Why Group Meals are Part of Frontier & Benifactor Culture

Is it possible to abandon the idle chit-chat that seems to be a fixture of traditional office life? To be honest, it’s not. However, you can redirect it into something purposeful.
— Samantha

Frontier is a fundraising agency that is part of a larger umbrella organization called Benifactor. Today we want to share a bit about the Benifactor-wide culture that bonds our agency with sister agencies like Charity Electric, and helps us learn from one another.

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Everyone knows that life moves fast, but a 32 hour work week moves even faster. So, how do the Benifactor folk maintain a close-knit relationship? A family meal, of course. Every second week, each team gets together to break bread—or in this case—burritos. We alternate team lunches with bi-weekly Taco Tuesday Townhalls that include all agencies under the Benifactor umbrella.

This lunchtime routine may seem like a nicety provided by our fearless leader and CEO, but underneath the friendly gesture lies something more meaningful: efficiency. Most office cultures include the obligatory “water-cooler talk” that slows down the start of each morning. While catching up with co-workers may be essential to workplace socialization, the startup world can be unforgiving, making time a precious commodity.

Our culture is particularly unique due to its dedication to work/life balance. However, by choosing to work here, you accept the challenge to get the same amount of work done in 32 hours that most get done in 40. It may sound cliché, but at Benifactor we truly work harder in order to play longer. A week at Benifactor isn’t a marathon; it’s a sprint. We earn our three-day weekends.

Is it possible to abandon the idle chit-chat that seems to be a fixture of traditional office life? To be honest, it’s not. However, you can redirect it into something purposeful.

This is where “Taco Tuesdays” come in. Not only do they provide a break from the shorter, fast-paced work week, but they also give everyone a chance to share a delicious meal and some good conversation before discussing any upcoming events or work-related news. The discussions are guided, practical, and an efficient use of time. It has become an invaluable opportunity to come together to simultaneously strengthen our relationships and close any knowledge gaps across agencies.

And let’s just say it, who doesn’t enjoy a good taco!

— Guest Post Courtesy of Samantha Boiani, Charity Electric


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Birkmania: Giving You an Edge in Fundraising!

How important is finding the right people for your organization?

That’s a no-brainer, right? In fact, it’s common for business leaders to think this is the only necessary prerequisite to building a cohesive and effective team.

We’re inclined to agree—at least in part.

When you’ve engaged Frontier as your fundraising specialist, you’re getting a whole team that’s entirely focused on achieving the best results for you.
— Mariam Ghani

Equipping your organization with people who are competent and a great fit for your team is essential for the health of any business or non-profit.

At Frontier, we genuinely believe people are our most important asset.

Most organizations put daily operations above thoroughly understanding their employees.

Making sure your organization is getting to the task-at-hand, meeting deadlines, assisting clients, and getting everything done is paramount to being successful in your field.

But could you be missing out?

While these activities are absolutely essential for the health of any business or organization, if you haven’t invested in getting to know the nuances of each person on your team, you might actually be overlooking an opportunity to increase your team’s overall efficiency and productivity.

For any team to operate seamlessly, it’s crucial that everyone has an awareness of their own strengths, skills and areas of opportunities for growth, but it’s also key for each person to understand their teammates in the same way.

That’s where Birkmania comes in at Frontier.

What the heck is Birkmania, you might be asking yourself.

Let me fill you in. It’s an in-office event the whole team participates in together, based on The Birkman Method, which assesses your personality and perceptions. It reveals your interests, actual behaviour, stress behaviour, as well as your assumptions pertaining to the social needs of others versus your social needs in a variety of categories.

The Birkman Method illuminates contrasting perceptions, and focuses on strengths and productive applications, so individuals can learn to make use of their unique skills and perform with heightened efficiency.

The Birkman Method is a tool that facilitates growth for yourself and your team. It also helps your organization to better understand the strengths and interests of your employees and colleagues, so you are better prepared to meet challenges and opportunities in the future.

Birkmanity Insanity at Benifactor

Each time Frontier welcomes a new person into our weird and wacky world, we invest in them by discovering their Birkman type. Then, we throw an event, led by an official Birkman trainer, to delve deeper into the meaning of each person’s results.

