We All Need Each Other—Why Going Solo Doesn’t Work: Direct Response is Beautiful
Many nonprofit fundraising departments are dualistic in their setup. Usually I find that either they are direct-response driven or annual fund/event/major gift driven. (For simplicity, let's call this annual fund driven.) Both are wonderful—yet deeply flawed if one discipline significantly outweighs the other.
The best development departments are yes/and, rather one or the other.
Here is how I see this get played out on a daily basis. In the annual fund driven shop, whenever I bring up the idea that perhaps instead of mailing to their donors once or twice per year they start with six to eight times per year and create a monthly e-appeal, you would think by the look on the development directors face I had just committed murder.
The very idea that I would suggest that we bombard their donors with appeals, emails and viral campaigns is unconscionable. "We don't want to upset our donors," they tell me. Then, I will retort, "Do you have a need? Do you have all the revenue you need right now? Of course they answer yes, and no they don't have all the revenue they need. "Well, I say, why are you afraid to tell your donors you have a need?"
Then I talk about the fact that if you want your major gift program to expand, you have to cultivate the donors that one day will be part of that major gift program. You can't do that by communicating with them a couple of times per year.
Get over the fear that you are over-communicating to your donors and that they will be upset with you. Donors have life beyond giving once per year. The more times they give to you each year the deeper their commitment to you. The deeper their commitment to you, the greater chance that one day they will be in your major gift program.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.