What You 'Think' in Fundraising Can Kill You
Important lesson for nonprofits: Baby boomers are reading your direct mail and following your online presence. Make sure your messages on both are consistent.
Fatal thought No. 3: Who needs direct mail?
It's not a mystery: E-mail is a lot less expensive to send than postal mail. Interesting e-newsletters and e-appeals that give donors opportunities to respond quickly to needs belong in your marketing mix.
But so does direct mail. It's still the heavyweight champ in terms of pulling in new donors and ongoing contributions. Let's accept reality: It's not one or the other — nonprofits need both.
Fatal thought No. 4: We don't want to wear out our donors
Sometimes we think that we are talking to our donors too much. They're going to get tired of us. We need to give them "time off for good behavior."
I'm not a proponent of asking for money every few days (or even weeks). But I am a strong believer (based on results) of a consistent communication program that combines asking for support with reporting on successes.
If your donors aren't hearing from you, they probably aren't thinking about you. It's your job to build and maintain a relationship. That's hard to do when you only reach out every few months.
Fatal thought No. 5: Let's talk about success, not that icky need stuff
We can get a bit squeamish. After all, our donors know that people are hungry, animals are being abused and the environment is under attack. Let's talk about our successes, and donors will celebrate them with us and give more! Right?
Wrong! Generally, donors give to need. (I say generally because I am sure someone has done a test that will prove me wrong.) They like to fix problems, so give them the opportunity by telling them what big difference will occur if they donate to you. Tell them about success in newsletters, annual reports and the like — but don't neglect selling them on helping you by sharing the need.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.