Cultivation is the key to connection: Why relationships are your best fundraising tool

Cultivation is the key to connection: Why relationships are your best fundraising tool

December 2, 2021
38 minutes

Nathan Hill · VP of Marketing, NextAfter | If you're a nonprofiteer who's never heard of NextAfter, we're exceptionally excited to introduce you to their VP of Marketing, Nathan Hill. And if you already know NextAfter, buckle up as we explore the Why, What, Which, and When behind making donor cultivation a core part of your fundraising strategy.


"Cultivation is the key to connection." The title of today's podcast, and a relatively core fundraising strategy. So why are we talking about it like it's news?

This quote right here: "It's amazing how many nonprofits opt out of communications during the giving season." Nathan Hill, VP of Marketing at NextAfter, isn't talking about being skimpy with the outreach. He's talking about 0 communications. Radio silence. During a month that brings in a third of the year's giving. Nonprofits, whyyyyy?!

So, while it may seem central to fundraising, there are bigger questions at play: Why aren't nonprofits talking to their donors? Which comms cut through the year-end chaos? What would make it a no-brainer for nonprofits to start building relationships? Is there an ace in the hole that makes cultivation a clear-cut tactic?

Listen in as Nathan and Justin Wheeler, Funraise CEO and Co-founder, tackle these tough questions and build a cultivation strategy that will take your nonprofit through the year-end giving season, into the new year, and produce results for year-ends to come.


Hello, I'm Justin Wheeler, and welcome to this episode of Nonstop Nonprofit!

"Cultivation is the key to connection." The title of today's podcast, and a relatively core fundraising strategy. So why are we talking about it like it's news?

This quote right here: "It's amazing how many nonprofits opt out of communications during the giving season." Nathan Hill, VP of Marketing at NextAfter, isn't talking about being skimpy with the outreach. He's talking about 0 communications. Radio silence. During a month that brings in a third of the year's giving. Nonprofits, whyyyyy?!

So, while it may seem central to fundraising, there are bigger questions at play: Why aren't nonprofits talking to their donors? Which comms cut through the year-end chaos? What would make it a no-brainer for nonprofits to start building relationships? Is there an ace in the hole that makes cultivation a clear-cut tactic?

Listen in as Nathan and I tackle these tough questions and build a cultivation strategy that will take your nonprofit through the year-end giving season, into the new year, and produce results for year-ends to come.

Funraise has partnered with NextAfter to make year-end fundraising success accessible for nonprofits everywhere—FREE! Get NextAfter's Year-End Fundraising for Online Fundraisers certification course free for a limited time, courtesy of Funraise.

Now, let's dive into the podcast!

Justin Wheeler Hey, listeners, welcome back to Nonstop Nonprofit. Very excited for today's episode with Nathan Hill from NextAfter. Nathan, how are you doing?

Nathan Hill I am doing wonderful. It's been a busy day, but I am excited to chat year-end here for a little bit.

Justin Wheeler Yes, that is what we're here to talk about. We got an opportunity here to Funraise to be a part of sponsoring the end-of-year fundraising course to make it available for free for nonprofits, which will share the link afterwards. So you all can check out the amazing report that the NextAfter team put together. Nathan, before we jump into some of the tactics around end-of-year fundraising and some of the tips that you guys covered in the report, I have two questions one is going to be easier than the other. So we'll start with the easier question first.

Nathan Hill Bring it on.

Justin Wheeler Tell us about NextAfter and what it is that you all do.

Nathan Hill Sure. NextAfter is three things, but primarily what we do is we help nonprofits grow their digital fundraising. But what makes us different then than most, if not different then than everyone, is that we are hyper-focused on data and on testing and on research and on optimization and trying to use data and analytics to really listen to donors and actually decode what works to grow giving. So we're a research lab. We're going to go out. We're going to conduct research, see what nonprofits are doing. We're going to test those things and see, do they actually work? We're consultancies. We work with about 40 different clients, nonprofits on an ongoing basis to grow giving. And then we're a training institute. So we're trying to take everything that we're learning and just fulfill our mission to equip as many fundraisers as we possibly can with what works to grow generosity.

