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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.

Hugg’s Monthly Tip: Are your donors on vacation… or is fundraising?

Hugg's Monthly TipIn our business – the business of soliciting funds – there seems to be an unwritten “truth” that soliciting in the summer produces poor results. We might be able to do a survey of 1000 nonprofits and find that yes, this is the case. But why?

It’s obvious, right? People go on vacations, their thoughts are on “summer” things and they only do the essentials, right? As a result, you make less solicitations in the summer.
Hmmmm… I’m not so sure. Are you getting less because they’re doing more, or is it simply that you’re asking less?

As Americans, we probably take the least amount of vacation than any other industrialized society… less than two weeks a year. I found when I did a lot of travel, that in the Northeast US where grade school traditionally starts after Labor Day, a lot of that summer vacation was in the last week or two of August. With those two weeks out, that leaves 12 of the 14 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day when most folks are leading a relatively “normal” life.

I say mail! Don’t let your fundraising take a summer vacation. You could be surprised. But even if you’re not, you’re there when everyone else isn’t… and being top of mind is the most valuable place to be, for gifts today, and when they do give, tomorrow.