PODCAST: Understanding Fundraising & Human Behavior

by | Apr 27, 2022

Tim Kachuriak has dedicated the past 15 year of his life to answer this question…

“Why do people give to nonprofits?”

And while he’s found that the answers vary wildly, he’s managed to identify some core principles that can predictably boost giving to your nonprofit.

In this week’s episode, Tim sits down with me to talk about some simple techniques and everyday strategies you can use to attract more donations and build a better relationship with your donors.

Tim is the Founder and Chief Innovation and Optimization Officer for NextAfter, a fundraising research lab and consulting firm that works with businesses, nonprofits, and NGOs to help them grow their resource capacity.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • How human behavior impacts fundraising (4:00)
  • The biggest communication problem most nonprofits face (13:25)
  • How to optimize your “donation” page for more conversions (23:00)
  • How to use your donor data to drive bigger gifts (27:30)
  • Why you need to “humanize” your communication. And one proven strategy for doing it (33:15)

Thanks for watching. Be sure to subscribe for new episodes every week!

For more nonprofit accounting resources check out www.thecharitycfo.com

For more information on how to optimize your fundraising, check out the NextAfter’s free resources and join their mailing list @ NextAfter.com

🎧 Click here to listen to the Podcast on  AnchorFM or Apple Podcasts

👇 Or scroll below the to read the full transcript of our conversation

 


A Modern Nonprofit Podcast

Understanding Fundraising & Human Behavior: Why Do People Donate?

4/27/2022

Tosha Anderson:

Hey friends. Welcome back to another episode of a modern nonprofit podcast. I’m your host, Tasha Anderson. And as usual, I brought a new friend along with me, Tim Kachuriak is gonna join the call today and talk a little bit more about, of course, what else? The nonprofit space. And I love talking to him about things that are not necessarily financial related. So we’re gonna get more into, um, your content here shortly. But before we do, let’s go ahead and do a brief intro, Tim, how, who is this Tim guy? What’s he doing on our calls? So he is a fellow founder and also the chief innovation and optimization officer. I am an efficiency freak, and I love that title innovation and optimization, um, are a firm called next after, or maybe I guess we can call it an organization or a firm, but what next after does it’s a fundraising research lab and consulting firm that works with businesses, including nonprofits.

Tosha Anderson:

Uh, and they, we talk a little bit about resource capacity and how we can maybe, but get more miles out of things or make them work smarter and not harder is what I like to say. Um, you’ve done lots of different things. We’ve done lots of different, um, speaking engagements. Um, you’ve, co-authored, co-authored several things, but what’s interesting too. You’re not just a consultant that happens to work with a nonprofit organizations with a nonprofit industry. You also spend quite a bit of time working with nonprofits, not just as clients, but you are also, um, a board. I understand. And co-founder of human coalition and a variety of other things. It’s so funny when people read off my file, I’m like, OK, um, that’s enough. That sounds like we’re bragging now. So Tim spent a lot of time in and around nonprofit organizations and the nonprofit industries. So I love talking to someone else. That’s also seen different experiences because of their different roles. So we’re gonna dive into some of that, but first time I wanna thank you for coming on board and sharing some of your words of wisdom.

Tim Kachuriak:

Yeah. Tosha, thanks for having me.

Tosha Anderson:

So I just have to go off script already. Um, tell us a little bit more about chief innovation and optimization officers. So did I give that a fair description or how would you might say that in your own words, what you’re consulting with with the nonprofits?

Tim Kachuriak:

Well, sure. When you, uh, when you start a company, you can give yourself the title, whatever you’d like it to be. And so the two things that I’ve always been very passionate about is innovation and optimization. And I define those things as innovation is developing new solutions to some of the challenges that we face and, and optimization is making the existing solutions work better. So my role is to do that, uh, when I started the company and I was a single shingle, I would do that for my clients as our company’s grown. My focus is now trying to do that for our company. And so, you know, we, we’re a team of about 40 people now and we’ve got 40 clients and there’s a lot more, uh, there’s just a lot more challenges that we base every single day, just kind of interacting, uh, as a team and as we grow and, you know, all the, all the challenges that go along with that. So that’s kinda where my focus is spent a lot of time today.

