impact stories blog

Fire Up Your Fundraising Copy: A Master Class with Kathy Swayze

Are you frustrated with the lack of passion in your appeals?

Not getting the results you need from your mailings and emails?

Struggling with messaging for your upcoming capital campaign?

Join Kathy Swayze for her half-day master class Fire Up Your Fundraising Copy, on Thursday, June 7, from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm. Packed full of Kathy’s secrets to help you jazz up your copy and raise more money! Register by May 7 and save $100 with our Master Class Early Bird Rate.

You will learn:

  • The key elements of a great fundraising story
  • How to turn people in your organization into story generating machines
  • How to build a strong case for giving
  • How to use psychological persuasion to spur action

Plus! Ten of Kathy’s best-kept secrets for improving response!

Space is limited, so don’t delay! Register today and receive our
special Early Bird Rate of $325 that’s a $100 savings!

If you have any questions before registering, please reach out to or call us at 202-543-7671.

Event Details

Fire Up Your Fundraising Copy        
June 7, 9:30 am – 1:30 pm
(Morning refreshments and light lunch provided.)

Impact Communications, Inc.
735 8th Street, SE
Floor 2
Washington, DC  20003

Bonus offer – for workshop attendees only!
Receive a personalized Campaign Creative Audit on one of your recent fundraising campaigns, for only $199 (valued at over $2,000). Kathy will personally review your campaign and provide concrete recommendations to help you raise more money. Learn more.

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The 3 Ms: Major/Mid-Level, Monthly, and Multi-Channel

I loved the strawberry shortcake at Commander’s Palace, but another highlight of my recent trip to the AFP International Fundraising Conference in New Orleans, was a session with Jon Biedermann of DonorPerfect and Nathan Dietz, Ph.D. of the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute.

Whenever I have a chance to learn more about donor behavior, I jump at the chance because, as marketers, we can’t influence donor behavior with our messages unless we first understand it. And these guys had insights to share.

Starting with the DonorPerfect platform’s entire donor history of 77 million donors and 224 million transactions, they analyzed a 1% sample or 2.24 million gift transactions. Their data sample included the entire donor history for 427,000 donors across many sectors from human services, to religion, and education to the arts. You can find the slide deck from their presentation here:

Here are a few highlights that I found interesting and, in some cases, actionable.

Insights on First gifts: 

35% of donors made a first gift of $24 or less.

The median amount of a first gift was relatively flat from 1980 to 2010, but has been steadily increasing and was $40 in 2017.

Insights on Major gifts: 

The percentage of the overall donors who are giving at the $10K+ level was 1.2%. (How does this compare to your organization?) But the revenue generated by this 1.2% made up 65% of all contributed dollars. And, lest you think these major donors just fall from the sky, their data shows that 23% of donors giving $10,000 or more started with a first gift of $500 or less.

Insights on Multichannel Donors:

In 2017, 10% of donors in their study were online (7.9%) or multi-channel (2.1%) donors. But multichannel donors are more valuable than offline only donors, online only donors, or even monthly donors. In 2017, the median annual amount for multi-channel donors was $325, compared to just $216 for monthly donors, $100 for online only, and $75 for offline only.

There’s tons more data to be had in their slide deck so I encourage you to check it out. But for now, Biederman and Dietz conclude that your fundraising success can be found in the 3 Ms: major donors (or mid-level), monthly donors, and multi-channel donors. (And, of course, I would have to add planned giving donors—even though it doesn’t begin with an M!)

Hope you’ve enjoyed these insights. Let us know what you’re seeing in your program.

Photo credit: Tom Magliery Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license.

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Announcing Impact’s New Services!

Put Some Art into Your Fundraising

Strategic fundraising and communications breakthroughs need a poet as much as they need a copywriter.

At Impact Communications, we understand that now more than ever, the world needs art. Fundraisers need art. And nonprofits need art.

