Fired-Up Fundraising with Gail Perry http://www.gailperry.com Nonprofit Fundraising Consultant | Board Development | Keynote Speaker Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:40:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 My #1 Year-End Fundraising Tip that Will Bring in the Most Money http://www.gailperry.com/2014/11/1-year-end-fundraising-tip-will-bring-highest-dollar-return/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/11/1-year-end-fundraising-tip-will-bring-highest-dollar-return/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:59:23 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=16263 Year-end is a terribly busy time for you, I know. There is actually one important step you can do pretty easily.  And it can be highly profitable to your annual fund bottom line. And we all want that, don’t we? This simple tactic can make the largest difference in your year-end fundraising results. So if […]

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Year-end is a terribly busy time for you, I know.dec-31-calendar

There is actually one important step you can do pretty easily.  And it can be highly profitable to your annual fund bottom line.

And we all want that, don’t we?

This simple tactic can make the largest difference in your year-end fundraising results.

So if you could do just one thing in the next 5-6 weeks – here’s what I recommend:

Make sure your largest donors from 2013 renew their gifts before the end of 2014.

Here’s what to do:

1. Pull a report of all donors who gave in 2013 but who have not given yet in 2014.

2. Sort the report by highest gift so you can see who the largest donors are who have not yet renewed their gift.

3. Add up all the money that came in last year that has not quite yet come in this year.

4. You will probably faint after seeing the dollar amount – so pick yourself up off the floor at this point! :)

Here’s where you want to focus.

These dollars will be relatively easy to raise.

Why? Because they are simply renewals- these lovely people have already voted with their wallets that they are on your support team.

5. Now, let’s craft a quick and dirty strategy to go after these wonderful people who are hanging in the balance.

Your donors would probably love to hear from you!

Your donors would probably love to hear from you!

Be sure they are asked AGAIN to renew their gift.

These donors are important to your cause. You should be in touch with them anyway, right?

What can you pull off here at the end of the year? There are lots of things you could consider:

1. Staff can make phone calls to your largest lapsed donors.

Why not pick up the phone, call them and tell them you are thinking of them here at the end of the year.

Give them a brief update if they are interested.

Tell them you hope they will be renewing their support. Ask then to share with you again why they believe in your cause.

Share with them your goals for 2015, and invite them to help make these wonderful things happen in your community.

  • Use the MPI Formula – mention a dollar amount (money) that will fund a project, and then share the impact that the gift will make.

2. Organize a board member phonathon to lapsed donors asking them to renew.

elderly lady on the phone

Your more elderly donors might just love for you to call them.

Board members tell me that asking donors to renew their gifts is the easiest ask to make.

They are much more comfortable with this type of ask than you might think.

Be sure to give them training, though. Role playing exercises are fun and give them important practice.

  • AND, of course make it FUN for your board members so they will all pitch in!

3. Send very, very personalized letters to your largest donors.

It’s certainly not too late to create some warm, personal appeal letters to your largest donors.

Even if they have been asked earlier this fall -and especially if they’ve been asked – you should followup personally with them.

Just say, you noticed that they have not yet renewed their support. Use the MPI Formula to remind them HOW they can help change the world with their gift.

  • I think following up with these donors is simply good manners, myself.

4. Make in-person visits to the top 10 donors who have not yet renewed their gift.

Face to face visits with your donors are the best possible fundraising strategy.

During your visit, lay out your plans for next year and ask them to join with you to make these wonderful things happen.

Find out what their hot buttons are and what their questions are.

This kind of thank you gift can seriously touch your donor's heart.

This kind of thank you gift can seriously touch your donor’s heart.

Make sure they do most of the talking during your visit.

  • If you do, they’ll talk themselves into making the gift!

5. Send a special holiday greeting to them.

It can be a video from someone your organization has helped.

It could be homemade cookies or sweets.

It could be a warm and fuzzy thank you gift or message.

Sending holiday greetings to your donors reminds them that you care about them as people.

Don’t be all about the money – then they will feel like ATMs and all will be lost.

