The Nonprofit Hero Factory: Episode 23

Increasing Donor Conversion & Retention with Gratitude, with Ephraim Gopin

In this Episode:

The average donor retention rate among nonprofit donors is 45%. The average first-year retention rate is around 20%. Combine that with the fact that it costs more to acquire a new customer or donor than it does to keep them coming back, something is clearly not working well at most nonprofits today.

Ephraim Gopin, Founder of 1832 Communications, joins Boris to discuss the benefits of having a Marketing Team and Fundraising Team work well together to attract new subscribers, nurture them into donors, and keep donors coming back again and again rather than chasing new prospects year after year.

Listen to this Episode

[00:00:17.950] – Intro Video
Welcome to the Nonprofit Hero Factory, a weekly live video broadcast, and podcast. Where we’ll be helping nonprofit leaders and innovators create more heroes for their cause and a better word for all of us. Da-Ding!

[00:00:20.360] – Boris
Hi everybody. Welcome back to the Nonprofit Hero Factory. Today, we’re going to be talking about a topic near and dear to my heart, which is the intersection of fundraising and marketing. So if you guys know me at all, you know that I talk a lot about storytelling and storytelling weaves into everything. But there’s often a problem between the fundraising side of an organization and the marketing side where they’re seemingly opposed in what they’re trying to do at times. Of course, they really do want to work together and they try their best.

[00:00:49.010] – Boris
But today I’ve got an expert who really focuses on that, identifying the issues that organizations have in those areas and then helping them remedy them. His name is Ephraim Gopin. He is the founder of 1832 Communications, which is an agency that helps nonprofits build more relationships so they can raise more money, serve more people and have more impact in the community. Ephraim craft strategies which help nonprofits successfully upgrade their online presence, boost their email fundraising, and marketing and improve their marketing collateral. When fundraising and marketing work together, it’s a beautiful thing, he says.

[00:01:22.390] – Boris
When I asked him a superpower, Ephraim said, “making sure that fundraising and marketing are working together at all times across all channels and departments and reminding people that tweet and they will donate is not a viable strategy,” which I love. So let’s bring Ephraim on to talk about all of that and more.

[00:01:39.380] – Boris
Hey Ephraim.

[00:01:39.380] – Ephraim Gopin
Hi Boris. How are you doing?

[00:01:40.390] – Boris
I’m doing all right. How are you today?

[00:01:42.960] – Ephraim Gopin
I’m doing OK. Thank you very much for having me on the Nonprofit Hero Factory podcast.

[00:01:47.330] – Boris
I’m excited to talk to you today because as you know, all of these things are near and dear to my heart. When you and I first connected, we had a great conversation that went in all kinds of directions and they said, we’ve got to have you on the show to talk about all this stuff. So I’m glad you’re here. I’ve read your bio. Please, tell us your story.

[00:02:04.170] – Ephraim Gopin
I’m a third-generation nonprofit executive and fundraiser. So, I kind of have it in my blood. My grandfather was. My father also was. And I’ve had the chance to be CEO and everything on down below that over about two decades in the sector. Did fundraising, grant writing, event management, alumni director, sales, communications. I also had the chance to work on what I call the other side of the table. I was the director of communications for a global family foundation. And that was an experience that was very different from being… you go from asking to sort of giving, even though it wasn’t my money and I wasn’t in charge of doling out the grants. But you’re now on that side of the table and it’s a very different perspective and a very different world.

[00:02:55.490] – Ephraim Gopin
I also spent a couple of years in high tech, so I have some time in the business world as well. And so I took all of that together, working, as I said, in multiple roles. You get a chance to see how organizations work from different areas and different departments and how they should work together in sync. And we’ll get into that, I’m sure.

[00:03:19.060] – Ephraim Gopin
But I got a chance to see how they work. I had a chance to lead as well. As I said, I was a CEO, which was a great experience for me. And now I’ve taken all of that and I’ve started my own company, my own agency. I work with nonprofits, small and midsize, even a little bit large as well, to make sure that their fundraising and marketing is working together. In terms of my personal story, I’m a father of three young adults, all of whom love taking road trips with me and all of whom disapprove of how I take selfies.

[00:03:54.450] – Boris
Excellent. That’s a great personal story you’ve got there and also a great professional story. I could relate, of course, to a lot of those things. Real quick before we get into the meat of the matter, because I think it’s actually a really interesting point that you were on both sides of the table. When in a former life I was in the entertainment world, I started out as an actor. But it was really when I first started to direct and before I even got a chance to direct in those casting sessions.

