5 fundraising temptations that will cost you big

A lot of what it takes to effectively raise funds seems strange. Or like more work than necessary. Here are some common temptations that trip up fundraisers, from the Hands-On Fundraising Blog, at Get behind me, Satan!

  1. Keep it short to save money. It’s completely counterintuitive, but longer fundraising messages work better than shorter ones. This is true in email, and even more overwhelmingly true in direct mail. Don’t write one-page letters! It’s a bad move that will cost you revenue!
  2. The kitchen sink. You can fit a lot of things into an envelope (especially if you’re using Nonprofit Bulk Rate, which allows 3.3 ounces). But you can only effectively fit one action per envelope. As long as you’re going to the trouble to mail something, you might think you can include the newsletter, a flyer about the upcoming gala, and more. That will smash response. If you intend to raise funds, only include things that are about raising funds.
  3. Your almighty brand standards. Many nonprofit guidelines ban effective fundraising. Not on purpose, but they do so mainly with design guidelines that favor modern, faddish fonts, colors, and approaches. Fundraising has its own set of needs, and they are quite different from what many designers think things should look like. Don’t subject fundraising to those limitations.
  4. Happy talk! Fundraising is about action that makes change; usually solving a problem. That means you need to show donors a problem. You need to let them know the truth, and that means telling them bad news. When asking is basically “we do great work, you can be part of it,” you’ll raise a lot less money. There is a time for good news, and that’s when you thank donors and report back on the impact of their giving.
  5. Skip the appeal. Direct mail is an intimidating amount of work. And the best time to do it is when you’re most busy already. But canceling an appeal creates an unrecoverable loss — not only of the net revenue you don’t get, but in accelerated donor attrition the happens when you don’t hold up your end of the relationship.


Comments

4 responses to “5 fundraising temptations that will cost you big”

  1. Robin Peake Avatar
    Robin Peake

    It’s killing me to work out if you are intentionally only showing 5 instead of the promised 6!

  2. Robin Peake Avatar
    Robin Peake

    It’s killing me to work out if you are intentionally only showing 5 instead of the promised 6!

  3. I’d love to claim It was some kind of complex psychological ploy — after all, typos have been known to improve fundraising results… But it was just a mistake. Now fixed. Thanks for noticing!

  4. I’d love to claim It was some kind of complex psychological ploy — after all, typos have been known to improve fundraising results… But it was just a mistake. Now fixed. Thanks for noticing!

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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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