Ep 91 | How Monthly Recurring Donations Supported Guardian Group in 2020

 We call our monthly donors, our Guardians, and, and we do things that were like specific to them. So they're the only people that get a monthly update on as far as like, what our offensive side is doing, as well as our training, they get access to everything first. And we stayed really true to that. So for example, we just launched a whole new line of gear, and right now only the guardians have access to it. And everyone else gets access on January one and stuff like that. So we also started storytelling a little bit better. And with what we do, we can't tell specific stories. So I'm not going to tell you a victim's experience and re exploit her while She's still trying to navigate healing and being out of trafficking, and so on and so forth. So we started trying to figure out how to tell the story without telling the story. Which is always like such a tricky space for us, which other organizations can do so much easier. And they always make me a little bit jealous. But we really started focusing on on trying to do that better and figuring out like, what exactly that looks like. So that really helped people being able to understand better what, what's going on. – Andrea Perry

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In 2019, when the Guardian Group lost both of their major donors they knew they needed more financial stability in their fundraising. They already had a monthly donor program but decided to go all in on it. That decision allowed them to know what was coming in each month and support their mission. With all the changes in 2020, they were still able to thrive because they weren't scrambling for the much needed dollars they needed. Now in 2021, they are working towards expansion and building in major gifts. Hear from Andrea Perry, their marketing director, about where they've come from and where they're going.

 In this episode you'll learn:

→ how the Guardian Group's fundraising evolved over the last few years.
→ why you don't need a big staff to make it work.
→ how they grew their donors as a smaller organization.
→ how to incorporate workplace giving.
→ how Guardian Group follows up with their donors.

Want to skip ahead?  Here are some key takeaways:

[6:12] In 2018, their fundraising model was a handful of monthly donors and two major donors.  In March of 2019, both those donors stopped donating and that's why the really decided to focus on their monthly donor campaign for more stability. That switch is what really helped them stay alive and keep working on their mission in 2020.
[9:54] It doesn't take a big team to make this happen. Their entire team is five, and not all of them are in the fundraising/marketing team.
[14:15] Create a special program with perks just for your monthly donors. They'll feel special, like VIPs, and be more inclined to participate to get those perks. Then keep talking about it. Make it your main campaign so people know how they can best support your organization and where the money is going to. The Guardian Group made this their main message about how people can engage and get involved.
[22:21] Double the Donation allows you to integration workplace giving into your donation page. By doing this people can search to see if their employer has a matching gifts campaign and automatically submit the paperwork.
[27:31] Follow up with your donors is extremely important. Figure out what your plan of action is. For the Guardian Group it's an automated email with a tax receipts, hand written thank you cards, phone calls and emails.


Double the Donation
EP 88 | Google Ad Grant and How to Maximize It
EP 87 | Empathy and your Donors with Ali Cammelletti

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Andrea Perry

Andrea Perry

Marketing Director, Guardian Group

Andrea has a degree in Psychology from Cal Poly and has always had a heart for youth. Shortly after moving to Bend from Northern California she heard about Guardian Group's fight against human trafficking here in the United States. Determined to help in any way she could she began volunteering to run their social media accounts and then was hired on full time as their assistant and later the marketing director. When she isn't working she is hiking or backpacking with her two favorite guys… her husband Jordan and her dog Hank. Learn more: https://theguardiangroup.org/ 

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Full Transcript

[INTRO] Hey there, welcome to another episode of the digital marketing therapy podcast. Sami here, your host. And today we're talking about the good old monthly recurring donation program. And I'm a huge fan of this so much because having money that comes in on a monthly basis that you don't have to ask for that's just recurring is so great. And it's a great way to build your email list. It's a great way to build your donor base, and walk those donors up the ladder into becoming larger donors.

So I have on the show today, Andrea Perry, who is the marketing director at The Guardian group, and they have a monthly recurring donation program that she says has the their butts in 2020. And so I wanted to have her come on and kind of talk about how it all came about, how did they create it? What is their staff look like? What are the things that they do after somebody has donated, like how does it all come together? So she can share her firsthand experience with how they've used this in their fundraising efforts, and how it's kind of evolved over time and how they're now kind of growing it into their 2021 strategy. So I think you'll really like the conversation that we have around all of this.

Andrea has a degree in psychology from Cal Poly and has always had a heart for youth. Shortly after moving to Bend from Northern California, she heard about Guardian Group's fight against human trafficking here in the United States, determined to help in any way she could, she began volunteering to run their social media accounts, and then was hired on full time as their assistant and later marketing director. When she isn't working, she's hiking or backpacking with her two favorite guys, her husband, Jordan, and her dog, Hank.

