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Every once in a while a charity asks me if they should spend less time and money on their thank yous, because they see them as just more admin.
You’ve probably heard me say this before: Thank Yous are income generators.
A good thank you can get a person to give again. A good thank you will increase the likelihood of donating the next time you ask. A good thank you will get passed around to friends and families and can help recruit new supporters.
Even with no ask, Thank You letters, e-mails and phone calls are really effective fundraisers. In fact, they’re my favourite form of fundraising. And they’re probably the most undervalued form of fundraising. Remember: retention is much much cheaper than recruitment.
Almost certainly, your organisation isn’t thanking enough.
Don’t even entertain the idea of cutting back on your thank yous…instead ask yourself (or me): How can we thank more? And how can we thank better?
Today I got one of my favourite thank yous ever, from Mike Elliott in Outreach Indiana. I made a small donation after my Pokémon teammate Steven Shattuck showed me what Mike was doing…
Mike uses a tool called Vidyard to record a completely personal and completely human thank you video, while showing images and screenshots of stuff relevant to the donor.
And while you’re at it, watch one of the thank yous they sent to Steven here.
For me, they sum up what a thank you should be: genuine, human, personal, relevant…and just damn lovely. A thank you should make you feel like your donation was noticed. And like it’ll make a difference.
That’s exactly what Mike has done. And that’s why his donors will keep coming back to him.
How’s your thank you journey looking?
Ooooo! Here’s a super helpful social media cheat sheet from Top 10 Website Hosting so that you can get all your images and logos looking right. It drives me nuts when I see stretched or cropped logos!
I’m just back from running a 2-day fundraising/strategy getaway in a weird little village somewhere in Norway. You can see some photos here. (I’m not under the false illusion that you care, but you really should consider coming next year as it was so beautiful and fun and productive).
What I wanted to share with you today was one of the constant messages we talked about in Norway, and one of the constant messages I seem to end up talking about with almost everyone I work with…
You don’t need everyone to care.
Trying to make everyone care, trying to make everyone understand and be aware, trying to get everyone to donate, trying to keep everyone happy…it’s inefficient. The time and money we spend trying to win the hearts of an entire population is much more effectively spent on the handful of people that are already leaning towards you.
- Talk to the companies and individuals that are already connected to you. Not necessarily the big names that are all over the papers, but the ones who have already crossed your path.
- Love the donors that already give to you. Get your thank-yous and retention right before you start spending time and money to bring new donors on board. Look after the donors that already care for you rather than trying to make everyone else care.
- Target your message. As Rory Green says, “It’s easier to make someone who cares give you money than make someone who has money start to care.”
How many times have you heard a charity say, “If everyone in the country just gave $1!”?
Forget it…it’s not going to happen. But a small cluster of people giving larger chunks of money…that happens every day. That’s how you hit your targets and how you achieve your goals.
That’s good fundraising.
You know that feeling? When you write to your mailing list and someone unsubscribes? Your stomach turns, your eyes water up, and for a brief moment you consider e-mailing them to ask, “Why don’t you love me anymore?”
But remember, good fundraising isn’t about making everyone care about you…it’s about caring for the few that do.
Unsubscribing isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
If the alternative is for someone to sit on your mailing list indefinitely, never engaging, never taking action, then wouldn’t you rather be rid of them? In fact, Jon Lloyd at Fundraising Is Awesome said recently, “you should think seriously about actively unsubscribing anyone who’s been inactive for 3 months or more.”
While you mull that over, here’s 4 ways you can reduce the chances of your active readers from unsubscribing:
- Be Human
The more human your e-mail sounds and appears, the less likely we are to unsubscribe. Nobody unsubscribes from humans…we unsubscribe from organisations. You can do this by writing from an individual e-mail address as opposed to an ‘info’ or ‘fundraising’ address. Consider sending plain text e-mails sometimes, or at least reducing the bells, whistles, images and excessive formatting (please stop centring your text). Read the content out loud before you send it…if it doesn’t sound like the way you speak then change it.
