- On November 10, 2016
How are you feeling about your year-end fundraising plan?
We hope you’ve got a letter printed and ready to drop. But – even if you haven’t had the chance to do anything but worry about it yet – we’ve got some ideas for steps you can take to maximize your return.
STEP 1 – FIND YOUR STORY. Get out of your office and talk to your program staff. Ask them to tell you a story from their work. Ask them to tell you what keeps them going. If your organization serves people, talk to them, too. What is their experience? What are their stories? Next, call three of your most loyal donors, and ask them the same questions. What motivates them to support you? What matters to them most? Can you make connections between the work your organization is doing and the priorities your donors identify?
STEP 2 – GATHER YOUR AUDIENCE. Don’t leave your list prep to the last minute! If you can, segment by giving amount. Even if you just carve out your top donors for some special treatment, it pays to take the time to do it. If you’re considering sending your appeal to a prospect list, use the segmentation process to help build your list parameters. What can you learn about your best donors — zip codes, income levels, marital status — that could help you find more folks just like them?
STEP 3 – WRITE YOUR APPEAL. Now you’re ready to develop materials that really speak to your donors about what’s important. You have fresh stories and a renewed perspective on what your donors care about. Remember: you aren’t writing a brochure about your organization! Leave aside the jargon and the formality. Get personal. It’s a wonderful truth about human nature that we are hard-wired to want to help each other. Keep that in mind as you’re writing. Show your donors how critical their role is in your work. Remember — and remind them — that it’s only through their generosity that these stories happen.
STEP 4 – PREP YOUR CHANNELS. Year-end fundraising works best when you view it as a marathon and not a sprint. Plan and develop key content and a calendar for your website, social media accounts, and email follow-ups. A good basic plan is a “snailmail” letter sent to your list, one email follow-up sent after, and then a “time is running out” email that you send in the last three days of the year. **(Protip: if you ignore everything else we’re telling you, at the very least send that last email!)
STEP 5 – GO TIME. Now you’re ready to go! Re-read your letter, double-check your list, schedule your tweets and posts — and cross your fingers!
To your mission, The Corcoran Team