2016 Fundraising Challenges: 4 Ways You Can Respond Today

November 8, 2016

The wildfires in Fort McMurray and the threat of strike action by Canada Post this past spring caused a near-perfect storm, wreaking havoc on Canadian non-profits, particularly those who are solely or predominantly focused on direct mail. Conversely, the organizations using a multichannel fundraising approach seem to have fared a little better. Why? Because even though donors may have been reluctant to donate by mail or chose to divert their giving for a few months to support other more urgent causes like Fort McMurray or the effects of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, they still managed to consistently connect with their donors and communicate what they’ve been able to accomplish this year, thanks to donor support, and where they may have come up short.

The key here is consistency. That is the most important thing you can offer your donors in the way of communications – a consistent message, across all channels. Consistency helps build trust and confidence by letting your donors know that you are working hard, doing what you said you would do with their money, and that you are always accessible should they have any questions. They are hearing from you by mail, phone, email, and social media, and they know how to reach you on any of these platforms.

What I’d like to do today is offer some solace to those organizations that may be struggling with a less-than-stellar communications plan or just don’t have the resources to make any huge investments at this time of year, but are desperate to generate some additional revenues before Dec 31st (and well into next year). Does this sound like something you’d like to hear more about? If yes, let me tell you about 4 cost effective ways you can connect with donors today to thank them for their support and generate much needed revenues.

Want to increase donor retention and renew donors before the end of the year?  Here are 4 simple and reliable ways to do just that

1. Send a Voicemail Broadcast

A voicemail broadcast to donors, stakeholders, and volunteers is a smart idea no matter how well your fundraising program is doing. At just pennies a call, this is a highly cost-effective and efficient way to connect with more donors than you likely could otherwise. And for a couple of hundred dollars more, you can have the supplier complete a phone append on your data file. So after the calling, you can not only import this special touch point with your donors, but you can also add phone numbers for those you didn’t yet have on file.

Though a voicemail broadcast is not likely to generate immediate revenue, it can help boost mail results for campaigns mailing just before/after calling. And looking at the longer term impacts, this is a feel-good touch point that supports long-term donor retention and donor value.

2. Craft an email series

Why not craft a series of 3 or 4 emails to go out to donors, both responders and non-responders, between now and December 31st?

The first email could just be a genuine thank you for supporting your organization. For those that have already given this year, tell them how their support is making a difference. Tell a story to show impact. For those that haven’t yet made a donation this year, let them know this hasn’t gone unnoticed. Tell them you miss them. Yes, really, tell them you miss them! And tell them what they’ll help achieve by renewing their support before the end of the year.

Emails 2-3 should ask donors to consider making a special holiday donation and remind them of the good work your organization is doing, and the lives changed as a result of their past generosity. Email 4 should be sent on December 31st, with a very clear call to action: Please take a moment out of the busy holiday season and help send more kids to camp…help purchase a new MRI that will greatly improve imaging quality for faster and more accurate cancer detection…or help protect our Canadian forests, rivers and streams.

3. Record a short video

This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, in this case simple is often better. Just pick up your iPhone and create two simple videos, one for donors who’ve already given to your organization this year, and one for those that have not.

For your active donors, tell them how grateful you are for their support and don’t forget to talk about what you’ve been able to accomplish as a result. Do not ask them to send you another donation, just wish them a safe and happy holiday season. Of course you do want to include your website address for those that may want to make another donation.

For donors who have not made a gift in 2016, again, let them know that you haven’t yet heard from them and that you miss them. Remind them that your organization could not accomplish its mission without the caring support of donors like them.

If you need inspiration, check out this video from Constant Contact.

4. Execute an in house thank-a-thon

This can be really simple: Gather a list of all direct mail donors who have not yet made a gift this year.  Depending on the numbers, you may be able to tackle this list yourself by calling a few people a day between now and the holidays. If the list is extensive, why not call on other staff, board members, and volunteers? You can provide them with a short script stating your name and where you’re calling from, thanking them for their past support, and asking them if they’d be willing to make a donation by phone. Don’t forget to arm callers with blank donation forms and pens!  Encourage participants to reach out to as many donors as they are comfortable with. (Once the first few calls are out of the way, it’s usually smooth sailing.) For regular staff, calling a handful of donors every morning is a great way to start the day!

If you need help with any of these ideas or you’ve got others you’d like to add to the list, reach out and let me know.


This post was written by Heather Brown, former Philanthropic Counsel at Good Works and fundraiser extraordinaire.

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The Good Works Goldfish

The Good Works Goldfish