Thanks(for)giving

You take great pains to add a new donor to your file… And then what? It’s so important to make a donor feel welcomed and thanked! In addition to making them feel like a part of your organization, a thank-you can also serve as their tax receipt. And acknowledgement programs are not just good for donor relations, they can also benefit your organization!

Not only is it a best practice to send a follow-up thanking donors for their contributions, whether online or through the mail (or both!), sending a thank-you note also gives donors another opportunity to give. And it’s not too soon to ask—remember recency is the strongest indicator of likelihood of next action, in this case, to make another gift.

By reducing time to next gift, you’re able to upgrade donors into “multi-giver” status, grooming their giving habits before they become too solidified and tying them more closely to your organization and mission, and making them more likely to become long-term donors.

Acknowledgements also give you a great opportunity to create multichannel donors. Whether you’re including online gifts in your direct mail acknowledgments program (if you don’t already, start doing this!) or sending an email thank you to offline donors (food for thought: how often and quickly do you add emails and sync offline giving into your eCRM?), acknowledgements are an easy way to reach donors across platforms so they have multiple ways to interact with your organization. And, if they reply to an acknowledgment sent in a channel different from the channel in which they made their original gift, they have now raised their hand to receive communication through that medium as well.

It’s no surprise that multichannel donors are some of the best donors an organization can have, so it’s worthwhile to integrate acknowledgments and update your data infrastructure to allow it!

Now for some specifics:

  • To really cement a new donor’s relationship with your organization, try creating a welcome kit to acknowledge first time donors and ask for a second gift. These touchpoints, often direct mail packages, can include lots of information pertinent to new donors—brochures about programs and impact, an explanation of your monthly giving program, information about estate planning for future gifts, and even a member card! Welcome kits are a great way to show new donors that you appreciate their contribution to your organization. Welcome kits can be totally digital too—how are you sending your welcome to new donors over email? Organizations often send  a “kit” spread out over several emails, but you can also create a “supporter hub” landing page where new donors can find all that information in a single location.
  • Once donors are on your file, don’t be afraid to include an ask in your acknowledgments. Keep it soft, and make sure the focus of your copy is on saying thank you, but when given another opportunity—many donors will take you up on it and send an additional contribution!
  • No one has ever said, “stop thanking me so much”, so once you’ve made a basic program turnkey, test expanding your acknowledgments to include other channels like phone (think thank-a-thons, and prerecorded thank you messages from staff or your board) and SMS. Remember: peer-to-peer texting doesn’t require a previous opt-in, so you can text donors a short thank you and then ask them to opt-in for additional updates! (Though if you want to truly grow your SMS program, add an opt-in to your donation forms and reply devices to collect them upfront.)

Investing in an acknowledgement program is a necessity, not only for tax liability purposes and donor transparency, but also to constantly work toward building a better supporter experience and cultivating life-long relationships with your donors. Reach out to CCAH to work with us, and we’ll help you determine the best way to tell your donors Thanks(for)giving!

Brenna Holmes Selected for DMAW Board

We are very proud to announce our partner & SVP Brenna Holmes has been elected to the 2021-2022 DMAW Board of Directors. The Direct Marketing Association of Washington provides education, networking, and professional development programs to help foster a vibrant, growing, supportive, and informed direct response fundraising and marketing community.

At CCAH, Brenna became a partner this year, teaches in our “MBA” continuing education program for our staff members, and regularly speaks at conferences to help share what she’s learned with our larger direct response community.

In her eleven years here, she built our digital program from the ground up, and we know that with a position on the DMAW Board, she will bring the same energy and enthusiasm to helping shape the future of their educational programing.

Brenna is dedicated to bringing more multimedia, data savvy, and technical content to complement the already exceptional marketing and creative-based trainings that DMAW offers to its members. We could not be more proud and excited for Brenna in her newest endeavor in joining the DMAW Board, and we are excited to continue to have her expertise and dedication here at CCAH. Congratulations to Brenna Holmes!

We Changed Our Name!

On behalf of Jim Hussey and Lon Chapman, it is with excitement and pride that we announce that Jenny Allen has been made a name partner and moving forward our firm will be called Chapman Cubine Allen + Hussey!

Jenny has been an integral part of the growth and success of CCAH these past several years.  She has helped drive the diversification of our client base as well as the expansion of our digital, analytical, and database services.  Jenny is known as a creative powerhouse. 

Jenny is as passionate a person as you will find.  She is devoted to the missions of the organizations that CCAH represents, and her clients consider her a friend in addition to a trusted counselor.  Her ethics are unimpeachable, and her sense of humor and salty vernacular make working with her fun.  

She is a true leader at our company and has earned her place on the masthead.

Please join me and the rest of the CCAH family in celebrating our newest name partner, Jenny Allen.

Chapman Cubine Allen and Hussey

AAPC Names Chrissy Hyre to 40 Under 40 List for 2020

Each year, the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) selects some of the best in our nation’s political business community to honor on their 40 Under 40 list, recognizing their leadership and innovation. This year CCAH is fortunate enough to have one of our own on that list – Ms. Chrissy Hyre.

