What I Learned at the International Fundraising Congress—Monthly Donations Should Be a No-Brainer
I just returned from the International Fundraising Congress, held in Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands every October. It’s always a great gathering of some 1,000 individuals from 65+ countries who raise funds in their local countries, and sometimes outside of it as well. An added benefit is that I was able to visit some of my family and stock up on some of my favorite Dutch goodies and foods!
I’d like to share my two favorite sessions with you. There were many more of course, but I simply wasn’t able to attend all of them!
First, I attended a great session on neuro-science, presented by Bernard Ross, Meredith Niles (both from the U.K.), Omar Mahmoud from Switzerland and Geoff Peters from the U.S. They shared some fascinating examples of how the brain responds to websites, emails and television spots. It clearly shows what does and does not matter and what triggers giving.
Parts of this reminded me of the class I took some 30+ years ago with Siegfried Vogele when I was at Reader’s Digest. (Sadly, the institute has just been closed). At the time it was all about eye movement and reading direct mail and printed materials.
Now the neuroscience lab looks at direct mail, as well as many other channels. It’s absolutely fascinating and not surprising that if we as fundraisers know what really triggers the donor to give, we’ll be able to do an even better job! Mind you, what works is not always what we think. Giving should be so simple that it literally becomes a no-brainer.
Second, I went to the I Wish I’d Thought of That (IWITOT). Check out online past sessions as well—always some great ideas. Nine presenters shared some examples of what they’d seen in their own countries or other countries that worked so well that it would be worth testing in other areas.
One idea that stood out for me came from Czechoslovakia. It was the opportunity for €4 to support a shelter voucher to give a homeless person a night at a shelter. This really peaked, of course, in the winter. But what was very clever was that the donor received an email a few days after the gift with a picture and a thank you indicating which person their voucher provided a night in a warm bed for.
Showing the impact of the donor’s gift truly came full circle. What a great start of a longer-term relationship! My mind is already spinning about the next step: ask the donor to make this a monthly donation. Sounds like another no-brainer to 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.