Now, um, she just shares a lot of just their strategies and what they do. And I think you're really going to enjoy just hearing from another nonprofit, how they've made it work and what has worked, what hasn't, and kind of what 2020 has been for them. Because I know everyone has had their own experiences. But we're in 2020 now, and we're gonna make it a great year.

But before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our online fundraising virtual summit that's taking place on February 8 through the 12th. And Andrea is going to be part of a live Q&A on Friday the 12th, where she'll be here live, answering your questions, talking to you about a simple about this monthly recurring program that they've created.

So if you listen to this, and you have specific questions or additional ideas or thoughts, that you just kind of want to flesh out with another nonprofit, she will be live on February 12. And it's a free event for you to attend. So check it out at https://onlinefundraisingsummit.com. We have lots of amazing speakers that are gonna be talking throughout the week on how to build, grow, retain, and, and promote your, your program and get more donors involved in your monthly giving. So https://onlinefundraisingsummit.com, get on the waitlist, registration opens next week. And I look forward to seeing you there. Let's get into it.

[CANNED INTRODUCTION] You're listening to the Digital Marketing Therapy Podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN]  I'd love to welcome Andrea Perry to the podcast. Andrea, thank you for joining me today.

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, thanks for having me.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] And you've been on before I think you were like one of our first five episodes talking about your email marketing. So it's good to have you back.

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, it's been a while it's been a long while.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] But Andrea, you are the marketing director at The Guardian group. And so we wanted to talk to you a little bit today about kind of your evolution in fundraising as we've gone through, you know, 2020, and all of the chaos that has been and so before we kind of jump into that, I'm just curious, off the top, like, what do you think was your biggest challenge in 2020, with like pivoting and adjusting and figuring out the new landscape without being able to really be live and in person?

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, so many different challenges.
Um, I mean, we had, like, operationally our challenges with what we do. And we do a lot of training. And so we had to pivot all of our training online pretty quickly, and which we had some basis for already. But we definitely had to, like, accelerate some of that. And then not being like out training on the road meant that we weren't meeting new people. And so we had to figure out how to meet people online, at the same capacity and, and share our mission and what we do and how they could be a part of that and which that used to kind of be a side, part of our strategy in it all of a sudden became the whole strategy. And then dealing obviously, like everyone else with the great unknowns and every week, things being different and what are we going to be allowed to do and do. We needed to come up with a strategy. Do we just need to wait it out?

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Right and in a lot multiple states. And so it's not happening in your home state. It's also understanding the guidelines and things that you can and cannot do in all the states you operate.

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, we we work in every state. So it's it was a lot really quickly and, you know, trainings that were scheduled and flights that were bought that were all the sudden being canceled, and how do we, how do we navigate that revenue loss and stuff like that? It was just, it's been quite the year. Yeah, that's a nightmare.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yeah. Okay. So we're gonna kind of walk through a journey of kind of what your fundraising has looked like, historically, over the last few years, and kind of what 2021 kind of looks like for you, because obviously, we worked with you guys. For what a little over a year, has it been more than a year? I feel like yes,

[ANDREA PERRY] Its been. I mean, our new website was launched in July of 2019. So it's been like.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] You're so much better with dates, and I am. So it's been a while.

[ANDREA PERRY] Because things like everything pivots around that date, I can only pull data for so far.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] I love it. Yeah. And so we've been working with the Guardian group for quite some time. And why don't you just kind of share it. Let's Let's go all the way back to 2018. And I would love for you just to kind of share like, you know, what were your revenue models, because obviously, you're doing trainings, which you get revenue from you're doing, you're getting donations, corporate sponsor, whatever that looks like when you share a little bit about like a 2018. What that kind of model looked like, and what was working well for you and what maybe wasn't.

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, so 2018. And we started in in 2010. But we really like tested what we do, and for a long time before we went out and started asking for money. And so by 2018, our fundraising strategy, was still pretty new. And at that point, we had about 15 monthly donors, that gave up pretty small levels. And but we were mostly funded by two big donors, which we as an organization had identified the risk in that. And as like, Okay, if something goes south with one of these, what's, what's our plan, and, and then we also get revenue from our training. And so we had a little bit of that coming in as well.

