Fundraising season is here! What’s the best way to reach out to your donors – by mail, email, social media, or phone calls? It’s a combination of all of these.
Direct mail still has a place, but many people give online. Unless you know your donors really well, it’s hard to predict where they will see the message and how they will donate. Some may respond to the direct mail piece, but donate online. Others will see your email message, but prefer to send a check. Some of your donors will respond to the first appeal, while others need a few reminders. This is why you need a multi-channel approach.
BEFORE YOU START
Clean up your lists
Make sure your mailing list and email list are ready to go. Take care of that pile of address changes that has accumulated over the year. Check for duplicate addresses, misspelled names, and typos. You don’t want to offend your donors by spelling their name wrong or sending two pieces of mail to their house.
Prepare your website
Make sure you have a donation page that’s compelling and is easy to use. Test all links in email messages and social media posts. The last thing you want is a donor contacting you about a broken link or having to hunt around on your website for the donation page.
Right before your annual appeal goes out, include a blurb on your homepage that your appeal is underway. Make sure your donate button is in a prominent place.
Here is more information about creating a great donation page.
Consistency is key
Your messages need to be consistent across all channels. Use the same story and call to action in direct mail, email, and on your website. Everything you send out needs to look like it’s coming from the same organization.
SAMPLE SCHEDULE AND STRATEGY
Come with a schedule of when the appeals will go out. I’ve created a sample schedule below. Of course, you can adjust the timeframe as needed.
Give your supporters a heads up by email and social media. Let them know that your annual appeal is underway and they should be receiving a letter from you soon. Encourage them to donate online right now. This means your donation page needs to be up to speed.
Week of November 5
Mail out your appeal letter.
Week of November 12
Send out follow up reminders via email and social media. If possible, don’t send reminders to people who have already donated. Otherwise, be sure to thank your recent donors. You can even phrase your reminders as more of a thank you or an update.
A big thank you to all of you who have donated to our annual appeal. We are more than half way to our goal. If you haven’t donated yet, please help us out today by visiting our website (include a link to your donation page) or send us a check (provide address).
Week of November 19
Send out another reminder. It’s a busy time of year and some people might need a gentle nudge.
Week of November 26
Start making reminder calls. If time is an issue, you could just call people who have donated before. That’s probably most effective. Again, some folks just need a friendly reminder.
December and beyond
Keep sending reminders throughout December. It’s tricky because you want to get your message across without annoying your supporters. Continue to send out your newsletter and other updates. Tie in success stories with your appeal.
Network for Good recommends sending a fundraising email on December 27 and then each day from the 29th through the 31st. This is especially relevant if your fiscal year ends on December 31 or your donor wants to give before the end of the calendar year.
Look to see who hasn’t contributed yet. Concentrate your efforts on those who are most likely to donate, such as past donors.
Also, keep track of how many donors come through each channel.
We live in a multi-channel world. Take time now to plan your strategy in order to boost your fundraising results.
Here is more information on multi-channel fundraising.
Photo by 2create via Flickr