Time to Get Back to Basics
As I attend conferences and presentations lately, I find I’m starting to be one of the “older hats” when it comes to fundraising experience. Some of my colleagues are starting to retire or slow down. The same applies for leaders and colleagues in nonprofits. I’ve seen major changes over just the past few years, but it’s a good reminder to get back to basics.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to slow down any time soon, but I am concerned. Because I believe that the next generation of leaders and fundraisers tends to be very much focused on what appeals to them personally. Believe me, I deal with this with my clients a lot.
That next new shiny big thing: Crowdfunding, texting, peer-to-peer, online, digital, social media. And they project that’s what donors must like then too, right?
I agree that that SOME of the fundraising is coming from social and digital activities. But you should know that only 10 percent of fundraising revenue is sourced that way. Ninety percent is still coming from “old channels”—Letters, direct mail, phone calls, face-to-face meetings with donors.
Tied with that is also how donors like to be thanked. How can you and your organization stand out from the crowd? The answer: by combining “old channels” with new ones.
So if a donor gives online, send a thank-you letter in the mail. Call to say thank you. Write a personal note. Send mail appeals to those donors who gave online and track them separately and see how many are responding to both channels.
I know. I know. You can only do so much with the time allotted to you to raise funds for your organization. All I ask is that you go back to basics and make sure that these are in place:
- Send a mailed personalized thank-you letter or personalized thank-you card, even if a donor gave online.
- Give your donors a call to say thank you.
- Try to get a meeting with donors to say thank you in person.
- Send hard copy invites for events and special gatherings.
- Send hard copy newsletters and mailings to provide updates and, yes, ask for money
- Ensure that your messaging is consistent across all channels.
Once you do these basics, that’s when you can add new channels to communicate and engage further with your donors. For example, when you talk to a donor on the phone, you can ask them if it’s okay to send them updates via text. You can ask them how they’d prefer to hear from you and how often. You can include a little survey in your thank-you letters.
As you’re getting ready for #GivingTuesday and your year-end giving, trust me, put the basics in place and you can test and add new channels to your heart’s content. You’ll raise a lot more money and you’ll retain many more donors that way. You can take it from an “old hat” like me.
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. 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 authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "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 a cat, Mientje.