Hugg’s Monthly Tip: Running ahead to stay in place

Hugg's Monthly Tip

Even in our relatively price-stable times, it’s important to remember that to stay the same as last year, you need to raise more money next year than you did this year. The math is simple… you need to keep up with whatever inflation occurred last year.

Let’s take what you needed to raise in 2013 to keep from falling behind.

In 2012 the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1.7 percent. That’s a handy number to use, but it could be that in your industry, costs went up more (or less).

Taking CPI as our guide, that means that for every hundred dollars you raised in 2012, you needed to raise 1.7 percent more, or a $17 increase for every $1000 you raised, to be “even” in 2013. Not much? If you raise $150,000 in annual fund gifts, that means you need $2,250 more in 2103.

Remember, that’s just from 2012 to 2013. From 2013 to 2014, you need to use $152,250 as your base.  Yes, like bank savings, just to stay even in buying power, your annual fund goal must “compound.” Any less and you suffer “compound erosion” of your ability to carry out your mission.

This can be a pretty depressing thought, especially when your donors aren’t getting wage increases and your staff wants them!

Do you need more dollars? Yes. But how?

For the answer, stay tuned for “How many donors to a dollar?”

Worth Considering: Make the list, work the list

Worth Considering

How’s your list, these days? Is it clean and comprehensive or dirty and dead?

Know this: For all of the great letters you send (and maybe I write for you?), if your list is a-rife with bad addresses and names of people who just don’t care about what you do, whatever we say is worthless. Like a list broker friend would say… “It’s all about the list.” As a writer, I reluctantly agree (but don’t tell her that!)

If you’re sending paper mail, the first thing to do is an NCOA (National Change of Address: review. If it’s email, there are a nice handful of email validation programs that will tell you if an address is even good or not. Both of these steps are good, but really don’t get to where the money is… whether anyone who gets your mail even cares.

This is a lot harder to decide, and has a lot to do with how you accumulated your names. Are they former clients (alumni/patients) or family (grandparents/parents)? Then at least they know you and have experienced your great work. Are they recommended by board members or close friends? Super – and remind your new prospect how you got his or her name. If they attended an event, that’s good, they heard your message from you directly, and may have fallen in love with your cause. However you got the names on your list, they need to care about you… and you can’t force that, regardless of how worthy you are.

So get to know why people are on your list. Ask them why they’re there, and how you can get more like ‘em. Because having a list is only the start… you need to work the list!

Hugg’s Monthly Tip: A new tool for your virtual toolbox

Hugg's Monthly Tip

I hope you don’t think that I “shill” for a particular product in my monthly missives, but this time I need to tell you about Evernote. (And don’t worry that I’m getting any commission for this… I’m not :-( )

In the last year I have become an Evernote convert. It’s meant a lot of scanning, but it also means finding things much more easily, too… all for about $5 per month.

As I’ve done this, I’ve been thinking about how if my clients had this tool, they’d be saving time in their proposals and other work. For example, Evernote is the perfect place for material like scanned copies of IRS letters, budget documents, marketing material and more that your funders want every time you submit for a grant.

Not only can you keep each document there, but you can easily share them between users on your staff – and (this is the real power of Evernote) tag each document for its potential uses. That budget could be tagged “budget,” “proposals,” “foundations,” and more.

With as much as is on your plate, a time-saving tool like Evernote could mean you get just a little more done – and raise a lot more – each year.

So try it out… and when you do, say “Matt sent me,” and listen for the response: “who?”  :-)  

Worth Considering: Does your Need take a vacation?

Worth Considering

It’s summer. The breeze is warm, the pools are crowded and your client’s bellies are full, right?

You mean their bellies aren’t full? Wait, you mean to say that your need doesn’t go away in the summer?

Whether you’re feeding the hungry, fighting global warming, or fine-tuning a fitness program, chances are that your costs don’t go down (much) in the summer. You still have bills to pay and clients to serve.

Like it or not, your Need never takes a vacation.

So why does your fundraising?

Maybe because YOU need a vacation. A lot of fiscal years end on June 30. You’ve made the big push to meet goal. While that was happening, you didn’t make time to plan for solicitations. Besides, July 1 starts the new year, and your goals are 11 months away and you need a break.

I really get it… but your client’s won’t. They’re still hungry – if not for food, then for services… plus there’s everyone who want their paychecks, even in the long days of summer.

What to do? Keep on asking. My guess is that your competitors aren’t, which is all the better for you. Yes, you’ll get a vacation in there, too. That’s essential. But while you’re away, make sure that your copywriter is busy (I’m happy to help!) and your mail house is fully engaged. Because while you may need a vacation, your Need never does.