Category: Uncategorized

2021 wasn’t all bad… #BrightSpots

Let’s be honest, there is a LOT we were all quite happy to leave behind when midnight struck on December 31.

The second year of COVID-19 (then Delta and Omicron), the direct challenge to our democracy, and the loss of some of the greats – Stephen Sondheim, Cicely Tyson, Ed Asner, Larry King, Anne Rice, and Hank Aaron (and, of course, Betty White on December 31st *sniff*) 

But we tend to be optimists here at K2D and reflect back on the year with some pretty joyful and celebratory moments – we hope you had a few of your own, too! 

At Work 

Megan and Rose both celebrated their one-year anniversaries at K2D. We couldn’t be happier to have Megan’s stellar gif game and her positive energy and Rose effuses about having found her ‘home’ in an industry that she didn’t even know existed a few years ago. Congrats to them (and to us!). 

We were excited to welcome Manisha to our team in October. And we know how excited SHE was to welcome her mom for an extended visit from overseas this fall, too!

And Steph found her way back to great friends and new colleagues. We’re pretty grateful to have her back on the team! 

Sheryl was concerned about what the fundraising landscape would look like – especially after setting so many records in 2020. Fortunately, our digital clients’ files continued to grow, and new records were set! 

Jenn was also delighted at every one of our client partners’ stellar #GivingTuesday success! Breaking revenue records and increasing their impact for kids, our environment, furry and feathered friends, recent immigrants, public lands, retirees, people experiencing homelessness and so much more.   

Lori didn’t let a little COVID get in her way of professional development. The Nonprofit Alliance’s Leadership Lab gave her the opportunity to connect with so many people and discuss really critical topics.  She found it rewarding in every possible way, both professionally and personally.  

Our work was recognized with MAXI awards. A gold MAXI for an emergency campaign we developed for Save the Redwoods League after the devastating fires at Big Basin – one of the most iconic and visited redwood parks in California, and a bronze MAXI for Humane Society Naples November 2020 Matching Gift Campaign. 

We reopened the office! And while Karin is really the only one there every day (sharing the internet with the family and working on card tables in her basement was NOT fun!), it is always a treat when others come in – for team meetings and brainstorming sessions and even some good old fashioned fun (like our summer Segway adventure!). 

The K2D Team on Segways in front of the Lincoln Memorial

Science + Family =  

Angela is 1 million times grateful for vaccines,  especially for our kiddos, and couldn’t be happier to reconnect with family. Yep. We agree Silver! 

Getting the chance to again celebrate with family and loved ones…  Jenn (and her vaccinated husband and daughter) attended a wedding in November.   

Steph’s son is back in school – in person AND full time.   

Kris and their friends (vaxxed and mostly boosted) got to help her husband celebrate his 50th (in the minutes before Omicron derailed plans again). And that felt almost normal. 

Some of the best news came just before Christmas when Megan learned her grandfather doesn’t have any new cancer – making her trip to visit him last week even more special.   

Travel and Trips of a Lifetime   

In December, Rose got to see her grandmother for the first time in three years. She will cherish that trip for the rest of her life. 

Angela was reminded of why she loves Charlottesville and staycationing. So much local to love! 

Getting to see the impact of our team’s work on a summer trip to California was pretty stellar for Karin.  Visiting the newly reopened trails at Pfeiffer Burns State Park and getting up close with coast redwoods was unforgettable.  

A week in Bald Head Island, NC, in September was another bright spot for Lori. Spending time near the ocean is a balm for her soul, so adding great friends to the mix was just heavenly. 

Milestones and not-so-humble brags 

Kris’ son got his driver’s license and her daughter made her high school swim team AND she was pretty stoked when the Washington Spirit won the 2021 NWSL Championship.  

Rose moved into a new apartment after a year of living back at home! “While I love my family and will always appreciate the time I was able to spend with them by being back at home for a bit after graduating from college, I know we’re all happy to have a little bit of breathing room from each other again!” We hear ya Rose!  

Live music was back for some of us. Armed with natural antibodies and two shots of Pfizer, Lori attended a music festival on the beach with her sister in August and Karin got to dance in the sand at a different beach festival in September. It almost felt like the before times! 

Pets and their People 

Our folks love their fur-babies and both Jeph and Steph welcomed new feline friends to their homes.

Astro laying on a yellow blanket

Astro moved in with Jeph in April and he’s the best cat that ever lived with him! “He makes me smile, and yell, at least once a day and often many times a day.” We’ll be keeping an eye out for stories about his first snow and first birthday. There is a movement to elect Astro as the digital team mascot – hearing no objection!

Willy sitting on the sofa

And Steph doesn’t fail at much, but she did fail at being a foster mom to Willy. How could she ever have let this cutie move on? Congrats, Steph and Willy! 

What We’re Watching 

While we all might’ve needed Tiger King at the start of the pandemic, for completely different reasons, we all REQUIRED the uplifting series Ted Lasso in 2021. Admittedly, some of us (Kris and Jenn) were on the leading edge of binging it, but Sheryl and Karin both jumped on the bandwagon before 2021 came to a close.   

#Believe friends. 2021 had more good than we give it credit for, and 2022 will no doubt bring us more. 

Turning Donors into Superfans – 5 Ways to Improve Donor Loyalty and Retention

Meet Nav Bhatia 

Google the term “superfan” and you’ll find pages of posts about a Canadian named Nav Bhatia. Nav is a former used car salesman turned millionaire philanthropist and is better known as the Raptors Superfan. 

