NextAfter and Marlin Communications Partnership

What’s next for Digital Fundraising?

— Written by Karl Tischler, Founder & Managing Director of Marlin Communications

We are incredibly excited to announce our latest partnership; that we have joined forces with international digital fundraising specialists, NextAfter, as their exclusive Agency Partner in Australia and New Zealand. 

With a mission to untangle what works in fundraising and to make it accessible to as many nonprofits as possible, NextAfter are at the forefront of world’s best practice digital fundraising. 

NextAfter combines the perpetual learning of a fundraising research lab, the practical application of a digital-first agency, and the rigorous instruction of a training institute. They’ve run (literally) thousands of experiments to crack the code on generosity and helped hundreds of clients acquire more donors and raise more critical funds for causes that matter. Now we’re able to offer local not-for-profits exclusive access to NextAfter products and services. 

Our visions are incredibly aligned and we cannot wait to apply the transformational results of this service to our sector. 

We both know that generosity is a state of the heart.

While we often measure this with metrics like new donors, retention and attrition, lifetime value of a donor, and more—the most common tactic that moves the needle on generosity has little to do with numbers, metrics, donation platforms, and analytics.

The tactic that moves the needle on generosity is empathy. 

Here’s a US-based case study that both NextAfter and myself wanted to share with you.

In an experiment from their most recent year-end season, they saw just how impactful empathy can be on growing giving and generosity.

Towards the end of the year, CaringBridge sent out an email to their subscriber list with an appeal for donations. It included a matching opportunity, a deadline to give, a personal tone, and a plain-text style design—all tactics they have tested over the years.

But they wondered if it might be more impactful to include a longer story of impact.

They set up an experiment. The ‘control’ was the original email appeal. The ‘treatment’ was a longer form email including a story of impact. 

While both emails had success in raising significant funds, the ‘treatment’ led to a 42% increase in donations.

Marlin and NextAfter Launch Announcement

Why did the treatment lead to 42% more donations? 

Because it built empathy with the donor.

The story allowed the recipient to put themselves directly in the shoes of someone impacted by the work of CaringBridge. As you read it, you feel the worry and concern that Courtney had for her family while she was going through treatment for breast cancer.

You experience the joy and relief that she felt when she realised that her kids were being taken care of and that her family was remaining positive with her. You clearly see how CaringBridge led to her relief, encouragement and support through a trying health journey.

This is a simple and instructive example that we know includes great storytelling tactics. 

NextAfter have conducted experiment after experiment in their library where greater giving comes from greater empathy—whether it’s fundraisers having more empathy for donors or donors having more empathy for the recipient of their gift. 

They can prove the right combination of strategy and tactics.

Here lies the extraordinary, untapped value of our NextAfter partnership; the ability to test and learn—often what we know in other offline channels and often ideas or hypotheses that we suspect are significant—and apply that to each and every communication. 

NextAfter has specifically chosen us to deliver their game-changing offering locally—because we understand the Australian and New Zealand charity landscape better than anyone else. Their best in class testing and optimisation services provide an invaluable opportunity for the charities we serve to make the transition to digital-first fundraising and chart a clear path toward growth. Combined with our years of creative and design expertise, we will be an unstoppable force.

Interested in finding out more? Head here to discover how this partnership can help change your world.

Karl Tischler - Founding Director and Idealist at Marlin Communications

Karl Tischler,
Founder & Managing Director

Marlin Communications