Fired-Up Fundraising | Gail Perry Associates http://www.gailperry.com Nonprofit Fundraising Consultant | Board Development | Keynote Speaker Thu, 23 Oct 2014 01:01:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 7 Ways to Create Highly Committed Donors http://www.gailperry.com/2014/10/7-ways-create-highly-committed-donors/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/10/7-ways-create-highly-committed-donors/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 17:03:11 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=16094 Wouldn’t you like ALL your donors to feel “highly committed” to your organization?  What would they do for you? Well – they will give and give and give again. Let’s look at the other side – what happens when your donors are not highly committed? My crystal ball tells me that they are unlikely to […]

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Wouldn’t you like ALL your donors to feel “highly committed” to your organization? retention

What would they do for you? Well – they will give and give and give again.

Let’s look at the other side – what happens when your donors are not highly committed?

My crystal ball tells me that they are unlikely to renew their gifts. :(

Alas, these donors are your one-night-stand folks. One gift and vamoose – they are gone!

I’m writing from Amsterdam today – where I’ve had an amazing week at the International Fundraising Congress with fundraisers from all over the world.

I was lucky to hear from some of world’s the smartest fundraisers, talking about the most successful fundraising strategies in the world.

Today I’m sharing guru Roger Craver’s talk on Building Donor Loyalty.  BTW, he’s one of our INSIDER gurus who co-writes one of the top blogs in our industry, The Agitator.net.

Don’t miss his new book: Retention Fundraising. It’s a must read for all smart fundraisers who want to raise money the most efficient AND effective way possible.

7 Ways to Build Highly Committed Donors

  1. Donor perceives you are effectively carrying out your mission.

OK this just seems so very basic. But I see many nonprofits who are lazy at telling their story.

Let donors see how you are making a huge difference:  we saved 5 historic structures, we helped 5000 people, we staged 12 performances, we launched 25 rescue boats.donor retention infographic2

You need to explicitly say to your donor – look what you, Mr. Donor, helped create in our community.

Look at the wonderful work that we’ve accomplished together.

If you don’t do this, then your donor will never really know his money made any difference.

He might think it went into some black administrative hole!

You owe it to your donors to tell them what you accomplished.

It’s the least you can do!

2. Donor knows what to expect in each interaction with you.

You need to be consistent every time you communicate with your donor.

That means you don’t change your message. Don’t ask her for a gift to support the rain forest and then come back with a newsletter about the Arctic!

Stay on message! You might be bored with your message because you see it and write it all the time.  But your donors have barely grasped your message.

Be consistent and don’t confuse your donor.

3. Donor receives timely thank you’s.

This means that the SPEED of your thank you matters more to your donor than you realize.

When are you quick with that “thanks” – what does it say to the donor?

It says you are paying attention. You appreciate it. You noticed. You are thrilled to have your donor’s support.

And one more thing – it also says you are a well-run organization. Your donor will think that his money will be well-spent, because you are efficient!

4. Donor receives the opportunity to make her views known.

I bet you have tons of passionate supporters out there who would just LOVE to tell you WHY they care so much.what-do-you-think-sign

But have you ever asked?

It’s time for some phone calls to donors to hear their stories. Or,

  • Send them a survey and ask for their frank personal responses.
  • Invite them to a feedback meeting to hear their thoughts.
  • Ask them to volunteer or get involved in some way.

Bet they would keep giving and even give more if you asked!

5. Donor knows she is part of an important cause.

Your donor wants to be able to identify herself as part of your effort for good.

Dr. Adrian Sargeant’s original study in 2008 found that when donors IDENTIFY with you, they have a sense of connectedness and social identity that includes you and your cause.

I can’t think of anything you’d want to foster more!

Once they feel connected, they are in for a long while.

6.  Donor feels his or her involvement is appreciated.

I guess you’ve heard one of my favorite mottos: Find 7 ways to thank your donors and they’ll give again.”this is where I belong

If you want loyal donors, you need to invent ways to send your donors some love.

“How do we love thee? Let me count the ways!”

This does not mean you send your donor “stuff.”

Roger said the best way to lose a valuable donor is to give them stuff, which they don’t want and don’t appreciate.

7.  Donor receives information on WHO is being helped.

Again, this goes back to the first point. Tell your donor explicitly who they are helping. Your donors want information – solid, meaningful information about what you are doing with their money and who you are helping.

Is it the little boy down the street? Hungry children in Brazil? Elderly shut-ins in Boston? Enslaved children in the far east? Artists in your community? Families in need all over the world?

You can’t just take the money and run.

Don’t leave it to a boring newsletter to do this work for you.

Make sure your newsletter is all about your important work and your case for support (not your gala or your staff or board!).

BOTTOM LINE:

Start tweaking your message and your communications!

You CAN do it – and your giving will go up and up from your donors if you do!

 

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A Simple (and Smart) Way to Increase Fundraising by Year-End http://www.gailperry.com/2014/10/simple-way-significantly-increase-fundraising-year-end/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/10/simple-way-significantly-increase-fundraising-year-end/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15925 Guest post by Amy Eisenstein Do you have a Monthly Giving Program? If not, you should! Here’s how establishing Monthly Giving can enhance your year-end fundraising campaign. I rarely have a guest blogger at Fired-Up Fundraising, but I wanted to bring you the very smart Amy Eisenstein today.  She’s really a major gift expert (have […]

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Guest post by Amy Eisenstein

Do you have a Monthly Giving Program?yes

If not, you should!

Here’s how establishing Monthly Giving can enhance your year-end fundraising campaign.

I rarely have a guest blogger at Fired-Up Fundraising, but I wanted to bring you the very smart Amy Eisenstein today. 

She’s really a major gift expert (have you taken the Major Gifts Challenge yet?)  and you can find out lots from her own blog.  And this year, she’s focusing on Monthly Giving because it offers such huge $$ potential for all nonprofits.   Here’s Amy’s post: 

Why Monthly Giving?

There are two very important reasons to enact a monthly giving program:

Amy Eisenstein

Amy Eisenstein ACFRE

  • Monthly giving helps build your base of supporters, which often leads to major gifts.
  • Monthly giving provides a reliable, steady stream of income for your organization.

You know the saying, slow and steady wins the race?

That especially applies to fundraising with major gifts and monthly giving. Fundraising isn’t fast, but monthly giving is an EASY way to attract new donors, and keep them for the long term, as well as increasing current donor’s giving levels.

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers.

You have a $50 per year donor who often gives in response to your year-end holiday appeal. This year, instead you ask that person to consider a gift of only $10 per month.

That’s an extra $70, not to mention a higher chance of donor retention.

4 Steps to a successful monthly giving program

Setting up a monthly giving program is well worth the time and effort. Here are four essential steps to ensure your program’s success.

1.  Make sure you have the technology in place to support your program. This means that the credit cards of “members” (of the monthly giving club) would be automatically charged each month. If possible, allow donors to give directly from their bank accounts.

2.  Do not accept less than $10 per month — it’s not worth the processing fees.

3.  Have a stewardship strategy in place before you begin (i.e., how will you thank you donors?).

An established monthly giving program will have your donors giving and giving again and again.

An established monthly giving program will have your donors giving and giving again and again.

4.  Create systems for:  1.) Monitoring credit cards for expiration dates; and 2.) Moving people up (to higher levels) after they’ve given for a year or more.

Monthly Giving Lessons from the Field

You can learn a lot about what to do (or NOT) from the mistakes made by these organizations…

Kids Going to Camp

I worked with an organization which served low income children with disabilities. They tried to implement a monthly giving type program before I started working with them.

They asked for $50 per month to support a child going to camp, which was $600. However, they were unclear in their materials (and amongst themselves) what would happen at the end of the year and camp had been paid for. After a year’s time, they simply stopped charging the donors’ credit cards.

The beauty of a monthly giving club is that it goes on FOREVER, until the donor asks you to stop (which rarely happens) or their credit card expires (which happens much more often than you’d think — so it’s something to be mindful of).

Helping Victims of Domestic Violence

Recently, I started working with a battered women’s shelter. We just implemented a monthly giving program.

The shelter does “virtual” tours, because they can’t do real tours to protect the location and privacy of the women and children they serve. At the end of the tour, the development director used to say something like:

You can help by volunteering, donating food and school supplies, or making a donation.

And then hand them a form to donate on. Can you guess how many people actually gave money?

Wouldn't you like to turn your occasional donors into frequent donors?

Wouldn’t you like to turn your occasional donors into frequent donors?

If you said none, you’re right.

To turn this around, now at the end of the tour the development director says:

The number one way you can help is to join our monthly giving club. We are asking people to consider joining for $35 per month in honor of our 35th anniversary, but you can also join for as little as $10 per month. The choice is yours, and you can cancel at any time.

Then she hands them a form to join immediately. The first time she did this, all three people on the tour signed up to give monthly!

The Numbers Tell All

Let’s look at some ideal monthly gifts and see what they amount to annually.

  • $10 / month  =  $120 / year
  • $15 / month  =  $180 / year
  • $20 / month  =  $240 / year
  • $50 / month  =  $600 / year

I’ll bet you have many $100 donors who would consider $15 or even $20 per month, thereby increasing their annual gift by almost 100% (or more, in many cases).

Get Your Board Involved in Monthly Giving, Too!

Wish your board helped more with fundraising?

Challenge them to solicit their friends and family for monthly gifts. It’s a simple, doable task that most board members are willing and able to handle.

The reason that many board members don’t help with fundraising is that they don’t understand what they should do.

However, they are more than happy to help when given a specific task. Use this to your advantage. Ask them to recruit three new members for your monthly giving club at a minimum of $10 per month.

More Simple Things You Can Do

Enacting a monthly giving program is a simple and effective way to raise more money.

You’ll find several other simple things — many of which you’re NOT doing — to raise even more money in my two complementary eBooks:

  • Simple Things You’re NOT Doing to Raise More Money
  • 6 Essential Secrets for Board Retreats that Work

Get both eBooks FREE at my website, and best wishes for your fundraising success!


Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, is a respected author, speaker, and fundraising consultant, as well as the owner of Tri Point Fundraising, a full-service nonprofit consulting firm. Her specialty is simplifying the fundraising process for her followers and clients.

