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If you're still spending tons of money designing, printing, and sending your annual reports, please stop. Do it digitally and print it out for those few donors who want it on paper. Most donors today want their money to go to programs or to sustain the organization, and they'll resent your spending their donations on printed annual reports that often end up as doorstops.
Are some of your board members not contributing enough? Try this approach: Provide each board member with a list showing the amount contributed by each member, arranged from highest to lowest. Avoid identifying individual board members on the list, but make sure to identify the recipient of the list. This allows them to see how their contributions compare to others on the board. This method often prompts board members to increase their contributions or consider resigning.
Yes, fundraisers are often intimidated by donors. But did you know that many donors are intimidated by fundraisers? Donors may not be familiar with concepts such as the 'donor pyramid' or the strategies employed by fundraisers. When encountering something unfamiliar, they're unlikely to inquire further and may simply withdraw their support. Like most people, donors dislike feeling uninformed.
When sending an email thanking attendees for their presence at the gala and highlighting key moments from the event, please ensure it is only sent to those who actually attended. For those who sponsored but did not attend, consider crafting a slightly different message that is relevant to their support.
When presenting a matching gift opportunity to your donors, ensure clarity in your instructions on what actions you're requesting from them.
Is there a specific reason why I can't serve as both a volunteer and a donor? Is volunteering frowned upon, especially for major donors? Doesn't this seem illogical?
Could people avoid giving 'in memory of' gifts due to concerns about being added to mailing lists without consent? If I want to honor someone who passed, I shouldn't have to worry about being added to a solicitation list without being asked, right?
It's a great practice to send a thank-you email to all guests promptly after a fundraising event. However, if your personalized form letter says 'thanks for attending,' ensure the person actually attended.
If you are acquiring names for email outreach with the hope that recipients will become donors, ensure that your email clearly communicates your NPO's purpose. A way to prompt a recipient to delete your email is to assume that they know who you are.
Don't assume that donors want to be contacted for contributions in December. If you have an authentic relationship with a donor, you'll know their preferred time of year to make contributions.
Does using "Today is Your Last Chance" in an email bring in funds? It sounds morbid. (And, of course, it's not true…) Maybe say, "Our budget is finalized today. Your gift allows us to help more people this year."
Giving the same amount of money every year (to a specific NGO) isn't such a bad thing, is it?
Don't assume that a donor wants a big book or expensive gift from you. Ask them how they like to be thanked and honor that. Otherwise, you're wasting precious money that's needed elsewhere.
Having a Donor Advised Fund or Foundation doesn't mean that a donor is "parking" their money. It might, but it also might not. Don't assume.
Printing 'RENEWAL NOTICE' in red on your direct mail letters and sending them to people who have never donated to you can deter potential donors. They are also likely to remember your organization's name, but not in a positive way.
One nonprofit created a name for their recurring donors -- a "club", if you will, called the GEMS. Giving Every Month. How cool is that?
Whether you're doing a mass mailing or sending emails to a few donors, please use spellcheck! One typo is fine, but once there are multiple misspellings, most donors will move on to another charity.
When designing an email or a mailer, think about where YOUR eye goes on the page. If all you see is DONATE over and over again, your recipient will likely not even read the real substance of the communication.
If you're having a "quiet period" before a capital campaign and one of your donors (not on that list) hears about it and wants to donate, please take their money.
If you talk about "bringing back a check" when you or your colleagues go to a pitch, think about that word "check". Does you website even allow for donations by check?
Why don’t restricted gifts incur an automatic 20% to cover overhead – similar to what universities do?
"Legacy Giving" or "Planned Giving"? Know that many donors will think planned giving means they are "planning" to make a gift. This won't help your legacy giving program.
Look at your overall list of donors and prospects and calculate their median age. If it's 80 or over and you don't have a legacy giving program, you're missing the boat big-time.
Ignore younger donors at your peril. You need them, and you need them now.
