2010 GPUS Budget: Income Narrative
I. SUSTAINERS $78,000
Sustainers are Green Party supporters who make a monthly or quarterly contribution to the party. The income projected in 2010 from sustainers is $78,000, or approximately $6,500 a month. This would be a $1,300 a month increase over 2009, based upon the rate at which sustainers are being recruited through the Empower phone solicitation program (see below). No additional growth is projected, because at present there is no other organized approach to increasing sustainers. However, this could be an area where more growth occurs than is presently budgeted, if it became a center of focus.
There are currently approximately 275 sustainers contributing approximately $5,200 per month. A discussed long term goal within both the Fundraising and Steering Committees has been that income from sustainers could fund the day-to-day operations of the party, freeing other income for ballot access, candidate support, communications, capital improvements and other programs. At the 2009 Annual National Meeting in Durham, North Carolina, there was an informal sentiment toward reaching 500 active sustainers over the next year contributing $10,000 per month. The Fundraising Committee has informally adopted that as a mid term goal.
Currently there is a mixture of quarterly and monthly donors, some of whom expire at certain times and some that continue indefinitely. There are also some sustainers that are receive reminders in the mail. Income is not as consistent from these sources. In the past donors were sent monthly reminders. In 2009 donors were sent 12 reply envelopes in advance, to save upon paper, staff time and postage costs.
For 2010 a goal is to move these sustainers onto debit or credit cards, to eliminate this entire process where possible. For those that do not wish to do this, the possibility of setting up an automatic monthly funds transfer program (AFT) from the donor’s checking account needs to be further explored. These programs can be relatively costly.
Recent improvements to the sustainer program include revising the copy on the GPUS reply envelope to emphasize sustainers, actively promoting monthly giving on the gp.org donation pages, making an extra effort to offer the program to everyone on the phone, and promoting the program through e-mail and social network outreach.
While some donors request to be sustainers for a limited amount of time, the assumption is that when they are signing up for the program, there are doing so for an ongoing basis unless they specify otherwise. Those who do choose a limited duration are periodically contacted to make an extra donation or make their commitment ongoing.
II. MAJOR DONORS $100,000
The Major Donor program seeks to identify and solicit donors who will contribute $1,000 or more, on a one time or preferably an ongoing basis. The responsibility for developing and managing this program is included in the job description of the Executive Director. For 2010, the goal of the Major Donor program is to raise a minimum of $100,000, with the following manner projected:
- Three donations of $25,000 = $75,000
- Three donations of $ 5,000 = $15,000
- Ten donations of $ 1,000 = $10,000
Prospecting for new major donors: In 2008 the GPUS became more proactive at identifying and reaching out to potential new major donors. Research is done to identify networks of individuals that are active in efforts in alignment with green values. When a prospective donor is identified, the Executive Director sends an introductory letter and follows upwith a phone call. In some cases, Steering Committee Co-chairs also assist with the calls, in coordination with the Executive Director.
Cultivating such donors until they are willing to actually make a donation often takes weeks or months. In some cases, major donors from past years who have not given recently, have been successfully re-solicited by the Executive Director. The steps involved in cultivation of major donors may be summarized as follows:
- New Donor: This donor has given to your organization for the first time.
- Repeat Giver: The new donor gives again, perhaps this time responding to a program request or special event. (sustainer program)
- Upgraded Giver: The donor gives yet again, increasing the amount of the gift over the last contributions, showing an increase in involvement and sense of ownership of the organization.
- Major Giver: The donor gives at a high level, now aligned with mission, giving at a high-rate, involved in current and future happenings.
III. EVENTS $0
No income is projected from GPUS events in 2010, because no events are planned. If circumstances change this could be revisited. But a conservative approach to budget anything at present was taken. Events sometimes can be a good source of funds, but often are more “friend-raiser” than “fund-raiser”.