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10 Steps to Create an Appeal Letter That Brings in the Money http://www.gailperry.com/2014/10/10-steps-create-appeal-letter-brings-money/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/10/10-steps-create-appeal-letter-brings-money/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 01:28:21 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15982 It’s not too late to create a dynamite compelling appeal letter that will make your donors tear it open and send in a quick gift. You are probably working very hard right now to craft appeal letters that will bring in generous gifts. You’re probably pondering questions such as What’s the best way to frame […]

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It’s not too late to create a dynamite compelling appeal letter that will make your donors tear it open and send in a quick gift.

How do you get your appeal letter to stand out from the crowd?

How do you get your appeal letter to stand out from the crowd?

You are probably working very hard right now to craft appeal letters that will bring in generous gifts.

You’re probably pondering questions such as

  • What’s the best way to frame your case?
  • How to make your ask more specific?
  • What kind of picture, if any, should you include?
  • Will your “brand” folks try to stop a more creative look?

Appeal letters are both art and science.

And thanks to tons of research and data mining, you can find out now – from careful testing – what works best with donors today.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you probably know that I devote much of September and October every year to helping you craft profitable fundraising appeals and campaigns.

My goal is to help you grow and succeed as a fundraiser and nonprofit leader — and to bring in tons of generous gifts always!

Creating a Highly Profitable Year-End Campaign

And I hope you know about our Creating a Highly Profitable Year-End Campaign series too. I’ve pulled together my favorite gurus to give you their teaching on how to master and execute each aspect of your year-end campaign.

We can help you grow better equipped to pull off your most profitable year-end campaign yet. If you’d like to find out more about how this can help you, please click here. 

Tips from Mazarine Treyz.

Mazarine Treyz

Mazarine Treyz

We had our first Highly Profitable class this week on Wednesday with Mazarine Treyz of Wild Woman Fundraising, discussing with us “How To Create a Stunning Direct Mail Appeal, Piece by Piece.”

Mazarine gave us a very nice formula for ALL good appeal letters. It was so good, in fact, that I wanted to bring it to ALL the readers of my blog.

10 Steps to an Appeal Letter that Brings In the Money.

I’d like for you to study and follow this template. If you do, I will guarantee that your donors will respond generously to it.

This is a tested and proven format for 2014 fundraising that speaks to 2014 donors.

1. Header.

The best letters have a header in bold at the top.

The header needs to be short, snappy and no more than 3 lines.

Screenshot 2014-10-02 21.19.50

Here’s a header that works nicely: Short and totally focused on the mission – not the organization.

It needs to be clear and urgent – referring to your case for support and what you want to do.

Something like “celebrating 30 years!” is NOT donor-centric. I would call this one lame and self-serving.

2. Salutation.

Please don’t say Dear Friend.

And if your donor has ever given in the past, then please don’t get their name wrong!!

Your donor expects that you know her name and who she is, since she’s been sending you money for a while!

3.  Short attention grabbing first sentence.

Would you read this opening sentence??  I would!
See if you can write an opening sentence this strong!
“This is the most difficult letter I have ever written in the 10
years I have been the executive director of your domestic violence center. 

Will your donor read or ditch your letter?

Will your donor read or ditch your letter?

4. Body copy that:

  • tells a story
  • presents a problem and a solution
  • and/or presents your offer along with benefits and details

What’s your offer? That’s what you are clearly asking donors to fund.

It’s got to be something interesting, urgent and exciting.

It’s got to be specific. It’s got to have urgency. It’s got to have emotion and passion.

5. Call to action.

Such as:  “use the envelope and give today!”

You need to explicitly tell your donor – in the letter – what you want her to do.

You can tell your donors clearly to please “send in a generous contribution quickly.

6. Guarantee to back up your offer.

What’s a guarantee? It reminds the donor again what she can accomplish if thru her gift.

Such as, “if you make this gift, you’ll be able to help a kid in Africa have new hope for a healthy life.”

7. Deadline.

Having a deadline will promote a faster and more likely response from your donor.

You have to give her a reason to give and to give NOW.

You've got to give your donor a reason to act NOW.

You’ve got to give your donor a reason to act NOW.

Tell her time is running out to help the kids or people you help, or that your matching challenge gift only is in effect for another 2 weeks.

8. Sign off with a handwritten signature.

Use a script signature to make the letter seem more personal and more real.

If you are sending out only a few special letters, then hand sign them.

If not your printer can print a scripted signature – and make sure it’s in blue ink if you are using color.

9. PS (Post Script).

Your PS is prime real estate! Many studies say that the donor will open the letter and read the PS first.

So make your PS work for you. It could:

  • Restate your offer – (the kids will get your help now)
  • Remind about the deadline
  • Make a bonus offer (your gift will be matched!)

Or it could be about something else you want to highlight.

10. Remittance envelope.

The #1 rule in my book for direct mail is “Make it easy for your donors to give.”

Include a small return envelope or a postage paid BRE (Business Reply Envelope).

Don’t make your donor work to send in their gift!

BONUS TIP

11. Create urgency in your letter this way:

Mazarine suggests these phrases:

  • Please try to give something.
  • I hope you will join in contributing…
  • We desperately need your help.
  • We cannot continue our work without your help.

And she suggested using these words to create urgency:

  • Emergency…
  • Crisis…
  • Disaster…
  • Threat…
  • Immediate…
  • Urgent…
  • Hurry…

BOTTOM LINE:

Use this terrific template to lay out your own appeal letter. And let me know how you do!

Comments please!

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Top 10 Year-End Fundraising Strategies for 2014 http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/top-10-year-end-fundraising-strategies-2014/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/top-10-year-end-fundraising-strategies-2014/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:44:40 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15911 What kind of appeal and message will make your 2014 donors respond with generosity?  Here are the top current fundraising strategies that will help you raise the most in your fall annual fund campaign. These are tested and research proven fundraising strategies – compiled just for you! If you want specific coaching and examples to […]

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What kind of appeal and message will make your 2014 donors respond with generosity? charity water boy

Here are the top current fundraising strategies that will help you raise the most in your fall annual fund campaign.

These are tested and research proven fundraising strategies – compiled just for you!

If you want specific coaching and examples to help shape your own year-end campaign, from the smartest gurus around, you can join my 2014 Highly Profitable Year-End Campaign master classes that start next week. 

1. Use a single image to tell your story and make the ask.

Can an amazing photo do all the work for you? It’s working for many organizations.

Place a high quality, closeup picture of someone being helped by your organization – at the very top of your appeal.

Look at this image from Charity: Water. It says just about all there is to say about this organization’s fine work.

Here’s how to correctly use an image in your fundraising appeal this fall:

  1. Close up of a single person.
  2. Extremely high quality – colors, layout etc. (National Geographic quality!)
  3. The person is looking directly at the camera – and directly at YOU the reader.

The master guru John Lepp will join our 2014 Highly Profitable Year-End Campaign series to show you exactly how to use images to open your donors’ hearts.

2. Frame your ask with a specific dollar goal, specific project or purpose and specific hoped-for impact.

I’ve been talking a lot this year about my MPI Fundraising Formula. There are three parts to the MPI formula – M=Money; P= Project; I=Impact. This is the way to make your 2014 annual fund ask.

Telling donors exactly how you spent their money will build TRUST.

Telling donors exactly how you spent their money will build TRUST.

All the research shows that donors will give more if they can designate their gift.

So shape your fall fundraising appeals around the exciting stuff that you do.  It’s far more compelling and interesting to your donors.

Having a specific overall goal with a purpose for the money also helps make your ask much more real in your donors’ eyes. They’ll respond more generously!

The master guru Mazarine Treyz will join our 2014 Highly Profitable Year-End Campaign master classes to show you exactly how to frame the perfect ask for your 2014 donors.

 3. Space out a sequence of appeals over time, and delivered thru many different communications channels.

For example –

  1. Start with a phone thankathon to warm up your donors.
  2. Send a warm-up postcard to your donors announcing your fall campaign. (Our goal is $$ and we want to accomplish yyyy so we’ll have zzzz impact!)
  3. Send email warm-up messages.
  4. Deploy social media full of cheerful warm-up messages.
  5. Then send your first appeal letter/package.
  6. Followup the paper appeal with social media and email messaging around the ask.
  7. Send a reminder paper appeal letter.
  8. Send a later paper appeal in mid December.
  9. Send email reminders the last week and last day of the year.

Master guru Tammy Zonker – an acclaimed presenter – will show you an amazing multi-sequence campaign you can copy in our 2014 Highly Profitable Year-End Campaign series. 

 4. Surprise and delight to capture your donors’ attention.

We are seeing extraordinary fundraising success from a slightly off-beat approach.

I’ve written about the famous Toronto Food Truck campaign where the appeal was written by the truck itself – and brought in an extraordinary return. Or the letter written by the hummingbird.

This food truck captured many donors' hearts and opened their wallets.

This food truck captured many donors’ hearts and opened their wallets.

Be willing to experiment with color, design, and a catchy theme.

That’s how to break thru the media overload in your donor’s head. And don’t use a standard white #10 envelope – try different shapes and colors.

The master guru John Lepp – the author of the Food Truck campaign himself will join our 2014 Highly Profitable Year-End Campaign master classes to show you exactly surprise and delight can raise tons of money.  DON’T MISS! 

 5. Use a catchy social media campaign to gain attention and funds.

It is absolutely possible to design something fun via social media that can capture the attention of your community.

We may not be able to achieve anything like the Ice Bucket Challenge.

But you certainly CAN pull it off on a smaller scale locally. It really helps to have a specific goal, purpose and impact if you want to mobilize your community to step up to fund something important.

Master social media guru Clare McDowell will join our 2014 Highly Profitable Year-End Campaign master classes to show you exactly how to use social media to gain awareness and more donors for your annual campaign. She’ll have some terrific examples you can copy. 

 6. Donor-centered.

We know all about donor-centered fundraising, right? WRONG! kid-calling-you-out-soccer-200x300

It’s very very difficult to get it right. I promise you.

Here’s how to be donor centered in your letter:

  • Start with the word “you.”
  • Use the word “you” at least 12-15 times in your letter.
  • Use the word “you” twice as much as you use the word “we.”
  • Give the donor credit for the impact your organization makes.
  • The letter is not about you or your organization.
  • The letter is about what the donor believes and wants to accomplish.

All the classes in our 2014 Highly Profitable Year-End Campaign series  will show you how to make the DONOR the center of your letter. It’s not easy! 