Tosha Anderson:

We’re speaking a lot of the same language as a founder and one that did it all and trying to figure out, uh, there’s not a more resourceful human being, I think out there than a founder of some organization, whether a for-profit or nonprofit in having to figure out, okay, I have to do all of these things. Uh, and I have to do them efficiently and I have to also do them well, otherwise I won’t be successful. And how can I make them work smarter? Not hard, but yeah, switching gears a little bit because your organization does obviously focus on fundraising, right. And helping organizations understand a little bit more about human behavior and maybe how that impacts fundraising and listen, I’m in the accounting world. And of course I would love talk about accounting, but at the end of the day, most people don’t hear all about accounting. What does pique the interest is understanding a little bit more about why people give and how they, maybe they can motivate new people to give or existing people give more. So before we dive into that, though, you’ve done a little bit of work and research on human behavior as part of your work. Tell us a little bit more about some of those important things that you’ve learned about human behavior as you’ve done your research and how might impact

Tim Kachuriak:

Fundraising. Yeah. I mean, I I’ve been obsessed for the last, I guess, 15 years or so. I’m just trying to understand why do people give, and it’s a question that doesn’t have really one answer and it’s, it sometimes leads you in places that you didn’t think you would really go because given very irrational behavior, it doesn’t make sense if aliens landed from outer space and we try to explain to them philanthropy, like you give your money and then somebody else or something else actually benefits from it. You get nothing tangible in return. They’d be like, does not compute does not compute. So, you know, it’s really interesting. And, and as we’ve kind of explored that question, um, we’ve found that again, there is not one single answer and different people give for different reasons. Some people, uh, especially like older generations of donors give out of a sense of duty responsibility.

Tim Kachuriak:

It’s the right thing to do. This is what they’ve been trained to do. Maybe their, their, uh, religious or faith tradition, you know, kind of like guides them in that way. Um, younger generations give because they want to see impact. They wanna make a difference. They wanna be, you know, actually seen as somebody making the world a better place. Some people give out of a sense of, uh, wanting to belong to something, right? So like you giving is like an extension of my identity. And when I give, I actually am now bonded with these people that have this shared value set that I have. Some people give, especially to, uh, political campaigns out of anger, frustration, they wanna see change, or, you know, this thing, this issue like resolved, and they’re frustrated that it’s not being solved fast enough. So they’ll give to an organization that’s advocating for that point of view to try to make that difference in the world. So when trying to answer that question, we can’t really answer it with one simple explanation. It’s really a, a kind of a, a, a myriad of different explanations grouped together.

Tosha Anderson:

It’s so interesting as you’re saying all of those things, I’m just thinking in my mind, like all these completely different campaigns, and maybe we’ll get into it in a little bit, but you know, it usually with nonprofit organizations, you see one campaign, right. And it’s kind of like if you were, I don’t know, I’m sure big companies like target. Well, I mean, there’s certainly been lots of work done on and kind of understanding how they really closely monitor their different types of consumers and appeal almost in a very individualistic way to those consumers. Not that we’re quite, you know, something like a target company or something like that, but I’m just thinking, as you’re describing all these things, and none of that surprises me to hear that when you put labels on it, or you kind of describe it in that way, but it’s almost like the approach for which we ask is all the same.

Tosha Anderson:

Right. In, in many ways I get a lot of, um, in my work, I go to a lot of galas. I attend a lot of events. I’m on a lot of mailing campaigns. Um, and I’m always most interested in this comp my attention I have, so is catching other people’s attention. And what about it, um, caught my attention. And I like seeing that because I like to then go back and see, did it actually have a financial, um, success, not just, uh, pulling at the hard strength and the, but did it generate dollars to support the cost? So, so that’s helpful understanding a little bit more about how people give and also, I mean, I guess you can kind of say why people spent, so you’ve worked with for-profit businesses, nonprofit businesses. I have to ask this question to everybody that didn’t necessarily grow up from the time of the small child. I wanna work in the nonprofit space cause that certainly wasn’t me. Um, we all have stories. What led you to the nonprofit industry? How, how did you end up here? How did you end up working, uh, with this, with this, uh, industry and this population of people and businesses?

Tim Kachuriak:

Yeah, I mean, I took a, a fairly indirect path. Like most people probably like you into the nonprofit space. So, um, my story, I, you know, I graduated from college right after nine 11, which is a horrible time to enter into the job force, especially so for somebody that desperately wanted to work a, in the field of marketing and advertising. Mm. Uh, but fortunately I worked at a country club all during high school and college. So for nine years. And so I had like 432 aunts and uncles that were captains of industry. And so when I needed to go find a job, I, I called uncle Joe and, and, you know, uncle Joe was, uh, not only the president of the country club. He was the I, the second largest ad agency in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I grew up. So I met with him, did my little dog and pony show.

