Pulse: Raising Money by Mail
FS: How can organizations create a strategy that integrates mail with online communications, e-mail, face-to-face meetings, and events, etc.?
SS: Planning out your strategies on a one-year timetable will help you decide which [ones] deserve your attention and which are less effective and should be dropped. Keep the lines of communication open between the development office, executive director, other fundraising planners and those in charge of communications so everyone's on the same page. Regular e-mail updates sent from a designated person or a restricted e-mail group are practical and time-saving ways to keep people informed between in-person meetings.
SR: Having a strategic plan is very important, even if it's a very simple strategic plan. It's important to know what direction you're heading in … and to be developing diverse revenue streams. I run across organizations all the time that put all their eggs in one basket. And then when the basket falls, all the eggs break.
For example, an organization that I've been working with [had] relied on one grant for about 60 percent of its budget, and when the state cut revenue and that grant started to dry up, the organization was in trouble. I like to see organizations have … money coming from a lot of different sources. Direct mail is a good source because if you're working with a lot of individual donors, then the more you have on your mailing list, the more donors you're mailing to, and the more different little pots of money there essentially are. So if one donor goes away, it's OK; you can handle that. Not like if you have all your hopes pinned to one grant, and the one grant goes away; then you've got a big mess to deal with. So I'm a strong advocate of having multiple revenue streams and trying to get those balanced out so that when the bad times come, the organizations can weather it a little bit better.