E11 – Analytics in fundraising with JJ Reynolds

JJ Reynolds is working in marketing, and we speak about why analytics are important in fundraising, and how you can use it.

He is advocating for creating a system that you can follow so that you can evaluate and do more of what is working.

We also talk a bit about 1000 true fans.

You can find the transcription further down on the page.

If you want to learn more about JJ you can find information here:


JJ Raynolds

JJ Reynolds

Episode Transcript

Diana: I have JJ Reynolds on the podcast and we’re going to talk about analytics and measurements and all of this bit more technical stuff hi, JJ, and welcome. Thank you for chatting with me today.

JJ: Hey, well, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Diana: It’s so interesting. You were kind of writing to me saying, hey, could this be interesting for your audience? And I was like, yeah, I’m pretty sure it can be. So, I’m very excited. So, just tell us a little bit about who you are and what it is that you guys do.

JJ: Yeah. My name is, as you said, JJ Reynolds, and my company’s name is Mediauthentic. So that’s the word media and the word authentic just smashed together. They share the same A and what we do is measurement and marketing. So, that is basically taking any type of content, and type of measurements, looking at it, seeing what is and is not working then doing more of what is working and doing less of what isn’t working. You’d be surprised by the amount of people we talked to that have no idea what is, or is not working, even though they’re fundraising six, seven, or eight figures annually.

Diana: Okay. Wow. But to be honest, when I think of it, I never looked at analytics either. So, not that surprised actually,

JJ: No, it’s really scary. It’s a scary thing to look out and you log in and you see a whole bunch of numbers and percentage signs at red and green arrows go in different directions. You don’t even know what to look at.

Diana: Could you try maybe with an example, tell us about someone who’d been fundraising that you guys helped and then what it is like. Go through what it is that you do, but also okay, so it didn’t happen, or it didn’t work, and it worked, and then what? Yeah. Do you get what I’m asking?

JJ: Yeah, no, I totally, it’s a confusing thing to talk about numbers. So, I guess the biggest thing that you can take up as far as in your mind right now, like think of a non-profit that you’ve seen online. This could be one of the large ones, maybe a local run profit to where you are. You could have some idea of who they are maybe what they stand for. You might have no idea and they just show up on your social media newsfeed. So, that non-profit has to measure, how do they know how many people are aware that they even exist? If you look at a larger one, like let’s say Red Cross, for example. How many people know the Red Cross exists.

So, that we take and look at the number of people who have spent at least three seconds on the website. So, that’s a general spigot against the wall. Just test to see how many people are aware that we have even exist as a non-profit. Then you move from there and you say, oh, okay, how many people have engaged with us? So, this is where you take it beyond just saying they’ve seen this page, but it might be something along the lines of they’ve scrolled 80% on one of our blog posts that outlines everything we stand for.

So, you know that your users, the Red Cross knows that you as a contributing participant to what they do are now engaged and then the third stage would-be convert. So, this would be people that have donated, maybe you’re signing up for a walk or something else, whatever that stage is of getting someone to take action on what the mission is you stand for. So, those are kind of the three general sectors, I guess, phases that we work with most people with is identifying what each the aware, engage and convert looks like.

Diana: Convert can be like signing up as a volunteer. It can be signing up for something like a walk you said, or it could be just donating money,

JJ: Yeah, exactly. We usually look at it as someplace that you are able to show value to that person as a non-profit. So, if it’s someone signing up for a walk, they’re feeling empowered. that they’re able to participate and help you raise awareness for the cause. If it’s donating, you’re feeling empowered that you’re able to give your money, that you now have access towards a cause that you care about. So, anyone of those points where the end donor can feel as though that they’re empowering you their time, their money, or their effort.

Diana: So, you look at that, and what then?

JJ: Yeah. Well, then we take that and say what’s happening. So, I’ll use the big elephant in the room. So, Facebook, for example. If Facebook you’re posting every single day on Facebook, trying to get the message out about what you believe and what your cause is. how do you know that that’s actually working? What you can do is if it is working, so say we post every single day for an entire year and how many of those people are now in one of those aware, engage or convert stages. So, if we know that we’ve posted for a year and we’ve gotten 500 people to convert whether that’s signing up for a walk or giving a donation, then you’d be like, wow, that was a really great effort. Our social team is doing great. We should do more of that.