Nav has attended every Toronto Raptors game in the team’s 25-year history and created the Superfan Foundation as a way to bring diverse groups of people together through a shared love of basketball.  The foundation spends $300,000 per year to send thousands of kids to Raptors games and Nav ensures that people of all backgrounds sit together in the stands. 

What do superfans have to do with your long-term fundraising goals?  

Donor-advocates are the superfans of fundraising. By engaging in regular advocacy-driven fundraising you can leverage the support of these superfans to tap into the massive revenue potential that exists within your file. 

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project reported earlier this year that despite a significant increase in giving, retention rates dropped by 4.1% in 2020. This is a red flag because retention is the measure that carries the day and is the best indicator of long-term file health. 

But who can worry about long-term file health when Giving Tuesday is right around the corner??? 

If you have a strong file, it’s undoubtedly full of individuals with more desire and dollars to give to your organization. A steady focus on stewardship and cultivation is the key to unlocking that door. And you can start by working it into your plans for Giving Tuesday! How’s that for multi-tasking?!   

Smart ways to serve and engage your donors now! 

These days, most people feel like they have little control over anything — the economy, the pandemic, their jobs, the government, you name it. We are more divided and isolated than ever before. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet your donors’ needs by offering ways they can come together and help heal our troubled world beyond their financial support. 

Here’s an example of an email from the Queens Public Library inviting donors to support full funding for libraries in NYC’s FY22 budget. This drove higher than normal rates of engagement with donors and there were no cuts to libraries’ budgets! 

An email from the Queens Public Library

Quizzes are a fun way to engage donors and don’t hesitate to get creative!  Save the Redwoods League nearly broke the internet with this movie quiz that tests your knowledge of classic movies and the stunning locations where they came to life! 

White Coat Waste Project invites members of Congress to join in Tele-Town Halls that connect supporters with decision-makers and allow them to learn more, ask questions and take a larger role in the fight against cruelty. 

American Foundation for the Blind uses petitions to engage with donors. By extending this additional opportunity to be part of the solution, they educate and empower donors to have a voice on issues that are important to them. This creates deeper meaning for people and that will strengthen their connection to your organization, too! 

Added bonus:  Superfans can help you stretch your limited resources! Smart fundraisers create experiences where donors can help spread the good word about their work.

Here are five more ideas you can implement now to create superfans of your organization that will make a difference down the road: 

  • Create community! Set up Facebook groups of niche segments of your file based on giving amount or area of programmatic interest. We humans love to engage with others who share our passions. Recruit a team member to spend just 15 minutes a day engaging on behalf of your org and keep the conversation going! 
  • “Tell us about yourself!” Invite your current donor advocates to give a testimonial — shining examples of their being a force for good. Create a feature page on your website and invite them to share with their friends and family. 
  • Grant them Certificates of Recognition! Reward your donors’ efforts with an official proclamation of their good work. Everyone likes to be recognized for doing good so encourage them to brag about their achievements with friends and family. 
  • Teach donors how to use hashtags, share posts, tweet! We often lament that our donors can be reluctant to adapt to technology so why not take the opportunity to educate them? Put on a webinar where donors can learn simple ways to advocate via social media on behalf of your organization. 
  • Set up a “Tell 3 Friends Challenge! Encourage your supporters to spread the good news about your work within their networks and reward them with a button, a badge, a t-shirt — whatever is appropriate for your resources.  

Keep‘em coming back for more! 

Think about what makes your organization different from other groups in your sector. How can you unite your donors and provide an amazing relationship/experience that will make them fans for life? 

Nav Bhatia’s unwavering loyalty and adoration earned him an official championship ring in 2018 when the Raptors won their first-ever NBA title. Find ways to treat your donors like MVP’s and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come! 

On Gratitude

A woman reaching above her head to check the smoke detector

This morning it began at 4:13.

A skull-piercing chirp followed by the voice of a tiny bionic woman insisting, “FI-er!” “FI-er!”

These darn smoke detectors have been pulling this prank all week. It’s like having a newborn again, although my last newborn is now 17 and conveniently sleeps while I frantically race around to find the instigator with the flashing red light. Then it’s drag over a chair, climb up and try to disarm the little menace.

A woman reaching above her head to check the smoke detector

As I was perched on a stepstool, frantically trying to wedge the batteries out (with a corkscrew, of all things) my three dogs barking their heads off, I had a rare moment of clarity and thought…

“I hate these stupid things.”

Then, “I’m pretty darn fortunate to have this problem.” 

This leads me to the theme of this post: Gratitude.  (‘Tis the season, right?)

A K2D colleague of mine recently shared a Ted Talk by A.J. Jacobs on gratitude. He said, “noticing the little details in life that we typically take for granted is the first step in developing a practice of gratitude.” The problem is that so much of our lives run on auto-piloted expectations which, on the one hand, is awesome because that allows us to accomplish a lot and with great efficiency but on the other hand, those expectations can cause us to lose sight of the little details — gifts really — for which we owe much gratitude.

“Noticing the little details in life that we typically take for granted is the first step in developing a practice of gratitude”

Ironically, clues that point toward these gifts can be found in life’s little headaches — not exactly what we think of as gifts. For most of us, little annoyances, better known in these parts as “first world problems” are places where we can dig deeper and find the little things for which we can all be grateful.

