No, this isn’t a missive about being time to change how you do things (although, if you feel you need to, please, consider this a nudge!) This is a note about a change in my world which I think we both can benefit from.
As of March 17, this “column” (this blog) moved over to the new NonProfit Pro magazine (formerly “Fundraising Success” magazine). I highly encourage you to subscribe. To find it, head to this link: http://www.fundraisingsuccessmag.com/channel/digging-deeper
NonProfit Pro is a magazine for those of you who are professional nonprofit leaders. Its content will include fundraising and more… and my blog, “Digging Deeper” will do the same. Yes, you’ll find some of the fundraising thoughts I’ve provided for the last several years to you, and you’ll see some new material based on what I teach and observe in the nonprofit world.
I look forward to “seeing” you at my new address: http://www.fundraisingsuccessmag.com/channel/digging-deeper
Sign up for the RSS feed here: http://www.fundraisingsuccessmag.com/links/npprotodaysignup/index.html?src=hdlk14
and find the other NonProfit Pro sites here:
Okay, now is the time for me to channel my “old grumpy self.” Here we go… “When I was a kid, we didn’t have “President’s Day, we had Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12 and George Washington’s Birthday on February 22.” Harumph! (Truth be told, when I was a kid, I just liked having two days off from school!)
Today we have one day for all presidents, which usually falls right between Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays. It’s the day we honor them for their service, regardless of political stripe or whether they were “successful,” by whatever definition. It’s a tough job and we expect a lot of them…. maybe just like the president of your organization?
Do you have a President’s Day? Yes. Every day you put her or him in front of a donor, signature on a letter, or voice on the phone, you’re asking a lot. Believe it or not (and I’m sure that you believe it), not every president enjoys fundraising. In fact, a lot of them loath it. That’s why you need to honor them for their service in fundraising each time they do it. You need to reward their efforts by congratulating them for each and every accomplishment.
Remember President’s Day in your organization. Have a party and thank him or her for their service… then get ’em out to do some more!
When was the last time you “split test” an appeal? You know, changed something (a “variable”), just to see if one seemingly insignificant iteration gets more gifts than what you usually do (the “control.”)? It could be a change in a envelope color, the text of one paragraph, an envelope style or anything else.
Split testing is a powerful, highly underutilized tool in direct response fundraising. You could be missing out in hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars each mailing because your donors think window envelopes aren’t “personal.” Split testing to see if a plain white envelope is better might get you 25 more donors. At your average gift is $41, that’s an extra $1,000 for your mission. Not shabby for an extra 30 minutes of work, huh?
So divide, and conquer your mailings with split testing… and multiply your results.
It’s late December and one of three things are happening…
- You’re in total panic mode. There’s way too much on your plate to get done before the end of the calendar year. You’re spending 24/7 to get it all done before December 31.
- You’ve totally checked out. There’s way too much on your plate to get done before the end of the calendar year. You’ve said “too bad” and will get done what you can, which probably means never.
- Yeah things are busy, but running normally, and while its year end, it’s not much different than most of other months.
My guess is that most of you are in mode 1. Unfortunately, a few of you are in mode 2. A skilled handful is in mode 3.
If you’re a panic-person, the end-of-year holiday week will mean more of the same. Good luck and we’ll see you in mid-January when you come up for air.
If you’re a checked-out type, give yourself the gift of a resume for the holidays.
Is mode 3 your ideal? But how to get there?
I could say a lot of trite things, but really, none of that can help you now. The truth is that you can’t change much between today and December 31. Besides, there’s no one answer. Planning ahead helps a lot. Doing tasks early is important. You might even enlist a bit more help in the form of volunteers and consultants. But in the end, it comes down to how you’ve always handled things. In college, did you pull the “all-nighter” to finish a paper, or did you adjust and correct the work you completed several days before, and get a decent night’s sleep? Are you doing the same today? If you changed, why?
So my thought for you as you rush (or not) headlong into the holiday season is to ask whether you like, or even thrive, on the rush of last minute work, or is it killing you? If you love it, you’ll never change it. If it’s killing you, then force a break before one is forced on you (like getting fired). Maybe a mid-winter personal retreat? Maybe a long talk with a good friend? Maybe some professional perspective?
Have a happy holiday season and remember to breath at the end!
In 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.