Seven Reasons to Love the Mail

At CCAH, it’s a given that we love mail. But, shockingly, we discovered that not everyone has an innate love of one of the key methods of direct response. In the new year, we decided to set the record straight so everyone goes into 2021 loving the mail as much as we do. Here are our top 7 reasons—though there are of course MANY others…

Screen Breaks!

For many people, more time at home these days has also meant more screen time, whether it’s watching Netflix®, holding meetings on Zoom, virtual happy hours, or being glued to a news feed. That’s left many people taking “screen breaks” when they can. Mail is a great way to get your message in front of your audience without keeping their eyes on a screen.

Reinforcement

As giving expands in the digital space, direct mail still affords an opportunity to reinforce your brand and your message, even if donors who receive your mail piece ultimately choose to make their gift online. Multichannel donors tend to be the best donors, and the mail offers another chance to connect with them.

Revenue & Retention

For many organizations, direct mail still pulls in the bulk of individual donor revenue with better retention and ROI than face-to-face or digitally acquired donors.

Prime Real Estate

There is more real estate in direct mail packages, offering greater opportunity to make your case for giving, show your donors their impact, and say thank you! Content-rich, mission-focused printed material like Annual Reports, Calendars, and Newsletters are valued by donors and don’t often translate as well to the digital space.

Reach Supporters Where They Are

More folks may be at home more often, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a laptop, mobile device, or internet access. Nearly everyone has access to the mail, however. So direct mail allows you to reach more supporters who either can’t give digitally or don’t feel comfortable doing so.

Timely and Relevant Communications

The mail provides an opportunity to show appreciation for donors in these turbulent times—with nonprofits sending branded facemasks, gloves, activity books, and other useful items in the mail. According to experts, the mail is not likely to spread COVID-19. And since bulk mail stamps are machine affixed, there’s even less reason to worry.

Staying Power

People will hold onto fundraising mail to donate at the end of the month when they write out checks to pay monthly bills. We see this in the “long legs” that many direct mail campaigns have. Email doesn’t have the same staying power—it’s easy to delete or scroll past, and folks aren’t likely to sort back through old emails to donate. The bulk of email donations are made within the first few hours, but direct mail sticks around, meaning it offers two points of connection: one when a donor first receives it, and again when they return their gift several days, weeks, or even months, later!

In the end, a direct mail program is entirely what you make of it! If you use industry best practices and find the best ways to reach out to your donors where they are, mail has the chance to make all the difference for your organization. For help kick starting your direct mail program or to revamp one you already have, reach out to work with us!

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!

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

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.

Welcoming New Partners to the Fold

This Women’s History Month, we want to take a moment to celebrate some truly outstanding women making history here at CCAH.

When it comes to the question of whom I surround myself with, people often tout the benefits of surrounding yourself with those who are smarter than you, and while I think that is one key ingredient to success … I think it is more important, as the President of this company, that I am not only surrounded by smart people, but that I’m surrounded by individuals that share our collective vision for this company — a vision of where we want to go and what we want to accomplish this next decade. 

It’s critical that I surround myself with individuals that not only share our company’s vision, but those individuals who have been instrumental in getting us to where we are today — and in the continued success of this company. 

For many years, I have had the pleasure of working with the best there is.  Individuals that I consider trusted confidants, valuable sounding boards, innovative leaders, and — very importantly — friends.

So, it is my sincere honor to announce that we have four new Principals at CCAH!  Join me in congratulating the incredible women who have truly dedicated themselves to making a difference:

Chrissy Hyre, Susie DeCarlo, Brenna Holmes, and Lynn Waller.

Check out their bios on our Who We Are page to learn a bit more about each of these impressive ladies!