This all got me thinking of some other headaches where we might find gratitude:

  1. The donors who complain but are the ones who care enough to give feedback and help us be better fundraisers
  2. The clients who require four rounds of rewrites but who trust us with their incredible programs
  3. The coffee maker that just can’t seem to percolate fast enough
  4. The lettershop that misses your mail date by a day but manages, as the last link in the chain, to pull off miracles with every other campaign
  5. The USPS is reliably unreliable but enables us to raise millions for our causes
  6. The pick-up lunch order that isn’t ready when we arrive
  7. The Acela that runs late but gives us a few more quiet moments with our books, meeting prep, or naps

When little things go wrong is when we realize just how much help we have every moment of every day. We rely on so many other people, products, and services to make our modern lives run smoothly!

It’s humbling to think about it. 

But the point is not to shame or make wrong but merely a reminder to slow down, smile, and say, “thank you” for the little things. When you do, you’ll find the little things are everything.

Need new, great fundraising ideas?

A recap of Really Great Fundraising Ideas – That I wasn’t part of creating!

As fundraisers, we are constantly looking for new, impactful ways to boost program performance. We all want our programs to have the best chance at success, and that means testing new ideas. Through the Really Great Fundraising Ideas – That I wasn’t part of creating! webinar, five seasoned direct marketing professionals, both on the agency and nonprofit side, presented really great ideas, that they didn’t create! No matter what metrics your program is looking to improve – both in the direct mail and digital space – they presented a plethora of ideas that might be your next big winner! The following are a few highlights from the presentation.

Send a Card to a Caregiver, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles

During COVID, the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles led an email campaign that allowed donors to pick out, digitally sign, and write messages to nurses and other caregivers in honor of National Nurse’s week in April. After submitting the card, the donor was brought to a donation page where they could make a gift to the Hospital. This idea allows the donor to feel part of the greater good and like they are truly making a difference.

QR What?!

With improved technology, QR (quick response) codes have become increasingly part of our everyday lives. It seems every restaurant (at least near me!) switched from hard menus to QR codes during COVID and have no return in sight. But QR codes can be used for more than just menus! Using QR codes in your campaigns can be a great way to make it easier for donors to give. It can also be a great way to collect data, such as phone numbers and emails, and even create pools of warm prospects. Just make sure your QR code has a working landing page and content is kept up to date!

USPS Informed Delivery Campaign

Through USPS informed delivery, Americans who are signed up can see what mail is being delivered that day. USPS has rolled out a feature allowing nonprofits to place images with links to donation pages along with the scan of their direct mail piece when due to be delivered to a donor. Currently, USPS is not charging for this feature, so the only extra cost might be for additional creative of the ride-along image. This feature provides for additional exposure and provides for tracking opportunities, as the USPS can provide click and open rates. Organizations who participate in this have even found it lifts response, again, at no additional cost! Even better, the USPS is offering a promotion on this right now, offering a 2% postage discount when this feature is used in a campaign!

Legacy Giving Campaign Direct Mail, Online, Email

For groups who have a big revenue stream from legacy giving, consider a multi-channel Legacy Challenge! With a matching gift component, donors who share their legacy giving plans with your organization can unlock a 10% cash matching gift in their name now, increasing the incentive for them to let you know that they have left you in their will and how much they have left you. And consider a matching gift of $500 even for those who don’t want to disclose the amount of their gift! Donors may still be willing to share they have left you in their will but aren’t comfortable going into further details.

Mute This Email

At the end of your emails this Giving Tuesday and Year-End, consider adding a “mute this campaign” button! It allows donors to be put on a suppression list for the rest of the campaign, without being completely unsubscribed.

The Return of “Stuff”

Trends even exist in direct mail! Often, we go back and forth between packages that are simple, containing only a letter, reply envelope, and an insert, to packages that are thick and heavy, containing all sorts of front-end premiums. Recently we’ve been seeing what Karin Kirchoff coined as “the return of stuff.” Organizations such as the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy are sending larger packages containing items such as calendars, notepads, labels, and booklists with information relating to their cause. While these packages may be more expensive to produce, they definitely are opened by donors!


Did you know that cryptocurrency can be donated? Me neither! The American Cancer Society launched the “Cancer Crypto Fund,” which allows donors to donate cryptocurrency through a widget powered by Giving Block on their website. They’ve even done more than just add the widget, they’ve created a fund seeking to raise $1,000,000 and have even given naming rights to the fund for the first person to donate $250,000 in cryptocurrency. With the rise in cryptocurrency, this is a great new way for donors to give!

It can be challenging to come up with new fundraising ideas, but don’t be afraid to look beyond what your organization has done in the past. You never know what great idea – that you didn’t create – might be you next big winner! And maybe it could be one of these!

This post originally appeared on the Direct Marketing Association of Washington’s blog

Speed up the 2nd Gift and Improve Donor Lifetime Value

Welcome Back!

You’ll recall that a speedy second gift is an important part of building relationships with your fresh new donors. It also indicates that you have done a good job in conveying your mission and your case for giving.

To craft our second gift strategy, let’s go back and think about why donors give in the first place. There are a variety of reasons that could include:

  • funding research for a cure for disease
  • supporting a co-worker’s upcoming triathlon
  • paying tribute to someone who passed on
  • affecting change in their community by supporting a political candidate

But I believe people give for two reasons only:

  1. People give to experience JOY
  2. People give out of a sense of obligation

It’s important to separate the two because those who give out of obligation (we’ll call them, “obligationers,” are not likely to make a second gift (unless we’re talking about tithing).

“Once a donor donates the second time, we have moved beyond impulse giving… They are now truly supporting your mission by consciously choosing to provide funds.

– Jaye Love

The obligation crowd (honor/memorial, and peer to peer) are NOT likely to make a second gift so put those folks aside and focus on the JOYFUL crowd (aka: mission-based donors.)

