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: Is it your fiscal year end? Do your donors care?

Hugg's Monthly TipIs it your fiscal year end? Do your donors care? No.

‘Nough said, right? ‘Fraid not…. At least by all of the direct mail I get.

If it’s your fiscal year end and you’re pleading for money to make your budget, what’s your donor thinking?

A: “I need to come to their rescue!”?

B: “Why can’t they manage their money better?”

Think “B.”

Regardless of the time of the year, your donors want mission! They want to know that they’re helping the people you serve. If you can tie that to the time of the year that your budget is due, great, because your budget is your problem, not theirs.

Worth Considering: Go long! (with long letters)

Worth Considering from Matt HuggEver notice what people say is often very different than what they do? What seems logical and “intuitive” can be completely wrong. In fundraising you only need to look as far as the mailbox.

Time and time again, from volunteers and staff alike, I hear the mantra “I don’t have time to read a long letter.” Yet my experience and other direct mail experts will tell you, long letters can get results – especially in “acquisition” mailings, when you want to attract someone as a new donor.

Think of it this way. When you meet someone for the first time, do you say “let me make this short and to the point: give me money”? No, you have a talk about your mission and why they should take part. You paint a picture of your organization’s vision for a better world. You invite them to join you in the cause.

But who has time to read all of that?

You do. I do. They do…if it’s important to them. Each of us makes space in our day for issues that are important to us – in our jobs, our families, our dreams for a better world. If you’re mailing to the right people – the ones that have an affinity for your cause, they will read.

Of course you make the reading easy for them. You use bullets, you bold and underline worlds, and you write in an engaging manner.

Of course, I’m biased. Writing letters – short or long – is my work. I would be happy to write letters for you and your cause. But more than that, your success is my success, so if a longer letter gets more donors and more dollars – that’s great for both of us.

So once in a while – go long.

Worth Considering: Email’s older cousin comes to the rescue.

Worth Considering from Matt HuggHow old is an “old” e-mail in your in-box? Three hours? Eight? How about 24? How many e-mails are over two days old? In e-mail terms, these are the Methuselahs.

E-mail and its cousins like text messages and internal social network messages are great ways to communicate quickly and efficiently. But there’s a major point to consider before you hit the “send” button for your next solicitation: what’s this message’s “hang time.” How long will your carefully crafted e-mail stay in the prospect’s mail box, and if it’s there, will it get a positive response?

But even if it’s not immediately deleted, the clock is still not your e-mail’s friend. The life-cycle of an e-mail is counted in minutes. If you get a response, you get a response now, not days from now. So if you’re not getting responses, what’s the solution? Send more e-mail?

Ironically enough, no. You know the answer. Despite the fact that e-mail is a much shorter lived medium, social constrictions stop us from sending more of them. In early 21st century America, being an accused “spammer” is up there with “breaking and entering” if you were to believe the popular press – especially if the e-mail recipient didn’t ask for the mail.

So what comes to the e-mail’s rescue? Its low tech, older cousin, postal mail. Why? Because postal mail stays on your prospect’s desk longer than an e-mail stays in an “In Box.” How much longer? Take your own survey based on your own mail and e-mail, but I’d say hundreds to thousands of times longer.

So is e-mail worthless? Not at all. The more gifts you can get by e-mail the more money you save, not just in mailing, but in gifts processing costs. After all, your donor is doing much of the data input by entering the gift information themselves.

What you need to do is back up your e-mail with paper mail. Use the same themes and maybe the same images. Coordinate each with the other so when someone gets your paper mail they remember the e-mail, and when they get the e-mail they can act on the paper. It can be a powerful combination.

Of course, I’m biased. I can write both your e-mail and paper mail solicitation. But whether you use me or do the work in-house, remember that e-mail works best with its older cousin paper mail, than it does alone.