Principles of Fundraising, IMHO (Part 1)
Acquisition is generally a losing game, as far as profit is concerned. Retaining donors means continual contact, and that, too, costs money. But failure to retain and acquire more donors is far more costly - the end price is the collapse of your nonprofit.
Don't waste money, but invest it. Invest it in the fundraising activities that will yield more money and more donors. Wisely spend some money, and you'll raise more money.
Principle 3: You have to ask to receive.
Most donors expect to be asked. Studies have shown that major givers cite "not being asked" as a key reason why they don't give. Yes, they knew what you were leading up to, but they still expected you to ask them for a gift.
For some people, asking is simple. Others are great on relationship building, but struggle with actually asking. But practice does truly make perfect - or at least a whole lot better.
Whatever channel you expect to raise money — letter, e-mail, website, face-to-face, brochures, etc. — will fail if you don't ask. So ask. Clearly. Directly. Without shame.
Principle 4: Use multiple fundraising tools for balance.
Major gifts can be impacted by the economy. Direct mail can be ignored if there is major news event unfolding when your letter arrives in-home. E-mail can get lost in spam filters. The rise of mobile phones and the subsequent decline in landlines can make phone-athons less effective. Events fail because of snowstorms or thunderstorms. We just can't control everything.
That's why we want to always have multiple fundraising activities happening at the same time. It's like a stool; the more legs on your stool, the better balanced you'll be if the ground shakes under you.
Don't rely on one fundraising tool; instead have a strong foundation that is multi-faceted. Keep testing new things and add in the ones that produce positive results.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.