With help from a Birkman trainer, we are guided through all of the different sections of personality analysis, with a special focus on appreciating how our team is similar and dissimilar.

One of the most valuable outcomes from this event is gaining reliable insight into one another’s strengths, competencies and weaknesses.

All About YOU!

This knowledge allows us to focus on our strengths and utilize the diverse skills found within our team, enabling us to optimize our abilities, so we can operate efficiently, effectively AND seamlessly for you.

Because we’ve invested in understanding the strengths of each team member, we’re more cohesive, productive and successful in what we do. Ultimately, this is good news for you! That’s because what we do is help YOU do good in the world.

When you’ve engaged Frontier as your fundraising specialist, you’re getting a whole team that’s entirely focused on achieving the best results for you.

Thanks to Birkmania, we’re able to offer you a team that’s effective, productive and ready to respond to just about any challenge. We ensure our team is flourishing, so we can help your team flourish, too.

How Storytelling Can Clarify Your Message

Reviewing Donald Miller’s Building a Story Brand

Reviewing Donald Miller’s Building a Story Brand

Always focused on improving results for our clients, Frontier’s print team has been reading Building a Story Brand: Clarifying Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller. We’d love to share our main take-aways.

What is everyone doing wrong?

In Building a Story Brand, Miller explains that the main mistake marketers make is in creating messages that are too complicated for people to quickly, easily understand. The key to success is to clarify your message so people understand exactly what you offer and why it matters to them. As Miller says, “If you confuse, you lose.”

The second biggest mistake marketers make is in creating ads that focus only on the greatness of their product, instead of focusing on their customers and the reason they should care about the product.

Throwback to High School English Class

Miller’s strategy to create both clarity and relevance is to make use of one of humankind’s oldest activities—storytelling.

By adapting the age-old principles of the hero's journey that you may remember from high school into his Story Brand 7 Framework, Miller demonstrates how to invite customers into a story they will remember and respond to.   

Every great story begins with a character who wants something, encounters a problem before they can get it, meets a guide who gives them a plan, calls them to action and helps them to avoid failure and achieve success.   

Too many marketers position their brand as the hero of the story. But people don’t want another hero, they are already the hero of their own story. What they want, and what your brand must become, is the guide that steps in to help them survive and thrive.

What really makes people part with their money anyway?

Marketing often focuses on the external problem that a product can solve, but people buy solutions to internal problems and innate desires.

Seven of the most universal desires are to conserve financial resources, to conserve time, to build social networks, to gain status, to accumulate resources, to be generous and to find meaning. In other words, people want to be accepted, find love, achieve an aspirational identity, bond with others, and find meaning through connection with something larger than themselves.

These internal desires are far more powerful than the external problems most products directly solve. To be successful, your brand must tell a story that shows how you will help people meet these fundamental needs.

The key to success is to clarify your message so people understand exactly what you offer and why it matters to them.
— Donald Miller

How does this apply to fundraising at Frontier?

Building a Story Brand reinforced a lot of the best practices that Frontier already follows, such as positioning donors as the hero, keeping appeals simple, and always including clear calls to action. Discovering this was a great feeling for our team! There is always room for improvement, however, and the many reminders from this book have us feeling excited to move ahead with these points top of mind!

What are our main take-aways?

While writing stories with donors positioned as the hero isn’t new to us, we’ve gained a new understanding of the part our clients should play in the story—the guide. And a guide’s main job is providing a plan and a clear call to action.

This means each appeal needs to call people to action by asking, directly and repeatedly, for a donation, and showing them how that donation will make the world a better place. Because what we really offer is the opportunity to achieve an aspirational identity and connection to a meaningful cause.

People want to be generous, especially with others who may not have had the same opportunities in life. Nonprofits are the guides that step in to help donors fight villains like poverty and injustice so they can see themselves as heroes. Meanwhile, we fundraisers are the storytellers.  


It's All in the Ask: How Personalizing Amounts Can Increase Gifts

THE BACKGROUND

Welcome Hall Mission opened its doors in 1892 to Montrealers looking for care, guidance, and support. Today, they provide a wealth of services ranging from food banks and housing to dental care and employment training. They achieved these amazing feats only through the loyal support of their partners and donors.