I repeat: Do NOT spend your time on the obligationers – (this goes for some Premium-seekers and event attendees too.) Use social media and brand raising for the eventual few who might come around at some point to becoming a JOYFUL giver.

Joyful givers are searching for meaning in their lives and being a partner in your mission fulfills that need. If you’re a good partner (i.e., practicing meaningful, personal cultivation) then they will continue to give over the long haul.

The actions you take at the beginning of your relationship will have a major impact on the number of donors who will become longtime partners, their lifetime value, and the overall retention and health of your file.

With that in mind, let’s look at ways to attract, inspire, and move an individual to become a loyal, long-time giver to your organization.

Start with Acquisition Creative

Pretend for a few minutes that you are your donor.

Step 1: Grab your latest control package and mix it in with a pile of the daily mail. (Reviewing a pdf of the package while sitting at your desk will void this entire exercise so don’t do it.)

Step 2: Stand over your kitchen trash can and sort through the mail pile.

Step 3: When you come upon your control package, as objectively as possible, ask yourself the following questions as you review the package:

  • Does it stand out and grab your attention? If so, why?
  • Are you going to open it right then and there or is it going to the ‘save for later’ pile?

If you (as the donor) do decide to open it, review the contents:

  • Have you clearly outlined what it is that your organization does?
  • Have you clearly outlined why it is that additional support is needed?
  • Have you made your prospective donor feel that by supporting your org, they will become part of a community of like-minded individuals (guys, this part is SO important!!! We humans are wired for connection so make sure you’re filling that need!)
  • Have you included a letter that tells a story that includes strong emotional connection to your work?
  • Is your case for giving strong enough to support more than a single gift?
  • Is it crystal clear how the donor’s gift will be used?
  • Is the tone of the letter personal, impassioned, and welcoming?

Notice your reactions to each question. Write down any observations you have so you’ll remember to discuss areas for improvement with your team.

Hopefully, your control package has you reaching for your checkbook to join this amazing organization ASAP. If it doesn’t, then you’ve got some work to do.

Next: Acquisition Audience

Make sure you have a solid mix of niche lists and models that will target your best potential prospects. We are finding the models are bring in higher dollar givers on acquisition and we have preliminary research that shows a high correlation between high inception amount and LTV. We’ll drill deeper into that research in a future post. For now, I think we can agree that people who give more tend to be better donors which is not exactly breaking news…

It’s also important to review your acquisition results by list and be on the lookout for lists that yield the most second givers. If you can track how quickly they made that second gift, that’s even better but be sure you’ve got that list of 2x-giver lists handy when planning your next acquisition. That extra data point will boost your success.

Post-Acquisition: The Fortune is in the Follow UP!

First 10 days – Unless you’re able to process printed acknowledgments in a timely (less than 3 weeks) manner, get a voice broadcast message out to your donors letting them know you received their gift, you’re so grateful, and a formal ack is on the way.

Put yourself in your donors’ shoes. Imagine you’re 70+ years old, you’ve mailed in a check to your favorite org and you’re regularly hearing about issues with the USPS so you’re likely VERY concerned that your gift arrived safely. A quick call will put their minds at ease and give you one more reason to touch base with them.

Welcome Series – if you don’t have one, start putting one together. Many NPO’s will not survive the coming recession. The ones that do, will have made the effort to invest in their donors. Follow our simple 3-step formula for strengthening the relationship:

  • Acknowledgment (as quickly as possible!) — This should be a warm and hearty welcome to our community of like-minded folks! Reinforce the fact that their decision to make a gift was a wise one!
  • Impact Report and Request for Input – Include a call-to-action like a request for email address, survey (keep it light-hearted and recreate that JOYful feeling from the acquisition, and even include a freemium – decals are best for brand raising here).
  • Invite Donors to become Sustainers – The best time to invite donors to become sustainers is at the beginning of the relationship so get in there while you can!

Finally: Regular Cultivation through your Appeal Series

Reframe your “Ways to Give” mindset into “Ways to Support” as this expands the scope to include nonmonetary ways that your donors can be a partner to your organization. You’ll score points with the donors and attract individuals who have greater devotion to your mission. And remember, the onus is on you, the non-profit to be regularly reminding donors of their options. Don’t assume they know what to do!

In your list, be sure to include

  • Planned giving
  • Donor-Advised Funds
  • Vehicle donation
  • Advocacy brigade
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Social media follow/share
  • Tell A Friend
  • Surveys – donor engagement
  • Employer Matching Gifts
  • Virtual events

Find creative ways to make these stand out in your direct mail and you’ll continue to bolster support of your program while stewarding VIPs who will invest in your organization for years to come! The actions you take in the first 90 days of your relationship can make all the difference for donors’ LTV so focus your efforts there and you’ll see healthy returns for years to come.

Statement on the Attacks on Our Democracy

As an industry and an agency that uses words to make the case for why supporting our clients’ work is critical, it is difficult to admit that words fail us now.

We condemn the seditious attacks on our democracy, the imperfect institutions that define our work, and the people who do that work every day   regardless of whether or not our political affiliations align.  Like you, we are exhausted by the seemingly endless challenges.  But we will not back down on the core principles upon which K2D was founded.  And we will never stop fiercely advocating for the work our non-profit clients do to ensure the most vulnerable among us have a voice.

Bright Spots!

Best of 2020

The first book I read in 2020 was The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. It’s about the magical experiences in our lives that stay in our memory banks for a very long time. The authors use the term “bright spots” to describe these moments. A bright spot is simply a good thing that occurs during a bad or difficult time.

