Your newsletter: The most powerful way to report

Now is a great time for you to report back to your donors and show them how their recent donation was used to make the world a better place. Your primary aim when reporting is to close the loop with the donor and show her how the problem you presented to her when you asked her for a gift has now been solved.

Reporting can take various forms including, but not limited to, in-person visits, phone calls, personal notes, letter from the executive director or video update.

Even with all of these great resources at your fingertips, your newsletter is still the most powerful way to report. It is a proven vehicle for delivering completed stories. If designed correctly, it will send a strong message to your donor that she made a big impact on your beneficiaries.

Without a doubt, delivering a donor-centric newsletter is the key to reporting success. Here’s why:

  • It puts the spotlight on the donor and the role she played in helping someone in need. When you write about your donor and tell her how great she is, her level of trust and connection with your organization increases.
  • Now that her trust and connection has increased, she is more likely to give you another gift and in some cases increase her giving. Increased retention and increased giving is an outcome of great reporting!
  • We know that donors are busy, so sending them a newsletter that is easy to read and full of great pictures and picture captions, is an efficient way to report back to your donors. They don’t need to wade through a long, detailed report. In a matter of seconds they feel great about their past giving.

The big picture thinking here is donors want to be reminded they made a good decision by giving to you. The most powerful and proven way for you to remind them is to send them a stream of great communications, including a donor-centric newsletter. Publishing them on a regular basis will send a strong message that you care about your donors, that you have good news to share, and that there is more work to be done.

Your newsletter is the most powerful way to report back to you donors, so do all you can to create and deliver the best newsletter possible.

5 Ways To Report Back To Donors With Newsletters

When I was a young fundraiser, over two decades ago, I thought fundraising was sales. I had to sell major donors the case for support and do my best to move them to give a charitable gift.

I quickly realized this was a negative equation. I was taking from the donor but never really giving back. It was then I felt the need to report back to the donor, telling them how great they were for making the world a better place, but I didn’t know how to deliver this content.

Over the years I have found the best vehicle for reporting back to donors is your organization’s newsletter. If your newsletter is designed with the donor in mind and it communicates a strong sense of how important her role is in changing the world via your organization — magic happens! Your donor feels great about their recent gift and deepens their trust in you and your organization.

When using newsletters to report to major donors, I try to leverage these five elements. They have worked really well. Here they are.

  1. You don’t need to create a separate newsletter or report for your major donors. Use the same newsletter you create for your mass donors. This will save you time and money.
  2. Show your major donors that you spent time preparing the newsletter and outer envelope. Don’t fold the newsletter. Larger packages gain attention in the mail. Since you didn’t fold the newsletter you can deliver it in a large outer envelope. Hand address the envelope and use a real stamp to deliver it!
  3. You aren’t going to send a special newsletter (point #1) but you can draft a special, custom cover letter to include with the newsletter. Address the letter to your donor, tell your donor how great you think they are, and thank them for making the world a better place.
  4. If there is a special article or section of the newsletter you want to bring to their attention, then use a post-it note, paperclip, or highlighter to mark that section of the newsletter. In your cover letter, tell the donor why you marked that section for them.
  5. As a major gift fundraiser you are always looking for a good reason to contact the donor, so call them prior to the newsletter being delivered to let them know it is on its way! During your call you can say the same things you say in the cover letter.

Just know that your major donors are people that care deeply about your mission. They care about your work and the people you serve. They care about all of this so much that they are even willing to send you money so that your good work can continue! They deserve something in return for their gift and the newsletter is the best vehicle I know of to deliver good news and appreciation to your donors.

3 ways to maximize major donor fundraising NOW

You know how critical major donors are to your organization.

This fact is magnified during the month of December. The amount of money you raise this month largely rests on the shoulders of a few key donors.  And it is your job to maximize your efforts this fundraising.

But if you are like everyone else in nonprofit work, you probably have very little time to add another thing to your to-do list. You are running out of time!

The good news is that this fundraising season you have one more week than usual between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This means you have a BONUS week to raise more money from your major donors. Another side of the same coin: you have a bonus week to give your major donors the opportunity to experience the joy of giving.  Because never forget; they LOVE to give!

With this in mind, I’ve come up with 3 easy things for you to do to maximize the fundraising season and to make the most of this bonus week.