On the other hand, if you’re posting once a day, it’s taking somebody an hour every day to do this and over the course of a year, you get one person to move from the aware to engage, to convert. You’re like, well, maybe we should go down a different path and try more outreach or join podcasts or some other avenue to get people, to be aware of what we are actually doing. So, that’s kind of a good example as far as if it’s working, let’s do more of it. If it’s not working, maybe let’s think of a different way that we can get the word out.

Diana: Okay. So, if I come to you with, I have this project I want to do. Okay, I’m going to take my own 2021 project here that I told you a little bit about it and I want to have companies, and both companies and private people donate. So, let’s say that I made a page on my webpage about this. I made a Facebook group or a Facebook page about this and I want to have as many people know about it and of course, donate to me. So, where would I start if I want to really measure on what’s working, what’s not working? Based on your experience, where should I start?

JJ: Yeah, in that case. I would highly recommend, again, grouping everything into these three buckets of aware, engage, and then convert. So, if you were trying to get all these companies, for example, or people or whoever else it might be. You want to create a list of how people are even aware that this is even a goal of yours or even a goal of what you’re trying to accomplish. So, I’ll just start out with making a giant list, whether that’s an Excel or a Google Doc or whatever else of every possible person, you could tell that this is actually going to happen. So, let’s just say, for example, you’re pretty popular and you come up with a list of a thousand people because you are a social butterfly.

So, then the next step is you’re going to have to get engaged with them. So, what does that look like? You could email every single one of them, give them a phone call, whatever else that might be, and make a list of who actually answered the phone and you talked with. What was the quality of that conversation and if they were willing to take the next step, which would be to either sponsor yourself or whatever that next step might be? Maybe grab a coffee, that could be the next step. That could be the converts step. Your goal is to first get 500 people to have coffee with you and then of those 500 people, you might get half of them to actually move to that next step.

So, from a grassroots perspective, this kind of framework of thinking about what’s measuring what you’re actually doing is really, really helpful because you want to be doing it at a massive scale, but making an Excel spreadsheet with all the people that you have the potential of reaching all the people that you’ve reached and all the people that are willing to take action is really, really useful.

Diana: Then I sit down, and I measure. What then? What would let’s say, you mentioned the Red Cross. How would they do this? Would that also be, and this is just me asking because I don’t know? But would that also be them sitting down and making a list of everyone they know, or would that be more of just measuring what they already have information?

JJ: Yeah, so for someone like the, let’s say Red Cross or a larger organization that has funds. They have a budget, they have, I guess ways to accelerate growth. What they would do is they’d first start by taking inventory and seeing how all of their websites are performing. The difference between a large organization and a grassroots kind of a movement is the large metrics of data. They have hundreds of thousands of people that visit their website every year. So, they can say okay, this web page is performing well because everyone’s clicking to donate for example. Then what they’ll do is they could go to say Facebook and go to their advertising platform and say, hey, Facebook, I’m willing to spend $30 to get someone to donate.

So, what they’re going to do is they’re going to spend money in the form of advertising dollars to get other people to be aware of who they are, to engage with them and their mission, and then ultimately to donate to their cause and that works across the board for any medium, even small organizations that have limited budgets because if you know what’s working and what’s not working, if you can spend, let’s say $100 and you get $500 in donations. I would do that all day long because you’re more or less printing money. It just takes the strategy and the initial capital to get there.

Diana: That makes sense. So, okay and you were talking about, when we wrote each other a bit, you talked about figuring out if things are not working. So, do you have any examples of things that you thought would work like any companies or any charities you’ve been working with where they had this project they were working on and how they did what they did? They were sure it was working, but it didn’t, and you guys had them do something else that worked.

JJ: Yeah. So, I’ll start with this small example and if you want to go deeper, I can give a bigger example. So, just in a timely sense, last week at the time of this recording, there was an explosion in Beirut Lebanon and one of the non-profits that we work with is trying to fund, raise money for Beirut. They had a blog post that was really, really great that had all of this information about what was happening and how they’re responding, what your money went towards, how the money was actually distributed. It was a great maybe 1200 words of what the entirety of their response was.