Justin Wheeler Awesome. Well, thank you for that great introduction. The harder question and it's more maybe a bit of a curveball. So it's really I don't think it's that challenging, but I'll let you decide that. You know, one of the, I think, challenges the systemic challenges that nonprofits face, is just a lack of prioritization around marketing, right? They think, Oh, we've got a fundraising team, that's our marketing team. That's how we drive dollars. That's how we, you know, grow the organization. And so, so many organizations just have a real lack of marketing expertise. And so we love to hear your feedback on just why this is such an important function of any nonprofit large or small. And you're just from your experience working with so many organizations. Why is marketing so important?

Nathan Hill Yeah, it's a good question. And I might even say, you know, from kind of what we've seen is we work with a variety of different organizations. We actually just wrapped up an interesting, we're like survey research report for nonprofit executives really trying to assess what's the effectiveness of a lot of nonprofits related to fundraising, marketing, communication, all that, all that good stuff and what people at least say, this is more like survey type of research. What people at least say is that there isn't a lot of integration between fundraising and finance and marketing. So even it's like the marketing side of things does exist. Oftentimes, it's totally like divorced from the fundraising financial type of goals. And so so even if you have like high-quality marketing, there's a big question around like, what's the point of it? What is it leading to? We can really easily get hyper-focused on a lot of what I would consider to be superficial metrics around like impressions and reach and like video views, especially when you're running ads in Facebook or something like that. And those metrics change all the time is like, what is Facebook classify as a video view? We get excited because whoa, like six million people or something crazy like that saw our video, but they just pass it by on a newsfeed. So it's worth it. So we get excited about those type of reach metrics without really tying those into really tangible engagement metrics to measure what's the likelihood of someone that does see your video or your ads or whatever becoming a volunteer, becoming a true advocate for you, becoming a donor, becoming a donor that retains moving up to major giving and actually looking at the full lifecycle. So when you interact with oftentimes those, those are two very different functions that the outreach and then the ultimate like engagement and fundraising side of things. But if we're really serious about growing the impact, those things have to be hand in hand and have aligned goals. Otherwise, you've got so much competition and conflict inside of your organization, inside of your goals and your teams. Like How do you go anywhere?

Justin Wheeler Yeah, no, totally, That makes a lot of sense to me. The reason why I ask the question is it's just the more nonprofits that we work with, you know, this is just a gaping problem that I see. And it's a challenge that nonprofits recognize, but they try to fill it with the wrong talent, the wrong people, the wrong function, right? And I'm just too much of fundraising trying to fill the void of marketing.

Nathan Hill Yeah.

Justin Wheeler Anyways, I wanted to talk about a little touch about that a little because I think it's a good backdrop to some of the conversation we're going to go into around year-end giving because, you know, as organizations around the country are gearing up for the most anticipated fundraising season, right, really the last six weeks, starting with Giving Tuesday and leading into the end of year. There's organizations and boardrooms today talking about what's our strategy, how do we have a successful end of the year? How do we really maximize on the opportunity in front of us? And so as we enter this season, what advice would you give to really help nonprofits maximize this time?