Tim Kachuriak:

And he’s like, ah, I’d love to hire you a kid. But, you know, we just laid off 30 people yesterday, nine 11 has hit our industry hard, our agency harder. I can’t help you. And so I spent about six months kind of wandering the wilderness, just trying to find somebody that would give me an opportunity. I met a serial entrepreneur and, and, uh, actually we met at a, at a golf outing. I remember we were playing together in the same group. And, you know, I was telling him about what I was trying to do and what I was trying to break into this, this marketing, advertising field. He said, maybe you could do some projects for some of these little businesses I operate. And I said, that sounds great. And then he said, well, why don’t you start a business? And I said, I don’t know how to do that.

Tim Kachuriak:

He’s like, well, I do, you know, we’ve got an incubator and the in floor of our office building, I’ll be your partner. I’ll give you a desk. I’ll introduce you to people. And the rest is up to you kid. So I was like living in my parents’ basement. I had like zero overhead. There’s nothing to lose. Uh, so I started my first business out of college and I did that for about five years and we moved out of the incubator and I had a small staff and I learned everything. It takes to run a business and get clients and keep them happy and make sure there’s money in the bank for payroll on Friday when you don’t have it on Monday and all those kind of things. Um, and about five years in, like, I loved what I was doing, but I wasn’t really excited about the, the groups that we were working with.

Tim Kachuriak:

Not that they were bad. We had a lot of like, you know, law firms that we did stuff for. And a lot of automotive dealerships, nothing wrong with lawyers or car dealers, but it didn’t spin my wheels. I was like more of like a cos guy. I wanted to do something that actually had significance. And so I ended up volunteering to do all the marketing materials for a capital campaign and, uh, just fell in love with it. And it was like the first time I was doing something the I was wired to do, which is marketing, but for a cause I cared about. And so after that, I was like, you know, I can’t go back and make car dealership websites. And so, um, ended up going to work for a nonprofit. So in a matter of about 45 days, we sold our house and sold our business and moved from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I went to work for a nonprofit, the day I got there, the founder had a heart attack.

Tosha Anderson:

Oh my gosh.

Tim Kachuriak:

Just wanted to point out that like correlation is not causation. At least I hope not. So I hope I had nothing to do with that, but we went from a 36 million dollar a year organization to 18 in 12 months. So it was like just this death spiral. Um, and so I was hired to do digital communications. They said, look, whatever you’re doing on the internet, figure out how that stuff raises money. And so that’s like my first violent shove into fundraising. Uh, I didn’t like it. I thought like fundraising was kind of like the necessary evil, you know what I mean? It wasn’t, um, what I was really passionate about, but as I started to learn more and more about fundraising, I was like, man, this is actually a really cool way to inspire people to give towards something that they’re passionate. Right. So ultimately like giving really is, is, is like, you know, that’s, that’s your customer, your customer is the giver, right? And like the product is the impact that you’re delivering in the marketplace. And if you can do a better job of actually doing that impact better or marketing it in a way that the light bulb goes off in the mind of the donor, then you know, you’re really doing a better job of inspiring that, um, that person to give. So, and end up going to work for, um, a couple of, uh, agencies that worked, uh, they did, they were direct response agencies that worked with nonprofits. And during that time, just solve this opportunity to focus on optimizing fundraising, which is kind of what next a,

Tosha Anderson:

What, what a cool story. And I can relate to a lot of that, uh, a lot of the different twists and turns there on how you ended up there and looking for something with more meaning. And I think what’s so interesting. Um, maybe this will dive into our next kind of point of conversation. How many nonprofit organizations look at digital marketing specifically as a revenue generator? Um, it’s kind of an afterthought and this is no secret and I’ll get on my soapbox and then I’ll get off of it. Cause you all have heard it, anybody. That’s a, you know, there’s just a couple different catchall roles. Um, and those typically end up on the administrative or I would, I’m gonna call ’em support service sides of the business. And I think this is true for all businesses. I’ve got, um, Swiss army nights as I call them, um, in my own business.

Tosha Anderson:

And so I’m not without fault there, but I find similar with like the finance tends to also be the HR person that tends to maybe also be a compliance person that tends to also be, you know, the risk management or the it, or whatever, what I’ve also seen on the flip side, on the other kind of side of the support services and the fundraising, that many organizations that are certainly considered small. So like less than $10 million, less than $5 million, you have the development director also serving as your digital marketing expert, also serving as your grant writer, also serving as your volunteer coordinator, which, um, might be complimentary, but are certainly completely different skills. So, um, I can really resonate with some of the things that, you know, you thrown and kind of been to the fire, figure out how those things works, figure out how to make it money. And I would argue that that organization was even a little bit further ahead in some organizations that I’ve met, that don’t even kind of consider that as a platform for which they can share their impact, um, solicit donations and those sort of things. So, um, so with that, let’s dive into what is some of, what are some of the biggest problems that you see in the nonprofit space? Maybe it’s some of the things I’m describing, but what else do you see in your own opinion that, that you think are some of the biggest problems?

