We Feel Your Pain!

You either have too much donor data, not enough donor data, or the wrong donor data to communicate effectively or make meaningful program decisions.

When you have that perfect, holistic view of your donors you can begin doing some really exciting things, like segmenting your appeals, communicating at the right cadence with the right content, and truly treating every donor like a major donor.

Abila fundraising professionals Brandy Keller and Rich Dietz understand your pain points, and even more importantly, what you can do to better reach out to and engage every single donor in meaningful, relevant ways.

What if you could use data to treat every donor like a major donor?  Soon this will become a reality, enabling you to focus on what matters to your donors and you. Sign-up to find out more at: www.abila.com/whatmatters.

Six Implementation Fail Red Flags

Red flag and blue skyA red flag warning indicates conditions are ideal for wild-land fire combustion and rapid spread.

Software implementation failures certainly don’t pose the same danger as a wildfire. However, the flames of discontent and animosity your staff may consequently feel about the new software can smolder and spread for years to come.

To avoid implementation failure, watch out for these six red flags:

  1. Lack of employee support. Hypothetically speaking, a CFO might independently purchase new software and run the implementation herself. But, it fails when this C-level executive doesn’t have a strong understanding of all the functionality the frontline team needs from the software. It’s absolutely crucial to have buy-in from the employees who will be using the system day-in and day-out. Plus, they can be a tremendous resource in determining system customizations and training needs.
  1. Turnover in finance and management. Turnover in leadership can result in a canceled or delayed implementation. It’s important to have a strong leader in place who’s willing to get employee buy-in, drive the schedule, and manage the change.
  1. Inadequate training and support. Don’t cheap out on training! Make the investment in training upfront, or it could cost you much more in the long-run. Your team will waste a lot of valuable time calling support if it isn’t properly trained during implementation, and the emotional toll this creates could cost you even more.
  1. Improperly built reporting structure. Required reports need to be identified at the beginning of implementation so the structure can be built accordingly. When people can’t get the reports they need, it’s not typically a fault of the tool, but a fault in how the structure was initially implemented. A successful implementation means the reports are built automatically in the software.
  1. Lack of separation of job duties and audit trails. If this isn’t correctly set up during implementation, it will, no doubt, need to be reconfigured. A correct set-up will help detect fraud and ensure data security. This can be a difficult task at a smaller nonprofit in which there are many shared duties.
  1. Weak foundation of fund accounting basics. There can be an unrealistic expectation that by implementing fund accounting software, all of your issues will be resolved. However, if those leading the accounting department don’t understand the basics of fund accounting, they may create a structure that’s too linear and constricting.

Jo Schneberger is a Professional Services Consultant for Abila. She recently contributed her expertise to a Nonprofit Times special accounting software report titled, “VARs’ View: 5 Reasons Accounting Software Installations Fail.


6 A/B Split Tests to Get You Started

A/B Testing Words Dictionary Definition Experiment Message PerfoOur Abila experts have researched and crafted Key Fundraising Predictions for 2015 to help you gain a clear understanding of the challenges facing your sector in the coming year, and how you can turn them into real advantages for your organization.

 Below is a deep dive into Fundraising Prediction #1 – Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

 And, because conversion optimization is so important to nonprofits’ success, we’re rolling out a series of blogs on this topic. In the first post, we defined CRO. Then, we unveiled the 8 Pillars of CRO. Next, we introduced the concept of A/B Split Testing. Now, this week, we delve into the tests you should undertake first.

As we’ve discussed in previous CRO blog entries, small changes can have huge impacts on your ability to convert website visitors to donors. A/B split testing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to find which slight tweaks can make considerable differences.

There are not many nonprofits utilizing A/B testing, and if they are, they’re not reporting their results, which compels us to look to the business community for ideas. One great resource is WhichTestWon.com. Every week on the site, testing experts highlight a new test and ask you to guess the winner. It’s a great (free) way to see what others are testing and what’s working.

However, you still need to run your own tests … remember, just because something works for another business or even nonprofit, doesn’t mean it will work the same for you. (See our Pillars blog.)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you have to start somewhere. So, here are six website features on which you can cut your A/B testing teeth:

ONE: Headlines

Headlines are one of the first elements on a page your visitors see. However, they’re often an afterthought for writers, or too clever for their own good. A better headline can increase conversions up to 89.97 percent and possibly more, according to Quick Sprout. So, test different colors, fonts, point sizes, location on the page, and style, for example try a question headline, versus a benefit-gaining headline, versus a loss aversion headline, which touts what the reader could potentially lose by not acting/buying/donating/signing up.

TWO: Call to Action (CTA) Buttons

Switch Video increased conversions 221 percent by changing one word in their CTA copy (“Get a Free Consultation” to “Get a Free Quote.”) So, play with different words, test copy length, font, and color.

