Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Works on Facebook: Old Fashioned Direct Mail Offers

Upcoming Webinars: Scroll to bottom for information about my Three Secrets to New Donors From Facebook. With GotoWebinar restricted to 1,000 attendees per webinar, and nearly 800 registered already - you better be quick if you want to come!

It is great to see that the techniques we learned in direct mail seem to apply in the digital space too.

I reckon that in direct marketing, nothing has actually changed in how the 'offer' works. Just we deliver it differently with different technology.

Soi Dog Foundation - a dog pound in Phuket, Thailand - is leading the way in Facebook direct marketing. Raising nearly $8,000,000 through Facebook so far AND achieving amazing advocacy goals they are one to watch.

Here I have just a few of the 'direct mail on Facebook ads' and posts they run.

1. The Soi Dog Facebook page today. No messing, straight in with a strong offer.

2. Classic strong headline, 'person' in need looking straight to camera, clear offer of what you can do.

3. And again, strong headline, 'person' in need looking straight to camera, clear offer of what you can do.

4. Make the donor the hero. Literally.

5. Consequences of not giving made very clear. Great before and after imagery. If you dig through archives you'll find an ad like this somewhere in a magazine, direct mail or newspaper in the 1960s.

6. Classic two step. Get a lead and convert them. Not dissimilar to the long running 'improve your memory' and 'free investment guide' that appeared in newspapers 1950s-1980s.

Zooming in on the live Facebook page, I noticed 1,008 people reached within 31 minutes of posting this. Amazing.

If you are serious about raising money online, read the old stuff - all of Mal Warwick's old direct mail stuff, Ogilvy on Advertising and more.

Upcoming Webinars: 

I will be presenting a webinar (actually three, for different timezones) in early September about how to acquire donors on Facebook.  I hope you can come! 

These ones are aimed at people in Europe and Americas (don't worry, people in Asian, Australia, I'll repeat the webinar later - though nighthawks are welcome!).

You can register here by clicking on the date that suits you.

7th Sept -  6am Sydney, 4pm New York, 9pm London.

10th Sept - 9am New York, 2pm London, 11pm Sydney.

17th Sept - 7am Sydney, 9am Auckland, 2pm LA, 6pm Rio, 5pm New York, 10pm London.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Three Secrets to Fundraising on Facebook

Fundraising on Facebook - including regular giver (sustainer) acquisition works.

Join me and find out how!

Americas edition: Monday 7th September. 4pm New York, 1pm LA
(This will be 9pm UK, 10pm Paris/Milan/Brussels and Tuesday 8th September. 8am NZ, 6am(!) Australia East Coast)


European (and Americas) edition: Thursday 10 September 2pm UK, 3pm Paris/Milan/Brussels and 9am New York, 6am LA.  11pm in Sydney!

In a nutshell
Social media fundraising has been a bandwagon for a long time, with no gold on the wagon for most charities.  Outside of emergencies, most charities have struggled to raise ongoing funds through social media.

Well, we have made it work - and I will show you how.  With cost per acquisitions comparable to the best channels when you want regular givers (sustainers) my three secrets should be able to help you turn 'likes' into dollars. 

But it won't work for everyone. Attending this webinar will help you decide if getting donors through Facebook is for you, and if it is - some great tips for making it work. 

If you are already picking up 200+ regular givers (sustainers) from Facebook every month, you probably already know the secrets - but you are welcome to come!

Why should you come along?
Because you have a brilliant job and you care about your 
organisation. And I think you can raise more money by attending this webinar. And I bet you want to find a good alternative source of regular givers (sustainers). But for me, I want to help more people like you.

I really think it is going to be mutually beneficial - but I am not alone in thinking that!

"Taking part in Sean's webinar helped us focus our thinking around our strategy for social media and put in place simple building blocks and principles for fundraising through Facebook."
 Duncan Batty, Director of Fundraising
Sheffield Hospitals Charity

But ultimately - I am going to talk to you about some of the key lessons that I learned through some incredibly successful regular giving donor acquisition campaigns.  

Perhaps with some of the things I share with you, someone somewhere within your organisation will say 'we do that'. 

The question is - how well do you monetise campaigns and Facebook posts? If you are already getting 200 or so regular givers every month, plus maybe a thousand from every big campaign through Facebook, then you maybe don't need to come - but if you do I may well ask you some questions!

