Experts and leaders give their views on the last 18 months across a range of fundraising methodologies and look to the future as global economic uncertainty casts a shadow over an otherwise resilient economy. Compiled by Greg Johnson. TELEFUNDRAISING

Mel Jenkins
Managing Director
2evolve

How has the area of telefundraising performed over the last 12-18 months?

Telefundraising programs have performed strongly over the past 12-18 months and we are seeing very strong conversion rates and average values are either being maintained or increased on the period prior. We are seeing, however, that organisations which do not have a fully integrated strategy that includes the phone in the mix are being left in the wake of those that do.
A lot of clients are looking to set up regular giving acquisition programs using the phone, but it is difficult to get capacity from suppliers, because it has to be part of a long-term, substantial investment strategy in a wide variety of programs – not acquisition alone.
Generating strong results from telephone acquisition is also very difficult for suppliers to achieve and maintain consistently strong results, however when this is done, the cost per acquisition (CPA) is extremely good. Telefundraising is a good secondary acquisition stream, as the CPA is comparable or lower than face-to-face (F2F) acquisition, however it lacks the volume that F2F enables organisations to generate.

How do you think the area of telefundraising will perform over the coming 12-18 months?

I expect organisations will continue to invest heavily in acquisition via telephone. Many nonprofits have only started doing these programs in the last 12-18 months, so they will mature, but we believe there is a lot of life in them yet. There will be a continued move towards rolling monthly programs rather than running one or two really large programs over the year.
Nonprofits will continue to investment in retention and development programs; as regular giving grows and grows, organisations will continue to find ways to call more data. I believe clients will move from cash-based programs to more frequent upgrade/conversion calling and that we’ll see more automation at our disposal, like real time processing.

What is your ‘bold prediction’ for telefundraising in 2012?

There’ll be an increased investment in acquisition of regular givers via the phone and regular giving telefundraising in general will continue to reign supreme!
I expect there will also be a greater use of two step recruitment of regular givers for organisations who are campaigns or lobbying based. A lot more organisations will harness their non-financial survey/petition databases, and probably step on the toes of various campaign, event, and volunteer teams internally, to ensure that these supporters are maximised in value – both financially and non-financially.

DIRECT MAIL

Derek Glass
Principal
Ask2

How has the area of direct mail performed over the last 12-18 months?

Exceptionally well. Direct mail fundraising is going through a ‘renaissance’ – particularly cold mail acquisition of cash donors, where response rates have sky-rocketed as high as 5%, 10%, even to 20% since the introduction in 2009 of list swaps, data co-ops, and the mind-boggling dimensional printing and production opportunities which are now possible with new suppliers and production brokers from Europe and Asia. All of this is further driven by a strong Australian dollar and a stable local economy, it’s like all the pieces are in just the right place.
If you can stay in this moment, you will do well. But if you cling or obsess about either the threats of the future, which are many, or the old ways that direct mail was being done, even just two years ago, you will miss this opportunity completely.

How do you think the area of direct mail will perform over the coming 12-18 months?

Even better – this ‘mail rush’ will continue for several years, I reckon. The demographics are in our favour, but the changing media landscape isn’t. It’s like any sector of the economy, it is changing.
The dramatic improvements in list targeting and the massive expansion in creative options now available are having a much bigger impact than macro-economic forces like the global economy. Direct mail is evolving with the times in very exciting ways, and I am really looking forward to seeing where that all goes in the next couple of years.

What is your ‘bold prediction’ for direct mail in 2012?

Bequest direct mail is the big sleeper that is going to become a giant money spinner, for some. The demographics and the medium are perfectly suited to each other. There is a vanguard of charities that are developing powerful bequest acquisition programs that skip over the entire donor pyramid and go straight for the bequest, as the first ask. It’s radical, but, it’s also working.
Vic Zacharias
Director
Focus Fundraising

How has the area of direct mail performed in the last 12-18 months?

Generally speaking, direct mail has performed well over the past 12-18 months. Response rates have been strong in both warm donor and acquisition campaigns. The key driver, however, has been an increase in average donation amounts – particularly during the 2010-11 financial year tax appeals.
Organisations that have executed their campaigns on time, targeting the right people with a compelling case for support and acknowledge their donors accordingly, have reaped significant financial benefits.

How do you think the area of direct mail will perform over the coming 12-18 months?

The next 12-18 months may be impacted by the global economic woes threatening to grip Europe and the USA and send them into recession, however, I believe that direct mail fundraising in Australia will continue to be resilient. That should at least ring true for organisations that are prepared to do the right things such as: treat their donors with care and respect, continue to invest in improving existing donor performance as well as investing in donor acquisition, the lifeblood of a fundraising database.
Finally, I sense that nonprofits will continue to use tactics such as data swapping and the use of premiums without adequately testing the impact on the lifetime value. There is a lot at stake and therefore detailed testing should be undertaken before any major roll-out occurs.