IV. GREEN PARTY CARD $5,800
The GPUS is still administering the Green Party Card program , but is in the process of phasing it out, and is looking to re-focus the energy put into other efforts such as the sustainer program. Producing the actual Green Party Card and merchandise fulfillment is time-intensive, expensive and typically consumes one or more days of a volunteer's time every month. Green Party Cards can be a valuable symbol of party-building but are generally not a sustainable source of income.
Despite phased them out, an annual income of $5,800 from Green Party Cards is projected for 2010. Although the program is no longer featured in GPUS fundraising, the link to it is still featured on local and state party websites, bringing in some income. These donors still receive a card, but don't also receive bumper stickers and other paraphernalia as former donors did.
V. GENERAL DONATIONS $140,000
General Donations are meant to include any funds that cannot be attributed to either the Sustainer, Major Donor, Planned Giving or Green Party Card programs, from sales of Merchandise or Green Pages, from events or raised directly by the National Committee. General Donations could include direct mail/prospect mailings/re-solicitation mailings, phone banking, web appeals, personal solicitations, social networking sites and the state sharing program. $140,000 is projected as income from General Donations in 2010. This would compare to a projected $131,000 for 2009 according to figures supplied by the Treasurer.
5-1. Direct Mail Solicitation
The GPUS has a history of sending three re-solicitation direct mailings per year, with all past donors receiving a mailing at the same time. The plan for 2009 was to begin to coordinate mailings so that a portion of our list would receive a mailing every month (still three times a year per donor). This would have provided some measure of steady income, with phone bankers calling some donors each month. However, the GPUS database was not functioning in a manner that allowed us to segment our lists – a direct example of the real cost of the party’s insufficient IT infrastructure.
Re-solicitation mailings were scheduled for March, June and August (split the list), and November. Due to finances, the June/August mailing did not go out and was pushed to September. The next scheduled mailing is to go out after the November election, but that is dependent upon party finances to pay the printer and mailing house. At the time of this budget’s release, there are not funds to do the mailing.
Direct mail messages are written with input from staff, Steering Committee, GPUS committee volunteers, candidates, officeholders, and others to reflect significant issues of the time of the mailing. Each mailing is written approximately one month before the direct mail is shipped.
In general, direct mail is not producing as well as in the past. A primary reason is the economy but other reasons could be timing and themes of mailing, lack of follow up phone banking and a general lack of interest in the Green Party. The Green Party needs to be more relevant so that it can rise to the top of its donors' list of organizations they support. One way to do this is to strengthen the long term planning of messages and messengers, while maintaining the flexibility to adjust as current events dictate.
Expenses for direct mail have increased significantly over the past 18 months, primarily due to postal increases and requirements. Postage rates increased in May of 2009 and then a new Federal Law went into effect in the spring requiring completion of the National Change of Address process – software that compares the GPUS’s mailing list to a U.S. Postal Service-developed list to update its accuracy <http://www.usps.com/ncsc/addressservices/moveupdate/changeaddress.htm>. This has added approximately $500 to the cost of a 14,000 piece mailing, which given the smaller size of GPUS mailings, is proportionately a significant increase. It does however help keep the database more current.
In addition to re-solicitation mailings, the party also does prospect mailings is to bring in new donors. Breaking even or showing a net income in these mailings is considered a bonus, because they are there to develop new donors for the long run.
In 2009, the GPUS did not do any prospect mailings from either rented or exchanged lists. A test case was run on the list of registered Greens in California, mailing and then phone calling 500 randomly drawn party members from among the most frequent voters. The results were only slightly better than those that received through only a phone call. Due to the expense of mailing, going forward the list will only be used phone-banking. In the long term, if/when income allows it, prospect mailings can be sent using registered Green Party voters lists purchased from state governments or donated by state Green parties.
5-2 Phone Bank Solicitation
After years of having trouble finding fundraisers that can successfully work from home, the GPUS did a test in August of 2008 with a commercial fundraising company - Empower Telefunding in California, and hired them in October 2008 to handle the party’s phone solicitation program, replacing the Fundraising Assistants the party has used in the past.