THREE: Navigation Elements

Test the text on your navigation bar – its location, the order of items, and the actual words. For example, consider changing your “Ways to Help” navigation button to “Donate Now” or “Change a Life,” or “Support.”

FOUR: Images

Images can have a huge impact. Test location of images, number of images, and types of images, for example, people or things, individuals or groups, male or female, photos or illustrations. I’ve seen instances where the gender of the person depicted has increased conversions.

FIVE: Testimonials

Nonprofits, of all sectors, understand the power of testimonials. They allow you to show, rather than just tell, visitors about your mission and all the good things you’re doing to achieve it. Plus, readers trust the message far more when it’s coming from someone you’ve impacted, rather than your PR department. Test multiple items around testimonials – location, quantity, who they’re from (donors, board members, celebrities) and type (text, text with photo, or video).

SIX: Remove Form Fields

Generally, the shorter the form the more likely it is an individual will fill it out. However, what does that mean for your audience? How many form fields are too many, too few? Is this different for donation forms versus registration forms?  Even a single extra field can lower conversions in many cases. Testing is the only way to know for sure.


Coming to AUDC? Put These Six Austin Must-Dos on Your List!

austinEveryone at Abila is super excited about hosting nearly 1,000 customers next week during our annual Abila Users and Developers Conference (AUDC)! While we want you to get the most out of learning and networking opportunities, we also (strongly) recommend you build in some time to venture out of the hotel and see the Capital of Texas!

To help you “Keep it Weird,” here’s a list of suggestions:

Go Listen to Some Live Music

Live music can be enjoyed at more than 250 venues throughout Austin. The city is also home to more than 2,000 recording artists, including such famed personalities as Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel, Bob Schneider, Ghostland Observatory, and more. Celeb sightings are not uncommon!

Hit One of Austin’s Entertainment Districts

Historic 6th Street, South Congress Avenue, Warehouse, Second Street, Red River, and Rainey Street entertainment districts are among the “hot spots” for listening to live music, dining, and taking in the nightlife.

Get Outdoors

With nearly 300 days of sunshine annually, Austinites LOVE the outdoors. We’re home to 251 parks, including 360-acre Zilker Park. The Hike & Bike Trail follows the edge of Lady Bird Lake for 10 miles, and Barton Springs Pool welcomes swimmers to 68-degree, spring-fed waters year-round. Visitors can also hike steps to the top of Mount Bonnell, one of the city’s highest points, at 780 feet.

Explore East Austin

The hip, up-and-coming area is home to restaurant row on Manor Road, featuring Mexican cuisine at Vivo, homemade pies at Red House Pizzeria, and organic greens at Eastside Café, as well as the ultra-hip Salty Sow and East Side King.

Enjoy Some Food Trailer Grub

Austin boasts of some 2,000 mobile food vendors, and this is an inexpensive and popular way to dine with locals. The popularity of these trucks speaks to Austin’s fame as a start-up hub, and also to the dedicated foodie community that supports adventurous chefs. Some suggestions include: East Side

King (Vietnamese), Lucky J’s Chicken & Waffles, Gourdough’s (elaborate doughnuts), and Hey Cupcake. A great food trailer resource is www.foodtrailersaustin.com.

Discover What’s Brewing

The craft brewing scene is bursting with foam in Central Texas. Approximately 20 breweries have popped up in Austin in the last two to three years. Every new pub and brewpub (Pinthouse Pizza, Hopfields, Craft Pride, Chicago House, Bangers, Hi Hat) seems to tout local and craft beer as a selling point to both locals and visitors.

AUDC 2015 is fast approaching, but you can still sign up to attend. Register here.

Five Things You Can’t Miss at AUDC

AUDCFrom live music, to book signings, to volunteer opportunities, there will be something for everyone during next week’s Abila Users and Developers Conference (AUDC) in our hometown of Austin, Texas. Here are five things you won’t want to miss.

Experience AustinTATIOUS Opening and Closing! 

Set aside time for the AUDC opening and closing receptions. With Austin-inspired drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and live music, these are can’t-miss events for your conference experience!

The Opening Reception will feature a performance by Nashville’s Blackjack Billy at the famed Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater (ACL Live). Dubbed Music’s Best Address, this state-of-the-art, 2,750-person capacity live music venue hosts approximately 100 concerts a year. It serves as the new home for the taping of the acclaimed KLRU-TV produced PBS series, Austin City Limits, the longest running music series in American television history. We’ll have a fleet of petty cabs taking you to the venue and back to the JW Marriott!

The Closing Reception will be held in the JW Marriott Grand Ballroom and feature Austin’s own LovePowerPeace.

