Woodrow Rosenbaum is the Chief Data Officer at Giving Tuesday, a movement designed to unleash the power of radical generosity around the world through a dedicated day for giving. Every year, Giving Tuesday activates over 70 national movements, 300 communities, and tens of millions of people to support organizations across the globe. Woodrow joins us for an exclusive interview on Cause & Purpose to share the origins behind Giving Tuesday, how we can shift mindsets for the social sector, and countless data-backed insights that can be applied to your organization on a year-round basis.
Giving Tuesday began with a simple question: “What if we had a day to celebrate giving?” It was a question that snared the attention of Woodrow Rosenbaum who, before he was Chief Officer at Giving Tuesday, built a career in commercial marketing. He had developed an understanding for how we motivate behaviors, how people engage with brands, and what inspired them. And as he began applying these lessons learned to Giving Tuesday, an answer to that initial question, posed by Asha Curran and Henry Timms, became clear. If we had a day that celebrated giving, there would be a dramatic change in global behavior as tens of millions of people took action. Thousands of organizations in every country could seamlessly activate generosity on a scale never before seen.
“I’ve always been interested in how we collect and understand the data in ways that tell us how to nudge people in a certain direction. I found it thrilling when it was about changing peoples’ behavior around what whiskey they prefer. The current work at Giving Tuesday is like that, but scaled up because it’s purposeful. We’re talking about a global systems change. It doesn’t get much bigger, or more exciting, than that.”
In this exclusive podcast interview with Woodrow Rosenbaum, Chief Data Officer at Giving Tuesday, we’ll explore:
Part of what launched Giving Tuesday to rapid success was a set of key principles inherent in the movement. For example, the decision not to brand it with the originating organization was highly unusual, but it meant that anyone could make Giving Tuesday their own.
That led to an immediate establishment of an environment that thrives on co-creation, peer-learning, and community from day one. Look no further than some of the amazing logos that organizations have created as a result.
“There’s value in getting a lot of people on your mission who aren’t on your payroll. The more you can provide an opportunity for distributed support, for open-source platforms that have your mission at their heart, the more you can tap into the power of the crowd to build the impact you want to have."
Now, individual organizations can’t always let their trademark out into the wild like Giving Tuesday did. But the real learning here is not: “Don’t worry about your logo.”
The real learning is: “We do better when we work together and when we give people an opportunity to be part of the solution with us.”
This lesson that Woodrow shares, and countless others, extend well beyond the day of Giving Tuesday. For example, he discusses the importance of creating a sense of urgency to donate.
“Urgency is the most important driver of donation intent: you want to be in on the fun, you have to give on the day. But it’s not a reason to give to your organization. You have to tell a compelling and emotionally driven story of impact to tap into that heightened environment for giving. If you look at it that way, that’s where the best practice is. It’s not just about Giving Tuesday. You can create those moments all year round.”
Woodrow also shares how most people, on Giving Tuesday, tend to take more than one action. Yet, most of the engagements he sees are highly transactional and focused only on the donation. Organizations need to focus on a holistic view of their supporters outside of the donation.
“I think about commercial marketing. We knew a lot and had a lot of insight into the profile of our customer and a firm understanding that we needed to find multiple ways of engaging what mattered. Our goal was still the same: a sale and behavior change on the purchase. But to get there you need to do more than the straight up transactional relationship.”
This incessant focus on the transaction is related to the scarcity mindset, which has severely limited the social sector. Many organizations feel they’ve hit their giving ceiling, but Woodrow shows us there’s so much room to grow. But, if we act as if we don’t have room, we’ll never break out.
Giving Tuesday itself is the perfect example of this. Woodrow relays that in its early days, there was an assumption that it couldn’t be additive. The skeptics felt that giving was flat and you couldn’t increase it. All you could do is move the money around, and if someone gives today then, by definition, they give less later.
The reality is that’s just not true. Some of the earliest work Woodrow did was to examine years of transactional level data to see the statistical impact of Giving Tuesday. It generated a spike, and there was no cannibalization.
“This trend wouldn’t surprise any commercial marketer. They would never say, ‘I don’t want them to buy today because then they won’t buy tomorrow.’ It just doesn’t work that way.”
Breaking out of the scarcity mindset eliminates fear around being active and trying new things. Woodrow recognizes that Giving Tuesday has begun to change minds around this, but he also notes some fascinating insights from the COVID pandemic.
Without a doubt, COVID was a huge risk and threat to organizations and people in the sector. But it also provided once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. According to Woodrow, we pay too much attention to the threat from COVID and not enough to that opportunity.
For example, there was a reversal of the multi-year trend for fewer and fewer givers. We also saw people giving money to small businesses, which wasn’t a category of giving before. Entirely new giving behaviors emerged during the pandemic.
“We might be able to come out of this challenging, harmful situation with a more resilient, larger pool of donors. That’s only going to be true if we take advantage of the opportunity. When I hear people say, ‘I wonder what the donors are going to do this year?’ my response is, ‘What are you going to motivate them to do?’ We could reverse one of the most damaging trends in the sector over the past decade. But only if we take action to do so.”
There’s another component at play here which is both challenge and opportunity: retention and donor growth have decoupled. Woodrow notes that the norm used to be we only saw donor growth when we had high retention.
“There’s an assumption when you look at that data prior to 2020 that we can’t grow unless organizations retain. As it turns out, that’s not true, because in 2020 we saw the opposite. Now, we’re in this situation that’s highly uncertain and very challenging for organizations to navigate because it’s so unpredictable. Retention and growth are not linked. But this is also freeing. More elasticity is a good thing. People will give to a lot more causes, and we don’t have to worry so much about competition. If we get active and think about how we’re engaging in inspiring ways, we can raise the floor.”
And that’s where Woodrow’s data work becomes really interesting: he’s taking a deep dive into what the future of generosity looks like and how people give in multiple dimensions.
He’s beginning to see patterns emerge around thinking about generosity not in terms of, “Did you give you a registered charity?” or “Did you give to this organization?” Instead, he’s trying to provide that much-needed holistic view of the ecosystem.
Take Mutual Aid Networks, for example. Generally, these are organized, but not incorporated, giving mechanisms. It’s not, “I baked a casserole for my neighbor.” It’s also not, “I went and brought canned goods to the 501c3 that’s running the food bank in my community.”
But it is, “I joined this network on Facebook that’s organizing a casserole bake for people in need in my community.”
“We’re not paying attention to this behavior, we’re not measuring it, and we’re not thinking about how important it is for the fabric of communities. And, because we’re not measuring it or paying attention to it, those people are left out of important conversations around giving. Part of our goal is to enfranchise these existing giving behaviors.”
So, what does the future of giving look like with this holistic view of donors and their behaviors? For Woodrow, it:
“All of these things are possible to tap into as an organization. Organizations that are effectively engaging in these ways are going to increasingly see that they’re getting a better result.”
And while these insights can be applied to your organization any day of the year, Giving Tuesday presents a golden opportunity to try something new. The barrier to entry is low, so do what’s in your capacity and don’t stand in your own way.
“Don’t miss it. It’s celebratory. It’s fun. Your supporters are going to be out there, primed to give. Engage them. Don’t be afraid of creativity. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Don’t be afraid to collaborate. Be active. That can be as simple as talking about your mission or thanking donors or doing a peer-to-peer campaign and activating fundraisers or getting people to volunteer or giving back yourself. There can be no limit. No campaign is too small.”
