After a year as a consultant and a reporter-at-large for Fundraising Success magazine, I was offered a full-time employment opportunity by one of my nonprofit clients, the United Spinal Association. I was excited about getting back on the “other” side of the desk again. This would be my first new job since becoming director of fundraising for Consumers Union more than eight years ago. That seemed to me like the distant past (in a galaxy far, far away), and I was trying to remember what I did when starting at CU. My first day at United Spinal was supposed to be Jan. 2 but, under the
Best Friends Animal Society, located in the heart of southern Utah’s golden circle of National Parks, is home to as many as 1,500 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and other animals. For the past 10 years, the organization had been using the same acquisition package. Although it had done a great job, response rates were dropping, causing the donor file to remain flat.
The situation was dire: If a new package wasn’t created, the file actually would have started to decrease, which could have led to cuts in service.
When you’re raising money in a “small shop,” as public broadcasting operations often are, you’ve got to know how to make the most efficient and economical use of your precious resources.
Let’s face it. As direct-response fundraisers, we don’t spend enough time trying to renew lapsed donors. Most of our effort goes into acquisition and current-donor programs — and for good reason.
Current-donor mailings generate the bulk of your income, so that’s always your first priority. And even though most acquisition mailings lose money in the first year, they do create future donors. (Note: If you’re making money or breaking even on your acquisition mailings, you’re doing a great job. You should request a raise from your boss immediately, and write to us here at FundRaising Success and tell us how you’re doing it.)
EVENT: DMFA Luncheon, Jan. 25, 2006, New York SPEAKERS: Tiffany Lacey, director of development, Animal Haven; and Lisa Maska, account executive, Lautman & Co.Lacey: Animal Haven raised more than $60,000 in Katrina relief funds from 325 donors (25 percent of whom were new) by combining good local media coverage with a series of e-mails, most…