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Top 10 Tactics to Raise More Money This Year-End

I hope at this point, you are in the middle of an intense year-end fundraising campaign.

But the stakes have never been higher. You need your community’s help now more than EVER before and you need to tell your donors why you need them.

Here are my Top 10 Tactics that will help you get the attention you need from today’s harried, uncertain donor – and open her heart to your cause.

Hopefully you’re already doing these, but just in case: here they are!

1. Set a specific goal tied to specific results.

Recession-weary donors are looking for specific results.  They want to know exactly where the money is going and what you are trying to achieve.

They are much more apt to rally around a solid goal that has a specific outcome.

Tell your donors that you need $XXXX money in order to serve YYY people and create ZZZ outcomes.

  • For example, if you are the SPCA, tell your donors you need to raise $100,000 more this fall to save 10,000 more animals.
  • If you are a hospital that raises lots of money at year-end, tell your donors that your target is an additional $500,000 to expand cancer services in your community with XXX more staff and facilities.

2.  Let donors restrict their gifts.

They will give more money if you let them give to something specific.  Though restricting gifts is unpopular with CEO’s, it’s very popular with donors.

At the very least present options like these:

  • $100 will buy coats to keep 5 kids warm this winter.
  • $500 will provide safe after-school care for 50 kids who have no place to go.

3.     Make 50 in-person asks.

And be sure to see your very top donors who have not yet given this year.

If you can’t do 50 personal visits, then do 40, or 30. Enlist your volunteers to help.

Check out Amy Einstein’s book: 50 Asks in 50 Weeks, for a great plan.

4.     Tell a heart-gripping story.

If you want to raise more money, add drama.  Romance your vision and make it about real people.

Awaken your donor’s emotions and you’ll get to her heart. Remember that “emotion leads to action. But logic leads to conclusions.”

So wear your heart on your sleeve.

5.     Use a visual and emotional hook in your appeal letter.

Use a visual metaphor such as a lunch box (food for the hungry) or a diploma (for scholarships).

Add surprise and delight.

6.     Make your appeal letter appealing.

Use white space. Short sentences. Short paragraphs. Action verbs. Pictures. Boldface headings. Wide margins.

Make it readable by someone who is just skimming. Use the pronoun “you” liberally.

Use colored paper to set it apart.

7.     Integrate everything with your web links.

Be sure to include your donation web link everywhere.

Many donors will receive your direct mail appeal and then make their gift online.  Other donors will research you on line before they give.

Remember these important stats about wired donors (from Sally Heaven at the Connection Cafe):

  • half of wired major donors say that online giving is their preferred giving method
  • most wired wealthy already give through multiple channels
  • most wired wealthy visit the website of a nonprofit before they decide to give

8.     Repeat your appeal via different media.

Send the same appeals via different media: emails, phone calls, letters, posts cards, social media. Multiple channel fundraising is the way of the future.

Repeated messages all reinforce each other. And be sure the messages are all integrated with the same theme and same ask.

9.     Followup, followup, followup.

It’s the only way to get through to a busy donor.  Follow up the appeal letter with emails and phone calls. And perhaps another letter.

Do what it takes.

And don’t forget an intense email effort the last week of the year when online gifts spike up.

10.  Update your web site with a clear call to action.

Put the donation link prominently on your home page.

Make it easy for year-end donors who want to zoom through the giving process.

Are you already using these tactics? Tell me and leave a comment!

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  • Tish

    These suggestions are absolutely true! Good article! The points that stand out are #6, the use of white space and margins. Too often the letters are too busy and too wordy, be clear and specific- declutter! Also, friendly follow up is critical.

  • Judy Anderson

    Great suggestions–thanks for getting them out to folks. I always say, “what is the problem? what is the solution? How can the donor help?” I’m curious about the colored paper comment. I find that contrast and the paper that makes the photographs look compelling is important.

  • gailperry

    Hi Judy! I like your approach with the three questions. I like colored paper, because anything you can do to distinguish your letter from the crowd is a great idea.