IHC fundraising brought in more than $13 million in FY22. That income has real impact on New Zealanders with intellectual disabilities, says Greg Millar, National Manager Fundraising of IHC New Zealand.

“It’s fundraising that supports the things people with intellectual disability and their families always struggle with,” explains Greg. “When you don’t have intellectual disability in your family, you have loads of manuals to get you through life,” he says. “Few libraries have a book on what your future could look like if you have a child with intellectual disability.” But IHC is home to the largest library focused on intellectual disability in Australasia, thanks to donations. 

Fundraising also supports advocacy, such as the life-changing impact IHC has made advocating for people with intellectual disabilities to be in schools. IHC also uses donated money to support and connect parents of children with intellectual disabilities to services in their communities, and fund local community groups where parents support parents.

That is what donations are used for. Now let’s look at how funds are raised.

Regular giving and how to grow it 

One of the proudest moments in Greg’s fundraising career is setting up the organisation’s regular giving (RG) program — the IHC Smile Club — 20 years ago.

After stints at WWF and UNHCR, Greg returned to IHC six years ago. His priority was to get RG on a firm footing. Accounting for $7 million, up from $5 million two years ago, the Smile Club now has 21,900 active donors who give an average $29.45 a month. Greg is aiming for at least $9 million by 2025, and the program is very much on track, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To achieve today’s numbers and reach that goal requires good planning and good technology. “With the right tools, the right instruments and the right plan, you can achieve that [growth],” says Greg. “And you can track and monitor it to within an inch of its life!”

For IHC, the good technology was Clarety’s supporter engagement solution, implemented in 2018.  

Technology’s starring role 

“Clarety has enabled us to automate a lot. It has meant we can look after our donors really well, even with a small number of staff,” Greg explains, with just two of his 10-person team dedicated to RG. 

RG recruitment via face-to-face (F2F) is an exemplar of effective automation. If a donation fails in month one, automation quickly facilitates 100% claw back from the F2F agency. IHC can also see which agency new donors signed up through. 

Donor journeys are automated (with an immediate welcome and thanks email plus three and six-month emails). Video content is tailored to clients’ interests and location. “People love knowing that we are talking to them about their community,” says Greg. 

EOFY receipts are now sent out via email within two days of 30 June. And 12 months ago, a new API (Application Programming Interface — a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other) meant IHC could retry failed direct debit monthly gifts for the first time. 

These changes have resulted in better storytelling, reduced attrition and higher income. A win-win for both IHC and their donors. 

What about behind the scenes — the nitty gritty fundraising work that donors do not see, but which is just as integral? 

It comes down to data 

“It’s all about numbers and being on top of what the data is telling you,” says Greg, referring to the team’s fastidious commitment to recording and tracking fundraising figures.   

For the Smile Club, all KPIs are clearly displayed on a one-screen Clarety dashboard. Greg looks at this dashboard every day, and we can’t blame him when he gets data like this: RG numbers, failed payments, numbers on hold, how many donors have a mobile number and email, number of sign-ups that month, income and donations month-to-date, donations and income year-to-date, forecasted end-of-year income, income last month, donations last month, percentage income increase over 12 months, income and donations at the same point last year, income year-to-date versus budgeted income, and cumulative income, budget and forecast. 

The data is not just game-changing for IHC’s RG fundraisers; it has been transformative for the ‘leadership giving’ team (major gifts and gifts in wills), providing a clear picture of how donors evolve over time. A gift over a certain amount will trigger an email notification so that donors are appropriately thanked and stewarded. Donor behaviour may flag them as a major donor prospect (or no longer qualifying as one) or prompt an automated communication. Reminders are sent to team members when donor reports are due. 

Greg catches up with the Clarety team once a fortnight with the top three items he wants to work on. It’s this ongoing relationship that makes the software provider unique. Clarety is not a one-size fits all platform, but a full-service provider able to workshop and provide ongoing solutions based on each individual nonprofit client. 

So what items are currently at the top of IHC’s list?  

Next on the agenda… 

This year the team will trial a connection with Dataro’s AI-powered donor scoring software with the goal of unearthing more data-based RG insights, such as more accurately predicting churn. 

“Cracking API” is on the list too, specifically with IHC’s telemarketing company. While communications are spaced so that donors are not asked twice in quick succession, Greg wants to get better at exclusions. “We want to be able to speed up how we do exclusions — if one hour before we send you an SMS you make your RG gift or update your details, we should be able to immediately remove you from the telemarketing list.”

In a nutshell

Let’s recap. What has IHC achieved with the implementation of the Clarety solution? Some serious automation of processes that have empowered the team and helped reduce attrition. A personalised, segmented, and timely donor experience that keeps pace with a rapidly growing database. Live tracking that measures performance and identifies potential issues ahead of the game. A system of flagging that helps the team better understand what their donors may do next. 

And with growth and retention both proven and confidently predicted, what are Greg’s words of advice for nonprofits considering a CRM implementation project?

“Don’t make the change lightly!” he says. “Go out with a really clear proposal to prospective suppliers. Map out all your existing data sets — how many records, how many individual transactions and so on. It’s a big process, but critical [to a successful transition from one system to another]. And look at the people as well as their product — how committed will they be to you?”

“Remember, every part of your fundraising program should be measurable,” says Greg. Sage advice. Go forth, measure, retain, acquire and grow. 

To find out more about IHC, visit ihc.org.nz. To learn more about Clarety, visit clarety.community