You’re feeling a little nervous about the economy. And you’ve been planning for this year. So you’ve been reading good advice, like this piece in Philanthropy Daily… or this, more succinct, advice from my friend Denisa Casement:
So now what? How to maximize your fundraising results so you can keep doing your good work?
Here are some things you should and shouldn’t do.
Do continue communicating regularly with your donors.
You can cut back on some extras – like additional pieces in your direct mail packs or continuing to mail to donors who gave small gifts years ago and not since. But do not stop.
It’s simple really – when you stop asking for help, you stop getting it. Do you need help? Keep asking.
Do make every communication as warm and human as possible.
You can do this with a small budget. In fact, you might find your response is better when you allow your mail to be less glossy, less corporate, and more real. Jettison the fancy paper. Leave out the brochure that isn’t really connected to your ask. Focus on a great message. And most of all, make your communications emotional, warm, and human.
Do consider asking for less.
Your loyal donors feel connected to your cause. They really care about what you do. And some of the most committed will feel just awful if they can’t continue to give at the same level now.
Don’t let them feel awful. Give them a graceful way to give less and still feel as connected and important to your mission:
I know some people are finding it hard to give as much this year. But please understand that anything you can send will matter. And if you can’t give right now, please know we continue to think of you as one of our most loved partners.
You may even find that people who are still doing well read that and decide to pick up the slack with a larger gift.
Do be clear about your need
Steven Screen offers fantastic advice here. (You should subscribe… great advice with every email!)
Are you being clear that you need money? That your beneficiaries or mission need the donor’s help? Spend less time trying to prove your worth (we did this, and we did this… please, like us!) And spend more time focused on the need for gifts.
That’s why you’re fundraising, isn’t it?
Do not ask donors to care about your fundraising goals
Your goals are your inside issue. Your mission is what your donors care about. When you’re talking to an outside audience, talk about the mission. And yes, you can still equate that to dollars. If $50 buys a week of food for a family of four, talk to your donors about that… and about how many more families are hungry.
Do not stop communicating in the channel that raises the most money
For most organizations, that’s mail. Yes, email and social media are “free”. But if free raises much less money, is it worth your focus?
Do use all the channels you can. But keep communicating in the channel that works best for your donors. Your budget will thank you.
Do pare your message, not your communication
Can you distill your organization’s mission need into one simple-to-understand proposition? Spend time creating that message. Use it across channels. Find stories to illustrate it and use them throughout the year.
But don’t ignore what your donors give to! If you have several major mission areas, but donors are most aware of one, fundraise for the one they know and love. Just be sure you’re always clear that donations will fund all your good work.
This new year may bring out the best in the kind people who support our organizations. If you keep them involved, they just may surprise you.
Finally (and this one’s for the boss)…
Do not cut your fundraising staff
Fundraising staff are mission critical. You can’t expect to have the money you need for your mission if you don’t have good people raising that money. And I’d add to that – your individual giving staff is your future. These are the people who find and grow the broad base of support you need to do more good work. You need them if you’re going to get through a bumpy patch and thrive in the future!
Photo courtesy of Gratisography