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Lessons for Fundraisers from Money for Good 2015: Interview with Hope Neighbor and Alison Carlman

Lessons for Fundraisers from Money for Good 2015Money for Good 2015, the third report in the Money for Good series, was published September 1, 2015. Hope Neighbor of Camber Collective, one of the report’s authors, will lead a webinar on what Money for Good 2015 ($FG 2015) means for fundraisers on May 11—and shares some early learnings here. Alison Carlman of GlobalGiving pitches in, sharing reflections on the work that GlobalGiving has done with Camber to refine the $FG donor segmentation tool, available for free download. Recently, GuideStar’s editorial director spoke with Hope and Alison about Money for Good 2015.

Q. Money for Good 2015 looks like it’s best suited to those working to make Americans better donors in general—not to nonprofit fundraisers. Is this true?

A. Hope: Six months ago, I would have said yes. Since then, a number of nonprofit fundraising professionals have reached out to me about the report. They feel like they have lost the ability to have a rich conversation with donors about philanthropy. They see Money for Good—or the story that Money for Good tells, about why Americans’ giving hasn’t increased significantly since the early 1970s—as a great platform for changing the nature of conversation with donors.

Q. Can you suggest the new direction these conversations should take?

A. Hope: The biggest piece of guidance I’d give is probably to acknowledge donors’ concerns around giving—including hesitations they have about the magnitude of social problems we’re trying to address as a sector, their ability to help solve them, and donor mistrust of nonprofits and/or the people nonprofits serve. We really don’t speak to these concerns as a sector or as individual organizations, which leaves donors feeling like we don’t recognize them nor respond to their concerns. Talking with donors about their concerns about philanthropy, and what we nevertheless see as tremendous benefits of giving will go a long way in building donor trust.

Q. This sounds depressing! Is there anything else that we should say to donors?

A. Hope: Ha! Yes. While we want to acknowledge donors’ concerns around giving, I’d also like nonprofit fundraisers to paint a new, dynamic vision of philanthropy for donors. Provide donors a vision of what philanthropy could be—with their help. While the problems we’re tackling as a sector are complicated, donors’ contribution doesn’t have to be.

Talk to donors about engaging in philanthropy, rather than giving to a specific nonprofit. It’s also important to make sure that the giving conversation, and any supporting communications to donors, is joyful, dynamic, connected, and simple:

  • Joyful—help donors feel like they want to give, rather than that they must give.
  • Dynamic—encourage donors to revisit their giving decisions periodically and look at how they can renew their giving traditions.
  • Connected—help donors connect with your mission and programs.
  • Simple—make giving straightforward and easy. The problems you seek to solve may be complex, but giving to your organization should be simple.

Q. What three things do you hope nonprofit readers take away from Money for Good 2015?

A. Hope: First, look at all of your communications. Identify specific areas where you can make them more joyful, dynamic, connected, and simple. You won’t necessarily be able to do all four things in any one communication, but you can include all four across your communications.

Second, identify one or two donor segments that align most closely with your organization’s mission. Build a donor experience that’s shaped, end to end, for these segments. Each segment brings specific behaviors and attitudes to its philanthropy, and different messages resonate with different segments. Focus on a limited, targeted audience, and be consistent with your message. Read about the segments, and the segmentation toolkit in the $FG report, for more about how you can shape your donor experience around a specific segment or segments.

Third, identify how you’re going to track the impact your revised communications and donor experience has on relationships with your donors. Start by stating what you’re trying to learn when you make a change to your donor communications or experience. Then identify how to track that change, and review what you’ve learned. Whether you’re using A/B testing or periodically jotting down notes on the changes you’ve made and their effect, the most important part is just to be structured about what you’re trying to learn and to track your results, to see what you’re learning.

Q. GlobalGiving partnered with Camber Collective test the donor segmentation tool. Can you tell me more about that experience?

A: Alison: We came into this partnership with the aim of identifying the $FG segments that our donors fall into, and making some changes to our email marketing to better target our key segments.We started by surveying our own email subscribers to identify the segment each donor falls into, using Camber’s segmentation tool. After conducting the survey, we analyzed the respondents’ (anonymized) donation histories within the segments to identify patterns and develop hypotheses about better ways to target current and potential donors. For example, we found that Cautious Strivers were the largest segment in our donor base, and had the highest net promoter score—which might suggest that they’d be good advocates for GlobalGiving.

According to the sample, Contented Benefactors are another important segment: they contribute the highest percentage to overall donations, have the highest average number of donations per year, and the largest average donation size. Contented Benefactors, however, had a relatively low net promoter score compared to other segments. We may be able to provide Contented Benefactors a better experience, to encourage them to give even more and to increase their net promoter score—making them willing to recommend GlobalGiving to others.

We also saw interesting patterns in the types of projects to which the different segments contributed. For example, Cautious Strivers contribute more to projects in Africa than any other segment, Busy Idealists are more likely than other segments to give to projects focused on gender issues and education, and Unaware Potentials were the most likely segment to have recurring monthly payments. Now our task is to develop meaningful content that’s tailored to engage people according to their attitudes and behaviors.

Hope: GlobalGiving gave us some good feedback about the tool that helped us make it more user friendly. You can download the segmentation tool here; please let us know what you think, and how you’d like to see it further improved!

Q. What else would you like fundraisers to know about Money for Good 2015?

A. Hope: I like to focus on the report’s potential to transform how we think about giving—and revitalizing our shared culture of giving—in the US. With this said, the report has good insights on what millennial donors want, what high-net-worth individual donors want, and how to leverage employee giving, point-of-sale giving, and donor-advised funds. While we won’t cover these topics on next week’s webinar, you can learn more by downloading a free copy of the report.

Want to learn more? Join Hope and Alison for a free webinar on Wednesday May 11, 2016, at 1 p.m. ET. Register now.

Lessons for Fundraisers from Money for Good 2015Hope Neighbor is a partner with Camber Collective, a strategic advisory firm that operates at the intersection of customer insights and strategy. Hope’s professional focus is on improving philanthropic and development effectiveness, and she has a passion for shaping policy and programming to meet human needs. Hope’s work has been cited in numerous media outlets, including The Economist and the New York Times, and she has been profiled as a social entrepreneur by Fast Company.

Lessons for Fundraisers from Money for Good 2015Alison Carlman, GlobalGiving's senior manager of marketing and communications, has the privilege of telling GlobalGiving's story and the stories of GlobalGiving's inspiring nonprofit partners. She also works with a team to better understand, measure, and accelerate GlobalGiving's social impact. What keeps her up at night is thinking about communicators' roles in international development. Follow her on Twitter @acarlman for musings on nonprofits, social media, maternal health, and parenting a toddler.

Topics: Money For Good Fundraising