A, B, C, D: A Quick Refresher Course for Fundraisers
Be in the mail. Yes, I am an “old dog” and a direct mail aficionado. But the reason is because it works! Many organizations have bought into the reports that say “Direct mail is dead,” and “People only read things online now.” I wish that were true, because we could all save a lot of money.
But it’s not true. Mail is still alive and kicking in the donations. Yet, successful fundraising projects are still being migrated to online only, and income is tanking. Let’s just all get along and agree we need both. Online is not better than mail, and mail is not better than online. Both are opportunities for donations, both matter, and both need to be used between now and Dec. 31. Together, mail and online are a winning combination!
Cultivate relationships. While major donors often (and should) get personal attention year-round, September and October are great times to invest in strengthening your relationships with core donors through phone calls and more personal notes. You may not be able to send a personal message to each one, but you can send an email (or even a letter) that expresses how much you appreciate “donors like you who make all our successes in 2015 possible.”
Make sure you put a few newsletters in their hands between now and the end of the year so they can see that “yes, my donation really does do good.” Add brief inserts to your timely receipt mailings that focus on a result that was possible in 2015 because of their support. In short, let your donors know that their giving matters, not in an abstract way but in a tangible way that is having a positive impact.
Develop a strategy for 2016. You’ll gain new donors at year-end, some former donors will reactivate, and some current donors will upgrade. These are all good things—but they are fleeting unless you have a well-developed plan for cultivating them in 2016 so their year-end giving becomes a habit, not an anomaly.
Part of your plan needs to be effectively receipting them. Receipts will work hard for your organization when they get to the donor in days (not weeks); have a message oozing with gratitude; invite them to stay involved by giving again (soft ask); and provide information on making a gift in honor of someone, including your organization in their will or referring friends (one opportunity at a time, not all at once!). Don’t view a gift as a single occurrence; instead view it as the next step in what is going to be a long relationship that is constantly cultivated and always treasured.
Four more months—120+ days filled with more opportunities to make your donors proud to be supporting your mission. This old dog knows that the hard work between now and Dec. 31 will pay rich dividends now and in the coming year. Here’s to your success as a fundraiser in 2015!
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.