This year, Giving Tuesday is November 30, 2021. Check out the main GivingTuesday.org site for free logos and more information. And be sure to check out the free Giving Tuesday Resource Center our friends over at Classy have put together.
Any insight that’s effective for Giving Tuesday can be applied to your year-round efforts.
As donors’ behavior becomes more elastic, so too much your engagement touch points.
Get past the scarcity mindset because the data show unprecedented room for growth.
Take every opportunity you have to be creative, try something new, and collaborate with other nonprofit and for-profit companies.
This year, Giving Tuesday is November 30, 2021. Check out the main GivingTuesday.org site for free logos and more information. And be sure to check out the free Giving Tuesday Resource Center our friends over at Classy have put together.Learn More About Giving Tuesday
[00:00:00] There's real value in getting a lot of people on your mission that aren't on your payroll. And so the more you can provide an opportunity for distributed support for open source platforms that have, that have your mission at their heart. The more you can tap into the power of the crowd to build what the impact that you want.
Welcome to cause and purpose the show about leaders, innovators, and change agents working on the front lines to solve some of the world's greatest social challenges. I'm Mike spear, and we're incredibly lucky today to feature a real unsung hero in the nonprofit space. The chief data officer of giving Tuesday Woodrow Rosen.
If you're not familiar with giving Tuesday, you absolutely should be. It's a, one of a kind global generosity movement, inspiring people and organizations around the world to give in whatever ways and at whatever scale are most meaningful to them and to unleash the power of radical generosity. One of the things that makes the movement so unique and special is that it's designed to be totally open source.
The giving Tuesday organization is there to create, inspire and unite others in joining the movement, but the actual campaigns, the local engagements, the marketing, and to a large extent that branding is totally open for the global social impact community to make hero in its history. Giving Tuesday it's mobilized tens of thousands of organizations reach tens of millions of donors and waitlist.
Raised billions of dollars for a wide variety of social causes. While we in the west think about giving Tuesday, largely in terms of financial constructions, it really is much more than it is about giving back to our communities. In whatever ways we see fit, raising awareness, volunteering, helping out a neighbor, or even things as simple as paying it forward or sharing some smiles with those around you.
For many organizations, it's a unique opportunity to lead conversations around their causes to reach people they wouldn't have otherwise. And a new way to add fuel to the fire at their holiday fundraisers that [00:02:00] really opens the options box for creativity and style. Ultimately, the date of that giving Tuesday team was uncovering through their efforts, has the potential to create a new unified data model for the social sector, transforming the way social good organizations think about and engage their supporters and could even unlock the nature of generosity.
We usually start every show by diving into the childhood stories of our guests. And maybe we'll get a chance to do that in a future episode. But given Woodrow is unique Anthony point on the sector, the timeliness of giving Tuesday and the amazing insights he has to share. We're just going to dive right in Woodrow.
Thanks so much for joining us. Really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing some insights with us. So pleasure. Very happy to be here. And the main question I have for you, it seems to me, you know, based on our conversations and, uh, my understanding of your, your resume, uh, you know, while you began your career in private sector market, Really the foundation of your work revolves around unlocking human nature, how people engage with brands and causes and what inspires them, is that true?
And what made you really want to pursue that as, as an idea, uh, and dedicate your career to? Yeah, I think that's largely true. I mean, I don't know if I ever made a decision on my career, you know, I think as with a lot of people, my career kind of evolved, but at the end of the day, what I'm doing now is about understanding how we motivate behaviors.
That's essentially what I did as a commercial marketer. Is there something particular about that that drew you to it initially? It was a sort of by happenstance. Yeah. I mean, it was more or less by happenstance. Um, I think I've, I've always found it. I mean, I'm not a data guy. It's not that my, my background is not in the math, but I've always been really interested in how we can collect and understand the data.
In ways that tell us how we can nudge people in a direction. And, and I got, I found it really [00:04:00] thrilling when it was about changing people's behavior, around what whiskey they prefer. Um, and this, this work is like that, but just scaled up, um, it's purposeful and we're talking about global systems change, which is a very exciting breadth of mandate.
It doesn't get much bigger. It's really interesting to hear somebody whose, whose title is chief data officer described themselves as not a data person. Well, you know, I mean, we have guys on our team who are data scientists and, and their background is, is in the science part of it. And, um, not none of what we do and I imagine, and, and have an, an envision for our work would be possible without that, uh, I'm conversant in the work for sure, but I don't have the tactical background.
I actually love that. I think, you know, it's always most exciting when somebody ends up doing something that's sort of against their, their type or their thought of, of themselves. I think in a lot of ways that, you know, they ended up being the more successful. You talked about getting in contact with giving Tuesday, starting your giving Tuesday journey, really through your work, inspiring people across Canada, specifically to get.
Um, can you talk a little bit about, uh, that, that initiative? Why was it important to you to inspire Canadians and sort of how that process evolved? Yeah. Again, more or less by accident. Um, the there's a foundation in Canada. You have three foundation, it's an organization with a mission to get Canadians, to be more philanthropic.
And I met the founder of give three, and this was well before giving Tuesday started and I was helping them to find ways of changing behavior and looking at that kind of [00:06:00] behavior change at scale. And John Hallward, the founder of that organization really saw it also as a marketing problem. And he came from, um, marketing background fact from a market research background.
And so. What by the time giving Tuesday came around, we'd been working in this space trying to kind of understand what can we learn about how people give, how can we apply some commercial marketing, data science practice to measuring what's going to make a difference. And then what can we deploy in order to make that change?
And so giving Tuesday was perfect fit for that. We saw what was happening in the U S in 2012. And John and I were like, you know, we could, we could do that here. And we did for anyone who hasn't heard of give three, can you, uh, say, you know, more specifically what it is and give a little bit of the John would be the better band to tell the story, but, um, this was, it started out as John's family foundation and he transitioned it to a registered charity in Canada, again, with a mission to, uh, get Canadians, to be more philanthropic.
And it was actually give three and Canada helps. A charity, that's a donation platform, um, and just supports a lot of small to mid-size organizations in Canada to, um, do digital giving, um, and started doing that like in 2001, like really early. Uh, and so, so give three in Canada helps partner to, to bring the movement, uh, to Canada.
And in terms of aligning with give three vision, there was a number of different, um, programs that we were doing. But in terms of the mission, I've actually changed behavior giving Tuesday just, um, delivers so much better than anything else we had. We had experimented with up till that point. How did you connect with them?
It sounds like you reached out at some point, you know, were they open to. [00:08:00] Collaboration. I, John was actively looking for someone to support the work as he reinvision the, as he started develop the vision for the organization. So it was really early in that transformation. I can't remember who somebody introduced us, said, you guys are thinking similarly.
And, um, I know that we took it from there for anyone who doesn't know no, uh, out there. Can you give a bit of the, you know, the founding story and how it's evolved to this point? I've always found this so interesting. You know, I think about a lot about the questions we ask and how asking the right question is how you get to the right insights.
And likewise, I actually asked you the wrong question that can often do the opposite and what I find so interesting about the origin of giving Tuesday is how it started with a question. It was what if we had a day to celebrate giving and it wasn't really any more. Complex than that. In fact, I think that simplicity is one of the things that worked so well.
Asha and Henry are working nine to Y in New York. That was their, their thesis was essentially, we have these two days for consumption. What have we had a day for giving? And the answer to that is dramatic change in global behavior and millions, tens of millions of people taking action and, and thousands and thousands of organizations in every country of the world activating people's generosity.
