Getting In Front Of Donors With Different Looks But Same Message

April 15, 2005       Clint Carpenter      

You’re wandering around a large retailer, like Target or Wal-Mart and you nearly knock over a huge stack of bulk bathroom tissue. You know that you’re interested in the product, you need it, but you don’t pick it up that second.

As you continue the stroll of discount heaven, you see the same rolls of salvation in three other sections; at an aisle end-cap, on an island in the middle of the store and right near the cash registers. It was during that final sighting that you hoisted that 48-pack into your cart.

How many different ways do you approach donors about gifts to your organization? This is the age of multi-media madness and getting your message through is all about knowing when to ask, which is generally when the donor is ready to listen.

That’s why using every media tool available is the brave new world of fundraising. Discussing the trends and industry results in this edition of Executive Session are: Beth Athanassiades, account supervisor at Domain Group; Kelly A. Mahoney, president of Newport Creative Communications; Kristin W. McCurry, vice president and general manager of the Washington, D.C., office of epsilon; and, Jeff Nickel, group vice president, Grizzard Signature Group.

The questioning was handled by Rick Christ, senior consultant at and Paul Clolery, vice president/editorial director of The NonProfit Times and NPT Publishing Group. The discussion was held in a private room at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Rick Christ: There’s true creativity in this industry. Let’s not talk about the newest label package. In retrospect, maybe that is an uninformed decision, or a knee-jerk reaction. There are a lot of premium packages out there. You’re all smart enough to not keep mailing them if they don’t work. So what keeps them fresh and how do you keep that process moving?

Kristin McCurry: There are going to be groups for which premiums are going to continue to be the bread and butter. The recent statistic I saw was that labels have increased by 60 percent and we’ve certainly seen that in day-to-day tactics. If you’re going to mail labels, however, increasing their perceived value seems to be working well.

Mr. Christ: And how do you boost the perceived value?

Ms. McCurry: Foil, die cuts, large formats — or “double-wides,” that have mini-labels included on them. Other formats, such as to/from labels, gift stickers, reminder stickers can play up the format a bit so that you don’t get that very consistent name and address format. The other opportunity in the premium marketplace is “mission-based” premiums.

One of the things that we have found very successful is looking at how we can use those formats but make them more closely tied to the organization. For instance, for arts and cultural institutions, the laminate cards that have been very popular for printing prayer cards for a long time — you punch out the card — use it a little bit differently. You’ve got a personalized bookmark on one side because you’re dealing with an educated population. You can show the artwork from the arts and cultural institution or museum or make it a membership card. And in addition to that, you can put in a map of the museum, an advertisement for the upcoming opening, whatever the case may be, and suddenly it’s much more applicable to the organization and not about how many sheets of name-and-address stickers you have that get put in a drawer somewhere.

Mr. Christ: Kelly, what have you noticed? Have you reached a point that you can’t afford to do this anymore, or do you find that investing in higher-end premiums continues to bring in a higher response rate or a higher gift amount?

Kelly Mahoney: I think it depends on the organization, and certainly we’ve seen some big trends in the industry that are really evolving the way that we think about communications.

Everything right now is “webified,” meaning that the demand to get back to people in a really aggressive, time-sensitive way is key, to break through the clutter.

Consumers right now are more empowered. Just looking at the DVR (digital voice recorder). There are 6 million right now. There will be 50 million by 2009. You have satellite radio. You’ve got millions of people on the do-not-call list. You have direct mail trends like do not mail and then lots of tools for interactive.

The larger view is that we need to create communications using different media combinations, different vehicles, whether it’s premiums in combination with outbound programs or direct mail in combination with radio testing in specific markets.

But I think there’s a new mandate to be really targeted, to be very relevant. For consumers who are, by the way, donors, every decision is enabled by someone who is also buying commercial goods. So we have to think about the new evolution moving forward, about vehicles and combinations and what’s going to continue to be relevant.

Paul Clolery: Kelly, you were saying there’s a “webification” of things, and Kristin talked about labels. Is anybody allowing a potential donor, to customize their premium online? For example, are they able to print their own labels if they’ve got the labels at the house?

Ms. Mahoney: There are huge opportunities to tailor, based on individual needs. On the commercial side, JC Penney does a great job of this when they ask their customers whether they want emails related to fashion or whether they want emails related to decorating. They’ve actually pushed the envelope in terms of emailing customers a couple of times a week without diminishing the opt-out rate.

Mr. Clolery: A couple of times a week?

