What to do if you can’t test your fundraising

Testing Tuesday: A weekly series on how to get the most of direct-response fundraising tests

Smarttesting

The standard advice for fundraisers is test everything!

It’s good advice, but it doesn’t apply to about 99% of nonprofit organizations.

Most organizations shouldn’t test, because they don’t have the numbers to yield meaningful results. (Not sure if that’s you? Check out The easy-math way to know if you can test your fundraising idea)

How do you know what to do if you can’t test?

  • Pay attention to what works for you (and what doesn’t). Even if you never test, you do have experience. When something works very well — or very poorly — that’s a quasi-test. It’s not a true apples-to-apples repeatable test, but it tells you something.
  • Know what generally works in the industry. Okay, let’s put it out there: Long direct mail letters almost always do better than short ones. It’s been tested hundreds of times. It’s weird, but true. You can run with it. There are quite a few things like that. Be well-read about fundraising, and you’ll know them.
  • Ask around. Be part of a fundraising community that creates a hive mind of experience. You can learn a lot just by querying whatever it is you’re wondering about. (For a very useful community, may I suggest The Fundraisingology Lab?

Read the full Testing Tuesday series


Comments

4 responses to “What to do if you can’t test your fundraising”

  1. What counts as a “long direct mail letter” — how many pages?

  2. What counts as a “long direct mail letter” — how many pages?

  3. Mark: The longer the better. Letters of 10 pages are often very powerful. But the cost of paper (and the higher postage those long letters can require) make letter that long rare. The majority of letters I write are either 2 pages (one sheet) or 4 pages.

  4. Mark: The longer the better. Letters of 10 pages are often very powerful. But the cost of paper (and the higher postage those long letters can require) make letter that long rare. The majority of letters I write are either 2 pages (one sheet) or 4 pages.

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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.