Your First-Time Online Donors Are at Risk!

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Here's a worrisome problem with online gifts. (Let's make our…

Where's the Emotional Hook in Your Year-End Fundraising Campaign?

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We all talk about the need for a visual and emotional "hook"…

7 Way to Strengthen Your Year-End Fundraising Appeals

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Here's a guest post from a smart colleague of mine: Amy Eisenstein. In her newsletter today, she gave us 7 ways to strengthen our end of year fundraising appeals. (Check out her webiste: Tri-Point Resources; she has lots of great information and an excellent newsletter.) Here's a dynamite list of things you don't want to forget! Amy says:2 "I spoke to a group of almost 50 fundraisers this morning, from a variety of non-profits in Wilmington, DE, and only a quarter of them had started drafting their year-end appeal! If you are like so many others who haven't started your annual appeal letter, what are you waiting for? Time is running out. You can't be late with your appeal this year, because people with limited resources are going to give to the first organizations that come knocking. 1. Create a timeline and work backwards. When do you want appeal letters to land in mailboxes? Early November is ideal, but anytime before Thanksgiving will do. December is late! The mail house will need a week, as will the printer. You probably need a week to write the letter, and a week for board members and others to write personal notes. (That's a total of 4 weeks.) 2. Contact vendors (printer and mail house) and get quotes. Select your vendor and discuss timelines with them. Make sure they can work under your deadlines and understand the urgent nature of your appeal. 3. Develop a concept and write your letter. Include personal stories, client quotes, and photos, when appropriate. This is your opportunity to tell your supporters what you accomplished this year, and who you have helped. They should feel the tug at their heartstrings! 4. Create a Business Reply Envelope (BRE) Don't send your appeal without one of these. Start saving ones you get in the mail as samples for next year. The reply envelope is another place to tell your story, such as your mission or more quotes. Ask for specific amounts, such as $25, $50, $100 and Other. Remember to collect donor information for your database, including address, phone number, and email address. 5. Personalize, personalize, personalize. - Segment your list. Can you send different letters to board members, donors, non-donors, and lapsed donors? - Always use Dear Amy, not Dear Friend. - Ask board members, staff, and volunteers to write personal notes to people they know (and those they don't). - If you can handwrite envelopes to your largest donors, you should. 6. Use "live" first class postage. This is not the time to use your bulk mail permit or postage meter. If the envelope doesn't get opened, it doesn't matter how good your appeal is. Don't let your appeal end up in the trash before being opened. First class stamps and handwritten envelopes exponentially increase your open rate. 7. Follow Up - Before the appeal is mailed, write generic thank you letters. Have a system for how they will get out, as fast as possible. - Implement a thank you calling system. Ask board members to help make thank you calls. A thoughtful thank you goes a long way in securing the next gift. Stand out this year as an organization that is extraordinarily grateful for the donations you receive!

The Magic Secret to a Dynamite Fundraising Letter

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I bet you are starting to receive year-end appeal letters like…

The Most Important Word in Your Year-End Appeal Letter

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I received an end-of-the-year fundraising letter last week. And it talked and talked about this wonderful organization and all the good work it has done. It went on and on to tell about its impact and its outcomes, making sure the hot buttons were all pressed. iStock_000009339939XSmallBut one huge thing was missing. It never referred to ME, the reader. Instead, the people signing the letter talked on and on about themselves, and their cause. It was a very ego-centric letter. It seemed self-interested and self-focused. What did the letter writers do wrong? There wasn't a single "you" in the whole letter. Not even a "thank you for everything you have done to help make us successful." And not, "you have beeen part of all our successes." And not, "as you probably know . . . " The letter writers missed EVERY single opportunity to refer back to me, the donor and reader. They focused only on themselves and their own agenda. My reaction?

Warming Up Your Donors Before the Ask Yields Higher Gifts

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Yet another end-of-year fundraising strategy is here again on this chilly October day in North Carolina. I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are reading this. The year-end fundraiStock_000007359010XSmallising rush is upon us again. This is the time when most organizations raise most of their contributions. So warming up your donors before you ask them is a mighty smart move that can dramatically enhance your results. Here's how: 1. First of all, I hope you have been communicating with your donors all year long, so they feel happy and connected to your cause. I hope you have been using postcards, emails, direct mail, personal letters, phone calls, newsletters, and your annual report to talk to your donors and treat them like friends. (And I certainly hope you are not relying on just a newsletter to carry communication this for you - studies show that donors think nonprofit newsletters are boring) 2. Be sure your donors have been well thanked. If you need to, before appeals go out, hold a thankathon to your donors. Or hold a "this is how we used your money last year" phonathon to your donors. 3. And here's how you prep them: As part of your appeal strategy, you should have several steps in the overall solicitation process. The first step should be a postcard, an email or a phone call letting the donor know that the campaign is about to launch. This preps the donor and helps them be ready for the appeal. The second step might be the appeal itself, with lots of additional followup steps that we will discuss later. But let's go back to the idea of a "warmup" postcard. Here's where you should put a smiling face or family who is being helped by your cause. Here's where you tell a story. Here's where you trigger the warm and fuzzy emotions. I love the idea of the postcard. You can also send an email with the photo, with a cheery message about launching the campaign and the wonderful things your organization does to help people. This kind of warm up can dramatically increase the gifts that your donors make when the appeal finally hits. Give it a try!

Focus on "Friendmaking" to Take the Fear out of Fundraising

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Could fundraising be as easy as picking flowers? Maybe! I frequently tell my clients and audiences something rather revolutionary: that I'd rather have a "friend" of my organization than a donor. At first everyone is startled. Then they sit back and consider what it would mean to have "friends" rather than donors. What will friends do for you? They will introduce new people to the cause and bring new friends on board. They will spread the word. They'll help you in any way they can. And when the going gets tough, where are they? They are right there with you at your side. And will your friends contribute money?