For a successful campaign, think
through the details, time, manpower, budget, back office systems, and web
interface you need to create a dynamic fundraising campaign.
Are you going to create a true campaign? A campaign has a series
of steps. It has a sequence. All the steps build on each other. It’s not a
one-shot appeal. One study I read last year said you could raise an additional
14% by sending a follow-up letter after your first major solicitation letter.
2. Communications channels?
What types of communications media will you use? Will you use
mail, email, postcards, and/or phone calls and in what order? Direct mail
recommends that nonprofits
send several appeals via letter, email and phone. All the appeals reinforce
each other. That’s what gets your busy, distracted donors’ attention – repeated
What’s the schedule of appeals? When will you send out mail, vs
phone calls, vs. email? Try highlighting key dates in your campaign on a big
wall calendar. What will follow what?
How much time will elapse between appeals? Schedule them out over the next two
or three months and make a real plan. Don’t forget an email appeal (or two) the
last week of the campaign.
What will be your theme? You need a “dynamite marketing concept”
for the appeals, says
. It’s an image, a look, or a story. For example, you could use
the theme of a hummingbird throughout your campaign. Or a tennis shoe. Your
theme should be an image that tells a visual story about your organization. Don’t
vary the theme once you create it.
And, plan for the visual look of both email and letters to be the
same. The font/typeface/white space/logo/layout of your annual appeal need to
be the same in email and direct mail. And the message is the SAME.
What’s your budget for the campaign? How far can you stretch your
dollars? How much will it cost to print everything? Can you thank your donors
this well and this thoroughly? Some gurus recommend eliminating a fundraising
brochure with the letter. (Jerry Panas) They think it’s more personal if you
simply write a really good personal letter, because the brochure feels more
anonymous and too slick. Can you save money by eliminating the brochure? Spend
the money you save on a professional fundraising writer! Can you consider an
additional appeal outside your budget if it will more than pay for itself – and
generate a significant boost to your bottom line?
I’ve struggled with the idea of an “offer” in fundraising. But
it’s what the brilliant direct mail copywriters all talk about. The fundraising
“offer” is — the thing you are you asking the donors to fund.
going to ask donors to fund “general unrestricted?” (boring and very, very
it be for something specific that donors can really latch on to? (much
Kivi Leroux Miller
recommends that we focus on raising money for a
specific project in our appeals. That’s what grabs a donor’s attention!
How will you segment your list? You probably should pull off a
certain group for face to face calls. (Yes!) If you start now, you can
design a message that will resonate with your donors. Will you send a special set of appeals to non-donors
vs donors? How will you solicit lapsed donors? Or last year’s gala attendees?
Or mothers of school age children? Or former board members? Consider all
the ways you can segment your list and make a plan now.
8. Your Board Members?
What role will your board members play? Will they make some face
to face calls with staff? Will they make thank you phone calls? Will they hold house
parties asking for in-kind gifts? Will they send email appeals to their own
networks? Be sure you activate them!
9. Thank you’s?
How will you promptly thank your donors? Will you find seven ways
to thank your donors so they’ll give again when asked? Will you organize a team
of board members to make prompt thank you calls when gifts are received?
How will you evaluate your campaign? Will you compare your results
to last year’s as a % increase? Will you evaluate the average size of gift or
the number of gifts or both? Don't forget to build some key face-to-face visits
into your year-end plan. Will you measure your renewal rate? Lapsed donors?
(some pundits say this is your MOST important indicator.) How will you measure
raise a ton of money. . . but you can do it only with a carefully