What to Be Obsessive About
My dad was obsessive. I remember him cutting the lawn well into the dark of night, because he had decided to do it and he couldn't rest until it was done. Unfortunately, he had an electric lawn mower, so the cord was distinctive by the number of splices in it from being run over and severed in the dark.
One of the great things about direct-response fundraising is that a lot of what we do — while important — comes with a second chance. Most of our loyal donors are very forgiving (kind of like that power cord).
If our offer is a bit weak, they will still open the next e-mail or newsletter we send — and our most loyal donors may respond anyway because they trust us to do the work they love. We may limit our income for that project, but we can redeem ourselves with the next effort. (In other words, let's not close up shop over the project that fails; let's just not make it a recurring event.)
But some things are worth obsessing about. We mess up, and we'll pay the price. So, choose your fundraising obsessions carefully, and you'll keep your donors loyal and your good work will increase.
Be a slave to your schedule
Ideally, you began 2012 with a plan and set the date for each e-appeal to be sent, every direct-mail letter to be dropped into the mailstream and each newsletter to be written. But then "life" got in the way. You had an emergency project, your writer got the flu and the spring event has become all-consuming.
That's life — but it's not a reason to fall behind on your schedule. Keeping in regular communication with your donors is critical to help them grasp the severity of the need you are addressing, understand why your solution is second to none and support your nonprofit.