It's really a profound answer to that fairly simple question. Okay. It seems like the growth and rapid success was somewhat unexpected. Uh, how did you guys respond to that? When it, you know, when it was clear, it was really taking off. Yeah, I think, I mean, unexpected, perhaps unplanned for, I mean, the idea. I guess the, the formation of the idea had some principles that [00:10:00] really were key to why it took off the way it did.
I think the decision not to brand it with the originating organization was just highly unusual, still highly unusual within the sector, right. This idea that you would put something out there and not try to own it. Um, but that was really, really important for it to get momentum in the first year, because it meant that anybody felt like they could make it their own.
That led to, uh, an immediate co-creation peer learning environment community from day one, it was comparatively small in day one, but because of that, then it scales exponentially from there. Right. And so you look at the Canadian example, like when, when we looked at this from Canada and said, we could do that, we contact.
And I do why we talked to Henry and Asha and we're like, Hey, would it be okay if we did this here? And they were like, yeah, here's everything we did. This is all you need to know. Here are the tools. There are no rules go for it. And that was, you know, although there was no plan for it to be global, there was also no plan to constrict it, to restrict it.
There was always this idea that it could be as big as anybody was going to be prepared to make it. And it turns out that that coupled with the fact that generosity is a fundamental human value, it turns out meant that it did just scale essentially out of control. Now, not without a lot of fostering and support and the core team, you know, given.
That opportunity to, for peer learning and for the establishment of best practices, it's not leaderless. Um, fact it's been described as a leader full and, and so, although there was no plan for it to be in all countries everywhere, it was [00:12:00] set up for that success from the beginning. What's the, what's the learning.
Do you think, just from that little piece of it for organizations out there, cause you know, many nonprofits are afraid to share their logos with people, uh, their, their color schemes. They don't want others sort of reprinting their materials and things like that. Like w what do you think that the takeaway is from giving Tuesday's ability to open source?
A lot of this stuff that other organizations can draw from within their own campaigns, there's real value in getting a lot of people on your mission that aren't on your payroll. And so the more you can provide an opportunity for distributed support for open source platform. That have, that have your mission at their heart.
The more you can tap into the power of, of the crowd to, to build what, what your, the impact that you want to have now, individual organizations have different. I mean, there are different circumstances that you're facing, including legal and, um, not everybody is going to be able to just not police their, uh, their trademark.
Um, but as a principle, co-creation and collaboration are not particularly well established in the nonprofit sector. And so the real learning is not like, Hey, don't worry about your logo. The real learning is we do better when we work together. And when we give people an opportunity to be part of the solution with us, uh, what's the scope of giving Tuesday today?
I mean, it's, it's a global phenomenon. Uh, what does that mean in tangible. First of all, we see grassroots giving Tuesday activity in every country of the world. And some places like Antarctica might be a couple of tweets. Um, and other places there's, you know, massive movements driven by, or, you know, really structured organizations who are, have hundreds and hundreds of, of community [00:14:00] partners.
Like there's lots of variation besides just grassroots activity everywhere. There, there are over 75 countries that have kind of more, an official quote, unquote giving Tuesday leadership team, a group and individual and organization that we are working with directly that we have connected to the rest of the leadership network for peer learning who are fostering the movement in their country.
Um, then, you know, in the U S there's 300 community movements. We don't certainly have, aren't able to track all of them. We actively support as many as we can, but they, you know, anybody can start a giving Tuesday campaign in their country and in, you know, 16 million donors last year on giving Tuesday in the U S about 19 million people participated in something like that.
Um, there's and that growth trajectory we see, uh, not always the same order of magnitude, but we see, um, the more countries come on, the more activity we see in all of these countries with, with such, you know, diversity in how people are making the campaign, their own, the brand, and they use the style of engagement they use.
What are some of the differences in trends? You know, if any, that you see around the world, like how, how has India different from the U S compared to Africa compared to Europe? Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, in some ways, Th there are some fundamentals that are the same, and that's really interesting.
And just the way that generosity is so such a foundational fundamental component of human experience is true everywhere. The expression of it does vary by culture and circumstance to be sure. So we see it in how people participate in giving Tuesday [00:16:00] in about half the countries, donating money as the most common behavior.
Although it's definitely worth noting that only donating money is the least common behavior everywhere in the world. Most people participating in giving Tuesday do so in more than one way. So, and again, at about half the countries, the, the most common way is giving money. In other countries in Africa, it's giving you.
In some places it's volunteering again, but those people also doing other things. So we do see that, that variability, a lot of that sort of, depending on how the movement evolved and the organizations that are, that are creating it. What I think is really interesting is in some places we see that there's a high awareness or growing awareness, and then you get a high participation rate among the aware, right?
So then essentially that's the way it has worked in the U S and Canada, since the beginning, you've got a percentage of people who hear about it and the, and two-thirds to three-quarters of those people choose to participate in some way. And then, so then as your awareness increases, we see that the participation rate stays pretty stable.
And so then you just get more and more people. And I had kind of naively expected it to work that way in other places, but it does. Um, and so it was really interesting the first time we looked at, uh, awareness and behavior in Kenya, for example. So participation rate in Kenya is a hundred percent. So when we looked at that, we were like, well, something's broken, right?
We've done some, we've made some horrible mistake, but when you dig deeper, what you find is that the way people become aware in Kenya is by participating. And there's a number of countries like [00:18:00] that, where it's such a grassroots experience that it's not like there's a communications campaign. And some portion of people who hear about it, do a thing.
In fact, it's the other way around. It's a bunch of people do a thing and then therefore by definition, they've heard about it. And, and so it's interesting to see the difference there and to understand that we actually have some interesting opportunities to look at how those campaigns evolve to be so owned by the giver.
That there's essentially no difference between the people who participate and the people who've heard about it. Now there's challenges that come with that as well. Right? Ideally you want the awareness of your movement to grow, but so it's not like one is better than the other, but this is a great example of a peer learning opportunity where the global north and the west can kind of learn from these much more grassroots engagements.
And we can help those grassroots campaigns to leverage communications methodology, to help get the word out further. So it's not that one is empirically better. Um, but it is really interesting to see that there are fundamental differences in how it evolves. It seems like, you know, you mentioned, uh, generosity as a human value.
It seems like that's kind of, what's at play is people see this opportunity to, to express generosity, express that value, and then they just participate. Whether anybody asks. Yeah, and this is the, I mean, this is the thing that's a little bit challenging to capture as well. There's a lot of people who do a thing because of giving Tuesday, right.
They're giving Tuesday happens and somebody did an activation and they got involved and they have no idea. Right. They just did a thing. And, and that's fantastic. It's indicative of how the movement has been, has had utility for the organizations and causes that, use it as a rallying point. Um, obviously we want to see more people be aware of the movement and to get involved and, [00:20:00] um, yes, for more givers to do it, but also, and more importantly, so that there are more organizations that individuals co-creating it, and that we're in particular diversifying the, the group of participants that are making, giving Tuesday, what it is.
I hope that always remains the case. Right. The lovely thing about a distributed movement is that it moves without you. What are some of the misconceptions you want to correct it? And how more importantly, how do you want to see organizations engage with us? How do you, how do you want to see them view the opportunity and getting it out there to their folks?