And then in 2019, in March, we got to learn what happens when two big donors stopped donating. And I would both dropped out. Yes, totally not related to our mission or anything, it was personal on both accounts. And but they both dropped out within about a month of each other. Wow. And all the sudden, our main revenue was gone. And, and it was, you know, it's nonprofit, you're always forecasting that this money is going to come in and, and all of a sudden, it didn't, right. And so we had to pivot very quickly, in March of 2019. And that's when we started focusing on generating monthly donor revenue, and really dove hard into pushing that as an effort. And, and that really, over 2019 grew and grew and really played a huge deal role in our 2020. And
like, when COVID hit and things became the great unknown, we had this reliable income that really sustained parts of what we do and very well.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] And your retention, which meant that pretty good, right?

[ANDREA PERRY] It was great. We had a few monthly donors. So to give you an idea, we went from 15 to 135. And, and then, through 2020, we had two monthly donors that had to pause for a couple months, but came back. And then we had maybe three or four that dropped out. Mm hmm. So yeah, we that was one of our asks, and initially was like, hey, if you are in a line of work that's still working, would you consider increasing your monthly donation? And we had quite a few that were like, yeah, we can give you this much extra one time, or we can increase by $10 or $50, or whatever. And so it really became this community that that kind of pulled us through 2020. Yeah.

Which was great to have. We were glad that we that we learned so much in 2019. Before, before the chaos of 2020.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Well, and let's talk about your staff size, because I think this is important because a lot of people think that managing a program like this, or reaching out in this manner is something that takes a lot of staff, it takes a lot of tech it takes a whole like whatever, but you guys run pretty lean.

[ANDREA PERRY] We have five people yeah, on staff.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN]  Right, but they're not all on staff. They're not like.

[ANDREA PERRY] And we are a marketing department have one, right! Oh yeah, so we have our CEO, and which he works much more in the like high net worth donor arena. Um, and then my main role is monthly donor program, and as well as like training and all of our outward facing programs. And then we do have a business development director, and she does a lot of the like cultivation and stuff like that. Mm hmm. Yeah, we're pretty small team. So it doesn't take a lot.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So do you think that that was something that made it easier for you in 2019? When those two large donors, you know, stepped away? And having a smaller team? Do you think that made you more nimble and more easily, easily made it easier? Hello, if that sentence made it easier for you guys to say, Okay, what are we going to do and just take action?

[ANDREA PERRY] Um, yes, and no, I think it was easier because it was like, I mean, it, it basically came down to figure out how to run this program. And so it really was like, Alright, well, this is what I'm going to try. It wasn't a lot of like outside input of like, well, maybe we should do this. Maybe we should do that. I think in that way, it was easier. But at the same time, like, I also had to figure out figure out pieces by, you know, on my own, which was a little bit challenging.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yeah, so well, and once you start researching tech, it's like, you can go down this rabbit hole of like, you could spend months trying to figure out exactly what to use. And so you may ultimately ended up using give WP Give. And you use that to capture your recurring donors, your one time donors, as well, right?

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, yeah. So we did identify in 2019, like, one of the things that we really needed was, our website was awful. And it didn't clearly portray who we were, what we did. And also, like, the tech attached to it was terrible when it came to like getting donor info. So we did make those adjustments with your guys's help in 2019. And that definitely, like put us on the right track to have like dedicated landing pages for the program. And, and then Give WP is just really helpful in gathering all that donor data. And then we use Bloomerang for a CRM, like, just continue the cultivation of like, okay, so when was the last time we chatted with this donor? And has somebody called them recently? And we've probably should do that.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yes, well, and I think the thing, I mean, full disclosure, like we're, our company is an affiliate of GiveWP. So it's something that we definitely recommend and use a lot. But what I really recommend, and I think you would agree with is having that donation form that is native in your website that just looks like it's a part of your website just makes that user experience so much better.

[ANDREA PERRY] Totally. And they have every add on you could possibly want. Like, we implemented the fee recovery, which now credit card fees aren't even a budget line item for us, whereas they used to be this huge thing that we had to pay. But it's shocking how many donors are like, yeah, I'll pay your extra $1.80 so that you don't have to pay the fee on my card, which is a huge help in this space. And they make it so easy. I think you just like enable a button and then Yep, yeah. And then it does it for you. It figures out the fee and everything.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So okay, so yeah, 2019 was a big learning curve for you. You guys figured out this monthly donor campaign, you said did you say you ended 2019? With 10? donor?

[ANDREA PERRY] No. So we hope 2019. We ended with about 80. Okay, so that's the last started 15? Yeah.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So what would you say? Were kind of like, sorry, if you can hear my dog barking in the background. But what would you say contributed to like that? Because that's a lot for Yeah. Like how, because you guys aren't a large, large organization.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So what do you think contributed to that? Like, what kind of campaigns Did you run to encourage people to become part of that program?