So, we took that blog post and we’re like, we need to share this with all of our email lists, all of the social channels, and then ultimately put advertising dollars behind it. We got going, we started doing this and we split tested it which is testing that against something else and it turned out that the way the page was designed is that no one really wanted to scroll past the first 15% of the page. So, everyone that clicked onto the blog post, which had amazing content, ended up not reading it because the way the page was designed, it didn’t really entice you to scroll.

So, that’s a very, very like small tactical thing as far as if you do have a blog. If you do have a website that people will go to for information, you really want to make sure that it is designed well so we’ll want to keep scrolling. Measure for that this large organization that does millions and millions of dollars in donations every year didn’t have a well-designed blog post. So, we let them know that and they were able to change it and then people started reading actually the entire blog post and I think, like thousands of people ended up reading the entirety of the blog post after we made that small change because we were measuring for it.

Diana: Oh, that’s actually really great input. So, do you experience in general that blog posts regarding a theme or whatever you’re fundraising for is a good way to get people to donate, or is it more a broader strategy or would it be better just to make Facebook posts?

JJ: I think it’s a lot like, the strategy has to be thought of from a 10,000-foot perspective. When you see an organization that just says donate now. So, it kind of feels like someone is asking to marry you on the first date where you just saw something about them and they’re like, hey, give me money. The analogy is like, hey, will you marry me on the first date? You’re kinda like, whoa, I wasn’t really ready for that. I don’t really know who you are. I don’t know what you stand for. I don’t know anything about you. So, I find a blog post is a great way to get people past that initial I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what you stand for, I don’t know if I like you.

So, I’m not going to donate or marry you right now. So, if you run a blog post, that is really, really good. I’m talking this has to be good quality engaging content, not that you just put together in an afternoon, but actually spent some time to say this is really aligned with what we believe and also just good reading in general. I find that a great way because you know that everybody who reads 90% of that blog post knows now who you are and what you stand for and it’s a lot easier to get that person that has read that blog post to ultimately donate towards you or sign up for one of your events.

Diana: Great. Thank you. that makes so much sense because it makes sense to want to have some kind of relationship with the person or the charity you’re donating towards. Do you have any idea how many times people would go typically to a website or seek out information before they donate?

JJ: There have been studies that have been across multiple sectors. People have said anywhere from a number of seven to 27 times, but it varies right but that includes all of the different touchpoints. So that’s your email, that’s your social media feed, that’s every aspect of communication. If you think about it, there are now so many ways to communicate with just your friends that a lot of brands are having to adapt to that kind of mentality of your short communication that is aligned with where you currently are. So, people are like there are nonprofits that are on Tik Tok now.

There are messages, there are ads, there are blog posts, there are RSS feeds. There are all these mediums now just because you want to be where your people are and you want to talk to them in the conversation that they’re having and ultimately, if you can measure for that, and if you know that these people are engaging with us. They’re reading our blog posts. They’re watching our videos. You know that you’re on the right track for success, as opposed to just putting out content and just in the hope and pray method where you just hope and pray that it actually ends up working.

Diana: See, I get dizzy just by you mentioning all these places of interaction but I’m a one-person army, right. So, it’s a large project all of a sudden, right.

JJ: Yeah. In your sense, in the sense of a podcast and in the sense of anybody who has any influence over an organization right now, you should first be really, really good at one media before going into the next. You should own podcasting. Have a really, really good system set up for getting new people on your show. You should have a really, really good system for publishing it before you move into YouTube before you move into Instagram. Own what you do first and then move into the next category.

Diana: That makes sense, but it’s also very hard not to get sidetracked. I really hope you guys are listening and getting something from this because I really do think it’s amazing information to kind of know the statistics and know what’s working and what’s not working so that you can pivot. So, if you want to start and you don’t have anything to do analytics on because you’re starting out what would your best advice, and it could actually also be for a non-profit going into a new country, helping a new area of people or whatever. So, they don’t have any data on the new project they’re starting. So, what would be your advice to where do we start? If we want to build in measurements and analytics into what we’re doing to make it as good as possible and raise as many funds as possible for whatever charity or project we’re working on. Where would you start?

