I learned a long time ago, as a development professional, that having a great case for support is nearly meaningless unless you also develop compelling messaging. Unfortunately, many nonprofits continue to send the same dull, institutional-focused direct mail that prospects easily bypass in the paper shuffle. Charities continue to make uninspiring calls, publish informative articles few read, run ads that donors only glance at and soon forget. Here are three tips for crafting more compelling content: 1. Cite fewer statistics and tell more stories. 2. Use humor. 3. Choose your words carefully.
Last month I had the pleasure of joining the New Orleans chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for its annual conference, a tight and terrific two-day gathering on the beautiful campus of Holy Cross School. Organizers jammed as much education time as possible into what actually amounted to a day and a half. I couldn’t make all of the sessions, of course, but here are some nuggets of information gleaned from some of the ones I did attend.
A career in major gifts can be rewarding, exciting, satisfying, but it can also be challenging and frustrating. Do you have what it takes? Depending on the sophistication of the development program, you may have to work your way up to being a major-gifts officer. Maturity is a huge factor. In some development offices, MGOs work one-on-one with high-level volunteers, prospects and donors who expect to deal with someone who has a lot of experience.
I'm in New Orleans this week for the local AFP chapter's annual fundraising conference, and yesterday evening after we broke for the day, I made my way to the French Quarter to visit some of my favorite places — among them, Santa's Quarters on Decatur. So in honor of my Christmas-in-June state of mind, here's my Editor's Note from December 2007, which references one of my favorite edpisodes of M*A*S*H.
Look at the data; don’t make assumptions based on feelings. Generally speaking, mailing more frequently than once a year will increase donor loyalty, not decrease. A charity with 3,000 donors should be mailing perhaps at least four and probably six times a year. Donor fatigue fatigue is when you get tired of people thinking that they have donor fatigue when it simply isn’t the case.
Do you know what your donors want? Do they want a clever T-shirt? A fancy certificate? A lovely lapel pin? A practical coffee mug? A recognition lunch? Maybe. However, while some donors will appreciate receiving trinkets or invitations to recognition events, others really don’t care and still others will view such items as a waste of money. So, what do your donors really want?
Virtually all donors want to know that their donations will have a positive impact. In other words, donors of all sizes want to know that their contributions make a difference.
Major donors have changed a lot in what they want and expect from nonprofits. Ten years ago, you could raise good money with a “spray and pray” appeal that was boring and generic. Now we have to work harder and smarter. The good news is that we can rely on plenty of research about major donors. What are they are thinking about their philanthropy and nonprofits? I’ve culled through the research — and here are my top 10 major-donor trends for 2013, along with a strategy to ride each trend productively.
I caught up with global fundraising consultant Daryl Upsall at a dinner during the 2013 AFP International Conference on Fundraising in San Diego earlier this week, and we talked about an article he wrote for FS in May 2008. In "The Dynamic Growth in Continental Europe," he explains how direct mail fails, but face-to-face and Internet fundraising are big in Italy and Spain.