Yeah, that's a, that's a great question. I think Jay, just address the first thing you said there, right? Like give to me because it's giving Tuesday is not a compelling ask and, and there are two main problems with people using that approach. One is it might be better than nothing, right? So an organization sends out an email on all they say is that give to me because it's giving Tuesday and here's my donation form.
And they get a result and they're like, great. And, and I worry about that because that is really not the best brown. Right. Better than nothing is not the bar we should have in the sector. And I should point out like, this is I've, I've faced this issue with in other examinations as well, not just giving Tuesday.
Right? I remember talking to a foundation, they were like our leave. A legacy campaign does really well that that message really resonates. And I said, well, compared to what? And they're like, well, compared to when we're not campaigning. Okay, well, better than nothing is not good enough. Secondly, is the, the organizations that I do see less and less of this per ad by percentage every year.
But those organizations that send out an email and say, give to me because it's giving Tuesday and they don't get a good result. And they're like, it doesn't work [00:22:00] well. Giving Tuesday is not a reason to give giving Tuesday amplifies what you. It primes. The pumping gets people excited that majority of donors on giving Tuesday say that they did it so they could be part of a bigger group of people giving back.
That's great. Giving Tuesday provides urgency, which research has shown is the most important driver of donation intent. If you want to be in on the fund, you got to give on the day, but it's not a reason to give to your organization, your organization, as the telecom compelling, emotionally driven story of impact to then tap into that heightened environment for giving.
And if you look at it that way, it's a very different equation and that's where the best practices and the nice thing about it actually is that it, that means that it's not just about giving Tuesday urgency, even without an emergent. Is really important to generate and we can create these giving moments, giving Tuesday is packaged up for you, ready to go.
You should do it, but you don't have to only do that. You can create those moments, including in collaboration with other organizations all year round. Yeah, absolutely. And I think it speaks to the idea of somebody feeling urgency to give, you know, having it be a platform you respond to an ask that, that sort of thing, but also being part of the community speaks to something.
I think many organizations overlook or don't, don't appreciate as much as they might. Um, which is, you know, treating your supporters like, like whole people with lives and things that are going on outside of the confines of, of your campaign. Uh, does that resonate at all? And can you speak to like, you know, what, what an ask or what, what the giving Tuesday sort of moment in time might mean to somebody who just wants to get involved in various ways around.
Yeah. So as I said, most people on giving Tuesday are taking more than one [00:24:00] action. So that's how people prefer to give is in a variety of ways. We also can see that just in general. It's very rare. And interestingly, I, you know, in seven countries and multiple regions of the world, we recently did some research that showed that this is true everywhere that only giving one way is very rare.
Very few people only give money are only volunteer. And yet most of the engagements we see are highly transactional, very focused on the donation, not giving people an opportunity to feel like they're part of the solution with you, that they're a partner in your mission. And so if we can take this learning from giving Tuesday and, uh, and, and apply it to how we engage overall, it gives us a lot more opportunities for touch points because we can give people.
More opportunities to get involved in more ways, more ways into the organization to endure and more of a dialogue with our supporters about what we're doing together, what we're accomplishing, why we're doing it are our challenges and our, and our triumphs. That relationship is going to do a lot for fostering a longer term, more, um, more effective result from your group of supporters, including you're going to get more money from them.
It's not, it's not get them to do these other things that engage them instead of money. That is literally how you get the best donation results. So the learning here is having that holistic view of your supporter and the fact that most organizations probably don't have much of an idea of anything other than that donation trends for their support is, is problematic.
And it's one of the things, you know, I think about commercial market. We knew a lot. We had a lot of insight into the, the [00:26:00] profile of our customer and I really, uh, firm understanding of the fact that we had, we needed to find multiple ways of engaging what mattered. And our goal was still the same. It was a sale, um, and behavior change on, on the purchase.
Um, but to get there, you need, you need to do more than, than just the straight up transactional relationship. Yeah. I like your, your whiskey analogy too. You know, if nobody's going to only drink one whiskey for the, their entire life. Right. I mean, I'm a whiskey lover too. I prefer, I like scotch, you know, mainly, but, you know, I like, uh, the Balvenie, but I also like, like a bullion and like all these different brands.
Right. How do you think organizations are best served when they think of. Other causes in the space and nurturing those connections, building partnerships, being aware that their donors also support other ones. And that's that's value add rather than a risk. Yeah. I think that that, that scarcity mentality really has limited the sector quite substantially in part making it a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy.
Right. We have this feeling like we've hit the ceiling when in fact the data show that there's a lot more elasticy in people's giving. So we have room to grow, but if we're constantly acting as if we don't, then we never break out. And early days, giving Tuesday is the perfect example of this because in the early days, there was an assumption that giving Tuesday couldn't possibly be additive because you know, the, the skeptics felt like giving is flat.
You can't increase. All you can do is move the money around. If someone gives today, then by definition, they must give last later it was like the speed of light. [00:28:00] And the reality is that's just not true. And so some of our earliest work was looking longitudinally, getting 10 years of transaction level data.
So we can see what the statistical impact of giving Tuesday as an intervention was in the system and, and it generated a spike and it didn't end there. Wasn't a cannibalization. This is, this work has now been repeated in other countries to show that this is the case, which as would not surprise any commercial model.
Right. No commercial market would be like, well, I don't want them to buy today because then they won't buy tomorrow. It just doesn't work that way. And, and look, the commercial sector and the nonprofit sector and buying and giving are not exactly the same, but they're perhaps not as different as people think they are.
And the most important thing here is that in an environment where we're working together and collaborating sometimes very directly, right, like feminism on top, launched on giving Tuesday group of organizations in an area working together. We've seen this with community movements, um, where all of a sudden there's a community movement in Canada where all the organizations, um, in the, like in this town came together and did a single campaign.
We've seen it with things like giving zoo day. We do better when we work together, we are nowhere near the ceiling on people's ability to give, we see it with natural disasters. We see it with giving Tuesday. It doesn't have to be natural disasters and giving Tuesday, we can drive it more. And so as soon as you break out of that, we've, we're, we we've hit our maximum.
As soon as you break out of that, scarcity mentality opens up all kinds of opportunity for collaboration and experimentation and innovation, and a lack of fear to be active and try new things. Um, so I, I, [00:30:00] I think we've seen giving Tuesday start to change people's minds about that. Um, and, and then my hope is that what we see is that that changes our practice overall that it's not just, yeah, I collaborate on giving Tuesday.
Um, but I look for those opportunities, uh, other times of the year, because we can, we can. We have, we can rise the tide we'll run cameras. And, and so if we, if we're not just thinking, we're trying to fight for our piece of the pie and instead making a bigger pie, we'll all do better. Maybe it's a strange transition, but I think there's a, honestly like a natural connection to the COVID pandemic.
COVID I think would have been a really easy excuse for everybody to close their wallets, go into panic mode, not do anything. Um, and you know, one expectation might be that just giving a general would, would decrease significantly. What were the trends that you've seen as people engaged with causes through this global pandemic.
And, uh, we can get this later too, but, you know, what's that opportunity moving forward? Like how has COVID fundamentally shifted the giving landscape? That's a great question. And, and COVID, and its impacts and in general is just such an instructive moment, huge risk and threat to organizations in the sector and people, and perhaps once in a lifetime opportunities and understanding and navigating those is going to be really important.
I think we've got a lot of attention being paid to a threat and not enough to the opportunity. So I think two of the things that are really important to understand and navigate one is there was more giving, but it didn't [00:32:00] help all organizations. And that's that's, that was a unique situation and substantially problematic.