What will you be seeing and hearing?
In the webinar I plan to showcase a truly amazing example - that is repeatable - of making fundraising work on Facebook! Real results, real creative and real insights. In fact, the most frank data set you have probably ever seen. 

One of the case studies I will share gets 200-400 regular givers a month from our 'bread and butter' programme. They also run occasional campaigns, and just picked up nearly 4000 regular givers and well over US$1.5m / £1m / €1.4m from one campaign over three months.  

The campaign actually reached beyond social media, to include phone, email and more, but Facebook is at the heart of the success. 

I will show you what this charity does to acquire thousands of regular givers at profit and tens of thousands of donors - every year. And then I will share the three 'secrets' they tap into to make it work every month.

Americas edition: Monday 7th September. 4pm New York, 1pm LA
(This will be 9pm UK, 10pm Paris/Milan/Brussels and Tuesday 8th September. 8am NZ, 6am(!) Australia East Coast)


European (and Americas) edition: Thursday 10 September 2pm UK, 3pm Paris/Milan/Brussels and 9am New York, 6am LA.  11pm in Sydney!

Thank you for being part of this exciting new venture, I will speak to you very soon,


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Are Premium Acquired Direct Mail Donors Just As Likely To Become Regular Givers As Non-Premium Donors?

In my last blog, and in a recent article I wrote for 101fundraising, I mentioned that premium acquired direct mail donors have 'converted' to regular giving at about the same rate as non-premium acquired donors.

But in Australia charities are seeing lower conversion rates over time.  The rates are still brilliant - with return on investments (ROI) varying from 0.7 to over 1.0 in twelve months, but the decline is real.  At the same time these charities have invested more in premiums. So why the decline if it isn't premiums?

Two shifts in data that tell us why it could be...

1) Investing more in swaps and co-ops.

Swaps and co-ops get much better response rates and much better ROIs than other sources of data such as cold lists, subscriber lists and geo-demographic profile lists.  So they are good.

But the people who donate have definitely donated to charity before (which is why the lists work so well) and probably already been called by a charity and asked to be a regular giver. And they have already said no.  We know this because charities tend to not swap their cash and RG donors.

The obvious solution is to swap cash and RG donors, though I urge that you test this carefully and would be concerned that the volume is not sufficient to make this a viable tactic for most charities.

2) Donors are getting older (because of better targeting by charities).

There is a sweet spot for regular giving, and these three charts tell a great story.

The chart above includes face to face, but shows that basically, older people don't like regular giving as much.

When donors make their first cash gift they are around 63.

But older donors are better, and more likely to give again, so we see the average age on all gifts (ie most recent gift) they are much older.

As always, older donors are better.  But not as good as regular givers. But since regular giving only adds a bit onto the value of these donors (and should continue to do so) we like older ones anyway.

Finally, direct mail acquired donors have enormous potential value.

Us Europeans are obsessed with regular giving; we just need to come to terms with the fact that from direct mail cash acquisition is NOT step one of a two step regular giving program.

It is a multiple channel and multiple outcome activity where more value will come from further cash donations, major gifts, bequests and a little extra from regular giving.  Regular giving is the icing on the cake.

So it isn't directly premiums that are causing the lower conversion rates but many other factors, of which use of premiums is probably a minor contributor.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Soi Dog Foundation Facebook page reaches one million likes

Who cares? Lots of likes don't help a charity do good. But Soi Dog's do. 

It's not the most likes a charity has on Facebook, but this little Thai charity has the right likes.

This year Soi Dog will raise $6m, has over 13,500 regular givers (sustainers) and tens of thousands of donors from all around the globe.

And most of this success has come through Facebook marketing.

Well done Soi Dog team. 

PS - if you are interested in the three secrets of fundraising on Facebook sign up for my latest webinar. I have two slots in different time zones. So, join people from around the world on either 7th or 10th Sept 2015.

You can book your place here for the 7th Sept -

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ten reasons premium direct mail doesn't suck

Lots of questions about premium direct mail still abound. Premium direct mail is not for everyone.

But it should not be rejected because of a theory that we get worse donors non non premium. It is just a technique - and, with the right proposition, budget, skills and follow up - a technique which can help you achieve your mission by giving you more cash.

Ten reasons why premium based direct mail fundraising is as valid as any other fundraising mechanism.