Empower came from a recommendations from a National Committee delegate (her local Greens used the company) and references were checked. Empower only works for non-profits and cultural organizations, and pays a fair wage and benefits to their employees, something most companies in the industry do not. The success rate in the test was acceptable and Empower were hired instead of hiring personnel of our own.
The GPUS nets approximately 43% with Empower on re-solicitations. Empower provides regular reports and is very successful at getting credit card donations (pledges require more work to track) and sustainers. Empower turns approximately 10% of donors into sustainers, or approximately five new sustainers a week, providing a relatively predictable ongoing revenue stream. Prospecting with Empower has been at or close to break-even on most lists and they also donated a list of prospects from other peace and anti-war organizations to us from which they generated over 200 new donors. These donors are now in the GPUS database and will receive follow-up direct mailings, online appeals and phone calls for more donations. The rental cost for such a list would have been approximately $1,500
Using Empower has allowed the party to budget less for expenses for re-solicitations. Empower’s canvassers have had more direct experience with GPUS donors and issues, and have developed a successful rapport, resulting in more and higher donations over time. Empower is paid by the calling hour. They receive a very small bonus on credit cards only. Their performance is average or above average based upon industry standards.
The Fundraising Manager reviews Empower’s work and meets with them about once a week to discuss "hot Green topics", "messaging" and "feedback.” Less staff time is also per week is spent with their reports and briefings than there was with supervising Fundraising Assistants. Paying a slightly higher rate to Empower than the party did to its Fundraising Assistants is well worth it in the efficiency and payback of the effort. In 2010, $42,000 is dedicated to fundraise through Empower - $22,000 for re-solicitation calls and two prospect projects at $10,000 each.
Empower also called registered Greens from California who had voted in the past few recent elections. The GPUS has broken even on this effort which is very good for prospecting. About 5% of the donors are sustainers which is outstanding for prospect lists. They brought in over 220 new donors from this list.
5-3 Web Appeals
In March 2009 the GPUS began sending one e-blast per week. E-blasts are e-mail message to the entire national GPUS e-mail list). E-blasts are typically written according to a rotating schedule. They include Greenline (a monthly newsletter), fundraising appeals, action alerts, and appeals such as a merchandise sale or event announcement (like the Annual National Meeting). E-blasts will continue in 2010, with increased coordination of message and timing of appeals.
E-blasts are scheduled and sent through Democracy in Action, an online database/fundraising tool package, that tracks e-blasts and all GPUS online donations.
With the move to Democracy in Action (DIA), the GPUS has many tools available to increase online fundraising, including more easily targeting specific geographic areas with different appeals, or segmenting the list for testing. There is the ability to run peer-to-peer campaigns with different groups of Greens – for example, two states could have a “contest:” as to which can bring in the most donors. State parties can work directly with the GPUS database and its own database to run joint fundraising campaigns. All of these features and others can help GPUS online fundraising grow in 2010.
5-4 State Sharing
State Sharing Programs are defined as fundraising programs where revenue is shared between the state and the national. The percentage break down depends on whether the contribution is State Driven or Nationally Driven. There programs are a way to leverage the tools that the national office has developed with the grassroots energy of State Green Parties to raise money for the Green Party at both the state and national level. All fundraising programs are eligible to be state sharing, including the sustainer program and Green Party Card program
State Driven Programs: Contributions solicited through state party efforts are considered State Driven. This means that 60% of the revenue will go to the state party and 40% will go to GPUS. GPUS will provide initial set-up (templates, printed forms, on-line donation page) and handle the overhead and administration of the program. After set-up the state party is responsible for promoting the program and raising the money: Promotion occurs on web pages, blogs, state and local meetings, events, tabling events. The national office is responsible for the administrative side: Data entry, thank you letters, running credit cards, sending reminders and premiums.
Nationally Driven Programs: Contributions solicited through national efforts are considered nationally driven. This means that 40% of the revenue goes to the state party and 60% goes to GPUS. GPUS provides set-up, handles overhead and is responsible for promoting the program and asking for contributions. The national office will help with set-up: Webpage with tracking code, mailing green party card or sustainer applications.