Ms. Mahoney: A week. It’s their core segment. The more customized and tailored and relevant you can be, whether it’s with premium packages, premium packages on demand, or personalized online emails and email communications. I think there’s a big upside.

Beth Athanassiades: I think the group that has been able to personalize their premiums is the PBS market. When you become a member, there’s a whole array of things that you can get, whether you want DVDs on children or you want it on history or you want it on the arts

Jeff Nickel: You still have the challenge on the back end of what do you keep doing? You’re creating a monster that has to be fed.

Mr. Christ: The keynote speaker in the morning yesterday said one of his trends is that a charity by itself is passé, and that most donations are transactionally based. He didn’t specifically reference premiums, but that of the concept about giving something to get something, whether it’s a tangible premium or something. Now, it’s fairly easy if it’s a premium to convey that. It’s a lot harder to convey that with something intangible. How do you do it creatively?

Mr. Nickel: The writer really has to understand at a very “soulish” level what that brand is, what the message is. There’s no doubt that premiums work. That’s not the question. The question is how bonded do the donors become to the organization through that process? I don’t think there would be any disagreement about the fact that if you had the choice, you wouldn’t use a premium. You’d go with a straight offer if you had the choice, if that would work for you.

There are some extremely well-known organizations in the country for which the issue isn’t that they’re not well-known, that they’re not good. It’s that they have trouble telling their story at a level that’s deep enough to get a donor to say, “I love what’s going on here; I want to identify; it does something for me and because of that I want to give.”

If we can tap into the heart of the donor at that level, the brand level, then I think we will be very successful.

Mr. Christ: Then you can brand like we branded blue jeans in the ‘70s, where everybody had to have designer jeans. Now you could have T-shirts and pens — and are we now getting there with Lance Armstrong bracelets?

Mr. Clolery: Kelly, you made reference to satellite radio. We’ve got XM Radio in the car and if I heard a commercial on that I’d get my shorts in a real twist. I’m paying $12 a month to not have commercials on my radio. So I’m driving down the road and I hear a spot for a charity. That’s a place where people don’t expect to be hit with an ad and/or ask of any kind. Can that blow back on the charity?

Ms. Mahoney: I think what’s really going to be key is defining how people want to communicate. Some people are very receptive to hearing messages through different vehicles. I would say satellite radio is probably not a good match, because the preponderance of those folks really want to cut out all the commercial messages. But I would say on drive time, if you’re trying to get more donors in a specific market and you want to combine radio in combination with direct mail, it would be a more relevant opportunity.

Mr. Clolery: What are some other areas that people feel it’s their own time, like listening to satellite radio in the car?If they’re online and not necessarily at your site, is that their own personal time that people might feel like they’ve been intruded upon if they get a message?

Ms. Mahoney: I think personal time, and also preferences. Just look at the Google tool bar and FireFox and all those other capabilities that allow you to screen out messages. I think you have to respect how people want to hear your message and then tailor it accordingly. I think there’s a big opportunity for us as an industry to test our way into lots of new combinations.

Mr. Nickel: What we’re basically saying is that when the consumer has paid for the space, paid for the channel, then that is the big determiner. Why has direct mail worked? It’s worked because they weren’t paying for the channel. We were paying for it, put the stamp on it to get it to them. The consumer didn’t have to pay to receive it. As soon as the consumer has to pay to receive it, then you start walking a different line.

Ms. Mahoney: Getting back to Jeff’s point on branding, with nonprofits there’s an opportunity to start with our core donors and really define what resonates with those donors.

For Plan USA, we experimented with their message in an effort to evolve their brand. We took out one sentence about a child praying for help, and the mailing results declined. As soon as we put that one sentence back in their message, it really resonated.

The research showed that donors who give to Plan USA really have a sense from a brand perspective that it says something about them. They want to be very empowered to make changes. So if you understand your core audience first and then figure out exactly how to resonate messages, you’re in a much better place.

Mr. Nickel: That’s such a key point. The difference between today’s donors versus my parents’ generation is the desire, the need, to have control. Today’s donors want to say, “I am making a difference — it’s not just the right thing to do and I’m doing it by selectively choosing these vehicles and these opportunities.”

Mr. Clolery: Are you saying that donors in the past didn’t believe they were making a difference?

Mr. Nickel: No. What I’m saying is that the motivation is stronger for today’s donors. The current group of donors wants that knowledge of return on investment. They want to know that it’s actually doing what they set out to do versus the sense of, “I give because it’s the right thing to do.”