 7. Fire-in-the-belly messaging to create urgency.

Ok, it’s time to cut the nonprofit jargon and stale, lofty phrases.

You can’t raise money with words like “underserved,” “program,” or “services.”

And even important words like community and diversity – when overused – become meaningless to your donors.

Use real words. Powerful verbs. Short sentences. Stark descriptions of the need.

If you water down your message, you’ll water down your donors’ response. Please don’t play it safe! 

And please, don’t let Brand take precedence over the work of the appeal letter. I’m seeing a scary trend of Brand being more important than Fundraising. Yikes!

Women make most of the charitable gifts and they are more generous than men.

Women make most of the charitable gifts and they are more generous than men.

8. Reactivate lapsed donors.

We all know where the easy money is in fundraising today.

It’s in getting every single donor who gave to you LAST year to renew their gift this year.

You need to launch an all-out effort to “love on” your current and lapsed donors so they will give again.

“Donor Love” is now a new trend in fundraising today.

How about sending an appeal with this theme: “We love you we miss you we want you back.”

Master guru John Lepp will show us exactly how to “loverize” our donors and make them feel loved, wanted and deeply part of the cause. 

9. Write an appeal letter your grandmother will like.

All the research shows that women are more likely to give and will give more.

Older and boomer women are your #1 giving demographic.

Too many appeals are written by 20 and 30 somethings in the wrong tone. Instead, imagine an older woman reading your appeal.

SO what size font should you use? PLEASE use 14 point AND BLACK type. (I can’t stand that dang grey type that designers all love, because it’s so very hard for this boomer to read.)

10. Personalized appeals to your top 1%.

Gotta love those top 1% folks. They are getting richer. So all the more reason to focus, focus on them.

This appeal from Oxfam helps generate credibility and impact.

This appeal from Oxfam helps generate credibility and impact.

Go see them if you possibly can, not so much to ask but instead to engage them in conversation.

Remember big shots don’t want to hear you do the talking - they expect to do the talking!

After you engage them, then you can ask for the gift.

Master guru and major gift author Amy Eisenstein will show you how to make one-on-one visits to major donors and dramatically ramp up your year-end totals. 

BONUS STRATEGY:

Add clear information on your effectiveness and impact.

Make it simple with a chart or infographic. Be extremely clear about how many people you help and what the difference is that you make.

This is not a time for elegant phrasing or your brand or mission statement. If you are not specific, it doesn’t work.

OK there you have it!

I know you can do a fabulous job on your year-end campaign this year!

Be creative. Take some risks. Wear your heart on your sleeve. Make specific asks.

And if you want specific coaching, do join us for my 2014 Highly Profitable Year-End Campaign master classes starting next week.

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112 Tips to Raise More Money by Mail http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/112-tips-raise-money-mail/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/112-tips-raise-money-mail/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:43:06 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15868 Direct mail is a major workhorse for all nonprofits. And regardless of what you hear or think about online giving, most gifts still come via the mail. Direct mail is the most important fundraising and communications tool you have. Here’s a smart guide to help you nail all aspects of your mailing package. I’ve updated […]

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Direct mail is a major workhorse for all nonprofits. And regardless of what you hear or think about online giving, most gifts still come via the mail.

Direct mail is the most important fundraising and communications tool you have.mailbox-530px

Here’s a smart guide to help you nail all aspects of your mailing package.

I’ve updated my annual list of Top Tips to Raise More Money by Mail with the latest 2014 research and recommendations from my favorite mail gurus.

Warning: this is a very long post! If you don’t want to keep scrolling, you can download the complete pdf by filling out this form here.

This post will give you tips for:

  • Drawing donors in to the letter.
  • Upgrading your donors’ gifts.
  • Creating a dynamite case.
  • Writing a letter your donors will actually read.
  • Creating a killer ask in the letter.
  • Asking lapsed donors to renew their gift.
  • Ending the letter with a bang.
  • Raising more from your top donors.
  • Creating a plan and scheduling your mailings.
  • Communicating when you are not asking.
  • Following up your appeals so donors say yes.
  • Welcoming new donors.
  • Signing the letter correctly.
  • Linking to and integrating with your web site.
  • Creating a mailing packet that brings results.
  • Using a reply card that sells.
  • Using the right envelope as a fundraising tool.

THE BIG DIRECT MAIL PICTURE – Top 10 Tips

  • Use the same appeal message and call to action in your mail solicitations, on your web site, and in your email communications – and reinforce your message over and over.
  • Focus more on your donor and what he or she wants to accomplish than on your organization.
  • The appeal letter can have only one objective: a clear ask for support. It is not a newsletter, an end-of-year report, an update or mixed in with other communications.
  • Your top priority is always to renew your past donors. They are your customer base – your “money in the bank.” Don’t let them slip away.
  • Don’t solicit any donors until you have shown them what results you have accomplished with their first gift. Donors say they will give liberally but only after they know what their first gift accomplished.
  • Be sure to communicate with your donors frequently between solicitations, so they are up to date and feel connected to your organization. How well you stay in touch with your donors will determine whether they give again.
  • Maintain control. Don’t let a committee approve or edit your letter. If you let well-meaning but unknowledgeable people help write your appeal, they will ruin it. Guaranteed!
  • Update your web site and make your donation page easy to use. Many donors who receive a letter will go to your website to make their gift. Be ready to welcome them there with an easy to follow online donation process.
  • Create an entire campaign. Use phone, postcards, letters, emails and social media to build a series of appeals. Don’t rely on only one letter to do the work for you.
  • Create a budget and look at it as an investment. Know that, if well executed, your direct mail program should yield a 400% return. That is, if you invest $20k in direct mail to your donors, you should receive $80k back.

THE APPEAL LETTER: HOW TO DRAW YOUR DONORS IN

  • Use the word “you” immediately in the first sentence or two of your appeal.
  • Your goal in the first part of the letter is to get your reader’s attention. (Tom Ahern)
  • Start with a story to draw your readers in.
  • Make your first two sentences so compelling that your donor will want to keep reading. (You can easily lose them in the very beginning.)
  • Use a sad story that transforms into a happy one. The sad emotion is what will pull on your donors’ heartstrings.
  • Be sure to thank donors for their past support early in the letter. It reminds them of their partnership with you.
  • Pretend you are writing to your grandmother. The most generous group of donors are the older ladies. A recent study found that for every $100 men gave, women gave $258.
  • Don’t use a lot of photography and fancy layout in your letter or accompanying materials. Too much design makes it much less personal.
  • If you use any pictures, be sure they are of people, not buildings. It’s what happens inside the buildings that counts.

BE PERSONAL and INFORMAL

  • Always (of course) send out personalized letters. (Dear Mr. Smith rather than Dear Friend). Make sure your letter is really addressed to the reader.
  • Write to only one person and not a group of people. Emphasize your one-on-one connection with the reader. Don’t use “you” in the plural sense.
  • Use contractions – it’s less formal. Formal doesn’t work.
  • Make your letter as personal and conversational in tone as you can. Make it sound like you sat down and wrote it to a friend. (~Jerry Panas)
  • Repeat the word “you” frequently: it’s most important word in your letter.
  • Use the word “I” in the letter to make it more personal and friendly. It does wonders changing your tone from “institutional” to “personal.”
  • Always make it about the donor – not about your organization. Help your donors imagine what they can achieve with their gifts.

UPGRADE YOUR DONORS

  • Focus on more frequent gift opportunities each year as a way to upgrade your donors to higher giving levels.
  • Establish a monthly giving program. People who give monthly will give much, much more.
  • Use gift clubs to encourage higher-level donations. Ask donors to move up to the next level.
  • When you ask for an upgraded gift: talk about an increased or enhanced partnership with the donor.

CREATE A DYNAMITE CASE FOR GIVING

  • Talk about opportunities – it’s never about your needs. “We have the opportunity to . . .”
  • Make your message emotional. Donors give out of emotion, then justify it with logic.
  • Use stories in your copy but only one story. One story is more powerful than three stories. (~Tom Ahern)
  • Make your story SHORT but powerful. It can even be a one-sentence story such as, “Monday morning little Johnny woke up, hungry again.”
  • Flatter your donor: Tom Ahern says that you should ask (and flatter your donor) and you thank (and flatter) and report (and flatter.)
  • Neuromarketing studies say that flattery WILL make your donor love you more.
  • Share measurable results of what you have achieved with other donors’ gifts. (~Penelope Burk)
  • DON’T use the words “programs” or “services” any more than you have to. They are boring and too generic.
  • Repeat the need and its urgency – several times in the letter. That’s your case for support!
  • Use statistics to build credibility and make the cause more concrete.
  • Describe your project as “innovative,” trailblazing” or “groundbreaking,” and your work as “wide-ranging, or extensive.”

 

WRITE A LETTER YOUR DONORS WILL READ

Assume your reader will . . .

pick up the four page letter, look at their name in the salutation, flip over to the P.S., then shuffle the letter around in their hands, maybe start reading here, maybe start reading someplace else, jump around a bit, and then, after this ragged scanning, MAYBE start reading at the beginning. (~Happy donors blog)

  • Make your letter easy to skim and still deliver its message.
  • Break up your letter copy in every way possible. Use headings. Use bullets. Vary the indentation. Use boldface type. Use ellipses . . .
  • What will your reader really see? Artwork: 80%; photos: 75%; headlines: 56%; captions: 29%, and very little text! (~Tom Ahern)
  • Have plenty of white space on the letter, which makes it easy to read. Wide margins will help.
  • VERBS matter: Use snappy action verbs that convey action.
  • Use present tense. Never use the passive voice when you can use the active voice. (~George Orwell). I.e.: “people are being helped.”
  • Use short, concise sentences and paragraphs. Vary the length of your sentences and paragraphs for interest.
  • Write choppy, jumpy, repetitive copy. (see the reader’s profile above) (~Jeff Brooks)
  • Very short paragraphs: No more than three sentences per paragraph. (~Jerry Panas)
  • Very short sentences: No more than 6 to 8 words in each sentence. (~Jerry Panas)
  • Write on the 5th grade level for easy reading. (like these tips.)
  • Use type large enough to read easily. 12 point type is the minimum size for fundraising material. The average age of a donor in a “house file” is 67. The average age requiring reading glasses is 43 yrs old.
  • Eliminate every possible word – including adjectives and descriptive phases – in your copy. “If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out.” (~George Orwell)
  • Write your letter. Then remove the first paragraph and see if it isn’t stronger. You don’t need a long preamble. (~Tom Ahern)
  • Longer letters with more pages are more successful than one page letters. The letter needs to be as long as it takes. Don’t make it too short. (~Harvey McKinnon)

CREATE A KILLER ASK

  • You’ve got to tell your donor explicitly: Why this organization? Why this program? Why NOW? Why me?

