What Do You Know?
Sit back and wait for their mail to come to you — and then open it, analyze it and critique it. See what catches your eye. What techniques are being used by multiple mailers multiple times? That’s often a clue to what’s working, but always filter it through your own common sense.
Browse a bit
Check out the websites of other nonprofits, both those similar to yours and others that are totally different. See how their navigation works, and look at where (and how often) they have “donate now” links. What about each website catches your eye or makes you confused? You may even consider making a donation to see how the process works.
Yes, you should look at for-profit websites as well, but let’s be honest — your budget is probably a lot smaller than that of Apple or Ford. Many nonprofits have the same constraints as you do, so see how they maximize their websites.
Check out the numbers
This newsletter is a great source for links to reports that tell you about the health of the fundraising industry, and you may already receive other information that directs you to some of this inexhaustible data.
To be honest, you probably don’t have time to read every report and consider how you can use that information. Instead, choose a few reports that are presented in a way that communicates best to you, and then become a faithful reader of those. Understand their methodology and the limitations of their reporting.
Some reports talk about what happened (recent giving stats) and others predict what philanthropic income will look like in the future. Both are worth paying attention to, but always pay the closest attention to your own giving trends. In the long run, that’s what you can influence.
If there is one report you have found particularly helpful, feel free to share that information in the comments below.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.