Welcome to our second installment of our ongoing series – ‘Doing Good’, where we interview and profile some of our favorite people in the non-profit sector.
We got the chance to chat with Ryann Miller, Director of Non-Profit Services at Care2 – the world’s largest community for good. Care2 is a social networking website that connects activists from around the world with organizations and non-profits to make an impact
Here’s how Ryann Miller is ‘Doing Good’ through her work over at Care2:
Tell us about your work at Care2!
I work with organizations that want to grow, to find donor leads, activists, or both.
Care2 offers a service that’s digital in origin but actually very multichannel. My clients are Canada’s largest non-profit brands and also newer and smaller organizations. We have a mix of very traditional organizations and ‘digitally mature’ organizations, and many that are somewhere in between – who need to grow their audiences and supporters.
If a non-profit organization came to Care2 looking to grow their donor base, what are the multi-channel options available to them? How does it work?
Care2 recruits permission-based supporters (donor leads, activists) to nonprofits’ lists digitally, but in addition to the email address, we provide mailing addresses. It’s a multichannel donor lead, which is what all organizations are looking for. Acquiring only mailing addresses makes that lead worth less than a mailing address + email address.
So if an organization has a solid multichannel system in place – like using direct mail (DM) for engagement/retention/upgrading donors and/or telemarketing (TM) for donor conversion/retention/upgrading donors, they should be leveraging those communication channels with their email-based leads.
Here’s why: you want to use the best channel for the job.
TM is fantastic for converting leads to monthly donors because it’s such a warm channel: its two humans talking to each other, connecting. It can resuscitate a lifeless donor lead. Email often is not the best channel for that (too cold for such a high bar ask). Direct mail is colder than TM, but still warmer than email.
DM is great for a bunch of things, from engagement to upgrading to conversion and beyond, but average nonprofit results around return rates for prospecting campaigns have been typically in decline, which is why more organizations are really starting to understand this ‘best channel for the job’ approach.
Does a non-profit organization need a big budget to work with Care2?
Organizations don’t need a big budget to work with us. And we operate on a fixed-cost basis, meaning the cost per lead is a fixed number so you know exactly what you’re getting. That helps when you’re the one responsible for projections. Plus we’re full-service, so Care2 campaigns come with the benefit of a well-seasoned and responsive campaigns team who will work with you on the strategy and creative.
What made you choose a career in fundraising?
I dropped out of a PhD in Modern Buddhism and wanted — needed — to work with human beings, effecting positive change in the world. But even before that, I had volunteered on and off for years and always felt a commitment to social justice and social change.
What are three random jobs you’ve had in your life?
So many random things! I’ve sold kitchen stuff (tinfoil etc.) door to door. I’ve waited tables and worked as a bartender. I’ve researched and reported on all the religious organizations and their growth/decline in Kingston, Ontario.
Have you been on a life-changing trip? If so, how did it impact your life and career?
I went to India and Nepal for 7 months in my early 20s. That trip taught me about humanity and my role in the world beyond my privileged western upbringing.
I went to Thailand and Cambodia by myself for 5 weeks in my late twenties, and that taught me about being comfortable in my own skin and being comfortable alone.
Both (and more) trips taught me lessons about people and how the world works that are impossible to quantify, but invaluable in my life and career.
What’s a typical day like for you?
One of the things I love about my job is that every day is different.
That said, the things I’ll do typically in every day are talk on the phone with or meet in-person with existing and possible clients. We talk about the big picture stuff, like how digital fits into their organization (which is a journey, not a fixed point), best practices around multichannel or integrated campaigning, what some other clients are doing or testing and what kind of campaign or conversion strategy might work best.
We talk about tactical stuff like campaign timing fitting in with larger org priorities, what action and creative might be used, and email welcome series’ (a subject with which I’m a bit obsessed).
I talk with clients about expectations and results, and we discuss the fact that multichannel acquisition = a short AND long tail regarding conversion %, CTA and break-even timing. I’m in touch with my team and the Care2 campaigns team, and it’s a truly kickass team.
I love these people.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Roger Craver has told me many things that are insanely smart. He’s just one of the smartest people in this sector. Also one of the sassiest, so I recommend hanging out with him if at all possible.
At the start of my fundraising career, he told me that conventional wisdom and complacency are the biggest threats to nonprofits in general and fundraising in particular, and to always be on guard against them. He’s both the angel and the devil sitting perched on my shoulders at all times, and I’m grateful.
What advice would you give to non-profits trying to grow their donor base?
Growth these days means integrated or multichannel. And you can’t do integrated fundraising well without a good culture and without a solid strategy. So start by getting multi-departmental buy-in (and budget if possible!). Test strategically, test transparently, bring people in instead of cut people out, track everything, and build on top of small successes.
To learn more, visit Care2 online.