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Our top client innovations from 2023

2023 wasn’t short of challenges—the economy made acquisition more challenging than ever, and need for nonprofit services continued to rise.

But despite hardships, 2023 was also a year of great wins. Many innovations helped amplify our clients’ causes, reaching new audiences and building deeper connections with existing ones.

Here are five areas of innovation from 2023:

1. Leaning into advanced modeling and AI

The use of our advanced modeling and AI solution, Velocity, led to big wins for many of our clients. For two of them, we were able to use the tool to maximize reactivation efforts with lapsed donors.

For an international humanitarian organization, we used Velocity to identify lower-decile donors to target a lower-cost acquisition package—resulting in a 93% lift in reactivated gifts and a 10% increase in the average gift.

A large, faith-based client also used Velocity to identify which lower-decile lapsed donors to target with lower-cost creative. The test resulted in a 347% increase in response and a 245% increase in revenue.

We also have several clients who are just beginning to use Velocity to determine the best journey for their donors (sustainer, mid-level, major, planned etc.). With this knowledge, we can adapt the language to speak to them differently based on their path.


2. P2P texting to support omnichannel campaigns

Texting may not sound like the biggest innovation when it comes to fundraising, but opt-in clauses have made these campaigns more challenging—often resulting in a high cost per acquisition and a low return on investment.

This year, RKD utilized peer-to-peer texting strategies for many of our clients to directly target anyone on their donor file through mobile appends and strategic segmentation.

San Diego Humane implemented a texting campaign in support of their year-end fundraising efforts. Using their donor data to directly reach 0–24-month digital donors, the organization was able to partner with a third-party vendor to individually send each text, avoiding opt-in requirements. The results were impressive, with a 3:1 ROI at the conclusion of the campaign.

GivingTuesday saw strong broadcast and peer-to-peer texting numbers as well. Fourteen of our clients sent out more than 175,000 texts to their donors—resulting in 1.47% response rate and a $95 average gift. These numbers surpassed the results from email on GivingTuesday.

With these numbers, it’s worth adding texting into your channel mix for 2024 if you haven’t already.


3. Reaching new audiences through storytelling

As acquisition becomes more of a challenge, it’s more important than ever to tailor our strategies to reach new audiences. Our clients did this in many ways throughout the year, but the one that stood out the most was through telling stories in new ways.

These clients used stories to build connections and new relationships:

Relief and development organizations like Save the Children and UNICEF reimagined existing gift catalog and monthly donor programs to reach parents of young children.

The Coast Guard Foundation introduced a new campaign that tackled the challenges of mental health. Their vulnerability and transparency about a difficult subject opened up their mental resilience programs to a whole new audience, raising more than $112,000 for a very important cause.

Animal welfare organizations across the nation expanded their messaging beyond rescues, rehabilitations and rehomes. Their new program-driven language tells the full story of the impact animal welfare organizations have on their communities, helping to fill funding gaps, motivate donors to give to programs that support pet owners and show proof of impact.

Finally, food banks have incorporated people-first language into their appeals, using equitable and empathetic tones in order to be more inclusive of the people they serve.


4. Localization through segmentation

Another area of innovation lies in the use of data to drive efficiencies in a large, child sponsorship organization’s paid media strategy.

Our team broke down more than two years of the organization’s media placement data to understand which geographic locations were the highest converting. Layered with similar competitor data that highlighted untapped areas of opportunity, our media team was able to build a comprehensive segmentation strategy broken down by state.

This approach allowed the organization to optimize their paid search spend, ranking locations by high, medium and low so they could prioritize their budget in the highest converting locations.

Implemented in September 2022, over the course of a year, this data-driven media strategy has resulted in a lift in the total number of sponsorships while driving down the average cost per sponsorship (or cost per acquisition).


5. Staying nimble to move fast in emergencies

Finally, staying nimble was a big thread throughout 2023. Many clients responded to emergencies across the globe, but perhaps the most notable was an international humanitarian organization’s response to the crisis in Israel.

The organization went into emergency response on Oct. 7, and our teams worked together to turn around a direct mail urgent gram in 24 hours. Simultaneously, the digital teams pivoted to craft more than 16 emails throughout the following weeks to reach donors with live updates. Copy across existing print cultivation and acquisition pieces was also adapted to address the crisis.

Thanks to a nimble program, their direct mail and email initiatives are millions of dollars over projections.


2023 was a great year for our clients and the causes they serve. We can’t wait to see all that they achieve in 2024.

Interested in learning more about these innovations? Contact us today!

RKD Group

RKD Group is North America's leading fundraising and marketing services provider to hundreds of nonprofit organizations, including hospitals, social service, disease research, animal welfare, rescue missions, and faith-based charities. RKD Group’s omnichannel approach leverages technology, advanced data science and award-winning strategic and creative leadership to accelerate net revenue growth, build long-term donor relationships and drive online and offline engagements and donations. With a growing team of professionals, RKD Group creates breakthroughs never thought possible.

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