What Can K, L, M, N and O Teach Us?

An alphabet’s worth of things every fundraiser should care about (Part 3).

A fundraiser’s day is seldom boring. From the planned work to the unexpected crises and opportunities, it’s hard to accomplish everything — let alone keep a sharp eye on the day-to-day tasks.

That’s one of the reasons for this series of articles. No, they won’t touch on everything that matters for fundraising success. But each one highlights a few things to consider … and maybe incorporate into your daily routine.

Special thanks to Sue Pargman, senior copywriter at Masterworks! She took on my challenge last week and provided suggestions for all five letters. So, welcome Sue, my co-author for this article. I’ll be sharing some of her thoughts along with mine. So with that, let’s look at K, L, M, N and O. (You can view A-E here and F-J here.)

K is for knowledge
Sue’s suggestion was “know your donors,” an important piece of knowledge for a fundraiser. Two dangerous thoughts we can have are, “I like this, so our donors will,” and, “Our donors are different.” Remember, you are not the target audience! You need to meet the donors where they are at, and that means unique messages for different groups. Something as simple as adding some lapsed language to a letter or e-appeal can greatly improve response.

Also, don’t assume proven fundraising tactics won’t work on your donors because they are “different” from all the other donors in the universe. Studies show that the best donors to one nonprofit are most likely also giving to one, two or more other organizations. They respond to best practices, which are called “best practices” because they have been proven to lift response time and time again. Test — don’t assume.

And don’t neglect increasing your knowledge about fundraising. There are great conferences, like the upcoming one sponsored by FundRaising Success — the Engage Conference — webinars (many free or low-cost), whitepapers available for download, etc. Keep learning!

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 has a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at pamela@pjbardeninc.com or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.

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  • Claire Axelrad

    This is great! So clever. If I’d seen it, I totally would have chimed in with my suggestions. Love "letter" games. I once took up the gauntlet to come up with words to describe all the letters in F.R.I.E.N.D.R.A.I.S.I.N.G. If you’re interested, you can check it out on "clairification.com" :http://www.clairification.com/2012/06/03/dont-put-the-fundraising-cart-before-the-friendraising-horsethink-inbound-pull-vs-outbound-push/

    Of course, there’s an "R" in there. And I would think the "R" for fundraisers has to be more "Relationships". Of course, I also like "Reciprocity". Ask not what your donor can do for you, but what you can do for your donor. That’s certainly the essence of donor-centered fundraising — and relationship-building too, for that matter.

    "S" can be for "satisfaction". If we don’t fully satisfy our donors they will not renew. Of course "S" can also stand for "Sustainability", but I prefer satisfaction because it’s more donor-centered and gets us to the same place.

    "Q"? How about "Quintessence"? It means the most highly concentrated essence of a thing, and certainly that’s the way we should be thinking about our vision, mission, values and branding. What is our quintessence? What do we do that no one else does quite the way we do? That’s our raison d’etre, and why anyone might consider investing in our cause. "P" has to be "Philanthropy". It’s our heart and soul. Love of humankind. What we all need to create a culture of — institution-wide. No more silos. And, let’s see, what have I missed? Ah, yes. "T" The first word that jumped to mind was "Trust". We must be trustworthy, transparent, authentic and of the highest integrity. We’re stewards of peoples’ investments in making our world a better place. That’s a hugely important thing people are placing in our hands. They’re trusting us to do the right thing — with efficiency, effectiveness, compassion and high moral standards. It’s why our board members are often called "Trustees."