Right. We saw more dollars on most organizations.
So that's, uh, that's really hard to navigate, right? Um, there are a lot of things impacting that. Um, but the one I think we need to pay attention to is agility, because one of the main factors dictating whether you're on the winning or losing side of that ledger was your ability to pivot also your willingness, because what you laid out is true, that there's a lot of organizations that expected a bad result.
And so they acted in advance as if they would get a bad result. And if you didn't show up, you weren't going to be supported. So this expectation that people were going to close their wallets was not true, but if you weren't out there being present, then you were not going to get their donations. And. And so yeah, for some, it was harder to do because the business model, because of pause area, because of demands on services, because of the, where you are operating, like a whole list of reasons, why that might've been more difficult, your willingness to be active was one of those factors that you actually have control the other major trend.
And this speaks to the opportunity is we saw a reversal of the multi-year trend for fewer and fewer givers. This relates to the other issue in that people were responding to their concerns and their fears with generosity. The more concerned people were about COVID the more likely they were to take generous action.
And that was [00:34:00] true. Despite the fact that they were, there were a lot of people who were, um, uncertain about their financial situation, but they weren't. Giving in their communities and lots and lots of ways. So yes, responding directly to COVID impacts, but also things like just donating money to small businesses.
So people doing that is really in that wasn't a category of giving in 2019, right? Like sure may have happened, but it not like 2020, that was a major way that people were giving back was donating money to the small businesses in their community and mutual aid networks and a whole other collection of behaviors.
So that, that demonstrates that there was, it was a hot giving environment organizations that were out there were finding a very responsive community. You need a good message. You needed to reach people, all those things, but it was hot. And the result of this was just most organizations struggling. We actually saw an increase in the number of givers in the sector for the first time in a long, long time, we've had this multi-year trend of fewer and fewer given.
And I'm sure a lot of people have seen their research from the Lilly family school of philanthropy and other showing 2018, as an example, big drop in the number of households in the U S giving 2018, a bit of an outlier, but part of an ongoing trend, fewer and fewer people doing more and more of the giving that completely reversed in 2020.
So this is something that I don't think we're paying enough attention to as a sector, because that's a, we may not get that opportunity back. Those donors also are those donors who were acquired in 2020 are proving to be pretty sticky in 2021 in the first quarter, higher new donor retention than ever seen before that trend seems [00:36:00] to continue into the rest of the year, a bit.
This. Because we might be able to come out of this really challenging situation, the situation that was, that was harmful to the majority of organizations, we may be able to come out of this with a more resilient, larger pool of donors. And that's only going to be true if we take advantage of the opportunity.
So what, when I hear people say, I wonder what the donors are going to do this year. My response is what are you going to motivate them to do? We could reverse one of the most damaging trends in this sector of the past decade, but only if we take action to do so. Why do you think this is happening? Like why, why was there this multi-year decline and then w you know, stickiness has always been a problem in the sector, uh, especially with, with one-time donors.
Why, why has that been reversed? Is it just something about the donors has shifted or it was the shift in, in donations away from. Organizations that were worse engagement and towards organizations that are just better at driving retention. What are some of the root causes? Do you think let's start with some clarity on what we're talking about, because when we S when we talk about donor behavior, it's really important to understand that we're talking about the confluence of donor and fundraiser behavior.
Most donations are solicited by somebody even peer to peer, maybe especially peer to peer. Um, so it's not just like, what are the donors doing? Right. It's like, what's the practice of the fundraising, at least as much. So then to answer your first question, let's think of, like, I remember in 2019 talking about this a lot, right.
We're seeing the trend and an organization saying like, oh, no, a lot of people are wringing their hands, fewer and fewer donors. And then you [00:38:00] ask fundraisers, well, who do you spend your time approaching? The high value donors. I got to keep them. And so I spend my time with those guys. Well guess what? So I don't think that's the entire picture.
Um, I think that there's there's challenges are, are models that are 30 years old. Don't translate to younger donors as well. Um, young, younger adult donors under 40 feel, more financially constrained, um, and are less proactive givers. They're also more charitably inclined though. So I don't think our, I don't think our sector has pivoted off the, the, the decades old donor stewardship models and maybe not even pivoted off, but, but combine that with an engagement of.
This, these other donor groups who are more inclined to monthly giving, for example, which has a huge value. So our practice needs to keep up with the diversification of the donor marketplace. And I don't think it has. Um, and then we get to 2020, and we've got a whole bunch of things driving people's behavior, including just wanting to have agency over all the bad stuff that's going on.
And that drove people to take a lot of action, um, and a lot more people to take action. It had a whole bunch of other, um, results that were less, less productive for this actor, but, but that just shows these, that these people not. Not despite times being tough, but especially when times are tough are, are stepping up.
And so when we have these, these moments like giving Tuesday, like a natural disaster, like all of 2020, right. This is where we have an opportunity to solidify some longer-term behaviors. Uh, but only again, only if we actually do something [00:40:00] about it as organizations are seeing better attention, right. As these new sort of COVID donors, as we can, I guess, call them, um, you know, have, have shown themselves to be stickier.
You know, it's on how much is like their mentalities that donor, their behavior, the fundraisers you described is it, is that stickiness uniform across the sector or is it weighted towards organizations that are just paying more attention to marketing and retention those types of things. And just as with giving Tuesday, Donors acquired on giving Tuesday or stickier existing donors who give on giving Tuesday tend to increase their giving at a faster rate.
I think some of that is about what, like giving Tuesday brings as a moment, but also just how organizations who are embracing using giving Tuesday are doing donor stewardship. There are, there are good practices. Um, and I'm sure that that's a component of it. I think right now in 2021, because retention is kind of all over the map.
New donor retention is really beginning of the year, started. So strong, I think is, is partly about those organizations that were acquiring donors in 2020 are kind of still in the fight in early 2021. And so that gives you this, this natural opportunity for that engagement. But I think any organization can look at the donors they acquired last year and think about.
How did I acquire them? What was the channel? What was the message? What did they care about? Right. In order to determine how they're going to maintain that relationship, including getting involved with those donors values and giving them opportunities to support you, that aren't necessarily donations. Um, there's a, there's another, another component here, which is both a challenge and opportunity and that the retention and donor growth have decoupled.
[00:42:00] So it, the norm, the norm over many years is that for essentially, well, we only saw donor growth when we had high retention, they were highly correlated and, and there was an assumption. Maybe you look at that data prior to 2020, and you can go, well, you know, we, we can't grow unless we, unless organizations, right.
It turns out that's not true. Cause 2020 we saw the opposite. And now we're in this situation, which I get is like highly uncertain and very challenging for organizations to navigate because it's so unpredictable that retention and growth are not linked, but this is also freeing, right? Because it means that there is a lot, again, more or less, this city is a good thing and people will give to a lot more causes and that we don't have to worry so much about competition.
And so what if we get active and, and think about how we're engaging and in inspiring ways that we have, we can see some of these, like we can raise the floor at the same time and it's, it is challenging and unpredictable, um, retention. Retention is all over the map. It's all the map. Quarter to quarter last, last year, acquisition up retention down, recapture out.
How do you plan for that? I don't know. It's going to be tough. It's going to be tough. But if I were a fundraiser, I'd be thinking about this amazing opportunity for new donor retention and I'd be working hard at recapture, right? Getting back those donors who moved around donor mobility is like, I get it.
