A conversation with Jennifer Abohosh, Chief Marketing Officer of Denison Ministries.
Our customers are the real heroes of the RaiseDonors story.
They’re the ones who daily put the RaiseDonors’ philosophy to work by applying Golden Rule fundraising, carefully testing out what works, and working to remove friction from the giving process.
On our blog, we want to introduce you to the customers who are actively raising more donors for their cause with us.
Clearly, we’d love for you to consider how RaiseDonors could help you raise more donors for your mission.
But it’s more than that.
We want you to see how these incredible nonprofit brands are changing their piece of the world.
So we sat down with Jennifer Abohosh, CMO of Denison Ministries, to hear how they are using RaiseDonors to improve their dono’ experience and drive their mission forward.
Introducing Denison Ministries
Maybe you’ve never heard of Denison Ministries, but you’ve probably heard of one of their three nonprofit brands.
The Denison Forum is a daily analysis of news and culture from a Christian perspective.
Through ChristianParenting.org, Denison Ministries offers timely advice and support for parents.
At First15.org, Christians can find spiritual support and guidance with daily devotions and reflections.
Denison Ministries started in the heart of Dr. Jim Denison, a pastor who saw the need to help Christians think through pressing issues of the day through a Biblical lens.
For over 20 years, Denison Ministries has been “creating culture changing Christians” through their daily content. They now reach 3.2 million people world-wide through their ministry brand channels and influence a thriving audience of over 800,000 subscribers.
The lion share of support for Denison Ministries comes in the form of small, entry-level gifts of about $25 USD across the fundraising channels of their ministry brands.
While small in individual gift amount, the faithfulness and volume of their donors keep the voice of Denison Ministries lasting and strong in the world.
Although the bulk of Denison’s yearly support is single gifts, they have a growing monthly sustainer program with the number of recurring donors climbing each quarter.
Their average donor isn’t rich. They are ordinary people who engage regularly with Denison content and are moved to give whatever they can.
What Online Fundraising Is Like for Denison Ministries
Being a ministry based largely on digital content, Denison Ministries has had an active online fundraising program since their inception.
In fact, more than 65 percent of annual revenue comes in through online giving channels.
“Primarily being a digital ministry with digital content going out, our audience is also digital. That makes the online giving experience super important.” – Jennifer Abohosh | Chief Marketing Officer, Denison Ministries
Recently, challenges in direct mail fundraising caused by the COVID-19 crisis has made direct mail fundraising difficult as no one is in the office to process gifts by mail.
Instead of giving up, Denison Ministries jumped on the phone and spoke with their mail-in donors asking them to switch to online giving.
More than a core channel, online fundraising is becoming a lifesaver in the middle of a global pandemic for this resourceful ministry.
Reliability and Consistency
Denison Ministries has used RaiseDonors as their online fundraising solution for over 5 years.
According to Jennifer Abohosh, consistency and security are part of the secret sauce for this long-time partnership.
“RaiseDonors is really reliable and consistent. We use RaiseDonors on our largest and our smallest giving days of the year. We’ve never had an issue with capacity or any technical glitches like that. So I would say it’s absolutely reliable – and that’s one of the reasons we continue to use it.”
For Denison Ministries, technology is at its best when it’s “something you just never have to think about.”
RaiseDonors takes the complication and disruptions of online transaction out of their way so Denison Ministries can focus their full attention on their donors… and their mission.
It’s that lack of friction and reliability when working with RaiseDonors that, Abohosh says, “makes it easy for all of us to do the work we do.”
Live Reporting and Campaign Analytics
There are a lot of moving parts to fundraising at Denison Ministries. Each week, the three ministry brands manage hundreds of marketing and fundraising campaigns.
Tracking the results and progress of these campaigns is a gargantuan task.
But Abohosh says RaiseDonors takes the bulk of the work out of the process. “RaiseDonors makes everything super simple.”
