Why repetition is a super-power for fundraisers

Raise your hand if you’ve been in this meeting:

YOU: For the year-end appeal, I’m planning taking last year’s very successful appeal, adding a new story and updating any information that has changed.

EVERY OTHER PERSON IN THE ROOM: No! Please! Not that! We’re so sick of that old appeal!

This all-too-common moment is what kills many strong fundraising programs. And here’s why: Just about the time you are getting bored out of your skull with your fundraising is when donors start to notice it.

Repetition is good for fundraising!

Re-purposing successful materials from the past is smart!

You and other insiders feeling bored by your fundraising is no indicator at all that donors are bored with it. In fact, it’s a pretty good counter-indicator.

Not only should you repeat successful campaigns, you should be repetitive within every message you send. If your appeal only asks one time, you are not maximizing response. A lot of readers will miss that one, lonely ask. Your boss hates the repetition, but it works!

Here’s some help on this vexing subject from the Heroic Fundraising blog, at Does Your Fundraising Bore You? Good:

  • Value your direct mail control packages. If you have a message that keeps on working until it’s driving you batty — count your blessings! Use it until it stops working.
  • Tell the same stories across channels. I know someone told you that email is completely different from direct mail. It’s different, but only a bit. Use the same message both places. And in every other channel where it fits. This really boosts response.
  • Repeat your Call-To-Action. Any direct mail piece that has fewer than three asks in it, is not really an appeal in my book. It’s a vague suggestion. Whatever it is you hope donors will do … keep on asking them to do it!

Your donors aren’t paying close attention to your materials like you are. They are not getting tired of it. They’re more likely not even noticing what you’re telling them.


Comments

2 responses to “Why repetition is a super-power for fundraisers”

  1. Plus, with a new story it IS a new appeal!

  2. Plus, with a new story it IS a new appeal!

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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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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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