Like I have a lot of people are upset about it because there's been such a, such a focus on retention as the key to everything that as soon as that drops and it did it just throws everybody's [00:44:00] system into turmoil. But donor mobility has an advantage as well, because it speaks to what we were talking about before that we have not tapped out the giver.
So what we need to do is mitigate and level. And those opportunities to leverage do exist. And, um, and if we're too focused on the risk and mitigate, we're going to miss it to me, like there's a ton of opportunity in the idea of donor mobility, just to give people some variety and keep their excitement high.
Like if three organizations or three, you know, a group of organizations that are aligned in culture and values and cause areas, generally speaking, start to build cycles where they're sharing a common donor base. Um, I feel like that could, that would just raise, you know, raise their tide a ton. I mean, anecdotally, we hear about it all the time.
There's organizations that use giving Tuesday as this moment. Collaborate on something together and do better than they could have done by themselves. Um, and I do think that I do think that there's huge opportunity for that. I think it's inspiring to givers when they see your organizations working together, whether they're cause aligned or community aligned or whatever it may be.
So I, yeah, I think that there's, there's a big opportunity there and including spent maybe, especially for like participation. So as a donor acquisition strategy, there's a real like win-win opportunity giving Tuesday's a great chance to, to experiment with that. Giving Tuesday in 2020 was the biggest single day for donor acquisition of the year across all cause areas.
That's a great time to try something out. That's donor acquisition focused and, and collaboration. Uh, structured. I hope that what it does is give organizations a feeling of freedom [00:46:00] to be more collaborative because they try something like that. And they're like, you know what, that's much better than trying to cut each other's throats.
Okay. Got charity. Water is, uh, giving Tuesday solicitation last year and they specifically said, we're good. Do not give to us. Please use giving Tuesday as a reason to give to other organizations that you care about and you can skip us for now. Interesting. Yeah, no, it was an interesting email. I'll try and dig it up and send it your way.
If I can find it. It reminds of experiments right now on, on some of these themes, including like, we're really interested in how people are giving outside of the non-profit industrial complex and getting again, getting that full picture of the profile of givers and how they prefer to give. And it's not a question of either or right.
It's it's people have lots of giving behaviors. And we need to understand all of them. So we understand what people's impact is so that we can build stronger communities. And if, even if you're just a fundraiser that wants to maximize your result, like understanding the whole person, as you said, is really key to that.
So we're doing some experiments to look at partnering a community aid or, or peer-to-peer causes that aren't a charity organization, focus with charities that are working in the same area to see if we can find the right mechanisms for, uh, getting a better result for both. Um, the people who are giving to uncle Joe's cats, surgery, GoFund me are more likely to donate to charity, not less and getting a better holistic view of all of the ways people give their time, their money.
The their advocacy is, is going to be key to this. And the more, the more experiments that are happening and the more [00:48:00] collaboration that people do, the more data we have to work with to understand what works best from my experience, we we've uncovered data that show, uh, when somebody has a monthly recurring gifts, ongoing, they're actually more likely to contribute an additional one-time gift throughout the year, uh, on top of their recurring, as well as during a campaign.
People like through peer to peer, people are more likely to give a second time to your peer, to peer campaign. Then people later in the campaign who you might, uh, you might ask it if not given previously, it is interesting to see that it's interesting to me. Coming into this the way I did. I remember thinking I don't want to be that guy that comes in and it's like, Hey, non-profit sector.
I know how to business. And you've got to listen to me. Right. And I, and so I, I took on a lot of the received wisdom. I mean, I w I interrogated it to be sure, but I didn't assume that it was wrong. But that example you just gave, if you imagine, like, just swap out whiskey brand with whatever you, just, all that thing, all the stuff you just said, of course, the people who are buying regularly from you are the most likely to buy from you at additional time.
Of course, they are like, we're talking about the people who have the most affinity for you and your cause of course, they're the most likely to do it again or extra it's natural. Okay. Well, and they might be even more excited about it. Like just to carry on this analogy, right? Like it, you know, if I, if I had good experience with these whiskeys and somebody recommends like something, they loved, I'm going to go out and find it.
A hundred percent it's and so, you know, there's, uh, this gets really tactical too, right? Like organizations, excluding donors from their email list, because they're worried that they don't want to ask again, well, we're leaving out your best customers and, and it doesn't mean, and again, it goes back to just the, the, how we engage, right.
And the quality of that message and what we [00:50:00] do is really important. Um, we'll just said segmentation over exclusion. Yeah. A hundred percent like thinking about different donor segments and what matters to them, like communicating to that segment in a way that is relevant and inspiring a hundred percent, but do it all the time.
When people ask me how many, how many emails is the right email number of emails to send you send as many emails as you can be. And if that's 10 a year, great. If it's 10 a week better, the key thing has got to be interesting. And that means it's not all a solicitation, but, and it's multiple ways to get involved and, but much more solicitation as possible.
If it's done thoughtfully and thinking about your role as providing people with the opportunity to give, to have agency over the things they care about rather than your, uh, burdensome solicitation. If you think about it the latter way, then you're going to do a better job just in how you engage. It's just a mindset shift.
Yeah. And I, and I think also really customizing the ask. I mean, giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to ask somebody, to give who is not a consistent giver, but if somebody is actively fundraising for you, maybe the ask isn't to give, maybe the ask is to do something different. We just started talking about the collaboration of the donations to like small family owned businesses and things like that, that, you know, the, the intersect between nonprofit causes and for-profit, uh, beneficiaries, uh, w what are some of the, if any, what, what are some of the trends that you've started to uncover?
And I know it's early days, but are you starting to see any sort of preliminary results there? Yeah, I think what's, what's what we're paying most attention to is, is modes of giving outside of giving to 5 0 1 C3 organizations. I mean, we're, we're continuing to dive deep into [00:52:00] the donation trends and to provide tools and metrics for the, for organizations to not just look in the rear view mirror, but actually strategize we're, we're taking volunteer data.
And we're looking at where, how to evolve, where we're putting that volunteer data through the same data pipeline that. Using for donations. And that's been really interesting in terms of opening up a door for research and examination of how various interventions affect people's giving and multiple dimensions.
And we will continue to add data sources to that for other forms of, of giving behavior so that we can get a better and better ongoing, real time picture of how, how people respond to situations with generosity actions. Part of that also is about understanding what is called, what people are calling mutual aid or unincorporated community care.
Uh, we're trying to get a handle on what are, how do people view this? Um, and it's interesting that the people who participate in mutual aid networks in the U S. Are less likely to consider different forms of giving as being separate. So they see political giving and peer to peer like personal giving and charitable giving and community giving, as they're more likely to see those things as the same, um, and to differentiate last between them, which is perhaps not surprising.
Um, and although there is a little, uh, you know, the, the people who participate the most of those things are a little more of their giving seems to skew outside of, um, like to charitable organizations by percentage they're, they're more, they're more giving in general, including the charities than the average.[00:54:00]
Um, so, so we're starting to see a pattern, like some patterns emerge, um, around thinking about generosity, not in terms of, did you get. I've registered charity or did you give to this organization or that, but more in terms of a generosity profile of people, and some people are more inclined to be giving and will take advantage of multiple giving opportunities.
Um, and other people are just less like that. Um, and so I think w we have, uh, what we're trying to do is give that holistic view of the, the ecosystem. Um, and I think right now what's important to understand us as a, as a nonprofit organization, what's important to understand is thinking about it in terms of who's going to have affinity for what I do as opposed to are, did they take this action or that action, including like, did they get by check or they, they give online or did they use peer?