Obviously, this book could not have fallen into my hands at a better time. The optimist in me began noticing and pointing out bright spots here and there throughout the year. This drove my pod mates crazy at times, but I was determined to salvage something from this dumpster fire of a year. I noticed that the most mundane things started to shine amid the chaos. Exploring local parks, experimenting with new recipes, and family movie night suddenly became special events.

I marveled at these bright spots in my own life and wondered what little treasures appeared in others’ lives. I asked our team here at K2D to share their bright spots from 2020 to end the year on a high note and help position us all for an extraordinary year ahead!

Our bright spots ranged from work-related to new hobbies to relationships and, of course, Netflix! Hope you enjoy some of the fun insight into our K2D family.

On the work front…

Donors showed up in force. They supported nonprofits who were on the front lines taking care of people – food banks, emergency funds… but they also showed up for organizations providing access to outdoor spaces, reproductive rights, for Black lives and other marginalized groups, for political candidates, for kids fighting cancer and for animals in shelters. It was pretty amazing.

Holy Donor Advised Funds, Batman! This was my favorite fundraising vehicle before COVID-19 so when DAF gifts EXPLODED in 2020, I could barely contain myself. And while the money that moved through these funds was record-breaking, what was even more exciting for me was the fact that it’s a NEW crop of donors to steward and cultivate so our clients can do even more amazing work!

2020 brought significant challenges that could only be tackled through teamwork, and we’ve all stepped up to the plate. Since we were really all in it together, the cooperation, engagement, and collaboration with clients, colleagues and other folks across the industry is my favorite happy by-product of 2020.

K2D added 2 team members in 2020. Here’s what they have to say about that.

Found my way to K2D (and absolutely love it)!!

NEW JOB!!! The best job with the best people. I have found my place in the world and it’s great. Also, I moved apartments at the beginning of Covid into my very first one bedroom. My entire 11 years down in Richmond I have lived with roommates and I don’t know why I never moved in with myself sooner.

New hobbies and habits

I FINALLY started kayaking! After years of owning one … I figured out that it is a nice, socially distant way to spend time outside with my husband or a friend and get some exercise. Discovering new places to paddle along the Potomac and helped fill some of my need for adventure, too!

I started painting again. It was an old college hobby of sorts. But it was nice to be able to slow down enough to bring some of this stillness back. Incidentally, Arya has picked it up, too.

I discovered the NY Times cooking app and it’s been a great resource – especially since dinner turned into the highlight of most of our days. We have some new vegetarians and the entire house had to go entirely gluten-free this year. Finding some “keeper” recipes that satisfy everyone in our pod was a major win.

A favorite new hobby is keeping all my plants alive. Out of my collection, only one has almost died on me. Also made a lot of banana bread. But I have honestly found that I have one heck of a green thumb. My favorite plant right now is my monstera. She’s beautiful.

Jenn D
I perfected the Blackberry Bourbon Smash. (Hmmm, if this is Jenn’s new hobby, we might want to alert HR….)

I’ve read more this year than I have in quite a while thanks to a “book club” with long-time friends in LA and Philly.

We had a really great crop of pears on our pear tree this year. They are currently fermenting in bottles to make what will hopefully turn out to be a nice batch of cider. It’s becoming a family tradition.

Remember Travel?!

Jenn D.
I bought a new car at the beginning of the year and put less than 4k miles on it.

Hands down, the #1 bright spot of 2020 is the lack of traffic in the DC metro area!

I went to Nashville in March for spring break (literally a week before everything shut down), it was such a fun city and I can’t wait to go back one day!

Staycation. Didn’t beach at all this year because that’s where everyone came back with COVID. I did, however, frequent the pool at my apartment building and got a great tan. It also meant that I spent time with my best friend because she always came over to the pool.

We managed to take our annual camping trip to Assateague. It’s easy to be socially distant at the beach!

With virtual school & work life, the whole family got to spend 10+ weeks at our second home by the beach.

Instead of spending the weekend at the beach for the 4th of July, all virtual work meant I could stay the week and enjoy the ocean and sun as much as possible!

Having instant access to nature here in Charlottesville.

There are woods behind my building that has a trail for dog walking, and I have been taking my dog for walks there for the 5 years I’ve had her. But, this spring, I saw the nature that makes up the woods more than I ever had before. I really noticed when things started to bloom and could see the day-to-day difference.

Friends and Family aka “your pod”

With a standing weekly zoom happy hour, I got to see some friends much MORE than I would have in person.

Jenn D
Getting a sneak peek into my daughter’s school day through virtual learning has confirmed that she is respectful of the teacher and fellow students and conscientious about all her work – we are so proud of her!

My kids are resilient. Early in the pandemic when schools shut down, it was sort of fun and novel. And then it was awful. Like sobbing, yelling, depression-kind of awful. And then we had to figure it out. Channel patience. And they are doing ok. At least this week!

Dear friends who have been together for many years and have been talking about getting married for about the last two years finally decided to do it this December. Their marriage signifies an affirmation of love and support and for that, I cannot help but feel hopeful and joyous.

I miss Family gatherings. Full family gatherings. Pre COVID-19 I was always dreading them like oh my gosh it’s going to be so loud and exhausting and since I’m an adult I have to actually help out. But I would give anything to have a full Thanksgiving with everyone or Christmas with literally anyone.

Reconnected with extended family when we started having family Zoom calls for my elderly grandmother.

Being able to connect with my mom and sister in person, if even on a rare occasion, and having Arya spend time with her cousins on a few rare occasions as well – including in the Outer Banks, what has become another long-standing family tradition for us with my in-laws.

