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Archive for July, 2011


The Next 30 Days

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I have a friend who became a vegetarian.  For 30 days.  As a meat lover, that makes me shudder.  But it’s only 30 days, right!?!?

Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google, gave a talk at this year’s TED conference about 30-day challenges.  He argues that you can set a 30-day goal and it’s just the right amount of time to make it both achievable as well as potentially putting you on the road to a new lifestyle.

What could you do for 30 days? Professionally? Personally?

Here are a few ideas for you:
-Call a donor every day for 30 days. Just say thank you.
-Even better, call 30 donors a day for 30 days!
-Write a personal handwritten appeal to acquire a new donor every day for 30 days.
-Tell at least one member of your team how much you value them every day for 30 days.
-Tell yourself the same thing every day for 30 days.
-Set aside one hour a day just to think about ‘big ideas’ for your organization every day for 30 days.

That’s just a start. The clock is ticking and the next 30 days starts. . . right. . . . NOW!

Category : Uncategorized | Blog

“$8 of every $10 raised comes from direct mail” - or something like that.

I came across this statistic recently and couldn’t decide if I believed it or not.  With some digging and the help of my friends at Google, I found the data was referencing an old Target Analytics report.  It failed to mention the numerous caveats the report made about the data coming from mostly mass marketing shops and that it was looking at a particular niche of nonprofits and giving levels.  That would have just made things messy, I guess.

Even with that in mind, nonprofits everywhere are missing great opportunities to generate significant growth by building real relationships with donors.  I’m not sure if it’s because they see direct mail as ‘easy’ money or if they’re simply satisfied with the revenue and ROI it provides.  Mail just seems to be in ‘the comfort zone’ and as long as they can keep the lights on, they’re happy.  But they’ll never transform themselves to the next level as long as they think this way.

I’m amazed that a nonprofit would think nothing of investing large sums of money into another 250,000 piece mass mailing, but shudder at the thought of investing in a frontline fundraiser.  Call them a major gift officer, planned giving officer, development officer, whatever.  I’m talking about a real live person to get out and meet with donors and prospective donors.  These frontline fundraisers aren’t cheap, and you need to pay for pesky things like travel and lodging, but in the long run they should provide a terrific return on your investment.

I’m a fan of direct mail and all the other annual giving channels, but I also understand that a healthy development program needs to nurture and grow it’s most generous donors.  It’s the only way to achieve significant increases in revenue.  Ultimately, just a handful of those donors should be able to give far more than the rest of the population of your donor base.  How many mailings and $10 and $15 checks do you need to get to equal just one ‘major gift’?  Or an estate plan that leaves your organization 50% of a sizable estate?  Let me do the math for you:  LOTS!

Engaging a donor fully and building a relationship that may result in a gift with many zeroes before the decimal point takes time.  Perhaps that’s the biggest hurdle – the return on investment for a highly paid frontline fundraiser may be measured in months or years, not days or weeks.  But if you plant the seeds and nurture the relationships with your donors, the fruits of your labor will be many.




Admission:  That last cheesy ‘fruits of your labor’ line was included just so I could use an old photo I had planned on using for a different post.  I couldn’t help myself!!!



Category : Uncategorized | Blog