There’s a lot of potential legacy giving out there in the universe. Per Giving USA, giving by bequest was an estimated $41.19 billion in 2020, and grew 10.3% from 2019 (an increase of 9.0%, adjusted for inflation). What are you doing to assure some of it will flow to your cause? First you have to identify…Details
For this year’s appeal, are you shooting from the hip?
Going from your gut?
Simply repeating what was done last year?
That may or may not be a good idea. It’s a little risky to take a stab in the dark. Or throw spaghetti against the wall.
It might stick, and draw your donors in, but…
What if there was a more scientific approach?
In my last article I shared five strategies informed by neuroscience, psychology and behavioral science research to help you be more strategic with your messaging to donors.
Today I’d like to add five more. Don’t worry you’re being manipulative. There are ethical ways to apply these principles. In fact, using them likely will help bring donors more joy, meaning and purpose than if you just threw pasta at them!
Ready for some ideas that might not be intuitive?Details
People are unpredictable sometimes. They’re also predictable.
If you see someone yawn, you’re likely to yawn too.
If I tell you seats are limited, you’re likely to purchase a ticket now rather than later.
What if you knew donating to your nonprofit could be a predictable consequence of something you did?
It turns out you can encourage people to act in desirable ways simply by applying a few lessons learned from neuroscience, psychology and behavioral economics.
Scientists have learned a lot over the past few decades. It’s up to us to put that learning to good use.
As Daniel Pink, author of To Sell Is Human, has noted: “There’s a gap between what science knows and what business does.”
- The most successful for-profit businesses use what science knows to “convert leads to customers.” The secret to more sales is knowing what the customer wants.
- Your non-profit might convert prospects into donors, and donors into repeat donors, using these very same principles. The secret to closing more gifts is knowing what the donor wants.
Today I’d like to consider five specific strategies that will help you ethically take advantage of some of the psychology underlying human behavior. Once you understand these principles, you can begin to strategically apply them to your integrated development (marketing and fundraising) strategy. If you’re nervous about this, you can test what you did before against a new strategy informed by science. Break your mailing list randomly in half, send an “A” and a “B” version of your appeal, and see which performs best.
Ready for the science-informed strategies?Details
What do you spend more time on? Asking or thanking?
The lion’s share of nonprofits spend more time asking. It’s a BIG mistake. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to shame or blame you. Of course you have to ask. The number one reason people don’t give is they aren’t asked. And …
The number one reason donors don’t give again is they aren’t properly thanked!
Believe me, most donors aren’t sticking around. Your own retention rates may be better or worse than average (do you know them?), but generally only 19% of new donors give again. For ongoing donors, it’s just 45%.
The time to nip this in the bud is now.
Did you know a study from Charity Dynamics and NTEN found 21% of donors say they were never thanked at all? My hunch is some of these supporters did receive something from you, but it was so perfunctory they didn’t really take notice. Maybe you just send a receipt. Or took them to a thank you landing page; then called it a day. Or maybe they received a brief, formal email that confirmed the gift, but didn’t make them feel particularly special.
If you don’t have a killer thank you letter prepared to send to the folks you hope will be giving to you between today and the end of the year, now is the time to right this wrong.
If you thank well you’ll see retention rates increase significantly.
In fact, research from Penelope Burk, author of Donor-Centered Fundraising, found 70% of donors reported they would increase their giving if they received what they needed from you.
Brilliant, warm, authentic, personal communication stands out and leads to renewals. And this is a much less expensive strategy than new donor acquisition, which costs from $1 to $1.25 to raise a dollar. Whereas renewing a donor costs only 20 cents on the dollar.
By now you may be thinking: Sounds good, but how do we stand out? There must be some specific strategies that incline donors towards giving again, but what are they?
Today I share my top secrets with you. They’re simple and foolproof.
You’ve still got time to sprinkle a little magic into your year-end fundraising!
Consider each of these seven words a magic potion unto themselves.
The more of these words you use, the more powerful a spell your appeal will cast.
Each of these packs a bigger persuasive punch than you might imagine.
Let’s take a closer look at how this works.Details
You drop your quarters into the slot, tap a couple of buttons, and the machine gives you two candy bars for the price of one. Hallelujah! You’re rich!
The concept of matching gifts works just like that vending machine.
You get twice the money at no additional cost to your donors.
Think of it this way: If someone offered to give your organization free contributions each time someone donated, would you say yes? Of course!
But where is all the free extra money coming from?
The extra “free” money comes from corporations!
Over the past several years, social responsibility has become a phenomenon that’s taken over the for-profit and nonprofit sectors alike. Corporations have quickly become aware of their responsibility to do good in their communities. Each day, more companies are building their initiatives to include new programs to support their employees’ philanthropic efforts. Among these programs are matching gifts that empower donors to double, triple, or sometimes quadruple their gifts to eligible nonprofits.
Here’s what’s new: the digital revolution has made it incredibly easy to determine eligibility and submit match requests.
Here’s what’s sad: a mere 7% of donors at companies with matching gift programs actually submit a request. That equates to more than $4-7 billion in unclaimed revenue every single year, according to recent matching gift studies.Details
I hear a lot of complaining about donors.
They should do this:
- Be more compliant.
- Not make us work so hard to please them.
- Treat us like we know what we’re doing.
- Give just because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do.
They shouldn’t do that:
- Give any way other than ‘unrestricted.
- Demand specifics on how their money was spent.
- Act like they know more than we do.
- Require reports that take us hours to complete.
What about what YOU should and should not do to build sustainable, fulfilling relationships with your supporters?
I don’t hear enough of “What can we do to delight our donors today?”
I hear too much of “We already sent a thank you; that’s enough, and they shouldn’t expect more.”
Donors are people first, philanthropists second. And people need to know they’re important to you.
Let me tell you a true story.
A close friend of mine used to complain to me about her husband all the time. Why? Because he didn’t tell her he loved her enough. Understatement of the year.
… every time a nonprofit board or staff member told you “We’re the best kept secret in town; if people knew what we do, they’d give to support us.”
Nonprofits tell me this all the time! If I had all those dimes, I could make a nice contribution to your cause. And I would, if…
- You endeavored to learn a little bit about me,
- You engaged me personally,
- You discovered my values match yours,
- You offered me opportunities to connect with your mission and supporters that involved something other than money,
- You showed me you knew what most engaged my passions, and
- Then you asked me for a gift!
You see, merely “building awareness” will not ipso facto raise more money for your cause.
Just because I care about something, and somehow learn you are involved in doing something about that thing, doesn’t mean I’m going to support you financially.
Why should I? There are a lot of good causes out there, and making a decision to invest in you is something I need to act on.
I’m busy. I’m overloaded with information. And inertia is just too powerful a force.
You’ve got to do better than just hope I’ll stumble upon your website, see your social media post, hear about you on the news, or even open your direct email if you want me to really sit up, pay attention, and actively engage.
Especially if you want me to engage as a philanthropist.Details
The key to successful fundraising is knowing your donors.
If you don’t know them, you can’t nurture them.
If you don’t nurture them, they won’t grow.
Simply staring at your bare patch of land waiting for flowers to sprout and blossom doesn’t work 99% of the time.
Why are you waiting to ‘get lucky’ the winds will just blow some seeds your way?
Likely, this won’t happen.
Even if it does happen, the seeds may not take root and grow.
Unless you do something to help them along.
In fundraising, the best way to nourish supporters is to know them better.
So you can give them what they explicitly need, not what you think they need.
You need to engage in “getting to know you” activities so you’re basing your work on knowledge, not just opinion.
Why Don’t Fundraisers Reach Out to Get to Know Donors Better?
There are all sorts of excuses.
Many come from a sense of ‘donors’ being primarily identified that way, rather than as the complex people they truly are. Staff are often afraid of, or at least uncomfortable with, ‘donors.’ Even many volunteers, who aren’t major philanthropists themselves, feel this way.
Have you ever heard (or felt):Details
The job of the smart fundraiser is inspiring passionate philanthropy to make people’s lives better. I know you’re smart, because you’re reading this article! But none of us is born with a fundraising gene. And no one ever really teaches us how to write a smart fundraising appeal. We copy from our predecessors. Or maybe read…Details