As Welcome Hall Mission seeks to meet the needs of a growing community, the consistent call for growth inspires us here at Frontier, as their direct mail fundraising team. We are always looking to push the limits of what we can achieve for our clients. What makes Frontier so uniquely effective is our crew of experts that specialize in multiple areas of fundraising.

Charitable organizations generally record their donor base in some way, but not every charity can analyze what makes those donors give. That’s why we have an in-house data specialist who is passionate about crunching numbers and making improvements wherever possible.

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THE QUESTION

Thousands of donors give generously to Welcome Hall Mission every year, but why do they give the amounts they do, and would they be giving more if we asked for more? When we set ask amounts, how do we know if we’ll “over ask” and scare off potential donors or “under ask” and miss an opportunity?

It’s questions like these that lead us to hypothesize about new potential ask strategies.   

Previously, we sorted donors into segments using the recency, frequency, monetary-value algorithm (RFM). Once segments were determined, another algorithm set the ask amounts for each grouping. Our data specialist then manually adjusted those results to take into account the psychological factors that the algorithm may have overlooked.

Setting an ask amount is not an exact science. These amounts can be determined by multiple variables. We consider the following metrics:

  • the average contribution

  • the median contribution

  • the most common contribution

  • the highest previous contribution

  • the most recent contribution

  • the minimum contribution

Tweaking ask amounts often causes a seesaw effect between response rate and average donation. Asking for too much can mean fewer donations overall, but asking for too little can mean smaller gifts. Segmentation helps determine the appropriate ask for groupings of people but creates a one-size-fits-all approach per group.

THE TEST

With groupings of donors, it’s unavoidable that some recipients receive ask amounts outside of their comfort zone. There is always an open ask included, where donors can fill out an amount themselves; however, research has shown that ask amounts can either influence gift size or discourage gift giving altogether. This means that ask amounts wield the power of suggestion, which can be very useful to an NPO’s bottom line. So, is there a way to avoid playing the odds and tailor our asks to each individual donor? Enter, the test.

We concentrated on 3,000 donors from Welcome Hall Mission’s 2018 Easter appeal as a sample size. The control group, along with each of the 2 test groups contained volumes of 1,000 people.

  • The 1st test group retained the segmentation but based the ask amounts on the median contribution for each donor segment.

  • The 2nd test group removed segments entirely and provided each recipient with a set of personalized ask (or Bespoke Ask) ask amounts based on their most recent contribution.

THE RESULTS

When the results came in, we noticed a few things. Firstly, our test proved previous theories to be true: the group of median-based donors performed better on the response rate, but worse on the average gift than our control group. Secondly, we found that most grassroots donors gave more when their ask amounts were personalized to their specific donation history.

One detail stood out among the rest. Not only did the Bespoke Ask amounts achieve the highest average gift, but they also maintained a higher response rate than the control group! Our data specialist attributes a large part of this breakthrough to the psychology of suggestion, which cannot be utilized as effectively when working with fixed ask amounts or generalized segmentation across a broad donor base.

What do all these numbers mean for Welcome Hall Mission? This new strategy of customizing amounts to individual donors produced an increase of approximately 15% in revenue for the Mission! And as you know, a few dollars more from thousands of potential donors adds up to make a significant impact on the Montrealers being served.

NEXT STEPS

A hypothesis is only as good as its method. To confirm that it’s worth the time and effort to personalize each donor’s ask amounts, we need to continue our research. We’ve adjusted our approach based on other factors in each donor’s specific giving history, focusing on the most recent contribution, median contribution and minimum contribution. By tweaking the data and retesting, we are hoping to repeat and improve our results compared to last year.

Welcome Hall Mission’s 2019 Easter appeals are in the mail, testing further personalized Bespoke Asks. We are also sending out a Mother’s Day appeal with Kelowna’s Gospel Mission to test the same Bespoke Asks. We look forward to seeing how donors respond and can’t wait to report back to you with our plans for refining the strategy and implementing this method for more NPOs. Stay tuned!