1. Don’t spend time writing Christmas cards; spend your time writing Christmas appeals.

Since your time is limited, you should focus most of your energy on what will produce revenue. Christmas cards are nice, but they won’t generate revenue. The first thing you should work on and deliver is a Christmas appeal. Ask your donors to make a generous year-end gift and then once you receive that gift you can send them a thank you note and wish them a happy holiday.

2. Call your top 10 major donors who haven’t given a gift this year right now and set a time to meet with them to ask them for a year-end gift.

Be very clear that the purpose of the meeting is to ask them for a gift. Taking the time to meet in person sends a strong message that you value them and their giving to your cause.

3. Say, “YES!” to any and every invitation you receive to attend a holiday party, open house, public event, etc.

This is a great time of year to deepen relationships with current major donors and to meet their friends. I know you are tired and feel maxed out, but the number of opportunities to meet with current and future donors in-person won’t come this way until December of 2018.

Major donors are incredibly generous people who give a significant percentage of the total donations for your organization. So it’s essential that you maximize the fundraising season and take advantage of this bonus week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now is the time to lead your donors to give a big year-end gift, and when possible cultivate new relationships that will fuel your major gift fundraising throughout 2018.

If this blog post sparked your thinking, then I know you’d benefit from a webinar I hosted a few weeks back. Click here to get our Major Donor Year-End Fundraising Webinar and learn an easy-to-follow system that will help you get (bigger!) gifts from your most valuable donors before the year ends. You’ll feel confident with a step-by-step plan for what to do this year, and you’ll love knowing that you’re stewarding your most important donor relationships!

I believe in you and the work you do so much that I’m going to give you my personal discount code. Type in JRS25 (that’s for James Robert Shapiro) and you’ll get an additional 25% of your purchase of this product and/or any other products you purchase from our site.

How to raise more money at year-end without breaking the bank

Year-end is fundraising prime time. Most nonprofits receive 1/3 of their annual donations just in the last few weeks of December!

It’s daunting — but it’s also the easiest time of the year to raise more money!

We gathered the most successful fundraising strategies we’ve ever used. Then we created year-end fundraising tools that will help you stay ahead of the game throughout the entire season.
Read More >

Your Fundraising Infrastructure Matters!

Gail Perry wisely encourages you to build up a strong and effective organization by investing wisely in your fundraising infrastructure. It’s a choice, but a very important one. In her blog she lists a few examples of how you can invest in your infrastructure. Here are the suggestions I’d like to highlight and I put my own twist on why I think these are important.

  • Hire and keep competent staff. Your people make your fundraising plan go. You need to be willing to spend money to hire and retain great people. It is worth the investment.
  • Now that you have great people on your team, you should invest in their professional development. Even a seasoned fundraiser will benefit from additional training and education.
  • Purchase, use and leverage cutting-edge technology to manage and deliver your fundraising content. I’m writing this very blog post using an online software program that helps my team draft, edit and post content! How up to date is your donor database, email delivery program, social media management platforms, internal communication tools? Investing in new resources and training can create great efficiencies.

The big takeaway for me after reading Gail’s blog is that if you want to grow your fundraising results year after year, you should invest heavily in your people, systems, programs and technology.

Click here to read Gail’s blog. It is worth it.

Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat – Trainings This Fall

We want to radically improve the fundraising capacity of small-to-medium-sized nonprofits. One of the ways we do that is by getting as much fundraising knowledge out into the nonprofit world as we can.

Jim is teaching Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat and the benefits of the Virtuous Circle a few times this fall. He’s hosting a 4-part webinar series (each session takes a deep dive into one part of the circle) and a live training in Walla Walla, WA.

Here are the details:

Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat with Washington Nonprofits

  • When: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Location: Walla Walla, WA
  • Presenter: Jim Shapiro
  • Cost: FREE!

Do you ever feel like your fundraising appeals are broken or falling short of their goal? Do you know how to honor your donor’s heart for giving while asking boldly and clearly for what you need? Now you can learn how to write, design, and deliver great fundraising appeals that raise more money while honoring donors who want to give you a gift to make the world a better place. The fundraising fundamentals you will learn during this session can be applied to direct mail, special events, and major donor gift acquisition. Learn more and register here.

Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat: 4-Part Webinar Series with Washington Nonprofits

  • When: October 4, 6, 18 & 20 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
  • Where: Online
  • Presenter: Jim Shapiro
  • Cost: $60 –  WA NP Members; $120 – Non-Members

Encore! This series was so popular in the spring, Jim is doing it again:

If you’d like an easy-to-follow fundraising plan for your year, and you want to build trust with your donors, the Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat system is the answer. Oh, and you’ll raise a lot more money!

Come learn the secrets behind this proven, powerful system for communicating with your donors. Each webinar in the series will “go deep” on one integral part of raising money, and you’ll receive specific, easy-to-follow advice. By the end of the series you will have built an annual fundraising plan that is successful and repeatable! Plus, you’ll be confident. You’ll know your plan is proven and going to raise more money! Learn more and register here.

We hope you’ll be able to join one of these. And, check out other conferences, trainings and webinars on our speaking calendar.

The Power of YOU at Shoreline Rotary

football coach

Since your job as a fundraising professional is often hectic and overwhelming, I thought you would be encouraged by a recent talk I gave to the Shoreline Rotary Club about how to move yourself to positive action and outcomes.

My work at Better Fundraising has allowed me to be a high school football coach for the past 24 years. The members of this particular Rotary Club know me as “Coach Shap.”

The group brought me in to talk since they were looking for a little “team motivation” before they set out to fulfill summer work projects in the community. I organized my talk around the three different kinds of power each of us has in our lives that can motivate positive action and produce great personal and professional results.

Here is a summary of what I shared.

The power of choice

We make choices every day that impact the outcomes and results of our day. We can choose to get out of bed on time or to be early to the next scheduled business meeting. We can choose to be kind to our spouse after a mistake has been made around the house, or give grace to our kids after a poor choice was made. The power of choice truly can drive results, actions, and our ultimately shape our perspective on life. Let’s choose to be positive and encouraging to the people we care about the most.

The power of people

I believe we become whom we surround ourselves with. If we choose to hang out with people that are positive and make good choices, they will have a positive influence on us. If we choose to hang out with negative people or friends that make poor choices, we eventually will get caught up in their way of thinking or in negative circumstances. My hope for you is that you can surround yourself with people that build you up and encourage you to be the best you that you can be.

The power of self-talk

The last area that I believe can truly make a difference in your attitude and performance is the power of self-talk. We tend to be our hardest critic. Most of us walk though our daily lives replaying in our mind self-talk that is negative and hurtful: “I’m not smart enough, strong enough, sharp enough, professional enough,” and the list goes on. The best thing you can do today to turn your day around is to fill your self-talk with positive comments. Be like the childhood story of the little engine that could. If you think you, can you will. If you think you can’t, you wont. It is that simple.

I hope these thoughts encourage you to take on the day with fervor and energy. You truly can make it a great day; it just comes down to how you choose to live your life.

Now go out into the world and choose to make it a great day!

$3 Million fundraising success. Learn how they did it!

Have you ever dreamed of raising $3 Million at one fundraising event? This happened last month for a nonprofit that follows our Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat fundraising system. Here’s how they did it . . .

  1. They identified their top donors and top potential donors and sent them an invitation to attend a weekend getaway. The organization paid for the hotel room while the donor was responsible for paying for airfare.
  2. The goal of the event was to get donations. Current donors were asked to give more than they had historically, while new donors were asked to give a first time gift.
  3. The organization planned the entire weekend from start to finish to present problems for the donor to solve with their giving.  Not to tell the donors how great the organization was, but to present donors with the ‘problems’ that the organization solved.  Then invite the donor to solve those problems with a gift.
  4. They asked the donors to give generously.  They talked about the power each person had — and the power they had collectively in the room when their gifts were pooled.

The result was amazing. The donors gave and they gave generously. The $3m goal was met. The largest gift was $1m while the smallest gift was $1,000.

This event proved that the simple act of asking donors with clarity and purpose can create amazing financial results.

Now, I realize that not every organization can raise $3 million in one weekend.  But I am confident that if you are able to identify your top donors, create a plan to ask them to give more than they are currently giving, and ask them with clarity and purpose, you can raise more money than ever before. You can do it!