If your letter doesn’t lay this out – then go back to the drawing board.

  • Your call to action is the most important part of your letter. Make it clear to donors what you want them to do. And repeat it.
  • Give the donor something worth doing that is easy to do. “Restore sight for $25.” (~Tom Ahern)
  • Use the MPI formula to ask: Please consider a gift of $MONEY for a specific PROJECT that will great a specific IMPACT.
  • Ask several times in the letter. It’s ok! Especially if it is a long letter – you can ask 4 or 5 times.
  • Explicitly tell your donor exactly what THEY can accomplish with their gift. And tell them HOW you will spend the money – what project, what purpose. (~ Penelope Burke)
  • Make your ask as specific as possible. Donors will give more if they can designate their gift in some way.
  • Use a matching or challenge gift opportunity and tell your donors it will make their gifts go further. Play up the concept of “leveraging your donor’s gift.”
  • Always ask for a specific amount or “the largest contribution you can make.”
  • Place your ask in the first part of a paragraph. Don’t bury your ask at the end of a sentence or paragraph – it will get missed.
  • Don’t ask for a “gift,” ask instead for an investment, a contribution, for help, or to supply something special. (Mal Warwick)
  • Create a sense of urgency by asking for an immediate contribution or asking for help with an urgent or critical situation.
  • Use please such as “please send your gift today” or “please consider a leadership contribution of xxx.”
  • Give the donor a deadline for responding and a reason for the deadline.
  • Give the donor the option not to give. Recent studies (http://ow.ly/jrswh) have found this increases donor response. Say:
      • Please don’t feel obligated…
      • Whether you give is entirely your choice…
      • Any amount you want to give will help…
      • You are free to say no — I will understand…

RAISE MORE FROM YOUR TOP DONORS

  • Send your Top Donors special, custom-tailored personal letters and appeals.
  • Have board and staff members write or visit them personally with an individualized appeal.
  • Thank them in the opening sentence for their continuing and steadfast support. Emphasize their partnership with your cause.
  • Be sure these donors get many warm, personal touches during the year!
  • Come right out and ask these donors to make a leadership gift.

 

CREATE A PLAN and SCHEDULE YOUR MAILINGS

  • Set up a calendar of mailings and plan ahead.
  • Segment your mailing list and mail personalized appeals to specially targeted groups. (i.e., past donors, volunteers, people who have attended your auction, corporate sponsors, board members, past board members.)
  • Mail to donors more often than nondonors.
  • Track your LYBUNTS (people who gave “Last Year But Unfortunately Not This”) carefully and send them repeated, cheerful and enthusiastic appeals to be sure they renew. Once a donor has given for two straight years, they are likely to remain a donor for the long run.
  • Develop a series of appeals to SYBUNTS. (People who gave “Some Year But Unfortunately Not This Year”). “We’ve missed you!”
  • The letters you send to your LYBUNTS and SYBUNTS should remind them of their past support and remind them how much they have helped create your success. (“We love you, we miss you, we want you back!”)

FOLLOWUP MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE

  • Send a followup letter a few weeks after your appeal: “we didn’t hear from you and we hope you will respond.
  • Followup letters need to be short and play on urgency and the emotions.
  • Write your followup letter at the same time you write the first letter.

WELCOME NEW DONORS

  • Your brand new donors are the least likely group to renew next year. Only 23% of new donors will typically renew. (~Blooomerang data). Go all out to welcome them!
  • So create a dynamite welcome packet for new donors. This will help them renew when the time comes to ask again.
  • Craft an ENTIRE special thank you and communication program for first-time donors. Celebrate the beginning of this partnership!
  • Invite new donors to get involved. Move quickly to develop the relationship to keep them on your bandwagon.

LINK TO YOUR WEB SITE

  • Use different landing pages and urls to track donors’ responses to individual appeals. It’s easy and it’s important.
  • The most important page on your web site from a donor’s perspective is “your gift at work.

CREATE A MAILING PACKET THAT BRINGS RESULTS

  • Try bright colors. Target Marketing says “using standard #10 white envelopes will guarantee a low response rate, unless you are giving away money.”
  • Size matters. Try larger sizes to get your reader’s attention. Or smaller sizes.
  • Everything in your mailing should be easy to read and understand.
  • Your mailing packet should include four pieces:
      • The solicitation letter
      • A reply/pledge card
      • A return envelope for the reply card
      • The outside envelope.
  • Your outside envelope needs to grab your reader’s attention. Put something attention-getting or startling on the outside. NOT a self-serving tagline though.
  • Try putting teasers like these on your outside envelope: (~Jeff Brooks)
      • DO NOT BEND
      • MESSAGE ENCLOSED
      • TUESDAY
      • DEADLINE
  • Always include a return envelope. It is critically important to make sure it is easy for people to give.
  • Be sure your mailing label is attractive and not full of computerized numbers. A “mass market” look to your mailing label can put your letter in the trash immediately.
  • The reply slip needs to stand out in the package.
  • Put a headline on the reply card such as “Yes! I want to help!”
  • Don’t give your donor more than four choices to consider. More than that will drive your donor away.
  • Use checkboxes on your reply slip, rather than fill in the blanks.
  • But limit the amount of information you request. The more boxes on the reply card, the more confusing it is to your donor. If you confuse your donor, the more likely she is to abandon your donation card.
  • Make sure there is room for handwriting on the reply card. Don’t make your donor cramp to write on your card.
  • Make the reply card paper easy to write on. And remember to have a large font so your donor doesn’t have to reach for her reading glasses!
  • Circle the amount you are requesting from the donor on the reply card.
  • Offer as many payment options as possible without confusing your reader: All major credit cards, checks, recurring monthly donations.

Here are two reference articles you may enjoy:

“How Brochures Kill Direct Mail Fundraising”

Does Size Matter? By Target Marketing

Now use this list as a checklist – review your mailing program against it and then highlight the tips that you need to implement.

GOOD LUCK and may you raise tons of money!

COMMENTS PLEASE!

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Listen Your Way to the (Major) Gift http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/listen-way-major-gift/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/listen-way-major-gift/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 15:00:45 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15818 What’s the toughest lesson to learn in major gift fundraising? To know when to shut up. Here’s how to set yourself up for failure – or success with your major donor. Just imagine: Here you are, ready to meet with a major donor prospect. You’re getting ready to walk into her home, and you are […]

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What’s the toughest lesson to learn in major gift fundraising? To know when to shut up.listen

Here’s how to set yourself up for failure – or success with your major donor.

Just imagine: Here you are, ready to meet with a major donor prospect.

You’re getting ready to walk into her home, and you are all prepared.

You’ve got your materials, your script, your presentation all set.

And you are probably going to bomb out. Why?

Your donor doesn’t want to listen to a presentation.

She’s not interested in listening to you go on and on and on about how great your organization is and what exciting work you are doing. (!!)

She doesn’t want to listen to your Executive Director’s presentation either!

Your donor’s not really interested in anyone’s presentation. (WHAT?)

Your donor is expecting to be the one doing the talking.

She’s expecting a pleasant visit. A conversation.

She’s a VIP. She’s used to people seeking her advice, and hearing HER point of view.

She’s used to people calling on her to pay homage.

Some donors expect to be treated like VIP's and that's just fine!

Some donors expect to be treated like VIPs and that’s just fine!

There was a great article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy this week about approaching billionaires. Clearly they expect to do the talking!

You are doing reconnaissance anyway.

Your job is to hold yourself back. To ask questions. To pull out her story.

Finding out her hot buttons. Finding out what she’s most interested in. Finding out about her philanthropy.

How can you possibly ask for a gift if you don’t understand her timing, her motivations, her values, what she believes in?

You want a longer term relationship with your donor.

You want to be liked. Your donor has to like you enough to want to become friendly with you.

The best way to be liked is to be a good listener.  It’s a lost art of fundraising!

Nobody hardly listens anymore. It is a gift to someone to listen to them. You honor your donor by sitting at her feet, listening.

This is how a relationship is formed.

You are looking for a followup next step.

Your visit is wasted if you don’t end up with a new step for followup.

Otherwise you will be scrambling for a reason to get back in touch with your donor.

So it’s ok not to have all the answers in this visit. In fact, it’s actually GREAT if you can’t answer a question – then you have a reason to email, call or visit again.

You’re not trying to “sell” her anything.

Everybody thinks they are supposed to have a presentation that will pick someone up and knock ‘em over. Especially board members who go with you to call on someone.Stop-Selling

Nothing could be more incorrect!

You want a two-way conversation. You want to hear about what’s important to her.

  • Why is she interested in your cause?
  • What does she think your organization should be focusing on?
  • What does she think about this particular challenge you are facing?

You never, ever want to bore your donor!

Have you ever felt trapped in a conversation with someone who would not shut up?

Well, certainly you don’t want to make your donor feel that way!

If you are doing all the talking, you are probably boring your donors. (And being boring is the kiss of death for a fundraiser, right?

Listening is a fundamental major gift fundraising skill. And it’s so hard.

I coach people on this over and over, in my capital campaign coaching, in my workshops with board members, in my work with staff fundraisers, all the time.

And it’s such a difficult concept to master.

We all wanna talk. We all default to “talking.” Especially your CEO perhaps?

Three ways to properly approach a BIG donor to strike up a conversation:

1. Kiss the ring.

This is when you treat the donor as a big shot – and you are coming to pay homage. You’ll sit at his feet and absorb his wisdom.

 2. Advice visit.

If you want money, ask for advice. If you want advice, then ask for money! Advice visits are my secret key to getting in anyone’s door!

3. What are your impressions?

I have raised millions by asking donors this question. It helps me find out what is on my donor’s mind, and what she thinks about my cause.

BOTTOM LINE:

Take the easy and fun way out with your donors by becoming an expert in listening. You’ll raise MORE MONEY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Zen of Raising Money from Individual Donors http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/zen-raising-money-individual-donors/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/zen-raising-money-individual-donors/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 20:36:36 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15780 Here’s a brilliant guest post from my NYC buddy Andrea Kihlstedt. I think you will like it! When your folks say, “We don’t know anyone with money,” here’s some inspiration for them – and for you: _________ I’ve been volunteering for a small arts organization here in New York City teaching them how to raise […]

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Can you tell if this person is wealthy?

