A Look Back — and Forward
Perry: In 2003-04, fundraising sort of followed a formula: events, mailings, grant proposals, government sources and major donors. Now, even these basic strategies are far more complex with many more tools to enhance their success.
Fundraisers today have to be much, much better copywriters. They have to know the etiquette of smart e-mail communications: how to write a subject line so their e-mail will be opened, even. Fundraisers now have to have serious marketing skills.
Fundraising has changed so much that it is almost “fund marketing.” (I’m really serious about this!) The marketing and communication of what we are doing is becoming just as important as the ask. How we frame the message has everything to do with whether the message lands or not!
Peters: Multichannel, lists are smaller, 70-plus percent of charities use premiums in direct mail, marketing is more sophisticated, and marketing and fundraising professionals have had to learn many new “tricks.”
Barden: There is a lot of help in terms of digital, but now nonprofits have to focus on separating the wheat from the chaff. It is challenging to know what’s worth investing in and what is just a quickly passing fad. There is also a lot of excitement about some digital tools that haven’t really proven financially stable. Fundraisers have more to distract them from their real job of raising money. Some of the methods that still are core are not “sexy,” and that continues to create friction in terms of where to invest time and money.
Kirchoff: More tools, proliferation of online as a channel (beyond websites and e-mail, which were still new for many in 2003), use of DRTV for fundraising outside of child sponsorship. But despite the naysayers, mail is still here!
Grow: Now there’s a wealth of information available online for fundraising professionals! The problem is weeding through the muck and getting to the best — that’s what I try to do with my weekly e-newsletter and why I regularly rely on FundRaising Success, The Agitator and SOFII.