Engaging donors while taking your first steps along your journey with machine learning

As a new user of the Fundmetric platform, I welcome you to the family. I’m sure you have questions. I know I did. When I signed on, every ‘what if’ scenario raced through my mind and truth be told, I still wasn’t 100% clear on what to expect from machine learning. 

Fundmetric was there to help guide me down the path of data enlightenment. I was provided with a dedicated Account Manager and together we created a path that was right for my organization and my donors. 

The machine learning algorithms work in conjunction with your traditional fundraising practice and methodology. Think of Fundmetric as if it were a cup of kombucha served with a side of kale chips. It’s basically giving a boost to your data segmentation capabilities through the power of artificial intelligence. Over time, Fundmetric’s machine learning predictive model will help you customize a donor-specific stewardship journey so you’re delivering relevant and timely updates to your donors. The machine will help you determine the right time to make the renewal ask and how much that donor is likely to give so you won’t ask for too little and leave money on the table, or too much and risk offending your donors.

With Fundmetric, you’ll start using the platform at a level that’s comfortable for you and proceed at a pace that is smart for your organization. If you’re already sending snail mail campaigns, you can use Fundmetric to segment your mailing list and recommend gift arrays. If you’re not ready to commit to giving up that much control right away, simply create a test segment and watch the algorithm get smarter and smarter over several campaigns. Every organization is different and if you have a more robust digital fundraising program, then testing is definitely the best option for you. Doing so will optimize the machine learning algorithm in test segments before you roll it out to the rest of your audiences.

When I started my own journey, the Fast Track© pilot program wasn’t developed yet, so I didn’t have the advantage of testing the waters with a test campaign first. My Account Manager and I reviewed my program and decided we would start with a Giving Tuesday digital campaign. 

Since it was the first time I was using the platform, I didn’t have any learnings to apply to the algorithm other than some initial sampling that was completed by Fundmetric’s data scientists behind the scenes when I become a member of the family.

With a Giving Tuesday campaign I could generate income and cast our net wide across all my donor segments. Since Giving Tuesday began back in 2012, it has been gaining traction in the US and Canada ever since. It’s now become a ‘fundraising holiday’ and for that reason, it’s open season for all segments of my donor base. Generating data while driving revenue? Jackpot!

I deployed a series of 5 emails that led up to and included Giving Tuesday. The first email was sent to approx. 200k records. I quickly identified approx. 31k records that bounced. Oops! Maybe it was time for a little data hygiene? Hmm… Not to worry. Fundmetric’s email builder has simple built-in filtering functionality so with the click of the mouse I dropped those obsolete records to focus on those that were valid.

Since it was my first campaign with Fundmetric, my Account Manager and I devised a clever little way to help generate more interactions and learn which fundraising programs were important to my donors. In one of the emails in the series, we added three teaser sections for different fundraising programs that had a ‘Learn More’ buttons in each. When clicked, the buttons led to donor portals that were created specifically for each program. Instead of steering the donor away, the additional information was right there on the donation form. We captured not only their gift, but gained valuable insight into the programs that inspired each unique individual that we could use in future campaigns.

To my surprise and delight, at the close of the campaign Giving Tuesday realized a 30% increase in online revenue from the year before using Fundmetric. The average gift increased by $4.61 and online transactions increased by 25% year-over-year. Success! 

And the best part? The email series generated over 1 million data points to feed the machine learning algorithm. I took a giant leap forward on my journey to enlightened data in one simple digital campaign. 

From there, my questions and “what if” scenarios still popped into my mind. But now instead of facing them with fear and a bit of angst, I couldn’t wait to dive into the next campaign using Fundmetric’s machine learning platform I knew that our predictions were going to get stronger and stronger with every campaign we sent from that point on. I was growing my fundraising program and developing a great relationship with Fundmetric as well. Not only was my dedicated Account Manager there to guide me, but we had data analysts and data scientists behind the scenes ensuring a smooth and easy process for everyone. Way to go team! 

I hope this helped to ease your mind and make you feel more confident as you take your first steps along this journey. And once again, welcome to the Fundmetric Family.

Bio: Kristopher has over 18 years of marketing experience in both Canada and the USA and 8 years experience in fundraising for Canadian charities. With an emphasis on multi-channel direct marketing, Kristopher has managed over $7 million dollars in annual donations integrating direct mail, digital including predictive modelling, face-to-face and telemarketing strategies to drive growth and lifelong donor journeys. 

“The concept of digital fundraising today must include predictive modelling/machine learning. Including machine learning in the mix ensures that you’re driving down your cost of funds raised while ensuring that no donor feels overlooked because you’re providing meaningful, personalized stewardship touch points at the right time in their donor journey.”
-Kristopher Gallub, Fundmetric Fundraising Liaison