Worth Considering: Ahhh… the comfort of fundraising

Worth ConsideringIn my observation, organizations raise more money using methods that are most comfortable to their top leaders and volunteers.

Think of it this way…

  • People who like to write are drawn to proposals and direct mail.
  • People who like parties do special events.
  • People who like to connect with others like major and planned giving.

Then why are you trying to do every kind of fundraising… especially the kind of fundraising you really don’t like to do? Chances are, if you don’t like to do it, you won’t do it well.

This doesn’t mean you should stop your annual event if it gets you the visibility you need and names to add to your mailing list. However, it does mean that you shouldn’t try to do five events if they suck up all your time and make a tiny dent in your budget. If events exhaust you and writing energizes you, you’ll probably raise more money with proposals and direct mail copy.

Remember: There is no “one” way to raise money. However, there is one way that you can love raising money… and that’s as unique as you.

Monthly Tip: Who gets your mail?

Hugg's Monthly Tip

Who gets your mail?

Do you need to mail to everyone in your database?

I have a number of clients who have nice size databases… and every letter I write for them goes to every name on the list… and surprise… not everyone gives.

I write fine letters for them (really!) But are we really surprised that everyone who gets one doesn’t give? No.

Most of the people didn’t give last time, or the time before that or before that. In fact, most of the names never made a gift since their first… more than five years ago!

Why waste money on the slim chance that you’ll be surprised with their first gift in a long while?

Don’t be. Save your money and send more mail to the ones who give most recently, less mail to the ones who give less… and the ones who never gave for a long while… they probably will never realize that you stopped mailing to them!

The results? You’ll definitely save money not mailing to folks who don’t care, and you’ll probably make more by increasing the number of mailings to the people that do.

Worth Considering: How many donors to a dollar?

Worth Considering

If you read the last tip, “Running ahead to stay in place,” you’ll remember that to just stay “even” between 2012 and 2013, you needed to raise at least 1.7 percent more, or $17,000 for a $1 million fundraising budget.

That leads me to ask…How many donors do you need to raise a dollar?

Less than one for $1, I hope. How about for $1,000? More than a few, I suspect.

To get a better handle on this requires a (small) bit of math. How many donors do you have that make gifts of less than $1,000? Gifts at this level usually define your typical “annual fund” (operating expense) donors.

Let’s say you have 2500 donors who give less than $1,000, and that the sum of their gifts is $150,000. That means you need, on average 16 2/3 (let’s say 17) donors for every $1,000 you raise. (2,500 donors/150,000 dollars = .0166 donors/1 dollar. For 1000 dollars, then 1000 dollars x .0166 = about 17 donors.)

Last time we established that just to keep up with the 2012 consumer price index of 1.7% you’ll need another $2,250. At 17 donors per $1,000, you’ll need about 38 more donors. (2250/1000 = 2.25.   2.25 x 17= about 38)

How many more prospects is that? If you have a total database of 10,000, then you have 1 donor (2500 donors) for every 3 non-donors (7,500 non-donors/prospects) in your database, which means you need 114 (38 x 3) new names to get 38 more gifts. However, since new donors tend to give less than established donors, then maybe you should increase that ratio to 1:4 and look at adding 150 new names.

That may seem like a lot, but knowing how many more donors and prospects you need, instead of just dollars, means you can take some meaningful steps. It could mean renting lists, increasing the number of people at your event, adding new clients or their families. Since there are about 250 working days in a year – that means all you need to do is add a new name about every two days to your database. (Yeah, I know, sounds easy…!)

So how do you stay “even”? Get more… more donors! Build your list each day.

 

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: 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!