A, B, C, D: A Quick Refresher Course for Fundraisers
Kids are heading back to school, lodging rates at popular tourist spots are moving back into the range of affordable, and Christmas decorations are on display in some stores. This can only mean one thing—it’s almost September.
And that means just one thing for fundraisers: There are only four more months to make this your best year possible. Four more months to raise money so your organization can do more to fulfill its mission. Four more months to build long-lasting relationships with donors. Four more months to share your story and gain new donors who will help make 2016 great.
What you do in these next four months is vital. The letters you mail, your Facebook posts, your events, your newsletters, your face-to-face visits—all of these and more will have an impact on your final numbers for calendar year 2015. Many organizations “sink or swim” based on income in the last few months of the year; even if your giving is more evenly distributed across the months, year-end is such a natural time for people to make donations for a number of reasons, so you don’t want to squander a day of these last four months.
So, getting back to the basics, here are the A, B, C’s—with D thrown in for good measure—to follow between now and Dec. 31.
Ask. How many times have you heard or read that studies show that one reason people don’t give is they weren’t asked? For seasoned fundraisers this may seem too elementary. But while there are some amazing “askers” out there, too many of us (and I include myself here) have a hard time actually asking. It’s not as natural as breathing—but it is as essential as breathing to our organization.
I’m often asked to critique someone’s fundraising letter, and I grade a lot of papers as I teach fundraising. The two things I see over and over are “failure to ask” and “failure to be proactive.” In other words, we assume the donor knows we want them to give, and we tell them “we’ll be looking for your response,” instead of saying, “I’ll follow up...” or something similar.
In every fundraising effort between now and Dec. 31, ask yourself, “Did I ask for a gift in such a way that it was clear that I wanted the listener/reader to respond with a gift?” and “Did I give them a reason to respond today?”
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.