Tim Kachuriak:

Well, um, you know, we do a lot of research here at next after. Um, and you know, we’re trying to understand, um, not just like, why do people give, but like how do nonprofit organizations communicate their value to their existing and potential donors? And so we do that in a variety of different ways. One of which is about three or four times a year, we’ll launch a mystery donor study where we’ll go subscribe to hundreds of different nonprofit organizations at the same time, we’ll monitor everything. They send us every email, every text message, every voicemail, we get boxes of direct mail. We go through all those pieces of correspondence and we, we wait for the organizations to invite us, become a donor. And then we’ll go give a donation to them as small, as $20 as large as $5,000, and then continue to monitor how they communicate with us over time.

Tim Kachuriak:

We’re trying to understand what it feels like to be a donor to these organizations and map that donor journey from being a casual visitor to subscriber, to donor and beyond. And so having done that thousands of times now, um, first of all, it, it it’s revealed some things that I think are universal deficiencies within the nonprofit sector. And the first one, yeah. Is that nonprofits don’t really know how to effectively communicate their value proposition. So, um, when I talk about value proposition, oftentimes people will jump to kind of like mission statement. This is what we do, or like, you know, this is kind of like why we do it. That’s not what a value proposition is. A value proposition is the answer to a fundamental question that every single donor needs to hear the answer to, but they’re never, or not never, but very rarely are they gonna verbalize it?

Tim Kachuriak:

And the question’s this, if I am your ideal donor, why should I give to you rather than some other organization or not at all? And when we ask nonprofits that question, we find a couple things. Number one, they don’t usually have a really strong answer for it. And if they do they speak with, for good tongue, because depending on how you ask the question, they answer it in different ways, which means that there isn’t universal consensus within the organization as to what their value proposition is. So we’ve done a lot of research around value proposition, and this is one area that most non can really, um, you know, really make some significant impacts because out of all of our testing, out of all of our research, the number one thing that moves the needle in a significant way is how effectively or forcefully you communicate your value proposition.

Tim Kachuriak:

And so when we, um, you know, we’ll consult with a client, that’s one of the things that we dive into. And then we found that there’s are key dimensions of an effective value proposition, appeal, exclusivity, credibility, and clarity. So let just break ’em down real quick. So the first one is appeal. It’s gotta be something that people like that they want a change they wanna see made in the world, right? So that’s appeal, number two, there’s gotta be exclusivity. Like if you are doing something like that’s area attractive, like solving hunger, right. But there’s a hundred other organizations doing that. That means that it’s not very exclusive, which means that the, the, the, the potency of the appeals diluted by the number of competing options. Right? So unless you do that in a different way, that’s kind of innovative. Um, I really I’m not that excited about it.

Tim Kachuriak:

Sure. The third element is, is credibility. I have to believe in trust that you can actually be the one that delivers on that promise that you’re making, you can actually deliver that impact that I’m attracted to. And then finally, this is the hardest one, and it’s the easiest one to solve honestly, is that value proposition has to be communicated, clearly speak communicated in a way that the, the uninitiated donor can understand it because that’s the biggest problem we face as fundraisers, or as people that work in the nonprofit sector is that we view the world completely differently than our donors. And because we, we can see the impact that we’re having in the field and the valley below every single day and the donor can’t see that same thing, there’s this disconnect. And that’s where, you know, really kind of, you know, starting to put yourself in the shoes of your, your uninitiated donor, having empathy for those folks and their point of view yeah. Can really help you to unlock a more effective value proposition.

Tosha Anderson:

Um, I’m glad you bring that up around clarity. Um, I was just having a conversation this morning. Um, um, so about, about the buzzword used in the nonprofit space and this level of jargon, and it’s thrown a, it’s thrown around so much and in so many different contexts that it’s almost lost by its definition. Um, and, and more specifically to that, I get re you know, we get, um, contacted by many, many nonprofit organizations and I go to their website and I try to hop on their website and understand what is it they do, um, before I get on a call with them and just understand, even from a mission base, like what talking about, what kind of funding are you getting? Like, what kind of complexity do you normally get? And I, I get a good sense of that. Just understanding the kind of micro ecosystem within the nonprofit industry that they work in.