Mr. Christ: I think they’re much more particular in their giving. And that’s what has spelled the decline of many federated charities. There are demographic trends, too, such as people don’t work in huge office buildings as much anymore. But the federated charity is, “I’m going to put my money in a pot, and a group of community leaders is going to decide what’s most important.”

Now it’s a case of not only do I want to give to the Boy Scouts, I want to give to the Boy Scouts for a particular camp for a particular project because that’s what I want to do.

And then I guess what you were saying before about how it might impact creative end premiums is, “I want to be able to show everybody I care about …” The ideal premium, is not necessarily one with high utility but with high psychic connection to the cause. It says who I am. That’s really what I got out of what you said before. The Lance Armstrong bracelet has zero functionality as a piece of jewelry or accessory. It’s yellow so it’s only going to match with so much. But it’s a big identifier — I’m cool. And now it’s spun off. There is a rainbow of bracelets.

I guess that makes that a real creative breakthrough when you find something that has that strong psychic connection and you can mail it.

Ms. McCurry: You know what’s happening with the bracelets, Rick? They’re already discovering that enhancing the perceived value of that bracelet for other organizations is increasing average gifts. I’ve recently seen bracelets that have full color on them. The Autism Society of America is doing one with full color inlay for the letters. They’re printing them on dual sides or with metallic printing on them, even increasing that perceived value of that product.

They’re already beginning to play with the perceived value of that product. Whether or not that succeeds for these organizations, the development cycle of that is so fast, we’ll know probably in three to six months.

Mr. Nickel: It’s part of the value question. What’s interesting with regards to Lance Armstrong is that it was a groundswell. It was all the grassroots channels that it went out through and the media.

Mr. Christ: Let’s talk about creativity as it crosses channels. At a DMA basic course years ago someone jokingly said, “A salesman is a letter with shoes.” There are creative programs that were written for direct mail that, if you held a video camera to them, you could make a TV commercial from it.

Ms. McCurry: Some really good ones are that way. It’s about a story, and so it crosses those channels. It could be an email, as Kelly is suggesting. It can be a video clip because it is truly about touching that life.

Mr. Christ: And how do you develop that creativity? Do you write it from the standpoint of “I’ve got to create this process that can fit this medium, this medium, and this medium?” Or, do you have to involve people with specific technical expertise and create a group that can apply that? How do you get that creativity that can cross over, where your radio commercial really reinforces the direct mail appeal that’s going out?

Ms. Mahoney: I’ll get back to the Plan USA example:You have to have messages that are both rational and emotional. Plan USA is a great example of an organization that just tried to say, “here are all the programs we’re doing and we’re adding lots of value.” But once you took the emotional component out of it, of somebody really answering a prayer, then it lost a lot in translation.

If you develop messages that resonate with your brand and your core audience, then it’s very extendable across vehicles. You then adapt it based on how you think people want to see, hear or read about the story.

Ms. Athanassiades: The key enabling factor in all these scenarios is having an enterprise-wide database that can capture that information.

Some of the vehicles allow you to test faster. You get a radio spot out there, you can take and tweak it really fast if it’s working or not working. You can pull it if it’s not working and if it is, you can tweak it and roll it out.

Ms. McCurry: That’s wonderful if you can do that, Beth, and there have been some great examples of organizations doing that recently. I think St. Jude’s Thanks & Giving campaign is one of them.

Mr. Nickel: There are people who are much better at direct mail, and it’s a different challenge to write good direct response radio, or email, or television.

Mr. Christ: Direct mail copywriters don’t think about background sounds or motion — emotion, but not motion. Somebody else has to say here’s how we could do this.

Mr. Nickel: There’s a team of people who are needed — a full, creative team. When you start crossing channels, you know the limitations and know the capacity of each of those.

Ms. Mahoney: Looking at the team of creative experts across channels, you must consider that technology is converging so that your 30-second or 60-second TV spot is now going to be on the Web. So now you have to be concerned that your broadcast, your materials that go on the Web, aren’t going to be networked across to other sites in a way that is counter to your strategy.

Mr. Clolery: Everybody talks about the World Wide Web. And yes, in fact, it is the best thing since indoor plumbing, the wheel and fire. But a lot of this country isn’t yet wired or is still dial-up. We’ve got all this multimedia going on and a good portion of the country can’t get it. What are nonprofits tailoring to the dial-up community?

Mr. Christ: I think most nonprofits are tailoring to the dial-up community, and haven’t really taken advantage of the opportunities from online. There are three great myths in online fundraising: The first is our donors are seniors and they’re not online. Some 55 percent of seniors are online; 62 percent of their grandchildren are online. There’s no difference.

