How Can You Solve the Long-Term vs. Short-Term Struggle?
Spoiler alert: It’s not by doing more social media. It’s not by running more events. It’s by focusing on asking your donors to upgrade, to make monthly gifts and leave gifts through their will.
It’s all about asking your donors to give more money, more often, ongoing. It’s getting long-term results by doing things now.
Why is this important? Because the latest trend reports are here and donor numbers are down once again.
- Donors down -5.8%
- Revenue down -7.3%
- Existing [repeat] donor retention down -3.7%
- New donor acquisition down -9.5%
- Donors giving more than $1,000 down -8.2%
Now some of you (you know who you are!) may argue:
- Ah, that’s just because donors don’t give in the spring.
- Ah, that’s because organizations don’t do any acquisition in the spring.
- Ah, that’s because organizations don’t send any appeals in the spring, because they think their donors don’t want to hear from them.
- Ah, that’s because donors are too old, and we just need to start focusing on younger donors.
- Ah, that’s because our donors have all started giving via donor-advised funds, so they don’t want any more communication.
- Ah, that’s because organizations stopped appealing altogether, because donors only give online now.
- Ah, that’s because we’re going to get all our donors to give on Giving Tuesday, and that offsets our spring loss…
- On and on…
These myths just keep popping up. And boy, they’re hard to dispel. So what should you do?
First, please realize that your donors will certainly not give if you stop communicating with them.
And if your email open and click-through rates are any indication (which are down, too), you know communicating and growing your fundraising through email alone is just not realistic. Growth is not going to come from events, and it’s also not going to come from social media.
Second, you must go back to the basics. I’ve written about this in the past, but let me say it again: THANK YOUR DONORS. Send them a letter, not just an email. Give them a call!
Thirdly, while short-term revenue is important, you must think long term.
What do you need to do to “capitalize” on the donors you have brought in, and how can you turn that into longer retention and more money in the long run?
That means focusing on getting more money from your existing donors, at higher levels, more often and ongoing. Monthly donors. Major donors. Bequests.
I just watched this amazing webinar from Sean Triner from Moceanic who shared the secret in a very easy and understandable way. You can find out a bit more in this little video and blog.
I’ve known Sean for years, from my years in international fundraising and attending conferences in Europe especially. He and his partner Christiana Stergiou started Moceanic in Australia a few years ago, and I’m excited to be presenting monthly giving workshops, The Recurring Revolution, available exclusively to members of The Fundraisingology Lab by Moceanic.
If you’re in direct response fundraising, you owe it to yourself to subscribe to find out more and sign up for The Fundraisingology Lab email newsletter, right here. Its blogs are great reads, typically short, sweet and very practical. Stuff you, as a direct response fundraiser, should love, in addition to NonProfit PRO, of course.
But let me get back to that webinar I watched last weekend. (That’s when I do a lot of my reading, webinar-watching and learning).
Sean explains very clearly that your time is valuable, and everything you do as a fundraiser with your acquisition and donor appeals should be focused on the three-pronged stool of generating more monthly donors, major donors and bequests.
That’s what is going to help you grow your fundraising. That’s what’s going to keep your donors.
So what’s holding you back? How can you start getting back on track?
- Stop worrying so much about social media.
- Stop worrying about the next crowdfunding campaign or the next new shiny “shortcut.” some people tell you about.
- Do the basics right and soon.
- Outsource what and where you can.
- Use your time wisely .
- Listen and learn.
- Think long term. Look at what you need to invest today to grow those areas in your fundraising that are really going to be worthwhile tomorrow.
I hate to call myself “old,” but I am a parent and grandparent, and the reality is that only those who have been around for a while can see that it takes time to reap the rewards of something you started and planted a while back.
Fundraising isn’t easy, but if you read, watch and listen to what some of us “golden oldies” share, that can help make your fundraising better!
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.