[00:04:22.260] – Boris
So as an actor, you always going out on auditions and you’re trying. You’re trying and you don’t know what’s going on, why you don’t get the part or even if you do, why you did get the part. And it’s not until I got to be on the casting side of the table that it really got to understand. And so, as you said that I was just thinking, wouldn’t it be great if every person in development and fundraising in a nonprofit got to sit on the other side where they got to see all the applications, they got to see all the pitches that they get in order to really understand what it’s like from the other perspective.

[00:04:54.860] – Ephraim Gopin
It would be interesting, I love your the way you connected it to the world of acting, that’s actually very interesting to me because I’m thinking you’ve got your big Hollywood studio with lots of assets, we’ll call it, and the ability to do big things. And then in walks Boris, the young actor who wants to get a job and stands there and tries to get whatever little role it is, whether it’s in a commercial, a movie, a TV show, whatever it is.

[00:05:22.420] – Ephraim Gopin
And I’m thinking, OK, you’ve got foundations that are sitting on lots of assets and now, here I am. And I did great writing. I remember what this was like. You go to them and you’re that little nonprofit with a budget that’s about a half a million dollars and suddenly you’re asking them for twenty five thousand dollars and it becomes almost the scariest thing in the world to ask them for money. That’s a great, great example. I think fundraiser’s would get a lot out of sitting on the other side of the table and understanding, with one caveat.

[00:05:53.860] – Ephraim Gopin
And I’m pretty sure you saw this also in the acting world, the foundation I worked for, the president told me on the second day I worked there, he said, if you know one foundation, you know one foundation. And so although I have the experience and I, through that foundation, interacted with quite a lot of other foundations, the inner workings of every foundation is very different.

[00:06:17.870] – Ephraim Gopin
And so a fundraiser could get that perspective. But I would say you’ve got to work with three or four before you can really start to you know, if you want to change completely the perspective, you’d have to work at a bunch of them before you could understand it.

[00:06:31.060] – Ephraim Gopin
But certainly even at one, it was a great experience.

[00:06:34.240] – Boris

[00:06:34.400] – Ephraim Gopin
I love doing it.

[00:06:36.230] – Boris
Yeah. I think even, I totally understand because I did work for a foundation and each foundation is of course different. But it’s just that side of trying to see, taking in all of the different pitches that are coming your way, all the different requests, and seeing, well, what really differentiates one from another. What are you more likely to respond to, assuming whatever the mission of the foundation is in that case? Ephraim of this workshop doesn’t already exist, I think you and I need to start it up real quick and go out and change the world that way.

[00:07:05.550] – Ephraim Gopin
Yes, yes. Done Done. We’ll, make it happen.

[00:07:10.990] – Boris
Sign up below!

All right. So you’ve done all these amazing things. You’ve had all these experiences. Third generation. That’s incredible. I don’t think I’m third generation anything except maybe male because there had to be three generations of men in my family. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. What made you decide on fundraising and marketing the intersection of those two specifically to devote at least this chapter of your life to?

[00:07:37.620] – Ephraim Gopin
The fact that in a lot of nonprofits and when I say a lot, I know that there are millions of nonprofits out there, so I’m generalizing. And so take that for what it’s worth. But in a lot of non-profits, two things happen. Either there’s a marketing department and a fundraising department who aren’t speaking to each other. And so what happens is that the messaging that goes out from each of them is totally different. And so donors get confused because they get one, let’s say, email from the marketing department, whereas they get a direct mail appeal from the fundraising department. And then wait a second, is this the same organization that I’m talking to?

[00:08:10.980] – Ephraim Gopin
The other thing that happens in a lot of organizations is there is no marketing. You have that mentality of the almighty dollar. The bottom line rules. And because of that, I don’t have time for marketing strategy or anything like that. Just get me money, get me money, get me money. And so with that kind of pressure, who has time to consider how to send out emails, what to post on social media, how the website should look, what the content should be, what stories you should be telling, how to use video?

[00:08:41.250] – Ephraim Gopin
All of that gets kind of thrown to the side because, “oh, my God, I’ve got to raise money!” Which brings me to: A) You know, in terms of data, we know fundraisers change jobs every 18 months. Now, as a business owner, I can tell you that is the most unhealthy thing for business to have that kind of turnover. But in a business like fundraising, where fundraising is all about building relationships. And to any CEOs who are listening, it’s not about the money.

