Here at the Sheraton Boston the Exhibit Hall is officially open (Ballroom A, 2nd floor) and Team CDP is looking forward to connecting with YOU! Come find us in booths 116, 118 and 120 to discuss your ROAR (Revenue Opportunity and Action Report), new CDP services, or how to get started if you are not yet participating in quarterly benchmarking. (Click here to see a sample of the ROAR report if you’re unfamiliar.)

To sweeten the pot, we’ve got two Apple iWatches to giveaway to conference-goers this week. Enter to win at our booth by dropping your business card and signing our guestbook. We’ll draw our lucky winners and announce them here on our blog sometime next week.

Our sponsorship session Collaborations Driving NET Revenue will take place on Thursday, August 11th at 9:45am – 11:00am in Sheraton’s Public Garden Room (not to be confused with Boston’s actual Publick Garden off-site). Come and hear how stations are finding ways to collaborate creating lasting and profitable partnerships that build scale and opportunity.

Looking for some fun while you’re here? We’ve got you covered. Our team has compiled a list of recommended eateries and local sightseeing while you’re here in beautiful Boston. Click here for details.



Downton Abbey Sweepstakes Winner Takes His Trip


Is it possible that Highclere Castle looks even more majestic in the background than it does on TV? Pictured here is the grand prize winner of this year’s Downton Abbey Sweepstakes, Philip S. from El Segundo, CA, along with his wife and a local guide.

Stations who wish to update their prospects and members on the winners can use the official Facebook and Twitter messaging below; contact CDP for digital copies of these photos. Also, in case you forgot: check your CDP Station Dropbox for prospect lists that were placed there in late Spring, garnered from this year’s Sweeps.

2016 Downton Abbey Sweepstakes’ Grand Prize Winner, Philip S. and his wife from El Segundo, CA arrive at Highclere Castle! They had afternoon tea with the Countess Carnarvon.

2016 Downton Abbey Sweepstakes’ Grand Prize Winner + wife from CA arrive @ Highclere Castle! They had tea with the Countess Carnarvon.

The Geography of Giving: DAF’s in the Spotlight


We at CDP recently came across this report published by Fidelity in regards to their Donor Advised Funds.

With 132,000 donors, Fidelity boasts the nation’s largest donor-advised fund program, or DAF. DAFs are separately identified funds or accounts that are maintained and operated by a 501(c)(3), also referred to as a sponsoring organization. Each account is composed of contributions made by individual donors, however the organization has legal control over it. The donor, or the donor’s representative(s), retain advisory privileges with respect to the distribution of funds and the investment of assets in the account.

The report looks at giving trends nationally with several key insights that might be of interest to stations:

  • Sustained and robust growth in grant-making.
  • Growing use of non-cash assets as a means of funding philanthropy (think: Planned Giving opportunity).
  • Nearly a quarter of grant recommendations are now scheduled in advance.
  • Retirees are able to better sustain their pre-retirement levels of charity.

To access the full report at no cost, click here.

Facebook as a fundraiser? Surprising Ideas We’re Learning from ActionSprout

By Jennifer Strachan

So far it has been a bit of a mystery. As we work to understand our new and evolving audiences on all digital platforms, how we might serve them well on social media has been particularly perplexing. What are we trying to achieve for our organizations by doing this work? A ton of likes to our pages or stories? What is the value of social media in the grand scheme of engagement, retention and conversion?

CDP and the Digital Engagement Council (DEC) decided it was time to do some deeper diving.

One of the questions CDP has been exploring through its partnership with the DEC is quantifying the value of paid media buys. We’ve long lived by the old saying “you’ve got to spend money to make money”. So what do we need to allocate to digital budgets to make fundraising efforts more successful?

We decided to test how a specific email campaign paired with advertising in Facebook might lift conversion.  While similar efforts have shown to be anecdotally successful, the complex nature of multi-channel tracking has made it difficult to attribute the cause absolutely.



