#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week nine | guest post: boom! what? harness the millennials!

I recently attended a conference in Seattle, WA (Academic Impressions Young Alumni: Establishing Lifelong Relationships) and was inspired to “guest blog” about my trip.

Full disclosure: When I was in high school, the Macarena was the biggest dance craze. As such, I am fully aware I can never be part of the Millennial movement (although I’ve seen some great mashup-revivals of those moves recently…)

However, just as I can appreciate great feminist literature or how Bill James could influence major league baseball without ever playing pro ball, I’ve been turning my professional attention to this next great generation: The Millennials (aka Gen Y) despite not being “one of them.” I’ll try not to focus on the myth that they don’t give (and get off my lawn, you meddling kids!) because it’s simply not true (87% of millennial employees donated to a nonprofit in 2013) but rather how our collective mindset and paradigms need to change to allow this group of highly creative, socially motivated folks to connect their money with their passions.

First, this is the #ShowMe generation. Having instant access to information (accurate or not) has trained them to expect to see the impact of their gifts immediately and in a way that aligns with their passion or sense of self. Thank you Facebook and Google Analytics! Make sure your donor relations strategy allows your students and younger alumni to access stats and metrics on the direct impact of their gifts. Also, tie their support to tangible projects that will impact their donor experience. Disinterest in donating to general funds is also trending.

Second, this group has been connected via the internet most of their lives. They know how to navigate web and mobile devices and have no patience for multiple click thrus or ugly websites. Is your content accessible and mobile friendly? 83% of Millennials currently use a SmartPhone and in 2014, mobile access surpassed desktop access. Invest in your marketing and communications online strategies for this group and be intentional.

Third, remember when commercials used to be 30 seconds and YouTube videos were 5 minutes long? Now, we see 6 second Vines, video viewing rates dropping off after 48 seconds, and if it doesn’t fit in 140 characters, it’s not worth saying. Be clear, be concise, and be honest. Every generation has its own vernacular, be sure to use images and short videos for millennials. User-generated content is great and sometimes preferable to “institution-produced” adverts. When Arthur Brisbane said, “a picture is worth a thousand words” I’m not sure he was ready for Instagram, where 8 million pictures and videos are posted every hour. Every HOUR!

And finally, keep in mind that Gen X and Millennials are set to inherit $40 trillion (with a “T”!) in the next 50 years. Can you afford not to speak their language?  

The better we all do as an industry to change our stewardship and donor relations strategies, the more connected, engaged, and INVESTED this key demographic will be. Boom! What? Harness the Millennials!

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Written by Ben Seewald

unnamedGrowing up, Ben Seewald wasn’t like every other kid, who dreamed about being a doctor, or a kangaroo, or an astronaut – he always wanted to work with phenomenal people in Alumni Relations at a University. Ben is living his dream at Queen’s University as an Alumni Officer, working on student and recent graduate engagement programming.

Connect with Ben via:
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Guest Post: The #1 Mistake Online Fundraisers Make

There is nothing more frustrating than not hitting a goal you’ve set. Especially when it comes to fundraising.

You start dreaming big and thinking of all the things you’ll do with the hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ll raise.

Then when you miss that goal, you feel like you’ve failed. Worse yet, you feel like you’ve let down the folks who actually did donate.

That’s not a good feeling.

Many times, missing a goal comes down to one thing: setting unrealistic goals.

What’s Realistic?

The most successful online fundraisers have two things going for them: strong online assets, and a plan to promote their campaign using those assets.

Through my job at WeDidIt, I’ve been able to look at the lots of successful crowdfunding pages and their traffic statistics.

I learned that a campaign’s performance is predictable. I can look at a page’s traffic and give you an idea of where each of those visitors came from (email, Facebook, Google, your organization’s website, etc).

Better yet: I can tell you how much money it probably raised.

It’s a great party trick. If the party you’re at is full of nonprofit people…

How I Do It

It’s all about averages.

By taking the total amount raised and dividing that by the total traffic a page received, we can get a dollars per visit value (how much, on average, each page visit is worth). This figure works out to $9/visit (it’s actually more, but I round down to be conservative).

We can reverse engineer this to figure out how much traffic your page needs to generate to raise a specific amount.

Want to raise $1000?

$1000 / $9 = 111 visits to the page. You’ll need at least that much to make it happen.

On average, here’s where that traffic comes from:

  • Email: 56%
  • Facebook: 25%
  • Your website: 10%
  • Search: 5%
  • Twitter: 3%
  • Other: 1%

Right away, you can see email is the biggest driver of traffic.