Nathan Hill Yeah, it's a great question, and it's a critical question about what do you actually do during the season? How do you even stand out when there's so much chaos specifically in the inbox, but just doing such a busy season from nonprofits and for-profits? I was actually had a speaking gig at an event a couple of weeks ago, a few weeks ago, and the topic of the whole like virtual event was about innovation. And how do we inject innovation into like nonprofit fundraising and giving in? And then at the same time, we were talking about year-end, specifically based on a research report we put together analyzing like multi-channel fundraising efforts during the 2020 season. And what we found through that was like, I know we want to talk about innovation and how we do all these cool things. But what we've really found is like, I mean, texting is not that innovative, and calling your donors is not that innovative, but no one's even doing those things, like out of 119 organizations that we analyzed the entirety of the 2020 year-end fundraising season. I think we got one text or no text messages and we got one phone call out of 119 nonprofits. So like, there's this basic like multi-channel fundraising type of approach that we talk about and we don't do. And then the really basic blocking and tackling of like we should connect with our postal donors and we should connect with our online donors and maybe use some of those channels, like interchangeably, to connect with someone holistically. Like oftentimes, we just don't do a lot of those basic things. So then to think about, you know, how do you inject innovation into that, like, that's way down the road if you're not even doing like the basic stuff. So that ultimately, if there's one thing that I would encourage anyone to focus on in this sounds way too simple, but the data is striking. Like, number one, just show up because it's amazing how many nonprofits are completely opting out of communication during the most critical giving season of the year with people who have donated to them this year. So maybe there is an intentionality around like well they gave to us this year, and so maybe we shouldn't go ask them again. But in this research study specifically, we had given to them like six or seven months before, and now they're choosing not to communicate with us during such a critical season. And you know what? Everyone else is going to be communicating with me, trying to get some portion of my wallet, but I've expressed interest in you and that I care about this cause. So so why wouldn't you show up? So that's like, that's point number one is just be there and connect with your donors, even if it's not like a fully baked comprehensive strategy like just send something and be there and be present. But then beyond that, I'd also encourage fundraisers and marketers and nonprofits to do something besides just ask for money. It's really easy in this season to put together your direct mail appeal, put together like a single email appeal, send these things out, hope for the best, and then kind of move on. But one thing that we find very consistently both in the year-end season and throughout the year is just the impact that little bits of cultivation have. And that's really where I think the marketing side of things often comes into play and where these, you know, maybe fundraising marketing to communicate nearly enough because marketing often has the content that might cultivate someone really well by fundraising may not have access to that. But if you can kind of marry those two things, both on the appeal side of it and the cultivating content, you can actually see if you invest in cultivation on an ongoing basis. We tend to see big increases in revenue just because someone is able to stay more connected to the cause and the ultimate outcomes of their giving.

Justin Wheeler That's good. Yeah, I was going to. Is this going to share, add-on to that. You know, a lot of times to what happens when you have strong cultivation, it does prime the donor just to give when they're ready to give, right? So like it might even be shortly after the initial kind of cultivation tactic that took place, whatever, whatever that strategy might be. I've seen it time and time again in my fundraising. It's donors know that it's their job to give. They know that. They get that. Like, that's why they're talking to an organization, right? So not, and again, not that like every donor should never be/have a direct ask. Of course, we need to do that. But there's also opportunities when you cultivate a donor, in such a great way that they're going to give their best gift, without you asking or being so direct again doesn't happen all the time or it's not. It was not something I would say that should be or that should be your entire fundraising strategy. But cultivation does have that sort of nice low-hanging fruit for the donors that are serious.

Nathan Hill Absolutely. And then there's the argument around like, you know, average gift size and things like that, like if someone has a deeper understanding of the ongoing impact of their gift like. They're going to be that much more likely to say yes when you send that appeal out next time and also to say yes at a higher level because they have seen consistently in their inbox or in their mailbox. Or maybe you've called on the phone and you've told them stories of impact. Like they have seen the impact on a cause and a value set that they care about through their giving. So there's there are tons of ramifications for just cultivating well and staying connected to people.

Justin Wheeler Yeah. The other thing I want to comment on your first point, from experience here. So at Liberty In North Korea, we used to do these things in November and December, once a week called power hours and the entire team, interns, staff, everybody would just get on the phone and call our fundraisers, our donors, recurring donors. Everyone was given a list. And it's like, call them and thank them and ask them if they have any questions about what we're up to. And, you know, then the next year, basically just a very organic conversation. People weren't given scripts. It was just meant to be nice. And time and time again, people were like, Wow, an organization has never called me. And so to your point, where you had said one organization said that they make phone calls and it's, you know, feels it doesn't feel like the most innovative fundraising approach. But that personalization, it goes a long way, especially in retaining, you know, people who really who really care about the cause. And so I love that point of of. Sometimes you don't need to. You don't need to have the most innovative strategy. You just need to get the fundamentals right to have a strong fundraising program. So I wanted to add that to your first point there.

