Reflections on 10 Years
FundRaising Success published its first issue in November 2003, which makes this our 10-year anniversary year. To celebrate, we’ll be taking a look back at past issues throughout the year.
To start, here are some words of wisdom culled from stories that appeared in our very first issue.
- Never stop testing: “Heritage Foundation tested its monthly giving program for 15 years with no great success. Two years ago, it was bringing in $5,000 a year. But then the foundation found a format that worked, and it now brings in $750,000 a year.”
- Don’t forget the back-end analysis. “Many organizations don’t look at the life value of a donor. Are there giving patterns that might red-flag someone with potential? They don’t look at renewal rates. Is there a warning in there that they’re not approaching people the right way?”
- “Constantly ask yourself, ‘Is this moving our mission forward?’”
- “Treat donors like human beings, not like accounts.”
- “Nonprofits have made good use of catalogs and fulfillment for fund development, donor solicitation and mission advancement. But merchandising and mailing catalogs means that you have to run the operation by the rules and metrics of businesses in the for-profit world.”
- “Direct mail as we knew it is gone. It has given way to a new era in which improved knowledge, better tools and new strategies are essential.”
- “One piece of advice I’d give to fundraising organizations in this difficult economy is to focus more on their internal assets. Sometimes fundraisers think they have to go out and find new donors, new foundations or new corporations to contribute, and they don’t take full advantage of the people who are already supporting them. They should spend some time focusing on the top 10 percent of their current donors and try to cultivate them and make them larger donors rather than focusing on the external pool of donors.”
- “Organizations must remind donors about their missions, appealing to them on both intellectual and emotional levels. Some organizations are out there trying to raise money, and they don’t do a good job of explaining themselves and what they’re doing with their money.”