[00:09:11.140] – Ephraim Gopin
I know you need money to make, you know, for certain to have your programs and to service the people in your community. But the fact is, it’s about building relationships. If a fundraiser is leaving every 18 months, you’re never building relationships. It’s constant turnover with your donors. And so that becomes a bit of a problem also. So those are the kinds of things I saw during my sojourns in the nonprofit trenches. And I kind of said that’s where I need to focus.

[00:09:41.270] – Ephraim Gopin
And I think that’s where nonprofits need the assistance to make sure even if you don’t have a marketing department, you’re still sending out marketing collateral that is working in sync with your fundraising together, telling the right stories. Getting it out to the right people, at the right time. And it’s not just haphazard… we’re sending this, we’re doing this and we’re doing this. Because, I’ll finish with this wonderful piece of data, the donor retention rate in the in the sector is 45%.

[00:10:17.980] – Ephraim Gopin
And I have one word to describe that, “abysmal.” Even worse than that, first year donors retention rate: 18 to 20 percent. So if in 2020 you went out and got a hundred new donors and I say, “Yay! Good job.” If you don’t do your work properly and you’re only average, you’re only going to keep 20 of those. 80 or falling by the wayside, and now you have a boss yelling at you, “we need to make up that hole from those 80 donors that we just lost.”

[00:10:47.240] – Ephraim Gopin
That’s not a way to work. That’s not the way to run your organization. You’re constantly chasing your tail. It’s not going to work. So that’s kind of where I focused my energies and my time in the nonprofit sector.

[00:11:00.540] – Boris
And I think that’s a great place to focus your energies and your time. The way you describe the problem is dead on. And also feels huge, right? Because as you yourself said, that a lot of organizations, if they even have a marketing team, it’s a small marketing team and oftentimes it is an overlap with other duties and responsibilities. I mean, I’ve worked with organizations where the executive director is the fundraising and the marketing and everything else all at the same time and maybe has an assistant somewhere.

[00:11:33.100] – Boris
And then again, there’s organizations that are gigantic and have huge teams for everything, and sometimes those get siloed, too. So it’s a giant-, giant-kind-of-feeling problem. And I don’t want anyone listening or watching the show to feel overwhelmed by it either, because they’re already overwhelmed. So let’s break it down a little bit, which I know you’re happy to do. And let’s start with what is the, sort of, solution to the last thing that you brought up, which is the donor retention problem, specifically the first year?

[00:12:04.150] – Ephraim Gopin
Oh, boy, that the easiest thing that I can that I can give is to adopt what I call a gratitude attitude. And here I’m going to bring another small data point from Dr. Adrian Sargeant in the U.K., who has done tons of research on this. And he has seen this constantly. Donors remember the “thank you” more than they remember the reason you asked them for a donation in the first place. So if you think about that for a second, most—a lot of OK, I say a lot… I would hope that it’s summertime, your nonprofit is already planning its year end appeal for December.

You’re in major writing mode now, putting it together, getting the printer on board, everything else. And you’re getting ready to launch very soon. Great. Have you thought about the thank you that you’re going to give those donors? You’re putting in a ton of hours right now. Donors aren’t going to remember a word that was in the appeal you gave them, even though it went through seven levels of hell and rewrites because every manager and mid-manager in the organization had to put in their comments and edits.

[00:13:12.290] – Ephraim Gopin
They won’t remember it. They’re going to remember a good thank you. So if you’re thank you now is memorable, you’re going to up your donor retention rate by tens of percent just on that alone.

[00:13:24.440] – Ephraim Gopin
So I would start there and I would add because I know Boris you’re going to chime in on this. That thank you letter, better tell me a little bit of a story. Tell me that I took a donation and how I solve, I as the donor now, I solved the problem in the community or I helped somebody. And use that storytelling already. You used it in the appeal. It better be in the gratitude letter as well. And that’s how you start building that connection with your donors.

[00:13:51.160] – Boris
Absolutely. Yes. There should be stories everywhere along the way as much as possible. When I I’ve worked with several organizations and what we did was we, online, as somebody gave through their online systems, at the end, they got an instant gratitude, instant gratification with a video that popped up. So this was an organization that helped kids learn certain things. And boom, here’s a video with kids saying “thank you for helping us do more of this. You know, we really appreciate it,” holding up signs and all the stuff. I mean, instant gratification.

[00:14:23.880] – Boris
But then, yes, long term, I think this is I’m sure what you do and teach as well. You need to constantly keep reinforcing that the value of that gift and the work that it’s doing out—you know, there’s this expression, make your money work for you. Well, in a sense, that’s exactly what a donor is expecting, right? They’re giving you money. They’re expecting you to put it to work, and they want to see what it’s doing. Otherwise, they don’t think their money is working. They just put it somewhere that felt good at the moment. Am I right there?

