A Look Back — and Forward
MacLaughlin: Almost everything. But the things that haven’t changed are probably still the most important things to pay attention to. Donors want to be engaged, not just asked for money. The right message at the right time to the right donor still works. Testing is still the best way to improve your direct- and digital-marketing results.
Church: On the process/execution side, the biggest change for me is the number of ways our message is communicated with our donors and potential donors. Social media has been a real game changer in not only how we talk about ourselves and the messaging we can manage, but also the ways other people talk about us — and the messaging we can’t control. Ten years ago, telemarketing firms had the most direct conversations with our donors. Today, we have direct digital conversations with them in multiple channels each day. Social media is not the way to raise a lot of money (at least not yet), but it definitely has changed the way we engage with our friends/followers/donors. We have to move so much faster now. I remember when we were overjoyed to get an “emergency mailing” or “urgent gram” written, approved, produced and in the mail within three to five days. Now we have to post messages or tweet within seconds of an event.
On the state of fundraising in 2013 vs. 2003 — things are definitely looking up! I do not believe we are still in the Age of Anxiety. Giving has risen from $248.52 billion in 2004 (Giving USA) to $316.23 billion in 2012 (Giving USA). Why? Because as an industry we have adjusted. I believe the state of fundraising is much more dependent upon the state of the fundraiser than the state of the donor or outside influences.