I’m in shock and awe of how my 16-year-old has mastered virtual learning and time management. And, had a great attitude during her limited (and masked) cross-country season.

Weekly zoom happy hours with friends meant I got to see them more and brought our group closer together.

Thank you, NETFLIX!

Our team completely fell for the phenomenon that was Tiger King and spent many a staff meeting analyzing the greatest mystery to come along in a while. Here are some other fan favorites at K2D:

I can’t recommend Ted Lasso (Apple TV) strongly enough. It’s a funny, feel-good way to put a cap on a rough year.

My favorite Netflix binge has to be either Queen’s Gambit, Selling Sunset, You, or Virgin River. I live alone all I do is watch Netflix and movies besides work. Top probably is Queens Gambit. Kris Netflix delivered! The Queen’s Gambit, The Great British Baking Show, Self Made, Bridgerton, BlackAF, Teenage Bounty Hunters.

I am beyond thankful for The Great British Baking Show! I also watched All-American based on a recommendation from my 11-year-old niece in New Jersey – it was so fun to have the show to chat with her about (since I can’t seem to get into all of the YouTube influencers she’s following).

As I write this, the Georgia runoffs are flipping the Senate and history-making new leadership in the White House is just weeks away. Our best to all of you for making the best of 2020. Brighter days are here!

The Most Important Fundraising Metric You Might Be Overlooking

Imagine you’re tasked with improving donor retention for your organization’s direct response program. This is fun because retention is the elephant in the room at every quarterly department meeting, right? It’s the thing no one wants to focus on and it’s the thing that everyone MUST focus on.

So you’re the parent in the room whose job it is to break up the “let’s talk about fun things like great photos and subject lines!” party and get the kids to do their homework – the stuff that matters – like answering the question, “How do we get donors to keep giving?”

Keeping donors interested and engaged takes work and investment (gasp!) and can be difficult to measure success. Is it any wonder no one wants to talk about it?

But retention is the most important indicator of your file’s health, so investing time and resources in building retention is vital.

Years ago, the “just mail more” strategy worked well enough for most organizations to achieve decent retention rates without too much effort. But now, factors like fewer donors, financial uncertainty, higher production costs, and increased competition for donor dollars all necessitate a concentrated focus on retaining the donors you’ve already acquired.

If “just mail more” is no longer working, how can we improve our retention rates?

Let’s start by looking at what affects donor retention in the first place.

What’s the number one factor that influences donor retention?

The second gift!

The folks at Bloomerang call this “the golden donation,” because if you can get it, your multi-year retention rates improve dramatically.

With that gift, the donor is demonstrating a desire to support your mission beyond what may have initially been an impulse, a premium, a tribute, or even a special event. Later in this series, we’ll get into how to get that second gift but today, I’d like to turn your attention towards a little-known factor in improving retention: Timing.

The timing of the second gift. And, in this case, the sooner, the better is an understatement.

The graph below is from the Analytical Ones blog (The Exponential Importance of Second Gift Timing) and clearly demonstrates the importance of securing that golden donation as quickly as possible.

Graph from Analytical Ones blog post 'The Exponential Importance of Second Gift Timing'

Each bar represents the 5-year value of a donor based on how quickly their second gift is acquired.

As you can see, single givers aren’t worth a whole lot.

If we wait a year to ask again, their lifetime value (LTV) is half of what it would be had they given again in the first 180 days.

We must focus on acquiring not just the first gift but that second gift as well and we need to move quickly in doing so.

We’ll talk about how to make this happen in our next post. In the meantime, send me your thoughts! My email is – let’s talk!

Terror Management Theory and other quarantine musings

Terror Management Theory

Last week, I sat in on my umpteenth webinar on how to fundraise in the midst of a global pandemic. There was more of the same sage advice:

  • Keep mailing
  • Engage with your donors
  • Don’t be tone deaf (I’ll be happy to never hear that term again.)

I perked up when the conversation wandered over to donor-advised funds at the end of the session and then started to hint at my other favorite topic, planned giving. “It’s about to get really good now, I thought.” To my surprise, the group didn’t seem to have much insight, thought, or curiosity in the subject.

I was a tad puzzled by this lack of discussion in my favorite subject (I’m a big believer in leading your direct response donors on a journey to make a planned gift.) But I think it’s just more of our tendency to stay in our lane and cling to our old, “my-donor/your-donor” way of thinking.

Thus began my musing. What IS happening in the world of planned giving right now?

I Googled a bit and found that we have an incredible opportunity on our hands.

Let’s start by taking a look inside the minds of our donors.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that most of us don’t enjoy thinking about our death.

Terror Management Theory” is the official term for this behavior we exhibit as a defense against the unthinkable. It’s how we humans manage our fear of death.

We do this in two ways:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Developing cultural worldviews

The first, avoidance, is easy to grasp –

Let’s say a global pandemic struck and we were suddenly faced with daily reports of death tolls from all around the world – including right here in the US. Not speaking from actual, personal experience of course but I imagine my avoidance instincts would go into overdrive and you might find me under my weighted blanket zoned out with Netflix. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

That’s avoidance.

But the second sounds a bit jargon-y so let’s break it down.

Developing cultural worldviews just means that we create beliefs that add meaning and therefore, value to our lives. This minimizes the feelings of dread that arise when we think about death. Experts call this achieving symbolic immortality. We convince ourselves that having children, amassing wealth, being part of a great nation, and creating a legacy are all deeply meaningful and make it easier for us to come to grips with the idea of our eventual demise.