Tosha Anderson:

And I can’t tell you how many times I truly go to their website and I have no idea what they do actually go to their tax return, because then they’re only allowed like one sentence, like maybe a long run on sentence slightly, but they only have like two lines for which they can describe their mission. And I go there and that’s usually concise enough that I get a good sense, but even then sometimes I have no idea what they do. And I’ve been on so many different, like webinars and different sorts of things. And I still, and I’ve been in this industry for 17 years now, and I know a lot of the jargon, but sometimes when I hear about what we do, it’s so philosophical and pie in the sky, and this is no disrespect to anybody like listening, or I think about this.

Tosha Anderson:

But if you don’t, if you can’t articulate what you do, more importantly, if you’re repeatedly getting questions asked, so what exactly do you do? Um, and you have to explain that, even though somebody said, oh yeah, I checked out your website. Oh, I looked at your tax return. Tell me what you, what it is you do. They don’t know already. That’s a problem. And I, listen, I’ll be, I’ll be the first one to admit. I just redid my website, um, about six months ago because I had all these people reaching out, Hey, Josh, do you do this? Do you? And I’m like, what we do is actually pretty, pretty simple. And if that is not relayed quickly on our website, that’s a problem because maybe people are coming to the website that need what we actually do. And they’re not able to determine whether that is something that we’re performing or not.

Tosha Anderson:

So I think the most successful businesses that I think about, it’s very, very crystal clear what exactly they do. And I think that that’s the piece that you’ve said is, is sometimes the easiest to fix, but really significant to fix. Is that understanding about what exactly it is they do, because without that, you can’t really determine from a donor, those other three things. Right. Okay. And, um, as soon as you said that you did this little, uh, gosh, I used to work in the food service industry a long time ago. They called secret shopper, secret shopper. Yeah. Right. You’re like the secret shopper of donors. That’s right. And I immediately had a moment of conviction. I am not running any fundraising departments, but I had immediate moment of conviction on behalf of all of the organizations, um, in the leaders that I, and now considered become my friend that I also make those donations, you know, as requested or what have you.

Tosha Anderson:

And the experience definitely varies. Yeah. The experience. And, um, I don’t think it’s necessarily because people know me. Cause sometimes I’ll give to other things that people don’t necessarily know, but this, the spectrum of, of what people could do and not do in terms of thinking a donor it’s, it’s a level of conviction. Um, so if somebody’s struggling in one of these areas or all of these areas, what is just maybe a little everybody’s sitting, listening like, oh God, I’m so convicted right now. I know things are broken. I don’t even know how to get started. What would be your first piece of advice to kinda get started? Maybe that’s it understanding clarity, but maybe people don’t realize it’s unclear. Yeah. That’s the biggest issue. There’s no awareness around it. So what you just said so much that I think is so powerful knowing that knowing that people are convicted now and understand that there’s a problem, what is the next best thing they could do to toy

Tim Kachuriak:

That situation? Yeah. I mean the first thing it’s, it’s very simple, but go give a donation to yourself. When is the last time you’ve gone to your own organization’s website and given gifts and go through the process and just go through it with a set of fresh eyes, like just 10 that you know, nothing about what you do. Right. And start to kind of like ask questions, like, okay, what’s the difference between giving $5, $50 or a hundred dollars? Am I do I understand just looking at this page, like what the differences are and then go through the process of giving a gift and kind of pay attention to the friction that exists in the, are there many steps for you to complete? Are there many different fields you have to fill in? Are you asked questions that you might not anticipate answering? Like, do I want to direct this to a specific fund code or designation?

Tim Kachuriak:

Like, how do I want to pay, do I have all the different paying options here? Like what happens if I don’t, you know, want to, uh, um, give a recurring gift? Like, is it clear to me, like, you know, just, just kind of go through it with a new set of eyes, just pretending, you know, nothing about this space or the organization, and then monitor and see what happens. Cause like one of the big things that we find oftentimes is that there’s a lot of things that just get broken over time. And a lot of those emails of these donors that give gifts, don’t make it into the email system, which means that they don’t receive ongoing cultivation and, you know, feedback as to how your gift is actually making an impact. So that’s the first and foremost thing to do. Then the second thing to do, I would say is get a group, maybe it’s your staff or it’s your board, or just a small group of, you know, maybe even just, um, you know, internal stakeholder and ask the question.

