Cover Story: Lives in the Balance
“We’re in a particularly good situation in that each of the channels that we’ve talked about, whether it’s planned giving or major gifts or direct marketing or direct mail or Web, all of them are producing a positive return for us and a very acceptable return on investment,” Hicks says, adding that even pre-tsunami, CARE’s numbers were up 12 percent to 15 percent over the same period in FY 2004.
There’s no arguing CARE’s fundraising success. In its press release announcing the organization’s designation as its 2005 Nonprofit Organization of the Year, the DMANF reported that “over the past year, their efforts have resulted in a record 191,000 new donors … CARE also excels at keeping current donors involved with a loyalty rate of 75 percent for multi-year donors.”
“The balance across our revenue channels has been very healthy for the organization,” Hicks says. “During boon economic times, that’s when we’ve seen our major-gifts program really take off and fly and be very successful for us. In times where the economy is struggling along a bit more, where we’ve seen the major-gift program flatten out a little bit, the direct-marketing program has remained very strong and helped us through economic times that might otherwise have been difficult. We see the balance across our revenue channels as one of the real strengths of our development program here at CARE.”
Neuman attributes CARE’s development successes to strategic investments both in people and programs. It’s gotten more aggressive in acquisition through direct marketing and, on the major- and planned-gifts side, consolidated and downsized its staff of officers but at the same time “invested in the quality of people on the team.”
“Long story short, it’s been some very deliberate kinds of investments both in people and in the acquisition on the DM side that are paying off,” she adds.