Chrissy was nominated for the award by a fellow CCAH employee, Catherine Algieri. Chrissy and Catherine have been working together since 2018, when Chrissy was Catherine’s consultant for her work at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Catherine has since joined the CCAH team to head our new political digital program and, in her words, “realized I didn’t know the half of what Chrissy brings to the table.”

Chrissy’s work to expand the use of telemarketing programs in progressive political campaigns has helped her to make millions of voter contacts for candidates like Andrew Gillum for Governor and Kamala Harris for President, as well as for politically motivated organizations like Collective PAC and Citizen Action. She paved the way for peer-to-peer mobile platforms like Hustle and Get Thru to work with telemarketing firms and utilize live operators that would allow organizations and candidates to dramatically scale up their engagement efforts over SMS.

Chrissy wasn’t always planning on innovating the world of political fundraising; in college, she initially registered as a musical theatre major. The common thread between her aspirations as a thespian and her work now as a consultant? Vulnerability. According to Chrissy: “We ask our clients to put an incredible amount of trust in us … so we need to show up in a really authentic way to build those relationships.”

In that spirit, Chrissy’s work in the industry of political consulting has been nothing short of visionary. As an inventive team player, Chrissy has earned accolades from her clients, business contacts, and here at CCAH, where she was made a partner in March of this year. We are so glad that the AAPC has recognized her hard work by adding her to their 40 Under 40 list, and we look forward to honoring her future accomplishments. Congratulations, Chrissy!

Fundraising During This Time of Turmoil

In times of upheaval, it’s not unusual for a nonprofit organization or a political candidate to temporarily suspend their fundraising solicitations.

During my 35-year career, I have witnessed several events that triggered many nonprofit causes to take such action, including 9/11 and the beginning of the great recession in 2008. 

However, the year 2020 is prompting a reaction previously unseen within the fundraising industry.

Jim Hussey, Chairman

The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic downturn caused many organizations to suspend their fundraising campaigns in March. Unlike the fundraising suspensions in 2001 and 2008, these interruptions were … and for some continue to be … much longer.

Following the onset of the coronavirus crisis, the murder of George Floyd was the catalyst for a new wave of protests in cities from New York to Los Angeles and everywhere in between – another reason to reevaluate fundraising campaigns.

And 2020 is far from over. The remainder of the year promises even more turbulence.

In addition to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus, the troubling and divisive political situation within the nation guarantees even more tumult, especially during the final quarter of this year. The election in November, as well as its lead up and aftermath, may be the most politically contentious period in modern American history.

So what do we do? Should nonprofit organizations constantly suspend and revive their fundraising efforts with each new, dramatic event? No.

For the sake of the causes we care about, we must continue on the path forward and push through the storms we are facing. We must carry on.

Even the temporary suspension of solicitation efforts can set your program behind by months or even years. A fundraising program is like a train … once stopped, it takes much time and effort to restart it and get up to speed.

In addition to the immediate loss of income, the suspension of donor acquisition efforts will cause attrition, instigating major downturns in your donor file that will further impact your efforts in future years.

Control packages and language atrophy without the constant testing necessary to keep them viable, necessitating further testing and smaller rollouts when the program is reinstated, until confidence in the market is rebuilt.

Decisions to suspend fundraising often come from outside the development office, by supervisors who too often are cynical about fundraising, and view it as a necessary evil.

More must be done to educate our nonprofit leaders that fundraising is about more than asking someone for money. It’s about empowering the donor and providing them with a chance to address an issue which is important to them. Suspending fundraising operations denies them that opportunity.

Nonprofit leaders often believe they are doing a favor for their donors by giving them a break. In reality, the donors probably don’t notice. But once loyal donors move on to other organizations that are less reluctant to ask for their involvement and help, and it is incredibly difficult to bring them back to the fold.

It’s best to address major events directly. If everyone’s attention is directed toward a particular issue … acknowledge it in your copy.

Don’t ignore the elephant in the room.

Your donors will not be angry with you for continuing to advocate for an issue that is important to you both, even in difficult times.

How are you fundraising right now? We’d love to hear how your organization has been reacting to and coping with 2020’s current events. Tell us in the comments!

Fundraising During a Pandemic – Tips & Considerations for Donor Selections

As we enter the third month of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have settled into a new normal and accepted the crisis as the surround sound of their missions. CCAH, in partnership with our clients, has adjusted and is continuing to readjust revenue projections and expectations. We are closely scrutinizing incoming returns from outbound solicitations.

For those organizations not directly impacted or serving beneficiaries impacted by the pandemic, there may be a temptation to scale back fundraising asks of their donors. Most organizations recognize this is not a prudent approach for the long-term viability of serving their missions, and CCAH strongly counsels against the exclusion of efforts, or cutting back too severely.

