The 10 Commandments for Optimizing Fundraising Success, Part 1
2. It's all about donors … and the context at that moment
According to Gaffny, this is the most underrated and ignored commandment. You need to understand that people act and respond differently at different moments. For instance, would you exhibit the same behavior at church as you would at a bachelor/bachelorette party? Of course not. Likewise, donors do not react to every appeal at every moment the same way.
That makes context vital. Context decides how we talk, how we dress and how we act.
Gaffny suggested that you think about sending a letter to your mom when you needed money when crafting your appeals. You would tug at mom's heartstrings and express your need at those moments. That's exactly how you should craft your fundraising messages.
Basically, forget about the donor pyramid for a while, and instead look at what Gaffny called the passion pyramid. High-passion donors exhibit loyalty. They have knowledge about your organization, interest in you, concern about you. They are donors who pay attention to you, seek information about you, and give you second and third gifts. Low-passion donors are more likely to not care all that much about your organization, don't want much info about you and give you one chance for their gifts … maybe.
Your high-passion donors will respond to branded appeals with a lot of information. But there are far more low-passion donors than high-passion ones, so you must understand the context in which they respond. More often than not, they don't care about your brand or all the statistics. They need something different to get inside your appeal and respond.
That may be why the three greatest fundraising appeals Gaffny has come across in his two decades in the industry were sent in plain white envelopes with nothing more than the address of the recipients.