Can you tell if this person is wealthy?

Here’s a brilliant guest post from my NYC buddy Andrea Kihlstedt. I think you will like it!

When your folks say, “We don’t know anyone with money,” here’s some inspiration for them – and for you:

_________

I’ve been volunteering for a small arts organization here in New York City teaching them how to raise money.

The two people who founded the Center, I’ll call them John and Jesse, have created a remarkable program based on their passion for photo journalism.

They’ve spent a huge amount of time and energy raising money through foundation proposals and some small government funds.

Mind you, they’ve been quite successful.

When I started talking to them about the power of developing relationships with individuals, they were skeptical.

Two common misperceptions made them wonder if they should turn their limited time and energy to raising money from individuals.

2 Common Preconceptions about Raising Money from Individuals

1. No one we know has money.

Jesse and John were convinced that they didn’t know anyone who could give more than $100 or perhaps $250 tops.

Truth is, they were thinking out of their own pocketbooks.

2. We’re not sure people who have money would fit with the culture of our organization.

Even more off-putting for Jesse and John, they were convinced that any individual who could give a large gift would be somehow different — stuck-up or having airs of self importance, or somehow not fit their scrappy photojournalist culture.

Are your folks saying "no one we know has money!??"

Are your folks saying “no one we know has money!??”

So they weren’t at all convinced that they even wanted to find people who could give larger gifts.

A Heartwarming Story About Raising Money from People

Recently, one donor showed Jesse and John the power and potential of individual giving.

Here’s what happened…

Someone John knew stopped by the Center with a friend of his — two ordinary middle-aged guys, dressed in jeans with scruffy hair, talking photojournalism and sharing their stories and ideas.

It being lunch time, John and Jesse invited them to have lunch at the neighborhood Mexican restaurant right up the block.

After lunch, as they all walked back to the Center, the new acquaintance said to John,

“What a great project you have. I’d like to help you. Let me know what I can do. I’ll be traveling for the next few weeks, but why don’t you send me some ideas.”

John thanked him and said they’d get back to him soon.

Within the hour, they called me to find out what to do next:

  • How much should they ask for?
  • What should they ask for?
  • And how should they ask?

3 Simple Steps to Asking a Person for Money

Here’s what we did:

A little computer research revealed this donor's past gifts to similar arts organizations.

A little online research revealed this donor’s past gifts to similar arts organizations.

1. We did a bit of research to find out how much to ask for.

They did some simple internet homework to learn more about this down-to-earth looking guy.

A Google search turned up that he had a family foundation. And GuideStar showed that he had a history of supporting arts organizations.

He had given some gifts as high as $500,000 but had also given several gifts of smaller amounts. Many of his gifts had funded exhibits or other specific, tangible projects.

2. We figured out what to ask for.

Jessie, John and I met to consider the possibilities of what to ask for.

We came up with three options.

  1. For $5,000, he could buy them a new security system for their entry gate. Practical and tangible, but not very exciting.
  1. For $20,000, he might sponsor an exhibition. This was in keeping with other gifts the donor had made and would provide welcome relief for their operating budget.
  1. But with a gift of $150,000, they could afford to take over the second floor of their building for offices, a library and a room for visiting artists. And that project would take their operation to a whole new level.

    We offered our donor 3 choices: $10K, $25K and $300k - and we got the $300k!!!

    We offered our donor 3 choices: $5K, $20K and $150k – and we got the $150k!!!

3. We wrote a simple email to start the conversation about the right gift.

Jesse and John were a bit askance when I suggested they simply email their donor rather than sending a formal proposal, but that’s what they did.

They sent an immediate email thanking him for visiting and saying they’d get back to him soon.

And then a couple of days later, they sent him another email simply outlining the three options, including the price tag for each.

They started with the biggest and said that if that wasn’t an appropriate request, he might consider the other possibilities.

The tone of the email was friendly and informal just like the visit had been.

And at the end of it, they said that once they knew what he wanted to do, they’d be happy to give him more information.

What happened next?  $75k in the MAIL!

Two weeks later, a check arrived for $75,000 from the donor with a brief message saying that it was the first of two installments to be used for the second floor. (!!)

That’s it. No muss, no fuss.

Just a guy they met who shared their passion and happened to have money.

While donors like this don’t come around every day, opportunities to ask people for gifts they would enjoy giving occur more often than you might imagine.

And if you’re not open to them, you’ll miss the cues.

COMMENTS PLEASE!!???


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5 Tips for Making Your Donors Love You http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/5-tips-making-donors-love-2/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/5-tips-making-donors-love-2/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 20:35:32 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15778 Your donor has just sent in another gift! Hurray! So you reply with a wonderful, personal thank you note. And then you call her to say thanks. In addition to the paper letter that you send. Then what? You have to communicate with her . . .  so you can continue to build that warm, […]

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Your donor has just sent in another gift! Hurray!donor love Heart

So you reply with a wonderful, personal thank you note. And then you call her to say thanks. In addition to the paper letter that you send.

Then what?

You have to communicate with her . . .  so you can continue to build that warm, close relationship with her.

You’ll send your newsletter. And you’ll send email alerts and updates.

But will it matter? Will she pay attention? Will she care?

Here are 5 smart tips from my favorite communications expert Kivi Leroux Miller on how to make her pay attention and love you even more.

1. Ask donors to do something besides give money.

One of our great rules in fundraising is “Involvement breeds investment.”infographic people who volunteer

You and I both know that involving our donors is an important goal. But how many organizations really pull this off?

Try:

  • Inviting your donors to volunteer – then they’ll experience your work in action – and everything just may change.
  • Asking your donors for feedback about your organization. (try a survey)
  • Asking your donors to take some sort of action to help the cause.

 

2. Use a clear call to action.

When you are inviting your donors to get involved – don’t be vague.

Ask your donors to DO SOMETHING in a clear call to action!

Ask your donors to DO SOMETHING in a clear call to action!

Kivi says that these words are not clear enough: Participate, Engage, Believe, Understand, Support, Help, Promote, Share . . .

Instead, be extra specific about what your donors can do to help.

Try:

  • Making your call to action so specific that you could take a picture of someone doing this.
  • Giving your donor step by step instructions on what to do: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed in an Emergency.

 

3. Don’t bore them!

Want to know what bores your donors? Lengthy articles! Dense print. Kivi says that the days of 1000 word newsletter articles are over.

Will your donor even read your stuff?

Will your donor even read your stuff?

You and I both know that long, complex communications don’t really fly with donors. But how many people are tackling this seriously?

How many traditionally long newsletters am I seeing both in snail mail and email? Wayyyy too many!

Try:

  • Sharing short videos. (I’m really intrigued with this idea!)
  • Sending short, sweet and interesting news tidbits.
  • Breaking up your newsletter into 3 or 4 different pieces that go out at different times.
  • Sending a tiny infographic to your donor.

4. Send them snail mail in addition to emails.

Are you cutting back on your print mailings in order to save money? I’ve seen too many nonprofits who have eliminated their print newsletter so they can cut down on their expenses.

Many donors WILL read your snail mail - don't cut it out to save money!

Many donors WILL read your snail mail – don’t cut it out to save money!

We both know better – but the urge to save all those postage and printing costs is just too great! PLEASE don’t cut back too much on your print materials!

Why?

  • Many donors will read both types of communications – building up your wattage in their attention span.
  • Older donors tend to actually read print materials – and they are the ones who give the most.
  • Communicating via different media channels reinforces and amplifies your message.

5. Find the stories.

Kivi says that telling a story in a series of different communications is a wonderful way to draw your donors in and keep them interested.

We all know that humans are wired for stories – look at the success of People Magazine! I know whenever I’m giving a workshop and my audience looks tired – then I switch to telling a story and every eye in the room is riveted to me. Everyone just wants to know what happens next!

Try:

  • Finding the funny moments and sharing them with your donors.
  • Creating a “story arc” – that you spin out slowly over time. (Love love love this idea!)
  • Find clients and people you’ve helped to tell their own story.

BOTTOM LINE!

You as a fundraiser need to get much better at how you communicate – because it’s these happy touches that will prime the donor to be ready to give again.

Fundraisers these days can NOT rely just on a strong appeal letter!! Instead you have to give your donor an entire experience via your communications.

Then you can create your pool of consistent donors who provide ongoing sustainable funding to your nonprofit. Hurray!

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What’s Next for Fundraising after the IceBucketChallenge: 5 Predictions http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/whats-next-fundraising-icebucketchallenge-5-predictions-2/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/whats-next-fundraising-icebucketchallenge-5-predictions-2/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 20:34:19 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15776 It’s a new day in fundraising, now that we have all seen the astonishing success of the #IceBucketChallenge phenomenon. I, for one, am scratching my head in incredulity as I watch the fundraising totals and new donors stream into the ALS organization. This morning, August 29, ALS is reporting 2.1 million new donors and $94 […]

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It’s a new day in fundraising, now that we have all seen the astonishing success of the #IceBucketChallenge phenomenon.Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.22.06 AM

I, for one, am scratching my head in incredulity as I watch the fundraising totals and new donors stream into the ALS organization.

This morning, August 29, ALS is reporting 2.1 million new donors and $94 million raised!

Whew. And how absolutely wonderful!

Prediction: Fundraising will never be the same again.

Why?

Well, an emerging new fundraising tool – social media – has now demonstrated that it can raise big – I mean huge – money.

The ALS Challenge is a fun, even silly, “gimmicky” social media meme that started up last spring, slowly built momentum, attracted the participation of some key people, and then suddenly exploded all over the internet.

Thanks to this unexpected, enormous impact of the campaign, research for ALS will be well funded for some years to come. Hurray!

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge chart

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is charting daily totals for the IceBucketChallenge: http://philanthropy.com/article/Chart-Gifts-From-Ice-Bucket/

My bad: I used to poo-poo social media as a fundraising tool.

Lots of us big money, major gift types have always looked at social media as a stepchild fundraising strategy.

Our opinion was this: Social media is nice, and it may be important. But it’s really for spreading awareness, NOT raising money.

We thought:  Sure, Facebook is great for spreading the word and generating new friends for your cause. But we don’t think it works as a serious fundraising tool.