  • In this season of gratitude and giving, be sure you spread some special cheer to your major donors.

 BOTTOM LINE

There is a huge amount of money on the table RIGHT NOW for you and your cause.

And it’s all from your donors who need to renew their gifts.

This is the easiest money to raise ever. Focus here and you’ll see happy dollar results!

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

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You Are Doing the Most Important Job in the World http://www.gailperry.com/2014/11/important-job-world/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/11/important-job-world/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:00:17 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=16243 What is YOUR role in the word of philanthropy?  In honor of National Philanthropy Day, we are stepping back and looking at ourselves and our work. You are making it happen day after day, my friend. Whether you are a board member, CEO or fundraising staff, you are doing such important work. You may not […]

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What is YOUR role in the word of philanthropy? superwoman board member

In honor of National Philanthropy Day, we are stepping back and looking at ourselves and our work.

You are making it happen day after day, my friend.

Whether you are a board member, CEO or fundraising staff, you are doing such important work.

You may not have the support you need from your team or leaders — or enough resources to do good fundraising.

But you are still plugging away, creating such good in the world.

I just have to tell you how much I personally appreciate what you are doing.

There are plenty of people out there in the world who you touch. You are appreciated more than you know!

So here’s my encouragement:

Sometimes you just have to push back!

Sometimes you just have to push back!

Go for it!

You are probably one of the most dedicated people you know.

You’ve been wearing the monkey on your back for a long time, and you know it.

You have one of the most important jobs on earth – bringing in the resources to make the world a better place.

Never forget that!

Take a stand.

Draw a line in the sand about what you are willing to do and what you won’t do.

Confront people who block you, who mock you, or who try to hold you back.

Push back.

Create risk. And accept risk. What do you really have to lose?

Why not tell people that they can’t have it both ways.

They can’t have this new sexy fundraising strategy that they have just thought up and still get the major gifts you need in the door.

Never be satisfied with the status quo.

You know and I both know that status quo is not acceptable. It’s deadly and deadening.

Status quo is much loved by those who want to make everyone comfortable.

But it subverts the change we need to bring to the world.

Be part of the solution.

Neutrality is not an option. You are either a part of the solution or a part of the problem.

Take a minute and watch this moving and remarkably inspirational closing plenary address by Kumi Naidoo (Executive Director, Greenpeace International) at the International Fundraising Congress last month.

Know that you are not alone. Remember the ethical responsibility we all share to work for the common good.

Work the big ideas.

Find donors who only want big ideas. This is where the energy and power is – in the big ideas that shift everything.

Get out to the field, recharge, and see those big ideas in action!

Create positive energy.

Be a source of optimism for those around you.

Optimism is the energy that can change the world.

Optimism is the energy that can change the world.

Your donors will feel your positive attitude.

Your colleagues will appreciate it. And you’ll change the world faster.

You’ll be operating from spirit .  .  .  not ego.

Have some fun.

People want to have fun.

Your donors, your staff, and your family – all want to have some fun.

Remember my #1 fundraising motto: “When in doubt throw a party!”

When you are having fun, you attract more people and donors to your cause. Everything becomes easier.

Take excellent care of yourself.

The better your self-care – the more good energy you can share with everyone. Insist on taking your vacation. Close up your computer on the weekends.

Have more fun, and you'll raise more money!

Have more fun, and you’ll raise more money!

Set an example for others. (Call me if you have second thoughts about this!)

Create a team.

You can’t do it by yourself.

Keeping the monkey only on your own back won’t change the world. (Neither will working yourself to death.)

Pull your team together and set shared goals so you can create shared successes.

Build a support community for yourself.

Fundraising can be a lonely job.

You need the support of your colleagues and friends in our field – whether they are on the other side of the world or next door.

Remember that’s what AFP is for!

(We all hang out on Twitter too for some fun, sharing and support!)

Find the leader in the mirror.

Let’s not wait for leaders to change. The world needs YOU right now! Philanthropy and fundraising really need more leaders. And that means you.

WE really are the safety net of society.  Perhaps WE are the heroes.

