Fundraising Assets > Fundraising Art Projects


There’s a question you should ask about every piece of fundraising communication your organization makes:

“How and when, with as little work as possible, could we use this again?”

That’s what the savvy fundraising organizations are doing. For instance:

  • This year’s Fiscal Year End letter looks and reads almost exactly the same as last year’s Fiscal Year End letter.
  • This year’s event script follows the exact same flow and timing as last year’s event script.
  • This year’s Back to School e-appeal uses the exact same offer and copy as last year, only the story has been updated.

When you start doing this, you and your organization benefit.

You benefit because you can get things done faster. It’s a LOT easier to update last year’s successful appeal than it is to make a whole new one.

Your organization benefits because you tend to raise more money this way. Why? Because you start paying really close attention to what works and what doesn’t. And you end up doing more of what works. Which raises you more money.

True Story

We work with several organizations that mail their donors about 10 appeals per year.

On average, 7 of the 10 appeals are updated versions of the same mailing sent the year before. Same for the email versions of those impacts.

Think about how much time that saves them!

There’s another benefit – it makes their income much more predictable. For instance, say last year’s successful February appeal raised $50k. If you mail the same thing again next February, you can count on raising about $50k or more. But if you create a whole new piece from scratch, you might raise $50k, you might raise $25k. Which scenario would you prefer?

For Comparison…

Most organizations approach each piece of fundraising as an Art Project:

  1. They assume this year’s letter needs to be different than last year.
  2. They assume they need to say things differently than they’ve been said before.
  3. If something worked last year (or last month!) it’s assumed that it won’t work again.

Based on those assumptions, they create something new and different each time.

Which is unfortunate because all of those assumptions are incorrect.

Those assumptions lead to what we call “art projects” – unique pieces of fundraising that take more work to create and tend not to repeat the successes of the past.

At a nonprofit, where time and money are often scarce, why would you choose to take that approach?

So, What Assets Do You Already Have?

That’s a question you should ask yourself immediately. Especially since we’re entering the busy fundraising season!

As you think about your fall – what fundraising assets do you have from this spring, from last year, or from three years ago that you could simply update and use?

Because if that piece of fundraising worked, you know your donors liked it.

And I have 26 years of experience that says if your donors liked something once, they’ll like it again.

It will save you time.

And I promise – no donor is going to contact you and say, “Hey! Wait a minute. This letter/email is just like that one you sent 7 months ago!”

It just doesn’t happen.

So go find an asset you’ve created. Use it this fall to save yourself some time. and raise a bunch of money.

And for any fundraising you create in the future, always ask yourself how and when it can be used again.


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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