The Finance Committee is in the process of evaluating the effectiveness of state sharing both for the National Party and for state parties.
5-5 Personal Solicitations
Personal Solicitations are donations that come from some sort of personal contact. All Green Party members have local and state party networks, family and friends who can be convinced through personal contact to donate the party. They include face-to-face contact, phone calls, personal letters, and email appeals from one Green to another Green (also called Peer to Peer fundraising) or to other potential donors. They may also include donations in memory of /honor of a person or event.
National Committee delegates, state Green Party leaders, and party members in general should feel empowered to fundraise, with guidance from GPUS, on behalf of the party. GPUS can compile some materials (literature that can be downloaded and copied, donation forms, and return envelopes) that individual members can use for personal solicitations.
5-6 Social Networking
Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are currently very popular and useful for fundraising. They are time, energy, and resource efficient because they are free-to-use and work virally - users are encouraged to and provided with tools to spread messages on behalf of organizations through their own personal network of connections. This results in donations from both current and new donors and also helps GPUS build its contact list through new “friends” who may either donate token amounts or not donate at all through web pages like Facebook, but may respond to mail or e-mail appeals later.
GPUS is building an extensive network of followers, provide them with timely updates to keep the party relevant to them, and ask for small donations which can be built upon later. Donations through social networks tend to be “impulse” contributions, rather than yearly gifts which are more likely to be sent in response to a phone call or mail re-solicitation.
Development that needs to be done to increase our effectiveness in social network outreach includes increasing our presence through more and larger “groups” of friends, familiarizing party members about our efforts and how they can join and encourage their personal contacts to join, creating a presence on social networks for each state, committee, and caucus, which can act as “feeders” to GPUS’s efforts, coordinate and educate state party members who host local groups to national efforts, make connections to party-related and independent blogs, websites, and networks to gain free advertising for our efforts, and more effectively use dynamic buttons, banners, and links.
VI. MERCHANDISE $13,000
A total of $13,000 of income is projected for merchandise in 2010. The assumed 2009 income is $10,241. The Steering Committee is proposing a loan to the National Committee, that would include investing some of the borrowed money into merchandise.
VII. GREEN PAGES $0
No income is projected from Green Pages in 2010, as no hard copy issues are budgeted to be published. Please see the Expense Narrative for a discussion of the options for Green Pages.
VIII. PLANNED GIVING $30,400
The Planned Giving program encourages and assists people in bequeathing a gift to the GPUS in their Will. The responsibility for developing and managing this program is included in the job description of the Executive Director.
The amount the GPUS can receive through this program is defined by Federal law, which limits the maximum contribution per donor to a national party committee, living or deceased. In 2010 that amount per committee is $30,400 <http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/citizens.shtml#how_much>. This limit applies separately to a party's national committee, House campaign committee and Senate campaign committee.
In 2010, the GPUS is scheduled to receive $30,400 in its General Fund through the Juoni Trust that was established in early 2008. This is the first such trust for the GPUS and has provided the party with basic information and experience from which an ongoing Planned Giving program is being developed and publicized.
IX. NATIONAL COMMITTEE/STEERING COMMITTEE $15,000
The 2010 budget projects $15,000 raised by members of the National Committee and Steering Committee. Achieving this would be a radical departure from past years and represent a significant change in the fundraising approach of the party on the national level. In many organizations, the Board of Directors is involved to a meaningful degree in the fundraising. In the GPUS, fundraising is done almost exclusively by GPUS staff. It is not clear that the GPUS can realize its organizational and political goals based almost exclusively upon staff fundraising.
For the GPUS, the Board of Directors is the National Committee. This budget line, if adopted as part of the 2010 budget by the National Committee, would represent a commitment by the National Committee to raise that amount. GPUS staff and the Fundraising Committee have ideas about working with National Committee members and their state parties to raise this amount, including by promoting the sustainer program. There is not yet a concrete plan, but a statement of intent would be an important foundation for it. The Steering Committee would also need to show leadership by convincing other Greens to donate and assisting with prospects for major donors.