Well, was I sure wrong!

The #IceBucketChallenge has conclusively changed all that.

It shows us that social media can potentially be a goldmine to the right organizations.

It won’t be easy to make it happen for YOUR organization, but the possibility is there. (Here’s my guide on how to knock it off.) 

We’ve got a “disruptive innovation” on our hands, friends.

We are witnessing in real time an excellent example of disruptive innovation:

Disruptive innovation, a term of art coined by Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

I”m not so sure about the last part of that sentence!

Better get with it: goofy works well in fundraising today.

Better get with it: goofy works well in fundraising today.

Prediction: Social media will now take its place with other time-tested strategies of major gifts, capital campaigns, direct mail, personal asks, and email appeals.

  • It’s time to shed all remnants of worn-out convictions about fundraising and the internet.
  • It’s time to think and dream much bigger, about what is possible.
  • It’s time to open up to new ideas about marketing and communications. (Listen, listen to the younger people and empower them!)

How will our world be different now? Exactly how is this going to change our work over the next weeks and months?

Prediction: Fundraisers will be inundated with requests to produce events like the ALS Challenge.

Are you already getting pressure to create your own copycat social media sensation?  (read what communications guru Kivi Leroux Miller thinks here.)

I predict that staffers will be asked over and over why they can’t pull this off. You need to be prepared.

Donors will respond to something that you may think is cheesy. Thx to http://agentsofgood.org

Donors will respond to something that you may think is cheesy. Thx to http://agentsofgood.org

Here’s your chance to educate your leaders on HOW social media works and what it takes to be successful. 

Prediction: Surprise, delight and goofiness will become more important and accepted as bona-fide strategies.

Being goofy, quirky, and just simply fun is almost a requirement for social media success. 

It also is a very effective tactic for direct mail and email fundraising. 

The Ice Bucket Challenge has so much going for it but a large part of its broad appeal is just its pure goofiness.

Say what you will – it works!

Prediction: Budgets for social media are going to increase.

Because creating campaigns like the ALS Challenge is tricky.

No one can guarantee that something will go viral. But now many people are doing to take its potential seriously.

Bottom Line:

We now have to take social media seriously, folks. If you haven’t already, it’s time to figure out exactly what that means for you and your cause.

What are YOUR own predictions for the long term results of this phenomenon?

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A General Unrestricted Ask is LAZY Fundraising http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/general-unrestricted-ask-lazy-fundraising/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/09/general-unrestricted-ask-lazy-fundraising/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 20:32:26 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15774 I’m going out on a limb here to challenge one of the oldest and most cherished fundraising habits in our sector. Not to fear! I’m also showing you how to take that general ask and make it sharper, more urgent, and more compelling. I remember when everyone’s fall appeal letter was a General Unrestricted Ask. […]

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I’m going out on a limb here to challenge one of the oldest and most cherished fundraising habits in our sector.

Not to fear! I’m also showing you how to take that blah-290x300general ask and make it sharper, more urgent, and more compelling.

I remember when everyone’s fall appeal letter was a General Unrestricted Ask. Is yours still? Is your ED or boss still insisting on it?

Here’s the problem: In 2014, a General Unrestricted Ask is not going to light a fire in your donors.

The post-recession 2014 donor has changed.

She has trust issues with you — and all her favorite nonprofits.

One of her greatest worries is that her money will go into the black hole of General Administrative and not used for the greatest good.

You and I know this is a fallacy – that all monies to the cause are well used, and so very needed.

But your donor doesn’t know this. So let’s change the way you frame your appeal!

The General Unrestricted Ask is so very blah.

It has no urgency. No specificity. No oooomph. No real reason to give. It’s not compelling.

It certainly is not exciting. (Remember Tom Ahern’s great words: “If you want to raise more money, add drama!”)

Who wants to pay to keep the lights on or to maintain the buildings? Not many people!

Instead, they want to help the kids, feed the hungry, make art, cure diseases, save the world. So why don’t you let them fund what they want to fund?Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 11.37.33 AM

It’s all about your donor and what she wants to accomplish anyway isn’t it?

It’s not ever about you, your organization OR what you need, correct? (I know, I can hear the protests right now! Just read on, ok?)

Writing people with a general amorphous ask dismisses the power of your appeal. It is lazy fundraising.

Roger Craver, one of our sector’s great pundits, agreed when I ran this idea by him. He said it is not only LAZY fundraising but it’s also a bit stupid – because it’s a very WEAK ask that will not yield a high return.

Why are you asking donors to pay for something they don’t want to pay for? (overhead and maintenance). No wonder they don’t respond!

Make your Ask specific and you’ll raise more money.

You probably know that your donors will give you more money if you make your ask specific.

For example, many nonprofits are starting to shape their asks in terms of “$xxx money will do yyyy work.” That’s a good start. Way to go!

You should also tuse my MPI Fundraising Formula: Ask for xxx Money for yyyy Project that will bring about zzzz Impact. Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 11.37.16 AM

How to take the General Unrestricted Ask and give it sizzle.

First of all, money is “fungible.”  Money can flow from one purpose to another.

For example, you may have unrestricted monies coming into your organization such as general admission, tuition, earned income, product sales, ticket sales or unspecified website gifts,.

Can’t you “designate” those funds to pay for the lights and maintenance?

I don’t want you to be unethical about where the money is going. Ever.

BUT surely you have some undesignated funding that can go to cover the boring stuff.

Take your most exciting projects and raise money around them.

  • For a school – make it about the kids, teachers, sports, art, tech.
  • For an environmental organization, make it about your field work.
  • For an advocacy organization, make it about your PR and public media campaign. Or your important lobbying.
  • For a social service organization living on grants and starved for unrestricted money, make it about the people you are helping.
  • For a historic preservation organization, make it about the buildings you need to save.

You can take that General Unrestricted Ask and make it specific without being dishonest or unethical.

Don't let your appeal letter put your donor to sleep!

Don’t let your appeal letter put your donor to sleep!

What you are doing is putting SPIN on the message. You are SHAPING your ask to meet the needs of your donors.

Here’s how to give a classic General Unrestricted Ask some sizzle.

Ask for money to “run” your programs:

Mr. Donor, it costs $xxx to run these urgently needed programs. Your gift will help bring these wonderful services to our community . . . “

You are not asking for restricted money to fund the programs — instead you are asking for help to “run” the programs.

This is how you reframe a completely unrestricted ask into something appealing to your donor.

Caveat: If you want to be sure and make a compelling ask, DON’T use the words “programs,” “services,” or “underserved.” They are the most BORING words in fundraising! :)

BOTTOM LINE:

YOU can do a much better job shaping your fall appeal.

Make it as specific as you can! And you’ll raise more money!

DO leave a comment! What do you think? Am I crazy? On point?

Wanna argue? Wanna agree? Let me know!

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How to Knock Off the Ice Bucket Challenge and Make Social Media Work for Your Cause http://www.gailperry.com/2014/08/knock-off-the-ice-bucket-challenge-and-make-social-media-work-for-your-cause/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/08/knock-off-the-ice-bucket-challenge-and-make-social-media-work-for-your-cause/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:38:37 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15435 Seems like everyone these days is either buzzing about the #icebucketchallenge  . . . or they are actually participating in it by dumping ice water on themselves. ALS says it has raised $31.5 million since July 29, compared to $1.8 million in the same period last year. They have added over 600k NEW donors.  Pretty impressive! […]

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Seems like everyone these days is either buzzing about the #icebucketchallenge  . . . or they are actually participating in it by dumping ice water on themselves.140811-boston-ice-bucket-challenge-1350_26906d39ac7ead702b45e5b7707b8dc6

ALS says it has raised $31.5 million since July 29, compared to $1.8 million in the same period last year.

They have added over 600k NEW donors.  Pretty impressive!

Your board and executive leaders are probably all wondering how YOUR organzation can pull something like this off.

So let’s make this teachable moment to help everyone understand how social media actually works . . . and how nonprofits can get their OWN cause to go viral.

If your leaders want to make this happen, then they need to understand and agree on what makes social media successful – or not.

What made this phenomenon so successful?

There were a few key factors of the challenge that all fell together perfectly to give it zing, appeal, sizzle and energy.

1. It was funny and playful. Even goofy.

Ask your leaders: are we willing to be playful and goofy? You need to seriously think about this question! I have seen many a cool and quirky idea get watered down by nervous, conservative leaders.

When celebrities get involved, you are on your way to BIG success!

When celebrities get involved, you are on your way to BIG success!

But we know for a fact that whacky and goofy fundraisers work. Check out how a small symphony orchestra created a hilarious – and successful Facebook campaign!

Take away: If you want to break out on social media, be willing to play around with surprise and delight. And even goofiness.

2. Young people cooked it up.

Ok, here’s a toast to the young folks! Generally you guys are more creative – and comfortable – on the social platforms than us boomers. The young folks understand social media. As far as I can see  – they can nail the tone, and the off-beat playfulness that makes something catch on.

Take away: Are you willing to empower some younger people to cook up ideas for you? And are you wiling to let them run with it? Or are you going to want to water it down?

3. Celebrities joined the cause.

For something to really go viral, it takes some well-known advocates who already have lots of followers and media attention. These social kingpins can catapult your message to the stratosphere. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FAEsNGjkwW8 So who promotes your cause really matters.

Take away: What celebrities in your community can you reach for your cause?

Maybe it’s just your mayor plus two former mayors. (I’m thinking Three Tenors!) doing some stunt together. How about the head of your chamber of commerce together with a ballet dancer dancing together?  Or your local TV anchorwoman doing something silly for you?

4. Person to person, people called out individuals join in.

martha images

Even Martha got into the act!

To me this is the most important aspect of the Ice Bucket Challenge’s success: People called out each other by NAME to join. It is a person to person to person thing.  I predict that we’ll see more of individuals calling out someone specifically to join in. A general call to action has hardly any power compared to asking people individually.

Take away: What can you set up that can go from person to person to person?

5. People were empowered to actually DO something.

I often worry about huge issues like climate change or world hunger, but I don’t know what action to take to help other than to give a bit of money. I’d love take a specific action that I knew would help. Wouldn’t you?

Take away: can you call out your community to do ONE SPECIFIC THING?
gates images

Wish I could get Bill Gates behind my favorite cause!