When you pitch someone for money, make sure you know if they’re a recurring donor. If they are, thank them for that before you make your new pitch. Otherwise the donor will think that you’re treating their recurring gift as meaningless (not a good look).
It's great to present your nonprofit board with big numbers from your events. Expect board members to ask you if the $ numbers you're quoting are gross or net. Know the answer, and ideally have comparisons to past events ready to go.
A young fundraiser's age doesn't necessarily translate to "junior" or "unable to work with major donors". The opposite isn't always true, either.
Promote recurring giving in everything you do. Unlike other donors, monthly donors become more attached to your NPO, and are MORE likely to give, with each passing year. The opposite of most other donor groups.
When a more junior fundraiser scores a big gift (because they built a relationship!), why do we remove that fundraiser from the equation? Add a senior person, maybe, but move the junior person out? No.
Message to NPOs who spend 95% of their time on major donors--most major donors start giving as smaller donors. Shouldn't we be nurturing that?
If you're honestly willing to make change at your organization, then listen to ALL your constituents, including your staff. Especially your fundraisers.
If you pitch someone new and they give you connections or feedback instead of money, understand/appreciate that they’re giving you a different sort of gift. Don’t act crestfallen that you didn’t get the immediate gift you wanted.
Answer to the question "How can I best get info on my donor?" is, simply, to just ask them!
For those of you ready and wanting to go back to your pre-Covid programs, note that, as they say, "that ship has sailed". Acclimate to all the possibility in this post-Covid world!
When and why would you use a check to make a donation? It’s true that transaction fees on credit cards are much higher than using a check, and there are clear benefits and risks of using either. Do you use a checkbook regularly? Or at all? #lisastipoftheweek #fundraising
Since most (many) unrestricted bequests are “surprise money” anyway, why not give a fixed percentage of that money to cover operations/overhead until ops are fully funded?
If we believe that authentic relationships are the key to successful fundraising, why do we perpetuate the “rule” that your contact at an NPO changes when you give more money? It makes sense if there’s no relationship with the lower-level fundraiser, but it just seems wrong to keep them out of the picture if a strong relationship exists, no?
Why are so many fundraisers instructed to not talk about themselves when meeting with a donors? It’s hard to form a relationship when the other person doesn’t fully participate, no?
If you’re raising money with a matching gift, make sure that information (the amount and the time parameters) is up front. To a donor, “your gift will be doubled” is MUCH more compelling than “Last chance to give!” or “Help us meet our goal!”
Wondering if donors look at their past emails early in the new year, and in reading them think,"Gee, I was ready to give to xyz organization, but I missed their deadline--guess it's too late to donate.” And then they don't. Backfire.
I often get emails from nonprofits that try to “disguise” who they’re coming from – there will be a person’s name but no org. Someone thinks they’re going to “trick” me into opening the email if I don’t see the org’s name. Is fundraising about tricking people into giving?
Imagine a donor’s surprise when you thank them via a short, personal video made just for them. It takes under a minute to do. Try it!
As a donor, I’m not sure why it’s important that your organization is one of my “top 3”. It feels like you’re asking me to narrow my group of good friends to only 3.
More and more often, donors want to know where their $$ went and what it’s accomplishing. Make sure that everyone on your fundraising team has that answer.
Unsolicited gifts should be a cause for celebration, not a curiosity. You promote giving in public ways, and receiving an unsolicited gift means that was successful!
Think about your Call to Action. Can it include volunteering, or non-monetary participation? Donors will still give, but they’ll feel like your relationship with them is fuller than just financial.
Try listening (to a donor) as a tactic.
When you confirm a meeting (either virtual or in-person), always ask who will be in attendance. Make this standard practice. Strategy works better when you know what/who you’re dealing with!
You can’t move forward with real organizational change unless & until you’re willing to lose some (long-time) supporters.
Please stop the practice of sending direct mail solicitations saying “it’s time to renew” to people who’ve never given to you. If this is your strategy, it won’t work.
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