[ANDREA PERRY] So we tried to make it, we call our monthly donors, our Guardians, and, and we do things that were like specific to them. So they're the only people that get a monthly update on as far as like, what our offensive side is doing, as well as our training, they get access to everything first. And we stayed really true to that. So for example, we just launched a whole new line of gear, and right now only the Guardians have access to it. And everyone else gets access on January one and stuff like that. So we also started storytelling a little bit better. And with what we do, we can't tell specific stories. So I'm not going to tell you a victim's experience and re exploit her while She's still trying to navigate healing and being out of trafficking, and so on and so forth. So we started trying to figure out how to tell the story without telling the story. Which is always like such a tricky space for us, which other organizations can do so much easier. And they always make me a little bit jealous. But we really started focusing on on trying to do that better and figuring out like, what exactly that looks like. So that really helped people being able to understand better what, what's going on.

And, and then it just became the thing that we talked about all the time. So when anyone said, I want to be involved, I want to help, what can I do, and we're like, become a Guardian, we need monthly donors. And we talked about it as being this reliable, and sustainable revenue stream for us and the importance of that, and educated people on like, how, how a monthly donor really does make such a big impact on a nonprofit versus just a one time unpredictable donation, like knowing that this money is going to come in every month is so helpful. And and I don't think people that don't work in this space, understand that unnecessarily. So we just tried to educate people on that and as much as we could. And all of that combined seemed to work pretty well. And we really haven't strayed from that strategy. Too much. We've just continued as our you know, presence has grown through email, and through social media, we've just continued to kind of share these consistent messages about it. And it's continued to grow every month, so

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So is this kind of, instead of maybe having like an annual campaign that you just run once or twice a year, and try to have a big fundraising drive around that this has kind of replaced that for you? Or do you also do an annual campaign on top of that?

[ANDREA PERRY] So we do an annual campaign, like at the end of year, we're but the the thing we're asking in the annual campaign is for monthly donors. Okay. And so we've definitely like, that is your thing. That's the thing. Yeah. And people will still give one time, and which is fine, we always give that as an option. But the main ask is always become a monthly donor.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] And you find that there's a message in there with being able to even if you only give $5 or $10 a month to really say like, maybe you feel like that's not an impactful gift, but with the way that you've been able to craft the messaging, it makes them feel more important and like they're doing more for your organization than what they maybe would have initially thought $120 gift might be.

[ANDREA PERRY] I mean, I would hope so that's definitely like what we've strived for. And it's is just like, encouraging people that, hey, even if it feels small, you're still making an impact. And that's something that like, when we communicate with our Guardians, once a month, we're always sure to say like, your support has done this. Yeah, this is what your $5 has done. And we've always put it as like, they're just too much as part of the team because I couldn't do my job without them. Our offensive team wouldn't be doing this job without them. Like, they're so vital. And that we always try and communicate that to them as well.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Good. Okay, so 2019 you're feeling good about your campaign, you've got you know, your your thing is growing. And then 2020? What was initially your fundraising strategy? Was it to just continue with the same path and just continue to grow your monthly donors while you're building? Because I know, we've built out the whole online training program for hotels and things. So was it just to kind of grow those as your revenue streams? Or kind of what were you anticipating 2020 to look like?

[ANDREA PERRY] Anytime our CEO calls it a growth year, I get nervous. So he said at once about 2021 already, and I'm like, Don't say that, jinxing us.

And so we we went into the year with the goal of increasing the monthly donor program, and we initially had said by 150 donors, okay, we've now kind of pivoted from that and put a number to it instead of a number of people. Because some people give $300 a month, some people give five, so they have a revenue goal now instead of instead of a subscriber goal, yeah. But we also went in with the training being a revenue stream, as well as starting to cultivate some more high net worth donors, and then diving more into the grant sector.

So we've been we've used grants as a revenue revenue stream in the past, but we definitely want to focus on it more in 2020. And, and then, and then March.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yeah, and then COVID Yeah, so it sounds to me like 2020 was the year of diversifying your revenue streams to kind of make you a more stable organization.

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that's always the smart role, right? It's like, what are we doing? Well, okay, what else can we do better?

