Fundraising Guide in a COVID World
We all have heard remarkable COVID stories of perseverance and achievement. Many of us thought the pandemic would negatively impact fundraising and, specifically, capital campaigns.
What we found is that there is no limit to generosity, even in a pandemic. Many of the campaigns we started pre-COVID are moving along on pace, and some have reached their campaign goals.
But the pandemic will change people in ways we can’t imagine yet. And we all need to keep a sharp eye on the future. Google featured one such story in its “Think with Google” series. The organization featured is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which has an operating budget of $1 billion. Nearly 80% of that total comes from individual donors.
Yet, according to Emily Callahan, chief marketing and experience officer, the message was not breaking through all the clutter and “revenue had flatlined.” Because of a deep dive into messaging and an emphasis on digital fundraising, today, online donations have increased 46% year over year. And, four out of five Americans now recognize St. Jude’s brand as No. 1 in overall quality in the Harris Poll Equitrend Study.
St. Jude has started transforming its direct response model into a more digital model. St. Jude’s has found that “emotionally immersive long-form stories” cost half as much per acquisition than other video content. That is a huge savings, but the effort is also increasing giving.
To make the messaging switch, St. Jude’s developed a brand scorecard to aggregate and understand all the data points and track the journey to becoming an “iconic brand.”
According to Callahan, “The messages we started with were very different than the ones we ended up with because we stopped pushing what we wanted to say and understood what people needed to hear.”
The St. Jude’s COVID success:
- Great, immersive patient stories
- Blending in digital efforts
- List identification and management
- Focusing messaging on what people need to hear
- A mission well communicated
Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.