[00:14:55.060] – Ephraim Gopin
One hundred percent. A hundred percent. And I love that what that example they used with the kids. I can give you another example that I saw a while ago. Anybody who got… who gave it was their first donation. They got an instant email and that instant email included a GIF of the CEO doing their happy dance. And it was just funny and fun. But if I’m that donor and I get and it’s a CEO, so CEO, important person, and they’re doing this ridiculous dance with no rhythm and, you know, no rhyme or reason to it. But, hey, it makes you smile. And then all of a sudden now I have this happy connection to the organization simply because they said thank you in a way that nobody else is saying thank you. So that’s how you want to retain those first year donors. That’s how you’re going to that’s one of the ways to do it, is great gratitude.

[00:15:46.660] – Boris
And both the example that you said specifically, actually, and the one that that I mentioned, they were personal. You connect a person to the experience. Now, that organization is no longer just some like large organization somewhere or small organization somewhere. They’re actually a human being who is really grateful for what you just did. And that just creates a much stronger bond than anything and can really do outside of that. So how do we then implement that across our communications and how do we maintain those donors over a longer period of time?

[00:16:22.080] – Ephraim Gopin
Ok, so let’s think for a second. We’ve got an overall donor retention rate of forty five percent. Now, that’s been constant for about two decades now. And I’m always surprised when I talk to CEOs and I say, you’re looking at your data and you’re seeing this year over year, but you’ve never changed that. Well, no, because we’ve always done it this way. And I say, you mean you’ve always chased your tail, year … and you go completely, you drive everybody on staff nuts until midnight of 12 or 1 a.m. of January 1st to make sure we get all that money in.

[00:16:54.680] – Ephraim Gopin
It’s time to stop that. And there’s just no stop. I want that ended. What I want is a focus. In dollars and cents, by the way, acquisition costs more than retention, that’s in the business world as well. This is not something that’s only in the nonprofit world. This is everywhere. It’s hard to get new people in the door. It’s easier to keep what you have. So now how do you keep people that you have?

[00:17:18.680] – Ephraim Gopin
It’s that constant communication. Constantly telling them what is going on with the organization, but not “we the organization.” It’s you, the donor. Here’s what you are doing by being part of our community. So as I explain it a lot of times, and I know that sometimes nonprofits hate to hear this, but I explain it as you’re the middle person, there’s a donor who wants to solve a problem. Let’s take homelessness for a second. The donor knows there are homeless people in their community.

[00:17:47.160] – Ephraim Gopin
However they are… they feel powerless to do anything about it because they don’t know how where to start, what to do, and they’re not going to start a nonprofit. So now they go looking for an organization who, through that organization, they can create positive change in the community. Guess what? You’re that organization. Be there for those donors throughout that journey. You’re now getting that donation and you’re doing good stuff with it for homeless people in your community.

[00:18:16.030] – Ephraim Gopin
But then it doesn’t end there. That’s only the beginning. That donation is only the start of a relationship. Now becomes, report to them. Let them know what’s happening. If there’s advocacy stuff that they can do, call a congressperson or whatever it is, is the law being passed, get them involved in that. If you’re having events, get them to those events. Invite them to come to the shelter and serve food one day, every three, every quarter. OK? Get them involved so that there’s that constant connection.

[00:18:42.790] – Ephraim Gopin
And yes, I totally agree with you on the personalization of one to one. If it’s the CEO, then the CEO should be, you know, signed by the CEO on each email. Or at least if it’s the director of development, whoever it is, let that donor feel that one-to-one connection. And that’s how you, over time, keep them involved in what’s going on at the organization and you keep them wanting to do more. It’s not, “I gave in December and the next time I hear from them is the next December.”

[00:19:13.310] – Ephraim Gopin
That doesn’t work. That doesn’t work. They want to hear from you. These are donors who are happy to do good in the community. They want to help. They want to solve the problem, help them solve that problem.

[00:19:27.040] – Boris
Absolutely. So I call that being the guide or the the superpower that you grant to your donors to to the people who want to be heroes, don’t have the bandwidth, don’t have the resources, don’t have the ability right now to solve a problem that they hopefully already see and identify is a problem. Because the toughest thing is to educate somebody that there is a problem. Once they know there’s a problem and then want to solve it—and there’s a whole, I talk about an entire ladder of support that goes from blissfully or not so blissfully ignorant to being a champion ambassador for your organization. The closer they are, the easier it is to sort of sell them on the next step.