Let’s go back to avoidance for a minute. Covid-19 is making avoidance pretty difficult right now and when we can’t avoid thinking about death, we strive for some sense of control. On the direct response front, we are seeing donors responding to the crisis. They are giving larger gifts in an attempt to attain some advantage over this virus that has experts baffled.

That’s not surprising though, right? Direct mail donors are some of the best people out there. They’re loyal, big-hearted, caring folks – the type that would give you the shirt off their back. Good thing too, since our organizations are relying on them now more than ever.

On the planned giving front, something even more interesting is happening.

People are completing wills in record numbers.

This not only gives one a sense of control but also offers that symbolic immortality that we crave. Add to that, a lockdown where many of us find ourselves with more time and less to do and you’ve got thousands of Americans scrambling to set up their estate plans. This insight into our donors’ thinking is a crucial piece of information and incredible news for fundraisers, right?! Fire up the presses! We’ve got planned giving brochures to print!

Not so fast, friends.

One thing hasn’t changed. Planned Giving marketing is still the delicate endeavor it’s always been and it’s even more complicated now because we certainly don’t want to seem like ambulance chasers. At the same time, it’s important not to err on the side of being overly sensitive by robbing donors of the opportunity to create the legacy that we humans are wired to do.

To help our fellow fundraisers tiptoe through the planned giving tulips, we’ve come up with this shortlist of actions you can take now to position your organization for substantial revenue from planned gifts down the road.

  1. Pick up the phone. Get every member of your development team to make one call to a donor per day. With no commute, they’ve got time, I promise you. Don’t overcomplicate it. Just grab your last transaction file and start with this three (ish) sentence thank you script:

    Hi Jane Donor, I’m Fran Fundraiser over here at XYZ Org and I’m just calling to thank you for the gift you sent last week. Your partnership means so much to all of us and the (children, animals, people, etc.) we serve — especially at a time like this. Hope you and your family are safe and healthy – have a great day!

    In most cases, you’ll reach a voicemail but you may be lucky enough to speak with a live donor! They will most likely be surprised and delighted by your call and you may even glean some valuable insights for your future fundraising. At the very least, I guarantee it will put a smile on your face – and who couldn’t use that these days?
  2. Pick up your pen. Grab some notecards and repeat step one – only this time, have each member of the team write a brief note to a donor. Use the script below and in just 5 minutes a day, you’ve got a meaningful touchpoint going out to a loyal and valued donor.

    Dear Jane, Lately, I’m reminded of how fortunate XYZ Org is to have friends like you. Your commitment to our work and those we serve means so much to all of us. Hope you and your family are safe and healthy at this difficult time.
    Fran Fundraiser

    I promise you, this memorable ‘moment’ will yield high dividends at year-end and beyond!
  3. Use your buck slips wisely. Instinct might tell you to put a flashy planned giving buck slip into all of your mail pieces but we have a better idea. Create a buck slip that includes planned giving as just one of many options a donor has for giving. This way, we downplay the planned giving suggestion and make the most of the opportunity to market other gifts. It’s up to us to make donors aware of their options for giving and it’s simply good stewardship. Donors who may not be able to make a cash gift today will appreciate knowing there’s another way to continue their support!
  4. Get your data in order. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s still do-able. For planned giving leads from your direct response file, compile a list of donors for each of the following:
    • Consecutive Givers (3+ years)
    • Inception date of 5+ years ago
    • Monthly Givers
    • Donors with Donor Advised Funds
    • Donors of $50+ on direct mail acquisition

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, you’ll be asked what your department is doing about planned giving. Have these lists at your fingertips and you’ll be one step ahead of the game!

  1. Audit your acknowledgment process. Now is the perfect time to make sure your processes are shipshape! Make a gift to your organization and see if there are improvements to be made. Does the copy need a refresh? Is there a BRE included? Is it time to try a new format? Are there ways to make it more personal for your donor?

No doubt these are troubling times filled with anxiety and questions about the future of our fundraising programs. What will year-end bring? What will the recession do to my program? And what about the election, a “second wave”…

I encourage you to control your fears by getting in action.

Set aside 30 minutes at the start of your day to focus on these simple steps and by year-end, not only will you feel more in control of your program’s destiny but you’ll be achieving symbolic immortality by creating your legacy as one of the great fundraisers we’ve ever known!


Black Lives Matter

We formed K2D Strategies in 2016 as a way to fight back and help make the world a better place. We stand with the Black community and are heartbroken by the senseless violence against people who were just out for a run, birding, in the assumed safety of their homes, demonstrating their right to free speech, or simply living their lives. We will continue to do everything we can to change this dynamic in our world. #BlackLivesMatter

We are honored to work with nonprofits that fight for equality, inclusion, diversity, and against anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hatred. Their statements on violence, police brutality, racial inequity, and the need for change are powerful. We all stand together against racism and will not stop until our voices are heard.

Client Statements:

Coronavirus and K2D

COVID-19 from the CDC

Like you, we are all dealing with future planning and potential fall out from COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. 

As a company, we have always been nimble and flexible and offered a virtual work environment for our team.  While we have directed the team to exclusively work from home through the end of March at a minimum, our work on behalf of our great clients continues without interruption.

We ask for everyone’s patience since, like many of you, we have school-age children at home.  If there are questions, please reach out to us at

You may find the following resources about fundraising during the Coronavirus outbreak helpful:

Please be safe and take care of your loved ones.

Can’t We Just Slap a Stamp on It?

Can’t We Just Slap a Stamp on It?

Just as donors won’t give a gift unless they’re asked to give, the USPS will not deliver a piece of mail unless proper postage is applied to it. And although we may not have a say in how much postage costs, we do have many choices in how postage looks on our packages. In fact, creative postage treatments can provide a more personalized look and feel, inviting the donor to open the package and boosting your results!

