Grizzard’s Newsletter Strategy Reaps Big Rewards

Grizzard's Newsletter Strategy Reaps Big Rewards


San Diego Humane Society had developed a magazine self-mailer which they sent out regularly to a large segment of donors and prospects. Each issue was aesthetically pleasing, filled with articles about how the organization was making a difference for animals, and featured images of cute, furry friends. Unfortunately, the magazine was also expensive. Most issues were barely breaking even.


Grizzard recommended a retooling of the magazine to a less expensive newsletter format. Our creative team developed an 8-page newsletter featuring a separate remit and a reply envelope. But perhaps the biggest difference from the magazine was the shift in tone. Rather than speaking to the organization’s achievements, all of the newsletter content was intentionally designed to be donor-centric — focusing on the impact the donor is making to help animals.


Upon mailing the first two issues, there was no question Grizzard’s newly developed newsletter was the clear winner:

  • 465% increase in year-overyear newsletter revenue.
  • 10% of all mail revenue for FY16.
  • 222% ROI for the first two issues!

Click here to download the pdf.

What to Expect in 2017

The Agitator is my favorite blog and a daily “must-read” every morning. Their November 9th post titled, “What’s Next?” was posted the day after the election.

It states: “What does the election of Donald Trump mean? Of course, no one really knows. Fear, anger, hope, disappointment, rage and joy bounce off our collective emotional wall. Those of us in progressive advocacy fundraising view President-elect Trump as the Orange Menace. Civil liberties, civil rights, environmental, community organizing and a host of others are already laying plans to mitigate the coming damage by rallying their donors.

‘Let the Resistance Begin’ is our battle cry. A repeat of the same feelings we had when Ronald Regan swept into office in 1980. The result? An enormous wave of liberal support sprang up to meet that “menace.” In 1980, the last big political revolution in the U.S., advocacy groups opposed to the Reagan agenda mobilized, rallied their donors and constituents and enjoyed the best fundraising and growth decade since their founding.”

But what about those organizations not politically motivated like those in social services, animal rights, healthcare, higher education and the arts? I think 2017 is showing signs that the outlook is positive.

Giving typically trends with the GDP and the current GDP is the highest it’s been in two years. According to business and finance publisher Kiplinger, expect GDP growth in 2018 and 2019 to be spurred by the fiscal stimulus of tax cuts and infrastructure spending. Instead of the 2.2% growth we previously expected for those years, we now look for the economy to expand by 2.5% to 3%, depending on how much of Trump’s program is actually approved and whether Congress enacts other spending cuts to reduce the deficit. Strong consumer spending, driven by wage and employment gains, plus the buoyant stock market, is likely to be the main pillar supporting the economy next year. And with consumer confidence at a 13 year high, charitable giving should remain strong in 2017.

Make 2017 a Commitment to Stewardship

You made it through the end of the year! I hope all your planning produced a record December fundraising season?

As you look to 2017, I encourage you to put stewardship at the forefront of your planning. Once again, my annual giving test showed very disappointing results.

The key takeaway from my test this year showed that most organizations steward all donors the same way. While not a significant test size, I did find that most organizations I gave to had the same stewardship approach whether I gave $25, $500 or $1,000. And yes, I gave multiple gifts at these levels to the same organizations using different names to track the results.

Here is my suggested action plan:

  • Make a gift to your organization and monitor the stewardship process.
  • If you must, prioritize the segments:
    • Caseload Donors, New donors, $250+ donors, top 1,000 highest value donors
    • Multi-year, upgraded donors
    • Reactivated donors
  • Improve your thank you letter with stronger storytelling. This is the perfect time to demonstrate impact and how the donor made a difference and solved a problem.
  • Make the thank you letter about what the donor did, not the organization. Use “you” language three times as much as you use “we” language.
  • Create a stewardship map that details activity (i.e., letter, phone call, welcome kit, etc.), timing, purpose and content.
  • Make it a priority and communicate the importance to your development team.

Email me if you would like to see an example of a stewardship map. I can be reached at

If you make this a priority, you will see higher retention rates, upgraded giving and more loyalty from your donors. And that will take some pressure off your acquisition efforts.

Make it a New Year’s resolution and let me know how it goes.

You’ll Never Guess What Happened with Digital Media in 2016

It seems like every year gets more and more crazy when it comes to the world of integrated marketing, especially in the digital arena. There are always new products, new strategies and always a few new restrictions that throw everyone for a loop.

