President Harry Truman once famously said,
“The secret of raising children is to find out what they want to do and then encourage them to do it. “
I think that’s great advice – and so did my kids!
Note to self (and to you, too): Apply the same advice in your outreach to donors.
Year-end fundraising: Beyond the tried-and-true
As you know, we’re right in the middle fundraising season. Every organization will be asking their donors between now and the end of the year. Some nonprofits will ask multiple times in multiple ways.
As a result, fundraisers are really, really busy right now. But is all that busy-ness generating results?
It’s easy to keep doing the basics – send your letters and emails, make phone calls, meet with donors, pump up your social media presence, etc. You work the standard plan, and you hope the money will match your budget projections.
Sounds smart, right? But here’s the thing.
If you do the basics – and sit back and wait – you might miss your opportunity to stand out. Why not step up and exceed your fundraising goal?
What do donors want?
What’s the secret of launching a successful year-end campaign? Give people what they want. (And no, I’m not just talking about t-shirts and tote bags.)
What motivates donors? From my experience, here’s the top-5 list:
- Short term, tangible goals with clear deadlines
- Being part of a winning team
- Seeing how their gift will make a clear, specific impact
- Knowing exactly what they’re supposed to do and how they can participate
- Celebrating success
In designing campaigns and crafting their appeals, it surprises me how many sophisticated organizations and seasoned fundraisers miss some of these motivational hooks.
Applying this model – a real-world example
My top-five list would apply to any form of fundraising communications, from face-to-face donor meetings to your annual appeal letter.
However, I’m most excited by how we used these principles to animate a recent Kickstarter campaign for the musician Carla Kihlstedt, who – full disclosure – happens to be my daughter.
Using crowdfunding, augmented by a lot of email and a few phone calls, we raised more than $43,000 in 30 days to support her latest project.
Among the lessons learned (or perhaps re-learned):
- Start with the people who know you best and love you most. These are your most likely donors, some of whom will give the biggest gifts.
- Don’t be afraid to ask repeatedly. I sent multiple, individualized email reminders to a LOT of people – and it paid off. None have disowned me.
- Customize your ask for each donor.
- Tell people specifically how much you want them to give.
- Success sells! Let your donors know how the campaign is progressing – many will give again.
Keep these characteristics in mind as you design your quick-blitz year-end fundraising campaign – and you’ll see a nice bump in your revenue.
It’s not too late for 2017!
If you want to apply these lessons right now, sign up for our new webinar, Boost Your Year-End Fundraising – Mini-Campaign, Maximum Results
Join us next Tuesday, November 21 at 2:00 pm Eastern. Andy and I will show you how to set up a year-end mini-campaign designed around what your donors and potential donors already want.
As Harry Truman said, find out what people want to do — and then encourage them to do it!