Nathan Hill Yeah, I love that. And that's a super practical way to actually make it happen. I think we can really easily, no matter what your resourcing is, whether you're a million dollar nonprofit or you're one hundred thousand or you do hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, revenue like we all get caught up in this sense of like, Oh, we never have enough resources, we never have enough money and funds to do this type of stuff. So the third thing that I would love for people to to take away going into this season, especially with Giving Tuesday like literally right around the corner, at least as of recording today, is to understand the role of the Giving Tuesday plays in the larger picture because there's there's so much importance, certainly on Giving Tuesday, there's some really interesting data around the potential it has for new donor acquisition. But understanding where it falls in terms of like the revenue priority, if our ultimate goal for many organizations in year round is like we're raising 30%+ of our budget for for 2022, we need to know where we can maximize revenue the most. And what we found consistently like year after year, the last week of of giving the last week of the year is the biggest giving week of the year. The last day of the year is the biggest giving day of the year. In fact, in 2020, from the organization's we're studying and analyzing, 734, I'll say they get 734% more revenue came in during the last week of the year than came in on giving Tuesday. And so there's there's a role for giving Tuesday. There's high urgency. It's a growing movement. More money comes in every single year, so you should be present on that day, for sure. But if we're going to prioritize things and say if I've got limited capacity and budget and ability to focus on one day or the other, I should prioritize the last week of the year and December 31st in my campaigns definitely show up for both, if you can, but I would put most of your emphasis and focus on that last week of the year.

Justin Wheeler Absolutely. And that's not not surprising at all. I mean, our data shows across our customer base December 31st, the single biggest giving day, you know, in the entire year, followed by that last week. And then, of course, you know, Giving Tuesday usually kind of kicks off again because of the urgency of that day, like you mentioned. And so I definitely agree with that in terms of prioritization as we kind of transition, not transition here, but the report that you guys put together that we sponsored, it's called The Year-End Fundraising for Online Fundraisers Course, and it's it really is chock full of just great year and strategy lessons. Give us the cliff notes or like the single best tip that you think would be the most practical or, you know, the best secret weapon that you guys have up your sleeve that you would really prioritize for end of year fundraising?

Nathan Hill Yeah, I mean, if we're calling it a secret weapon or something here, I think the secret weapon is priming, and it's not such a secret tactic or a secret strategy, but it's something that most organizations opt out of, where oftentimes we get really focused on the appeal and how do we craft the appeal? And how do I like knock that out of the park? And sometimes we forget this more like the again, the cultivation piece of it. How do we prepare people for the appeals that are going to be coming? But again, ultimately, whether it's through email or through sending a postcard, or some other channel, the ways that we cultivate and build into a relationship with our donors during the season have a tremendous and direct impact on the likelihood of someone choosing to give and choosing to give it a higher level when you send that direct appeal. One thing we found our most recent year end research was that 80% of nonprofits opted out of sending any form of cultivation to their online donors during the year end season. And quite honestly, the bar for what we considered a cultivation message was really low. Essentially, we divided things into two categories there's either solicitations, or you are clearly asking for money or there's cultivation which was basically like anything and everything that's not a solicitation. So the bar is low. Yet again, 80% of nonprofits and no cultivation to their online donors. So that's just like a way to even be different. Surprisingly, is is prime people for appeals that are going to come later by sharing testimonials and stories of impact and things like that sharing free content. If we want to get really tactical it down to like a one strategy that you should probably implement and test this season, I would consider like what kind of content that you have or do you have that you can share? Is it like, do you have ebooks? Do you have some sort of like video series, something as in-depth as maybe an online course, but even like surveys and petitions and quizzes like things that are valuable content for someone that they have to provide, maybe an email address in order to access can be a great sort of front door to get someone's attention and get them to engage and get them to lean into you. And then on the other side of that, you can turn that around into a donation appeal. But we're leaning first into content, especially it's a great strategy for Giving Tuesday to be able to participate in the giving yourself first and actually give something to your donors first before you actually ask them for money. We've seen that to be a really practical and helpful tactic, both on giving Tuesday and then throughout the season as well.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, I totally agree with that. At LiNK, we we had this process for our end of year, which we called ask, ask, give. And basically for every to ask appeals that we would send, the third had to be some sort of gift, right? And it was usually just like the testimonials, like you mentioned. Case studies of the impact of our work. Like, obviously we weren't we didn't have products to give out or, you know, we didn't think I was the best use of resources. Instead, it's we delighted our supporters with information that helped them understand the bigger picture. And so that was that was a pretty simple process for us to keep in mind that like to ensure that we are always cultivating and especially in a very busy and high traffic kind of giving season. Speaking of emails, The Year End Course talks quite a bit about communication through email. And we know not all nonprofits have large subscribers or maybe don't have the expertise to run an email program. So any thoughts or suggestions around how an organization can get better at that, and kind of piggybacking off of that, why is email such an impactful method for communication?

