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How Often Should You Mail to Your Nonprofit Donors?

I decided to write this post due to the number of times nonprofits ask me “How often should we mail to our donors?” The corollary question is “How often can we ask people to give?”

The answer?

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 two definitive things I can tell you:

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How “Because I Said So” Gets Donors to Give to Your Nonprofit

I’m a collector. I collect red and white kitchen memorabilia, flour sifters, vintage tablecloths and… fundraising appeals.

I also tell my clients to become collectors (but just of the last item on my list!). I ask them to collect only appeals that demand their attention and cause them to give. After all, isn’t that the true measure of a fundraising appeal’s effectiveness?

I encourage them to ask everyone in their organization (other staff, board members, volunteers) to share winning appeals with them. Then I ask them to share the successful appeals with their team and endeavor to tease out what it is about these appeals the recipients find so irresistible.

Figure out what works; then copy it! After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

This is a great exercise for you and your team. And the end of the calendar year is a great time to begin collecting. Whatever appeals you receive this month in the mail, save the good ones. They may help you write a more compelling end-of-year appeal next month. If your appeal is already written and printed, use some of the good ideas you collect to tweak your email appeals. And, of course, use what you learn throughout the entire coming year.

In today’s post I’m going to suggest one of the central tenets common to the most successful fundraising appeals. When you read this it may seem obvious. But…are you doing it?

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5 More Strategies to Get and Keep Donors for Your Nonprofit

heart handsFor 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?

There is!

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?

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5 Strategies to Get and Keep More Donors for Your Nonprofit

Happy donorsPeople 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?

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7 Magic Words that Increase Charitable Donations

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.

  1. You
  2. Because
  3. Thanks
  4. Small
  5. Immediate
  6. Expert
  7. Support

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.

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Securing Matching Gifts: What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know

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.

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Do you wish you had a dime for…

… 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.

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Fundraising Appeal & Thank You Strategies Your Nonprofit Needs NOW

Heart with stick figureI know you’re working on calendar year-end fundraising right now.

And if you’re not, start immediately!

Per Mobile Cause:

  • 30% of annual donations occur in December
  • 12% of annual giving happens on the last three days of the calendar year
  • 53% of nonprofits start planning their year-end appeal in October

Before it’s too late, I want to share with you four almost magic strategies that have worked well for me for decades!

Yes, there are ways to tweak these strategies to conform to the current zeitgeist and recognize we live in a digitally revolutionized world. This can be super helpful, and I highly recommend you pay attention to the ways fundraising and nonprofit marketing are evolving. It means new skills are needed, more money must be invested to yield your most positive returns, and you’re no longer going to be able to rest on your laurels.

That being said, I don’t want you to get so caught up in bells and whistles you neglect the fundamentals. Nor do I want you to throw up your hands in despair, culminating in a decision that you just can’t compete or do a better job because… (fill in the blank).

No excuses!

The magic strategies below have worked for me, and countless nonprofits, over generations. They’ll work for you too.

Truly, I promise if you do these things you’ll raise more money this year.

Ready to get started?

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Is Your Finger on the Nonprofit Appeal Trigger?

Finger pointingWhatever side of the political spectrum you’re on, the photo below is triggering.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58654351

Note: I can’t show you the photo because it’s copyrighted, but if you click on the link you’ll recognize it immediately (unless you’ve been living underground over the past week).

Why am I sharing this photo I can’t even show you?

I want to make an important point.

One I feel too few nonprofits give much thought to.

Could you be among them?

If so, I don’t fault you. No one teaches us these things.

Most of us didn’t go to journalism school.

But, let’s face it, journalists really do know how to grab attention!

You want to grab attention with this year’s fundraising appeal, right?

Okay then.

I’m going to share a simple tip that will boost your fundraising returns this year by leaps and bounds.

Again, it’s super simple.

But you’ve got to start now. Or maybe even yesterday.

Are you ready?

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Proven Strategies to Climb the Year-End Fundraising Mountain

Mountain climberHave you started working on your annual appeal and year-end fundraising plan?

It’s time!

I worked for 30 years in the trenches, so I know exactly what this time of year feels like.

It feels like you’re at the base of a mountain you’re about to scale.

  • Exciting, but also scary.
  • Exhilarating, yet also daunting.
  • There will be good days, and bad days.

And this particular year, you may feel you’re taking two steps forward and three steps back.

That’s to be expected during times of great uncertainty.

Expected or not, I know you’re still anxious and thinking “What if we don’t reach the top?”

Don’t worry, I’m here to help.

This year you may need the equivalent of a few extra granola bars for energy. And maybe an extra tool or two to help you get a grip.

Right now I want to give you a few specific, timely tips you might not be thinking about.

Here are some strategies I hope will give you a leg up, so to speak.

Ready to Put Your Best Foot Forwards?

Here are 11 tips I’ve learned over the years.

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