10-Step Annual Appeal from Start to Finish

The end of the calendar year is prime fundraising season. For most nonprofits, September through December will make or break your annual campaign. So… I want you to do the following:

  1. If you’re just sitting down to write your appeal letter, use this as your step-by-step guide to crafting a winning fundraising offer.
  1. If you’ve already written your appeal letter, use this as your step-by-step checklist to assure your fundraising offer is truly one a prospective donor won’t be able to refuse.
  1. Vow next year to have at least your appeal letter draft written and approved by September 1st. Put this date in your calendar, and work backward to create a timeline of all the steps necessary to meet this deadline. This will give you plenty of time to tweak your appeal language for different mailing segments, prepare your email and social media campaign using messaging and images from your mail appeal, get the letter to the printer and mail house, and prepare your carrier envelope, remit piece, donation landing page, thank you letter and overall acknowledgment plan.
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Forget about Building Nonprofit Loyalty. Deliver Meaning.

If you haven’t cottoned onto the fact that all marketing – nonprofit included – has vastly changed since the digital revolution, perhaps this incident will wake you up.

And I’m hoping it will persuade you to stop thinking so much about “engagement best practices” – all the social media tools and online strategies you read about every time you turn around, and where you’re directly competing with every business on the planet, instagramming friends, and whatnot – and begin to focus on an area where nonprofits have an unfair advantage.

Deliver meaning.

That’s what folks don’t have enough of.

That’s what folks crave.

And that’s what explains Nike’s recent daring move to put forward a polarizing marketing campaign featuring the face of American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick,

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Fundraising Appeal Q & A: 6 Concrete Tips to Overcome Common Challenges

I recently had the opportunity to present a webinar for the Fired Up Fundraising Community on the topic of creating a compelling fundraising offer your donor can’t refuse. We covered a lot of territory, so at the end there was limited time for questions.  Many were left unanswered.  So…

I decided to answer in writing the ones that seemed to be repeated by more than one person.  These challenges, it appeared, were common enough they required some solutions. Or, at the very least, some clairification!

I sent the Q & A to all the webinar participants and thought, gee whiz, why don’t I share it with all of you too?

Here we go…!!!

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How to Transform Reluctant Fundraisers into Ready Fundraisers

How do you help those who are afraid of fundraising to become comfortable in what should be a mission-aligned role for everyone associated with your nonprofit organization?

After all, everyone benefits from increased philanthropy.  Not just development staff.

Increasingly, successful nonprofits are adopting cultures of philanthropy where everyone involved – administrative staff, program staff, board members, committee members, direct service volunteers and even beneficiaries – comes together as ambassadors, advocates and askers on behalf of furthering the organization’s mission, enacting its values and fulfilling its vision.

Facilitating philanthropy is not rocket science, yet folks unaccustomed to the relationship cultivation and solicitation required to land major donations are fearful because they don’t know how to do it. It’s the job of a nonprofit’s leadership to work with your insiders (staff and volunteers) to help them feel both passionate about the cause and confident in the fundraising process.

Still, there are barriers to be overcome; first and foremost is fundraising fear.  This fear takes many forms, and is perhaps best expressed in some of the questions I frequently receive.  So I’m endeavoring to answer a few of these questions below.  Hopefully this will help you address these challenges within your own organization so you, too, can transform folks from fearful and reluctant to joyful and ready fundraisers.

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Want to Recharge Your Personal and Nonprofit’s Life? Borrow Wisdom.

 

Today I want to pique your interest in taking some time to reflect and truly consider what you’re doing and how you do it.

It’s easy to get stuck, literally and figuratively.

Stuck at your desk. Stuck doing what you’ve always done. Stuck in patterns without considering whether they still makes sense.  Stuck using ingrained habits and skills that once worked, but don’t work so well anymore. Stuck working in places that drain your energy. Stuck working for causes that don’t ignite your passions.

How do you break out?

Sometimes I look to thinkers from other disciplines to help me think outside the box. To pull me away from the routine. The ‘just going along to get along.’ The following, rather than leading. The ordinary, rather than extraordinary.

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Are You Really Rocking Major Gift Fundraising as You Should?

Studies show over 88% of all funds raised come from just 12% of donors. 

In fact, the top tier of donors account for the lion’s share of all philanthropy.  Just 3% of donors give 76% of all gifts.

If you’re not focusing your fundraising resources on these donors, this should give you pause.  You’re missing a really big boat.

Plus, chances are good you’re fundraising in a manner that’s not exactly cost-effective.

You’re not alone. I run into this problem all the time. Board members want to do events.  E.D.s want to focus on grants. New staff think the future is all in digital fundraising. Existing staff are wedded to increasingly less productive direct mail fundraising.  There’s nothing wrong with any of these strategies. However, generally they won’t give you the biggest bang for your buck. You get a huge return on investment from an individual major gifts program, which costs you roughly 10 cents on the dollar vs. 50 cents or more on the dollar for special events fundraising and actually losing money on direct mail donor acquisition.

If you know the Pareto 80/20 Rule, you might want to focus just 20% of your resources on the lower-yielding strategies and 80% on major individual and legacy fundraising.

What’s holding you back from doing something so sensible?

Usually I find it’s one of the following reasons:

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If You Get Nonprofit Donors to Ask this Question, You’re Home Free

There’s a simple six-step process to assure you secure a philanthropic gift.

The heart of this process — your key to success — is to flip the philanthropic asking equation on its head and get your donor to ask you, not vice-versa. 

That’s right.

Just get your donors to pop this one little question, and you’re home free.

Of course, you have to set them up to pop this question. But it’s easy, once you know the formula.

And I’m going to share that formula with you today.

Guess what else is really great about this?

It’s not scary!

If fear has been holding you back, today is your hallelujah moment.  Because I’m here to tell you exactly how to get your donors to ask you for a gift, rather than the other way around.

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Read This if You Know People who Hate Fundraising

If you’re coming at fundraising from the perspective of “no pain, no gain,” I’d like to suggest you reframe your approach.

Especially when it comes to asking individuals, one-to-one, for passionate gifts.

As long as you hate it, you’re never going to be effective.

In fact, if anyone in your organization feels this way, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Why?

Because… (I really hate to break this to you)…

Donors can tell.

When donors can sense you’d rather be doing anything else than asking them for a gift, guess what happens?  They follow your lead!  In other words, they feel like they’d rather be doing anything else than making a gift.

Uh, oh.  How can you change this equation?

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8 Reasons to Start a Nonprofit Monthly Giving Program NOW

One of the key annual fundraising strategies I recommend you add (or rev up) this year is monthly giving.

It’s one of the best ways I know to move the needle in improving your mid-level giving program, and to also serve as a pipeline to acquire new donors, upgrade current donors, and influence major and legacy giving.

To help you persuade your “powers that be” this is a direction in which you should definitely be headed, I’ve invited Erica Waasdorp, pre-eminent monthly giving guru, to write a guest article on this topic. Take it away Erica!

If you don’t have a monthly donor program yet, I highly recommend you start as soon as you possibly can.

This afternoon or first thing tomorrow would be good!

Let me share with you 8 reasons why.

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