CDP / DEC reached out to Facebook to ensure we ran our test effectively. Because our initial buy-in was relatively small, Facebook referred us to ActionSprout: a app/tool exclusively for nonprofits on Facebook, which moves people beyond likes and shares. The Washington based team behind the tool is laser-beam focused on fundraising via Facebook, and has had unique access into the platform. After talking with them at length, we were excited that they offered to help us execute our testing, and interested in some eye-opening ideas that have us thinking about the potential engagement opportunities ahead.

Facebook is Still Learning

Facebook Fundraising

It shouldn’t surprise us to learn that while the teams at Facebook are continually looking to improve their product, non-profit fundraising is just now getting its time in the sandbox.  In fact, they have created a digital sandbox of sorts, where a few organizations have been asked to test a separate fundraising page that might better serve their needs.  The current efforts have not addressed those unique needs and testing new approaches should prove helpful to those of us that follow.

According to ActionSprout, donate buttons on pages simply don’t work.  They’ve been tried and tested, improved and promoted and users have not responded.  The public service announcement-type content that many non-profits use, has also been a non-starter and has left many organizations wondering how to make their mark in this important space.

Promote the Best, Not the Worst

                                                     Promote Social

One of the best tidbits of advice from ActionSprout in making our Facebook efforts primed for success is remembering how the algorithm hurts or helps us.  Not familiar with the algorithm?  In short, you are rewarded by Facebook for doing well with your users, and punished for doing poorly.  Meaning, even if you have 20,000 followers, if you do not have engaging material (they click on it, like it, comment on it or share it) then Facebook shows less and less content to them. You may think you’re posting an item out to 20K followers, when in reality it may only be 2K.  This highlights why it’s critical to learn from what our audiences are responding to on social media, and continue to provide them with content that they find useful, entertaining and interesting.

One trick for doing that?  Keep promoting the content that really works…multiple times.  Promoting can mean simply re-publishing a story that ran earlier in the week that did well or paying a small fee to have Facebook promote it for you (buck the algorithm and show it to more users using the “Boost” button). Ever notice how that one New York Times article keeps showing back up in your news feed? “Didn’t I already see this?”, you might wonder. Yes, because NYT are showing the BEST of what they’ve done in social.

If you’ve ever mistakenly thought that Facebook might be a place to bring something to life that may be slightly sleepy or slow, ActionSprout tells us that this strategy will be an engagement and algorithm killer.

                                          Facebook as a Fundraising Compliment

One reason CDP is eager to test out the multi-channel tracking test with ActionSprout is to learn how the platform might compliment our other fundraising efforts rather than stand-alone as a membership converter. Since so many of our listeners and viewers are on Facebook, therein lies a natural connection point that is less invasive. Some of the questions we’re working to answer are:

  • If a Facebook ad reminds you of your local station and that email you just received, does it make a difference?
  • How many touch points do we need to donate and how important is social on that path?

Facebook is a powerful engagement driver and could potentially hold untapped potential for non-profit fundraising and membership conversion. Being ready with the right content delivery to a targeted audience in our tests, we hope to shed some light on these questions and share new ways to find our footing on the ever-changing and slippery digital slope. The CDP/DEC testing and analysis of results will conclude in August. Stay tuned for more about our findings, coming soon!


***Jennifer Strachan is a public media strategist, leader of the Digital Engagement Council and contributor to the CDP blog.

ROAR! (As if You Needed a Reason)

January Project News

Sample of ROAR, Page 1


We at CDP have been hammering away at this for 5+ years now, but once in a while we do get questions from stations about the ‘why’ of participating in this project. With 148 stations contributing data last quarter, it’s safe to say the question happens less frequently than it used to.

In two, very informative pages you are going to be able to diagnose the health of your station’s fundraising program, each and every quarter. Best of all you can take action on the findings by using one of our best practices checklists or checking out our fee-based services to see if something might be right for you. (Hence the name: Revenue, Opportunity and Action Report. Clever, we know.)

Our team recently came across the article 15 Fundraising Success Metrics to Start Tracking by Bill Tedesco, CEO of DonorSearch. The quarterly ROAR report reports on 22-24 metrics, depending on the quarter, and some of the metrics we analyze are covered in his piece.

Click the photo above for a detailed look at the ROAR.