But overall, 2016 was a good year for integrated marketing and those that invested will likely see a great return on their investment.

Now I’m a little biased, but from my perspective, digital is becoming a critical component that must be included in your artillery. Though some channels serve to build brand awareness, there seems to be a shift to strategies that deliver an effective ROI.

Here are a few things that I noticed this year that should help with your 2017 planning:

Narrow your focus, reach your limits, and then expand:

Every year, we hear the same thing. “I want to try this new thing I see everyone doing.” Though there might be some validity in testing new strategies every year, you can really only do so much based on your budget. And based on that budget, you still need to start with those strategies that are going to get you that ROI your boss is going to be looking for. Start out with things such as paid search that you know will bring in money. Once you get a feel for how much budget you can spend on that, you can expand to some display and social advertising.

Social isn’t just about being social anymore:

If you had asked me five years ago if social would play a big role in fundraising, I would have laughed, but as times have changed and the demographic for some of the most popular networks have changed, so has that theory. Social now has become one of the main sites that people go to, not only to keep up with their friends, but to find events, news and even offers. Though it still doesn’t generate as much revenue as some channels, we’re seeing a trend here. And in this context, Facebook is still king.

Test, but don’t over test:

In a digital world, not bound by the limits of a standard direct mail or out-of-home piece, we have the flexibility to test messaging and creative. But don’t over do it. Sure, when you are serving millions of impressions you don’t want to have stale creative after a while, but you also still need it to have some recognition. Limit your testing to a few variables, if you have too many factors at one time, it will divide your responses and you’ll be stuck trying to make decisions that aren’t based on any statistical validity. Instead, test one thing, find a winner and then go to the next test.

Finally, the best thing that you can do for digital integration is to be doing it year-round. Building your audiences year round and testing your message could really boost results during November and December. Yes, that probably means budgeting more throughout the year and being more dynamic each month, but that’s the reality of the world we live in now. Donors are going to give where they want, when they want, so you need to keep trends in digital media top of mind.

IP Targeting Boosts Event Participation…and Revenue

IP Targeting Boosts Event Participation...and Revenue

Strategy matches participant files with IP addresses for targeted online messaging.


In the fall of 2015, Michigan Humane Society wanted to lift revenue by increasing the number of participants in their annual Mega March for Animals event. MHS viewed past participants as their primary target and wondered how to reach these folks in a way that would be both successful and cost-effective. Grizzard seized the unique opportunity to communicate with this audience via extremely targeted digital communications.


Grizzard proposed an IP Targeting strategy that worked in tandem with two already-strong MHS campaigns and focused on participants dating back to 2011.Running the clients’ existing participant file against multiple databases, our expert digital team was able to match names and physical addresses with IP addresses. This made it possible to specifically target past participants via online banner ads for a two-week period. The results were just what MHS was hoping for.


  • 84,517 impressions
  • 17.4 ad frequency.
  • 27% click-through rate

In every way, the test group that was targeted outperformed the control group:

  • Those targeted by the online ads were 37% more likely to participate.
  • 7% of targets participated in the walk (versus 5% of non-targets).
  • MHS enjoyed an additional18.7 participants per 1,000people targeted!

How To Build A Strong, Integrated Capital Campaign

How To Build A Strong, Integrated Capital Campaign


Leader Dogs for the Blind initiated a $14.5 million capital campaign to transform their kennel into a world-class Canine Development Center worthy of their extraordinary dogs. They asked Grizzard to help them communicate their vision and needs with donors and non giving volunteers.Of note: Many charities offer naming opportunities with bricks and mortar campaigns (like engraved pathway bricks or honor walls). Unfortunately, an outside consultant recommended against this proven strategy. Consequently, Leader Dog set the bar for name recognition at $7,500 —impossibly high for all but the wealthiest donors.


Grizzard built a compelling integrated campaign centered around a showpiece direct mail appeal. The oversized, 4-colorenvelope included a puppy wearing a hard hat sitting on blueprints, and teasing news about the “biggest campaign” in Leader Dog’s history — a promise the letter quickly paid off. Making a careful case for an upgraded facility without implying dogs were currently under served, donors were asked to make a significant gift. Also included were a highly visual infographic detailing there renovations (easily repurposed for social media) and a remit with an attached bounce back card for display at the Center’s grand opening. This helped compensate for the lack of legacy opportunities. Grizzard then deployed a detailed email with similar messaging,along with links to the Center’s FAQ page and video pages.


