In Part 1 of this two-part series of “Top 10 Strategies to Prepare for Fall Fundraising” we covered.
- 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
Today 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
Ready to get all your ducks in a row?
6. Send Impact Reports to Set the Stage
If you’ve not done so already, get ‘quacking’ and send a report to remind donors how they helped.
Every donor should get some type of periodic report, even if just a brief email with a photo of someone they helped and a quick “You’re our hero!” or “You did it!” If you operate on a fiscal year, now is the perfect time to report back on impact.
Also consider sending a special thank you gift to donors and volunteers who went above and beyond during the year. I don’t mean anything expensive (that could backfire). Get creative dreaming up some thoughtful tokens of appreciation that just say “I’m thinking about you.” You’ll find these are welcome, effective and pre-suasive.
7. Stock Up on Compelling, Relevant Stories and Photos
Show donors how to turn ugly ducklings into swans.
The most compelling appeals tap into people’s desires to make a difference, and even be the hero who gives your story a happy ending. Don’t ignore this by failing to incorporate compelling stories and visuals into your fundraising messages. We’re all story people. Take time now to bank a few you know will connect with your constituents. Consider the following:
- Organize by subject area.
- Organize by geography.
- Organize by target (e.g., donors, volunteers, alumni, patients, client connections, staff)
- Organize by happy (for thank you’s and reports) and sad (for emotional appeals).
Reach out to program directors and volunteer coordinators to ask for help with your collecting. Get stories, quotes, photos, videos, and anything you can think of that will help donors see, hear, feel, smell and touch your work. Explain you’ll be using these for appeals, reporting, website messaging, social media and the like. Reassure folks you will keep details anonymous if this is important. Just get started; don’t wait until things get stressful later. If you’re building your entire campaign on telling real stories, and you find you don’t have any, you’ll be sunk.
8. Connect with Major Donors
Don’t duck out on them during the time of year they’re most likely to give!
Run a list of everyone giving at or above your major gift level. If you don’t have a lot of these folks, try to find your highest likelihood major donors. It’s well worth reaching out now with a special touch, rather than waiting to simply send another ask. Donors like to be appreciated for more than their money. And – good news – if you’ve reached out along the way donors who get that big ask from you in the fall or at the end of the year will remember that personal touch point. Strategies you might consider include:
- Making a quick thank you phone call (leave a message if you don’t reach them)
- Sending a thank you text message
- Mailing a thank you note or postcard
- Creating a brief, personal thank you video
- Sharing a social media thank you
- Sending an invitation to a special major donor event (can be virtual)
- Sending a quick survey asking for their feedback
- Making a phone call or securing a visit to ask for advice
This is also a great time, if you’ve not done so already, to make a list of touches and moves you can use to cultivate these supporters throughout the fall. Don’t be a fair-weather friend.
9. Prioritize Contacts with Mid-Level and Other Promising Supporters
Don’t lose your sitting ducks.
Even folks not on your major donor cultivation list may be among the top 10 – 30% of donors who give you 70 – 90% of your funding. If you want to keep these folks, build a plan to show them you’ve noticed their generosity. Here are some reports to run now from your database:
- Create a list of LYBNTs (gave last year but not this). Sort them according to dollar range, so you can prioritize contacts with the largest donors. You’re going to want to remind these folks of their generous past support (thank them!) and, as year-end approaches, let them know they’ve still got time to renew and make a difference this year.
- Evaluate folks based on cumulative annual giving. A $100/month donor is not a $100 donor, but a $1,200 donor. When you sort based on most recent gift, you’ll miss these important loyal supporters.
- Don’t overlook Peer-to-Peer fundraisers who bring in significant gift totals. These folks can be the functional equivalent of major donors, and you want to be sure to put in place strategies to encourage their continued engagement and investment.
- TIP:Don’t overlook loyal volunteers. Research shows volunteers are twice as likely as non-volunteers to donate. Sometimes, they simply aren’t asked well. Consider making them a separate campaign segment, and plan to send them a tailored appeal that recognizes their already generous contribution to your cause.
10. Plan Ahead to Welcome Donors to The Flock
Ducks of a feather flock together.
If you don’t make donors feel warmly embraced as part of a community of like-minded folks, they won’t identify as your supporters. The gift you worked so hard to get will likely become a one-off transaction. Per the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, only 19% of first-time donors renew; only 46% of all donors renew. A lot of this is due to failure of appreciation and communication.
Don’t make thanking an afterthought. It’s good practice to write your thank you letters, emails and thank you landing page copy at the same time you prepare your appeals. Don’t delegate them to a junior level staffer, intern or volunteer. And, whatever you do, don’t put off writing them until after the gifts come in! Here are some strategies to consider:
- Develop a plan to get thank you’s out promptly. This means (1) send online donors immediately to a thank you landing page; (2) send an automated email right away to online donors, and (3) send everyone a mailed thank you within 48 hours.
- Develop a plan to authentically personalize thank you’s. Beyond addressing people by first name, bonus points for (1) mentioning things they revealed to you (e.g., we’ll keep your gift anonymous; we’ll send you pledge reminders as per your request; we’re so sorry to learn your husband passed away; we’re grateful for your increased gift this year); (2) adding handwritten notes; (3) sending text messages, and (4) making phone calls.
- Develop a welcome series and package for new donors. Nothing expensive. Just notice they’re new, and let them know some ways they can become involved that don’t involve making another monetary gift. Not yet.
- Plan ahead to immediately make a thank you phone call to targeted donors (e.g., major donors; mid-level donors who give above-average gifts; first-time monthly donors; first-time donors of $100+).
- Develop a donor retention and gratitude plan to thank donors repeatedly throughout the year .
Good Fundraising is Community Building
Now is the time to plan for thanking, reporting, engaging and otherwise connecting so folks feel an integral part of your community. If you want gifts, you must give them. There’s no time like the present to think about the gifts of inspiration, opportunity and ‘feel good’ you can give donors before and after their gift.
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 Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash