The Simple Shift in Perspective That Will Help You Raise More in 2019

Here We Go 2019

It’s the first week of 2019.

We’re spending the month blogging about what worked best in 2018.

And I want to start with one simple thing that’s done by every effective fundraising organization I know. They ask themselves the following question:

What did we do last year that worked best, and how can we do more of that this year?

That’s contrary to how, in my experience, most nonprofits think about their fundraising year:

  1. Either they “wipe the slate clean” and start over, inventing and creating new letters and themes and ideas all year long.
  2. Or they “do mostly what we did last year because that’s what we always do.”

But the most effective organizations all tend to do one thing you can learn from: they rigorously look for what worked the year before, then look for more times/places/channels to use their success.

Here’s what that looks like:

  • Your spring appeal worked great? Fantastic. Send an additional letter a month earlier, with the same offer, to see if it will work then, too.
  • You had a campaign that went really well? Add three more emails to that campaign in 2019, and try a smaller version of the campaign in a different season.
  • Did the three emails you sent at the year-end deadline work really well? Add a firm deadline to another campaign, and send three emails right at that deadline, too.

The Simple Perspective Shift

The big difference between these organizations and smaller shops is simple perspective.

The smaller shop tends to think that a success was great, and they don’t want to “wear it out” – they assume that it wouldn’t work again.

The more effective fundraising organizations think the success was great, they know that something it about engaged their donors and caused action (which the donors loved taking), and then they look for other opportunities to try the same approach as soon as possible.

If your organization will take the second approach, I basically guarantee you’ll raise more money in 2019 – and every year after that.

So go look at what worked well last year. Then look for ways to do more of it this year!


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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