Remind, Don’t Persuade

A tree whose leaves have turned orange and red is in a field of golden grass

When I said it, everybody in the room wrote it down.

That’s generally how I know I’ve said something helpful. Here’s what it was:

“At the end of the year your job is to remind, not persuade.”

Here’s why I said that. We’ve done a lot of year-end campaigns for a lot of organizations. We analyze the results of every single one.

When you look at them as a whole a pattern emerges. The successful campaigns? They aren’t beautiful writing that would make Shakespeare weep. They aren’t powerful case statements or success stories.

Here’s what the best campaigns tend to do:

  1. Remind donors of the problem that your organization exists to help solve
  2. Ask them to give a gift before the end of the year to help solve that problem

That’s it. You’re going to want to talk a lot of other things. And that’s fine — as long as the main messages you send — the first things your donors see and read — are the Need and your Ask for a gift.

You see, you don’t have time to persuade. In November and December, your donors are moving FAST. Your donors love it when your organization is clear about what you want the donor to do and how their gift will help. Because your donor is also getting a lot of other mail — mail that spends three paragraphs talking about the color of the leaves this time of year, or how excellent the year has been, or telling a story that makes it sound like they’ve already helped everyone.

The time for Thanking and Reporting to your donors for their previous gifts? That was before. Make sure you’ve done that by mid-November. Year-end is a time for Asking.

In our tests, year-end fundraising that spent significant time Thanking or Reporting raised less money

This is not just theory. This whole post is an attempt to explain testing results!

It may be hard. It may be counter-intuitive. (And it’s especially hard for smaller organizations that don’t communicate with their donors more than a couple times a year).

But trust me. The job of your fundraising from mid-November on is to remind your donor to send in a gift, not to persuade them. Just Ask. Ask Boldly. Ask without fear. Ask knowing that your donors love your cause and your organization’s role in helping them make the world a better place!

The Gift of an Extra Week – and Extra Money [VIDEO]

The Gift of an Extra Week – and Extra Money [VIDEO]

It’s a cloudy and cold August Thursday up here in Seattle. That’s not something we’d normally celebrate, but it’s a welcome respite from the recent heat and smoke from the forest fires.

Wanted to share something with you today that Chris Davenport (of the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference) and I have cooked up.

Two things, actually.

First, a Helpful Video

This video shares a practical plan for how your organization can take advantage of the extra week in this year’s “year-end fundraising season” between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

How do we have an extra week this year? Because Thanksgiving is so early!

You’ve been given a gift of an extra week when donors are extra generous. Make the most of your week!

Year-End Fundraising Summit in Seattle

The second is that Chris and I are hosting a special year-end fundraising summit in Seattle in September. It’s for just 10 organizations, and after our two days together you’ll leave with a customized year-end fundraising plan for your organization that’s based on what’s working best in fundraising today.

We’ll help you write all of your letters, emails, web page updates and social posts.

It’s expensive, but for the right organizations it’s an incredible value. Not only will your most important year-end fundraising work be done in September (!!!!), we’ll show you how each element of your campaign is a repeatable asset that you can use to raise more money (with less work) next year too. And the year after that.

The organizations that have already signed up are excited – and we are, too.

There’s an application on this page; I hope you’ll fill it out if you’re thinking about joining us!