[00:20:07.830] – Boris
And the more you can involve them with they’re making them feel like they’re a valuable part of what’s happening, not just for their money, but there are a human being that has value besides their pocketbook, their checkbook, their whatever the credit card. Then the more they invest that they become and the more invested they become, the more they’ll want to keep investing because they’re feeling the positive benefits of it. So I love all of that. How does that translate to, say, email and social media, which I know you focus on a lot?

[00:20:40.260] – Ephraim Gopin
OK, so, you know, you mentioned in an earlier in the bio, and I’ll start with social media. “Tweet and they will donate” is not a strategy. And I want to share a quick story. I know this, you’re a storytelling guru, so I’ll share with you a story that actually happened to me in 2009. I got a phone call from a CEO of an organization who said we want to raise a million dollars through a Facebook campaign. I said, wonderful, how can I help?

[00:21:04.590] – Ephraim Gopin
And my first question was, of course, well, how many people are looking at what you’re doing on Facebook? A couple of hundred. I said, OK, how big is your email list? Aaahh… one hundred, hundred and fifty. And I paused and I said, And what makes you think you can raise a million dollars on Facebook? And the response was and here I’m quoting, well, Obama just did it in 2008 via small donations. So we can too. And I see Boris is smiling and it was everything. I was on the phone thankfully, because if I had been on a video chat, I would have completely lost my composure. But I was on the phone and I kind of said, no, you’re not Obama. I’m sorry. It’s just not going to it’s not going to work.

[00:21:50.080] – Ephraim Gopin
So when I talk about social media, the first thing is understanding your audience and understanding where they are. If you have a boss who’s telling you you need to be on Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat. And I only mentioned seven, by the way. There’s about a hundred others you could be on. No, that’s not a strategy. That’s not a winning.… That’s you’ll be burnt out after ten days and you’ll stop and you won’t get any engagement. You need to know who your donors are. Who are your supporters? Who are the people in the community that are interested in what you’re doing? Are you an animal shelter? Well, who are the people in your community who have already adopted maybe an animal? Or who’ve inquired about adopting an animal? Or who are interested in animal rights?

[00:22:30.750] – Ephraim Gopin
So it’s just a matter of knowing your audience. Now where do they hang out? It could be that your boomer supporters are on Facebook. Whereas your millennials are sitting on Instagram and Tik-Tok. I don’t know. It depends. You have to look at that audience and then you craft that strategy around it. Once you’ve decided where you’re going to be, you’ve got to kind of ask yourself, OK, what content am I going to be pushing out? Again, just posting on Twitter, “please donate to our organization,” is not—nobody is giving that way.

[00:23:00.670] – Ephraim Gopin
That’s not that’s not building a relationship, as we discussed earlier. That’s not doing it. So you have to find content that’s going to engage them and that they’re going to want to… “Oh! Yes, I want to connect with that organization.” And now once you’ve connected with them, it’s a bit of a slow run, but you can get on that path towards building that relationship towards a donor.

[00:23:23.370] – Ephraim Gopin
In terms of email… I’m going to use a very simple example here from the world of e-commerce. There is a what’s called the law… it’s the average of seven touch points. If I want to buy a new product, I don’t just go buy it. I Google, I go on Amazon, I search. I look at the different colors, the different styles. Maybe I, I’m not going to get it today. But then that website follows me around the Internet and shows me ads, I click an ad. Now I sign up for their emails, they send me a 10 percent discount, I go start the process, I decide I still don’t want it. I don’t finish the check out they email me an hour later, “Hey, what happened? Here’s 20 percent off.” OK, now I go finish it.

[00:23:59.950] – Ephraim Gopin
If you follow that story arc, as it were, it took me from the time I decided until the time I actually purchased seven, eight, ten, fifteen touch points. The same that I said for social goes for email, just because you sent them an email does not mean you can ask them to donate. Or as my friend Julie Cooper at says, you know, don’t ask for a donation in that first email you send them. It’s like the first date you wouldn’t ask for your hand, somebody’s hand in marriage on the first day. Don’t do that in an email. You craft the content, an email, fundraising and marketing strategy that builds up. They sign up. That’s great. Now we’re going to move them to donors slowly. Once you’ve got them as donor, as we discussed before, you’re going to keep that communication going so they continue to stay a donor.

