Showing Results Without Killing Fundraising
I am incredibly frustrated. For the last two weeks, my e-mail provider has been "experiencing difficulties," and mail delivery has been slow. Added to that, the volume of spam that its spam filters are allowing through is significantly increasing.
Now, I am not a technical genius, so I'm not all that interested in the reasons for these problems. I want solutions. And you know, that's a lot like the people who donate to nonprofits. They have identified a need they care about, and they want it fixed. So they choose an organization that they believe will "fix" the problem, they invest some money and they expect to hear that the problem is getting solved.
Here's where the disconnect can occur. We know that "need" is usually a bigger motivator than "solution" when it comes to fundraising. We've tested that over and over, and in almost all cases, "need" wins. The very same donors who say they want to know progress is being made in solving the problem often don't give (or they give less) when we tell them about progress!
What's a fundraiser to do?
Remember it is a relationship, not a transaction. Like all good communication with anyone we have a relationship with, we won't always have the same message. We may ask our favorite waitress how her day off was as well as place our order, or chat with a classmate about a concert we attended as well as an upcoming assignment.
Always think of your donors as individuals with whom you are building relationships. Yes, you are usually writing to hundreds or thousands, but the copy is being read by a single person. So talk to that person about the good things she has helped you do and why another gift now is needed to continue the work. If it has been a while since she gave, let her know that you've missed her and that renewing support today will help accomplish more of what she made possible in the past. And if she has never given, let her know you are chipping away at the problem but that her help will bring about results even faster.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.