Practice Is the Road to Perfection
If you’ve ever been to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, you may have visited a wonderful old movie theater called Cape Cinema in Dennis.
It typically shows off-the-beaten-path movies, makes its own popcorn, offers regular and decaf coffee (and even beer and wine), has very comfy seats, and always makes for a nice visit.
My husband and I love going to the movies, so when I saw the announcement about "The Phantom of the Open," we went. It’s about golf, but not quite the way you might think. It’s a wonderful, heartwarming, funny and true story, and great to watch for golfers and non-golfers alike.
One of the things golfer Maurice Flitcroft keeps telling us — and himself — over and over is “Practice is the road to perfection.”
That’s where you come in. Because fundraising is a series of small things brought together. It’s about the short and the long game combined.
It’s never going to be perfect right away even though we will always try, of course.
Fundraising should always be a process of drafting, asking, testing and improving, and drafting, asking, testing and improving some more.
That’s why it’s so important you send a number of appeals. And why you should send a number of newsletters, emails and social media messages.
Some messages will resonate better than others. Some stories will work better than others. Some appeals will raise more money than others. Some emails will generate more monthly donors than others.
Don’t just depend on one or two things a year, but rather, spread it out and add something, even if it’s just one more thing a month.
The more you practice, the more perfect your fundraising will become, and the more money you will raise, the more monthly donors you’ll generate.
Just think of it this way, if you play golf, you’ll have at least nine holes to play your perfect round, but you’ll play differently on every hole. Every hole will offer different challenges. Every hole offers you the opportunity to practice, so you’ll do better on the next one and overall.
I’m not saying that fundraising is just a game, but there are so many more ways now to engage with and ask donors in any and all channels and media that you have a lot more opportunities to practice your messaging and asks, so that it will ultimately become absolutely perfect.
Allow yourself to add some more practice rounds. Send a few more emails. Send another appeal. Add some buttons for specific asks. Add some tick boxes to your appeals. Make a few phone calls.
Little things that are typically not going to hurt anything other than that they will teach you something and they will help you raise more money.
Because it’s so true: Practice is the road to perfection. Don’t forget to practice!
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is author of the book "Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant." She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals.
She just co-authored the "Monthly Giving Starter and Marketing Kit" with Donor Perfect, and she’s working on her next book called "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving—in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and cat, Mientje.