Call it commitment.
Or maybe, determination.
Possibly, just sheer cussed stubbornness.
Whatever you call it, it’s the key to a successful annual giving program.
Here’s the thing: I could write a really good appeal. The data could be in great shape. The stars might all align and the message, audience, and timing could be perfect.
It would raise money. Maybe more money than usual.
But the stars do not always align. The factors you cannot control aren’t always your friend.
So smart fundraisers keep looking at what factors they can control and improve.
Over and over and over again.
Why successful programs take stubborn commitment
Because those one-hit wonders might get you more attention from your donors. And you might have a better chance next time. Maybe you don’t go directly into the recycling bin. Maybe your message isn’t deleted because their inbox is full and they just can’t.
But if you don’t keep at it, you’ll never know.
They say someone needs to see an ad 7 times before they buy. Why would your organization’s proposition connect faster?
Commit to a schedule… stubbornly
Look at your history. Are there times in the year you’ve been more successful? Are there times when your organization’s mission is more noticeable?
Use what you know to decide when to communicate. Think about 4 appeals a year and 4 newsletters. Put them in a calendar based on what you’ve found.
Now, here’s the tough part: keep to that schedule. Yes, your boss might panic if the first mailing doesn’t pay for itself. Or want to abandon asking for monthly gifts because no one said yes… yet.
Give it the time it needs. And the time you need to see what works best.
Data matters, but know what you’re looking for
One mailing or email campaign can’t tell you a lot. It can give you some information – especially if it really flops.
But this is a longer-term learning proposition. So be thankful for the new information, roll it into what you already know, and adjust, don’t quit.
Time is on your side – and stubbornness pays
Understand – and explain to any boss who doesn’t understand – that some gifts take much longer to secure.
Legacy gifts. Major gifts. But also, monthly gifts.
Think about it: How often has a monthly gift been your first gift to an organization? (If you said often, congratulations. You’re probably much younger than I am!)
Most people see that monthly gift as a real commitment to your mission, even if the total dollar amount in a year isn’t much higher.
But those monthly donors become your best prospects for larger gifts and for legacy gifts. If you treat them well. And if you give the relationship the time it needs.
Your mission is screaming for help
I know. I’ve been there. Forecasted shortfall. How to fulfill our promises? How could we possibly spend money on fundraising now?
Now is exactly the right time to step up, not step back. A real financial emergency is something donors can understand. It’s a powerful message if it’s not your only message.
Fundraising staff are not an expense. Fundraisers are the organization’s income generators. That’s a smart place to put resources if you need money.
So, to sum it up:
Figure out what works best for you and your donors.
Keep adjusting based on new information.
And keep communicating. Keep asking.
Stubbornness pays off.
Photo by Thirdman