“Folks really care about voter ID, about the threats to voters,” Simmons says. “It’s not just talking about what’s wrong and not just talking about what the League does, but it gives the donor a way to engage that goes beyond just giving money. Sometimes people feel an issue is hopeless and there’s nothing they can do, but we show them that there are steps they can take.”
Support from the board
In order for LWV to lift that historically consistent 0.65 acquisition response rate, it needed the freedom to test. That’s not something that is always the case for organizations, with many limiting and even cutting acquisition budgets.
In fact, LWV significantly cut back on direct-mail acquisition immediately post-911, in addition to cutting the final acquisition effort in 2008-09 due to the economy, and learned its lesson.
“We actually have real data that we can provide to [the board and senior leadership] so they can see what happens to your file when you reduce [acquisition],” Natelson says. “They can see the consequences and realize how important it is to the fundraising program.”
“We are very fortunate to have a board and senior leadership that truly understand and support the importance of acquisition and how that’s an investment in the future of building a strong base of support,” says Laura Zylstra, senior director of development at LWV. “We have support from the ground up to the top down in the organization.”
The power of plain
Another powerful tool for fundraisers looking to get buy-in from the board and senior leadership is showing how sometimes simple is enough. In fact, when asked for advice to fellow fundraisers looking to boost their acquisition, Natelson repeats three simple words: “Plain white envelopes, plain white envelopes, plain white envelopes.
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