Ellen Guettler

Greater Public Content Manager

Recent Posts

How Rewriting Your Thank-You Letter Could Lead to Your Next Major Gift

PMDMC, Membership, donor cultivation and stewardship, Major Giving

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Penelope Burk tells a story of one donor who, after making a $100 first-time donation, receives a thank-you letter, picks up the phone to call the organization that sent it, and announces intent to make a five-figure gift.

Seem unlikely? Perhaps. But you haven't read this kind of letter. 

Burk, the renowned author, researcher, presenter, and fundraising futurist, described such a letter at the 2019 Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) as an example of donor-centered fundraisingThis is relationship-focused fundraising that sustains donor loyalty and inspires more generous gifts by granting donors the three things they say they need every time they give. One of things donors want is to be acknowledged in a meaningful way; not as one of many donors, but as a single donor.

Here's the type of thank-you letter many of us are sending today:

Dear Bruce:

Through your sponsorship, you are partnering with us to improve ABC Hospital and the care received here. On behalf of the hospital, and the patients who benefit from your generosity, I would like to thank you for your contribution of $5,000 on May 20th in support of the Foundation's 19th Annual Golf Benefit. 

As a sponsor of this great event, you are making a difference!

We are honored and grateful to have your support as a sponsor of our biggest fundraising event of the year. The quality of healthcare delivered at ABC Hospital would not be as great if it were not for caring  and loyal supporters like you!

Gratefully,

(signed by the hospital foundation development director)

It's fine. But now read this one:

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How Two Phone Calls a Day Could Make You Happier (and Raise More Money)

PMDMC, Membership, donor cultivation and stewardship, Major Giving

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Imagine if the first thing you did each day when you got to work was to make a genuine connection with your organization's mission -- with why your work matters

You wouldn't check email. You wouldn't look at your to-do list or even stop and chat with colleagues. Instead, you might pick up the phone and call just one donor. You would tell that donor how much his or her gift matters to your organization and its mission.

What if you made that same phone call to one more donor before you went home?

This is what renowned author, presenter, and fundraising futurist Penelope Burk suggested at the 2019 Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) during a session focused on donor-centered fundraising (her grand-finale PMDMC presentation before retirement!)

"Give yourself ten minutes to do it," suggests Burk, "Nine minutes to angst about it and one to actually do it. It will set up your day. It will change how you feel." 

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What the Hacking of Half a Billion Credit Cards Means for Public Media

sustainers, Membership, credit cards

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When the news broke today that as many as 500 million Marriott Starwood customers were victims of a data breach exposing their personal and financial information over the course of four years, we were, of course, immediately concerned about effects on our industry.

When a member hands over their personal data, the responsibility that comes with it is paramount. Failing to secure that data can cause significant material losses. What’s worse, the loss of a member’s trust may be irreparable.

If you haven’t already, verify that your systems are PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. Non-compliance can cost you thousands upon thousands in fines and lost revenue.

The reality of our data-dependent world is that a breach in one industry will have ripple effects. Here’s what you can do to manage the consequences the Marriott breach is likely to have.

Prepare for an increase in sustainer card declines.

Half a billion credit cards. That number is staggering. Some of those cards - or many of those cards - may be in your sustainer file. Audit your recapture program and make sure you’re positioned to go after that lost revenue. Use as many channels as you can to get your sustainers back quickly. Consider using the following calendar to connect with donors to update their information:

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Molly Davis’s Top Four Recommendations for Achieving Meteoric Growth With Benchmarks

Benchmarks for Public Radio Fundraising, Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management

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Molly Davis says the first year was the hardest. It was also what set her station on a course for unprecedented fundraising growth.

The assistant general manager at 88.5 WFDD in North Carolina has overseen her station's data entry for Benchmarks for Public Radio Fundraising for the past four years. In order to receive her customized report, Davis was charged with gathering audience, expense, and revenue numbers from several different departments within the organization. Finding the right numbers to enter that first year was, frankly, hard.

The Challenges

WFDD is a university licensee; some of the raw data Davis needed was provided by staff members in campus financial services, who weren’t fully versed in the public radio business model or in the purpose of Benchmarks reports. When she reviewed her station’s past reports, she discovered their data had been entered both incorrectly and inconsistently. A key feature of Benchmarks is the ability to analyze year-over-year performance to highlight areas of opportunity. She began to take detailed notes on how each point of data should be calculated and where it came from (use our handy worksheet for your own notes). This would save anyone coming after her from the confusion she faced; it also vastly simplified her process the following year.