Is there a middle ground? Can organizations continue to solicit donations from their donors, while at the same time acknowledging not all donors on their file have the capacity or interest to give right now?

Yes! You can find donors who are willing and able to help you continue furthering your mission. We suggest targeting those house file donors that are the most in love with you. But how do you know who they are? 

We recommend considering some of these selection criteria to choose your donors:

Donors who have given for 5 or more years consecutively to your organization – including this year

Within this group, further identify the long-on-file (example, 10+ years), highly consistent donors (giving 75% or more of the time they have been on your file) with a lifetime revenue of perhaps $1,200+. Consider using as many channels as possible: SMS, phone, and/or email, connecting with them in much the same way you would with family and friends. Send an affirmative message showing you care such as: “these are uncertain times, we hope you’re doing okay” to solidify your donors’ relationship with your organization.

New donors acquired after March 17, 2020

Also, consider adjusting the new donor onboarding and the acknowledgement language new donors receive during this crisis. Adjust messaging to reflect the current environment (e.g. make sure it’s not just the normal welcome series, since that may not sound authentic to new donors at this time).

Lapsed Donors

Typically, reinstated lapsed donors tend to be more valuable than newly acquired donors.

As such, re-prioritize the more recently lapsed (like 13-36 months lapsed donors) and focus on those who were multi-year consecutive donors before they lapsed. Where possible, further refine by focusing on those who have been on your database for a substantial period of time (consider 7+ years), and who had given a cumulative amount of $100 or more. We recommend removing any new or reactivated donors who lapsed again.

Target these lapsed donors via SMS, ads, and email where possible. Multichannel contacts will increase the rate of conversions. 

Sustainers

Target committed donors who, after becoming a sustainer, have given additional one-time donations. Do you know who these sustainers are? If not, find them.

They are some of your best donors! Consider narrowing this selection further to the time period after March 17, 2020. 

Identify those sustainers who voluntarily upgraded their monthly committed amount, has anyone done this after March 17, 2020? Then identify monthly donors who converted to giving monthly donations after making one-time gifts for a significant period of time (like 7+ years) or maybe even those who have been on your database for 10 or more years in totality.

Other Donor Constituencies for Selection:

  • Donors who have given in the last 18 months and have returned a completed mail survey (digital survey completion as secondary)
  • Donors who volunteered their change of address (not auto-NCOA updated)
  • Multichannel donors who have given to two or more channels both this year and last year
  • Active (0-18 month) donors who are also coded as:
    • Active Advocates
    • Fundraising on the behalf of the organization
    • Current Volunteers
  • Donors donating using alternate payment methods:
    • Donor Advised Funds               
    • Family Foundations
    • Stocks

As we navigate this uncertain time, it’s important to make informed choices that best serve the overall missions of our clients. While we need to be mindful of the environment we are mailing within, we can use careful donor selection as an opportunity to keep the best donors involved and keep striving toward organizational goals.

Who are the donors you have identified as your strongest supporters, or do you need help finding them? We’re happy to help, reach out and work with us!

CCAH has a long history of working remotely

Around the world, businesses have been forced to deal with the coronavirus crisis and learn how to operate remotely from the homes of their employees. This has been an intense struggle for companies that had little experience with telecommuting before Covid19 quickly and unexpectedly reshaped the economic landscape.

However, Chapman Cubine and Hussey was well prepared when the time arrived to begin working remotely because our firm has a long history of allowing employees to work remotely.

Jim Hussey, Chairman

CCAH began telecommuting in 1997 when a valued staffer moved to San Francisco from our original base in Washington, DC. We decided we could not live without her and took advantage of the then new-fangled Internet to see if someone could work remotely, away from our office.

We quickly learned that this new technique not only allowed our firm to hold onto valued staff, but that telecommuting was an indispensable tool to improve our services and grow our company. Within two years, our use of telecommuting quickly developed into a fully staffed West Coast operation that opened new markets for talented employees and new clients.

We soon also realized that this new technology allowed us to tap into employment talent pools in every corner of the United States, hiring excellent employees who were previously considered out-of-reach because they were not within commuting distance of Washington, DC or San Francisco.

Today, 23 years after we began the use of telecommuting, a large percentage of our staff works remotely full time and part time from their homes (as I am today from Connecticut). In fact, we have staff in 14 states!

So when we made the decision in mid-March to send the entire staff home to work remotely, all of the necessary systems were in place. Our IT staff already had two decades of expertise, the infrastructure was ready to go, each employee had their own company-issued laptop, and we were highly-experienced with teleconferencing amongst ourselves and our clients.

As a result, the work of our 120 employees continues forward, uninterrupted. Our hospital and health oriented clients must raise even more money than before. Older Americans and others in need are desperate for help. Elections still must be won. Rights must be protected. Abused animals still need our help. And the work of our many other charitable clients must go on. 

And as long as it is necessary, the employees of CCAH will continue working from our homes to ensure that the funding for these worthy causes continues to flow.