The second myth is that kids don’t give. Well, kids don’t give in large part because you’ve never mailed them. They’re not on these lists and you haven’t tried. And the third unspoken myth is that when these kids today get to be 55, they’re going to become direct mail responsive.

Broadband is catching on. About 60 percent of households that have the Internet have broadband. That 60 percent is only 36 percent of America. So there’s still a large gap.

And as you know more about which of your donors are online, maybe not just the online strategy has to change, maybe the direct mail strategy has to change. Maybe part of the direct mail strategy has to say, “Let’s not talk about our Web site to the people who aren’t online. Let’s focus on this channel. They have chosen this channel. Let’s talk about it and let’s stop making them feel guilty then for not seeing us online because we don’t score any points that way.”

I haven’t seen any nonprofits focusing their direct mail away from the Internet. Pretty soon there’s going to be a hardcore unwired household. They’re not unwired because they can’t be wired. They’re unwired because they don’t want to be.

Ms. Athanassiades: The bigger challenge is integration within the organization. The Web offers two things: People can go to it and search, but it’s also a fulfillment device. The tsunami has really shown that the Web is a bridge to fulfillment. It’s bridging the gap. We’re mailing these people and development is often not getting credit for the gifts that come in, or there’s no integration between the Web and direct response departments. It’s “oh, they’re my donors or your donors,” and not realizing that the donor thinks you’re one organization.

Many of these donors give to both sources, direct mail and Web. These are often the “core” or most valuable donors, yet they get caught in organizational “silos.”

Mr. Nickel: We have an interesting situation right now with one of our clients, a large medical services provider. There was some television footage shown in the market where this client operates. It was all about a child who was suffering from cancer and who overcame it. It was very emotional. When the client team found out this footage was available, we asked, “is that available for use? And, by the way, why don’t we put that on your Web site?”

Now we’re running a test with different segments of the donor file, seeing what will happen if we prompt some to go to the site to view the footage and get engaged through another channel. It will be exciting to see what impact the multi-channel approach makes.

Ms. McCurry: The next question, though, is “How do you integrate the appeal, the ‘ask,’ into that footage and really drive them into making a donation?” That’s the leap that a lot of organizations aren’t making, because they either view the Web — organizational politics aside — as a way to disseminate information only, and the “donate now” is a little two-centimeter block on the bottom of the page. They’re just not making the donation aspect of it a priority.

You referred to the bridge between the Web and the direct marketing or the development site. The bridge between the communications people or the PR people and development is even bigger and not one that’s going to be crossed, I don’t think, any time soon.

Ms. Mahoney: We’ve found that if you have donors who respond to you via the mail and also engage online, they tend to give more frequently. And, their value is higher over time versus a single channel. But I agree with you that there will always be, most likely, a core segment that will be direct mail responsive only.

Mr. Christ: Or phone or any channel, and we need to respect that decision.

I love the old Star Trek shows because they let us look at our own society through a different prism. They could touch on sensitive areas that you couldn’t even have expressed in terms of black and white in America. But when it was the Martians and, you know, Scandahuvians of somewhere, then it was easy to see the stupidity of racism.

The Internet has done so by having us shift our parameters and looking, we’re all hooked up on permission and privacy. People start to say well, you know what, I don’t really want to mail people who don’t want to be mailed, because that costs me a lot more than emailing them. Giving more people more choice in the terms of their communication is something that the Internet brought to us that all media would be wise to respect and to try to incorporate.

We have a client who’s doing emergency telephone fundraising for tsunami relief. They were astounded at the number of people who said, “I’m not going to give my credit card to you,” hung up, and either went to the Web site or called the office during business hours.

And so, if a person on the telephone can say “no problem, go to the Web site, here’s the same script I just read you.”

We even talked about that a little bit during the anthrax scare. People were putting stickers with phone numbers on mail — before you open, if you have any questions, call this 800 number.

And so that ability to play off of multiple tracks, and the Web then can become the repository for the validation mechanism for the other media.

Ms. McCurry: Rick, I just want to go back somewhat to what you were saying a moment ago. The key enabling factor in all these scenarios is having an enterprise-wide database that can capture that information so that you know that when someone got that telemarketing call, their gift that came in through the Web was generated by that call.

Mr. Christ: Correct.

Ms. McCurry: If they are truly multi-touch-point donors, you need to understand what the impetus was behind their giving.