Did they do peer to peer or something else? The most valuable donors are taking lots of different actions for lots of different causes for all. Like for lots of different people. And so just tweaking again, it's a mindset shift in how we engage with that in mind, and you as the role of providing the opportunity for somebody to make a change and then talk about, talk to them a lot.
Yeah. As you're talking, it strikes me, we might need to define, um, what a mutual aid network is. Uh, how do you define that? Yeah, so, well, great question. I mean, first actually I think we actually need a research definition of it and that's one of the things that we've set out to do. And so we've, we started with some research in seven countries asking about recent behavior and asking people your, did you give time, money advocacy?
And we asked them whether they did it. For through a register, like a [00:56:00] registered organization, did they do it through some community group or association or did they just do it as spontaneous kind of person to person? And so this is giving us a kind of spectrum of behavior across multiple cultures. Um, and then we asked Americans, if they, we asked them specifically, did you participate in a mutual aid network?
And that we looked at that versus a whole bunch of other things about their behavior and values. So part of the answer to your question is we're trying to come up with, uh, with us with a specific definition, like somebody we can actually use in our research. Generally speaking, what we're talking about is organized, but not incorporated giving mechanisms.
So it's not, I, I. I baked a casserole for my neighbor, but it is, I joined this network on Facebook. That's organizing a casserole bake for people in need in my community. Right. But it's likewise not. Um, I went and brought canned goods to the 5 0 1 C3. That's running the food bank in my community, right? So it's the it's that intersection of people who are organized, but not incorporated for our cause.
And on the one hand we saw, you know, a lot of people are talking about it. We saw arguably an upsurge in this in 2020, as people look for ways to deal with all of the things that they were seeing in their community, they were proactively organizing, which is very exciting. On the other hand, this is a very old practice and it's, I think, indicative of some of that.
Inclusion challenges we have in the sector that we've been, we've been looking at this behavior as emergent, when it predates the nonprofit industrial complex by millennia. And people have been giving this [00:58:00] way and organizing in communities around the world and across the U S to give in these ways literally forever.
And we're not paying attention, we're not measuring it. We're not thinking about how important it is to the fabric of communities. And because we're not measuring it, paying attention to it. Those people are left out of important conversations about giving. So part of our goal is to enfranchise these existing giving behaviors.
I think this is a really important idea, especially as we talk about, uh, engagement of younger generations, you know, millennial generation, Homeland generation who are, who are described as, uh, giving to causes, not organizations and having mistrust of institutions and things like that, but providing a less formal way to contribute meaningfully to causes that they care about maybe the way to activate them in a way that organizations just haven't been tapping into.
Yeah. I mean, that's the key, right? Like what is compelling to givers? They, they it's personal. Um, it gives them immediate frictionless opportunity to take action for good. Um, it's aligned with their values. It's distributed. It's not branded right. It's about the cause it's not about the operation. Like all of these things are, are, are possible.
To tap into as an organization. I think organizations that are effectively engaging in these ways are, are going to increasingly see that they're getting a better result and what you've observed in the day as the data challenges in the sector. I know some of it's cultural, uh, it's very different obviously than in the retail world, uh, what organizations grappling with and how can we as a sector start to start to respond better to data and create better insights and, and move forward into the future in a way that creates a rising tide for all of us.
Yeah. Well, we, [01:00:00] we, we talked about a little bit at the beginning of it. It is a cultural challenge and not a tactical one. And what I mean by that is that a lot of the attempts to quote, solve the data challenge in the social sector and, and philanthropic data in particular have been around standards like a technical approach.
We just need a standard. If everybody just complied with the standard. And submitted their data to it. Then we be able to we'd know exactly where we stand. And the problem with that is that it just sort of hand waves. The, everybody is going to comply with our standard current, right? So you can create a standard all you want.
But most of the, most of the standards that have been created have just gone nowhere because there's no incentive mechanism for people to contribute their data. And on the organization level, I think this has been one of the main challenges in getting effective, uh, impact measurement going because the incentive model is, is hasn't, hasn't been there too much of the time.
So when you can be in a situation where you've got full control of your, a funder or government, or a group of funders with a ma with a governing body or something where you can kind of dictate how people are going to behave grades, then apply your standard and go nuts. For most of the rest of the activity, in fact, for the majority of what's going on in the sector, um, that's just not the case.
The data isn't owned by a few people it's owned by lots. Um, they're not going to share it just because, and they don't have the capacity to do a lot of work, to comply with some standard that has arbitrarily imposed. So this is why our approach at the beginning was lower. The barrier as much as possible, whatever people are able to share is what we need.
Find the bottlenecks in the data flows and really address our attention there. And then gradually iterate on what we're getting and improving that and let the standard [01:02:00] emerge from the work critically, doing the hard work ourselves, not imposing that on those who are providing the data. None of that happens if people don't see that there's value in it, right.
And I say this to our global teams. We have 50 global data chapters now who are launching their own initiatives and building on our infrastructure and methodology. And some of them are very advanced and doing lots of things and very well-funded and others are, are very nascent, but I tell them all the same thing.
Cause one of the questions is the first question is always, where are we going to get the data? And what I always tell them is we don't ask for data. We ask for questions and that's our first point of engagement is we talk to the people, have the data about what they need to learn. And then the data acquisition is, is there to serve that, that mutual objective.
We have agreed on a priority question that needs to be answered. And then we say, all right, well to answer that question, these are the data we need and don't worry about what the state it's in punted over. And we'll do the hard work. I'm doing some analysis and I've got us a lot of traction really quick.
And it also meant that we were on mission from the beginning. Right? We were, we're doing things that people are going to be able to use because it's based first and foremost on their problem statement. Yeah, no, that that's, that's great. I mean, they, they, the importance of asking the right questions, I think cannot be understated.
You know, it, on the one hand, if you're not asking the right question, you're asking the wrong questions you end up with completely irrelevant or counterproductive results. But, but I think also as a small organization that might not have a big data structure, starting with curiosity is probably a much easier entry point.
Yeah. I think w we have to be careful not to, whether we're a big organization or small. Really [01:04:00] avoid looking at this as we need the perfect data environment and the perfect set metrics and business analysis situation before we can do anything and building all of that infrastructure. And then, and then going all right, what are we going to ask?
Right? Like it just doesn't get you where you need to go. And, and the operational need just ends up, um, flooding the, your capacity. Whereas if you say, well, this is what I want to know. And how can I chip away at answers to this question? Not only does it mean that you're, that you're able to, to be like slimmer, it also means you're a lot more agile because you haven't built a system around a situation that you're going to find is different six months later and go, we got to rebuild that whole thing.
And we've really been building our system a bit at a time based on what we learned. It gives us a lot of agility to go where we need to. And, you know, to your point about asking the wrong question, it reminds me of a story. I know we don't have a lot of time, but I think it's really instructive major diaper brand.
They asked their customers what the most important factor in choosing a diaper is. And consumers just right across the board just said, absorbency is the most important factor. And when that diaper brand message that they had the most absorbent diaper they lost to share, because what they were missing was that by and large people trust the top diaper brands to be absorbent.
So they weren't messaging on a differentiating factor. And this is why easy, close tabs and lasting legs and Minnie mouse pictures. That's what that makes a difference. And we do this all the time in the sector and we really try to interrogate ourselves. We're not perfect at all, but this constant, like asking the question.
