Good Surprises Can Benefit Your Fundraising
As most of us with a birthday falling within the few weeks following the year-end holiday season can attest, it's easy to get less "fussing over" than children born at other times. After all, everyone is just plain worn out. So don't blame me for the fact that I always celebrated my "half birthday."
So imagine my pleasure when I saw an email from one of the online stores from which I occasionally buy with this subject line: "Happy Half Birthday Pamela." The company even included a discount as my gift — and yes, I went to the site, entered my discount code and bought myself a half-birthday gift.
Surprise. A personal touch. Feeling like I mattered to them. These played into a sale for the company — and all it did was instruct its computer to send me an email.
What a great lesson for fundraisers. When was the last time you surprised one of your "customers"? When was the last time your subject line didn't sound a lot like every other one in her inbox? When did she feel special, just for a minute, like a real friend and not just Donor #46523?
That same day, I received an email from The NonProfit Times quoting Angel Aloma, executive director of Food for the Poor: "Every time we had a meeting, we said the donor is king, but we weren't acting like the donor was king." That led the organization to a three-year process to reinvent fundraising to be donor-centric. (This year's Engage conference featured an in-depth case study of that process.)
As a nonprofit organization, we probably can't offer donors a discount on their half-birthday. But how can we surprise them?
1. Use emotive language
Forget business-as-usual copy, even on the receipt. I cringe every time I'm told, "We need the receipt to be more transactional." Cold, business-like language does not inspire warm, personal relationships. Sure, there are things you have to include to keep the IRS happy, but why can't you show true gratitude for the donor's sacrificial gift? (Hey, even $5 means sacrificing a chai latte.)
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.