1 Email to Steal, 1 Email to Learn From for Fundraisers
The second email came from the issuer of my small business credit card. (Third photo.)
Did I mention I am a small business? You know — I keep the books, buy the ink for the printer, reset the network when it goes wonky and even get to do some fundraising from time to time. Apparently my opinions are important to the folks at the credit card company, and they wanted me to complete a survey to share those all-important opinions with them and a research company.
But then I read on ... and found out that it would take me 25 minutes to complete this survey. Did I mention that I am a small business? For me, 25 minutes is a big chunk of time. And it's a chunk I really can't afford just to give my opinions to a gigantic bank and credit card issuer that I really doubt cares about my opinions all that much.
Where did they go wrong (in my opinion)? Asking me to spend 25 minutes to complete a survey was an imposition. It implied (to me) that I had lots of time on my hands. If they had asked me to take just five minutes once a week for five weeks to complete a series of surveys, I would have done it. Five minutes at one time is "waste-able" — 25 minutes is not.
Your donors may invest the 25 minutes. But at a minimum, try options; different donors respond differently so don't fall into the "one size fits all" trap.
So what are the nonprofit takeaways from these two commercial emails?
- Surprise your donors. Acknowledge their milestones — giving to you for three consecutive years, total giving since their first gift totals $1,000, enough donated to feed 250 people, or whatever giving highlight makes sense to recognize. Save the Children once sent me a certificate to honor my first year of partnership; what a nice touch — that I still remember because it was the one and only I have received from any nonprofit. These kinds of emails are relatively inexpensive but can be invaluable in deepening a relationship.
- Make it easy for your donors to provide information, make a gift, read your material, peruse your website or whatever else it is you want them to do. Unlike you, supporting your organization is not their full-time job. We love involved donors, so make it simple to get involved by providing lots of "baby steps" along with the serious leaps of commitment. Don't let the tail wag the dog — for example, your forms be driven by data-processing policies, not ease for donor completion — or you risk frustrating donors.
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.