Thank You Letter Checklist [free download]

So your year end appeal is written and off to the mail house…You’ve setup some pre-holiday visits with your key donors. Lapsed donor lists are printed and you’re checking the daily. What else can you do to boost fundraising before the end of the year?

Have you read your standard gift acknowledgement letter lately? Is it actually enjoyable to read? Has it been updated in the last six months? Is it donor centric?

Check out this great Thank You Letter Checklist from my pals at Agents of Good and see if your letter is up the task of making your donors feel amazing.

DOWNLOAD HERE

5 Big Reasons Donors Leave (John Haydon)

We’ve all seen the (horrible) donor retention numbers for most nonprofits. Most of us have said “Whew … at least mine isn’t that bad!” But we can all certainly do better.

There are tons of stewardship techniques out there. We all talk about spreading #donorlove. But do we ever really look at the root causes? Why do donors actually leave? Maybe if we tailor our approach to addressing these causes we’ll have more success.

Fundraising guru John Haydon does an excellent job of summarizing the “5 Big Reasons Donors Leave” in this post. And he provides actionable advice to address each of them. Happy reading!

READ THE ARTICLE

Survey Your Donors to Boost Retention

What’s one of the easiest ways to boost donor retention? That’s simple… survey your donors.

That old fundraising adage “ask your donors for money, you’ll get advice … ask your donors for advise, you’ll get money” is coming into play here.

But don’t make this a big complicated survey. A simple three to five question survey is perfect. No required answers … real simple. Even if they only answer one question it’s a win.

Even if they don’t respond (but they do open it), it can be a win. You took the time to ask for their advise. That is important.

Let them know that you are only surveying current donors because they make your programs happen (they are the heroes!).

It’s one more donor touch point that goes a long way toward proving that you value them as a person, not as a dollar sign.

Why You Need an Editorial Calendar

What is an editorial calendar? It is a document used to map out every communication for a set time period. Typically used for annual planning, this tool helps you address seasonal events, holidays, and not over (or under!) communicate on each item. Especially when it comes time to do a social media post, but also for your regular mail, keeping an editorial calendar helps you know what’s going on and therefore you don’t have to reinvent it every time.

SO, MULTI-CHANNEL CALENDARS

Well, the new twist with this is “multi-channel” calendars. So, rather than it just being your social media plan for the year (where you map out all your posts), OR your email blasts OR your newsletter – this new version suggests integrating everything on one page. And the beauty of this is that a lot of the content can be re-purposed and reused. Maybe you do a social media post with content which then ends up in your print newsletter. Maybe your event ads leading up to an event can then be used in multiple other areas. So, it really stops you from having to recreate materials because you can get more value, more places.

NEXT, USE A TEMPLATE!

The key to making all this work is planning. You can see how this can save you so much time down the line! It can really maximize your fundraising, and any kind of communication, at your nonprofit. So, how do you do it? You need a template. We love Excel for this because you can just kind of map out a grid and plug it in. And, of course, we have a free template to get you started! It has the weeks of the year and the typical channels that folks use. You can edit it and make it fit for your organization so that it gives you exactly what you need. That’s the tip for this week, fundraisers. Maximize an editorial calendar for your organization.


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Donor Update Call Script [free download]

Are you calling your donors to thank them for their support? Are your board members helping out? I certainly hope so, if not you are losing out as other nonprofits in town are connecting with your donors this way!

With donor thank you calls becoming more common these days, how do you stand out? Try donor update calls.

These calls are very similar to donor thank you calls, but they take place three to six months after the donation is made. We are once again calling to say thank you, but this time we have results to share. We have the proof that their donation made a difference and we simply want to share that with them.

Sound good? Read to pick up the phone? Nervous … here’s my Donor Update Call Script to help you out. Now go call some donors!

DOWNLOAD NOW

Are You Sabotaging Your Fundraising Just to Save a Buck?

Let’s talk about my least favorite tool in fundraising. I don’t even want to call it a tool, because I don’t think you should use it AT ALL. What is it? The Window Envelope.

Yes, window envelopes. They don’t belong in fundraising. What comes in window envelopes? Bills. Bills! Do you want your fundraising appeal to look like a bill when it comes? That’s just screaming, “Throw me in the trash!” No, we don’t want that. And what else do some organizations use them for? Gift acknowledgements or thank-you letters. That’s even worse! Do you want your thank-you letter to look like a bill? No, we don’t want that either.