Tim Kachuriak:

If I am the ideal donor, why should I give to us to our organization rather than some other organization or not at all. And then just make a list of all the reasons that somebody should give and then go look at your donation page and see if your donation page communicates any of those reasons. I would take a wager, just having done, you know, this for many, many years and given gifts to thousands of organizations, you probably don’t have all of those reasons expressed on your donation page. And that means if, if those aren’t there, then the donor doesn’t understand them, right. They don’t understand those reasons. And then that’s not motivating them to give that’s the biggest thing that we find moves the needle. Like when we test donation pages, um, one of the big things we’ll do is we’ll add a lot more copy on the donation page to explain the reasons why somebody should get to explain the value proposition.

Tim Kachuriak:

And when we do that and we show like the control versus the treatment, like the original version versus this new treatment we’ve created, that has lots of copy. The fundraiser is like, oh my gosh, nobody’s gonna read that that’s way too much. Oh my gosh, you’re burying the donation form below the fold. But then when we test it, we do an AB split test. And what we find is that version has more copy 100, 200, 300, sometimes 500% increase in conversion rate. When you add that copy on the page, because people need to understand the reasons why they should continue with this process, less than 20% of the people that click the donate button on any non-profit organization’s website actually complete the transaction. One of the main reasons why is because you’re not answering those questions that they have as to why they should give on the point of donation. So that’s that those are two simple things you could do.

Tosha Anderson:

Less than 20%. That’s so interesting. Wow. Um, I think there’s so many parallels between for profit businesses and nonprofit businesses. And I know you were talking about initially like leading up to the donate button, but when I was thinking about what is that experience I’m even thinking about after the fact, right. Um, after the donation is met made, and what kind of, you know, follow up are we doing? And I came across a statistic, um, several months ago that talked about Amazon and I think they shared something like 30 to 35% of all of their revenue comes from cross-selling or upselling opportunities is, and I’ve given just so many different virtual campaigns. So knowing that about Amazon, like, oh, we’ll recommend this product to you. What about things? And then when you log again, they’ve got all these amazing, like complimentary products and it’s like, yes, I need that.

Tosha Anderson:

Yes, I need that. Um, and they do just a genius idea of, uh, or just a genius way of, of upselling. I mean, 30% of their business and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Right. So I just think about that in terms of like a nonprofit organization, how many times, you know, I’ve contributed to a donation and Hey, we know that you’ve supported us in this cause before this is something new, I’ll tell you. The only people that do this, um, right now is my church that I belong to because I’m be on some list and it’s like, Josh, we wanna really do this. Can we get your support? Um, they monitor that really closely, but by and large, the nonprofit organizations, I think in a similar way, probably could create a system. And I’m sure you do this with some of your clients that they can then tap into those, this person’s, you know, contributed to this campaign.

Tosha Anderson:

This obviously must be something near and dear to them. We, we wanna do this or we wanna reach out and ask for sponsorship for summer camps, right. To know that they’re really into mental health services for children on making something up. Um, so I think that’s kind of a really interesting crossover on sometimes nonprofit organizations, they get the donation and, and it kind of stops there. And I was talking with a client the other day about what are you doing to collect all of that information from all of these, um, social campaigns being online. Uh, and he is like, well, you know, we try, but we don’t do anywhere. It’s good. As we had thought, I said, for them to, that’s interesting that you said that it makes it more powerful, 20% of the people that go to the donate button, which you gotta think if they’re even clicking on your page, something is interested and they’ve gone through the work of actually donating to you. Um, that’s pretty powerful. And so what are we doing to capture their information and continue to get them engaged? And what does that experience look like? And is that compelling enough to give a second time? Um, and do we even have that data and have we built process, so I’m sure that’s all the things you can do, so yeah. Yeah. Please share your feeling. Yeah.

Tim Kachuriak:

Well, I mean, you’re, you’re, you’re pressing on a problem. That’s, it’s, uh, a very real problem for, for almost every single organization we work with. So like, everybody’s talking about like big data, this and big data that, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But nobody’s using their small data first party data, which is exactly what you’re talking about. The people that go and give transactions that go visit your website, that go click on your emails. That’s your first party data. That is the most valuable data that could ever possibly exist for you. And most organizations now are catching that data. The problem is, is it lives in separate independent data silos. Like your web analytic data lives in Google analytics, like your email data lives in MailChimp, your, uh, transaction data lives in your CRM system. And then you’ve got like, you know, social data app data, maybe online advertising data, it’s all disconnected.