JJ: Yeah. So, if you don’t have anything, to begin with, what I would say is you have to get to a point where you have a system in place for knowing that you’re on the right track. I’m going to use YouTube as an example because I know that podcasts give you terrible metrics about listen time at a whole bunch of other things, but let’s just use YouTube as the example. If you were going to start, if you’re in a brand new organization, you’re a brand new person on a mission. You have to start by first pushing upload on whatever it is that you’re doing. That’s step one. If you get past that step, that’s a baby victory. You just need us to celebrate that as it is?

The next thing you have to do is say, okay, so what do I think this is going to become? And that’s where you could say, okay after one month, my goal is having one video every week. So, it’s four videos. That’s where you have to start, and you measure it. Okay, I thought I was going to have four videos. I now have four videos. What was good and what was bad about that? You say, oh, well I could have done five videos actually. So, the next month you’re like, okay, I’m going to do five videos. Then you need to start looking at the awareness and engagement of the things that you are putting out into the world.

You could say, okay, 1,000 people started watching a video but only 100 people watched to the end. Are you okay with that number? Are you okay with having only 10% watch the entire video? If yes, then let’s make more videos. If you’re not okay with that, then let’s adjust the content, make it a little bit better in that section where people are dropping off. Maybe we can move that 10% of watching to 20%. So now 200 people are watching your video all the way through, and you don’t have to upload any more videos. You just had to make a little bit better video. So, that’s where I’d start is just like analyzing where you are, where you’re trying to go and the steps that you would like to take to get there.

Diana: Based on what you’ve been talking about, and the question I asked before, about how often do people need to see you before they actually donate? Would you then put in donate here every time you do something, or would you… Like, for example, with the examples with the videos you just did, would you end the video each time with you have the option to donate just click here or would you make some content that is not trying to get people to donate, to make that connection with them first and then having like video number five or seven or 10 be the, and by the way, you can now donate. What’s your experience on this?

JJ: I am 100% about life is about connections. I think life is about connections between people. Life is about connections between the organizations. Life is about connection between brands. Whether or not you like it, you feel some type of way about the brand of Nike, whether or not that’s a good feeling or a bad feeling, I don’t know, but you feel some type of way. I think that is the number one thing that you have to convey, regardless of whether you’re a single person trying to get a movement or an organization. So, to answer your question, I would say you should try to get a thousand people that really care about what you’re doing.

There’s a concept called 1,000 True Fans. I know that there’s a whole bunch of people who have talked about that. But if you just Google 1000 True Fans, there are books and blog articles about, if you just have 1,000 people that really care about what you’re doing, you can move the entire world because those 1,000 people, if you say, hey, I need a connection to a large organization like Nike. I want Nike to sponsor me. Those 1,000 people will probably know somebody who knows somebody at Nike. If you need to raise money, those 1,000 people, if you get 1,000 people to give you $10 a month, you now have $10,000 a month. So, I think that is the most important thing is about forming a connection with people who really care, not about people who just are willing to watch.

Diana: Makes so much sense. Nike’s actually on my list of companies I want to sponsor.

JJ: There you go just need 1,000 true fans first.

Diana: Yeah. So, maybe it’s a 2023 kind of thing instead of 2021. No, I’m keeping focus. It’s a 2021 goal. I have lots of time. I have like four months. That’s plenty of time to make a 1,000 fans right or something. Okay. So, I’m just trying to figure out if I have any more great questions that would make sense to ask you now that I have you here. Is there anything that you think you haven’t said that would be really great for the audience to hear about the measurements and the analytics and something they can do both if they are… Well, it might not be the same advice but if they are working professionally with fundraising or if they are like me, not that professional.

JJ: Yeah. I think that regardless of whether you’re a one-man-band or if you have 500 employees behind you, you have to look at how you’re making a connection and how you’re making an impact and the measurement and the numbers and everything that we work with which is not sexy and not like a loving thing to talk about is metrics and numbers. But that’s ultimately what we’re just measuring for and if you’re a single person who’s trying to make an impact on the world, you could do that by having Zoom coffee meetings with people every single day. You just block out two hours of your day, every single day to have coffee with random people on the internet. You just made a connection with people and I guarantee you, if you did that every day for an entire year, you would have at least 100 people who were excited to get your email in the morning.

Diana: Okay. So, how would you find random people on the internet? I know that might be a stupid question, but would that just be going into whatever Facebook group saying, hey, anyone wants to have a Zoom chat with me this afternoon or…?