It makes sense then to set your goal based on how healthy your email list is.

If your email list is small or has a low open/click rate, setting a huge crowdfunding goal is not realistic.

For example:

If you want to raise $15,000, you’ll need about 1670 visits. 56% of those have to come from your email list, or 935. That means 935 people on your email list have to open the email and click the link to the page.

If your email list is 10,000 addresses strong, you’re in good shape!

If it’s 500 addresses…you get the idea.

Just as you would run a 5K before taking on an IronMan race, setting realistic crowdfunding goals helps you experience more success and have something to build on.

If you’re interested in those crowdfunding stats, I put together a handy little tool I call the Crowdfunding Calculator. It allows you to plug in how much you want to raise, then breaks down how much traffic you’ll need, where it needs to come from, and gives you an idea of whether your online assets are strong enough to support that goal.

I offer it for free to the nonprofit community, all I ask for in return is that you tell me what your biggest fundraising headache is (so I can get ideas for a my next tool to make!). Click here to check it out!

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Written by Andrew Littlefield

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Andrew is a marketer and nonprofit fan for WeDidIt, a startup based in Brooklyn, New York dedicated to helping nonprofits raise more money and reach new donors.

Connect with Andrew via:
Twitter |  WeDidIt Blog

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week eight | guest post: the generation Y organic disruption device

What a quandary nonprofits find themselves in – what to do with Millennials: that is, that generation of “skinny jean wearing, latte sipping, app downloading, futon surfing, instagramming, lol’ing, twerking, sexting youngins” that has the boomers behind the wheel all in a flap. And as is expected of my generation, I’m here on this digital soap box to tell you a thing or two about us and our weird, weird hair.

Despite my tendency to pine for Urbie Green on vinyl, the smell of mimeograph, and a good tuna fish pie, I’m a millennial myself (and so are ¾ of my children, depending on your definition.) No matter how you slice it, Millennials are really tired of being treated like entitled, lazy brats with nothing to contribute. The “kids these days” mentality is a poor excuse and not useful for building relationships. I really don’t feel the division is meaningful, but it exists nonetheless.

So playing into this divide, I’ll give a few pointers on how to connect with younger supporters. I’d call this the Millennial Engagement Pyramid, but pyramids are so, like, uggh, pfffft, and shape-like. I’ll call this the Generation Y Organic Disruption Device.

  1. Connect – This is more than social media, m’kay? Look for opportunities to make those initial connections in person. Where? Universities, colleges, pubs, chamber of commerce events, drinking rye and coke and jumping off a pirate ship, whatever. Social media is a great start, but like internet dating, it gets weird when you only want to Snapchat your logo at us.
  2. Engage – We’re really no different than any other generation in this regard. Tell stories, show your impact, be transparent, and for goodness sakes, don’t bore us.
  3. Involve – We are going to give our time first and our money second. Involve Gen Y in meaningful ways – volunteer experiences should be moving, fun, and highly social. Gen Y is also quite likely to get involved in event-based fundraising.
  4. Collaborate – Here’s what’s missing, folks. Gen Y has collaboration ingrained in the brain. Your greatest alliances are going to be partnerships with groups (large or small) of Gen Ys who have something in common/some kind of alignment with your mission, and getting them in on the ground level of a project/event/etc. This may take extra effort, but you’ll seriously see a payoff. Gen Y is hungry to collaborate, and starving to make changes.

The nature of relationships with donors, regardless of their generation, is changing. We’re all living in a screwed up world and we want to see more from our donation dollars. We all demand real impact, real change, and want our relationships with non-profits to be transparent, authentic, cooperative and cause-driven (as opposed to faceless institutions using high-pressure sales tactics to take the money and run.)

Investing in real human relationships – whether it be online, on paper, in person, or via carrier pigeon – will ensure donors of any age feel their needs as philanthropists are being met.

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Written by Sheena Greer

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“Sheena often uses inappropriate humour and seeks attention in negative ways.” – Sheena’s 9th grade report card.

Raised on a farm on a heavy diet of George Carlin, Patsy Cline and William Blake, Sheena Greer grew with the stubborn-hearted idea that we need to do all we can to help each other, and that being a girl was a moot point. She currently employs her inappropriate humour as a writer, and helps nonprofits and social enterprises seek attention in positive ways by consulting with them on their communications, fundraising and strategy.

