Fundraising best practices become best practices because they've been proven to raise funds. At the sixth annual Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising Conference held in National Harbor, Md., last week, two fundraising professionals shared 11 best practices and discussed how implementing them helped the Coast Guard Foundation (CGF) and Lighthouse International achieve tremendous results.
Here are those 11 tactics that Bradley Sisley, chief operating officer at the Coast Guard Foundation, and Andrew Laudano, account director at LW Robbins, provided in their session, “7 Proven Strategies for Jump-Starting a Small Fundraising Program,” — plus four bonus tips — and what they helped CGF and Lighthouse International accomplish.
- Mail enough names to acquire a meaningful number of new supporters.
- Test new audiences in acquisition with new messages and offers.
- Test your acquisition gift ask strategy. Lower entry points may increase participation.
- Mail at least six to eight times per year in renewal. Be there when your donors are ready to respond — because your competitors will be.
- Use your strongest campaign themes (pillar campaigns) each year in renewal.
- Test strong acquisition campaigns in renewal and vice versa.
- Use personal stories to create an emotional connection with donors. Testimonials and photos bring stories to life.
- Use long-term value analysis to identify the best acquisition lists.
- Develop a midlevel strategy to strengthen donor loyalty and upgrading.
- Create a new donor-welcome touchpoint to increase new donor retention.
- Offer donors a premium appeal in the renewal program if you acquired them with premiums.
Coast Guard Foundation
In 2010, CGF achieved rapid breakthroughs in its annual fund. It expanded active donors by 35 percent, increased the number gifts by 50 percent and increased gross revenue by 40 percent. Sisley shared how.
For starters, CGF hired a third-party direct-response fundraising agency partner. Then it embarked on new acquisition list strategies, which had a dramatic impact on response, and implemented new creative, frequency and timing approaches to boost acquisition and renewal.