Tim Kachuriak:

Right? And so one of the things that we do is like, we’ll try to piece that data together and say, here’s what this tells you to be able to go and more effectively cultivate these people and move them up. The giving pyramid to higher and higher levels of giving. And it’s hard because like, you know, most of the traditional data modeling kind of methods are based on transaction data, like recency frequency, monetary value, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle, right? That’s only transaction, but what you’re talking about is non-financial transaction data. What about the people that are opening your emails? What are the people that are clicking? What about the people that are downloading eBooks or signing up for online courses or going and taking, you know, signing petitions. Like that’s all very valuable data too, but for some reason it’s not all connected together. And so you’re absolutely right when you do piece that together and you get a more clearer picture as to who your constituents are and what they care about. And you know, what their level of affinity is with your organization. Then it makes it a lot easier to figure out how to best move them to that higher, higher level of giving. So great, great point that you brought up

Tosha Anderson:

Well, you know, being an account and I’m a data person, a systems person, it’s like everything has to boil down to some sort of, you know, financial model or science. Right. And, and it’s really interesting because when I started this firm six years ago, I thought everything has to be answered by numbers. And I get anyone listening, like Taha an account to say that, but it really is true. I’ve found that if you create goals and benchmarks that you wanna hit, now, they might be wrong. But then you start figuring out where can I collect data to substantiate my hypothesis or to right. To, to, to prove or disprove what I, what I thought to be true, right? Then you get enough data to actually measure what should my benchmark be? It better or worse than what I had originally predicted. And then you keep doing more of the activities to stay on track with that.

Tosha Anderson:

And if you hyper focus on, like you said, you have all these antiquated systems sometimes and in silos and different sorts of things, but you have, um, a system of accountability to pull that data, those data points, and you, and you track those. It’s really powerful to see things like your website usage, your email. And I know that that’s really overwhelming for most people listening and like Tosha, I’m one person, I’m a founder. And, and I wear a million hats already. Listen, believe me, I know the same thing because I remember all of the things you’re describing to him. I told myself I have to become an expert in these sorts of things. And I could do not. I was spending a Saturday and Sunday morning taking food to me, courses on Google analytics and understanding. And like there had to be a science to this.

Tosha Anderson:

There has to be an I’m gonna figure it out. So, um, I’m not an expert by no stretch of the imagination, but I learned the power of these data sources and how much information and insight we can get about human behavior as it is on the web, by understanding some of these data points. And I think such a missed opportunity for nonprofits. And the reality is I will share Tim. Um, you can correct me if I’m wrong, hiring the Swiss army for fundraising to figure all of these things out, Tim, it sounds like you are, um, quite the rare, uh, instance of this. Um, and maybe you would’ve even said you weren’t an expert. Then there is not a way that one person that happened to also manage digital marketing is going to be able to do this for you. This is something you either need to employ a team of contractors or preferably some sort of agency I have learned through my own experience and spending lots of money and wasting lots of money.

Tosha Anderson:

Um, it is not possible for one person to be an expert in all of these things that also happens to your development person and your volunteer coordinator. And you you’re know your, your newsletter writer and, and all these sorts of things. It’s just not possible to do it all in one place. So I would love him talking about the parallels, um, similar actually I guess, similar or dissimilar, um, things between the nonprofit and the for-profit space. And I say that because I work with nonprofit organization, but I run a for-profit business. Yep. And so often my clients and I are having the same challenges, the same conversations we’re dealing with the same things. So you work a lot with fundraising and helping understand human behavior with respect to fundraising, and a lot of your research, um, you know, testing the, these donor experiences for thousands of nonprofits, how have you, or what insights have you gained or hypothesis, have you formulated with respect to the for-profit businesses or consumer brands and these sorts of things as it relates to human behavior activities or, or any of those things? Are there any similar dissimilar things?

Tim Kachuriak:

Sure. I mean, like one of the, I guess, universal transferable principles that we’ve taken from our, our testing work and we’ve, we’ve documented now over 3000 different experiments across a whole range of different nonprofits to figure out like what works and what doesn’t. And one of the meta findings is that people give to people, not to email machines, not to websites, not to direct mail campaigns, people give to of people. And the more that we can humanize our communication, I mean, here’s, here’s the biggest problem, right? Like, because the barriers to entry for digital marketing are so low, meaning like anybody can go press, send, anybody can go post anything crazy on social media. You know what I mean? Like, because the barriers entry is so low, it’s led to the proliferation of really, really, really bad digital marketing. But if you actually slow down and take your time and actually be thoughtful about the things that you put into the marketplace, then you find that, you know, again, having a plan makes a big difference between success and failure.

