Dems Defy Midterms Conventional Wisdom

With the polls all over the place these last weeks, it was hard to know which end was up. But when everything shook out, one thing was clear: Democrats defied expectations and there was no “red wave” or Trump-dominated victories. As Stephen Colbert said, it was more of a “pink trickle.”

House Republicans are still trying to figure out how they can govern, given their caucus of conspiracy-theorists, election deniers, and the Trump gold standard – Marjorie Taylor Greene. Meanwhile, Democrats have big plans for the Lame Duck session and our Senate majority in the new year. Not to mention the key Georgia Senate run-off coming up on December 6.

So, while the dust is settling, I want to highlight some big wins that we are celebrating. First, two Democratic women were elected governor for the first time in New York and Massachusetts, and Democrat Wes Moore is the first Black person to be elected governor of Maryland. 

CCAH congratulates our partners for their hard work in these races:

EMILY’s List, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Governors Association, NAACP LDF, and LCV Give Green.

We congratulate Senator Michael Bennet on his reelection. And a huge thank you to Rep. Val Demings for her hard-fought race in Florida and also to Cheri Beasley and Marcus Flowers for their dogged pursuit of democracy against Trump-endorsed candidates.

A big shout-out to my CCAH colleagues across all departments who, through it all, dealt with impossible deadlines and last-minute edits due to political winds changing, as our political clients fought for the soul of our nation. No pressure! 

These midterm elections will echo for generations to come, as we literally rewrote the political status quo. I’m so proud to work with our clients and colleagues to keep fighting for progress, equality, and a strengthened democracy for this country that we love.

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Look for us Here: Nonprofit Fundraising and Marketing Conferences to Mark on your Calendar

CCAH is excited to be able to attend, sponsor (and present at!) several conferences during the remainder of the year.

We hope these are on your list as well!

Tech Forward Conference

CCAH is proud to sponsor TechImpact’s conference in Denver, Colorado taking place next week, September 18 – 20. VP Digital Services Dave Onate and Principal & SVP Brenna Holmes will be there, so if you are in or near Denver, join us & register! And while it’s last minute, CCAH has one last free pass available for a nonprofit attendee, so if you’re interested, email Brenna today!

Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization Summit (NIO)

Principal and SVP Brenna Holmes is excited to attend this for the second year! This multi-day summit is a premier online fundraising conference for those looking to grow their programs and embrace innovation.

She hopes to see you in Kansas City, MO, next week, September 20 – 23. but if you can’t make it, they offer a FREE virtual livestream option too!

Webinar: State of the Nonprofit Industry: Digital Solutions for Your Multichannel Fundraising Challenges

This Webinar hosted by Wiland will be held on September 27 and will feature a presentation by CCAH’s Principal and SVP Brenna Holmes on the power of multimedia digital to drive revenue across channels. Register and mark your calendar today!

Webinar: ANA Nonprofit Federation Fundamentals of Fundraising

Catch CCAH Principal and SVP Chrissy Hyre presenting on SMS fundraising at ANA’s multi-day virtual workshop held from September 27 – 28. ANA members get a discounted rate, so login and register today to learn to master the basics!

DMAW Sustainer Day

Back in person for the first time since 2019, we hope you’ll join us in Washington, D.C. on September 29 to learn everything you need to know about building (or leveling up!) a robust recurring giving program! Including a special panel discussion on Mastercard’s new regulations. Register today and save the date.

Engaging Networks Community Conference

As an accredited partner, CCAH is proud to be a Gold Sponsor for this year’s community conference on October 6 – 7 in Washington, D.C. So, if you are an Engaging Networks client, or thinking about exploring a new eCRM platform, please join us! In addition to sponsoring the conference, two CCAHers will be presenting! Check out the full agenda and register to attend.

DMAW Data Strategy Forum

On October 18 DMAW is hosting the DSF in downtown DC. This one-day workshop is one of DMAW’s fastest growing event and given how critical data strategy is and how it affects all channels of fundraising and marketing it’s no wonder! CCAH is proud to sponsor, and we hope you’ll join us and Brenna Holmes for her presentation on payment strategies and their role in the overall digital fundraising landscape. Register Now and mark your calendars to attend!

Whether we see you in Denver, Kansas City, here in DC, or virtually from the comfort of your own desk, we hope you’ll take advantage of all the fantastic educational opportunities available to our industry!

Any conferences we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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Implementing Mastercard’s New Sustainer Rules

You’ve probably heard that Mastercard is changing its standards for Subscription/Recurring Payments—monthly sustainers in our world, and the lifeblood of so many organizations.  