And specialized postage treatments are not just for outgoing mail. There are creative options for return mail, too!

Postage meters

Using a postage meter on your mail piece can make it look more official or formal, which works particularly well for urgent grams, renewal statements, and surveys. The meter can take up a good bit of real estate in the top right corner of the outer envelope, but there are now meters that can include a message to the donor, an image that may complement your package theme, a request for address correction service or even seasonal greetings.

Here are a few examples of meters that are commonly available (check with your production team/mail shop to find out exactly what meters they available):

Testing Idea: Are you using an indicia on a package that you’d like to refresh? Test the package using a meter instead! The cost to meter the envelope is minimal, and a different look could mean an increased response.

Multiple stamps

Affixing multiple stamps to reply envelopes for high-dollar packages is a technique nearly everyone has used over the last ten years or so, but that’s not the only place they can be used! Using multiple stamps on an outer envelope can be an effective way to get the donor into the package – a package with multiple stamps and a cancellation mark stands out in the mail box, particularly as we’re seeing fewer cancellation marks on straight first-class mail.

Why does an outer envelope with multiple stamps require a cancellation mark when a reply envelope with multiple stamps doesn’t? Good question!

The cancellation mark is required for multiple stamps if they total less than the current first-class postage rate. In the example above, the stamps total 5 cents, which is how much postage has to be affixed to a mail piece that mails at nonprofit rates. The cancellation mark over the stamps informs everyone who handles the mail piece that it was mailed at nonprofit rates, and the additional postage due has already been paid. No one wants to have mail returned for lack of postage, or worse, delivered to the donor with a postage due notice.

Testing Idea: Considering mailing a giving society invitation to a special group of donors? Try mailing it with multiple stamps on the OE for a high touch look.

Stamped Business Reply Mail

One could argue that the most overlooked component in a fundraising package is the reply envelope. As long as you have the correct address, a white mail code, and the appropriate postal markings, a reply envelope is a reply envelope, right?


The reply envelope is critical to the success of the package – it’s how the gifts get back to you! And making it stand out can really benefit a campaign.

Many mailers use business reply envelopes with a handwritten note along the lines of “Your first-class stamp will help us put more money to use right away!” but what about adding stamps to the BRE before it’s inserted into the package? Here’s an example:

Five $0.01 stamps across the top really make this envelope pop, and it reminds the donor that the organization is counting on a gift. While the postage and affixing costs for this are not significant, they can become cost-prohibitive if you’re mailing a large volume. Another organization recently sent a BRE with three stamp-like images printed on the top left corner. At first glance, it looked like stamps!

The USPS will refund a mailer for postage affixed to a business reply envelope as long as they comply with certain rules and requirements, and pay a small fee, but it may be worth the time if your return volume is high.

Testing Idea: If you’re using a business reply envelope for your acquisition control, consider adding stamps to the BREs for your lapsed audience or multis – this minor tweak may lift response without breaking the bank on these low-cost names.

It feels like we’re seeing a postage increase every January, so this is a perfect time to use postage creatively to get more of your money’s worth!

3 Questions About Our Work with EveryAction

AFB + Everyaction

EveryAction has an interview series with their consulting partners. In this interview, EveryAction’s Michael Stein speaks with K2D’s own Karin Kirchoff and Angela Guzman.

Michael Stein: We’re excited to share learnings from your work with American Foundation for the Blind. What kind of growth have you seen in their direct response fundraising program in the past year?

Karin Kirchoff & Angela Guzman: The overall AFB direct response program has demonstrated steady growth year over year, and recent organizational priorities have pushed working more aggressively in the digital space to the forefront, thus aligning AFB with EveryAction.

We are pleased to have seen strong year-over-year growth, particularly at year-end within the digital space, doubling the dollars raised for this period. We are further excited to note that of the donors who gave through the EveryAction platform in December, more than 70% represent first-time gifts on the platform. (Not necessarily new to AFB.)

Michael: What marketing channels have been driving that growth, and which ones performed especially well this recent year-end?

Karin & Angela: We’ve been having success for AFB across a number of direct response channels. Postal mail campaigns have continued to be strong, and we’ve made important refinements to grow revenue in that channel.

In digital channels, we’re having success with Google Grant search ads and Microsoft search ads. Google Grant search ads drove a good amount of revenue at year-end…nearly 7% of December online revenue! Microsoft search ads are new terrain for us with AFB, and we’re seeing a 200% ROI on our year-end test run, so we’ll certainly be expanding in this market in 2020. We did not run Facebook ads at year-end this year. We’ve been working to get some critical privacy protection infrastructure in place first and will be expanding efforts in this regard later in 2020.

Michael: You mentioned that you took advantage of accessibility improvements on EveryAction’s donation forms for people who are blind or low vision. Tell us more about that project and how you think it improved fundraising performance.

Karin & Angela: In order to launch their new website in April 2019, AFB had us implement a “workaround” coding solution that enabled proper accessible navigation of their donate pages while EveryAction worked to implement a broader, more seamless experience. The workaround included radio buttons beside each giving option, to allow for tabbed navigation between ask amounts. Ensuring accessible forms was not only critical for AFB’s fundraising success, but for maintaining trust as a leading organization on the accessibility front. Once the EveryAction improvements were ready for launch later in the year, we were able to remove the workaround for a cleaner user experience. We’re really excited that EveryAction has made a strong commitment to accessibility for people who are blind or low vision.

Note: This article originally appeared on the EveryAction blog