When our company was founded 20 years ago, we lead the charge to incorporate storytelling into fundraising. Today, storytelling has become a buzzword in our industry.

Not wanting to rest on our laurels, Impact Communications now seeks to push even further towards the art of communicating to donors across the pyramid.

And today, we are thrilled to launch our new product line…

….Fundraising Poetry.  (more…)

#WednesdayWisdom: Stories and Magic

“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.”

-Seth Godin




Photo credit: Carol Alejandra Hernández Sánchez Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license.

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Six minutes and twenty seconds

Time and time again, we’ve seen how much more impact you can have when you show, rather than tell people, your story. This lesson hit us especially hard this weekend as we watched Emma González, one of the leaders of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student activists, give her speech at the March for Our Lives here in D.C.

If you haven’t heard Emma’s moving speech, take a few minutes to watch it:

Six minutes and twenty seconds. That’s all the time it takes to end seventeen lives with a high powered firearm. Those minutes of silence were a powerful illustration of why Emma, her classmates, and hundreds of thousands of other rallied this weekend. Because no child should have to fear for their lives when they walk into their classroom.

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#WednesdayWisdom: Passion as Pragmatism

“Pursue your passion, and everything will fall into place. This is not being romantic. This is the highest order of pragmatism.”

– Gabrielle Giffords

To the inspiring young survivor-activists of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and all those joining the March for Our Lives this weekend: thank you for pursuing your passion.


Photo credit: David Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license.


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#WednesdayWisdom: Real Generosity

“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”

– Albert Camus




Photo credit: Adam Lai Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license.

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#WednesdayWisdom: The Power of One Voice

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
― Malala Yousafzai

As we prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, we salute all of the visionary women fighting for the rights of our sisters around the world.


Photo credit: DFID – UK Department for International Development Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license.

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#Wednesday Wisdom: The Intimacy of Stories

“If you’re trying to tell a story, you really need some intimacy.”

-Nick Nichols, National Geographic Photographer



Photo credit: © Sarah Penant Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license.

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Benchmarking for Beginners

Consultant’s Corner is a new column in AFP DC’s DConnections newsletter where you can submit questions to be answered by knowledgeable consultants and get advice on your burning fundraising questions. Read on to see the first question answered by Impact’s very own Kathy Swayze! To submit a question to be answered in a future newsletter, click here.

Question: How do I know if the results I am getting from my annual giving/direct response campaigns are good?

Kathy Swayze, CFRE: Benchmarking is on everyone’s minds these days. As with all questions, the answer begins with “it depends.” You have to consider all of the variables that may influence your results including the size of your organization, how your donors were acquired, your brand recognition, and whether your issues are in the news, to name just a few.

Now that we have dished out all of the disclaimers, let’s discuss some results you might expect to see. For starters, you may want to look at the most recent M+R report on online fundraising and digital advocacy. M+R does a great service for the whole sector in producing a yearly benchmarking report for online fundraising results. Did you know that in 2017 online revenue was up by 14% over 2015 totals?  Or that for every 1000 fundraising emails sent, a nonprofit can expect to raise about $36? These are good things to know.

For results in direct mail, here are some general guidelines. For smaller nonprofits who have acquired their donors in multiple ways but not primarily through direct mail, you can expect about a 3-5% response rate on appeals to current donors (0-18 months) and about 1-2% from their lapsed donors. Larger organizations with established direct mail files may see responses rates on renewals as high as 10-15% and 5-8% on appeals.

And what about acquisition you say? We often tell our clients to think about acquisition as an investment. There should be a clear expectation at your organization that acquisition is not about revenue today, but where you build your pipeline for future revenue. An excellent response rate is considered to be about 1%.

And the final thing I’ll say is that direct response is a science with many proven techniques. Most of us weren’t born knowing how to do this! Don’t try to go it alone. Seek advice from outside experts – and remember the AFP community is a great resource.

Photo credit: © Louis du Mont Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) license.

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