The Roadmap

After completing (and documenting) her data-entry process, Davis received her station’s report. It showed several areas where WFDD could be performing better. Some might have read the results with disappointment. Not Davis.

“We had loads of potential,” she remembers. “I pulled out that report and said here’s where we are. We are leaving money on the table.”

The Payoff

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What the Latest Data Tells Us About Calendar-Year-End Giving

Membership, calendar year-end, email

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Original data presented by Karen Hopper, senior data strategist, M+R.

Each year, the online marketing and PR group M+R conducts Benchmarks, a study of 154 nonprofits focused on their online strategy and performance. This year's findings about calendar-year-end giving were particularly illuminating. 

First, M + R wanted to know how much December giving would fluctuate from 2016 to 2017, since many organizations experienced a significant bump in year-end giving revenue after the 2016 election.

For the 22 organizations for which M+R has year-over-year data, most saw a 12% increase in year-end giving over that of 2016, which was the same increase as the year before (from 2015 to 2016). But the growth wasn't evenly distributed. The nonprofits that became or remained very political after the 2016 election experienced an exceptionally high giving increase that year. Those organizations had a harder time sustaining their giving increase in 2017. These groups actually saw an average 3% decline in end-of-year revenue from 2016.

There Is Nothing Like a Deadline

Behold: the typical inbox on December 31 of someone who belongs to a lot of email lists:

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How National Geographic Builds Social Media Trust During the Facebook Apocalypse

facebook, PMDMC, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, General Management

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Thanks to “fake news,” bots, and political polarization online, trust in social media is at an all-time low. But social platforms still offer a powerful way to connect with audiences and donors.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans regularly use social media (Pew Research Center, 2018) and 31% of online donors now say that social media is the communication tool that most often inspires them to give, surpassing email for the first time (Global Trends in Giving Report, 2018).

A PMDMC 2018 session entitled “Building Brand Trust and Engagement in the Facebook Apocalypse” explored how one superstar brand, National Geographic, has built and maintained its social media effectiveness in an era of social media mistrust.

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Marketing Tactics Used by Top Podcasts

PMDMC, marketing, podcast

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In our industry, it’s often said that anyone can make a podcast… but not everyone should.

So when your organization has invested time and resources into a really good podcast, you want to give it every advantage to succeed from the start.

These tips came from Joni Deutsch, on-demand content and audience engagement producer at WFAE, and Maggie Taylor, director of marketing at PRX and Radiotopia as part of the PMDMC 2018 session “From Launch to Orbit, Working Across Departments to Get Ears on Your Podcast.”

Identify your audience. 

Knowing whom you're talking to is the first, most essential step toward being able to  connect with those people. NPR offers storytelling training tools to help you identify whom you're trying to reach. Knowing your audience will affect which marketing tactics you choose to use. 

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Three Easy Ways to Amplify Planned Giving at Your Station

Major Giving, planned giving

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For most organizations, the opportunity that awaits in planned giving is tremendous. It’s not uncommon for a station to have more interest from donors than there are resources to follow up on. The following suggestions come from the major and planned giving team at Wisconsin Public Television as part of the PMDMC 2018 session “Turn Up the Volume on Planned Giving.” These are a few simple ideas for how to capture and cultivate donor interest in planned giving.

Become truly donor-centric.

Being truly donor-centric in everything you do extends to how conversations take place internally. Wisconsin Public Television has chosen to be conscious about how it refers to its donors, never focusing on “getting” a gift, but always on the donor’s act of “giving” a gift. Even choices in language help transmit your team’s values and can be felt by the donors you’re working with.

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What You Should Know About How Most Stations Run On-Air Drives

Membership, pledge drive, General Management

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On-air fundraising practices are the very lifeblood of public media. That's why we at Greater Public take a moment every so often to scan the landscape to discover what most stations are doing and not doing; how much, how often, and when. 

We've just released our 2018 On-Air Fundraising Practices Survey. This snapshot includes responses from 101 public media stations from all over the country and reveals how most stations are running their on-air drives. It shows us what practices are nearly universal, and which ones may be trending. 

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Here is a glimpse of a few of the findings we captured in this year's survey:

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The Best Ways to Personalize Your Fiscal-Year-End Mail and Email Campaigns

Membership, direct mail, email, fiscal year end

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As you finalize your station's fiscal-year-end mail and email campaigns, consider these best practices for effective appeals.

1. Keep the font in a readable size for older eyes. Keep the paragraphs indented and the margins wide.

2. Make sure your campaigns reflect your station! Highlight local content to connect more deeply with your listeners. 

3. Make your reply form clean, simple, and easy to fill out.

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