Nathan Hill Yeah. Well, let's start on that part two of that question first. I think that's a good entry point because email is far and away the most powerful digital direct response channel that that we have. Because if you're sending emails, you are in the inbox talking to a real human being, ideally talking as a human being. And obviously, if you have an email subscriber list that's like an owned audience, you have control over a lot of the interaction. And we see the conversion rates in an email are tremendously higher than any other digital channel, like you're going to see way higher conversion rates of the amount of people you send to versus the amount that are becoming a donor from your single email. That's going to be way higher than like running Facebook, advertising and running whatever other advertising that you're you're using because it's a known audience. It's an owned channel. We see way higher conversion rates through email. That being said, to your point, not every organization has a massive email subscriber file to lean on, especially during this season. And so I would actually encourage that if that's kind of your position where you're at today is like, I don't I don't really have an email file. We don't really have an email program, what we consistently find with every organization we work with is the leading indicator of your ability to raise money online and do so effectively is the size and the quality of your email file. You need to have obviously high enough volume, but also high enough quality to make sure you can actually deliver emails to those people that their inboxes that are actually monitoring. You don't have the junk email addresses of somebody, but actually the ones they care about who want to hear from you. Both size and quality are critical there, but that is the leading indicator of your ability to raise money online. So even if you can't, you know, blow that up this season and over the next month or so, I'd encourage you to start looking as you're getting things set for 2022 and what are your goals and where you going? I'd prioritize that both, how do you go acquire new emails of people that look like your donors online, using tools like Facebook advertising is it's a great, like, fairly efficient channel to use to acquire new leads that way. But also are there means that you can acquire the emails of even your offline donors because what we see consistently is that even if an offline donor never gives to you in an online capacity, just having their email address and being able to cultivate them in another channel significantly raises their average value to you, as well as their retention rate.

Justin Wheeler Makes total sense. You know, the best time to start email fundraising was yesterday. The next best time is today, right? So you just have to you have to have to get started. And it's, you know, again, and it's so interesting to me, you know, with how like tech has has has advanced, that email still continues to be one of the best sort of like engagement channels, especially in fundraising. Yeah, it's just it's interesting because you hear a lot about like SMS and text and so forth. But still, we see that email is still, you know, converting at the highest sort of levels. And so that's a great point. Keep working on building your list and you'll be fun to dig in at a later time to sort of like that threshold of like quality and size and and like what that means and how the organization could use that sort of as a benchmark. We don't have time today. But that would be super interesting, kind of deep dove for an organization.

Nathan Hill One thing, one more thing I'd add to that, if I may, is that if you if you neglect the email file growth, the other primary option in terms of reaching people digitally is other than like organic traffic growth and things like that, which is its own other topic we could get into. You're largely going to be paying for eyeballs and for traffic. And the trends, especially over the past six months, is that the price of traffic is going up and it's not going to stop as you have increased privacy regulations and laws. And those are a great thing for the consumer. But then for us, as people trying to find new traffic and new sources of people coming in to see our organization is just getting more and more expensive. And so if you don't invest in your own like owned audiences, like an email file, you're just going to keep paying, paying more and more and more for less and less traffic and exposure.

Justin Wheeler That's a good point. That's great advice. So you've obviously heard a lot of conversation around the need for omni-channel fundraising. Meet your donors on the channels that you know they are kind of congregating. And so if you could like talk to us, what does this mean for end to end of year fundraising? Like, should it be a centralized campaign? You know, when you're driving your traffic or should you take the more omnichannel approach and have these micro campaigns, you know, across multiple channels? What's your thoughts there and what does your research suggest?