This is your moment.

We fundraisers have the priviledge of doing our work. We have the knowledge and we have the skills.

At the International Fundraising Congress last month, Kumi Naidoo (Executive Director, Greenpeace International) called on us to act and act now.

Sure, there are days when we all have self doubt.  But the world would be an incredibly worse place — a much more pessimistic place — without you, my friend.

What will you do with the rest of your life?

Your days? your hours? Will you waste them in a place where you feel stuck? Where you are blocked?

Or are you going to listen to that very true inner voice that knows exactly where you should be and what you should be doing?

This entire post is my call to action to you.

I’m here to support you. I’m here to show you that there can be a better way.

I’m here to remind you that you already know the answers.  And you know what to do. The world needs you – really!

Rock on, my friend!

Life’s short and the world is calling to us!

COMMENTS?

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Planning a Capital Campaign? How to Get Major Donors Involved Early On http://www.gailperry.com/2014/11/planning-capital-campaign-get-major-donors-involved-early/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/11/planning-capital-campaign-get-major-donors-involved-early/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 15:05:05 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=16197 Planning a capital campaign or a major new initiative? When do you start talking to major donors? Here’s everybody’s first (and most important) question: Do we wait till our strategic plan is fully thought through and laid out? Should we wait till the sketches, footprints and budgets are all complete for our hoped-for new buildings […]

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Planning a capital campaign or a major new initiative?

When do you start talking to major donors?

Here’s everybody’s first (and most important) question:TwoPeopleTalking-300x240

Do we wait till our strategic plan is fully thought through and laid out?

Should we wait till the sketches, footprints and budgets are all complete for our hoped-for new buildings – and THEN go to our donors?

My answer is a VERY big “NO!”

Don’t wait!

Engage your major donors NOW in your strategic visioning conversations!

The time to go see your hoped-for major donors is very early on – when these ideas are just simmering around in your head as a happy future vision.

Why?

Because the VISION stage of everything is the most exciting stage of all.

It’s the moment of your greatest power. It’s where all the energy is.

people figures speaking

Your major donor prospects might have lots to say about your plans.

It’s also where the fun is!

  • “Shall we do this?
  • “Or shall we do that?
  • “Could we pull it off?
  • “Who would need to be involved?
  • “What would it take?

This is all fun stuff.

Don’t forget that this early process of thinking through your organization’s exciting future is a unique opportunity to engage your donors.

It’s a magic time for you.

You are living in a place of possibilities — considering new paths to take.

What better time to be sharing your ideas with your donors!

Don’t put your hoped-for major donors in a protected silo while you have all the creative fun.

Free Webinar: How to Start Planning for Big Money and Your Capital Campaign NOW

Would you like some extra help laying the groundwork for big money and capital campaign in your future?

Then join Andrea Khilstedt and me for our FREE Webinar November 11 at noon ET:  How to Start Planning for Big Money and Your Capital Campaign NOW.

And yes, it will be recorded for you!

Martin Luther King didn't say "I have a strategic plan."

Martin Luther King didn’t say “I have a strategic plan.”

Martin Luther King didn’t say, “I have a strategic plan.”

Instead he said, “I have a dream.”

And it was his dream – his vision – that captured the imagination, AND the participation of millions of Americans – and the rest of the world.

Invite your donors in!

Inviting a prospective major donor to be involved in helping to shape your vision is the highest compliment you can give him or her.

It gets the donor in on the ground floor.

She feels like she’s in the know.

She’s in the inner circle.

She’s been asked for her opinion and her input.

As fundraising consultants, we ask donors all the time how they feel about projects, how they feel about prospective campaigns, and what their thinking is on how to raise the money.

It surprises me that so many nonprofits are reluctant to have these kinds of conversations with their potential major donors.

Because you can’t possibly cultivate a donor – or ask for a gift – without discussing these issues!

But leadership is often reluctant to involve donors early.

Your leaders are saying “we can’t go to the major donors without everything lined up.  It will make us look bad if we don’t have all the answers to their questions.”

