During a recent one-on-one meeting with my our Content Marketer at Food for the Hungry, we were talking about value proposition and reviewing a proposed project. I made a comment that would have led the piece away from being donor focused and our Content Marketer calmly corrected my proposed change.
It’s amazing how easy it is to make one of these common mistakes with our donors. No matter the size of your organization or your years of experience, it can be easy to forget something or fall into the trap of making it about the organization instead of about the donor. I’ve made these mistakes and I will bet if you review your recent fundraising campaigns, you probably have made similar errors. Fortunately, correcting these problems is EASY!
1. Not Thanking Your Donor
What we’re asking people to do isn’t rational. It’s irrational to give your money to help benefit someone else. Fortunately for our organizations, the donor does have some intrinsic value developed when she gives – it makes her feel good, it aligns with her values, it matches up with a cause related to someone close to the donor. Whatever the reason, the donor receives a “benefit” of the feeling at the time of donation. We need to thank the donor for caring enough to make a donation. A thank you doesn’t have to be elaborate. It could be as simple as an email, or perhaps a card, or if the donation warrants it, a personal phone call. I recently tested donating to 25 nonprofit organizations and only 4 of them thanked me for my donation with half of those making phone calls.
2. Talking About Yourself Too Much
This mistake is an epidemic in the nonprofit industry. The quickest and most impactful change you can make in your fundraising is to start writing emails where you position the donor as the hero of your story. Why is this concept so difficult to implement at nonprofits? Culturally, it’s difficult to overcome the concept that your donors and the hero and not the people doing the actual work of the organization. But in the context of fundraising, your donors are the hero. They provide the funding necessary for you to do the good work you’re doing. How many times in your copy do you say “we” or “I?” You need to replace that with “you” and “your.” When the donor starts to feel like this is his story and not just your story, he will be more inclined to participate as a donor.
3. Failing to Ask for a Second Gift
What is your current acquisition cost? It’s likely somewhere around a $1 for every $0.75 raised on the first gift, meaning the first give is losing $0.25 on the dollar. It’s ok for this type of acquisition investment, as long as you’re focused on turning people into multi-donors. You need to ask for that second gift from people. When they come on file as a donor, you need to move people into a fundraising process so you can solicit multiple gifts.
4. Not Sharing Stories of Impact
The most powerful thing you can do today to communicate to your donors is to share a story of impact. Identify someone who’s life has changed from the work of your organization. Impact stories are the lifeblood of your communications channel. They can be used in any type of communication: direct mail appeals, thank you letters, email appeals, telemarketing, newsletters, blog, social media. They demonstrate a good use of the donors dollars both for current donors and potential donors. Go today and write a story of impact!
5. Measuring and Testing
You’ve probably heard the old saying: you can’t improve what you aren’t measuring. For fundraising, we have so much great opportunity for measurement. For digital, you have almost limitless ability to measure and test. Measuring your results provides a baseline for how your campaigns are performing and how tests impact your results. Begin by recording every campaign, how many you sent out, how many donors gave, how much the donors gave, and the return on investment versus your costs. This will be your “control” for future tests. As you define tests, perform them against the control.
Improving these five things will help improve your nonprofit fundraising and relationship with your donors.