Here are some quick ideas:

  • Film themselves picking up the grossest litter they can find?
  • Holding a frog? Naming their frog? (how about a frog naming contest?)
  • Trying to do a big ballet move like a grand jete or pirouette?  (I see a goofy dancing contest!)
  • Bringing a hot meal to someone’s grandmother and taking a selfie? Posting the selfie? (who’s grandmother have you helped today theme?)
  • Reading your very special childhood book to a kid?
  • Packing food into a poor kid’s backpack?
  • Bringing a kid a bike for a gift? Or a warm coat and filming the kids reaction?
  • Kissing your mother or someone’s mother for Mother’s Day?
  • Hugging your neighbor?
  • Hugging your favorite tree? Naming your favorite tree? Writing a sonnet about your favorite tree?

I know I’m getting punchy – but some of these are REAL IDEAS that you could run with on social media. But it has to have a strong element of fun and play for it to catch on.

BOTTOM LINE:

The possibilities are there. You can bring new attention, donors and cash to YOUR cause – if you are playful, empowering, and you make it fun and social!

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6 Steps to Creating The Fundraising Results You Really Want http://www.gailperry.com/2014/08/6-steps-to-creating-fundraising-results/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/08/6-steps-to-creating-fundraising-results/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 13:22:47 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15374 Want mega productivity in the coming year? Want to raise as much as you possibly can? Then let’s get cracking on your smart, systematic fundraising plan. I’m talking about a plan that gets everybody in your organization on board. a plan that uses your energies and connections in the smartest, most efficient way. a plan […]

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Want mega productivity in the coming year? Want to raise as much as you possibly can?

Then let’s get cracking on your smart, systematic fundraising plan. I’m talking aboutcookie jar with $$

  • a plan that gets everybody in your organization on board.
  • a plan that uses your energies and connections in the smartest, most efficient way.
  • a plan that everybody can buy into and where everybody takes on a supportive role.

Today I’m giving you 6 steps to create a plan that will deliver the fundraising results you really want.

Want extra help to create your plan?

Then, join us on Monday August 11 at 2pm ET for my “Creating a Fundraising Action Plan Workshop”.

You’ll get over 30 pages of checklists and templates to help you get organized and get everybody on board. (INSIDERS, this is included in your membership subscription!)

And of course you’ll also have my coaching on the webinar —  walking you thru all the decisions you need to make so you can raise as much money this year as possible! Yay!

Step 1: Assess: How’d we do last year? What worked and what didn’t work?

Your thinking needs to start with a non-emotional assessment of how things are working right now.

Last year – where were your successes? Where were your disappointments? Did all your fundraising strategies make their goals? What are the trends? Where is the money you are leaving on the table?

Check out these areas:

Your smart plan will keep you organized!

Are you reactionary or on top of things?

  • Case for support?
  • Donor retention?
  • Online presence and donation process?
  • Major gifts efforts?
  • Back office and infrastructure?

If you need help with your assessment, you can purchase all the templates and materials from my workshop last week: “How Much Can You Raise: Assessing Your Fundraising Opportunities.” 

Step 2: Identify your fundraising challenges and your opportunities.

It’s pretty easy now to identify where you are weak and where you are strong.

Take a good hard look at your challenges, and see if you can turn them into your opportunities. (That’s what we learned in business school way back!)

You know what areas of your fundraising program need work. And which ones have the most potential for bringing in the cash your organization so urgently needs.

Your smart plan will help you lead the troops to mega results!

Your smart plan will help you lead the troops to mega results!

Engage your board and leadership into this analysis – when they understand the possibilities, they are more likely to be willing to invest!

Step 3: What are your organizational goals for the coming year?

Clearly your fundraising plan needs to align with your organizational plans. What does your nonprofit want to accomplish in the coming year?

If you have clear organizational goals, THEN you have a clear rationale for your fundraising.

Then you can make it “all about the kids” or about the sick or about the poor, or about the art – or whatever your mission is out to accomplish.

You don’t have to make it “all about the money.”

Your annual fundraising plan needs to dovetail with your organization vision, plans and goals. It needs to reelect what your organization wants to accomplish in the coming year.

You know exactly what you need to raise. And why.

That is a strong story to share with your donors!

Step 4: Set your fundraising goals based on the numbers:

Your goals should reflect two sets of numbers:

  • what your organization needs (happy vision here)

AND

  • what you think you can raise (strong dose of reality here).

Step 5: Choose your fundraising strategies.

Now it’s time to be systematic and thorough. Let’s get real about your strategies.

Your smart plan sets up the dominoes so they will fall nicely in place.

Your smart plan sets up the dominoes so they will fall nicely in place.

Currently, you’re probably deploying an appropriate set of fundraising strategies – from events to mailings to major gifts and grants.

Where are you going to put extra effort?

Which areas will be getting a new focus, extra energy and push?

Which strategies will get tweaked or amplified?

Step 6: Create tactical action steps.

Here’s where you get specific.  If you plan to raise $xxx from your mailings for example, what will you do exactly to create that revenue?

I want to see every single dollar goal backed up with a smart set of well-organized action steps that make sense.

  • Create a timetable by month of the activities required.
  • Assign responsibilities.

NOW – you have what you need: a smart, organized plan that can take you where you want and NEED to go!

Create Your Own 10-Step Fundraising Action Plan for 2014-15!

Join my workshop on Monday and you’ll get everything you need to make it happen – templates, checklists, and the best coaching that I can deliver.

Your smart plan will keep this from happening! :)

Your smart plan will keep this from happening! :)

I’ll guide you through creating your own Fundraising Action Plan.

You’ll also learn how to:

  • Set dollar goals based on an analysis of your prospects and their financial potential.
  • Determine specific Action Steps to execute for each of your fundraising strategies and programs, including:
    •  special events
    •  mailings
    •  back office infrastructure
    •  major gifts
    •  professional development and staff expertise
    •  grants and sponsorships
    •  website and online fundraising
    •  board and leadership involvement

AND, I’ll help you:

  • Define clear jobs for everyone on your fundraising team.
  • Lay out a template calendar for each fundraising program and strategy.
  • Integrate all calendars into one master timeline for this fiscal year.

So if you think this can help you get better organization so you can raise the money you need, join us on Monday,  August 11 at 2pm ET!  (INSIDERS, this is included in your membership subscription!)

You can find out more and register here.  Check it out right now! 

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Use the Word “Profit” to Get Your Board’s Attention! http://www.gailperry.com/2014/08/use-word-profit-with-board/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/08/use-word-profit-with-board/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:27:17 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15344 Who’s making the decisions about fundraising budgets and investments at your organization? Is it the board members? Is it the CEO? Do these decision makers need to understand more about fundraising? Sometimes fundraising staffers can’t get their leaders to consider important strategic investments in fundraising. The problem is that the decision makers look at fundraising […]

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stacks of moneyWho’s making the decisions about fundraising budgets and investments at your organization? Is it the board members? Is it the CEO?

Do these decision makers need to understand more about fundraising?

Sometimes fundraising staffers can’t get their leaders to consider important strategic investments in fundraising.

The problem is that the decision makers look at fundraising as a “cost center” and not as a “profit center.”

Another problem is that sometimes people making investment decisions often don’t really understand how fundraising works in terms of return on investment. I have had more than one CEO say to me, “I don’t know whether to believe my staff.”

Whew.

Try using the word “Profit.”

I think we should all talk about “profit” more often. And why not?

Let’s talk about how much profit comes from our different fundraising strategies.

Show your leaders that investing in fundraising brings in a profit!

Show your leaders that investing in fundraising brings in a profit!

Let’s talk about “profitability” when it comes to staging galas, investing in direct mail, and investing in consulting or staff resources.

Let’s be much more business-like when sizing up opportunities!

Start using the word profit, and use it repeatedly!

Perhaps you’ll start getting your leaders to consider fundraising from a different point of view.

Then they will understand more clearly that investing in fundraising will bring a nice return on the money invested.

For example, investing $20k in really good direct mail should yield about $80k in revenue, if you have a list of responsive donors. Here’s an example.

Let’s educate our leaders to think differently about fundraising.

Here’s a great strategy to coax your leaders into making the right kind of fundraising investments:

The Carrot and Stick Approach

Here’s the Carrot:

Start discussing “how much money we are leaving on the table each year” because we don’t have the resources to go after it.

The idea of leaving money on the table is one that will get people’s attention.

Think with me for a minute – just how much money might be out there for your organization?

Working more with major donors always can add $$ to the bottom line.

Working more with major donors can always add $$ to the bottom line.

For example, major gifts is a likely source of untapped revenue.

You can almost certainly improve your fundraising bottom line if you had more time and resources to spend with your major donor prospects.

Try this:

  • Pull out or create a major gift prospect list.
  • Then add real dollar amounts or ranges of dollars next to the names of the wonderful people on your list.
  • Add up the dollar potential of your major gift prospects that is just sitting there on the table.

You will probably faint when you see just how much potential you are just sitting on if you had the time and staff to go after it.

I bet your total is a serious number that gets attention! Take your list and total to your leaders and ask them to brainstorm with you how we can find the time or staff to go after all this lovely potential.

Could you improve your bottom line with additional strategies? Almost certainly!

Here are some other ways you can probably improve your bottom line by making additional investments:

  • Online gifts: Could improving your website and donation page yield an increase in online gifts? Almost certainly so. Perhaps you could set a goal of increasing online giving by 10% – how much would that add to your bottom line?

    You could probably improve your email/direct mail results by 10% by making smart investments.

    You could probably improve your email/direct mail results by 10% by making smart investments.

  • Donor retention: Can better post-gift “customer service” increase donor retention?

You bet! Investing in a donor communications program could increase retention significantly.

If you could increase your donor retention by 10%, how much would that yield to your bottom line?

  • Fall fundraising campaign: How much more could you raise if you enhanced your year-end fundraising campaign?

Perhaps you could add more follow-up mailings or more communications channels. Could you increase your bottom line from your campaign by 10-15%? Possibly!

  • Events and auctions: Could you re-organize your gala, go after sponsors differently, or use a live auctioneer? Would any of these enhancements help you project a net increase of $10% or more?

Showing your leaders what your actual potential might be gets their attention.

When you show your leaders how much money you are leaving on the table, that will help them understand that investing in fundraising DOES bring terrific returns.

The Stick.

We have a carrot. And how we have a stick!

What’s the stick approach? It’s this phrase: “This money is not going to just walk in the door.”