“With any given campaign, we’re running 10, 12, or 20 different marketing pieces – all around a single donation page. They’ve made it really easy to track all of that through custom URL’s. With URL tracking, we don’t have to create a million pages to track the success of our campaigns. I can kind go into my RaiseDonors dashboard as a one stop shop and really see how everything’s going with live reporting and monitoring.”
Time-saving features like custom URL’s helps take the heavy lifting off the shoulders of Denison Ministries staff when it comes to reporting.
There’s nothing more satisfying to a marketer or a fundraiser than knowing how their campaigns are doing at any given time.
That’s why live reporting and campaign analytics are Abohosh’s favorite features of RaiseDonors.
“The tool was built with a marketing perspective in mind.”
While many other online fundraising tools “are very technical,” RaiseDonors makes giving forms simple for donors to use in giving online.
The aesthetics and the UI of the forms not only make giving a breeze, but it also makes donors feel safe about their gift online.
With secure URL’s and security buttons above the credit card forms, it just “looks secure.”
“Any anxiety that a donor might feel when they’re engaged in the experience is alleviated not only by the form truly being secure, but also by the design around it. RaiseDonors forms comfort the donor and alleviate anxiety simply through design.”
Donor-friendly design goes beyond making the donor feel secure. The nonprofit brand needs to shine through brightly throughout the giving experience.
In raising donors for your cause, it’s not only important that they connect with your cause, donors should feel a connection to your nonprofit brand.
One of the only visual elements on your donation pages, besides the giving form’s layout, should be your brand colors, typography, and logo.
RaiseDonors gets out of the way and lets Denison Ministries create donation pages that feel like their brand.
“At Denison Ministries, we’re obsessed with our branding. Having donation pages that are aligned with that from a UI perspective is really important.”
Donor Retention Made Easier
Raising donors goes way beyond adding new names to your donor file. It’s about raising up the kind of donors who’ll stick with you year after year.
Donor retention is key for the success of any fundraising strategy.
“Thank you pages, gift acknowledgments (both online and offline), custom messaging for my monthly donors – these are all features that RaiseDonors has built into their platform. They’ve thought through not only how the first gift feels, but how do I [the fundraiser] continue to care for the person who’s set up a recurring donor profile so that it doesn’t feel like a robot’s behind it. There’s some thought put into the messaging, and that definitely helps with retention.”
Effortless Data Entry and Robust Support
Denison Ministries experiences almost all of RaiseDonor’s time-saving features on the back-end of the giving process.
By automatically posting gift information along with critical analytics such as appeal codes and sources codes on all of their RaiseDonors donation pages, Dension Ministries saves hundreds of hours in data entry per year.
Because RaiseDonors communicates directly with their donor database through custom API’s, Denison Ministries almost never worries about accuracy in their data entry.
Human error is minimized as information is passed directly by RaiseDonors into their customer relationship management software and accounting systems.
Optimizing the Donor Experience
For Denison Ministries, the decision to continue using RaiseDonors as their online giving solution of choice is donor experience.
While “other donation platforms are built with technology and feature sets in mind, they’re not thinking about customer experience.”
But optimizing the donor experience is “what sets RaiseDonors apart.”
To close, Jennifer had some final thoughts on how RaiseDonors helps Denison Ministries make the donor’s experience as simple and pleasant as possible so they keep giving over and over.
“RaiseDonors thinks about how the customer feels on the form. When they design a form, they’re really thinking about the donor journey. And I think that’s what sets it apart.
The fact RaiseDonors tracks form completion rates on the front-end of their database tells you what’s important to them.
If you look at the features RaiseDonors tracks by default on their dashboards, you realize form completion rates are really important to them. Aesthetics are really important. Donor experience is really important.
RaiseDonors is focused on the right things for the donor journey and the donor experience.”
About The Author: Chris Mechsner
Chris is Co-Founder of RaiseDonors. He spends his days learning and implementing technology, security, and processes to help nonprofits do better online fundraising.
More posts by Chris Mechsner