This fall, don’t think about your fundraising.
I hear you already.
– “But Jen, we raise most of our money in fall and early winter.”
– “But, but Jen, we always do our donor acquisition in the fall.”
– “But, but, but Jen, ARE YOU CRAZY!?”
This fall, don’t think about your revenue target. Don’t think about your organization’s pressing needs. For God’s sake, don’t think for a second about your half hour staff meeting with your team to dig out last fall’s fundraising packages and “strategize” about how to update by changing a few words and resend.
This fall, think about your donors.
Challenge yourself to really focus on your donors. Work toward creating fundraising campaigns that will make your donor stand up (or even better SHOUT) and say “YES! I am with you!”
Don’t believe the hype. Your consultant or agency might have a fancy way of presenting you ideas or creative, but that’s the last step. Not the first step.
Here’s where you start:
- Set a clear objective. Not a revenue target based on slightly higher than last year’s results. An objective. Something like “raise $100,000 to fund 1,000 surgeries”. Or “help us buy a new truck to deliver fresh produce to families in need”.
- Create an irresistible call to action – demonstrating how your donors can take action to solve a problem, heal a wound or save something precious.
- Build a compelling – and honest – case for support. Explore your USP (unique selling position) – and tell your donors how you and only you can make something magical happen with their gift.
- Now – and only now – think about your creative approach and how you will draw people in. Explore how to make your message shine with an image and copy for your outer envelope – or maybe not. Consider your subject line and e-blast header art.
Your Y-E-A-R E-N-D S-P-E-C-I-A-L
All charities have a version of your year-end special. You all call it something different (Annual Mailing, Fall Mailing, Christmas Special, Holiday Appeal, Fall Campaign) – but you connect with your current and past supporters (by mail, phone, email or all of the above) to ask them to give, right?
My son is a big shot strutting into senior Kindergarten now, so we’re all about spelling. And yes, you can have your apple juice and cookie when you really, REALLY look at those words.
Year End. The holidays. Family. Kindness. Your donors are thinking about the same things in their own lives. So urge them to think about what the holidays mean to them, and to your clients, or your cause. Families in poverty are hungry for hot meal. Polar bears are struggling to survive on a shrinking piece of ice. And help them solve the problem. Your donor – and only your donor – can help you meet your objective and make a difference. Still stuck? Try a matching gift.
Special. Make it special. Memorable. Innovative. Silly. Something that fits – and makes your offer more interesting. Here’s where you can have some creative fun. Of course, you’ve set your objective, created your call to action and built your case. So the fundraising offer rocks. Now, make it special. No, putting holly around the reply coupon and corner of the envelope does not count. Have the frightened polar bear write the appeal. Have Santa write it. YES!
We’ve covered your fall contact with your existing supporters. Check. You’re also probably thinking (worrying, agonizing, bashing-head-against-wall) about finding new donors for your cause. Well, don’t think about what you’re going to raise from your acquisition (or how much it will cost). Don’t even think about how many gifts you will get. Think in donors. People. Real live human beings who have never done so before but have been inspired to give to you.
This just in – your fall acquisition is not a single campaign. It’s the start of each donor’s journey with your cause.
This is especially important if your consultant, agency or organization relies on mission-vacant, cluttered-and-complicated and endlessly-irritating premium packages. Oh I know, you tested it once and now you can’t go back. You know the old ladies really love that stuff. I’ve heard it all.
But since this is direct marketing, if your results are good, do it. But please, build a strategy to follow-up (mail, e-mail, newsletters, e-newsletters, welcome kit) with thoughtful and mission-focused pieces and appeals. Premium-acquired donors likely don’t distinguish yours from the other premium packages they have given to, so if you want to build loyalty and increase the long-term value of your acquisition donors, make sure they know who you are and what you do. Not just how pretty your premium is this fall.
@agentjenlove (my charming Twitter avatar) is writing this part. Are you shocked that she sounds just like me? If you look her up online, would you be shocked that she looks just like me? You shouldn’t. If your online presence isn’t authentic and a reflection of who you are and what you want to say, don’t bother. Even if you are online as the voice of your organization, you can still tell stories, build relationships and engage as (gasp) a real person.
Twitter, Facebook or any kind of social media are simply tools for you and your cause to be connected to hundreds, thousands of others. Do the numbers matter? No. What matters is that the connections are meaningful, intimate and allow you to be engaged in conversation with people (yes, people) who have self-identified as caring about what you have to say. Read my full blog on Twitter here.
The key word about social media is engage. Social media folks will talk about the 4 C’s: connect, converse, convert, care. You find, follow and are followed (connect). You discuss, share and learn (converse). You inspire them to act, and give (convert). You report back, show them their work in action, thank them (care).
You can use social media right now to thank a volunteer, echo some media coverage, share excitement about a new program or give a boost to your fundraising. But hand-in-hand with any kind of social media is a reason for your fans and followers to check you out – and come back for something fresh. So making a commitment to social media also means making a commitment to a blog or some other way to offer fresh, new content to your audience.
Those of you who are active on Twitter, I like what I see in terms of broadcasting (you tweet) and you are listening (you reply and retweet), but don’t fall into the too-much-chatter trap. Your Twitter page should always be a snapshot of the personality you want to embody and give an impression of your leadership on issues, response to situations and overall body of work. If too many of your tweets are about what you had for breakfast or how hot it is in your office remember how that will look to a potential new follower who finds you.
You have the opportunity to reinvigorate your fundraising program this fall. Create a donor-centred approach that works because you designed it with your donor in mind. And remember that come January 1, 2011 you will be reconnecting with all these wonderful donors to ask them to renew and join your movement again for next year, convert to monthly giving and consider leaving you a legacy.