“Hi. I’m Agent Jen Love and I’m a cookie addict.”
(sympathetic nods from readers)
Baking is fussy. I’m not.
But I do find a form of Zen in the precise measuring and finicky instructions. And last week I created the perfect chewy chocolate chip cookie. All that’s left of the first delicious batch are crumbs and a craving to bake them again. In anticipation of my next batch, I’ve put together 8 ways that baking the perfect cookie is a lot like developing your fundraising strategy.
[typography font=”PT Sans” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]1. Plan Ahead.[/typography] Perfect cookies start with real butter — and for best results, it must be at room temperature. Same with your eggs. The worst kind of fundraising projects are ones where you need to “get something out the door” which is the equivalent of microwaving your butter to soften it. Ugh.
[typography font=”PT Sans” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]2. Know Your Audience.[/typography] My mother is fatally allergic to nuts. No almond Madelines for Agent Grann! As a donor, I am fatally allergic to premiums. If you live and die by mailing labels, have a plan for making sure your donors are engaged with your mission. Make no mistake – those donors are loyal to sugar, and you’re feeding their sweet tooth with your premiums. Make them loyal to your cause and they’ll be with you for the long haul.
[typography font=”PT Sans” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]3. Use Your Hands.[/typography] Leave the razzle-dazzle gadgets in the drawer. Use a wooden spoon and your hands, the way your grandmother did. With your fundraising, there is a time and a place for razzle-dazzle gadgets, but when it comes to your donors, your mission, you — the inspired, engaged fundraiser — are the expert, not your agency or some talking head at a conference (or on a blog). When in doubt, test your thinking, or even better, ask your donors. Get your hands dirty. Roll up your sleeves and connect.
[typography font=”PT Sans” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]4. Insist on The Finest Ingredients.[/typography] In my kitchen I use unbleached flour, organic eggs and pure vanilla extract. Same with your fundraising – why settle for ‘artificial’ or ‘imitation’? Go for authentic and fresh.
[typography font=”PT Sans” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]5. Secret Ingredient.[/typography] My secret ingredient in perfect chewy chocolate chip cookies is coconut. Heavenly! Another woefully underused secret ingredient in baking is real Canadian maple syrup. Never underestimate the ‘surprise and delight’ factor as a way to make your donors feel special and cherished.
[typography font=”PT Sans” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]6. Timing is Everything.[/typography] It is literally a matter of seconds where a cookie is perfect – not undercooked and not overcooked. They need to rest, on the baking sheet, for at least 2 minutes before they go on to the cooling rack. Timing is probably the most important factor in your fundraising – sure the right message to the right audience matters too – but if you ask before you thank, or send your holiday appeal on December 22nd, you’re timing sucks and you’re headed for disaster.
[typography font=”PT Sans” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]7. Enjoy The Journey.[/typography] Baking is not a destination, it is a journey. You can always tweak, adjust and perfect. This one is especially true with your fundraising database. We shudder when clients say “we’re finally going to get our database in order”.We applaud the initiative to whip it into shape, but you’re never “done” with effective database administration. So learn as you go, take breaks when you need them, and enjoy the ride.
[typography font=”PT Sans” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]8. Love. I bake for and with my kids.[/typography] Our family rules are: first, you must eat one cookie when it is still warm; and second, you can have as many as you want the day they are baked. We share with our neighbours and friends. We tell stories and laugh while we bake. Creating the perfect chewy chocolate chip cookie is more than just warm in your belly – baking with people you love creates a lifetime of memories. And always, always, lick the beaters. Give attention and respect to your donors. Promise to listen – and do it. And always, always, show you love them in as many ways as you can.