How to raise more money with less time, money, and energy

Here’s a way to save a boatload of money and time

It’s from the Better Fundraising Blog, at Work Less, Raise More:

You have a successful letter…. When it comes time for this year’s … letter, here’s what to do: take out last year’s letter, dust it off, change only what you need to, and send it again. Don’t change the formatting, don’t change the call to action, just send it again. Just as no one complains to Ford when they see the same truck commercial five times in one week, no donor will complain that your letter last year was awfully similar to this year’s letter!

That’s right: Send your best work again. And again. Keep sending it every year until it shows signs of “wearing out” — which may or may not happen, ever.

It may feel strange to you, as if you were calling your mother every year on her birthday on playing the same recording of your birthday wishes. That would be weird.

But for direct mail and email fundraising, it’s not Mom you’re contacting! Think about how it plays out:

  • Even with a very successful mailing, a large majority never opened your letter. (For email, it’s even more so.)
  • Among those who opened, some large percentage of both responders and non-responders paid very little attention to your content.
  • Among the tiny sliver of those who paid close attention, very few will remember what they read a year later.
  • Among the tinier yet group who paid close attention and have amazing memories, few care that you’re repeating yourself.
  • And if anyone is left who notices and cares, the chance that it will cause them to curtail their giving is vanishingly small.

I’ve been doing this for years, with hundreds of different organizations of all types. It’s like a magic money-saver. And maybe more important, especially during the year-end craziness, it’s like a magic time-saver.

Not only that, but it’s most likely to raise more money than starting over year after year. An appeal that did well a year ago is more likely to do well this year than a new, unproven appeal. There’s a chance you can do better this year than last year’s success, but the best way to do that is to make minor improvements to the previous success.

The only down-side to this strategy I’ve seen has been in a few cases when the fundraisers ignored the fact that an appeal was doing worse year-to-year and sent it anyway. Strong packs can “wear out” over time and need to be changed. Sometimes this happens quickly, over the course of three or so years. More often it takes longer, and in some cases, it just doesn’t seem to happen ever.

Fundraising is hard work. Here’s a way to do just as well, or better, with a little less work.

(This post first appeared on November 28, 2018.)


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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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