A Summer Checkup for Your Fundraising
Is your direct-mail reply form logical, providing large enough space for someone to actually write in an email address or credit card number? At the risk of ruffling feathers, your reply form should be designed with the donor in mind, not for the convenience of the data-entry people. Surely with a little effort, a compromise that does both pretty well is possible.
Finally, when you put a receipt in the mail to a donor, are you (a) thanking the donor; (b) making it convenient (but not offensive) for the donor to give another gift if and when he or she chooses; and (c) getting full value from your postage by including relevant inserts (i.e., planned giving, giving in honor of someone or a means of providing referrals)?
Check what sets you apart
While there are always similarities between your organization and some others, there needs to be something that is distinctive to you. After all, if you and Organization X (which happens to be 100 times larger) sound exactly the same in your fundraising, why does the world need you?
If you haven’t looked at your elevator speech lately (or don’t have one), it’s time to review it or write it. This is not your mission statement. Rather, it’s a very short (one minute or less) explanation, in language that is conversational and donor-focused, of what your organization does and the impact you have. Instead of, “We participate in the global effort to reduce the threat of the proliferation of …” an elevator speech says, “We focus every day on making sure that people living in poverty are not … Last year alone, we made life safer and happier for 10,000 families because we (something distinctive about your organization here).”
That’s a very simplistic explanation of an elevator speech; you can go online and find many articles that are far more detailed and can guide you through the process. My point now is simply that you need to know your distinctive trait, be able to communicate it in language that the average donor can understand and, finally, make sure that’s the message evident in every piece of fundraising you do. If I were to pick up your latest letter or e-appeal and any means of identifying the organization was removed, would I know it’s from you, or would it sound like it came from one of the many organizations doing the same kind of work that send me acquisition mail on a regular basis?
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.