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] What I love about what you're saying is that you, instead of trying to do it all at once you're you're picking one thing at a time.  So we're going to now we know the donor program is working. So let's just continue to build on that. But now we're going to add in this and then we're going to add in this and we understand how the trainings are affecting this partner. But like, you're really paying attention to the holistic view, as opposed to just being like, Here's 10 strategies we have to try right now. Let's just do them all and see what happens. Which doesn't, yeah, doesn't work. If you have a big team, it doesn't work if you have a small team.

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, so we know like, like for 2021. For some of our goals, we know the monthly donor program is going to grow. If If we continue to do the things we're doing and adjusting as needed, based on whatever thing gets thrown at us. And then the monthly donor program will continue to grow grow, as it has the last two years. So the goal for 2021 is just to maintain that growth, and then to really focus on okay, how do we bring in more high net worth donors? And how do we convert more grants?

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Mm hmm. And do you find that anything is different? Do you find it easier now that you have that monthly donor base and you know that your retention rate, you know, what your retention rates are that are proven over time that when you're having conversations with grants, and you're having conversations with the higher net worth donors, that it's like, you have that layer of stability to prove your viability outside of the programming that you're doing, you could financially prove that you guys can sustain yourself?

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, it definitely takes some stress off of things, that's for sure. Yeah. And it is true, because grants do ask for like, Okay, so how are you going to fund this program? When the grants over? Like, what's your plan? And so, having this is like, a continually growing source, and definitely allows us to say that now, whereas before, it was like, yeah, we don't really have a plan yet. We're gonna happen. Yeah. Which then your grant doesn't get funded. So um, it definitely has helped.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So yeah. Okay, so um, you also added something kind of cool this year with your donation program that I want to make sure you mentioned called double the donation?

[ANDREA PERRY] Yes, we love double the donation.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So share a little bit about what that is, in case organizations don't know and like what impact that has had on your monthly giving and one time giving campaign.

[ANDREA PERRY] So double donation is a program that connects donors, it basically just lets them look up and see if their employer does matching. And then if they their employers registered with double the donation, which I believe they have the most companies registered have any platform that maybe is somewhat like this. And it takes them right to the form. So they can just tell Verizon, or whoever they work for, Hey, I just donated this money, and then puts it in for the match. Mm hmm.

So we they do like a 14 day free trial to put their little widget on your website. And we did it and we were like, okay, we'll see if it's worth because it's a little bit expensive. You're like, let's see if it's worth it. And it's been maybe six weeks, and it's already paid for itself. Mm hmm. Right? Yeah, the annual fee. So it's super nice. Um, because you can just type in who you work for. And then if your organization like say, for example, you work for Verizon, you type that in, if it doesn't come up, like they're not a registered match, then the widget gives it options of like, hey, maybe tell your employer that this is the thing or like, pitch it to them, or check your spouse's employer. Like it gives you options to find out how to get a match. And so just saying like, sorry, they don't match.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Well, I feel like this is something that is every single nonprofit I've ever worked for been involved in like, well, let's go out let's do a matching gifts campaign for employers. Like that's always something that comes up in conversation, but the logistics behind it are a nightmare.

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, so we tried to do it, outside of using a platform for years, have tried to like go direct to companies and push it with donors. And it's brought in some revenue, but it's never been like super reliable or successful by any means. And as soon as we installed the widget on the website, it just made it so easy, and that it's already bringing in money. Yeah, that's I think I highly, highly recommend it. And yeah, don't be we were always afraid of the price tag that we were like, there's no way this will pay for itself, but it has its own cause does that connect them to with your monthly donor?

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So if if an employer has a monthly or I mean, whatever, they all have different, right? Like we match up to a certain amount, blah, blah. Yeah, I go in and put in a recurring donation to my employers and match will automatically then do that every month? Or does it still have to be a manual?

[ANDREA PERRY] So I think it depends on the organization or the company that's doing the match. And I don't know, because we have some that come in every month, they just send us a check. And it's based on a certain employees monthly gift. But then there's other ones that I'm not sure if they have to submit the paperwork on time or not. So it probably just depends on whatever. Yeah, because its super easy one to integrate with your donation form. So it's not like they have to go somewhere else to complete that process. Yeah. And you can put the widget like anywhere. So we wrote a blog post about like, how cool employees are that match donations, and put the widget right on there. And then we were just running Google Ads towards that. So it's just like, how do you increase your impact? You know, there's, there's so many different ways that you can use it.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] And, you know, I'm glad you brought up Google ads, because I know you work with nonprofit megaphone, and we did a podcast episode with them. I think it will be what, two or three weeks ago, we can link that up in the show notes. So if you're curious about how, as a nonprofit, you could take advantage of Google ads for free. check that one out. But yeah, that's a really creative way to do that.

