Old Fundraising Ways, New Fundraising Ways
If you look back 20, 30 — OK, even two — years, you may see some fundraising practices that seem silly now that we have the perspective of time and experience on our side. That’s the fun of working in a field that isn’t just science; there’s plenty of “art” mixed in too. The challenge is knowing what’s what so we aren’t just running after every neat new thing or refusing to try anything new. A mistake either way can hurt our income, and therefore our mission fulfillment.
So how do you identify what old methods are worth keeping alive and what new methods can have a positive bottom-line impact? Or in other words, how do you avoid staying with what’s comfortable even when it’s on life support or chasing what’s new just because it looks fun?
A good place to start is by asking yourself these questions.
Who is my target audience?
Yeah, I know I bring this up a lot, but I keep hearing and seeing evidence that says someone out there isn’t listening. I hate to tell you, but the target isn’t you — so you have to figure out who it is. That audience helps determine what you say, when you say it and what tool you say it in.
Personally, one of the hardest things is to stop thinking it’s all about me. But the reality is, it’s about the donor or potential donor. Until we believe that, we run the risk of leaving donors behind.
The question for every fundraiser and colleague who reviews copy and design isn’t, “Do I like it?” As long as it is honest and ethical, the real question is, “Will our donors connect with the message and be compelled to respond?” When you talk your donors’ love language, you have a far better chance of getting them to take the desired action.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.