Build Goodwill

Take a break and join us on Level 4 in the East Foyer to help build stuffed animals for children in need in the Austin community. The stuffed animals you make will be given via Rescue Buddies™ to children affected by traumatic events. All stuffed animals will be donated to local Fire, EMS, and Police Departments, so when little ones face times of stress, these public safety workers can provide a little love and comfort with your Rescue Buddies.

Play in The Purple Patch

The Product Support Lab (affectionately known as The Purple Patch) offers complimentary, face-to-face product support with an Abila staffer, so you can get your specific questions answered by an expert. Located in Lonestar H on the 3rd Floor, this is one of the most sought-after at AUDC. (We have folks tell us they come to our conference specifically for this offering.)

Pick Up Sprinkles

Keynote speaker Chip Bell will host a book signing on Tuesday during lunch (12:30 to 1:30 p.m.). He is selling his newest book, “Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experience Through Innovative Service” signed for $10.

Get Out!

Monday night is an “open” night. Get out and explore Austin. Catch a show, Eat some good barbeque. Hop around on Rainey Street. For more ideas, see my post, “Coming to AUDC? Put These Six Austin Must-Dos on Your List!

AUDC 2015 is fast approaching, but you can still sign up to attend. Register here.

Three Things I Love About Working at Abila

Krista VdayTony Award-winning singer and actress Pearl Bailey is widely quoted as saying, “What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork.”

Well, Pearl, I couldn’t agree more. So in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m using this paperless medium to talk about what I love about coming to work every day at Abila.

When I was 12, I told my mom I was going to be a CEO. So, just being in the role is a life-long dream. But it’s certainly not the title itself that I’m fond of. Instead, it’s the devotion and adoration I have for our customers, partners, and employees that truly motivates me.

I Love Our Customers

Not many people can say they get to go to work every day and support those who are making a difference in our world. Our customers are educating, healing, employing, lifting up, and in some cases even saving lives. They change the world, every day.

And, because our customers do such amazing things, I have a lot of big emotion around the customer experience. Our customers can’t be worried about whether their accounting system makes money, for example. They have to be focused on, “How can I process payroll in 32 unbanked countries?”

We become the backdrop. Our customers’ extraordinary experience is defined as having software that works, when they need it, and how they need it. And, if something does happen, they know there’s a knowledgeable, reliable person on the other side delivering the extraordinary service and support they need.

I Love Our Partners

Helping us create this “frictionless” experience are our partners. We have fantastic product partners who offer a broad range of add-ons and customizations that strengthen Abila’s core offerings and help customers be even more successful.

Additionally, we have business partners who are literally our feet on the street evangelizing our products and services and taking exceptional care of customers.

Rounding out the partner ecosystem are our implementation partners who are dedicated to guiding and supporting organizations through their implementations, helping to improve operations and decision-making.

Many of our partners have been with us for 15-20 years, and are a huge part of our success.

I Love Our Employees

My philosophy is to hire the most brilliant people you can possibly find and afford. I’ve never been able to do that in my career before, but now that we’re a very serious player that wants to win this market, and I have a board that agrees behind me, I can do just that.

One of our key differentiators is our people – Abila has a really great team that wants to do the right thing. It’s not always the easy thing, but you have to live with yourself at the end of the day. And it always has to be the right thing. Our people wholeheartedly embrace this attitude and are stellar examples of it every day.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!

Show Members The Love

message of loveYou have just a few more days to make reservations for your romantic dinner, order that bouquet of flowers, and buy those chocolate-covered strawberries, as Valentine’s Day is this Saturday. It’s wonderful to show that special someone in your life you care, but are you showing your members the love, as well?

Here are three tips to help you show your members they matter and are truly loved:

1)      Send Them Something Special: A quick note of thanks, a personal note wishing them a happy Valentine’s Day, a special note for no reason at all. Another option is to create a landing page as part of an email campaign that says nothing other than “Thank you.” We all love to be recognized and acknowledged, and told we’re special.

2)      Showcase A Member: Do you have members in your organization who truly stand out and are doing amazing things? Shine the spotlight on them and give them the recognition they deserve. Invite them to write a blog post on your organization’s website. Maybe have someone in your organization write profiles on them, showcasing their skills and talents and the work they’re doing to benefit the cause. Research suggests that recognition for hard work leads to greater loyalty and satisfaction.

3)      Give Something Back To Your Members: When the opportunity arises, offer a free education resource (book, DVD, online class) to members who are truly engaged with your organization. Provide unexpected value (which is very different from “over-delivering” on a promise) to your members at unexpected times in unexpected ways.

Insights and ideas on best practices, trends, and issues for associations, nonprofit organizations, and government entities.

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