Immunizing your Donors, Prospects and Volunteers?

22/11/2010 at 09:35 2 comments


This post is inspired by a great conversation I was privileged to have with Danielle Brigida from the National Wildlife Federation. Thanks Danielle! It was great to meet in real life! Listen to our conversation on Making a Difference Radio on Tuesday, November 23.

We form immunities to drugs, food, allergens and lots of other stuff including fundraising appeals.

At some point, to donors, our appeals must look and sound like a lot of noise. Year after year we send letter(s) asking for money. We meet face to face with donors at a predictable time to ask for their gifts. We hold annual or multiple events and expect them to attend for the same program, food, auction and entertainment. They visit our website but there aren’t any updates. The newsletter and e-news state the obvious.

No wonder volunteers, donors and friends may be immunized against our mission. They have heard so much of the same thing – what we want to tell them – not what they want to hearthey may have stopped listening and worse, giving.

We need to continually talk with and to our donors about things they care about. If they have made a gift or volunteered – what brought them to you? What interests them? We are at a point in fundraising theory, best practices and technology that we can learn about donors in all sorts of ways obvious and not – and without a lot of money.

Let’s start with the obvious:

  • We can survey volunteers, donors, web visitors what matters to them about our work, programs, mission, why they volunteered or about their giving – a simple electronic survey 3-10 questions. In an email, post volunteer evaluation, on your website. Use this information to customize your communication to those who respond.
  • We can talk to donors and volunteers face to face when we aren’t asking for anything – time or money.
  • We can make sure our database is up to date, including mailing addresses and emails.
  • Personalize everything you can – segment lists and content, personalize appeal letters accordingly, be sure to cultivate in between asks – for time or money.

Not so obvious:
Today’s technology allows us to learn more about our donors, engage with them about their interests and create a more strategic and focused development and communication plan for each prospect and donor.

  • Through the use of micro sites, HTML email and video we can offer recipients a view of our work based on their interests.
  • We can offer them on and off line forms where they tell us what their interests are or what they would like from us, a call, a visit, more information. And yes some folks fill them out! They raise their hand and say, “I want this from you.” Narrowing your focus, setting your priorities, and creating a place to start or continue a conversation with a donor, prospect or volunteer.
  • We can and should segment our “mass” electronic communications according to donor/prospect/volunteer interests.
  • Engage using social media to communicate, learn, talk and listen to what and who is talking about your brand.

How are you immunizing your constituency to your message? Wanna stop? I may have a few ideas and if you have some antidotes – leave a comment – share the wealth!

Entry filed under: Fundraising, Nonprofit fundraising. Tags: , , , .

Rest Like You Mean It The Importance of Storytelling to Successful Fundraising

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