Nathan Hill What I would suggest, and I you know, when you get to talking about like, how do you coordinate every single channel that you have access to? There's not necessarily like a clear AB test that we would normally default to tell us what to do. But what I wouldd suggest, you know, based on our experiences is to be ever-present. So as you said, you know, be where your donors are, be active in the channels, where your donors are active for sure and be incredibly consistent. So having consistent messaging is critical. But I think what gets lost sometimes is what we would call the value proposition and making sure that you fully articulate your value proposition and we can unpack that in a moment. But articulating your value proposition consistently throughout channels and never assuming that someone knows enough to give. We typically would define the term value proposition is the answer to one question, which is why should I, your ideal donor, give to you rather than to some other organization or even at all? Because I don't have to give. And too often we assume that just because someone has seen something on social media, whether it's on Facebook or otherwise, and maybe they've clicked through that to a donation page is like, BAM!, we got him on the website. We've got him on the page. They're motivated to give. We just need to make that process as easy as possible from here on out and that's the only way to grow giving then on your page. But what we find all the time is that, you know, one of the biggest indicators of your ability to convert someone on a donation page is how much copy do you have that's articulating, why should I give? And all you have to do is look at the conversion rates on your page in order to see how often we fail our donors. I believe the M+R benchmark right now or the most recent one is like 24% average conversion rate on a donation page, which basically means that three out of four people coming to your page considering donate donating to you, we have failed and let down in some way shape or form. The biggest culprit of that is just not articulating your value proposition, but you've also got things like friction that stand in the way and make it really difficult for someone to actually give you a variety of factors there. But we have to be understanding throughout whatever channels we're using, where our traffic is going, that we have consistent, incongruent messaging that's leading them every step of the way, reinforcing why should I give leaning into this idea that someone is never fully motivated to give until they've actually pulled out the credit card, filled out the form, hit the button and given. It's not done until it's done.

Justin Wheeler Totally. and you guys focused on this and the year-end course where I think you say you call this thing sparkling of a donation, right? And basically, it's you show tons of website examples, experiments, in the course and so, you kind of hinted about this in terms of sort of, you know what to include on that like on that donation page button? Is there anything, is there like one, I guess, outstanding thing to do or not to do in that case that you've experimented with like this works or this is a donation killer? What should organizations to stay away from on their donation pages?

Nathan Hill Yeah, that's I mean, that's a good question, because there's like a hundred things that pass through my brain immediately that we could talk about it. Maybe we should dive into. Everything from copy to imagery to page layouts, informed functionality and all that stuff. But I think one thing that's really common, whether it is in your email copy that you're writing or it's communicating on your donation page, is that during this season and during really any like high urgency type of campaign, we can sort of default to this idea that there's a goal, there's a deadline, there's urgency and that's the reason to give. Or maybe another approach is like, we've got this additional like incentive, like if you give before this time, then that your gift will be matched or you'll get this free thing. We lean into urgency and incentive while missing the point, which is the core reasons to give. And in this season, every single nonprofit could go on their donation page and put a little countdown clock and have a little thermometer progress bar tracking to the goal and ask you to give. But again, back to the core questions like Why should I give it to you rather than literally any other organization on the planet? Because I could give to so many other organizations that I care about that all have the same deadline that all have clear goals that are all trying to do great things. So I need you to articulate how can I make it unique? A unique, exclusive, impact on something that I care about through you, rather than through this maybe similar organization or this organization, that that addresses a different cause that I care about, like donors are constantly comparing you to others trying to figure out where can I make the most impact? So if we're not articulating that on our pages during this season, then we just sound like everybody else.

Justin Wheeler Yeah.

Nathan Hill And then why would I give to that?

Justin Wheeler I referred to this sort of season in giving as like a nonprofit's like Super Bowl moment, right? Like if you think about like the commercials that we consume during the Super Bowl, it's like it's a companies like best foot forward, right? It's like their most creative, like narrative, you know, it's funny. It's whatever like the content is. But it's usually like the best-produced piece of content because it's going to have the most eyeballs on it, right? So when I think about end of year giving, you know, your campaigns, your donation pages, it's like, this is your moment where you're going to have the most amount of traffic looking at you. Articulate your story, be specific, you know, and convert as much as possible, of course. But I think that that's, you know, to your point, you know, just because you've got like these gadgets on your on your page, that's not going to do all the work for you. You still have to tell your story. You still have to compel people to give. And so I think that's that's pretty, pretty critical in not just at end of you're giving really all year round and in the way that you ask for supporters to give. Which that actually takes us to our, I can't believe it's already been over 30 minutes here, but I want to ask one more question. You know, we've talked so much about end of year fundraising, right? And for many organizations, they've been gearing up for this for the last quarter, some even two quarters to ensure the success of their end of year. But what can fundraisers learn or take away from how to basically carry this on into the new year and into the next sort of fundraising year? What can they learn from the end of your course that that will make them better fundraisers in 2022 and beyond?

