With the 2016 presidential election campaign in full swing, many Americans are now more focused on the issues that mean the most to them. Naturally, election years bring surges in donations for political candidates and causes. So if you’re a non-political organization, how should that affect your fundraising this year?
At Merkle Response Management Group, we know trust is the top factor in client and donor relationships. When a donor gives to a nonprofit, they’re entrusting that organization with their money and personal information. That’s why our clients must have complete confidence in us as a service provider to handle donor gifts and personal data with absolute security, accuracy and efficiency. In Merkle RMG’s mail processing department, we work to earn and keep this trust every day.
The Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation held its latest semi-annual conference in Washington, D.C. February 18 and 19 at the Renaissance Hotel (the other is held in New York City in the summer). More than 700 fundraisers and representatives from the companies that serve them gathered for the two-day event that featured a keynote speaker each day, a jam-packed schedule of education sessions, and lots of networking as usual morning, noon and night.
In an earlier post, I highlighted some best practices for using contact centers to strengthen donor relationships. At Merkle Response Management, we help clients apply those best practices by offering complete service packages designed to support specific contact center activities. Our customizable solutions are built on frameworks proven to positively impact donor retention, response rates, and gift amounts. Today, I’ll provide a bit more detail on these product offerings.
Sustainer programs offer a win/win for both donors and nonprofits, but in order to maximize the benefits, it’s important to establish an effective processing and management system for receiving and managing sustainer gifts.
This month’s blog focuses on a survey commissioned by Merkle Response Management Group on nonprofit direct mail donation processing. Market Connections, Inc. conducted the blind online survey, asking non-profits what methods they use to manage their direct mail responses, how well they think they are addressing key areas, the importance of specific attributes when evaluating current or potential outsource service companies, and perceptions of the benefits of outsourcing. 157 non-profit organizations responded, and all use direct mail as a fundraising tool.
I’ve been with Merkle Response Management for over seven years, beginning in our Quality and Implementation departments overseeing the Quality Management System (ISO 9001:2008) and annual Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE16) certification processes as well as assisting with the on-boarding process of new clients. In 2011, I was promoted to Assistant Manager of Client Services while continuing to oversee Merkle’s Quality Management System.
In a past blog, I talked about the important role contact centers play in enhancing donor lifetime value. I outlined several best practices, including availability and responsiveness, producing a high level of service, gathering information to strengthen relationships and acknowledging donor contributions. Today, I’ll highlight some examples of how contact centers can be used to proactively reach out to donors to strengthen their relationship with your organization.
For any nonprofit organization, donor retention is the single most important indicator of performance. It’s a direct reflection of what donors feel about you. At Episcopal Relief & Development we ask ourselves, “Are we doing everything possible to ensure that our donors hold us in high regard? And will their good opinion ultimately translate into regular, generous contributions?” Our regular weekly, monthly or yearly donors believe in our mission, want to be a part of it, and are glad to tell others about it. But even with committed donors on board, it’s a never-ending job, and we must continue to steward the relationship so that these donors remain loyal.
I’ve been involved in fundraising for over 17 years, working initially in data entry and other front and back-end services. Early on in my career I wrote standard operating procedures for donation processing at the American Red Cross. From my perspective, security in donation processing is hugely important.