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, it was just another way to like #1 spend all that free Google Ad money to increase your impact.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] And who doesn't? I mean, I feel like I mean, we're just coming out of the holiday season, you know, COVID, like people are wanting to give more in ways that they like, they just, we just want to do more. And a lot of times, we feel like we can't make a big enough impact with organizations that we give to. And so something like double the donation, something like a low monthly recurring donation, something like, you know, the credit card recovery fee, all that makes a huge impact on the nonprofit and then maximizing your giving.

[ANDREA PERRY]  Totally, and people you know, tell us all the time, like, all I can do is, you know, 20 bucks, that's it. But then when they find out that their employer will also do 20 bucks, they feel so much better about it, because then they're like, Oh, I'm actually giving 40. Right. And so it does, I mean, every little bit makes a huge difference. And so, yes, every little piece, yeah.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So I want to touch on the follow up after people have donated because I think there's an opportunity here that most organizations are missing out on. So you talked a little bit about it. And I also think it's the thing that people are afraid of, like, if I do a monthly donor campaign, like, then I have to have a whole employee that's just dedicated to communicating with them, and whatever, whatever, whatever. And I think you guys do a really good job at this. And so you've already mentioned that they get the monthly newsletter, updates, things like that. But you know, when somebody gives their money right away, like what is what does that experience look like for them?

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, so when they donate right away, they they instantly get an email that says, Thank you, that's like, our tax ID. And just so that they have that info, and then within 24 hours, if they if they gave a monthly donation, then they get a welcome to the Guardians email, and it kind of just tells them, like, what to expect. So like, Hey, now you're part of the team, that means that you're going to get an impact report, you know, at the end of every month, that means that if something big happens, you're going to be the first one to know, so be on the lookout, and then we don't send them any other emails besides that. And unless, like, like we did send one in March that was like, hey, team. the, world's shutting down, COVID update, so unless there's like, major things going on, we don't we don't send them any other emails.

And, and then if they just donated, they also get sorry. They also get a thank you note, and a sticker. And then they get a phone call from some of our team.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So that a handwritten thank you note that they get. Yes. from somebody on the team. Okay. And yes, sorry, what was less than you said, a sticker and then a phone call? Okay, and how, like, how late after their donation does like that whole sequence?

[ANDREA PERRY] It will happen. So they'll get the welcome email within 24 hours. And then the thank, you know, on the next business day, okay, so yeah, so I mean, if you give on Saturday, then it'll get mailed out on Monday. Um, and then seeing what's a phone call, usually within 24 to 48 hours.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] And what and who on how many people on your team are make, like, do divvy this up between multiple people or is that mostly you or?

[ANDREA PERRY] So I do the thank you notes. And then our Director of Development does the phone call. Mm hmm. And the reason we do it that way is because she's the one that will cultivate and she does she's responsible for all donor cultivation. And so just getting her name attached to the organization means that when they have an issue with their donation, or they just like have a question. They have somebody they can call. Yeah. And that's her. I mean, besides grants, that's her job, and is to just be there for donors. So we try and get her connected to them as quickly as possible.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] And what does that feedback? Like when she's calling donors?

[ANDREA PERRY] You know, I mean, they love it. Yeah, I was gonna say that happens that often. Yeah, I hate getting phone calls. I like text me any day. Don't call me. So I'm like, when we first started doing it, it like made me feel cringy. But I was like, oh, we're like spam, calling people totally just my own, like bias in the world about that. But people love it. So it's, yeah. And yeah, I mean, they really loved it in 2020, because people were home and they were lonely. And so our phone call times went from like, a quick five minute thank you to an hour of like, let me tell you what my cat just did. And they just like needed somebody to connect with. And, and she did a really good job this last year of just like calling and checking in on our monthly donors. And without any motive behind it, just to say like, hey, this year's been crazy how you doing? And and that really got good feedback as well, that people just needed somebody to talk to,

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Oh, it's so good. Um, that's just plug a bunch of my own podcast episodes. But I just had with Ali Cammelletti was donors. And so that's another one you'll want to check out that's tied to that. It's literally that same thing like how do you reach out to donors on a regular basis without an ask just to check in? Yeah, but all that does, if you're doing it authentically and genuinely is solidify that. Like, if I'm at the end of the year, figuring out if I'm going to give 100 bucks to The Guardian group, or I'm going to give 100 bucks to the other organization, I'm probably going to give it to the one that called and check in on me and just say, Hi, like, because you care, it's you know, you're showing that you care about me, not just because of the money that I'm giving you. Right?