I like that phrase because it’s not pleading for more resources. It can’t be perceived as whining or begging or “we just can’t do it all” – which never really works with higher-ups in my opinion.

Just go around talking about how “this money is just not going to walk in the door.”  You’ll gradually get through to people that something must change if they want to gain the resources that are just sitting out there for your organization.

BOTTOM LINE

Business-like wording will get your leaders’ attention. Try this approach, and you will eventually educate your decision makers on how fundraising really works today.

You’ll be happier, and your organization will enjoy higher fundraising totals.

This is a win-win strategy for everybody!

COMMENTS PLEASE!

What do you think? Let me know with a comment!

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Do’s and Don’ts for a Great Annual Fundraising Plan http://www.gailperry.com/2014/07/dos-donts-great-annual-fundraising-plan/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/07/dos-donts-great-annual-fundraising-plan/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:31:05 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15317 It’s the slow time of mid-summer, and it’s time to step back from your day-to-day work for a breather. AND – It’s time to look ahead at your fundraising plan for the coming year. I hope you enjoy your down time this summer! (Where are YOU heading for vacation?) But let’s take time now for […]

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It’s the slow time of mid-summer, and it’s time to step back from your day-to-day work for a breather.do-dont

AND – It’s time to look ahead at your fundraising plan for the coming year.

I hope you enjoy your down time this summer! (Where are YOU heading for vacation?)

But let’s take time now for some smart planning while things are slow. I can assure you that a smart fundraising plan for the upcoming year can help you expand your fundraising potential  . . . and your results!

We all know that a little planning now helps you stay sane later when things get really busy!

Fundraising Plan Don’ts:

1. Overly optimistic and unrealistic.

Don’t be one of those smart fundraisers are overly optimistic about what they can humanely achieve.Optimistic-In-Face-Of-Reality-Button-0289

They are so optimistic that they load up their plan with everything they need to do and then they add the stuff they WOULD LIKE to do.

I think it’s wonderful to be aggressive, but really now – do you want to commit to strategies that you KNOW are impossible to achieve?

Be completely realistic about what you and your staff can actually pull off in excellence!

2. Pie-in-the-sky goals.

I am often surprised to see fundraising goals just pulled out of the air. Or fundraisers tell me their goals are set for them by their superiors based on nothing in particular.

More than once, I’ve seen fundraising revenue goals that are just “plug figures” to make the budget balance. (Whaaaat??)

Fundraising goals need to be based firmly in reality – on hard facts and concrete realities. Don’t ever commit to a goal without knowing that you can actually make the numbers.

 

Fundraising Plan Do’s

1. Make smart choices.

A good fundraising plan will force you to choose what you WILL do and what you will NOT do in the coming year.choice

Why? Because you are making choices based on a realistic assessment of your opportunities, track record, staffing and budgetary resources.

For example, if you only have staff to do 2 events, then you are not going to plan to do 4 of them.

Any plan is important for what it chooses to get done. It’s also important for deciding what NOT to do.

2. Set priorities.

Your plan forces you to set priorities.

What are the “must do’s?” And what are the “would like to do’s?”

Some things you just can’t avoid – events, board meetings, grant proposals, and reports  – these things are already cast in concrete.

Once those must do’s are on the calendar, you can then take a realistic look at how much time is left over for the rest of your priorities.

With limited time and staff, you will have to raise some jobs and tasks to a higher priority level than others.

3. Dovetails with your organization’s business plan and goals.

Clearly your plan doesn’t live in a vacuum. It needs to be completely aligned with your organization’s overall activities and plans – both short term and long term.priority

For example, perhaps you are a performing arts organization planning to stage 4 performances this year. Your fundraising plan will structure appeals and events around these performances.

Or you are an after-school child-care center planning to expand into an additional school district. Your fundraising plan will focus around this expansion in all your appeals and events.

4. Based on current reality.

Your fundraising should start with a thoughtful assessment of where you are, what you have to work with, your challenges, and your unique strengths and connections.

Start your planning by taking stock of how well your current strategies are doing. How can we tweak our current work and make it more effective AND more efficient?

What’s working now? What’s not working so well?

A smart plan forces you to evaluate:

  • Your current numbers and your trends – unemotionally!
  • Your ways of acquiring new donors
  • How well you are deploying your volunteers

    Evaluate where you stand before you start planning!

    Evaluate where you stand before you start planning!

  • Your donor retention strategies – and your entire donor communication program
  • Your web site and donation process
  • Your staffing – including organizational structure, responsibilities, skill sets, work loads, training needs and how well everyone is working together – or not.

That’s where your fundraising plan has to start!

BOTTOM LINE:

It’s really important now to step back and organize yourself – and your office – and ALL your strategies and tactics – for the coming year.

I can promise you that if you DO create a smart plan – you will have a focus, well-thought-our and doable strategies. You’ll sleep better at night AND you’ll raise a lot more money!

Join me to create your OWN strategic fundraising plan!

My next two workshops will give you the templates, checklists, assessment formats – all the tools I think you need to create your BEST plan for the coming year.

  • On July 29, we’ll tackle step one – a full assessment of how well we are doing and how much money is on YOUR table.
  • On August 11, we’ll set our financial goals and detailed action plans for the coming year so we can systematically go after all those gifts and contributions.

You can find out more about the workshops and register here!

The post Do’s and Don’ts for a Great Annual Fundraising Plan appeared first on Fired-Up Fundraising | Gail Perry Associates.

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How a Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising Plan Will Bring You Sanity http://www.gailperry.com/2014/07/ruthlessly-practical-fundraising-plan-will-bring-sanity/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/07/ruthlessly-practical-fundraising-plan-will-bring-sanity/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:03:29 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=15254 July and August are your key time for planning, right? I sure hope that you are taking time to lay down some smart plans for the coming busy fiscal year. You probably already have your fundraising goals set in the budget that was passed earlier in the year. But are your goals really tied to […]

The post How a Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising Plan Will Bring You Sanity appeared first on Fired-Up Fundraising | Gail Perry Associates.

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July and August are your key time for planning, right?iStock_000016588175XSmall

I sure hope that you are taking time to lay down some smart plans for the coming busy fiscal year.

You probably already have your fundraising goals set in the budget that was passed earlier in the year.

But are your goals really tied to a thoughtful plan with a step by step strategy?

Are your fundraising revenue goals based on real numbers?

If you have a substantial increase projected for this year’s goal, how exactly are you going to make it happen?

What are your strategies? What are your tactics?

Do you have an action plan?

Ruthlessly practical planning.

I love the idea of “ruthlessly practical.”

I see way too much magical thinking in many nonprofits.

Never too late to PLAN!

Never too late to PLAN!

People keep setting these pie-in-the-sky goals without any real plans to back them up.

Or they wish for a dream board who will do the work for them.

But we have to raise money now! Can’t wait for a perfect situation!

And, when you have fundraising goals that are not based in reality, what KIND of situation does that put the poor fundraising staff in?

Ruthlessly practical is a DO IT NOW, “can do” approach.

The world needs us, my friends. The poor, the environment, the sick, the elderly, the arts, the kids – the world needs us to be at our best.

A smart fundraising plan will help you sort thru the maze of strategies so you can reach your goal.

A smart fundraising plan will help you sort thru the maze of strategies so you can reach your goal.

We gotta get going!

So let’s look at YOUR smart fundraising plan for the upcoming year.

And if you don’t have a plan, or if your plan is not as filled out as you’d like, PLEASE take the time now to get organized!

Because a smart plan is all about creating sanity. It’s about making choices on where you’ll focus in the coming year.

WHY do you need a smart, Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising Plan?

First of all, let’s talk TEAM:

It’s  a chance to get everybody in the organization buying into what has to be done and who’s gonna do it.

And how about the latest, sexy BIG fundraising idea that your well-meaning but ignorant colleague or board member starts promoting?

Help!

Here’s what you do: First you develop a smart fundraising plan that everybody agrees on. And you use the words, “The  Fundraising Plan” often.

Drill into everyone’s head the fact that there is a PRE-SET, organized plan.

iStock_000018782205XSmall

What’s your action plan for the year?

So when the new sexy (perhaps outlandish) idea gets promoted, what do you say?

You say,

“Great idea, BUT it’s not in our plan. What shall we drop in our current plan in order to do this new project?

And what is the anticipated revenue from this new project? What kind of staffing and resources will it take?”

Don’t let your board go wild on you!

I can’t imagine a more useful tool to help you sleep at night.

Here’s how your Fundraising Plan will help you:

1.    Keep unwanted strategies and big ideas OFF the table.

2.    You can backward schedule everything you do this year and when you really see the lead time required for some efforts – do you really want to do them?

3. Gives you political cover to discuss costs vs Return on Investment.

4.  Gives you the chance to ditch your next event. (You know the ROI but do they?)

6.   Will help you have more sanity as the fiscal year goes on. (Yay!)

7.   It will prompt you to actually LOOK at your numbers and how your strategies are working or not working.  You need to evaluate your strategies annually!

8.    Prompts you to consider – yet again – a commitment to seeing more major donors.

9.   Gives you a tool for generating internal support for fundraising.

9.    Helps you make the case for strengthening the “insides” of your fundraising operation:

  • Your infrastructure
  • Data base
  • TY processes
  • Donor communication efforts

Many people have asked me for help with a fundraising plan. So here goes:

Gain Sanity with my 10-Step Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising Plan

I’m organizing a 2-part Fundraising Plan Workshop series online to help you raise the most money possible this year. (If you’re one of my amazing INSIDERS these workshops are included in your membership.)

I’m giving you over 60 pages of templates, checklists, timeline formats – everything you need to create a Smart, Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising Plan for 2014-15.

My 10-Step Fundraising Plan will help you raise MORE MONEY than ever in LESS TIME. (hurray!)

You can find out all about these 2 IMPORTANT workshops here. 

Even if your plan is ALREADY set, I bet it could use another look.

I want you to sleep at night in the coming fiscal year. AND I want you to know what’s ahead of you.

Please don’t let things get out of control and start running you ragged. (I know it will probably happen anyway, but planning WILL HELP!)

Your cause needs your smartest thinking.

Your cause needs you to be at your best. :)

So check out my two Ruthlessly Practical Fundraising Plan Virtual Workshops  on July 29 and August 11, and see if they can help YOU be smarter and more effective!

 

 

 

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