[00:24:48.010] – Boris
So I love all of that. What you’re talking about in terms of the social media, “just tweet and they will give is not a strategy” or however you like to phrase it, there is a… and it actually relates to the seventh touch points, too. There is a common understanding now among at least for-profit marketers that you give a lot of value before you ask for something back.

[00:25:11.170] – Ephraim Gopin
Yup. Yup.

[00:25:12.230] – Boris
Yeah, and I talk about donations as an IOU. It’s not, “Oh, thank you for what you’re doing.” It’s “I am deeply grateful for the work that you are doing and making the world a better place. And I want to be a part of that. I owe you for what you’re doing because I believe in it.” So I absolutely agree with you on that strategy. In terms of the email, is there a specific length of—so what you’re talking about is the onboarding sequence, right, when someone first signs up for your newsletter or makes a donation, however, they first come into your email ecosystem, there is an onboarding sequence that you can walk them through.

[00:25:54.410] – Boris
That’s what you’re talking about in this case, right?

[00:25:55.770] – Ephraim Gopin

[00:25:56.610] – Boris
So is there a particular flow or list of emails that you recommend every organization send based on a new donation or a new subscriber?

[00:26:09.710] – Ephraim Gopin
I’ll start… you know what, the easier one to do is a new subscriber. Because usually, you know, I say usually it could be somebody donated and then they decided to sign up for your email, which is fine. I want to take specifically new subscribers.

[00:26:22.260] – Ephraim Gopin
Again, If everybody looked at their inbox right now, I’m a big fan of Inbox zero, I have no emails in my inboxes, but I know people who have thousands, thousands. Boris right now is—Boris is raising his hand. In your inbox, how many how many emails sitting in your inbox right now?

[00:26:38.370] – Boris
Unread? About five thousand.

[00:26:40.770] – Ephraim Gopin
There we go. See, so I call that a nuclear disaster zone. OK, now that’s the way Boris works and it works for him, and that’s fine. The reason I call it a nuclear disaster zone is because now I want you to think about what happens in Boris’s inbox. Boris signs up for a new email. That’s not a given everybody. He has five thousand unread emails in his inbox. Do you think he wants five thousand and one?

[00:27:02.640] – Ephraim Gopin
No, he doesn’t. He really doesn’t. So if you’ve convinced him to sign up, you better show him the same gratitude attitude that you would show a new donor. That first email that comes to them should be instantaneous after I subscribe on your website and show me the love. Thank you for subscribing. You’re part of a great community. We’re so happy to have you. We’re grateful. Everything like that—the same as you would do in a good thank you letter is the same there.

[00:27:28.960] – Ephraim Gopin
Now that’s the first letter. Now we’ve got a little bit of a onboarding process. If we’re talking seven touch points, it could take anywhere from three to seven emails before you can even ask for a very small little one-time donation or start them off on that. And in between and during that onboarding processes, as we’ll call it, you could send them more information about the organization. You can give them value added. Again, I’ll take the example of an animal shelter, “download our ebook on how to care for your new pet that you just adopted.”

[00:28:03.750] – Ephraim Gopin
OK, but you give them something value-added. You invite them potentially to an event. You invite them to fill out a survey. It could be about them or what do you know about this topic or this issue? So we’ll go back to homelessness, give them three or four questions. What do they know about poverty in their community? What do they know about families who don’t have food to put on the table? What do you know about kids coming to school hungry who need lunches at school in order to literally survive the day?

[00:28:30.820] – Ephraim Gopin
So you use surveys and use quizzes and you can use—it can be fun and interactive. Nothing wrong with that. But it’s a process. It doesn’t happen all at once. I subscribe, boom, ask me for money. I hate getting welcome emails that have donor—that, have an ask in them. And I get them all the time and it drives me nuts. Don’t do it.

[00:28:51.510] – Boris
Absolutely. I love the use of surveys and quizzes specifically. I’ve done quizzes for several nonprofit organizations. They can go viral. They have a lot of interactive joy built in. We could do, like, what type of something are you? And mind you, those get played out and you want to be kind of careful to what you’re likening your your donors to or your subscribers do. But they’re also a wonderful way to start segmenting your list.

[00:29:22.300] – Boris
So if you see that somebody identifies more with one part of your work, with one program more than another, then you can be collecting that data and slowly figuring out what’s the best way to talk to this person. What’s the hero’s journey that they want to take with the organization? Because not everybody is going to want to act on the same exact things just because they believe in the work that you’re doing. They each have their own preferences and feelings of, “oh, this is better,” or “this is not for me,” or whatever that might be. So I love the use of quizzes and any type of surveys in that process. I think that’s brilliant.