What is your ‘bold prediction’ for direct mail in 2012?

For organisations that are serious about direct mail, 2012 has the potential to be another great year. Even if external factors weigh in, these organisations will be able to weather the storm and continue to grow their database and direct mail revenue.
In 2012, a growth of at least 10% in direct mail revenue should be an achievable target for most organisations that engage in direct mail fundraising. This could even be higher for organisations investing in direct mail donor acquisition.

CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS

Lisa Herden
National Commercial Relations Manager
Heart Foundation

How has the area of corporate partnerships performed over the last 12-18 months?

The performance of any partnership will only ever be as good as the effort that goes into managing and servicing it – the same as donor care and management. Communication and developing a rapport with your key contacts is important. Are you delivering proposals, reports and work in progress updates on time and when you say you will? These things are important in any business and especially important in corporate partnership management.
Speaking from a Heart Foundation perspective, our corporate partnerships are healthy and performing well. One of the reasons for this is that we work really hard to manage these partnerships once they have been acquired.

How do you think the area of corporate partnerships will perform over the coming 12-18 months?

There has been a lot of nervousness about the GFC and I believe there will be a restriction in corporate spending on fundraising events. Corporates will continue to look for value from NGOs, just as they would any corporate alliance or partnership.
At the Heart Foundation, our focus has been on partnerships which provide mutual benefits for both parties and we have moved to a sponsorship partnership model that clearly sets out brand benefits and values these like any sponsorship property would. Proposals need to stack up against sports or arts partnership proposals which may also be under consideration by corporates if you’re trying to target more than just corporate social responsibility dollars.

What is your ‘bold prediction’ for corporate partnerships in 2012?

I’m not sure it’s a bold prediction, but I believe that corporate funds will be tighter in 2012, due to continued global economic uncertainty led by the European banking crisis. This will mean that proposals and propositions that NGOs put forward will be scrutinised more against corporate goals and objectives – many of which are currently focussed on expanding employee engagement.
Also worth noting is that many corporates plan and allocated budgets between August and October, after the end of the financial year, so if your proposal hasn’t been presented in this timeframe for funding your project for 2012 you’d better get your skates on!

MAJOR GIFTS

Troy Yerkovich
Chief Executive
Fundraising Management Consultants

How has the area of major gifts performed over the last 12-18 months?

I believe that major gift programs have declined over this period of global economic uncertainty. I feel that the marketplace has been ripe for the picking, due to the resultant lack of confidence in the nonprofit sector, which has curbed enthusiasm for embarking on major gift campaigns.
Need has not changed, but has increased. Organisations which have continued through the adversity of the global financial crisis (GFC) have performed well. An example is Chuck Feeney’s recent $10 million gift to the University of NSW’s Kirby Institute.

How do you think the area of major gifts will perform over the coming 12-18 months?

My view is that there is justification for cautious optimism, based on the continuing resilience of the Australian economy and the ongoing mining boom. Coupled with the growing focus on corporate social responsibility, and the heightened community conscience in challenging times this bodes well for major gift campaigns.
Enthusiastic leaders and momentum are the key to success. Our role as fundraisers is to facilitate as many gifts as possible by encouraging as many asks as possible.
This involves the organisation being vigilantly alert to the opportunities surrounding it and presenting the case for support in the most compelling way possible. Those making asks can then graciously assist by both using their influence and presenting a persuasive case for support to potential donors.

What is your ‘bold prediction’ for major gifts in 2012?

Given that there are reputedly more millionaires now globally than pre-GFC and reliable evidence that wealthy Australians are giving more than ever, I can only make positive predictions for major gift programs in 2012.

BEQUESTS

Mary Saffo
Bequest & In-Memory Marketing Manager
Cancer Council NSW

How has the area of bequests performed over the last 12-18 months?

While Cancer Council NSW has seen modest growth in the number of estate distributions over the last 12 months, there has been a decrease in the average value of each estate. This is most likely due to the ongoing effects of the GFC, but also partially due to an increasing trend in estates being shared with other charities. Of the estate distributions Cancer Council NSW received in the last financial year, 46% were shared with one or more charities, up from 40% in the previous year.
Cancer Council NSW has experienced strong and regular growth in the number of bequest confirmations and inquiries – driven mainly by direct mail and telemarketing campaigns – and we expect to start seeing the effect on revenue in the next three to five years.

How do you think the area of bequests will perform over the coming 12-18 months?

