Fundraising Reminders and Refreshers

At the Bridge Conference last week, I had the opportunity to attend several breakout sessions. Like any conference, there were hits and misses, but I learned a few things, was reminded of many things and had some other things I was convinced of confirmed. So, all in all, it was a good investment of time and money.

The following is a random list of things I noted during the sessions. Maybe you can glean a few things that will get you thinking in new directions, too.

Building Donor Loyalty: Just What Do We Know?
Adrian Sargeant

  • “The confused mind always answers ‘no.’”
  • Thank-you letters should open with praising the donor for what he or she made possible.
  • A 10 percent improvement in retention rate can improve your retention by 50 percent or more.

Mind-Blowing Mid-Level Strategies That Generate Game-Changing Results
Tom Gaffny and Angel Aloma

  • Gaffny talked about the “Battered Donor Syndrome.” The donor needs to feel like a hero; it’s all about the donor, not the organization.
  • Eliminate “help” in donor-centric language; make it about what the donor can do, not what he or she can help you do.

The Path to a Knockout Statement
Jennifer Broome and Suzanne Burrows

  • In developing your case, show your donors how much more you have the capacity to do based on the current impact of your programs.
  • Ask yourself, “How can I use what I have in the most compelling way?” (In my experience, what we have isn’t always much, but that’s one thing that makes our job as fundraisers interesting.)

Getting Your Digital House in Order: What Your Smaller Nonprofit Can Do to Raise More Money Online
Jim Jacobs, Jeff Kost and Lisa Kaneff

  • When beginning to renovate your online presence, ask, “Who needs to be enlisted (to make it happen), and what needs to be invested?”
  • Shift your conversation from transactions to what’s important to the donor. Show your donor he or she has an opportunity to make a lasting difference.

Mid-Level Magic: How to Conjure Upgrades From Your Mass Market Donors
Lisa Maska and Josh Adler

  • If one thing isn’t working, try something new. (As Albert Einstein said, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”)

The Offer Is the Story, the Story Is the Offer: The Real Reasons Donors Give, and How to Reach Them
Jeff Brooks and Jann Schultz

  • Donors give to express their values, not to support your organization.
  • Fundraising is all about action—the donor’s action. It’s not about what your organization does.
  • Fundraising is all about outcomes, not process. Organizations love the process, but fundraisers have to excite the donors with the outcomes.

What’s Happening in the Nonprofit Sector: Industry Trends and Insights
Carol Rhone

  • If you have a growing sustainer program, you will have upgrading; this will most likely not result in larger amounts, just greater frequency.
  • Donor loss comes from lapsed new donors; income loss comes from lapsed repeat donors and downgraded gifts.
  • On your website, ask for a monthly gift first; make a one-time gift the second option.

How am I applying these learnings? It’s impacting my copywriting, beginning with the opening line of the thank-you letter. It has me rethinking the entire path we lay out for new donors, and how we time our communication to them. It reminds me again that good fundraising isn’t what I like; it’s whether or not it raises money.

It’s always good to be reminded, as this old dog was, that it really is all about the donor. Whenever we forget that, even for a paragraph or a post, we risk sending our donor right into the arms of another organization that remembers where its focus belongs.

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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