[00:29:56.210] – Ephraim Gopin
I would I would just add to what you said about segmenting and how unbelievably critical that is to fundraising and marketing it, the same goes for fundraising. If I give to X program that you have, you already know where my interest lies and potentially you know where my interest doesn’t lie. So you can now custom… make sure that the content I’m getting matches my interests. You might want to introduce me to other programs, but make sure it’s matching my interests and keeping my interests in my interests.

[00:30:29.420] – Boris
Also showing me that you know who I am and you care about the same things that I care about rather than sending me things all of a sudden. I’m interested in your animal shelter and you’re sending me a recipe for a cake. You know, it feels completely disconnected. Obviously, I don’t think any organization is doing something that disconnected, but it can feel pretty much like that. If I’m interested in one part of your programing and you’re pushing a different part to me.

[00:30:51.590] – Ephraim Gopin
Boris, I’ve got to just add here, I subscribe to a newsletter for an organization. Oh wow, I think it’s Covenant House, but don’t quote me on that. They deal with teens living on the streets and they provide a house for them and everything else. You know what? Because you mentioned that recipe thing, they do send out every now and then some of the teens—a recipe for something that the teens made that special to their family and they want to share with their subscribers.

[00:31:17.510] – Ephraim Gopin
And again, it’s a way through food to kind of make that connection between that teen that I’m helping and the donor. Making it now one to one. So when, as soon as you said recipe, yes, it’s totally out of place in, you know, quite a lot of organizations, in this one it works because they’re trying to make that connection.

[00:31:37.280] – Boris
That’s really interesting, and I could see how that does connect people on a human level there, too. Although I have to wonder what the, and I don’t know if they measure it, what the rate of actual usage of those recipes is, how many people will actually take the time to make a recipe just because of this connection? I’m not sure. But if it helps create that personal touch point, then why not?

[00:31:59.980] – Ephraim Gopin
Put it in the email and tell people, make this recipe, post your picture on Instagram, and tag us! And now you’ve moved it to another platform. And there it is. Exactly. And now you get that interaction again between your supporters and your followers and the organization. And now you have people posting pictures and tagging the organization to their followers.

[00:32:21.130] – Boris
Yeah. Ephraim, I’m sure we could keep talking about this for hours. And you and I will keep talking about this for hours, I’m sure. But I want to be respectful of your time and our listeners time. So I’m wondering, what are some of the resources you might recommend to people when they’re listening to the show and they want to dove in further? What are some of the things they might want to look at?

[00:32:42.200] – Ephraim Gopin
So I’m going to, Boris, I’m going to give you a list that you can share with the listeners and watchers of seven newsletters and a couple of podcasts that they should be subscribing to. We’re talking some of the biggest experts in the field and the content that they’re sharing with their subscribers. I call it gold, and that’s the only word I have for it. It’s really just that good. And you’re going to be learning… they are sharing for free their knowledge, their awesome sauce with their subscribers.

[00:33:14.480] – Ephraim Gopin
So those are some tools. There are newsletters. Some of them come once a week, some once a month, and podcasts that you should listen to, read the newsletters, learn from them and go implement.

[00:33:25.160] – Boris
That’s awesome. We’ll be sure to get those from you and put them in the show notes for this episode with links with everything that people need to start taking actions on those. What’s the first step, if they want to start implementing things that you’re talking about, what’s the first thing that they should do, though, on their own?

[00:33:44.860] – Ephraim Gopin
It’s to make, have a decision internally that you actually want to grow and that you want to move forward and that you’re going to use—you’re going to have fundraising and marketing talking to each other. That’s where it starts. And that’s not a budget issue. That’s more of an issue from board C staff and down—C level staff and down. We want to change. And we want to grow. Because it’s not about the organization growing. It’s about being able to service more people in your community, having greater impact on the community.

[00:34:13.070] – Ephraim Gopin
And that’s kind of where the focus has to be. That’s where you start. Once you’ve made that decision, then you can start, “what do we need budget wise? What platforms can we be on? Should we be on?” Again, you don’t have to be everywhere for everyone. You can hyper-focus and do very well just on email, just on social, just—and if it’s social—just on Instagram. It could be that that’s where you should be. So it’s kind of step by step.

[00:34:39.480] – Ephraim Gopin
Don’t get overwhelmed by the process. I know you when you do storytelling with organizations, I know you want to throw a thousand things at them and it can be a very overwhelming process. So when you break it down into a little bits, it’s easier to digest. That’s kind of how I how I look at building that strategy out. So your fundraising marketing is being successful at building relationships and creating more impact on the community.