[ANDREA PERRY]  You can't look at people as just, you know, a credit card or checkbook. And I. And that's something that I think like we really learned in 2020 is, hey, our donors have taken care of us for a long time. And we need to do the same for them. And because we had this sustainable revenue, we weren't scrambling. And so it gave us the opportunity to be like, how are you? You know, how's homeschooling your kids? How is you know, all the different things that all the sudden we were all doing?

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Well, I think that's incredible that you guys took that stance, because yes, like all of us were going through stuff in our homes. But you know, in what you're dealing with, with trafficking, your whole, your whole work was also being adjusted in the way that you made impact. And yeah, your communication with teams. And all of that was also pivoting and changing on top of that. So what would you guys say is kind of like how is your culture in your organization that has kind of allowed you to kind of mold and work through all of that.

[ANDREA PERRY] So I think we are very good at staying in our own lanes. And like our team is very clear on whose role is who's and, and so, for example, like our offensive team that supports law enforcement, that's all they do. And we try and keep them out of all of the development side. So they don't have to worry, they can just focus on this law enforcement officer in you know, we can never Nevada needs help. And that's all I have to do today. I don't have to worry about whether or not we're raising money. And and they honestly, like our offensive team has never been busier because one of the things that happened with COVID is law enforcement had to change how they policed. And so things got very different for them. And they all of a sudden needed our support way more than before. So we saw this huge increase in work on one side, while the other side of the house was trying to figure out, how do we train online? And how do we, you know, take care of our donors and all this other side. So we're very good at staying within our own role, and doing what needs to be done in that space, and then letting the rest of the team do what needs to be done in their space. And I think that's really helped us be really efficient and effective in what we do.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Do you think that that because the other thing that I'm hearing you say is team alignment, just in the overall vision and goals of what you're trying to accomplish? So like that trust can be there because, you know, you're all ultimately working towards the same goal.

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, yeah. And I mean, we're, we're good also at like communicating what our roles are doing. And so like, the offensive team knows the marketing plan, and they know what what's going to be put out. And then they share with me what they're doing. And obviously, I can't share a lot of that, but they give me the pieces that I can share. So there's so much like clear communication between people that it's that that's really beneficial as well. And, you know, we meet once a week, which COVID didn't slow any of that down, we just pivoted to zoom. And, um, and then at the end of the week, everybody sends a recap for what they did and what they're working on. And, and that really, I think, has has helped streamline us. But I mean, you got to understand I work with all military. So it's very organized and done a certain way with a lot of acronyms.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yeah. I think there's something to be learned from that in general. I mean, rigidity has its place. And, you know, obviously, the work that you do is highly sensitive and emotional and incredible. But I think if you didn't have that kind of rigidity, you guys would probably get lost. I mean, in every story, like you have to process right, because everything is tragic.


[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Right. And, okay.

[ANDREA PERRY] And everything is trafficking, like people think everything is trafficking, when reality like other crimes still happen, right, like people still get kidnapped. So we, we have to say, like very clear that this is our mission. And this is the only thing that we do, because this project problem is so big, that if we don't focus on just this, we're going to get dragged in 1000 different directions, and then your impact becomes less.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] And I think, you know, not everybody is dealing with such a highly sensitive topic as far as what their purpose and community engagement is, doesn't mean it's not important. But it also, like you can, the same things happen to every single nonprofit organization. So that's why I love that you guys really took that time. I mean, the fact that you say you were been around since 2010, and didn't have a strong fundraising effort until 2018, even before you had, we're forced to really figure it out. And just says a lot about slowing down perfecting your craft, perfecting your process. And really having something that you can go to your donors with that makes it real and like this is going to stick around like we're not going anywhere. We've been around now. We're just trying to grow and scale. Right?

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, we definitely like tested, tested, tested. And this was long before I was part of the team. But, um, yeah, I mean, they tested the theory tested the strategies, and we continue to adapt as the crime adapts. But that learning curve isn't nearly as hard. And because the methods work, and so it's just adapting them as the predators adapt.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] So I think you guys come also from an abundant mindset. I think a lot of organizations in their fundraising come from a scarcity mindset of that will if we don't hurry up and try to capture everything we possibly can to get all the money, even if that donor wants us to use it for something that doesn't fit our goals for this year, but we have to take the money because they're offering it to us, like, you know, it's a different it's a way to just function differently, and kind of create that space.