They want to have the new plan completely thought out and finished up. And only then are they comfortable engaging leadership donors in conversations about the plan.

Here’s a question we recently received on our Capital Campaign Magic site.

The future is where the fun is!

The future is where the fun is!

When should we start our campaign and engage our donors relative to the strategic planning process?

Here’s our answer: You probably should ALREADY be discussing your plans with your lead donors!

Cultivate Prospective Donors by Involving Them in Campaign Planning

There’s no better way to cultivate prospective donors than by involving them in your early planning.

It’s the first step in a full scale cultivation plan for a major gift:

  • You want to get their curiosity up.
  • You want to let them have some fun brainstorming with you about the right way to go.
  • You want to get their buy-in early.

Easy to Get Your Foot in the Door with Donors

It’s so easy to get in the door with prospective donors during the planning phase. Why?

Because you are not asking for anything but their advice and best ideas. You’re honoring your donors by asking them to help you think through your plans.

3 Steps to Engage Your Major Donors Early On

1. Make a list of the 25 people whose commitments will be critical to the success of your campaign.

2. Brainstorm the various ways you might involve them in your planning.

Consider inviting them to participate in a planning meeting, serve on the Campaign Planning Committee, or review a draft of the plan, be part of a focus group, or simply give you advice and information about the community.

3. Next, develop a plan for involving those top 25 folks.

You don’t want The Ask or a Feasibility Study interview to be the first time they learn about your project.

Bottom Line:

Getting your major donor prospects thinking, talking and planning with you just about assures their buy-in into the campaign.

Smart fundraisers start here with them – at the VERY BEGINNING!

And don’t forget to join our FREE WEBINAR next week!

What do you think? What’s your experience? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Phone Calls to Donors = Highly Profitable Fundraising http://www.gailperry.com/2014/10/phone-calls-donors-can-highly-profitable/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/10/phone-calls-donors-can-highly-profitable/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:24:15 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=16160 Are you afraid of the phone? It can be scary to pick up the phone to call a donor or a potential donor! Especially when it’s so much easier to keep your polite distance and send a letter or an email solicitation. But stop a minute and think about your donors: Could it be that […]

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Are you afraid of the phone?

It can be scary to pick up the phone to call a donor or a potential donor!elderley-lady-on-phone

Especially when it’s so much easier to keep your polite distance and send a letter or an email solicitation.

But stop a minute and think about your donors:

Could it be that people are happy to talk to you on the phone?

Might they be happy to have actual human engagement?

But people hate getting phone calls, right?

“Actually, if the call is done right, then they are grateful to hear from you and you can’t get them off the phone!”

People don’t want BAD direct mail or BAD email.  They don’t want BAD phone calls either.

At the International Fundraising Conference in Amsterdam, I was fascinated by a blazing defense of the phone from Simon Scriver of Total Fundraising@TotalFR on twitter and blogging at changefundraising.com.

This post summarizes his very practical recommendations.  I hope they will jolt you to re-think your fundraising strategies. I’m actually quoting directly from his terrific presentation here.

“Face to face and phone will always do much better than online and mail fundraising.”

What? Could this be true? I know that face to face is the most effective way, but phone too?

Why you should consider the phone:

  • It’s relatively cheap. (Hurray for low-cost fundraising tools).phone
  • It can be very personal to the donor. (And that’s lovely, isn’t it?)
  • It supports every other medium – can boost direct mail response quickly.
  • It’s scalable: if you only have 4 donors – you can call them every month. If you have 400 you can easily reach them. If you have 4000 or 40000, you can amass armies of volunteers to call them.
  • Anyone can do them! Volunteers, staff, even donors can call other donors.

Look at all these important uses of phone calls:

WELCOME CALLS: Say thank you! Every single donor should be thanked on the phone if at all possible!

REACTIVATION CALLS:   Ask a lapsed donor to renew their pledge. Why not?

UPGRADE CALLS:  Ask a donor to give or pledge more because of an important new initiative.

phone girs on phone frown

Don’t be nervous about calling your donors on the phone!

