Autumn has arrived. We welcome the season with a sweater and a glass of cider as the leaves burst with vivid color and then slowly fall to the ground.
Autumn is also the time when we hustle for the last big fundraising hurrah of the year.
Before you get fully immersed in the fundraising hustle, stop . . . take a breath . . . and make sure you can answer the following questions:
- When was the last time you scrubbed your donor lists? If you can’t remember the last time it was done, do it now. Dirty data will net you bad results regardless of how amazing your year-end package.
- What is your theme and is it compelling? “We need money to fill the gap” is not compelling. Neither is “It’s year-end” or “You get a tax deduction”. A compelling theme is about the mission and ministry your donors need to invest in (with both their heart and their head). Your theme should be consistent throughout all year end communications and all channels (mail, email, social media, telephone, etc.).
- What stories will you tell to reinforce the theme? The story should not be about you and your organization. The story should be about the profound impact on the people and community you serve. The story should touch the readers’ heart.
- Will the story have a sense of urgency and remind express clearly to the donor “we can’t do this without you”? A sense of urgency is the message about what will happen if they don’t take action. Children will go hungry. Families will be homeless. A cancer patient will die. A student will not be educated. Touch their heart, then appeal to their head.
- Will the donor know what you want them to do? Don’t be shy about asking for a reasonable response from the donor. Think about what the donor can likely do. Be direct. Be specific. Be thoughtful.
- Will it be easy for the donor to give? You’ve touched the heart, appealed to their head, not make sure you make it easy for them to respond with a gift. Test your online giving portal. The more clicks you require, the less likely the gift will be made. Test your remittance envelope. The remittance should align with your theme and your “ask.” Generic envelopes generate generic less than stellar results.
- What is your plan to show gratitude to your donors? Remember, a receipt is not a thank you and therefore not a show of gratitude. Toss out that stuffy old thank you letter (“on behalf of the board, blah, blah, blah”) and create communications that shows truly sincere gratitude. Your message of gratitude should include “Because of you . . . . “ and “We couldn’t do this without you.”
So, hopefully you are not more stressed than you were before you read this list. Your year-end efforts should be a joy not a nightmare. Remember, the work you do is important. You are changing lives for the better.