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's definitely like a unique thing to figure out what works for your organization, but also like, I mean, it's, it's a problem that's going to be solved, that needs to be solved. And our goal is to do whatever we need to do on the fundraising side, to make sure that our offensive side continue continue to make an impact on people.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] I love it. Okay, so we've talked about a lot here. We've talked about how you guys evolved in your fundraising. We've talked about your follow up with your donors, your, you know, focus on monthly giving campaigns. Is there anything else that you want to add in regards to that, that you think might be helpful that either you guys lessons learned? Or, you know, what you're really excited about? For 2021?

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, lessons learned. Don't give up on it. Yeah, I think honestly, like consistency is key. Just like continuing to make that ask, but doing it in a way that you're like, you're not going to get done or fatigue from your audience. And so we rotate our asks, we do a lot of education, and then every third month, we do a lot more asking, and, but we've consistently done that for two years now. And so I think be consistent with whatever you're going to do. Just be consistent with it. And, and 2021, man, it's just better than 2020 Yeah, I mean, we can all hope that things are just gonna instantly go away, but I think we're probably in for it for at least another six months to a year.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN]  Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, I think, um, we're recording this episode at the very end of 2020. It will go live in January 2021. But I think it's also like we did it like you made it like you survived. So celebrate that. And then, you know, at least you're more well equipped to figure out budget wise, strategy wise, assuming that it's going to be the same. Mm hmm. You can deal with it. Yeah. Yeah.

[ANDREA PERRY] Anything to just like, don't be afraid to adapt. If something's not working. And, you know, try something, test it. Be consistent with it for a while. And if it's not working, then modify it. Yep. Because if 2020 thought is anything, you can have no idea what's gonna happen tomorrow. Right.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] I love it. Yeah. That's what marketing is. And I think that's what a lot of people are afraid of. is the testing piece, knowing that some of them not going to work. Yeah, no, if you don't try. Yeah. And in your case, this monthly recurring program has been working amazingly well. And if you hadn't tried it, you would not have had the stability in 2020. So that's a great lesson there.

[ANDREA PERRY] Totally. I mean, I remember exactly where we were sitting in our office, when we learned those donations weren't coming in. And my boss was like, monthly donors, figure it out. Excuse me What? Like, I'm still trying to figure out how to how to make our website work. Oh, my goodness, if I can do it, anybody can do it.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yeah, for sure. For sure. Well, January is a big month for you guys. So I would love for you to share a little bit about what that is, and how people can support the Guardian group if they feel so moved.

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, so January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. And, and we keep getting asked, you know, as you would expect, how has 2020 and COVID impacted trafficking. And, and I just share a quick stat with you that really portrays what happened, because I don't think we're going to understand the full impact of COVID on this crime for probably years, we weren't good at studying this crime, nobody was before COVID. So there's no reason that we suddenly got better at it. But in March of 2020, there was 106% increase in cyber tip line reports of suspected child sexual exploitation versus march of 2019, which is true to what we've seen in our work, things have just continued to increase. And so if it's something that is in your heart, but you know, kids should never be sold for sex ever. And come check us out and get trained. So you can protect your community, or become a Guardian, and help us put it into that.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] And we will have all of that information in the show notes for this. But they can also go to https://guardianrgoup.org to get all of that information as well, right?


[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] You guys are amazing. And what you do is amazing. And we are so thankful to be a part of your circle. And they thank you so much for coming on this episode. And if the Guardian group has inspired you to start your own monthly program, let Andrea know, because you know, yeah, she'd love to hear about it. 

[ANDREA PERRY]  I would, definitely! I learned a lot from other organizations. So yeah, don't reinvent the wheel.

[SAMI BEDELL-MULHERN] Yeah. I love it. Well, thank you so much.

[ANDREA PERRY] Yeah, thanks for having me.

[CLOSING] Okay, so much good stuff. In this episode. Thank you so much for listening. And I hope that it inspired you to either revive a monthly program that you have or to start a new one, whatever it is, if they can do it, you can do it. So head on over to the show notes at thefirstclick.net/podcast, we'll link up all of the resources that we talked about this episode from the software platforms and stuff that she mentioned. And you know, just take a look. And let us know if you decide to start a program and make sure you head on over to the online fundraising summit.com to check out details for our free summit, but you are eighth to the 12th where we're going to dive deep into all sorts of topics around this particular program. And I look forward to seeing you there. But for now, make sure you subscribe wherever you listen to so you don't miss out on a single episode. And we're just so thankful that you're joining us in 2020 Thanks, guys.


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