Fundraising Optimism vs. Stupidity
If you aren’t watching your numbers with laser intensity, you won’t be able to respond before a small problem escalates to a huge one. Set aside time at least once a week to look at reports. If the reports you are receiving aren’t useful for making actionable decisions or don’t make sense, work with the appropriate people to get them changed. Ignorance of key performance indicators in fundraising is an invitation to failure at worst and, at best, a sure way to leave money on the table, no matter how successful you are.
We don’t have to keep asking because our donors love us
Yes, I am sure they do. But they are also fickle and even forgetful. Life gets in the way of best intentions. I recently pulled everything together for my annual tax filing, and I was (once again) shocked that there were some nonprofits I love that I hadn’t given a dime to in 2013.
Remind your donors when it’s been a while since they last gave. Tell them what great things have been happening since that last gift and how another gift today will be invested in solutions to ongoing needs.
Don’t just share success stories — although that’s important as I point out below. Even in your newsletter, gently remind donors that there is still more to do, and they can make that possible with their ongoing support.
Don’t blame your donors for forgetting you. Blame yourself if you succumb to this optimistic fallacy.
No one is going to read a two-page letter
I totally agree — assuming those two pages are boring, poorly written, presented in an unappealing way and irrelevant to me. For that matter, no one is going to read three paragraphs that share those characteristics, either.
Test after test shows that it’s not the length of the letter that matters; it’s the content, the presentation, the appropriateness for the audience, etc. This is one of those decisions where it’s vital to say 10 times before making a decision, “I am NOT the target audience.” Is what is written — in two lines or two pages — a relevant message for the recipient?
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.