I had the privilege of teaching at the South Sound AFP chapter a few nights ago. The group was made up of young professionals, several of whom had been fundraising for less than 6 months.
We walked through fundraising’s Virtuous Circle. A “virtuous circle” is a chain of events that reinforces itself through a feedback loop. Here’s what it looks like in fundraising:
- Asking donors to solve a problem with their gift,
- Thanking them promptly and emotionally,
- Reporting back to them on how their gift made a difference.
Doing those three things well, one at a time, and in the correct order causes donors to trust your organization. This makes it more likely they’ll give to your next appeal, and stay donors for years and years.
I asked the group how many of their organizations Reported back to donors. **Only one person raised their hand.** Only one organization in the whole room was completing the circle.
I’ll do a longer post about fundraising’s virtuous circle later, but for now let’s focus on the incredible opportunity this presents for you and your organization. If your donor is giving to (on average) 7 to 10 different charities – but your organization is the only one does a great job showing her what her gifts have done, what do you think will happen? Here’s the short list:
- Your donors will stick with you for longer
- Your newsletters will raise money
- Your response rates to appeals will increase
- Even event income goes up
I think every fundraiser needs to learn (or be reminded of) this fundamental part of fundraising. Letting your donors’ know what their gifts have done is both honoring and a huge opportunity to raise more money to do more good.
Over the past few weeks we have blogged about how to Report back to your donors using donor-centered newsletters.
As you set out to do the important job of Reporting, here’s a short list of the most powerful tips to make your next newsletter a blockbuster:
- It’s not about you! Try to connect your donor directly with the beneficiary and limit (or preferably eliminate entirely) any organizational or institutional news.
- Make it easy to scan and still get the message. Most donors have limited time to engage with your material. If they open your mailings, most are just scanning your newsletter for the highlights. Really make sure your main message is in your headlines and picture captions – the things most likely to get red. Don’t hide the good news at the end of an article!
- While the newsletter is primarily a reporting vehicle, you should still ask for money. Good newsletters raise lots of money! Balance the reporting and fundraising to give the donor great information about the impact of their giving and the chance to continue participating with your mission. On a 4-page newsletter I do 3 pages of Reporting and use 1 page to present a need that donor can meet with a gift today.
Keep this list in front of you as you build your next newsletter. It will help you “keep the main thing the main thing” – and build a newsletter that Reports and raises money!
Your donors are waiting to hear from you. They want to know what their gift accomplished, so it is your responsibility to tell them.
In this video you will learn how to report back to your donors the amazing things they accomplished because they gave your organization a gift. You will also learn specific design and copy elements that will make your newsletter great and ultimately raise more money.
By the end of the video you will know how to tell compelling human-sized stories by leveraging the power of pictures, headlines and picture captions.
Watch the video now. In just 5 minutes you will know how to improve your next newsletter.