Secrets of the Small Shop
When you’re raising money in a “small shop,” as public broadcasting operations often are, you’ve got to know how to make the most efficient and economical use of your precious resources.
As director of direct marketing for WYNC, New York public radio, and formerly with the Central Park Conservancy, Lynn Sheward knkows this first hand. At the DMFA luncheon titled "Secrets of Small Shops" (NYC, Feb. 22), she shared her insights on making the best of what you have. Here, a synopsis of her main tips:
1. Print as many direct-mail components as possible at one time. While printing a year’s worth of envelopes might be impractical because of storage concerns, consider whether printing for six months is do-able. Bundle your renewals and acknowledgements to save money and time.
2. RFPs and contracts can be costly time-wise, so sign vendor contracts that last two to three years. Longer contracts carry the additional benefit of creating good vendor relationships, since your vendor will feel more like a partner. Sheward cautioned if you sign a longer vendor contract, write in a 30- or 60-day cancellation clause. When asking for RFPs, ensure vendors put in a maximum effort so you can see how they work before you sign an agreement.
3. If possible, display all of your organization’s mailing samples on your office wall. This includes acquisition, renewal, retention and acknowledgement packages, etc. It helps to have an overall picture of the work you’ve done so far, as well as to have an easy way to showcase the department’s efforts when it comes to justifying budgets. It also makes it easier to assess your strengths and weaknesses.
4. Create a master schedule for mail, telemarketing, e-mail and other promotions. It’ll help you stay in control of the overall program and can
be beneficial for strategy and budgeting.
5. Hire someone you aren’t working with to do a creative, file or financial audit. It’s important to have a fresh and impartial set of eyes looking at your program.
6. Don’t rely solely on one writer. Work with a few so they become familiar with your program. Even if you employ a large agency, it’s a good idea to
have an independent writer at the ready in case of an emergency, or
if you need a fresh perspective.
7. When dealing with upper management, always provide a one-page executive summary of the campaigns on which you’re working. A concise “who, what, why, where and when” will help your boss make decisions
8. Take a time-management course. Time is your most important commodity.
9. Part of working smarter is having some fun. Work on one project you enjoy each week — just to keep your job pleasurable.
10. Develop a strategy to prevent burnout. Sheward’s personal plan: buying Swiss chocolates when things get tough.
Cary Castle is a fundraising and membership consultant. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.