Are You on the Road to Improvement?

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At the end of last year, I recommended Five Ways to Improve Your Fundraising and Communications in 2015

Now that we’re almost halfway through the year, let’s revisit this list and see how you’re doing. I’ll also share ways you can continue on this path throughout the summer and into the fall.

Tell stories

Are you telling your stories?  Summer is a good time to share a success story or update.  You can do this in your newsletter, in a postcard, by email, on social media, or a combination of these.

In addition, take time this summer to put together some stories for your year-end appeals and thank you letters.

Create a memorable thank you experience

Speaking of thank yous, did you give your donors a memorable thank you experience after your last appeal, and do you thank them regularly?

Send a special thank you message to your donors this summer. You could combine it with your success story/update (see above).

Then take a look at thank you letters from your past appeals. Are they dry as dust and open with the usual On behalf of X organization, we thank you…Or do they shine with You’re amazing or Thanks to You!  Work on sprucing up your thank you landing page and email response, too.

Keep thanking your donors throughout the year. This needs to be a priority.

Be donor-centered

Do your donor communications focus on how your donors are helping you make a difference for the people you serve, or are you bragging about how great your organization is?

Before you send your special thank you update this summer, check to make sure it’s donor-centered.  Is it focused on them and are you sharing something that will interest your donors?

Then work on making your appeal letters and thank you messages donor-centered.   Are you telling your donors how they are helping you make a difference?

Pay attention to your donor data

Has it been awhile since you’ve even looked at your donor database?  Summer is a great time to go through your database and make any additions, deletions, and corrections.  Don’t wait until a week before your next appeal is scheduled to go out.

I know this is tedious, but your donors don’t want to see their names misspelled or receive duplicate mailings.

Also, segment your donors (new donors, repeat donors, lapsed donors, event attendees etc) and start working on targeted appeal letters.

Nix the swag and premiums

We all want donors to upgrade their gifts or give at a higher level, but don’t use swag or premiums as an incentive.

Here’s a better idea from my local community foundation.  They found an anonymous donor who matched all new donations and any increases in giving from the previous year.

You also want donors to give because they care about your organization, not because they want a coffee mug.  If you can’t find a matching donor, spend some time this summer nurturing your donors (e.g. the thank you update), so they’ll be more inclined to give a larger gift.

I hope you’re on the road to improvement. I’ll continue to share more ideas throughout the summer to help you get ready for year-end.

Photo by Cristian M. Mormoloc

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