By any measure, the Canine Development Center capital campaign was an out standing success.

  • Revenue surpassed projections by 2.5 times,exceeding cost by a 5:1margin.
  • Nearly 100 volunteers made their first ever gift.
  • And nearly half of direct mail donors (46%) upgraded their giving level!

All in all, Grizzard’s integrated capital campaign for LeaderDog made for a very happy client — and more important,helped ensure a successful completion of the Canine Development Center.

15 Points on Technology and the Effect on Our Relationships

How can we use technology to enrich our experiences and not consume them? Everything changes over time. We’ve seen advances year after year, and many young adults have never known a world without a screen or instant access to information and communication. Technology changes how we see the world, affects how we create relationships and impacts our individuality, our health and more. We live in a world of easy access and “likes” that cater to various interests. This can help organizations modify their message and target audiences based on interests or what’s trending. Technology is changing the way we are, directly or indirectly, by new means of connecting with our friends and family, or through businesses with our co-workers and constituents.

There are two sides to every coin. On one side, we can:

  1. Enhance our communication with friends, family and loved ones around the world in seconds, making an immediate impact on the lives of those that are close to us.
  2. Express ourselves through text, image, video and music by voicing our opinions, supporting causes and changing lives instantly.
  3. Respond quickly to our loved ones, our employers and our clients.
  4. Learn what other communities and cultures are like outside of our own and gain access to information about almost anything.
  5. Become more skilled about how to find information, as well as retain it.
  6. Find new methods of learning, such as improving our hand-eye coordination and having friendly competition through games and apps, which can also improve our spelling, memory and attention to detail.
  7. Provide a level of safety that did not exist in the past. For example, we don’t worry as much about our loved ones driving alone near or far because they are now able to call for help at the touch of a button.

On the other side of the coin, technology can negatively impact us. This includes:

  1. Reducing quality time.
  2. Impacting our brain functionality, as well as our reading and writing skills.
  3. Reducing creativity and ability to solve problems.
  4. Causing health problems earlier in age including weaker eye-sight, back problems and lack of attention span.
  5. Exposing our society earlier to non-age appropriate content, illegal activity, driving distractions or creating a false sense of security.

We can find ways to make everything work together. For example, we integrate our mail and digital so that communication is not isolated.

There is no right or wrong, but stop and ask yourself:

  1. How does technology impact my personal, business and donor relationships?
  2. What are we doing about it?
  3. How do you know it’s working?

Technology is a conduit to connect people wherever they are through shared interests. We can effectively and efficiently enhance relationships through technology by exploring different ways to learn, communicate and improve safety, while also remembering to set technology aside to experience the world around us.

By Jennifer Huckleby | Digital Marketing Manager

Changes To Google Mobile Search Could Affect Your Lightbox

Recently, Google announced some changes to their mobile search results that are intended to make finding content on mobile devices easier for users. One of the changes will make sites with “intrusive interstitials” (i.e., pop-ups, lightboxes, anything that covers a majority of the actual site content on a mobile screen) rank lower in organic mobile search results and thus limit mobile traffic to the site. Google determined that these types of lightboxes are an annoyance to mobile users (who often have a hard time closing them out) and hinder their ability to quickly and easily access site content.

While full-screen interstitials are allowed for topics like responses to legal obligations (alerting users of cookie usage, age verification, etc.) and login pop-ups, Google has suggested shrinking the size of interstitials with other content that falls outside of these categories. Under their new rules, Google has stated acceptable interstitials “use a reasonable amount of space and are easily dismissible.” For example, the “open in app” notification seen here —- it’s not covering a large portion of the content and it’s easy to close out.

Changes Google Mobile Search Could Affect Your Lightbox
While this may seem like a hassle to those using the same lightbox for desktop and mobile, Google is aiming to improve user experience. Following their Google’s guidelines will help ensure you’re seeing the best results from your organic search. How will this change your mobile lightbox strategy?

Millennials Engage Digitally, Seniors Engage Fiscally

The rallying cry of nonprofit organizations – especially in human services – calls for attracting a younger donor. Considering the average age of a human services donor is approaching 70, the desire for filling the funnel for long-term sustainability is understandable.