Tim Kachuriak:

And that plan should begin with humanize your communicate. Let me give you an example. Okay. This is a real pragmatic example. If you look at most nonprofit fundraising emails, they’re like HTL design, they’ve got images and graphics and big clickable buttons. And if you read the copy, especially for a large national, you know, or international nonprofit organization, it sounds like it’s written from a professional copywriter because usually in fact is in the, a problem with that. And everybody does it by the way. The problem with that is that when a potential donor sees that in their inbox, all they see is somebody trying to market to them and people don’t want to be marketed to, they wanna be communicated with. So one of the tests that we’ve run with dozens of org organizations, we’ve done it in different countries. We’ve done it in different languages, is getting rid of all the marketing veneer, stripping, stripping away, the HTML, getting rid of the images, the graphics, the buttons, and even rewriting the copy of this plain text version of an email to sound like an email that comes from a friend, right? 300, 400% increase in donations by taking that approach. And that’s something that everybody here that’s listening can, can test that and try that. So that’s,

Tosha Anderson:

So I will be validate what you said. Um, Tim, it’s so interesting. So again, everything is a science, everything’s a, you know, financial model here at the charity, CFO, not just our accounting, but marketing, right. That’s how we grow our business. And it’s really interesting. You say that because we had, um, an email like newsletter server, um, uh, we used a, a platform that was very stripped down. It looked like a normal email that would be sent to you. Then we used the system that was all HTML. You can’t even get a normal looking email to send by design. It’s interesting. Some platforms it’s like, you can make it look really HTML, like colorful and glitery and whatever, and really eye catching, or you can make it look like it was quite literally sent from your inbox, right? Your personal inbox. And we had always just gone with the personal inbox and the open rates and the clicker rates were so much higher on that.

Tosha Anderson:

And the, then when we switched to this new platform that we thought was like so much better, um, cause that all, all these new integrations, except it refuses to send with a plain email, the open rates tanked. And so we have a whole reader list that we switched from that platform. I don’t even know if we’d ever be able to get them to open up another email because the, that point they’ve already like spamed or whatever. Um, that’s so interesting you say then, and I will say, cause I’ve measured the open rates and how many emails we send and what’s the open rates and all those sorts of things on my marketing side and separately, when we’re reaching out to people that have identified some need, um, that they need accounting services. And, uh, we’ve kind of should that, there’s this disconnect between what the email looks like and, and people’s, uh, response whether they respond or not, or they open it or not.

Tosha Anderson:

We have a different platform for which my business development team will reach out and send. Uh, Hey, I saw that you were looking to fill a vacancy in your accounting function. Should we chat about what that might look like for us to have help you? The open rates are through the roof and the response rates are through the roof and in some ways we’ll use similar messaging. That’s not necessarily customized specifically to that. We might tweak a few things here and there and sometimes we’ll send it out to a variety of people, but it looks very intentional and customized. And it has that, um, that look that it’s straight from a human, a human to human connection rather than, um, just a Mailchimp generated, um, newsletter. That’s really interesting. I never thought about that from a fundraising perspective, but I can verify your hypothesis and your, with my own experience.

Tosha Anderson:

So thank you for that. So Tim, you said a lot of things and touch on a lot of pain points. Uh, we’re all gonna need a little bit of time to process and have our moments of conviction here. Like I said, um, but if people were interested in hearing more about the work that you’re doing, how they can change things within their organization, or maybe they can hire you to be a secret shopper for their donation experience and give the hard truths, what’s the best way for able to follow your, um, firm and, uh, get in contact with you if they’re looking to, um, get some help in this area?

Tim Kachuriak:

Sure. I think probably the easiest way is just go to our website next after.com. Okay. Uh, and get on our email lists. So, uh, you’ll experience what it’s like to receive very personal human seeming, one to one communicate because that’s what we, we practice what we preach. Um, but if, if at all, you’re interested in going deeper into the world of digital fundraising. We’ve got a whole wealth of resources available, templates, guides, eBooks. We do webinars twice a month. If you wanna go deeper, there’s nine. Now I think we just launched the ninth certification course and digital fundraising optimization. So that’s all available there as well. So, or you can explore one of our 3,300 different digital fundraising experiments. And just try to see if there’s some lessons you can apply to your own organization. So next after.com is the place to go

Tosha Anderson:

Next after. Okay, great. Well, so much good information. I love talking and geeking out on all of these things. Um, again, this is not unique to nonprofit or for profit businesses. I can verify that all of these things I’ve struggle with myself, um, owning a for profit business, but I think I can see where this is super related to the nonprofit space. So Tim, thank you again for joining us. It’s been great.

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