Fundraisers are concerned about 2012 year-end giving. Not only has philanthropic giving been slugging along, but Hurricane Sandy’s impact may well further diminish what is typically the most crucial giving season of the year.
Although everyone hopes for a game changer in their campaigns that will lead to a windfall, it’s more realistic to look for areas that can be tweaked and improved, which can lead to various increases and bumps in appeals over time.
Various annual giving professionals have offered a chance to look over their shoulder at tweaks they’ve made which have bolstered different campaigns for them:
I wanted to highlight a specific suggested ask amount on our reply card with one of those red circles, but it wasn’t in my printing budget. So, instead, I designed it with that particular ask amount in a font size that was one point larger than the others. Not grossly obvious, but it stood out a tad more. Our average gift increased with that campaign.
We were sending more traffic to donate online, via multiple campaigns, and wanted it to be as easy and convenient as possible. This included redesigning our home page so that there was a [one click] option, which would take donors from the [Donate Now] button, straight to the donation eform. We still had a page which explained why donors should give, what their donation would accomplish and multiple options of giving (e.g., mail, phone, United Way, etc.), who to contact with questions, but wanted an immediate option to give for those donors in a hurry to do so. Our online giving – both # of gifts and overall amount – increased in the first year.
Just as we have our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & YouTube icons on our website, we have added these on all direct mail pieces as well, to remind supporters that they can engage with us on the social media channels of their choice.
Even though these are not clickable links via mail, the marketing of the channels is important in all touches, including mail – even solicitations.
We include a direct hyperlink in all mail solicitations, to encourage online giving – and distinguish it from our [Donate Now] eform, for tracking purposes. We make it memorable & marketable, such as Nonprofit.org/donate
After learning which types of gifts are typically larger (online), we redesigned our reply card to encourage these gifts above others, by promoting an online giving response more prominently, followed by credit card giving via mail, and a donation of check last. Our average gift, overall income and online giving all increased.
We redesigned – and reprioritized – our reply card, keeping in mind that Annual Giving is focused on the “here and now” of giving. While other, longer-term investments are important, they don’t make funds for this campaign, and belong on the back of the reply card (while “right now” data belongs on the front).
Among fields we moved to the front of the card:
- Credit card information
- Joint donor name
- Email address
Data we moved to the back of the reply card:
- Matching gift
- Gifts of stock
- Change of address
- Planned giving options
I inherited a bunch of appeals that talked mainly about deadlines and tax deductions, which I found to be very short-lived. While some donors do care about these things, they aren’t the ones who will keep coming back year after year.
I changed our letters and emails so that they were much more mission related. We began focusing on telling our supporters what their gifts would accomplish and who will be helped because they gave. This tactic saw a lot more repeat donors . . . and a lot less focus on fake deadlines, fiscal years – or tax deductions.
I discovered that we didn’t have an account set up with the post office to forward our mail to the newest addresses. We had been getting too much of it returned, and I was horrified to learn that nobody in the office did anything with the returns. This meant that we were repeatedly mailing to outdated addresses!
I got us a postal account and marked our third class mail with Address Service Requested, which forwarded most of the mail to their new addresses and notified us with the data . . . which I made certain got entered into our system!
Although this meant extra postage costs in the beginning, after several mailing cycles, management saw that it was worth it. Only the really older addresses would be returned with the original pieces of mail. As we consistently updated our records, our mail became much more efficient – and the return on our direct mail costs improved greatly.
What tactics have you used to improve your fundraising techniques and campaigns – and which new ones will you implement to try and boost your 2012 appeals?
Keep the base of the pyramid strong
What Are Your Areas of Improvement?
Improving the Successful Campaign
Are You Making the Most of Email?