Nathan Hill Yeah. Well, I think one of the most important things to know going into this season is that your year-end fundraising is not going to produce the results that you want it to produce, even if you use all these, like if you go through the course. And you implement every single tactic to the best of your ability, it is not going to produce the results that you want unless you have done the good and difficult work of the entire year-long of cultivating and stewarding your donors well. So if all you've done this year and all you're planning to do next year is send some appeals, maybe you're sending a monthly appeal. And again, you're not leaning into this idea of how do I build a real relationship and cultivate a real relationship with my donors? Again, you're not going to see the results that you want. So one cool thing about this course is I don't think there's obviously it's all framed under the umbrella of year-end. And how do we leverage the urgency around this season in order to grow giving? But there's not a single tactic in there that can't be basically copied and pasted into another season of the year. The way that we lean into content and use content as a means of cultivation and relationship building is something you can and absolutely should do the entire season. Consider sending a weekly email to actually connect with your donors through all of twenty twenty-two. It doesn't have to be overly complicated. You don't have to have all these beautiful landing pages and a bunch of like automation in the background and all this stuff, like if you send a weekly email to your donors that had no direct call to action, but just told them a story of something you heard last week about someone being impacted by a donation and by the cause, I can nearly guarantee you we don't give out guarantees a lot, but I can nearly guarantee you that that is going to lead to greater giving by the end of the season, because how many donors have you now invited in to this ongoing story of impact? And if I'm really that connected, then I'm going to be that much more inclined to give again when you send the next appeal, whether it's next month, the following month, next quarter or the next year-end season. So again, as you're going through this course, if you choose to sign up for it and I hope you will maybe have that in the back of your mind too is like, Yeah, I want to implement this now. But how do I weave this into my ongoing just communication and cultivation plan with my donors and potential donors?

Justin Wheeler Absolutely. I spent about six years at Invisible Children, and one of the questions I get asked quite often from nonprofits is how to create the next Kony 2012 viral campaign, right? It's a campaign that got 100 million views in six days and raised $20 million in 24 hours. And the answer is it's like it's very straightforward and it's simple. For the five, six years leading up to that moment, we had college-age people on fifteen routes around the world, not just here in the United States, traveling to universities, to colleges, high schools, religious institutions, libraries, hospitals, basically anywhere that would have an audience that we could talk to. And that was the movement that led to this, just this like crazy successful campaign. And all of that effort was cultivating. We didn't call it that at the time. But if you think about like, you know, meeting with your supporters, like face to face inspiring them, giving them stories, you know, bringing in speakers like all that stuff just adds and builds and builds and it just eventually has this breakout moment. And so, you know, I think that the point of sharing that story is, as you cultivate, your donors also don't get like stuck in this like annual cycle of cultivate them and then they given 12 months, right? Some donors are going to give on different cadence to some donors will give every few years. But if you stick with the cultivation and showing this, the gratefulness of, you know, their commitment, it will pay off and it will pay off in nice dividends and so couldn't agree more with that insight there. Well, Nathan, thank you so much for joining the podcast. For our listeners who are like, I got to get the rest of this, this course, I got to register for it. Where can they go to register and read the course before it's before the end of year is up?

Nathan Hill Yeah, you can go to and that should take you straight to a page to sign up. And I would just say to you, thank you so much for making this accessible and free to literally anyone. At this point, we've got over a thousand people that have jumped into that course just this season alone...

Justin Wheeler Oh, that's great.

Nathan Hill To think about ways to grow. And again, our mission is just is to grow generosity and equip as many people as we can to do that. And so we're so grateful for partners like you to make this type of content free for those on the ground doing the hard work every single day to see generosity grow. So we're grateful to be able to give that away.

Justin Wheeler Well, yeah, it is our honor. Whenever we get a chance to work with your team, we jump at it. And so thank you for giving us the opportunity to partner with you all. We do appreciate that and for your time and look forward to getting this out to the listeners. So Nathan, have a wonderful rest of the week and happy end of year fundraising to you and all your clients.

Nathan Hill And to you as well! Happy year-end.

Justin Wheeler Take it easy.

Nathan Hill You too. See you.

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