Sunday, December 7, 2008

Urgent - fundraisers, read this and act!

This multiple bullet point plan is for all fundraisers who work in countries that celebrate Christmas and have a holiday or Christmas appeal mailing (or emailing) out there.

Regardless of how the appeal is doing, follow these simple tips and you will add 5% to 40% onto your income - extra money for helping beneficiaries in 2009.

There is a barrier though, and a difficult one for most fundraisers. You need to talk to some donors - I mean actually speak with them. But the telephone gives us one of the most powerful fundraising tools ever.

This plan is built on three premises:

  1. The Pareto Principle. 80% of your appeal income is likely to come from just 20% of your donors. And over 50% is likely to come from just 5% of your donors.

  2. Your past donors are lovely people, who care a lot about you and they like to be thanked and appreciated.

  3. Inertia. More donors intend to give that actually give. After receiving your mailing they may become distracted or forget - they simply don't get around to it.
Here is the plan:
Part I: Immediate action required

  1. Organise a team of people (if you can't get anyone else, still crack on with it yourself) and invite them for one or two evenings next week to stay late (or come in late) and join you from about 5pm to 8pm. The team does not have to just be fundraisers, get CEO, board members, sevice providers, your mum and their mums.

  2. Organise pizza / curry / snacks / drinks / treats / nice things for the evenings that have been agreed
Part II: Next week - preparation

  1. Do a selection from your database of people that were mailed. Use this criteria:
    - Gave last Christmas, but not this Christmas
    - They have a phone number, and have not forbidden you from calling

  2. 'Rank' them by size of gift last Christmas

  3. Print out the list, in order, of the top 200. Make sure you include in the printout any additional donations made by each of those donors in 2008

Part III: Next week - the brief

Brief your team (or if by yourself, use a mirror) on the following

  1. The three premises above (Pareto Principle, donors are nice, and more intend to give than actually give)

  2. The fact that we are now going to call all the best donors that gave last Christmas, but not this Christmas.

    In the call you need to get across these points:

  1. Thank you. You are wonderful. Your most recent gift of x was really appreciated.

  2. A short story about someone or something that benefited from their last gift NOT statistics, but an actual story and preferable in first person. "I met a young man with cancer called Phillipe and this is what it meant to him" is better than "Let me tell you about a young man with cancer called Phillipe and..." but the latter is better than statistics. If you are not a people charity, then use your imagination but talk about the beneficiary of their donation.

  3. Ask them if they recall your Christmas appeal sent recently.

  4. Remind them about the case study in the appeal (if there wasn't a case study, there should have been so you really need to do these calls right now - and you need to hire someone who can make sure next appeal has one).

  5. Ask them what they thought about the appeal, if they read it.

  6. Ask them if they were going to donate (nearly all will say they intend or intended to) - if they say they have already given, thank them and tell them you will look out for it.

  7. If they don't say they have already donated, then thank them and tell them that you can take the donation by credit card now on the phone if convenient. Most will decline.

  8. Obviously, if they say OK, process the donation but for those who don't pay by credit card don't worry, just say you will look out for their donation.

  9. Sit back and wait for a big boost to your response rate and average donation from your best donors.

  10. The best, long term thinking strategic fundraisers will then call donors again when they receive the donation.
To hear how a call can and should be done, click on the video link below.

Happy Christmas!

Sean Triner


Kimberley MacKenzie said...

Very useful Sean. Your collegue Jonathon Grapsas in Canada suggested this awhile back. At the time I said "yeah I need to do that!"

Now, I'm tired and ready for holiday but you are right we have to do this and we need to do it I will.
Thanks for the KICK!
Oh - I forgot to click on the "hire someone" does the Pareto website pop up by any chance?

Conor Byrne said...

great post Sean...great title me reading straight away!

Kimberley MacKenzie said...

Okay - I'm sorry that you hear from me almost exclusively! I have to tell you this. We are ready to start calling and my team and I just actually went back to this post. Sean the first time I was too busy to actually listen to the call but we all just did it together! What a lovely phone call. Really heart warming. I have to rewrite my script now! Thanks pareto folks.

Kristiana R. Kocis said...

Hi Sean- I was lured here by Conor Byrne's posting of your post. I have to admit, I've reduced my telephone interaction to thank you calls only. We always have a donor "thank a thon" in early December for anyone who has given over a certain amount during the year. Our differing uses of the phone probably speaks to our different constituencies, locations, etc.

In December, I follow up with our "major donors" by delivering poinsettias and holiday cards then sending a very colorful, localized mailer the following week. I have seen amazing results with this approach although when I first started the poinsettia drop off, I though people would flip!

Please keep in touch and keep the info coming!

Anonymous said...

Government organisations usually tell us to be wary of unsolicited requests for credit card details as there is a high percentage of fraud. Who knows whose at the other end of the line? It's a sad fact of life but reality.

What's your response to this?

'Sean is always learning' said...

Hi anonymous
When calling people who are already donors you you have inside knowledge about their donations etc. For many this is enough to trust you, but of course there will always be some who don't trust you. Fair enough. But fundraising is a numbers game, and calling 1,000 donors will maybe get 100 to 300 people to donate - most importantly they will all have had a good call telling them how wonderful they are.

Bottom line - it works, so fundraisers, please do it.

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