What You 'Think' in Fundraising Can Kill You
Sometimes we forget. We forget that the whole world isn't just like us. We forget that fundraising efforts are often appreciated by our donors. They care about our work and are glad when they are able to help us accomplish more.
And sometimes we forget that what we think may not be reality. We let our opinions and personal preferences influence our fundraising. That's not always bad, but there are at least five circumstances where what we think can hurt our fundraising success.
Fatal thought No. 1: Long letters are bad
I hear this often from students in the fundraising classes I teach. "No one wants to read a letter that is more than a page long." Unfortunately for all you short-letter proponents, that's not what tests have shown.
Granted, there are always exceptions, but consider this wisdom from a colleague who is a very successful fundraising copywriter. He wrote copy for a three-way test: four pages, six pages and eight pages. "The eight won on all metrics. The six was second, and the four last. For some nonprofits, the more you tell, the more you sell."
Need further proof? This same copywriter had a two-page acquisition control letter for a national charity. Nothing was beating that control. So, he increased the font size to 13.5, widened the margins and added some subheads to lengthen the letter to four pages. Finally, he beat the control.
Fatal thought No. 2: Baby boomers won't respond to digital fundraising
Contrary to popular belief among some millennials, baby boomers are pretty tech savvy. There were 76 million people born between 1946 and 1964 (currently age 48 to 66). Three in four use the Internet, and their Facebook use increased nearly 60 percent in just one year (2010 to 2011).
Need further proof? The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that while baby boomers — especially the older half — have less technology than younger Americans, 86 percent of younger boomers and 84 percent of older ones own cell phones; 65 percent/64 percent own desktop computers; 49 percent/43 percent own laptop computers; and 4 percent/3 percent own tablets (compared to just 5 percent of millennials. Come on, baby boomers, with just a little work, we can beat them!!).
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.