Fundraising Lessons From the Rug Store
Last week, we had the recently uncovered, original oak living room floor that had been hidden under carpeting for a decade or two refinished. While the sanding, staining and varnishing was taking place, I did some online shopping for a rug to put in the room once it was completed.
What I found was a great lesson in Fundraising 101 — how to convert inquiries to donors.
The website I landed on after some Goggling and such claimed to feature 300,000 different rugs. But simple navigation got me quickly to the type I wanted, in the color family of my choice. I explored and ended up bookmarking the rug I wanted — but I did not place an order.
And then the learning began and the rug merchant …
Stayed front of mind. It seems that everywhere I've gone online for the last week, I've seen ads for this rug-selling website. It hasn't felt like stalking — no three ads on one page. But when I went to Yahoo, there was an ad. Same with CBS News, Boston Business Journal, Facebook and a local hiking website. As I continued to think about buying a rug, I couldn't help but think about this website. It became my "only" choice simply because it was always top of mind.
Lesson: Don't ignore your prospects. You don't have to overwhelm them — just find a way to remain in their minds.
Stuck with what I was interested in. Most of the ads I saw featured the rug in the style and color I had bookmarked. Out of 300,000 choices, this rug merchant figured out that I liked that one (not too hard since I bookmarked that page), so it kept it front and center. I'd estimate fewer than 15 percent of the ads showed a different style and color — and those were always similar in terms of style.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.