[00:35:04.760] – Boris
Perfect. And if they want to engage you to help them with any of this, what’s your call to action for them? How should they connect with you? What should they do?

[00:35:12.690] – Ephraim Gopin
You can look at my come to my website, And one of the tools that I have there for free, is how to successfully on board new email subscribers. There is a way to do it properly on your website and I lay it out for you step by step with plenty of examples. I did a study of the largest one hundred nonprofits in the US and how they on board subscribers and whether they do a good job or not.

[00:35:44.110] – Ephraim Gopin
And for anybody who thinks out there that the bigger the nonprofit, the better they are at marketing and fundraising. I’m going to share a little secret with you. It’s not necessarily true. Don’t believe it. Go try, it’s trial and error for yourself. Just because somebody else does it that way doesn’t mean it’s the right way. I lay out in that eBook, exactly how to on board new subscribers, where the form should be, what fields should be in the form, call to action, your email afterwards… We talk a little bit about pop up ads, et cetera. You can download that eBook and you’ll have all the information in front of you. Follow the steps and start onboarding new subscribers and eventually convert them to donors.

[00:36:25.550] – Boris
That sounds amazing, and we will definitely link to that as well, so that people can just click on the show notes and and pay for to your site to download that eBook, which sounds like a guide, a template and everything that someone needs when they don’t even know where to begin. Or maybe they’ve already got something but aren’t sure that it’s the best possible use of their onboarding sequence.

[00:36:47.710] – Ephraim Gopin

[00:36:47.710] – Boris
So I’m excited to share that with everybody. Ephraim, thank you so much. I think I’m going to have to have you on again to talk about more things in the near future. Because, like I said, you and I can talk about this stuff for hours. But I really appreciate your time today and sharing all this valuable info with our audience. Thank you, everybody who has tuned in and listened to or watched this episode. Please be sure to go in and leave us to review, subscribe to the podcast, share—share the word about this show so that more people can benefit from experts like Ephraim and all of the amazing guests that we have on the show every week.

[00:37:20.210] – Boris
Thank you, everybody. Have a great week.

[00:37:22.070] – Ephraim Gopin
Thanks, Boris.

[00:37:41.820] – Outro Video
Thank you all for watching and listening to the Nonprofit Hero Factory, we hope this episode has given you some ideas and strategies for creating more heroes for your cause and a better world for all of us. Please be sure to subscribe to this show on YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform and let us know what you think, by leaving a review.

Concepts and Takeaways:

  • If an organization’s marketing and fundraising departments don’t work well together, donors get confused. (7:37)
  • Fundraisers change jobs every 18 months. This kind of turnover can be unhealthy since fundraising is often all about relationships. (8:41)
  • Have a “Gratitude Attitude.” Donors remember the “Thank You” more than they remember the reason they donated. (12:04)
  • Building a connection with a story in your “Thank you” letter. (13:24)
  • Acquisition costs more than retention. It costs more to get new people to join you than to keep the ones who already have. (16:54)
  • Get your donors involved to create a constant connection and keep them wanting to help more. (18:17)
  • You don’t have to be everywhere on Social Media. You need to understand your audience and where they are, and focus there first. (21:50)
  • On average, it takes seven touchpoints to convince someone to buy something. Don’t instantly send an email asking people to donate. Build trust over time. (23:23)
  • No one is interested in more emails in their inbox. If you’ve convinced them to sign up, show them gratitude right away to reinforce their decision. (26:40)
  • Making sure that the content you are sending out to donors matches their interests. (30:12)

Action Steps: What Now?

  • Start implementing!

    Get Fundraising and Marketing talk to each other.

    This is where it all starts. Start with the decision that you wanted to grow. Then determine where your audiences are, so that you can focus your energies there. Focus your social media and marketing channels to provide more service to the community that your organization is aiming to help.

    Don’t get overwhelmed by the process.

    Break it down first to little bits in a way that it is easier to digest.

    Connect with Ephraim!

    Visit for free tools that your organization can use.

About this week’s guest

Ephraim Gopin

Ephraim Gopin

Principal, 1832 Communications

Ephraim is the founder of 1832 Communications, an agency which helps nonprofits build more relationships so they can raise more money, serve more people and have more impact in the community. Ephraim crafts strategies which help nonprofits successfully upgrade their online presence, boost their email fundraising and marketing and improve their marketing collateral. When fundraising and marketing work together, it’s a beautiful thing!

Connect with Ephraim Gopin