Good Surprises Can Benefit Your Fundraising
2. Be genuine
If you were thrilled when the gift arrived, say so. If you would be delighted if the donor sent in a gift today, write that in the appeal. Be honest, not over-the-top — but let me know I (and my gift) actually do matter to you (both the letter-signer and the organization).
3. Treat me like a friend
After reading the article about Food for the Poor, I opened the latest letter I received from that organization. I'm an annual donor of a small amount, so I cut some slack for that, but the "Dear Caring Friend" salutation didn't make me feel like a "king." Just saying …
On the other hand, I like that the Veterans of Foreign Wars always says above my name in the address block, "Loyal Supporter Since 2008." Nice they remember. (I don't!)
Sorry to be pedantic, but you can't get out of your database what you don't put in. To address a donor by his or her first name, you have to store the name in parts — title, first, middle (if provided), last and suffix (if provided). Personally, I find "Dear Pamela Barden" to be a bit odd and not very friendly. I know some people get upset if you call them just by their first name, so maybe we can be more proactive and ask donors how they want to be addressed. If Mr. John Smith goes by Jack, calling him John might mean his first reaction when he opens your letter or email is to cringe and think, "I wish they wouldn't call me that."
4. Stay in touch
OK, maybe this is an age thing, but I hate it when I am unaware of a close friend's important announcement only to be told, "Well, I put it on Facebook." Am I the only person on Earth who doesn't read every single post on my Facebook feed? I wish I could, but I have to work, buy groceries, pay bills and do all those other pesky things required to survive. Don't rely on any one form of communication; talk to your donors via different channels, but …
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.