Why do we use them? Well, it simplifies the process a little bit if we don’t have to also address the envelope – we can see through from the letter. Print shops have really convinced us that this is cheaper. Get it quoted, it’s usually not that much cheaper. And is the connotation that, “It might be a bill,” worth the minimal cost savings you get by using a window envelope? No.

So, I recommend getting them completely out of your nonprofit. Don’t use them anywhere, not even accounting. Just don’t use them! Get them out! It’s not worth the chance that your donors see that letter and think you’re billing them, or you’re invoicing them for their support. It’s just not worth it.

What do I think we should do with them? Check out the video above for some @fundraiserchad special effects.

#donorlove Newsletter Audit (with Agents of Good)

Do you send a printed newsletter? Does it boost donor loyalty and engagement? Is it serving your organization or is it just something you do because you’ve “always done it that way?”

Your donor newsletter needs to ooze with #donorlove and show your donors all the great things that THEY are accomplishing (not what your organization is accomplishing). Make them the hero and give them the credit.

It’s one thing to tell you how to do this and other to show you. My friends Jen Love and John Lepp at Agents of Good do just that in this #donorlove Newsletter Audit. Check it out and optimize your donor newsletter!

The Secret to Sending Prompt Thank You Notes

After we meet with a donor, prospect or volunteer; especially for the first time, we fundraisers have the best of intentions to send a thoughtful hand-written thank-you note. We truly appreciate the gift of time that the individual has given us and we want to sincerely thank them for it.  Plus, we know that most people don’t get many thank-you notes; especially hand-written ones, and we know the impact that they have on the recipient.

But what typically happens?  That’s right—life happens. We go to back to the office and get buried in the flood of emails that piled up while we were away. Or we head home and go right into dinner prep, homework help, dog walking or other activities. Even if we add “Write thank you note to Susan” to our to-do list, three days often go by before we get to it — and promptness is a big key to success with thank-you notes.

As a self-proclaimed productivity nerd, this scenario drove me nuts for the first five years of my fundraising career.  There had to be a better way to get these notes written and out promptly, without having them be just another stressor.

Finally, I found the solution.  And it’s simple:

  1. Keep a set of thank-you cards and pre-stamped envelopes with you at all times (in your briefcase, car, purse, etc.).
  2. Before going into your meeting set out a note (my favorite spot for this is the passenger seat of my car) and pre-address it if you have time.
  3. Immediately after the meeting, write the note.  Don’t put “Write thank-you note to Susan” on your to do list—actually write it! The details of your message will be fresh in your mind and it will be effortless.
  4. On your way into your house or office, drop the completed thank-you note into the outgoing mail.

That’s it, and it’s not rocket science. What does it require?  It requires you creating a new habit.  How long does that take?  Typically, 30-45 days.

So stick with it and eventually writing thank-you notes will go on autopilot for you. I’ve been doing this for over a decade now and haven’t stressed out about a single note, and I’ve never missed sending one either. And that has made a big difference with the donors that I’ve had the pleasure of working with to make this world a better place.

This post first appeared as a part of Advancing Philanthropy: Perspectives – a free membership benefit of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).  Check out more posts by @fundraiserchad for AFP.

Get on the “Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat Cycle” with Agents of Good

How do you split your time between the various fundraising activities in your annual fund?

Do you spend more time asking, thanking or reporting?

My friends at Agents of Good, Jen Love and John Lepp, spend a lot of time talking about this in their quest to promote #donorlove throughout the sector.

I had the honor of hosting them as the keynoters for the AFP Central PA conference a few years back (that’s us on their fabulous tour of Hershey’s Chocolate World). While in town, they penned this great, short blog post which really narrows in on where we should be spending our time (HINT: you’re probably not spending enough time on that last part). Check it out now.

Lynne Wester’s Stewardship Report Swap

Do you need to write a donor update or annual report?  Do you want to do something different but are feeling uninspired?

Well, today I share my go to source … Lynne Wester, the Donor Relations Guru.

Lynne conducts the annual Stewardship Report Swap.  This year she and her team received over 1,800 pages of stewardship report samples. These samples include endowment reports, customized top donor reports, annual reports, videos, websites, and more.  Lynne beautifully combines and categorizes them and then puts them out to the fundraising community for free.  Check them out (and her … she’s sassy fun and amazing … she was the first to coin the term “thask”).