These new standards have caused much confusion among nonprofits and their processing platforms—especially Mastercard’s definition of a “subscription,” so Mastercard recently informed The Nonprofit Alliance (TNPA) that the standards won’t take effect until March 21, 2023. This extension gives nonprofits the chance to make the necessary changes in our programs to reach compliance, without having to focus on this at our busiest time of the year. 

Mastercard also backed off on its most costly and time-consuming new rule for nonprofits—that each monthly gift must be acknowledged, even for donors who haven’t shared their email addresses. Now the acknowledgments are only required for sustainers with an email address on file. 

While implementing these new standards will take some time and diligence, we see this as a terrific opportunity to ramp up sustainer stewardship, and more fully engage with our monthly donors through the increased mandatory contacts and transparency.  

a terrific opportunity to ramp up sustainer stewardship, and more fully engage with our monthly donors

Some of the key requirements are probably already part of our stewardship, and the rest represent best practices that will enhance the sustainer’s experience, which can only be a good thing. Let’s review some of Mastercard’s “must do” directives. Going forward, we must: 

  • Send a confirmation email at the time of enrollment that outlines how the sustaining giving will work—e.g., when the donor’s credit card will be charged every month, how much will be charged, as well as instructions on how the donor can cancel at any time.  
  • Email a receipt after every sustainer gift is charged, that also includes instructions for how to cancel the sustaining membership. 
  • Provide an easy cancellation method (similar to unsubscribing from emails), but this can also be a donor services number if your systems don’t have DYI giving management capabilities (or they aren’t setup yet). 
  • Collect email addresses from anyone making a recurring gift. This should already be a required field online, but if you are actively recruiting sustainers offline, think about creative ways to drive email address collection—and make sure these emails get recorded with this gift! 
    • You can even encourage prospective sustainers to scan a QR code and make their gift online instead! 
  • For sustainers who are charged less frequently than every six months, send a notification at least seven days before the credit card is charged, reiterating the terms of the sustaining membership and how to cancel.  

Mastercard’s goal with these requirements is to reduce the number of chargebacks and disputed charges that the company has been seeing. While chargebacks and disputes aren’t rampant throughout the nonprofit industry, some bad actor organizations have taken advantage of sustaining donors and misled them about the terms of their recurring gifts. 

The most egregious and unethical example was the Trump campaign’s fine-print, pre-checked opt-in for WEEKLY sustaining gifts. Of course, outraged donors cried fraud and credit card companies had a real mess on their hands issuing $122 million in refunds, while the campaign used the money for its last-ditch media blitz pre-Election Day in 2020. Made us all look bad.  

Writing in Non-Profit Pro, Erica Waasdorp sees these new requirements as undue burdens on nonprofits, and encourages us to support a letter to Mastercard asking for nonprofits to be exempted from these new rules.  

She believes that the requirements might make sustaining gifts less about a philanthropic relationship with a nonprofit, and more about the transaction. While recognizing that some of Waasdorp’s points have merit, we can definitely see the benefits of these kinds of donor contact becoming industry standards.  

Some guidelines for implementing Mastercard’s changes:  

  • No matter how our sustainers make their recurring gifts (e.g., offline, ACH, Visa, Discover, Mastercard, etc.), put these changes into practice across the board, since they truly are best practices in terms of sustainer stewardship. And increased contact is a win-win.  
  • Review all recurring gift confirmation language to ensure that we are aligned with the information necessary to be in compliance with these rules. 
  • Make sure that there is a clear and easy way for sustainers to cancel their commitment. Provide a direct line to donor services and a simple form linked in all sustainer related emails—that active sustainers can fill out to cancel. Of course, both require staff time to speak to donors, and to reconcile form submissions with active/canceled sustaining gifts in a timely manner, but both are a good interim step while a more robust donor portal is being deployed.  
  • Create a recurring monthly gift receipt—ideally an automatic one—for all sustainers by setting up an autoresponder that will contact the sustainer every time their recurring gift is processed. Staff or your agency-partner (like us) will have to audit active donation forms and enable this setting on each form, as well as setup standards for all new forms.  
  • For sustainers without an email address, try to collect email addresses whenever possible. Review your assets. Are you asking for email on your reply? How about on the acknowledgment for the initial gift? You are also do special outreach to active sustainers to collect emails, and/or conduct an eAppend, which is a data append specifically designed to add emails to postal records.  
    • SMS is another great way to send receipts! And collect emails, so if you have cell phones on file, this is another great touchpoint to add into your sustainer stewardship program! 

Remember, Mastercard’s deadline to get this all implemented is March 21, 2023, and as much as we all love a good deadline in fundraising, don’t let it sneak up on you, spring will be here before we know it, LOL. 