Because of received wisdom and an expectation of what the answer is going to be [01:06:00] and how it's like, that is a real problem that we have to, we have to face. Right. And it's why there's so much attention to, I think too much attention to trust in this actor, in, in the U S in particular. Yeah. You need people to trust you before they're going to give to you, but it doesn't actually drive the donation.
It's urgency and a personal, emotional connection that drive the, the donation and 10 sector, three insights. It's some really good research on this and, and that that's not well understood. And so we ended up in this situation where we're, we're messaging in a way that's not emotionally impactful. Um, because we asked the question.
How important is it to you that you trust the organization that you give to people is a hundred percent important organization. I feel like it's very easy to sort of be a slave to sort of macro trends and best practices. You know, how do you navigate the data that's available across the sector, the data that's unique to your organization, and then just gut feel, you know, as an organization, how should you strategize factoring in those three inputs and to create a meaningful result for you?
Yeah, that's a great question because we really haven't had good granular, like high fidelity, real time metrics in the sector, the way the commercial industries all do. First of all, I'll say, I feel like we really helped turn a corner on that in our partnership with the association of fundraising professionals on the, uh, fundraising effectiveness project reporting, the FEP reporting now really does get quite granular, right?
Where we're able to see those more micro trends. In a more timely fashion where we can, this is where we can get some insights. Like I was talking about new donor retention and why that's a critically important thing in 2021 and recapture the opportunity there. And why like, that's the kind of, that's the kind of high fidelity we need as organizations to set some, [01:08:00] um, some actual goals, as opposed to just look in the rear view mirror, go to market is always a thing.
You know, I, I think that I've, this was true. Some of my, the biggest brands I ever worked with this was always true. Like one of the best ways to just learn is try something. And the, the fact that digital is now so accessible. Just opens up a huge opportunity there, right? Where you can, you can learn a lot really quickly without having to invest a lot.
And, and so I would say looking at, you know, as an example, if you're a fundraiser, you look at donors or your required last year, how did you acquire them? That's a fairly simple thing to figure out what are you going to talk to them about? Talk to them about the, the effect that they had and why it was so great.
And then you have to roll out a direct mail campaign on that message. Nope. You could run a Facebook ad for a thousand bucks and get a lot of data on which messages resonated and what tended to convert and then roll out your direct mail campaign. Right. Then do all your email blast. Like just test it out.
Um, the part of, one of the, one of the hidden. Threats of the fear of frequency is you don't get enough data on what your donors care about. And so if you talk to them more frequently and in more varied ways, and you're going to get a lot of that insight and without it being really burdensome, you see, you know, based on all the information you have, you probably have the biggest dataset and individual giving of any, anybody in any organization on the planet, based on that and your own sort of analysis of it.
What do you see as the future of giving and of generosity? What's the world going to be like in 10 years and in the philanthropy space? [01:10:00] My hope is that this unprecedented moment that drove so much participation in generosity in so many ways sticks. And there's certainly indications that that's likely.
I mean on the fundraising side, new donor retention on them mutual aid and other behavior side, just like these, these networks proliferating and growing and, and, and being thoughtful about the problems that they're going to solve. So I hope what we're seeing is a surge in grassroots support across causes across communities and needs.
And that this is not a moment of disaster relief, but a shift and cultures of giving around the world don't know that I can predict whether that's the case or not for an individual or for an organization that is maybe new to giving Tuesday has not participated in the past or wants to get more involved and do better.
Uh, how can they do that? How can they get in touch with, with the organization? What advice would you give them for, uh, for engaging with the campaign? Great great way to end. So first of all, giving Tuesday is November 30 this year. One of the things I know, I feel it every year, giving Tuesday so big and there's so many things happening and there's so much creativity and there's so much you can do that.
It can be intimidating. And one of the things you have to get used to be around giving Tuesday is knowing that you're only ever take, you're only ever realizing a portion of the opportunity because the opportunity is so big, but don't let that prevent you from doing something because the other, the flip side of that coin is the [01:12:00] barrier is low.
Do what's within your capacity. Don't miss it. It's celebratory. It's fun. Your supporters are going to be out there prime to give, engage them. Don't be afraid of creativity. Don't be afraid to try something new. Don't be afraid to collaborate and be active. And that can be as simple as. Talking about your mission.
It can be as simple as thanking donors. It can be as simple as some peer to peer campaigns and activating, uh, fundraisers there's law. It's can be getting people to come out and volunteer. It can be giving back yourselves like there's literally no limit, um, and including no campaign. Awesome. Thanks so much Witter.
I can't thank you enough for coming on and joining us and sharing your, your insights and your experience with us. I sincerely hope you join us again in the future and give us updates on, on what you uncover after this year. I really appreciate it. Yeah. At any time. So that's our show for this week. We hope you really enjoyed it.
And maybe it even got the wheels turning for ways that you can leverage this. Year's giving Tuesday campaign to create some big new opportunities for your organization or those. Thanks as always to our guests, Woodward Rosenbaum, we thoroughly enjoyed our chat within this week and promised to do our best to get it back on the program.
Again, sometime next year, you can learn more about Woodrow his firstname.lastname@example.org as always. We'd love to hear from you. You can leave us a comment through our website, recommend future guests suggest new ideas for the show or future topics. And of course, leaving us a positive review.
Wherever you listen to podcasts is always helpful as well until next time causing purposes of production and moonshot.co on behalf of myself, Woodrow and our entire team. Thanks so much for listening and we look forward to catching up with you again soon.[01:14:00] .
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Woodrow has a long history of building top consumer brands, which he applies to his work as Chief Data Officer with Giving Tuesday. His insights have helped organizations and brands define strategies, develop new business, and expand their markets. In the nonprofit sector he has conducted research and analysis of individual giving behaviors; engaged with thousands of charities regarding fundraising strategies and trends; and has engaged millions of donors on topics related to giving and volunteering through traditional and social media.
Larry Gast is the VP of Development at Moishe House International, a nonprofit that creates meaningful, welcoming communities for Jewish adults in a post-college world. Larry joins Cause & Purpose to discuss how he’s infused an entrepreneurial spirit into every one of his roles, from working with large organizations like the JDC to ones that closely resemble startups. He has a wealth of insights that can be used for your organization, no matter your size or mission.Check out the Episode
Karin Underwood is the Founder and CEO of Verano Health, an accessible mobile platform to provide life-changing diabetes self-management training to low-income Americans with chronic disease. She’s spent a lifetime embedded in social impact, from high school service trips all the way to living in Kenya for two years post-college with the One Acre Fund. Karin joins Cause & Purpose to detail her exciting journey as a nonprofit tech entrepreneur and share countless lessons-learned from a lifetime of firsthand experience interfacing directly with the communities she wants to help.Check out the Episode
Woodrow Rosenbaum is the Chief Data Officer at Giving Tuesday, a movement designed to unleash the power of radical generosity around the world through a dedicated day for giving. Every year, Giving Tuesday activates over 70 national movements, 300 communities, and tens of millions of people to support organizations across the globe. Woodrow joins us for an exclusive interview on Cause & Purpose to share the origins behind Giving Tuesday, how we can shift mindsets for the social sector, and countless data-backed insights that can be applied to your organization on a year-round basis.Check out the Episode
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Moonshot.co is home to Cause & Purpose, a podcast about leaders in the social impact sector. Hear their stories, successes, failures, and lessons-learned from lives spent in the trenches, tackling the world’s most important challenges.