There Must Be 50 Ways …
Remember the story of the boy in Holland who noticed a hole in the dike? Fearing a leak could flood the entire town, he shoved his finger into the hole, potentially avoiding a major disaster.
As fundraisers, our challenge is not unlike that boy’s. Every day, we look for leaks — places where we’re not maximizing our investment, little holes that, if left unplugged, can cause our donors to abandon us and our income to plummet.
In today’s economy, it’s even more critical to not miss any opportunity. To that end, here are 50 possible leaks you can plug today.
1. Test everything — including what you read in this article — and only make changes that improve net income. Don’t simply react to the economy or change because “everyone else is doing it.”
2. Look for untapped opportunities; direct mail should be your core source of income, with radio, TV, face-to-face, planned giving and online fundraising bringing in the balance.
3. Question everything. What are you doing because it makes you (or a board member) feel good and not because it raises money? Now is the time to make tough calls and eliminate things that drain your budget without increasing income.
4. Offer choices when donors say, “You mail too much!” Have step-down options — rather than “all or nothing” — that reduce direct mail to quarterly, semiannually or annually. Be sure to schedule when to contact donors with mail restrictions, so they aren’t forgotten.
5. Call and thank former monthly donors; just saying a simple “thank you for all you’ve done” can encourage former donors to start giving again.
6. Acknowledge milestones. Call and thank donors who give over a number of years or reach a certain accumulated giving threshold. Showing genuine appreciation is an unbeatable retention strategy.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.