M+R Benchmarks Study


The 2016 M+R Benchmarks Study is available for download. Now in its tenth year, M+R has gathered a cross-section of 105 nonprofits, their largest assembly ever.  M+R’s specialty is grassroots organizing and advocacy for nonprofits like The Nature Conservancy and the American Red Cross. Their expertise in online fundraising and digital advertising for these organizations is likely what lead them to start benchmarking stats ten years ago; measuring efficacy of one’s efforts is something CDP-participating stations can no doubt relate to.

A caveat here: since CDP has posted these reports in years past it might be tempting to compare the numbers year over year. You shouldn’t, however: because of the growth in participating organizations, the data is not representing the same pool of nonprofits in each benchmarks study.

Another point to consider is that this collection of data does not include any public media stations. Eight sectors of nonprofits contributed an impressive amount of data – the full participant list appears on page 60 of the actual report.  The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) provided support and helped recruit participants for the study which is divided into the following types: Cultural, Education, Environmental, Health, Hunger/Poverty, International, Rights, and Wildlife/Animal Welfare. Further, they report findings by organization size: small, medium or large. Stations reading this report would align most with the Cultural organizations in the group and should pay attention to the data according by their organization size as well.

So what are we studying exactly? Analysis included email messaging, email list size, fundraising, online advocacy, web traffic, Facebook, Twitter and mobile programs. The report looks at giving from over 13 million online gifts amounting in over $481 million in donations and 2.8 billion email messages.

Topline results listed here are taken verbatim from the report:

  • Overall, 13% of online gifts were made from mobile devices — a number that likely reflects both user preference and increasing adoption of mobile optimization best practices by nonprofits.
  • For every 1,000 email subscribers, nonprofits have 355 Facebook fans, 132 Twitter followers, and 19 Instagram followers. In 2006, those numbers were basically zero, zero, and zero: Facebook was limited to .edu email addresses, Twitter was just about to launch, and Instagram’s founders were still in college.
  • Nonprofits invested $0.04 in digital advertising for every $1 of online revenue. This might not seem like much, but considering that overall online revenue grew by 19% in the last year, digital advertising is an increasingly important market for acquisition, conversion, and retention.
  • The volume has been turned way up: the average nonprofit in our study sent the average subscriber on its list 49 email messages in 2015.
  • Monthly giving accounts for 17% of all online revenue. In the first Benchmarks Study, only about half of the participants had a recurring giving program at all.

M+R clearly delves into online giving far more deeply than the CDP ROAR (Revenue Opportunity and Action Report, for the uninitiated), and key findings are broken out into the following sections: Website, Fundraising, Email Messaging, and Social Media.

There are points of convergence between the two reports however, such as the final bullet point above regarding monthly giving growth. Sustainers – as part of overall station fundraising, not just online – have been a major source of growth for CDP stations: stations in the National Reference File (NRF) average growth rate for sustaining donors at TV/Joint licensees was 24% for 2015. (See graph)

Our radio stations are currently outpacing TV by double, but bear in mind that the pool of radio stations contributing to ROAR is approximately 50 vs. 91-95 TV stations in any given quarterly benchmark.

WALL Sustainers

“WALL” = All TV/Joint Licensees in ROAR over time

Careful attention to performance of the “Top 25” nonprofits broken out in the M+R study reveals that some organizations are applying fundraising practices that are resulting in positive NET revenue. Growth of the Top 25 files is exponentially higher than the group average when taken as a whole. (Look to page 16 of the study for specifics.)

Online giving is, and has been, on the rise. The findings of this report and careful watch on the Blackbaud Giving Index indicates this is an area where falling behind means missing out. Lack of station sophistication and resources has been an ongoing challenge within the public broadcasting system. As digital increasingly becomes the platform of choice for consumers, finding and engaging with potential donors online is vitally important to the health of your membership.

FY 2017 planning at stations should include guidance from the CDP Email & Online Fundraising best practices checklist. Download the list for your entire team and use it to identify opportunities for constructive change. There is a handy prioritization tool built right into the checklist, so you can easily organize implementation from the “must-do-now” items and those that require long-term planning.

**Stations who need the password for the Station Resources on our site should please contact CDP.