You’ve got one month before fall fundraising season begins in earnest.
What will you do with it?
I’VE GOT 10 TOP STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU GET ALL YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW!
We’ll start with the first five today.
- Clean up Data
- Purge Mailing Lists
- Review Staff, Vendors and Freelancers
- Set Priority Objectives Based on Last Year’s Results
- Solidify a Multi-Channel Marketing Campaign
Next week we’ll look at:
- Send Impact Reports to Set the Stage
- Stock Up on Compelling, Relevant Stories and Photos
- Connect with Major and Mid-Level Donors
- Prioritize Contacts with Mid-Level and Other Promising Supporters
- Plan Ahead to Welcome Donors to The Flock
1. Clean up Data
Get rid of the dead ducks on your mailing list.
This is a simple, essential and too often overlooked strategy. There’s no sense mailing to bad addresses, duplicate addresses or deceased.
The first thing to do is check for dupes. Think people and contact info. Don’t just check by address; check by names too. You could have multiple donors residing in the same apartment building. Or using the same email and/or phone number. Search on all these parameters. For example, if George Jones shares the same address, email or phone number as Corky Jones, the latter is probably just a nickname for the same constituent. You’ll want to merge these records. Nothing shows donors you really don’t know them more than sending two appeals, with different names, to the same address. They’ll also think you’re wasteful.
Note that many donor databases have a duplicate checking tool that will alert you to possible dupes as you enter in new constituents. Make sure you have this feature turned on.
If you’ve not done this recently, now is the time to request an NCOA (National Change of Address) refresh of your donor records. This is important, because 12% of Americans move every year. You don’t want your precious appeals going into a black hole, do you. NCOA services will:
- Give you new addresses for those who have moved.
- Correct addresses for misspellings; add St., Ave., Rd., etc. if missing from an address.
- Add or change the directional (N, E, S, W, NE, etc.) if necessary.
- Add the +4 to ZIP codes.
- Standardize all your addresses so mail is delivered quicker.
- Facilitate duplicate checking (because addresses are updated and standardized).
- Enable you to send 1st-class pre-sorted and automated nonprofit rate mail (you must run NCOA within 95 days before the mail date).
You can use the USPS to provide this service, plus there are many other companies who do this as well. Ask your printer or mailhouse if they provide this, and also ask your database/CRM vendor. Many of the latter now offer nightly data update services, including with your subscription, that happen automatically. Don’t assume this is happening however. Check!
2. Purge Mailing Lists
Get rid of prospects and donors swimming in the wrong pond.
Purge prospects and donors who’ve not given for quite some time, if ever. They’re just not that into you. I recommend purging any donors who haven’t given for five years and any prospects who haven’t given for three years. You can archive them for historical purposes if you wish, but stop paying to mail to these folks.
3. Review Staff, Vendors and Freelancers
It’s better to make a change in course sooner than later.
Be honest about your current modus operandi, and whether it’s really serving you. If you’ve been relying solely on in-house staff, do they really have the time and skills to do your campaigns justice? Or are you just being penny-wise and pound-foolish? If you’ve been outsourcing, ask whether folks you’ve been using have really met your needs. Specifically:
- What’s working well?
- What’s not working well?
- Have you been considering adding new staff?
- Are you spending more time managing vendor relationships than you should?
- Could you fix this? If so, how?
- Are there new vendors you’ve been considering using?
- What new projects do you have coming up, and do you have the right in-house staff and/or vendors for those projects?
If there have been problems, call around to get recommendations, and references, for copywriters, designers, printers, mailhouse vendors and/or marketing agencies. Contact them now, explain your needs, and get price quotes. You’re apt to get better deals now than if you wait until they’re stressed out, know they have you over a barrel and/or no longer have the bandwidth to take on new clients.
4. Set Priority Objectives Based on Last Year’s Results
Don’t duck your measurement responsibilities.
That which gets measured gets done. If you haven’t yet done so, take time now to look at retention, upgrades and downgrades from last year and evaluate your areas for improvement. Consider how you’re doing with various donor segments and other constituencies in terms of:
- first-time donors;
- ongoing donors;
- lapsed donors;
- multi-gift donors;
- house list conversions;
- volunteer conversions;
- client conversions (e.g., alumni, patients, ticket buyers, members)
- family member conversions
Your database is a potential gold mine when it comes to setting your year-end strategic fundraising objectives. If you don’t focus in on what’s working/what’s not, you’re likely to repeat last year’s results. And you prefer to exceed them, right? You want to create specific strategies designed to improve your results in areas that offer the greatest potential.
5. Solidify a Multi-Channel Marketing Campaign
The more you get all your ducks lined up in a row now, the better off you’ll be.
The best campaigns work at multiple levels, holistically. Come September, October, November and December, don’t be caught off guard. Plan ahead! If you send just one appeal, wait for those responses to come in and taper off, that single appeal becomes pretty much a lame duck. Some duckies go astray. You need a family of ducks if you don’t want your campaign to be sunk after a single foray into the waters.
Maximize the chances prospective donors will notice and act on your appeal. People today are more (or less) responsive depending on the way you connect with them. While your email appeal was like water off a duck’s back for Prospect A, they may take to a tweet with a link back to a compelling story on your website just like a duck takes to water! For Prospect B, on the other hand, direct mail may be the golden ducky. Even they, however, might wait to act until they’re reminded via email.
The “flock” will do better than any single duck trying to make it on its own. Don’t be afraid to include campaign messaging on several different channels. While you may not be tweeting out direct asks, it doesn’t hurt to include similar campaign theme, messaging, images and graphics so your appeals stay top of mind for prospective donors. If your donor receives a mailed appeal, then sees a similar message via email or on a blog post or social media link a week later, this may trigger their memory and remind them to make a gift.
Don’t just do what you’ve done before. Take time to evaluate last year’s results. Where did you get the most, and least, traction? Did folks find you offline or online? Which months, or weeks, brought in the greatest number of donors? Dollars? Consider developing an integrated campaign content calendar, work plan, and timeline that incorporates all of your offline and online appeal messaging. Plan to use a consistent theme across all channels, leveraging:
- Direct mail
- Text messaging
- Phone calls
- Website home page
- Website landing pages
- Thank you landing pages
- Social media
- Google ads
- Other advertising
- Television and radio
- Free media placement
Coming Next: 5 More Top Strategies to Prepare for Fall Fundraising
Want More Strategies for Year-End Fundraising?
Now is a good time to grab my Year-End Fundraising Solution Kit – To-Do’s + Checklists. This carefully crafted road map will assure you get all your ducks nicely lined up so you don’t miss a trick at this important fundraising time — when folks are pre-disposed to be generous. Just a few tweaks could mean a big difference in your results. Now is the time to make sure you’re not just doing things the right way – but you’re doing the right things!
Don’t miss out. As with all Clairification products, this comes with a no-questions-asked, 30-day, 100% refund guarantee.
Photo by David Trinks on Unsplash