CONVERSION CALLS: Call event attendees and ask them to become monthly donors.

Simon also shared what we can expect to raise if we used a smart phone calling strategy.

If you called your entire donor base. . . on average,

1 in 4 donors would give you more!

So if 25% of your donor base is 1000 donors, and all gave $25.00 more, then you’d have an additional $25k.

If 25% of your donor base is 5000 donors, and each of them gave $50 more, that would be 250k.

Run the numbers and see if they don’t get your attention?!

If you called all your lapsed donors,

19% would say YES!

Simon said that 50% won’t answer, 27% will say no and 19% will say yes.

Now, run those numbers and you’ll see how much money you are leaving on the table by not calling.

If you called event attendees and asked them to become monthly donors, 8% would say yes.

25% would say no and 67% would be not be able to contact.

It can even be fun to call your donors on the phone!

It can even be fun to call your donors on the phone!

Welcome calls to new donors boost retention by 30%.

Are you ready to pick up the phone yet?

Here are some smart guidelines for planning your calls.

  • Use the donor’s name right off. Confirm who you are speaking with.
  • Be personal. You are not talking from a canned script.
  • Identify yourself and your role.
  • LISTEN – Listening will tell you what to say next.
  • Let them see your phone number so they know who is calling. Your more passionate supporters are more likely to pick up the phone.

What does a good phone call look like?

You ask leading questions where the answer is “YES.”

  • You are concerned about this cause correct?  YES

    I bet your donor would LOVE to hear from you and would be ready to give more if you asked!

    I bet your donor would LOVE to hear from you and would be ready to give more if you asked!

  • And you are making monthly gifts right now?   YES
  • Would you like to consider xx more a month?  YES

What to say on a phone call – words and phrases to use:

Hi, I’m xxxx, calling on behalf of xx organization.

Do you have time for a quick talk?

First of all we want to give you a huge thank you for your (gifts, volunteering, attending event) with us.

It’s awesome that you are doing this. (AFFIRMATION OF THE DONOR)

Do you mind my asking what was it that led you to make the donation in the first place? (GETTING DONOR FEEDBACK)

You may remember reading about xxx project that you helped fund.

Thanks to people like yourself, we were able to xxxx, and now here’s the impact of this xxxx.

What we are doing today – is a phone campaign so we can tackle this next important project.

We are asking people to increase their gift by xx amount and then they can help create xxxxx impact or reach xxxxx people.

Most people are giving in this range of $xxx to $xxxx. How much would you like to give?

Simon says that if you mention $75, they’ll give higher than that.

If you mention $120 they’ll give $135.

BOTTOM LINE:

Direct calls to donors can be an amazing fundraising tool. They can raise serious money for you and your cause.

Try these strategies. Are you willing to do this?

Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Is There a Crisis in Fundraising Leadership? http://www.gailperry.com/2014/10/crisis-fundraising-leadership/ http://www.gailperry.com/2014/10/crisis-fundraising-leadership/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 13:27:09 +0000 http://www.gailperry.com/?p=16124 How do we attract, develop and retain good fundraisers? At last week’s International Fundraising Congress, many of us were transfixed by a provocative conversation about “The Emerging Fundraising Leadership Challenge.” International fundraising guru Tony Elischer, managing director of Think Consulting Solutions, and 5 dynamic women:  Rory Green,  Maria Ros Jernberg,  Joanne Warner,  Elise Ledsinger, and  Lucy Gower led the conversation. (By the way, […]

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How do we attract, develop and retain good fundraisers?young_leaders_stock

At last week’s International Fundraising Congress, many of us were transfixed by a provocative conversation about “The Emerging Fundraising Leadership Challenge.

International fundraising guru Tony Elischer, managing director of Think Consulting Solutions, and 5 dynamic women:  Rory Green,  Maria Ros Jernberg,  Joanne Warner,  Elise Ledsinger, and  Lucy Gower led the conversation.

(By the way, if you have not discovered Rory Green’s hilarious Fundraiser Grrl Tumbler feed, go there right now and subscribe for some much-needed laughs!)

