Principles of Fundraising, IMHO (Part 3)
Your donors are leaving you. They are dying, moving away, growing disinterested, running out of money ... . Some loss is inevitable, but your job is to stop as much as you can — through a great new donor conversion program (to get that all-important second gift), lapsed recovery and an ongoing cultivation program that keeps donors excited about giving and informed about what impact their gifts are having.
I had a conversation with someone at the AFP conference that went something like this:
Other person: We don't do direct-mail donor acquisition any more. It doesn't work for us.
Me: So what are your sources of income these days?
Other person: Major donors.
Me: How did those major donors initially come on your donor file?
Other person: Through direct-mail acquisition.
Principle 10: You have to watch your numbers, and course-correct when necessary.
Ignorance of the numbers is not acceptable. Many donor-management systems have reports built in; the problem is, there are so many we don't know where to begin. At a minimum, I suggest you review these reports monthly:
- Income, expense, net income, average gift and percent response of all mailings and e-appeals;
- First-time donors: total, number giving a second gift within six months;
- Donor file (mailing list) growth;
- Major donor activity;
- Recovery of lapsed donors, and methods that are most effective for reactivation;
- Sources of new donors;
- Attrition rate;
- Lifetime (or long-term) giving by acquisition source.
Principle 11: Donors care about overhead. So you'd better care, too.
Despite the articles and videos making the rounds and some well-grounded rationale that an over-emphasis on overhead can hold a nonprofit back from doing the maximum amount of good work, the reality is that many donors — individuals, foundations and corporations — will not support nonprofits that have overhead above a certain percentage.
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.