Are you a good fundraiser? Try this reality check

by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing.

That fundraising message you just wrote — it’s going to get your donors involved and engaged, right?

If you’re ready to learn the cold truth, try this: Call a donor out of the blue and start asking questions. You may be shocked. You’re likely to find out that your donor:


  • Doesn’t know what your nonprofit does beyond something hazy like helping people. And she doesn’t really care to know more.
  • Doesn’t care what your mission statement says. Hasn’t read it, doesn’t plan to.
  • Doesn’t know what your programs are or any successes that you’ve had.
  • Doesn’t know she’s in your sustainer program and doesn’t know you have a sustainer program or even what that is. She only knows that she gives $10 a month when the reminder comes.
  • Doesn’t really want your appeals and newsletters. She usually just glances at that stuff and tosses it.
  • Doesn’t know that the appeal she just responded to featured a matching grant. Didn’t look at it that closely.

That’s the way it is for many donors. For many of them, there’s nothing you can do to change that.

But you should try, anyway. You should do everything you can to bring your donors closer. Because if they’re not loving you, they can easily leave you. Attrition can steamroller you.

So what do you do? You do more. More donor engagement, more donor focus, more donor communication.

Don’t release an appeal until it sings. Don’t send a newsletter until you can’t believe how good the stories are — with a protagonist, conflict, a plot, and a point. Don’t fear “bothering” your donors. The more they hear from you, the more they’ll pay attention. Don’t just go through the motions with social media. Provide content that’s good enough to share. Don’t just have a website. Give donors videos, images, stories, infographics, and more.

But mainly, don’t just communicate with donors. Hit the hot buttons of their values, motivations, and aspirations. Animate those feelings, and you’ll get right to the core of what drives your donors’ giving as well as their loyalty.


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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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