Not all Holiday Fundraising is Created Equal

Who doesn’t love a holiday?

The very word conjures up notions of celebration, warmth and love.

If you’re a donor-centered fundraising practitioner, you’d be a fool not to take advantage. Why not tap into pre-existing positive vibes to increase the chances your appeal will be warmly received?

After all, if you can channel something positive that’s more or less universally felt, this gives you a leg up. It puts your donors in a giving mood using familiar symbols and traditions.

Except when it doesn’t.

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24,000 Children Die from Hunger Daily

Scope: The Key to Donor Generosity?

There’s a powerful psychological principle known as the “identifiable victim effect.”

It has to do with how you describe the scope of the problem you’re asking donors to help address. And what they will do as a result of how they perceive this scope.

  • Is it a scope they can visualize and relate to?
  • Or is the number so large it’s difficult for them to wrap their brains around it?

There’s another related psychological principle known as “scope insensitivity.”

It applies when a number is too large for people to really comprehend its meaning. If you tell me something costs $1 billion, I really have little idea how this might differ from $10 million. Both numbers are equally overwhelming.  I can’t picture how high a pile of either would be in dollar bills or even $100 bills. I have no sensitivity as to the scope because I simple can’t sense it.

Fundraisers absolutely need to know about, and apply, these principles.

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TWO Strategies to Tell a Compelling Nonprofit Story

I always tell nonprofits writing appeal letters to tell a story. One compelling, exceptional story.

Actually, you need TWO compelling stories.  We’ll get to that in a minute.

First…

Forget the data.

Forget the history of your organization.

Forget the explanatory prose about your processes.

Forget the list of all your programs.

Forget the superlatives about your longevity, awards, and so forth.

That stuff is compelling only to you. Donors don’t care. It’s just not relevant to them. At least not right away. Donors don’t have time to enter into all your self-indulgence.

Really, most folks don’t have time for you at all.

But…

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5 Truths: How Often Can You Mail Appeals to Nonprofit Donors?

Most nonprofits don’t mail often enough.

How often is enough?

Well… if there was one quick answer I wouldn’t have needed to write a whole article. I’d just have given you a headline with a definitive response!

I know you want a definite answer.

And I could give you one. But it wouldn’t be the truth. Because the truth is different for every nonprofit.

And the truth will even be different for your nonprofit at different points in your life cycle.

There are five definitive things I can tell you:

  1. You are not your donors.
  2. Your donors lie.
  3. Opinions don’t matter; tests do.
  4. Out of sight is out of mind.
  5. What, how and who you mail to matters.
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10 baby toes

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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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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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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Why Creating Donor Engagement Opportunities Boosts Fundraising

I wish I had a dime for every time a nonprofit board or staff member told me “We’re the best kept secret in town; if people knew what we do, they’d give to support us.”

If I had all those dimes, I could make a nice contribution to your cause.  That is, if…

  • You endeavored to learn a little bit about me,
  • You engaged me personally,
  • Then you asked me.

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.

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Why Would a Donor Give to Your Charity?

People do not give to the most urgent needs, but rather they support causes that mean something to them.”

This is the finding from a report done by the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy at the University of Kent: “How Donor Choose Charities.”  They begin their study from the widely-accepted premise that charities exist primarily to help needy people and the desire to meet needs is a key criterion in the selection of charitable beneficiaries. Interviews with committed donors found this was not the reason they gave. In brief, the study concludes:

Giving and philanthropy have always been supply-led rather than demand-driven: the freedom to distribute as much as one wants, to whom one chooses, is what distinguishes giving from paying tax. Yet the methods used to encourage donations tend to assume that philanthropy depends on objective assessments of need rather than on donors’ enthusiasms. The tendency to overestimate the extent to which people act as rational agents results in fundraising literature that often focuses on the dimensions and urgency of the problem for which funding is sought. The assumption underlying this approach is that donations are distributed in relation to evidence of neediness, when in fact much giving could be described as ‘taste-based’ rather than ‘needs-based’.

If there was ever a time to commit to finding out more about the folks on your mailing list so you know what floats their boats, this report indicates that time is decidedly NOW. Otherwise, you’re just ‘spraying and praying’ as you buy into the conceit that “if only” folks knew about the need we address they would give.  Because they “should.” That’s not why folks give.

In fact, the study cites four criteria that influenced donor decision making, and they are not based on meeting your or your clients’ needs.

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monthly calendar

Top 10 Nonprofit Monthly Recurring Gift Strategies

If a monthly giving program is not one of your key strategic annual fundraising strategies, this is the year you should add it to your development work plan.

Why?

It’s your secret to being sustainable, short-and long-term. Because recurring donors give more and stay more loyal over time.

These donors can become a reliable source of predictable annual revenue that minimizes stress and uncertainty.

This is something you should seriously consider, don’t you think?

And it’s really not rocket science.  It’s something you can and should do. And I’m about to give you a step-by-step process to help you maximize your annual contribution revenues.

Should you have any doubt that this will yield impressive results, take a look at

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