F, G, H, I and J — ‘Vitamins’ for Building Strong Fundraising

Last week, I suggested five concepts to consider in your fundraising program to help fight that inevitable — but tragic — fact of fundraising life: donors who stop giving. These were attrition, boredom, convenience, dollars and enough.

Continuing our journey through the alphabet, here are five more things to pay attention to as you do your work as a fundraiser this week and passionately share your organization’s mission with supporters and prospects.

F is for frequency
Are your donors hearing about your successes and your needs at the right schedule for them? Or are you giving them up too easily?

When a donor calls to say that he or she is getting too much mail from your organization, your first (and often only) response should not be to remove that person from your mailing list. Instead, offer to reduce the mail you send, saying something like: “I understand, Mrs. Jones. Would you like to continue to receive our e-newsletters so you can keep up with the great work partners like you are making possible, as well as get our letters once a quarter?” Your options should not be “all or nothing.” Instead offer options like quarterly, semi-annual, annual or e-newsletters only. No matter what they say, donors who don’t hear from a nonprofit often forget about it.

G is for gift array
Offering donors an array of donation amounts on reply forms, landing pages and other fundraising pieces can help a donor make a decision to give and even upgrade her giving. Only listing “$____” puts the onus on the donor to choose an amount; offering a gift array instead can show him or her what specific amounts can do by tying an amount in to a specific project or activity.

On a personalized piece, you can customize the gift arrays, but keep in mind that some strategies can work against others. For example, if your goal is to get maximum response to a mailing or e-appeal, you may not want to be aggressive about upgrading in the gift array. If you are using a preprinted response or a single landing page, provide a range of options in your gift array. For example, show what it costs to feed a child for a day, a week, a month and a year.

H is for hot spots
In catalog publishing, there are certain “hot spots” — the pages or positions on the page that get the most attention simply because of position. For example, the front and back covers are hot spots, as is the center spread.

In your fundraising, think about what is going to capture the donor’s attention first and most frequently. For example, in a brochure, where is your eye naturally drawn? In your e-appeal, what’s going to be visible on the screen without scrolling? On a mobile device, what will stand out?

Make sure your key information is positioned to gain the maximum amount of attention. Don’t hide your “donate now” button, for example, or put the most important information for a donor on the inside panel of a brochure.

I is for integrity
Do your donors trust you? Have you consistently delivered on your promises? When you say you are going to use their gifts to accomplish X, does X really happen?

The news is filled with tales of nonprofits that failed to deliver. Unfortunately, some donors hear one report and decide all nonprofits are dishonest. Constantly telling your donors (and showing evidence) that you are delivering on your commitments is an important way to prove to them that you are trustworthy — and worthy of their support.

While “Honest Nonprofit Invests Donor Money Wisely to Help Change the World” may never be the lead story on the evening news, make it “the story” with your donors. Photos, quotes from people who benefit from your work and third-party endorsements are three ways to provide proof.

J is for jargon
When your donors read your website, mail or e-communications, are they wishing they had a dictionary that could unlock all the mystery terms you use? Are you trying so hard to sound like an expert in your field that you have become noncommunicative?

Acronyms and technical terms that aren’t common knowledge don’t belong in your fundraising. You don’t have to “dumb down” your messaging, but make sure the average person reading it actually can understand it.

Run your work this week through the filter of frequency, gift array, hot spots, integrity and jargon. Are there places that you can improve your messaging so you are communicating better with your donors?

Next week: K, L, M, N and O. Any suggestions?

Originally published in NonProfit Pro.

Author: PJBarden

With a professional career in strategic fundraising that spans more than 35 years, Pamela brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to working with nonprofit organizations. She specializes in writing fundraising copy, grant proposals, P.R. materials, instructional articles and blog entries, as well as developing and executing fundraising strategy for her clients. Pamela is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE); an instructor for UCLA Extension School’s Fundraising Certification Program and the University of La Verne, College of Business and Public Management; a frequent webinar speaker; and author of two online courses for UCLA Extension. Pamela earned a Doctorate of Business Administration in 2015; her doctoral project (dissertation) was entitled “Nonprofit Organizations’ Awareness of and Preparation for Legislation, Regulation, and Increasing Scrutiny.” She is a past winner of a Gold Award for Fundraising Excellence and an ECHO Award from DMA; recipient of a Distinguished Instructors Award from UCLA Extension; a weekly columnist for NonprofitPRO (formerly Fundraising Success); and a monthly contributor to Blackbaud’s blog, npEngage.

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