In truth, both young and older generations play a vital role in fundraising strategy. One is instrumental for advocacy, influencing, and volunteering; the other supplies the dollars to support vital programs and growth.

Almost by definition, millennials are more digitally engaged with nonprofits than any other generation. Notably, over half of all millennials receive email from a nonprofit, and 39% have “Liked” at least one nonprofit on Facebook.

Millennials Engage Digitally, Seniors Engage Fiscally

Source: Grizzard’s DonorGraphicsTM Media Usage Study 2016.
Base: US online adults (n=2,539). Pew Research generation definitions are used, with the “Silent” and “Greatest” generations combined into “Seniors.”

Seniors however, have the highest donation rates of any generation. Nearly three-quarters of seniors give to nonprofit organizations, and give more than any other segment (even when excluding large gifts). In fact, the percentage of the general population who give charitably increases with age, as does the amount given.

Millennials Engage Digitally, Seniors Engage Fiscally 1

Source: Grizzard’s DonorGraphicsTM Media Usage Study 2016.
Base: US online adults (n=2,539).

If millennials engage digitally, and seniors engage fiscally, then volunteering just might be the great equalizer between the two polar generations. They have the same rates of volunteering, with a third of each segment giving their time in the past year.

Millennials Engage Digitally, Seniors Engage Fiscally 2

Source: Grizzard’s DonorGraphicsTM Media Usage Study 2016.
Base: US online adults (n=2,539).

Millennials are not donors so much as they are fundraisers. They often care more about issues than organizations, aligning their passions through cause-related missions.

So what’s the key to garnering more millennial support? Tapping into the younger generations’ networks to broadcast their interests through your organization. Activating their passions through your organization triggers the power of their social networks.

But first, polish your major and legacy giving strategies. Millennials and seniors work in concert; different systems with different measurable outcomes. Both are vital to long-term fundraising success.

By: Lori Connolly, vp, research & analytics

3 Simple Ways to Target Your Offline Donors Online

Are you targeting the 37% of donors who prefer to give online?* Historically, multi-channel donors give more than single-channel donors – sometimes as much as four times more than direct mail-only donors. Multi-channel targeting has also shown to improve donor retention.

All of that to say, it’s important to try to engage your donors through multiple channels, online and offline. That’s not always easy if you have limited information on your donor records, but here are three tools and tactics that can help:

Run an eAppend

First, consider running an eAppend on your donor file. An eAppend uses the names and physical addresses from your donor file to match donors to their email addresses. This can be done on your full donor file or just for new donors you’ve acquired through your offline acquisition efforts throughout the year. As part of the eAppend process, new email addresses should receive an email asking them if they’d like to opt-out of email communications – ensuring you have a clean email list. Once you get the final email list, introduce your donors to your online resources and communications by sending them a welcome email or a series of welcome emails before adding them into your normal email stream.

IP Targeting

IP Targeting is a great tactic for increasing the frequency of your direct mail campaign messaging by serving your direct mail recipients banner ads as they browse the web. Similar to an eAppend, IP Targeting works by taking your donor mail file (with donor names and physical addresses) and matching the records to IP addresses for the households. Then, banner ads are served to devices on those IP addresses. Serving banner ads with messaging similar to your direct mail campaign creative not only adds another touchpoint with the donor, but also gives the donor a quick and convenient way to donate should they choose to click through on the ad and give to your campaign-specific donation page.

Facebook Custom Audience

Facebook custom audience requires a slightly different data set in that you need either donor phone numbers or email addresses. If you don’t have either, you can always start with an eAppend or phone append. However, with Facebook custom audience, your list of donor phone numbers and email addresses are uploaded into Facebook’s secure ad tool. Then, Facebook can tell you how many user accounts are associated with the donor records you provided. From there, you can target that list and serve them ads on Facebook and Facebook partner sites. In addition to adding another touchpoint into your campaign, these ads also give your donors a chance to like your Facebook page and share your content with their friends, family, and followers. (Side Note: Have you seen our blog on the free tool Facebook provides that will give you insight into the demographics of your email list? Check it out here!)

While there are a variety of ways to reach your donors online, these are some of our go-to tactics – especially at this time of year! Do you have some favorites of your own?
*Source: Grizzard’s DonorGrapicsTM Media Usage Study 2016.


By: Brandi Herson, Digital Strategist