3. Develop and test hypotheses
Ask questions about your organization — What is going wrong? What is going right? What’s happening to other organizations in my sector? Who’s doing better and why? — hypothesize why and test. See if what you think is working actually is working, and discover areas to improve where things aren’t working.
4. Invest in research
The more you know about your donors and your organization, the better understanding you can have about how to bring in funds and foster loyalty. Study your most loyal donors to find out what makes them loyal. Conversely, dig deeper to see what you can learn from your least loyal donors. The more research you embark on, the more you can learn about your mission, message, channels, acquisition sources, etc., to better optimize your programs.
5. Re-examine your 'product'
“Look at how people describe what you do and how you describe what you do,” Craver said. Is there a disconnect there? If so, why? Ask yourself questions such as: Should we emphasize a different part of the organization or program? A new initiative to better compete with others? Are we still relevant? Is there new competition? Find ways to connect with donors and stay top of mind.
6. Test your message
Any good fundraiser knows testing is essential — don’t let the economy prevent you from continuing this best practice. Test alternate messages, images, spokespersons/signers, premiums, positioning, etc. Craver suggested multivariate testing because it is fast, accurate and inexpensive. Also, he pointed out, “Almost 85 percent of people that join an organization do research online before giving,” so test your online communications as well.
7. Revisit prospecting tactics
The timing, channel, audience may be slightly different than before. Test new prospecting techniques, and make adjustments accordingly. Also, be aware of changing demographics. “Involvement is important,” Craver said. “The end of the baby boom generation and all of Gen X and Gen Y — this involvement and ability to do more than just give money is important.” This generation of donors wants a larger say and more transparency in where their dollars are going, and they want to be a part of the mission, not just funders.