- Segment Your Data
Where possible, segment your data so you’re sending relevant content to relevant people. Or at least, suppressing people who have no interest in a particular mail. For example, I’m on the mailing list of a organisation because I went to their event in Dublin. I’m interested in future events taking place in Dublin. But they keep sending me e-mails about their events being run by their chapters in places like London and Yorkland and Sandwich-Upon-Time. The chances of me being there are slim to none. But if they do insist on trying to cross-sell me then they should tack it in as part of a mail I will be interested in: “Here’s the next Dublin event…and you might also be interested in these.” But instead they’re sending me mails wholly dedicated to non-local events. It just takes one of these irrelevant e-mails to nudge me to unsubscribe…and then I’m gone forever.
- E-mail When You Have Something To Say
Rather than deciding to e-mail once a week or once a month and then scrambling to find content, consider keeping a more flexible schedule where you e-mail when you have good content. When you send out fluff to meet a deadline, you’re sending sub-standard e-mails that encourage unsubscribes. And if you don’t have enough good content then let’s work to gather and create more.
- Offer Value
Always ask yourself, what value am I providing to the reader? Donor-centred and #DonorLove rules. If you’ve won an award or achieved something, consider why the reader should care. Try shifting the tone from “we have won an award” to “because of you we have won an award”, or even better, “your support has been recognised and we were privileged to pick up this award on behalf of you!”
Join us for an intensive two days of work to lift your fundraising
We have put together a two day intensive program – in the moutnains, away from your everyday job – where some of the best strategist in the fundraising world will help you improve your fundraising and your messaging to give your organisation a real boost.
Simon Scriver and Kevin Delaney – both well known fundraising speakers who have built fundraising operations in organisations large and small – will lead us through two intensive and effective days to make sure you go home with a plan. Beate Sørum (who’s the one inviting you all) will join us as well and help out.
Our team has a more than three decades of combined fundraising experience, from dozens of organisations. They plan to push you, your organisation and your fundraising.
Through a combination of teaching, interrogation, workshops, discussions and hard work we will help you break through the noise of your day to day work to see the very core of your organisation.
En kombinasjon av foredrag, forhør, workshop, diskusjoner og hardt arbeid vil hjelpe deg til å bryte litt ut av hverdagsstøyen og finne nye innfallsvinkler i arbeidet.
- Need to source new donors?
- Need to communicate better to the public?
- Need to raise lots of money but have no budget?
- Need to identify a new direction or focus?
- Need to grow and expand your service?
Exclusive and effective
To make sure you get the most out of your time and money, this event is limited to 15 participants. This way, we make sure the experts have all the time they need to work directly with everyone. At the same time, you’ll connect with a small group of likeminded people to stay in touch with for help and support going forward
Where we are going – away from the city
We’ll take you to the magical little village of Vingelen, a small mountain community in Hedmark county in Norway. About 500 people live here. We will sleep and work at Vingelsgaard Guest House – a several hundred year old log house farm, now rebuilt to house a conference venue and guest rooms.
We’ll make sure we stress down while we’re filling up our brains, so we’re adding some outings, tastes of the (very) local artisanal food productions, and trips around the village. Maybe we’ll even splurge for a horse and sled with torches – weather allowing. Regardless, you will be enjoying the crystal clear mountain air, sparkling snow and natural beauty all along.
Pricing and practical information
5. march: We leave Oslo on a train at 14.34. You may also choose a train leaving 16.34, but you would be travelling without guides (we’ll pick you up at the station), and you won’t make it to dinner.
6. march: A full day of working, followed by dinner and social activities
7. march: A full day of working, before we take the train back to Oslo at 16.43, arriving in Oslo at 19.26.
The getaway costs NOK 9.900 (approx. €1030, £900 at the time of writing, Jan. 24th). Since we believe the best work happens when more minds are collaborating, we’ll shave NOK 2.000 off of the price for participant nr. 2 and more from the same organisation. So feel free to bring a colleague!
The price includes your room for the nights, transport, and all activities in Vingelen. Traintickets from Oslo to Tolga and back are not included, and must be purchased separately. We’re happy to help you book them though – just let us know, and we will get your tickets and invoice them along with the rest of your booking. You will have to manage any transport to and from Oslo.
Registering is binding, but do feel free to fill your seat with someone else’s bum if you find you can’t make it 🙂
We will be both sleeping and working at the amazing VIngelsgaard Guest House. There are 10 rooms, and if it fills up, we’ll have to share. The rooms that would be shared have single beds
Vingelen is in the region of Røros, known among other things for the award winning Røros Food Coop. We will incoroporate much of the local food while we are there, and we will visit the cheese dairy Eggen Gardsysteri. Their cheeses won both gold and silver in the recent World Cheese awards in 2017.
Our strategists – your team
Simon Scriver helps good charities do better fundraising. An award-winning fundraising consultant, coach, and trainer, he helps charities of all sizes do amazing things with little time and little budget. Simon helps his client bring in new donors, build relationships, and keep their supporters giving. He is obsessed with Donor Love…and Twitter.
Working with small and large charities all over the world, he speaks regularly at international conferences and delivers on-line and off-line fundraising training. He is the only person in Ireland with a CFRE, a Diploma in Fundraising and a Certificate in Fundraising. Simon is a board member of a small non-profit ‘Making Connections’, sits on the Advisory Panel of Rogare, the international fundraising think tank, and is a member of the Institute of Fundraising and the AFP.
A professional fundraiser and nonprofit leader for over a decade. Kevin is a believer in the ability of a few passionate people to make a difference in the world, but even the biggest hearts needs a helping hand. Years of fundraising, nonprofit management and training experience working with nonprofits on three continents allows him to understand the problems you are facing. He is passionate about helping you solve the biggest challenges facing our society today.
Kevin is the Founder of Academy Street Workshop who provide tailored, expert advice, problem solving and training to nonprofits. He is also a full time professional fundraiser with a nonprofit in Ireland as well as an experienced fundraising tutor who has delivered training and workshops around the world.
Beate – or Bea for the non-Scandinavians out there – owns and runs b.bold, and she’s the one who’s invited you all along to this remote village. Beate is passionate about fundraising, and tries her best to make sure fundraisers are always at the top of their game. Through b.bold, Beate has worked with many different organisations to strengthen their fundraising work. She previously worked for the Norwegian Cancer Society for 6 years, where she started and ran the digital fundraising work. She is a member of the board of the Norwegian Fundraising Association.
Beate loves Vingelen, and really hopes she gets to show you the little fairytale village. She knows you’ll fall in love with both the place and hopefully your fundraising 🙂
Get in touch with Beate by phone +47 986 23 650, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
So I did a TED talk…
No two fundraisers are the same, of course. When I’m working with a Fundraising Coaching client we obviously deal with a lot of unique issues and work to come up with tailored answers.
But there are common themes.
I wanted to share some of the recurring recommendations I’ve given to pretty much all of my individual clients. So here you go…7 easy ways for you to become a better fundraiser this year:
- Meet Other Fundraisers
Fundraisers are really generous with their time and knowledge. Find a couple that do a similar role as you in a different organisation and take them out for a coffee. You can help each other.
- Join A Board
Yes, even you. It doesn’t matter if you feel too young or too inexperienced, there is so much you can offer a non-profit by becoming a volunteer Board member. As a fundraiser, they’re lucky to have you. For you, it’s great on your CV, you learn loads, and it’s great for networking. More than that, you’ll see fundraising from a different perspective and you’ll be better equipped to tackle your CEO and Board in your own organisation.
- Join Fundraising Chat on Facebook
One of my favourite on-line resources – throw out a question and you’ll get a bunch of intelligent replies. Why make mistakes that others have already made?
- Mystery Shop Other Charities
Join some mailing lists and make some donations. See what others are sending out and get inspired.
- Get A Volunteer or Intern and Use Them
If your organisation can afford to hire staff for you then great. But if not, consider asking your supporters if anyone would like to volunteer. Get them to relieve you of some of the admin that takes up your time. Tell them and teach them about your fundraising strategy: you benefit from having to explain to someone else because it makes you get organised and structured. And they can almost certainly add some great ideas.
- Have More Conversations With Your Supporters
As Tony Elischer said, fundraising is about dialogue and not monologue. Pick up the phone to more supporters, organise more face-to-face meetings and send out more e-mail. Ask questions. Do it for me today: send an e-mail to your mailing list asking people why they support what you do.
- Get Learning
There’s a bunch of fundraising conferences I’d recommend (come say hello!) but if you don’t have the budget or can’t get to them then there are cheaper alternatives. Have a look at my on-line courses which are cheap or free, with more coming this year.