Seven Tips for Fundraising Success
On the final day of the DMA Nonprofit Federation 2006 New York Nonprofit Conference earlier this month, some of the most creative craftsmen in the industry came together in a session and presented some of their most successful campaigns of late. Among them was Mark Oehlshlaeger, creative director at Merkle/Domain, who talked about the company’s work creating the Livestrong direct-mail campaign for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. In his presentation, Oehlshlaeger shared his seven steps to fundraising success:
1) Know your audience. For LAF, it was males ages 35 to 55 with a connection to cycling, most of whom had purchased a Livestrong wristband and knew someone with cancer.
2) Have the right offer. Not only did LAF offer a high-value premium (a yellow Livestrong T-shirt), it presented its offer with specific, engaging language, e.g., “Join Lance.”
3) Connect your donor to your cause. “Join Lance” and other distinct language was used to connect donors to LAF, as well as a Johnson box on the direct-mail letter with a message from Lance Armstrong.
4) Give your donor a way to express your cause. Oehlshlaeger recommended organizations give donors things that they can use to show an affinity for and support of the cause. Within its direct-mail packages LAF included Livestrong mailing labels and stickers.
5) Thank donors and allow them to give again. The LAF thank-you package featured an image of Armstrong on the carrier envelope. Below the mailing’s thank-you letter was a reply device offering donors the option to give again. Oehlshlaeger said organizations that shy away from including an appeal for a second gift in a thank-you mailing are doing a disservice to their donors and missing a golden opportunity, as donors are most likely to give again quickly.
6) Bond donors to the cause. For LAF this takes the form of a welcome package that gives donors information on the organization and includes a sticker and another ask. The organization also included what Oehlshlaeger referred to as a “You Call the Shots” card, i.e., a card that allows donors to indicate the ways they would like LAF to communicate with them.
7) Seize the day. Take advantage of unique opportunities to contact donors and net additional donations. LAF added a campaign during last year’s Tour de France consisting of direct mail, a newsletter and e-mail. The organization sent a mailing with a letter from Lance updating donors on the tour to its general file, and sent a package actually mailed from France to major donors of $100 or more.
Mark Oehlshlaeger can be reached via www.merkledomain.com