1. It usually works better than non-premium direct mail in short term. The table below is based on real data.

Acquisition mailing volume
Response rate
Average first donation
Second gift rate
Average second donation
Total given
Income Yr 1
Cost (acq+warm)
1 yr ROI
Multi donors @1yr

2. It works better than non-premium direct mail in longer term - in the table above we have 2,250 premium acquired donors who have given twice and they are a lot more valuable than the 968 non-premium acquired donors who gave twice.

3. There are more potential bequestors (legacies) and major donors in a premium acquired file than a non-premium direct mail file.

4. Premium acquired donors don't only respond to premium mailings.  They are more likely to respond to premiums but because they were cheaper to get, and there are more of them, you can follow premium donors up with non-premium mailings and still get good results.

5. Donors who only give to premiums give to premiums.  But donors who give to non-premiums do give to premiums too! So premiums actually bring you in a new audience without losing the old one.

6. Direct mail is the largest volume source of bequests (legacies), and premium direct mail gets more donors. Direct mail donors are older; mean age is around 70, and in Australia modal age is 83. Great bequest prospects are in your premium donor file.

7. After the same filters have been applied (size of gift, contactable by phone use of credit card etc) premium acquired donors have been just as likely to become regular givers (sustainers) as non-premium acquired donors when telephoned. And there are usually more of them.

8. Premium direct mail is usually more expensive in costs - but usually a lower cost per donor. In other words, you may have to pay more upfront (or mail fewer) but you will likely get your donors cheaper.

9. Premiums are not at odds with donor-centricity or the brand of a cause.  Premium mailings should be story focused, donor centric just like any other mailing.  Putting a premium in the pack gets the letter opened; the cause still needs to work hard to get the donation. 

But most importantly...

10. Indigenous Community Volunteers, the Lost Dogs' Home, RSPCA, Cerebral Palsy Alliance, St John's NZ, Vision Australia, Seeing Eye Dogs, Guide Dogs, House with No Steps, Save the Children, Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation, Diabetes Victoria, Cancer Council QLD, Bush Heritage, Children’s Cancer Institute, WWF Australia, Starship Hospital, Children's Hospital at Westmead....

…any many more all helped more people, more animals and more habitat because they have premium direct mail as part of their portfolio.

Premium direct mail is not for everyone.  

But the decision to do premium direct mail or not should be about your resources, skills, other fundraising options, database, budget and ability to get great propositions. 

For more on premium direct mail visit

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

More video conferences to reduce emissions & wasted time

There is no doubt that video conferencing is a good thing, on balance.  Of course, in person is the best but can be very expensive and time consuming with all that travel.

Teleconferencing is OK, but video gives you some tells - you can kind of get people's mood better, body language is visible and it actually makes all of you more focused because you actually look at the person speaking instead of playing solitaire or checking your Facebook ad performance.

I just finished an internal video conference using GotoMeeting.  But Google Hangouts is good too.

We were in Wanaka, Byron Bay, Sunshine Coast and Sydney.

It really worked well, and despite the issues illustrated below, it still saved everyone time compared to a physical meeting.

Please watch this video - it is worth it (and very, very funny).

(If the embedded Java doesn't work for you, you can watch it on You Tube here).

We in the charity sector are always on the lookout for money saving ideas and whilst I don't recommend dropping meeting in person or investing loads into camera gear I do think investing in decent internet, a few $100 Logitech cameras and speakers is well worth while.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Premium direct mail - everyone hates it!

 direct mail - those direct mail packs with 'gifts' to donors and potential donors get a bad rap. 

Quite a few commentators think they are BAD.  

Looking at years of data in Australia and New Zealand we see that sometimes a non-premium mailing will beat a premium mailing, but overall and across many charities, large scale premium direct mail programs beat large scale non-premium direct mail in every mathematical measure - even in the long term.

In other words, premium direct mail raises more net income, through higher net life time value than non-premium direct mail.

And if anyone says 'that is not the point' look at them incredulously and ask what is the point of fundraising if it is not to maximise net income to a charitable cause in the long term?

Any argument about how it undermines the sector, or loses confidence is easily countered by the fact that more people gave last year than any year before. Or, if in your market that isn't the case, I bet the trend is upwards.

And what of increasing attrition? Well a rule of sales: the more customers you have, the lower value of the average customer, but usually the more good customers you have too. 

Yes, attrition rises. But that is partly because we are fishing deeper to keep up with the demand for our services. 

For more check out my crowd blog:

Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here