Washington Nonprofit Conference Roundup: Capitalize on Your Low-hanging Fruit
“Do more with less.” You hear it from your boss, or maybe even your board in these tough times. Exasperated, you look back at your last six months: You’ve cut costs, backed off your most expensive programs, and maybe even made some painful staff decisions. So, now what?
Grateful for weathering the staff-reduction storm and committed to your cause, you dig in and look for new ways to capitalize on your low-hanging fruit. But knowing where to start can be challenging. In the session, “Capitalizing on Your Low-hanging Fruit” at the DMA Nonprofit Federation 2010 Washington Nonprofit Conference, my fellow speakers and I explored some ways to get started by looking at three categories: improving the efficiency of direct-marketing programs; increasing revenue from offer and ask strategy adjustments; and maximizing credit card donations.
In order to improve direct-marketing efficiency, you’re doing all you can to trim production costs, improve list-buying efficiencies and pull back on testing. But there are some other opportunities to consider:
• Support your direct-mail programs with e-mail — test your way in to the best-performing segments.
• Leverage your social networks for awareness and outreach. This can lift other online and offline efforts.
• Test the cadence of touchpoints: Are there cheaper touchpoints to try first in a campaign?
• Remember that in multichannel marketing, one plus one often equals three. Keep all channels working together, but look at the collective result across all channels.
You want your response rates to remain high to keep more donors giving, especially now. Here are a few offer and asking strategy adjustments to try:
• Test postage options — First Class stamps, First Class presort, nonprofit stamps, indicia. There are many to try, and each segment could respond differently.
• Test your asking string approach: Maybe donors are more comfortable now with a most recent contribution ask than their highest previous contribution.
• Donors will have an affinity to certain visual creative cues: their state, campus icons, or areas of your mission’s service that really resonate with them. Check with your mailing partners for cost-efficient ways to print different versions of packages at the same time. Or, keep the letter the same and maximize on those affinities through different label (premium) versions.
While the call continues to tighten our belts and do more with less, know that we’re all in this together. I hope these suggestions help you in your quest by uncovering areas you may not have considered, or stir up other ideas for your own cost-efficient revenue gains.
Erika Kloehn is the senior director of acquisition and fundraising programs at ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Click here to learn more about this session and download session materials.