The easy way to really crush your fundraising program

The Veritus Group blog recently asked, What Are They Smoking Across the Pond?

Whatever it is they’re smoking over there, it’s also being smoked on this side of the pond too. In fact, it is being copiously consumed on all sides of all the ponds. Whatever the stuff is, it caused a commentator in the UK to propose in an article: Let’s give our donors a break and tell them we won’t ask for X months and see what happens.

As is often the case, this frequently-made argument is supported by information from surveys and focus groups.

As my friends at Veritus say:

Don’t allow yourself or your organization to get sucked into that kind of thinking. Steer clear of donor survey-think. It’s NOT what donors say in a survey, it’s what they do with their resources, time and actions that actually matters, and that’s what you should pay attention to.

Basing your strategy on what donors say, rather than what they do, will do grievous harm to your fundraising. So whatever they’re smoking, just say no.

See also: Surveys: a pack of lies most of the time.


Comments

4 responses to “The easy way to really crush your fundraising program”

  1. Anne Ibach Avatar
    Anne Ibach

    It makes me insane when people make fundraising decisions base on what people say… how they SAY they’ll behave.
    Many years ago at a previous job I was fortunate to participate in an acquisition direct mail testing program where six public broadcasting stations across the country held focus groups where the participants had “dialers” in their hands.
    The presenters went through different direct mail packages… line by line through the copy, and element by element through the art. The participants would “dial” their negative or positive reaction to each piece. The scores for each package were calculated and the participants’ favorite and least favorite packages identified (the ones they reacted to most positively or least positively), and ranges in between.
    THEN… the packages were tested in the mail at all 6 organizations.
    The result: The package that the participants HATED the most PERFORMED the BEST in the mail — across the board!
    We joked that we should take the most hated elements from each package and combine them all into one package and test that one!
    This was a lesson that has stuck with me for many years!

  2. Anne Ibach Avatar
    Anne Ibach

    It makes me insane when people make fundraising decisions base on what people say… how they SAY they’ll behave.
    Many years ago at a previous job I was fortunate to participate in an acquisition direct mail testing program where six public broadcasting stations across the country held focus groups where the participants had “dialers” in their hands.
    The presenters went through different direct mail packages… line by line through the copy, and element by element through the art. The participants would “dial” their negative or positive reaction to each piece. The scores for each package were calculated and the participants’ favorite and least favorite packages identified (the ones they reacted to most positively or least positively), and ranges in between.
    THEN… the packages were tested in the mail at all 6 organizations.
    The result: The package that the participants HATED the most PERFORMED the BEST in the mail — across the board!
    We joked that we should take the most hated elements from each package and combine them all into one package and test that one!
    This was a lesson that has stuck with me for many years!

  3. Anne, I’ve had similar experiences with focus groups and direct mail. It probably goes that way every time, because direct mail isn’t about being liked (especially in a social setting) — it’s about motivating action.
    At least in your situation they TESTED the focus group findings. I’ve seen too many organizations make larger and more far-reaching decisions based on focus groups with NO CONFIRMATION from actual donor behavior.

  4. Anne, I’ve had similar experiences with focus groups and direct mail. It probably goes that way every time, because direct mail isn’t about being liked (especially in a social setting) — it’s about motivating action.
    At least in your situation they TESTED the focus group findings. I’ve seen too many organizations make larger and more far-reaching decisions based on focus groups with NO CONFIRMATION from actual donor behavior.

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog