Halloween was this past weekend and we turned deep into the dark side.Â Goulies and ghosties walked the streets in my neighborhood.
So letâ€™s turn to the dark side of your year-end fundraising campaign â€“ and shine a light on mistakes many organizations make.
Hereâ€™s my Top 10 list of ways to sabotage your year-end fundraising effort.
1.Â Send a letter thatâ€™s hard to read, with ponderous sentences, long paragraphs and no white space.Â (This fails the â€œeasy to readâ€ test, which is the first hurdle for your reader, who is skimming your prose for the highlights only.)
2.Â Send a letter much like last yearâ€™s with tired messaging, no visuals, no metaphors, no stories.Â Your reader is unlikely to keep reading if it is not interesting.Â You are not writing an academic treatise; instead you are writing marketing copy.
3.Â Bury The Ask deep inside a paragraph at the end of a sentence. (Your reader must be able to easily find out how much you are asking for and for what purpose.)
4.Â Donâ€™t include aÂ reply envelope. (youâ€™d be surprised how many organizations leave out this VITAL component â€“ you have to make it easy for people to give!)
5.Â Donâ€™t update your web site. (Studies show that donors â€“ even those who give by writing a check and sending it in the mail â€“ will most often check out your web site to research you before they give.Â And your website MUST look professional and up-to-date!)
6. Only send out one appeal letter. (this is the kiss of death for many campaigns.Â Studies show that one letter will typically get a 15% response â€“ NOT enough to make your year-end goal. Your donors are too busy and need repeated reminders. And no, it is not tacky to keep reminding them!)
7.Â Donâ€™t do phone followup. Studies show that a followup phone call can double your results.
8.Â Donâ€™t do an email push to non-donors the last two days of December. Studies show that a majority of on-line donors give in December and most of them are on the last two days of December.
9. Donâ€™t send a PROMPT, warm, personal thank you immediately to your donors. And â€œwarm, personalâ€ does not mean â€œon behalf of the board of directors we thank you for blah blahâ€ â€“ this impersonal bunk doesnâ€™t warm your donorâ€™s heart.
10. Donâ€™t have your board members call donors to thank them within 24 hours of the giftâ€™s receipt. Penelope Burkâ€™s landmark studies showed that when board members made this type of followup call, then subsequent gifts from the donors rose by 39%!