At CCAH, we’re looking on this as a great opportunity to really button up our sustainer programs with improved systems to keep these loyal donors informed, and allow them to opt out—but still think positively of our clients’ organizations—by making it easy—and we’d be happy to help you too! So, reach out, if you are interested in talking to our digital and systems specialists about how you can come into compliance before the deadline.

Mastercard’s deadline to get this all implemented is March 21, 2023

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Rookie of the Quarter: Matthew B

At CCAH, we know that progress is what keeps us relevant and keeps us moving toward our mission — advancing change and committing to activism that makes a difference. That’s why each quarter we like to recognize one our newest employees who is helping move us toward our goals and continuing our push for progress. Our Rookie of the Quarter award is given to an employee who has started their CCAH journey in the past year and has shown their willingness to go above and beyond. They are nominated by the CCAH management committee (our partners, VPs, and president, Kim Cubine), and they exemplify CCAH’s commitment to progress.

This quarter, we are recognizing Matthew B.

Matthew has an extensive history working in the service industry. Last year he made his transition into marketing by interning at a small technology company in Virginia. After building up experience there he wanted to move into a role where he was able to grow and learn about something new. His goal was to learn more about non-profits and what goes on behind the scenes of these organizations, while being in a role that would allow him to learn from the ground up, and CCAH looked like the perfect place for him to do that! So far, Matthew has found his work as an Account Representative in the digital department very rewarding, and finds it satisfying to know that his efforts everyday ultimately go towards helping others.

After work Matthew enjoys going to the gym most days of the week, meeting up with friends to go eat at their favorite restaurants (they are huge kbbq lovers), or practicing retail therapy online (and of course always hunting for discount codes). He also occasionally enjoys reading a good book! One he read this past year that he would recommend is 1Q84.

We are proud to have Matthew as part of our CCAH family and cannot wait to see what comes next. Congratulations on being our Rookie of the Quarter!

“I can honestly say I’ve learned so much in my time here so far and I am only excited to learn more as I progress in my career. My teammates were super helpful at getting me up to speed with our day-to-day activities and always continue to provide a helping hand when needed, truly making me feel welcome and appreciated.”

“I can honestly say I’ve learned so much in my time here so far and I am only excited to learn more as I progress in my career. My teammates were super helpful at getting me up to speed with our day-to-day activities and always continue to provide a helping hand when needed, truly making me feel welcome and appreciated.”

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CCAH Brings Home Three MAXI Awards!

CCAH is thrilled to announce that our work for two of our prestigious clients was honored with two silver awards, in the acquisition and special appeal categories, and one gold award, in the major donor category, at the 2022 MAXI Awards on July 27, 2022 by the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMAW). 

HSUS Animal Lover's Calendar + Planner Test

We scored two wins for our collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) — the nation’s most effective animal protection organization, advancing the fight for ALL animals. In the category Direct Mail Campaign: Acquisition/Prospecting, our Animal Lover’s Calendar + Day Planner Test for the Humane Society of the United States won a Silver MAXI and shattered industry acquisition benchmarks with a response rate of 1.85%. 

HSUS YTD Package

Also for HSUS, in the Nonprofit Major Donors category, our Agenda YTD Package won a Gold MAXI, nearly tripled the response rate, and the 2021 package brought in more gross and net revenue than the previous two years’ packages combined.  

JGI "One Person Can" Matching Gift Campaign

Our third winning package was created for The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), which advances the vision of Dr. Jane Goodall to create a brighter future for chimpanzees and all beings who share the planet. Our multi-channel appeal called “One Person Can” Jane’s Birthday Matching Gift Campaign won a Silver MAXI, and this campaign’s cumulative 2021 results for direct mail and email saw an incredible increase of 96% in overall response rate and a 12% increase in income compared to 2020.  

I hope you will visit the DMAW’s 2022 MAXI Awards Program Book and take a look at our creative designs and copy that helped to generate these remarkable results.  We’re so proud of our work and our team, and grateful for these industry honors. But of course, the real winners are our clients, who inspire everything we do through their dedicated, tireless, and compassionate work every day to fulfill their critical missions. 

What do Marilu Henner, Ryan Zimmerman and the CCAH team have in common?

If you guessed that we will all be at the 2022 Changemakers Unite Bridge Conference at the Gaylord National Hotel & Conference Center happening between July 27 and 29… You’re right!

To celebrate returning to in person conferences and our new partnership with MissionWired, CCAH will have a booth in the Changemakers Unite Exhibit Hall. Please come by booth 113 and see us!

