At the NextAfter Institute, our mission is to decode what works in fundraising and make it accessible to as many organizations as possible. We do that through two different types of nonprofit research.
1. Forensic Research
We actually go out and become a donor or an email subscriber ourselves and capture and catalogue the experience along the way.
2. Applied Research
This is where we’ll analyze experiments ran by either our consulting team or other people who submit their experiments to our open-source library (Winston) and we’ll analyze what’s working for them when it comes to online fundraising.
We then produce research studies, create resources like eBooks, webinars, and tools and then develop training programs — both live workshops and on-demand courses — based on original research, in-market examples, and evidence as to what is working and where organizations can improve.
What We Did in 2020
On the research side, in 2020 we…
- The State of Multi-Channel Donor Communications with Virtuous looking at the online and offline communications of 119 nonprofits
- The Higher Ed Online Fundraising Scorecard with iDonate looking at the online giving experience and subsequent communications of 109 Higher Ed organizations
- The Public Radio Online Fundraising Scorecard with Greater Public looking at the online giving experience and subsequent communications of 69 public radio stations
- The Small Nonprofit Fundraising Benchmark with Network for Good looking at the survey responses of 950+ small nonprofit leaders and online fundraising metrics of
In order to complete these studies — and the upcoming ones in 2021… more on that below — we…
- Looked the online fundraising tactics of 1,042 organizations in 9 countries.
- Made 964 donations and completed 544 email signups capturing and cataloguing the experience along the way.
- Tracked, analyzed, and classified 3,029 communications across email, phone, text and direct mail.
You can find all of those research studies, and past ones, that we’ve done at nextafter.com/resources.
What’s Ahead in 2021
On the research side of things…
The Global Online Fundraising Scorecard with Salesforce
Our research is going global! Together with Salesforce we’re taking our research methodology around the online giving experience and applying it in Germany, France, Netherlands, the UK, Canada, the US, Austalia, Mexico, and Brazil.
To do this, we’ve partnered with local agencies to make online donations to 571 organizations and completed 544 email sign-ups. We’ll analyze the giving and sign up experience as well as the email communications we received to compare and contrast across the countries looking for ideas, inspiration, and opportunities.
Year-End Multi-Channel Study with Virtuous
We will continue looking at multi-channel communications with Virtuous and specifically at year-end. We’ll track all the communications we receive as an online and offline donor across email, mail, phone, and text that we receive from November through the end of the year and create a study to see what are organizations doing at year-end when it comes to multi-channel.
Online and Offline Fundraising Appeals with DonorVoice and Virtuous
After we classify all the communications as a solicitation or cultivation, we will do a deeper dive with the folks at Virtuous and DonorVoice on the solicitations via email and mail. We will analyze the copy and messaging, specifically, to look for trends, tactics, and how organizations are using narrative structure and involving language to try to persuade and convince donors that they should make a gift.
Donation Page Friction Assessment Tool and Study with Fundraise Up
We’ve partnered with Fundraise Up to develop both a friction assessment tool that you can use to go through and find friction within your own donation flow. We’ll use data from the tool as well as past online giving research to create a study focused specifically on friction within the giving experience.
NextAfter Institute Research Fellow with the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy
We are delighted to announce the first-ever research fellow at the NextAfter Institute in partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy. Sarah Hendry is going join the NextAfter team as a research fellow and add another layer of kind of academic rigour to the experimentation and testing that we’re doing.
And then on the training side of things…
Certificate in Digital Fundraising with The Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy
We are continuing our partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy to develop a new, graduate style course. Dr. Adrian Sargent and Harriet Day from ISP along with myself and Tim Kachuriak from NextAfter will be the main creators and instructors.
Unlike our on-demand courses, this is a cohort learning model where students will learn week by week alongside their peers with regular assignments, practical application tasks, and exams and quizzes. It’s a more intensive learning process that we think can better build a foundation for online fundraisers and digital marketers to build their careers and help their causes.
The course won’t start until early 2021 but you can learn more and get on the waiting list at nextafter.com/certificate
The Bold Training with Dan Pallotta
We’re also adding a new online, on-demand course: Dan Pallotta’s Bold Training. This course is only available to NextAfter Institute members and will focus more on how nonprofits — from boards to senior leaders to managers on both programs and fundraising teams — can break free from the prisons they are in, drive innovation, and truly achieve their missions.
This new course means that there are now 9 courses NextAfter Institute members can access, earn CFRE credits, and get certified in areas like Email Fundraising and Donation Page Optimization. Members also get special perks, access, and invites. You can learn more and sign up today at nextafter.com/membership.
I hope you’ll check out some of the past, present, and future research and training opportunities and that you find it useful as you go about your work.
If you have any ideas, feedback, or suggestions, please get in touch.