Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fundraising and Repetition

Jeff Brooks had a great post today on his blog Future Fundraising Now titled The power of repetition in fundraising. I believe the root cause of most poor fundraising response results is the insidious belief that donors will like us better, and as a result donate to us, if we refrain from communicating with them "too often" and make the same pitch over-and-over.

If I may quote Jeff, "Despite what many people think, simple repetition is one of the most powerful tools in your creative arsenal. The savviest fundraisers use it all the time to ratchet up emotion -- and results -- from their donors."

 Jeff goes on to relate a study of new direct-mail donors that found that these mail recipients had received a direct mail acquisition piece six times before they responded to it. Many charities that I am familiar with believe that it is sufficient to mail prospective donors once or twice a year! No wonder total acquisition numbers are declining precipitously.

Think that just is the nature of a dying direct mail field? Nope, electronic media such as email requires even more repetition.

Jeff also recommends that repetition within the letter or email is also critically important. He states the call to action should be repeated five, ten, or even more times. Clearly, once is not enough.

So, get over your reticence. Your organization is worthy, your mission is important. Those who want to give to you deserve your perseverance.

Friday, July 11, 2014

What Does the Donor Hear?

I loved cartoonist Gary Larson. It was a sad day when he retired in 1995. One of my favorite cartoon panels was "What we say to dogs". There we go. Barking out commands to our canine friend, fully expecting that he hears and understands every word. Even raising our voice to ensure we are understood. What hubris! What the dog hears is it's name. That's it.

Sasha Dichter of the Acumen Fund cleverly illustrated the parallel between "dog/human" and possible "non-profit/donor" communication.

As Sasha wrote, "I wonder if we could re-title this cartoon 'our needs', as in: every time we regale someone with 'what we need' we remember all they're hearing is 'blah blah blah blah.' But whenever we say their name, whenever we paint them into the picture, whenever we make them a part of the story, they hear us loud and clear.

If you agree with the notion, rather than thinking tactically how to make this shift by 'changing your pitch', you might instead ask yourself who's keeping you from actually seeing the person across the table as an integral part of the story...because she is."

Amen,  Sasha! The donor is more likely to hear you if the presentation or case is more about them. It's like hearing your own name. And everyone loves to hear their own name.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Other mistakes that undermine your web fundraising

Last time I wrote about the "beginner" mistakes that undermine your web fundraising. This time I will cover the more intermediate mistakes that cost you online donations.

1. No Benefit for the Donor
If your website is all about what a wonderful non-profit you are, all your achievements, all your programs, you sound just like most other mediocre websites, whether charitable or commercial. If, on the other hand, you communicate what your organization can do for the donor, you immediately separate yourself from the pack. As with successful direct mail text, use the words “you” and “your” often. Your website should not appear to be a snare to catch a gift, but a tool for the donor to achieve his or her philanthropic goals.

2. No Urgency
Make it clear why the donor must do something now. What are the implications if they delay? Perhaps even set a deadline. “We need to raise $xxxxx by xx date in order to ensure children are fed.”

3. Colors Blend In
Does your call to action stand out or are you enslaved by corporate brand guidelines? Fundraising is often about creating action out complacency. It is hard to do that if everything is subject to the tyranny of a non-intrusive color palette. Your “donate” button should be big, bold and assertive. Your call to action statements should stand out. Tell the snarky designers to apply their sacrosanct brand guidelines on a nondescript brochure. You need to make sure your case for giving literally vibrates on your web page.

4. No Credibility
Donors are not only concerned about ensuring that their gifts are well used but also that they appear to be savvy philanthropists.  They don’t want to look like fools to their peers. They want to give to organizations that are winners. Nothing cuts through the “Who are these people?” question better than donor profiles, complimentary quotes by supporters, or the logos of recognizable corporate sponsors. Use them.

5. Loaded with Jargon

Sometimes it’s fun to use big words that make you look smart, right? Maybe, but it is a terrible fundraising tactic. Few but your own employees will understand highly technical industry jargon. Simple words work best when trying to persuade someone to take action.

Apply these elements and see your website giving soar.