In addition, you can see Mia Mack of CCAH and Sarah Raffurty of the International African American Museum for their session at 8:15am on Thursday. They’ll share the rare experience of building a diverse museum membership program from the ground up (literally and figuratively). Sarah and Mia will share strategies, tips, tricks and challenges they overcame to create a national, omnichannel direct response program with tens of thousands of newly acquired members generating millions of dollars in less than a year. From budgeting with minimal data, to new audience acquisition and messaging, to omnichannel fundraising, marketing and branding integration, attendees will come away with best practices and new insights to test out.

Then don’t miss Brenna Holmes (CCAH), Jennifer Ingram (Wiland) and Jen Walsh (WJC) presenting at 4pm on Thursday about successful Omni-Channel campaigns with co-op data. If how to meet your fundraising goals in light of privacy changes with iOS and the depreciation of third-party cookies has you losing sleep at night, don’t panic! First party data from cooperative databases can expand your fundraising beyond the mailbox into display, social, email, P2P and connected TV. It can also help diversify your donor file by finding new audiences you haven’t found before. They will share how WJC and other clients went from fundraising in different channels to a truly omnichannel, donor-centric program that increased revenue for ALL channels.

CCAH will have many staff attending the conference, and we are all excited to reconnect with our industry partners and share the new techniques and innovations we’ve been working on. Find us in various sessions and at Booth 113 in the Changemakers Unite Exhibit Hall throughout the conference.
US Capitol Building in spring of 2021 with metal security fence

Trump’s Fundraising Rip-off Is Bad for All of Us

In the recent House hearings about the January 6 coup attempt, the media seemed shocked by the revelation that the GOP raised $250 million after the 2020 election for an “Official Election Defense Fund” that did not exist. Their solicitations were filled with questionable tactics and a large chunk of the resulting contributions was apparently misdirected to Trump’s hotels, and to the side projects of his friends and staff.

While this was treated as a shock by the media, it is no surprise to those of us who have monitored Republican fundraising efforts over the years. My office is filled with GOP solicitations dating back decades, and many utilize highly unethical and manipulative tactics that the Democratic Party would never, ever consider.

One of my favorites (and by favorite, I mean most outrageous) is a Republican National Committee (RNC) solicitation sent many years ago that involved two mail pieces. The first solicitation is standard and not unlike those sent by the Democratic Party … it is signed by the RNC chairman and includes a membership card and request for funds. However, the second follow-up solicitation is the most underhanded and unethical direct mail piece I’ve seen in my 37-year career.

This letter is signed by a female RNC staff member. It begins by saying, “This is one of the hardest letters I’ve ever had to write.” The signer then explains that she had been directly instructed by the party chairman to add the words “Charter Member” to the recipient’s previously mailed membership card, but she screwed up and failed to do so, and implies her job may be in trouble. “I cannot tell you how sorry I am. And I wanted you to know right away that it was my mistake …” She goes on to say that one way or the other, she must reach her fundraising goal. “I know you must be very disappointed in me for making this mistake. But I hope you see I’m doing everything I can to correct it. And I pray you’ll help me out …” And, as if this were not bad enough, she goes on to tell the recipient that she’s a single mother who’s afraid she may not be able to provide for her daughter.

I cannot imagine a more manipulative piece of fundraising copy. A struggling, god-fearing, single mother may lose her job if you do not respond today. This letter is even more outrageous when you consider the Republican Party’s horrific war upon women’s rights … they are actually using their own suppression of women as a selling point and sympathy generator. This letter was written many years ago, but the unscrupulous tactics continue today. Trump’s solicitations for his supposed “Election Defense Fund” were also based on lies and devious tactics calculated to generate an emotional response and contributions from easily misled conservative supporters.

While Democrats like me may laugh about the wasted expenditure of funds by these Republican donors … after all, that’s a quarter-of-a-billion dollars of GOP money down the drain that will not be spent to defeat Democrats … this episode is still very bad for every other entity that struggles to raise money for their cause. Scandals like this make potential donors of every stripe more cynical about fundraising. Over the years, I’ve watched donors become more cynical about the legitimacy of fundraising efforts, probably due to the multitude of scandals over the decades. In the late 1980’s, it was misspending of assets by the United Way. More recently, it was the misuse of funds raised in the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. And today, it’s Trump’s fake “Election Defense Fund.” All these incidents make it more difficult for all of us to raise money for our causes. Today, we must expend much more effort to prove the legitimacy of our clients’ efforts than we did when I first started my fundraising career almost four decades ago.

So … not only should someone throw the book at Trump concerning his efforts to sabotage our constitution and overthrow our form of government, but I also hope that the appropriate authorities act to fully investigate these allegedly fraudulent fundraising efforts.