Our Overloaded 'Bag of Tricks'
Back in the dark ages — oh, around 1999 — we fundraisers had many things to draw on to gain a donation. We had direct mail and newsletters, events, planned giving, one-on-one meetings, radio, and direct-response TV. It was a tough job, just keeping up with all the messages we were sending out through these mediums to donors and potential supporters.
Now we have so many more tools for raising money — e-mail, banner ads, social media, websites, ads on social media, blogs, content for multiple platforms of mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) and more (I presume; I got tired just listing all those, so I gave up). Quick! Can you give a scintillating description of your nonprofit in 140 characters or less? Oh, for the glory days when attention spans were longer than three seconds.
OK, enough moaning. It's actually a lot of fun these days to figure out the best way to use some or all of these great new tools, and it's even better because many of them are fairly low-cost compared to the more traditional fundraising methods. But it's still a balancing act to figure out which ones will give us the best overall return on investment, especially since our day remains 24 hours and using some of those for sleep and "a life" is still a necessity for most of us.
So here's how this old dog gets the most out of our 21st-century bag of tricks, maximizing income and still having time to enjoy these good current days.
As a fundraiser, your goal is to raise money, not simply to have followers, fans, friends and whatever other word is trendy to describe people who have some kind of tenuous connection to us. It's great to have all those followers, but if they aren't moving toward becoming donors or becoming more committed donors, you have to figure out how to turn them into valued supporters. If you just want names, you can get a phone book. Truly committed donors require a focused strategy.