JJ: Yeah. I think that with Facebook groups is a great idea. Even starting with your own circle of people, just posting in your normal Facebook page. I guarantee you some people that you wouldn’t just assume would be there even if it starts with just your friends and moves to extended friends and then moves to Facebook groups for example. I think that that’s the best place to start and as you grow, and as you become more comfortable with having these conversations with people, you might then say, I want to have a conversation with this person.

Whoever that might be I don’t know, but you can then find a way to get in contact with them. Like, you know, that their Instagram handles, or you can find their Facebook profiles and shoot them a quick message and say, hey, I’d love to just chat with you about X. Would you be willing to talk for 10 minutes. A quick trick that I learned in a book is if you say, hey, I’m having coffee with people online, or tea if you don’t like caffeine, decaf. If you say, hey, I’m going to donate $10 to an organization if you have a conversation with me for 10 minutes, people will be very likely to do that.

They’re like, sure, I’ll do that. Just 10 minutes and you’re going to donate $10 to a charity of my choice. That might be a way to do that as well. I think there’s a lot of ideas. Just get creative about who you want to talk to, how you want to talk to them, and ultimately what value you can provide them whether that’s a conversation with a friend or insights on something else.

Diana: That’s really interesting. I like the point about donating for their time. That’s. Yeah, Thank you. I think this has been really great. For sure, for me, I need to get that Excel arc going and writing up people that I need to start talking to and companies of course, and then keep measuring and the podcast has to go out and measure the downloads and the listens to that. So, this is amazing content. I really love that you wanted to share this with us.

JJ: Yeah. I think the biggest thing is just start. Take a look at something and the second you get overwhelmed, just take a break from it but ultimately you can Google and find answers to your questions. A good question is way better than a billion answers because you don’t know what to ask.

Diana: Okay. So, JJ, if someone is listening and thinking, wow, I could really use your help maybe just a quick meeting with you to figure out if you can help them with their charity, and with looking at the analytics, can they get ahold of you anywhere? Can they..?

JJ: Yeah, so the best way would be on my website, it’s a mediauthentic.com. That’s M E D I A U T H E N T I C.com and if you add forward slash stories on that, you’ll go to a custom landing page that is just for nonprofits who are looking to get some more information.

Diana: Great. That’s amazing. Yeah, because you do both for-profit and non-profit work.

JJ: Yeah, we do about 50/50 so that we are in both worlds.

Diana: Thank you very much for joining me and like I said, I think this has been really, really good. So yeah, just thank you.

JJ: No problem. I’m excited I could be here.

I love this interview and there were so many great things about the analytics and stuff and to be honest, it’s been a while since we recorded this, and I should have listened to this before because I need to start doing these things. Even though I’ve had them in the back of my mind. I’m not very good at the analytics part of, well, anything I do so I need to do that even more. I really actually like the thing about starting to make conversations with people.

So, what I’ve decided while editing this, it’s Sunday at noon, that in a little bit, I’m going to post out on my Facebook and just ask my network if anyone wants to go on a call with me and just have a nice chat about whatever comes to mind. Hear what everyone is doing and if things are going good. So, that’s what I’m going to do today at least and then I am going to create a system. Like, you guys might know I have the podcast. I have been a little bit starting a Facebook group, which hasn’t really gotten anywhere, to be honest. I have an Instagram, which I try to promote the podcast and I’m kind of all over the place with this project.

So, I’m going to try and really double down on what JJ is saying about start at one place and then do that. So, I’m going to keep focused on the podcast, and then of course I am keeping also focused on the event that I’m doing. It’s going good. I’m going to be updating you of course, on Tuesday. So, you’re going to hear the next update before you heard this episode, but that’s okay. But I’m going to keep updating you guys about that.

In next week’s episode, I’m going to be speaking with Sam who has been working at a lot of different charities and he has an amazing story. Actually, since I spoke to him, he has started his own company. So, he is just going his way and it sounds so amazing. So, look forward to listening to the episode. Thank you for listening to the Fun with Fundraising podcast. I’m your host, Diana Lund and if you want to get a hold of me, you can find me on Instagram @funwithfundraising, or you can email me at diana@smartbusinessplanning.com. Enjoy your week.