It’s October so your annual campaign is already in gear. However, after the rush of printing and stuffing, or segmenting and emailing, you may have a short time to review your strategy. Here are some thoughts that I have after having run a successful annual giving campaign (we averaged a 27% increase every year for 5 years)
Make the ask consistent with what they gave to last year. If a donor gave from an email campaign in November, then solicit her in November using email first. It’s a punishment to ask someone to renew in a way that’s convenient to you.
Here are some ideas for accomplishing some of my suggestions.
Ask the Way They Gave
Before the season (or your next appeal) starts, smart code prospects according to how they gave last year. If they gave to direct mail, code them with this year’s direct mail appeal. Stagger your direct mail, even if it means more work. Send solicitations about 30 days before the same date as their gift last year – my analysis for several organizations showed that direct mail gets returns for 30 to 60 days from the mailing date.
Also consider asking for the fund that they gave to last year. Asking someone who gave to cafeteria chairs last year to give to the unrestricted fund this year can feel manipulative. If someone wants to fund cafeteria chairs, then he gets to – and your offices get the old chairs if need be.
Smart coding is possible in all of the databases that I’ve used. You can assign an appeal code to renewals that match their giving last year, and then assign your regular appeal codes to everyone else.
There have been a couple of firms building toolkits for nonprofits to customize communication. However, even Microsoft Word merge can handle if/then statements that would populate bits of a correspondence (yes, even email or text). The more personalized you can be, the more you make it obvious that you see the person you are soliciting. All of the suggestions that I list below can be smart coded.
Personalization can include:
Find the Messaging that Resonates