Repetitious fundraising — boring for you, necessary for success

If you’re not getting a little tired of your fundraising messages, you probably aren’t repetitious enough to really succeed.

Just about the time you’re thinking, “I’m gonna scream if I have to write that same thing again” — that’s when most donors are just starting to notice what you’re saying.

Here are some thoughts on the importance of repetition from the Stelter Insights Blog, at Repetition is powerful: why frequency makes your marketing more effective:

Direct mail marketers … originated the “rule of seven” that still guides many marketing programs today. The rule of seven … suggests that a consumer must see or hear a message up to seven times before you can expect them to take action.

Think about that for a moment. So many fundraisers send one appeal a year, and that appeal says “please donate” just one time. (Or less.)

It’s kind of a miracle that they raise anything at all.

Repetition needs to happen in two ways:

  1. Within a message. If your direct mail or email only asks once, too many of your readers won’t get the message that they’re being asked. Whatever it is you want readers to do, you’d better say so three times at the very least. And more is better. Your English-major boss will hate it. But it’s what you have to do.
  2. Over time. This is the hard part. You need your message to be consistent across time. Far too many organizations are caught in the cycle of constant reinvention, where they change approach when they get tired of it, not when donors stop responding. The good news is, this means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel over and over unless what you’re doing doesn’t work.


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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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