Mr. Christ: Right. And it should have very little to do with organizational politics of who gets credit. It should have to do with what medium gets credit so that we can generate more. I’ve had clients who said, “You know, we’re going to cut our TV because it’s not producing, but look how the Web is producing.” Well, we cut their TV and all of a sudden the Web didn’t look so good.

Mr. Nickel: And that all goes back to an earlier statement about real integration from the top down. Organizations that will thrive and grow have that external focus, where they know that donors “own” us. It’s not the other way around. Everything we have to do is all about the customer. Our problem on our side of the fence is that sometimes we forget that. We forget that it’s really all about the customer.

Ms. McCurry: It’s about survival of the fittest. Those that can integrate the data, and integrate it across channels and across departments, are the ones that are going to be around in 10 years.

Ms. Mahoney: That’s a great point, because I think organizationally, donors form expectations as consumers. They expect that you’re going to have one face to the market, and a consistent message and experience, just like they’d see from eBay and Amazon.

Mr. Christ: Amazon has changed the face of fundraising, to the extent that people now expect that their content online can be personalized based on not only their previous interactions, but the great adaptation of data to create it, which is “people who have enjoyed this book have also enjoyed … ” I fall for that every time. Well, I don’t fall for it, I love it every time because it’s not somebody like us saying what else can we shove at this guy and clear off our shelves. No. It’s my peers who really read this book.

Remember, if you’re one in a million, there are still 300 people like you in America.

A lot of that hinges on integrated data. Now, to what extent can creative, or ought creative start in the database? What additional data can we add to these people and, son of a gun, if they all like Harleys, let’s give them Harley hats, even though our nonprofit has nothing to do with motorcycles?

Ms. Athanassiades: We’ve done it. We have one client that has a group of donors where we’ve identified different giving patterns, and then we’ve sent them a donor communication card where we’ve basically gone and said, “Okay, how many times a year do you want to hear from us, and what kind of things do you want to hear?” And then we listen to those donors and mail to them along those lines. Those now are the most core loyal donors, so we’re trying to find more donors to whom we can mail less.

Mr. Christ: Waste is expensive.

Mr. McCurry: That’s great if you can identify those patterns, even if they’re small groups of people. I think the other opportunity is for organizations to look at either overlay data, which can be a little bit sketchy, or at what’s going on in their file just from a demographic standpoint before beginning the creative testing.

Do you remember Dolores McDonough from National Trust speaking last year about male/female packages? She’s continued that testing, very aggressively, and determined that she can use the same package for both. This time last year, she had two separate packages – “the male” and “the female” package. But now she’s manipulated price points and she’s manipulated graphics. She’s back down into one package, which is a sigh of relief for her production staff. But by using lasered variables, she’s speaking to those two populations differently, from acquisition forward, and is able to produce much higher response rates.

Mr. Clolery: With all due respect to everybody around the table, all of you have been in this business a long time. And, maybe I’ve been to way too many of these conferences. What you were just saying about the male versus female packages and the overlays — I’m sitting here saying well, duh, why is this a revelation all of a sudden? Why is this getting hot now?

Ms. McCurry: I think because we’ve never had to do it before, Paul. We’ve made a lot of assumptions about who our donors were, how old they were and what channels they preferred. The past couple of years have not been easy on any of us, and as a result, we’re having to make much smarter investments, particularly in the acquisition area.

Mr. Clolery: So it’s not that you didn’t have the information and you couldn’t do it; it’s that you didn’t have to.

Mr. Christ: Never mind the economic factors. The growth in the number of nonprofits has far exceeded the growth in the number of dollars being given to charities. So if you’re doing this as well as you were last year, you’re having a much smaller slice of the philanthropic pie, and the choice available to donors is phenomenal. The competition is increasing dramatically.

Mr. Nickel: You know, there’s no real difference between the nonprofit market and the commercial market. Every market has become more targeted, more segmented. Competition in all arenas has increased. There is no such thing as lack of competition, so we’re doing what everybody else is doing.

Ms. Mahoney: Absolutely. The consumer is empowered. And, to Jeff’s point, we have to get smarter and more refined, in terms of how we’re going after the nonprofit market. We have to come up with some sustainable strategies to encourage consumers, just as they’ve had to do on the commercial side..

Mr. Christ: And “sustainable” has its own, newer definition. How do you define the long term in terms of creative strategy? Put a number on it, Beth. What’s the long term?

