My #1 Year-End Fundraising Tip that Will Bring in the Most Money

Here my favorite fundraising tip that can boost your year-end…

Increase Your Year-End Fundraising $$ With This Simple Strategy

Wouldn't you like to have a simple strategy that will dramatically…

Top 10 Ways to Screw up Your Year-End Fundraising Campaign

There's nothing more important this fall than your year-end fundraising…

7 Tips for Writing A Good End-of-Year Appeal

Here's a great blog post from direct mail expert and fellow blogger…

Top 10 Things Donors Want from Your Nonprofit's Web Site

Did you know that most donors check out your web site before…

Your First-Time Online Donors Are at Risk!

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

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

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

How Board Members are Helping the Boys and Girls Club Make Their Year-End Goals

I'm just back from the Northeast Leadership Conference of the Boys and Girls Club of America where I spoke yesterday afternoon at their Regional Leadership Conference. IMG_0117(Love those BGCA folks!) Here's what Dovie Prather, the Senior Director of Development Club Resources for BGCA Northeast Region, shared with me about their year-end fundraising strategies. (That's Dovie in the picture right here along with Glen Staron, Vice President, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Northeast Region, and me.) Dovie spends her time coaching board volunteers and staff in the various Boys and Girls Clubs in her region - from Maine to Maryland. She has worked with her share of reluctant board members who don't want to go on fundraising calls. But the staff needs the board members to help if they are going to make their goals. And face-to-face visits are a key part of her year-end fundraising strategy recommendations for her Boys and Girls Clubs. She's counting on those one-on-one calls for $1k or more with key supporters to help the Clubs meet their goals. (See my earlier blog post on Focusing on Individuals to Make Your Year-End Goals). We all know that we can count on individuals this fall far more than we can count on our foundation and corporate supporters. But most of her board members think they won't be successful in face-to-face visits. And she doesn't really want to send the board members out alone anyway. So here's her solution:

7 Way to Strengthen Your Year-End Fundraising Appeals

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!

How To Be Sure Your Donor Actually Opens Your Year-End Fundraising Letter

Take a look at this stack of mail. Big Stack of Mail Isolated on White When will your donor even sort through all this stuff? Will your donor even notice your appeal letter? And what are the chances that your donor will actually open your letter? Let's see if we can stack the deck in our favor and increase the odds she'll open and read our letter. Let's tell a story: Here's Jane Smith, a long-time friend of the SPCA (insert your cause here!). She's harried. She's late to pick up her kids from after school care, and now she's rushing to the grocery story to get some dinner. It's a cool autumn evening, and Jane's hugs her sweater tightly around her as she drives home. She walks in the door, throws the groceries on the table, and heads to the mailbox to pick up the mail. She distractedly flips through masses of mail - junk mail, political ads, newsletters, bills - you name it. Will YOUR ENVELOPE attract her attention? Let's go on with the story and see what happens. Jane's busy but something in the mail stack catches her eye. It's an envelope in an odd color.Colorful envelope - 6 It stands out. She picks it up and sees that it's your return address. Then she notices that there is a REAL STAMP on the letter. Gosh, this must be a special letter. It has been hand stamped. Jane knows that this is no junk mail piece. It's something meant especially for her. Then she notices that several board members she knows have personally written their names above the return address. It looks a bit messy with three signatures up there, but she can immediately tell that this is indeed a special letter, meant for her alone. She thinks, "how nice of them." Finally, she notices that her address is hand written. Someone has taken the time to hand address her letter, and she feels pleased and complimented. Clearly this is a special communication to Jane. Calling hello to her husband as he walks in the door, she stops walking and OPENS YOUR LETTER. THEN SHE READS IT! : ) Moral of the story: 1. Use a bright colored envelope. 2. Use a real stamp. 3. Have someone personally write their name above the return address on the front or back of the envelope. 4. Hand-address the envelope. You can take it a step further and have something specially printed on the outside of the envelope. That also can encourage someone to open your appeal. Try these and you'll be surprised with more attention from your donors and more responses with donations.

Five Tips for Online Fundraising That Will Bring in More Money at Year-End

I was reading today's issue of Fundraising Success's online newsletter…

The Magic Secret to a Dynamite Fundraising Letter

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

Warming Up Your Donors Before the Ask Yields Higher Gifts

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!

Three Ways to Kick-Start Your Fundraising Plans for the End of the Year

Here's a guest post this morning from Sandy Reese, of…

Reach Risk-Adverse Donors by Adding Credibility to Your Year-End Appeal

I am such a fan of Kay Sprinkel Grace. She is one of the ultimate fundraising gurus who I have followed for a long time. The highlight of my summer was hearing her in person at the Bridge Conference in DC this summer. So I wasted no time asking her to be a part of the 09 Year-End Fundraising Strategies Telesummit. And, as usual, she had some provocative and pithy ideas to share. (find out more. . . ) Here's the deal: we have to know where our donors stand if we are going to successfully encourage them to contribute this year. So we need to drill down a bit into our donors' minds and hearts and understand their attitudes so we can craft the right kind of fundraising appeal. According to Kay ( and I do wholeheartedly agree), donors are feeling poor right now, whether they are multimillionares or not. So they are being more and more careful about their giving (and spending for that matter). Kay thinks the economy is starting to pick up. And she is also seeing that philanthropy is picking up as well. : ) So If philanthropy is starting to pick up, then this year-end is a golden opportunity to re-gain the fundraising losses we have seen in the past year. But we need to know how to talk to our donors. Right now. Responding to their current attitudes for fall/winter 09. Here's the issue - donors are less likely to take risks now. They are becoming more conservative. Gone are the days when a person might issue 30 checks at year-end, just because they cared a lot and also because they had ample income. Now, people are giving to fewer organizations - AND to trusted organizations. SOOOOO how do speak to your donors NOW? Remember that credibility is essential for your fundraising now more than ever. How do you establish credibility? Lots of ways:
  • track record - here are our results
  • transparency - how we are spending your money
  • who is on our board (what community leaders are standing behind us and our cause?)
  • 990 posted online
  • professional looking web site and marketing materials
  • good looking (ie, professional) fundraising appeal
  • longevity - we've been in business all this time
  • endorsements from well-known community leaders
  • funding from well-known sources (publicize this because it adds credibility)
Be sure you hit all these points somewhere in your web site and in your appeal. And you'll be more successful if you do.

Three Strategies That Will Engage Women Donors' Hearts and Their Wallets

I'm wildly interested in what Margaret May Damen had to say about appealing to women donors in her 09 Year-End Strategies Telesummit interview with me last week. iStock_000006752189XSmallAfter years on the big-time university fundraising scene, I know all too well how so many development folks focus waaaaay too much on the men. I know I used to do it too. But now, take a look at her statistics: According to the Harvard Business Review, 84% of all women make ALL the financial decisions in their households. My oh my. Too many development officers are missing the boat if they are talking to men. Here are Margaret May Damen's top three strategies to engage women donors' hearts AND their pocketbooks.
  1. Gather a group of top women donors across generational divides. Ask themiStock_000000258399XSmall for their best ideas on how to succeed with your mission. And ask them to be the pebble in the pond. To go out there and tell the story of what our organization is doing. Ask them to increase their gifts by 10-20% - not for a dollar goal but for a specific need. And then ask them to go out and ask two or three other women for the same thing.
2. In your next newsletter - put a photo or a testimonial in it from a female donor. There are TOO MANY photos of men in our materials - and it matters to women! Why are they being left out? 3. Call your female donors and ask them outright - for a specific need, not a general goal: "Our students need meals - with another $100 from you we can buy 20 more meals. Can we count on you?"