[NPFX Ep. 45] Sustaining Donor Attention after the Headlines Fade (with Michelle Boggs and Melissa Rutan)

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Welcome to The Nonprofit Fundraising Exchange, a podcast from IPM Advancement. Our mission is to empower nonprofits to succeed so they can make the world a better place.

Today’s topic: Sustaining Donor Attention after the Headlines Fade

While it's common for donors to rally to support relief efforts during a crisis, how do you sustain their attention — many of whom are first-time donors to your nonprofit — after the media spotlight begins to fade? In today's episode, our panel examines episodic giving and how organizations like American Red Cross and Classy keep donors engaged beyond that initial rapid response connection.

Time-Stamped Episode Shortcuts:

  • Introductions [1:52]
  • Charitable giving is shifting more toward episodic giving, especially with younger donors [5:49]
  • The importance of stewardship in between crisis events [9:25]
  • The initial messaging after a crisis or emergency [10:22]
  • Being proactive and preparing for rapid response events in general, even when they're unrelated to your mission [14:56]
  • Why is it challenging to sustain donor attention after the initial charitable response? [18:28]
  • Segmenting your audience to build stronger relationships [22:04]
  • The value of learning from past campaigns to inform the next campaign [28:55]
  • Engaging donors beyond fundraising and designing a donor journey that's bigger than rapid response fundraising [30:46]

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Melissa Rutan is the Senior Associate Consumer Marketing and Fundraising at American Red Cross. She's passionate about connecting people to causes and empowering them to be agents of change. Over the last 10 years, Melissa has strived to create ways financial donors can meaningfully support nonprofits through integrated back-end processes and special events. Melissa joined the American Red Cross in 2017 and is currently focused on driving monthly donor strategy, building upon one of the most valuable donor segments.

Michelle Boggs, MBA, CFRE, is the Executive Nonprofit Industry Advisor of Classy, the nonprofit affiliate of GoFundMe. She helps nonprofit organizations maximize fundraising efforts through analyzing industry data, examining market messaging and donor-relationship building. She’s also a San Francisco Business Journal 40 Under 40 (Class of 2020) and 7 year+ member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Prior to Classy, she worked at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, founded Chief, a network of women leaders, and contracted with Accordant to help advance purpose-driven partnerships.


Rich Frazier has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 30 years. In his role as senior consultant with IPM Advancement, Rich offers extensive understanding and knowledge in major gifts program management, fund development, strategic planning, and board of directors development.

Russ Phaneuf, a co-founder of IPM Advancement, has a background in higher education development, with positions at the University of Hartford, Northern Arizona University, and Thunderbird School of Global Management. As IPM's managing director & chief strategist, Russ serves as lead fundraising strategist, award-winning content creator, and program analyst specializing in applied system dynamics.


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