Ms. Athanassiades: It depends. We have some clients who have had control package for eight or 10 years, and we have some that it varies by the time of year and theme of the mailing. Every organization is different. We are firm believers in testing to beat the control, earn the highest net and beat proforma.

Ms. McCurry: There’s no consistency at all. A lot of it, of course, is directly related to how aggressively they’re testing; who’s leading the program. Are they willing to take chances? Because, they’re the ones who are going to have more exposures to potential wins?

Another factor that plays into that is how do you evaluate a win? Is it immediate at acquisition? Is it on an LTV basis at six, 12, 18 months? Based on a renewal ability? Is it based on cumulative value, average gift, renewability? What’s the metric for success?

Mr. Christ: And it’s so important to measure. I remember very early in my career, there was a discussion of Columbia House, 12 records and tapes for a penny. And, there was no credit checking. They built a model of your creditworthiness. There were scores based on a lot of things, like did you fill it out in pencil versus pen. But you know what the number one thing was? What choices you picked. There were certain albums — if you picked them, you were a deadbeat.

I raised my hand and before the guy called on me, thankfully, the answer occurred to me. The question was well, why don’t you just remove those albums? And the answer was because then we wouldn’t know who the deadbeats are.

So it’s about the ability of using people’s choices in data to respond.

Ms. McCurry: Here’s a great example. There’s a large premium mailer — millions and millions of pieces of acquisition a year — and they had a $5 opt-out on their premium package. They finally figured out that those groups of donors that came in at $5 took six years of being mailed for them to pay off.

They cut the ask and didn’t add anymore to the file at that level and immediately their acquisition revenue went through the roof.

They still got them in an acquisition, but they didn’t offer them that opportunity, and as a result, they didn’t spend the money on the renewal side. The ROI on their program increased tremendously.

Mr. Christ: We have a client who has an average donor life span of seven years, and early indications were that Internet-source donors had a greater longevity. Well, we’re not waiting seven years to find out. We need to measure attrition, compare attrition, every three months or six months to get a read on how that’s going.

Everybody wants lifetime value but nobody’s willing to wait a lifetime to calculate it.

Mr. Clolery: So as we become an iPod nation, where you can download songs for 99 cents, as we go through 57 channels and nothing on, is the long-term value of the donor going to be decreasing as they change the way they view things, as they have more opportunity to give to other groups? Are we seeing any change in the depth of the donor?

Ms. Mahoney: There’s still the opportunity to acquire quality, sustainable donors. I think it’s a more complex environment today, where you need your database to be able to look at how your donors are transacting with you and how they’re communicating. But I think certainly there are big opportunities to develop strategies and tactics down the road to keep that engine going.

Mr. Nickel: That’s why what happens immediately afterward with that donor’s first experience is so incredible, because the “churn” opportunity is so high, it’s so easy to be disappointed.

This Thanksgiving, I went online with my daughter to choose to sponsor a child from one of the sponsorship organizations. My daughter was just so excited and so amazed.

And, she was so excited about the experience that she called her friends, called her grandparents and said this is what we did today.

She’s 11. And her big question was when am I going to hear from them?

Mr. Christ: Tomorrow would be nice, right?

Mr. Nickel: Exactly. That was exactly the point. The immediacy. And you know what was really a shame? We didn’t get anything in the mail for a good three weeks as far as the initial package, and unfortunately, this organization said that the reason — and they said it online — you’re an online donor, so we only send mail out infrequently.

Mr. Clolery: That’s crazy.

Mr. Nickel: You know, it really struck home watching my daughter’s experience. It is immediacy. We must be immediate.

Mr. Christ: When I talk about nonprofits on the Internet and show slides, one of them I show is a picture of a 7-Eleven sign. And I tell people they need to be more like a 7-Eleven, and that doesn’t appeal to them psychically. You know, they want to be more like the bank on the corner. The bank on the corner closes for three-day weekends. Transactions after 2 p.m. aren’t posted until the next day.

Mr. Clolery: A 7-Eleven doesn’t have a lock on the door.

Mr. Christ: The 7-Eleven is open 24 hours a day. It’s available everywhere. It’s largely self-service, and it’s not terribly secure. Those are four things that a Web site has in common with 7-Eleven, and that’s — if your Web site is not convenient from everywhere. That includes Blackberries and wireless Web, on digital phones and in your SUV, and if it is indeed self-service, I guarantee you it’s still not so terribly secure.

That’s the given. The other three are what you need to aspire to be. And so that changes a lot of the paradigm. And you don’t have to be more creative, you just have to be creative in increments and start pushing.