Little Dogs ... Big Tricks
Big Tip #2: Two more data words — file analysis
OK, let's say you have your database software and you're pulling reports. You're running an RFM model (recency, frequency and monetary value) so you have a pretty good idea of who your donors are, and how often and how much they give. But if that's all you know, you could be missing quite a bit of important decision-making intelligence. For instance, how fast are your donors lapsing? Should you start a monthly giving program? Who are the best candidates to ask for planned gifts?
These questions and so many others can be answered by an experienced data analyst — many of whom are surprisingly affordable. For just a few hundred dollars, a good data analyst will audit your file (he or she doesn't need names and addresses, so your file remains confidential) and provide an in-depth report that enables you to know all of your strengths and weaknesses so you can adjust your fundraising program accordingly and plan for the future.
You can also take this data-file analysis a step further and for a bit more money have an analyst provide some data modeling. You might discover, for instance, that if you stop mailing a portion of your lower-performing donors, at least for some of your appeals, you will gain significant cost savings that far outweigh any potential loss of revenue. A good data modeler is able to provide such helpful insights and many more.
Big Tip #3: Don't write your own fundraising appeals
I know, I know, I'm a fundraising copywriter, so what else do you expect me to say? Look, I know English is your mother tongue. Sure, you wrote a lot in college. Heck, you may even be a wonderful writer of prose and poetry. But unless you're a trained direct-response copywriter, this is very sound and very important advice to follow. Writing direct-response copy, for either print or the Web, is unlike any other style of writing.