colleagues faced a number of challenges and opportunities for Nuts & Bolts and they are good examples of the factors you should consider when embarking on SEO:
- Small audience pool: there are fewer searches about testicular cancer than other cancers.
- Specific focus: the team was not talking about general facts, but rather directly addressing men with testicular cancer.
- Brand new product, brand new site (no organic search history).
- Ability to work with the Nuts & Bolts team to make sure the site was search-optimised from launch.
- Leveraging the established Movember.com domain and benefitting from that authority.
- Working closely with subject matter experts (SME) on long-form content that truly addresses the needs of people with testicular cancer.
- Interviewing men with testicular cancer to deeply understand their needs and questions.
- 75% search increase over 12 months compared to Movember’s previous testicular cancer-focused product.
- Both Movember and ntegrity are rightly proud of the high quality and helpful articles and content featured on the Nuts & Bolts site.
- Keyword research is feeding insights to the Nuts & Bolts team on what supporters of men with testicular cancer are looking for.
Family Man is a research-backed online parenting program designed with dads in mind. Of the people who complete parenting programs, only 20% are men. Movember decided to provide an animated, ‘choose your own adventure’ style parenting program to engage this demographic.
- This time, the ntegrity team was working with a product that was already live, which meant that they had limited opportunity to ‘shape’ the site (which also had some technical issues).
- The Family Man experience is built around an interactive course, which is not very search-friendly.
- Global approach: there are different pages addressed at different locations, one of the most challenging factors in search optimisation.
- Leveraging existing research and adapting it to long-form, search-friendly articles.
- Identifying questions that are front of mind for parents and offering SME-backed information in a way that works (in the real world!).
- Collaborating closely with Movember’s technical teams to identify and resolve issues: WIP meetings, Slack, working sessions.
The first step was looking at the content, identifying the questions that content answers and making that visible. Because, as Ophelie says, “What good is this content, if no one will ever find it?”
When Movember think of new topics to explore, they typically have a wide range of experts to tell them what is evidence-based, and they also talk to their users to ask what topics they should address next.
Once a topic is embedded, ntegrity puts together a content outline which is approved by Movember and its experts – the content must be high-quality and trusted. Remember, the number 1 factor Google looks for when ranking sites is quality content.
And what is quality content?
- Long-form content: 1200+ words.
- Well researched, featuring named experts and links from trusted research websites.
- A beautiful look and feel.
Big thanks again to ntegrity for inviting me along to this insightful event. Next week I’ll share how The Salvation Army digitally transformed, how Vision Australia achieved organisational digital unity, and how the Good Friday Appeal implemented new digital tactics during their COVID-pivot.
To read about ntegrity’s Childhood Rescue campaign with World Vision – an initiative aimed at younger donors – click here.