F, G, H, I and J — ‘Vitamins’ for Building Strong Fundraising

An alphabet's worth of things every fundraiser should care about (Part 2).

Last week, I suggested five concepts to consider in your fundraising program to help fight that inevitable — but tragic — fact of fundraising life: donors who stop giving. These were attrition, boredom, convenience, dollars and enough.

Continuing our journey through the alphabet, here are five more things to pay attention to as you do your work as a fundraiser this week and passionately share your organization’s mission with supporters and prospects.

F is for frequency
Are your donors hearing about your successes and your needs at the right schedule for them? Or are you giving them up too easily?

When a donor calls to say that he or she is getting too much mail from your organization, your first (and often only) response should not be to remove that person from your mailing list. Instead, offer to reduce the mail you send, saying something like: “I understand, Mrs. Jones. Would you like to continue to receive our e-newsletters so you can keep up with the great work partners like you are making possible, as well as get our letters once a quarter?” Your options should not be “all or nothing.” Instead offer options like quarterly, semi-annual, annual or e-newsletters only. No matter what they say, donors who don’t hear from a nonprofit often forget about it.

G is for gift array
Offering donors an array of donation amounts on reply forms, landing pages and other fundraising pieces can help a donor make a decision to give and even upgrade her giving. Only listing “$____” puts the onus on the donor to choose an amount; offering a gift array instead can show him or her what specific amounts can do by tying an amount in to a specific project or activity.

On a personalized piece, you can customize the gift arrays, but keep in mind that some strategies can work against others. For example, if your goal is to get maximum response to a mailing or e-appeal, you may not want to be aggressive about upgrading in the gift array. If you are using a preprinted response or a single landing page, provide a range of options in your gift array. For example, show what it costs to feed a child for a day, a week, a month and a year.

Pamela consults with nonprofits in the United States and internationally, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations, getting hands-on experience in everything from direct mail to DRTV, and major gift solicitation to event management. Pamela is a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and is working on a Doctorate in Business Administration at California Southern University. Contact Pamela at pamela@pjbardeninc.com or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.
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