With baby boomers beginning to enter retirement, we can expect to see continued growth in bequest inquiries, due to the sheer volume of people moving into this new phase of life. Perhaps the value of estates won’t be as high as we have experienced in the past, but the volume of bequest confirmations should start to increase.
When we also consider the fact that cancer incidence is – unfortunately – on the rise, we’re likely to receive more inquiries regarding bequests, as our supporters feel a strong need and desire to assist Cancer Council NSW.
We’ve been involved in the Include a Charity (IAC) consortium since its inception and we recognise the potential this group can bring in the area of bequests. As IAC continues to grow its number of charity members, we will see increased media activity, leading to a greater awareness and understanding of bequests among supporters and influencers.

What is your ‘bold prediction’ for bequests in 2012?

Cancer Council NSW will continue investigating new opportunities to promote and identify bequest prospects and we will be testing digital and social media strategies in 2012. We believe there are some strong opportunities within these channels, despite the more senior age of our target market.
Evelyn Mason
Managing Director
Evelyn Mason and Associates

How has the area of bequests performed over the last 12-18 months?

Based off the experience of three organisations that come to mind, bequest expectations have been exceeded during this period in relation to the number of confirmed bequests, the number of ‘intends’ and the number of people asking for information.
These three organisations have one thing in common – they actively promoted bequest giving. They have all worked hard over the last two years, since the GFC commenced, to build and cement relationships with their donors. They all continued to mail supporters, even during bushfires and floods, and they all kept promoting the concept of leaving a bequest through as many channels as they could each afford to implement.

How do you think the area of bequests will perform over the coming 12-18 months?

I predict that any organisation which has genuinely cultivated supporters over many years will benefit and they will continue to receive bequest confirmations in 2012. Having a bequest strategic plan, working that plan and reviewing each and every activity will continue to be important. Let donors know that your organisation both needs and wants bequests.
The moral of this story is, donor-centric cultivation does pay off with bequests for your organisation. If you start implementing donor-centric cultivation now, you will reap the benefits in the years ahead. If you started many years ago, you can reap the benefits now – provided you remember to ask!

EVENTS

Liliana Sanelli
Managing Director
Perfect Events

How has the area of events performed over the last 12-18 months?

It has been a year of change in all aspects of the events industry, with lots of people moving to different jobs, new positions being created and new team members being brought in. For larger nonprofits that turbulence is fine, but at smaller organisations – with only two or three event fundraisers – it can mean a whole new team, which can either be a huge success or a major flop!
Fundraising revenue from events this year remains on par with last year. Events that we know raise a lot of money continue to do so, and $2 million of net profit has been raised amongst our client portfolio this year.
The events that have been huge successes are those in which nonprofits invest. By investing, I mean maintaining relationships with people, getting sponsors on board and talking to them continually throughout the year – not just as a one-off for that specific event. We all want to feel loved, so we need to invest in people, guests, sponsors and suppliers.

How do you think the area of events will perform over the coming 12-18 months?

I see the events market becoming increasingly saturated with more events but for less people. Major fundraising events will grow, but they need to be aligned with your brand and have a meaning – so don’t have a cup cake day if it does not relate to your organisation!

What is your ‘bold prediction’ for events in 2012?

Organisations need to stop searching for the ‘golden egg’ of events. Work on what you have already and make it a success. If the event is not a success, and you’re just having the event for the hell of it, then you really need to evaluate whether it’s worth running.
People are still willing to donate and support events, but they are becoming more selective. So take this opportunity to really analyse what you want 2012 to mean for your events.

FACE-TO-FACE

Jeremy Deacon
General Manager
Appco Group Support

How has the area of face-to-face performed over the last 12-18 months?

Now more than ever nonprofits are looking to face-to-face as a preferred method of fundraising. It is now broadly recognised as the most cost effective form of fundraising.
The generosity of the Australian public continues to amaze me, as every year more people choose to become regular donors through face-to-face fundraising. This has resulted in the significant growth and development of the fundraising sector.
Recently, we achieved a record-breaking week in signing over 3,000 donors for our clients. The fact that this was achieved in the winter months indicates that the summer ahead will be extremely successful. During the last financial year we raised approximately $76.5 million for our clients, and I believe this figure will be even bigger next year. This growth is a result of focusing on product knowledge and efficient territory management as well as age demographic profiling.
Although face-to-face fundraisers have been perceived negatively in the past, the public is now highly accustomed to their presence, and this is evident in the results we’re now seeing.

How do you think the area of face-to-face will perform over the coming 12-18 months?

The prediction for 2012 is that face-to-face will continue to grow, with the ultimate goal for us of signing up 5,000 donors in one week.
In order for the F2F industry to realise its full potential, it is integral that strict standards of professionalism through training and customer service procedures are maintained across the board.
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