Fundraising Appeal Editable Template [free download]

Need a head start on your next fundraising appeal?

Start with @fundraiserchad’s free editable template. It will show you what goes where and help you remember to include some of the key components to optimized fundraising appeals.

DOWNLOAD HERE

This template is just one of the components of our Fundraising Appeals Toolkit. This toolkit give you the instruction, resources and inspiration to create a fully optimized fundraising appeal for your nonprofit organization (all for just $89 … the ROI is incredible)!

Should You Give Your Donors an Incentive for Giving?

Video Transcription:

I want to talk a little bit about donor incentives … the stuff you get when you make a donation. If I get asked about this, I almost always say, “It’s not a great idea.” Because you don’t want to set that precedent – you don’t want your donors to think that in order to make a donation there has to be something tangible in it for them. You want them to give because they want to make an impact, because they want to change the world. That’s what we’re after. But sometimes there are exceptions….

The most notable exceptions are my friends at public media stations. They have fallen into that trap where it’s, “Make a donation and you get this boxed CD set,” or, perhaps at Valentine’s Day, “Make a donation and we’ll send a dozen roses to a person of your choice.” They are deep into that and they have some donors who won’t give unless they’re going to get something in return. So using that as an example I almost always say, “Don’t do it!” But, you have got to know your audience, which brings me to something that happens in my house every year. A campaign where we actually give to get the stuff.

In the video I’m out camping with two special guests. They are my boys, and I asked them about when we give to a certain fundraiser specifically in order to GET something. They go on to explain how every year they participate in Jump Rope for Heart. Jump Rope for Heart knows their audience well and they give very specific “bling” incentives for giving and participating! So, they go into the schools with activities and they know that the kids want the “bling,” or prizes. You have to give to get. My boys have lanyards and in the video you can see their extensive collections of these incentives. And then we talk about maybe we should just give to the food pantry or something like that. And we do, but we still give to get the bling. We love that bling!

So, there you have it. Ultimately, you’ve got to know your audience. For some of you it may work, but for most of you it’s a trap that you really want to avoid.

Monthly Donor Conversion Request Template [free download]

Monthly donors. They sound great, right? Predictable, recurring, consistent revenue. {cue fundraiser drooling}

But how do you get them? How do you get your current donors to convert (upgrade) to monthly donors? Simple … you ask.

However, it needs to be a direct, personalized ask. Not a generic upgrade email about the your monthly donor program. I’m talking about a personalized email or letter specifically asking them to make the switch. I like to call it a win-win letter. You tell them what’s in it for them and what’s in it for you. And you personalize the request by using their name, adding a note, etc. It should look like personal correspondence.

In my experience, this approach is far more successful than generic requests. However, it often takes several tries. So keep at it and ask folks to consider this at least once a year.

Oh, and feel free to speed this process up by starting with my template.

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.

Lori Jacobwith’s 7 Rules of Storytelling

Lori Jacbowith is the Queen of Nonprofit Storytelling. I’ve seen her live and in action as she trains fundraisers (which I highly recommend). She can teach anyone to tell a better story which creates interest and moves donors closer to action … sometimes in as few as 6 words!

Here are her 7 Rules of Storytelling in an expertly produced infographic. Check it out … this is one area where we can always improve!

5 Steps to Smarter Fundraising

5 Steps to Smarter Fundraising

Are you confused about where to start with fundraising? Are you overwhelmed with all of the options out there? Are you ready to focus and see better results?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to use every possible fundraising technique. In fact, you will do better if you don’t. But where should you focus your effort?

Download this FREE GUIDE by @fundraiserchad: “Five Steps to Smarter Fundraising” for the answer.

Make the Donor the Hero of Your Organization’s Story

Make the Donor the Hero of Your Organization’s Story

This post is a shout out to my fundraising writing mentor, Tom Ahern.  Tom specializes in applying the discoveries of psychology and neuroscience to the day-to-day business of inspiring and retaining donors.

About three years ago, I heard Tom say “your donors don’t care about your campaign goal” and it was transformative for me.  I had been putting campaign goals in my appeal letters for years (e.g. “We’re only $15,000 away from our goal, with your help we can meet it before our fiscal year ends!”).  But research has shown that donors don’t really care about our fundraising goals — especially prospective donors.  Yes, helping an organization reach their goal might be nice, but the goal doesn’t belong to the donor so in the end they just really don’t care about it that much.

But Tom has found that it goes a bit further than just your goals that donors don’t care that much about.  They don’t care all that much about organizational accomplishments either.  Things like be re-accredited, finalizing a new strategic plan or hiring a great new staff member seem like big reportable news stories, but in the end donors aren’t that interested.  Thanks for crushing our dreams, Tom!

So what do donors care about?  They care about themselves.  Not in a selfish way, but in how they help your organization succeed.  They want to know what difference their support makes.  The impact their donation has on your ability to fulfill your mission.

Another great line and tactic by Tom is to “make the donor the hero of your organization’s story.”  This is actually pretty easy to do, you just use the word “you” a ton throughout your correspondence.  Lines like “With your support …” and “Because of you  …” are great ways to say what happened, but to clearly state that it’s the donor that made it happen.  They are the hero of this story, not you or your organization.  Without them, none of it would be possible.

So take a look at your last appeal letter and see how you did.  When I review letters for clients, about 50% of them still talk about the campaign goal and 80% of them don’t have enough “yous” in the text.

Ban Window Envelopes from Your Fundraising

Ban Window Envelopes from Your Fundraising

Window envelopes and fundraising just don’t mix.  Period.

The key to fundraising is to build relationships.  Window envelopes don’t build relationships.  Window envelopes tell people that they have a bill to pay or someone is trying to sell them something that they probably don’t want.

No place is this more true than with gift acknowledgments and thank you letters.  If we had the time, we’d hand address these and make them as personal as possible.  Window envelopes take them in the exact opposite direction.  Even if you are seeking payment on a pledge or sending an acquisition appeal, window envelopes are not a good option.

Because of the philanthropic community’s focus on nonprofit efficiency and low expense ratios, the temptation to use window envelopes is always there.  They are a less expensive option since they save the cost of printing addresses on the envelope and any hand matching that would need to be done between the letter and the envelope.  Most print reps will suggest this to you as a way of cutting costs.  However, you need to say “NO” — the connotation is not worth the cost savings.

While this is all backed up by research and window envelopes do decrease donor response, that’s really not the key factor here.  What’s important is how you make your donors feel.  Window envelopes should come from your donor’s water company, not from a cause that they are passionate about.  And if they are giving despite your behavior/treatment, it certainly won’t inspire them to give more.

So, isn’t it time to remove window envelopes from your office?  That’s actually a fun Friday afternoon activity … go find all of the window envelopes and hide/pitch/burn them!  I don’t even like nonprofit accounting departments using them … it’s an organizational culture kind of thing.  It’s one time where the efficiency gained is not worth the price you end up paying.