The presenters bemoaned what it’s like for emerging fundraising leaders who are looking for a bright future.

How do we spot, train and develop young talented  – and especially tech-savvy –  fundraisers?

Is fundraising leadership “pale, stale and male?”

Do you agree? Let’s talk about the “stale” part of the above sentence.

Everything is changing about fundraising today. (You’re probably tired of hearing me say to you, “fundraising has changed.”)

Our industry is being blown apart by new technology and new ideas.

Our industry is being blown apart by new technology tools.

Our industry is being blown apart by new technology tools.

The way we communicate is changing drastically.

What donors expect and respond to is very different.

So the stale ideas that are prevalent in so many boardrooms and executive suites are clearly not going to take us where we need to go.

And stale ideas are not going to keep talented fundraisers around.

31% of fundraisers left their jobs because of an “old-school culture of fundraising.”

What’s the old school culture look like?

  • It’s when the president of a college tells me “I don’t know whether to believe my staff.” (This has happened to me more than once!)
  • It’s when the board members think they know more about fundraising than staff does.
  • It’s when your leaders aren’t willing to try out anything new – just sticking with the same old stale fundraising efforts year after year.
  • It’s when a toxic culture squashes young fundraisers’ ideas and dreams.

Penelope Burk found that 40% of fundraisers said that conflicting opinions  on HOW to raise the money was making them leave their jobs. 

Try a “Risk” or “New Strategies” Fund as part of your development budget.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you had a budget item for new technology or to try out new ideas?

Remember, this small pool of money will very likely pay itself back before you know it!

Does your organization have a "stuck in the past" attitude toward fundraising?

Does your organization have a “stuck in the past” attitude toward fundraising?

I like fundraisers who say “give me one dollar and I’ll give you $4 back within two years.”

That’s what a risk fund can help support.

This way you won’t have to deal with the perennial, “We don’t have it in the budget.”

If you have an innovative culture, your staff feels supported to try out new technologies.

And you’ll probably emerge on top in a few years too.

Could it be that the leaders of charities do not appreciate fundraising or talented fundraisers?

Whoa! They don’t appreciate fundraising?  And/or they don’t appreciate “internal fundraising competence?”

Could it be that there is something “fundamentally wrong with the internal culture of many organizations,” in that fundraisers, and particularly talented young women fundraisers —  are not respected, appropriately rewarded or listened to?

(I have to say, what else is new here?)

The presenters called the situation “shameful at every level.”

If you want to be successful, fundraising needs to be integrated into every aspect of your organization.

Everyone needs to understand fundraising and their role in supporting donors and the overall fundraising effort.

I’ll be writing and speaking more in the coming months about how to develop a stronger culture of philanthropy at your organization.

Screen shot from the Fundraisergrrl tumbler feed!

Screen shot from the Fundraisergrrl tumbler feed! Our go-to place for humor!

Can you create a culture in your organization that inspires risk and change?

  • Can you make employees feel important and valued?
  • Can you set a good example of work-life balance?
  • Can you create a culture that values the work fundraisers do?
  • Can you make your employees feel safe and supported?

Do you want to keep your best young talent?

Then make sure you appreciate and recognize “the skills and insights of the next generation of leaders.”

I’m willing to bet our sector could do a much better job than we are doing.

Finding and cultivating new talent has got to be a priority to help lead us to a powerful and productive future.

If you agree, leave a comment!

BOTTOM LINE:

So come on everybody – let’s make a pledge to the new ‘Grow it, Be it, Value it’ Campaign.

Join the movement to value talent, invest in the next generation, be open to change, look for and nurture new fundraisers coming up in the ranks!

Read all about the Leadership Crisis in Fundraising here. It’s worth your time but it might make you angry!

Give me a comment! Do you agree or NOT?

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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.

The post Top 10 Year-End Fundraising Strategies for 2014 appeared first on Fired-Up Fundraising with Gail Perry.

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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!

The post 112 Tips to Raise More Money by Mail appeared first on Fired-Up Fundraising with Gail Perry.

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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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