Connect with Sheena via: Twitter | Email

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week seven | donor fatigue + give to get = ?

I’ll be honest: I had a case of writer’s block when preparing for today’s #whatgiveswednesday post. I actually have my regular Friday post for next week already queued up, but on the topic of young (non)donors I was drawing a blank. So I did some review of past posts to inspire me, and my mind settled on two in particular:

  1. This post from way back in the day: Donor Fatigue
  2. And this more recent post from the #whatgiveswednesday segment: give to get

Note how much cooler I’ve gotten: I now write blog titles in lower-case.

I digress… what do these two posts have in common? Well, “donor fatigue” is that tiredness – or even irritation – that donors get from being inundated with communications from too many charities and/or the same charity. When you watch three commercials in a row – one about orphaned dogs, and then one about sick children, and then one about homeless people – you become desensitized to the content. How compassionate can you feel for a cause when its mission is getting lost among the missions of so many others as a result of over-saturation?

“give to get” was about the bad rep young people get for wanting something in return for their donation, but I turned that notion on its head by saying what if what they want more than anything else is to know they made an impact? Because I think that’s the truth. I talked about how younger people are critical and skeptical (in part thanks to over-saturation) so you really need to work harder to ensure that they know you’re doing what you say you will with their money. Are there any charities out there that are doing that really well? I have this sneaking suspicion that there aren’t many. The upside? It doesn’t take too much to cut through the noise!

That’s what “donor fatigue” and “give to get” have in common: give them what they want and they will wake up from their fatigue. Innovate, break away from the status quo, be transparent, and show young (non)donors their impact, and they will see you as credible. Think different, and you’ll get different – and better! – results.

(This made me think of two other posts: this one – inspired by John Lepp – and this one from truly back in the day [my second post ever]. Enjoy!)

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past eight years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week six | celebrate good times, come on!

celebrate good times, come on!

Okay, we heard your biggest complaints, now let’s hear some positivity!

What are effective examples of fundraising practices targeted at young people???

I asked people on Twitter again and here are the answers I got back:

  • “In 2014 I was actually most impressed by stewardship — be accessible for donors to choose you and impress [them] when they do.”
  • “Naming a square foot, digitally, of your school’s campus. Magic number $25 for young donors. An American Uni did it!”
  • “I think young donors want to give to areas they are most passionate about. Let their gifts be restricted to their choice.”
  • “I love when I get @Kiva alerts that a payment was made. It inspires me to give a loan out to someone new!”
  • “I don’t do direct fundraising but I love personal giving pages. I also like creative, targeted asks that speak to known passions.”
  • “A Dean’s retirement was a successful campaign for young alumni here [Ryerson University].”
  • “I love specifying the use of funds and matching [gift] donors.”
  • “I really believe ‘age is just a number’ – I think when we get to know the person, we get to know the preference. Any ‘trends’ pointing to [Gen] Ys or Xs don’t point at me. I think donor engagement is about individuals, not generations.”
  • I find young alumni respond to transparency and openness, i.e. don’t pretend fundraising isn’t part of what we do. They respect that.”

And a few funny & sarcastic thoughts from Andy Shaindlin:

  • “Long, boring direct mail letter from old white guy in position of authority?”
  • “There’s always the land line call during dinner. (I know, ‘What’s a land line?’)”

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Written by Maeve Strathy


Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in fundraising for over nine years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

Guest post: 5 Reasons Why Society Needs Charitable Trusts

You’ve probably heard a lot about charitable organizations and foundations, but perhaps you don’t know much about charitable trusts. Put in the simplest terms, a charitable trust is an irrevocable arrangement whereby one person gives real or personal property to another to be used for the benefit of a class of persons or the general public.

In the United States, charitable trusts come in two basic varieties: remainder trusts and lead trusts.

  • Remainder trust: Assets are signed over to a charitable organization for a specific period of time that can be either a few years or many years after the death of the donor(s). After the specified period of time has elapsed, the assets become the property of the charity, along with any interest or profits that might have been generated. One example of a remainder trust is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, set to expire 50 years after the deaths of Bill and Melinda Gates. With more than $30 billion in assets it is currently the largest charitable trust in the world.
  • Lead trust: The donor retains control over the trust properties rather than giving control to a charity. Interest from the trust’s assets can either go to the charity or be split between the charity and the donor’s beneficiaries. When the trust expires, the charity doesn’t gain control; rather, the trust property reverts back to a party of the donor’s choosing (usually heirs or designated beneficiaries).

Other countries also have charitable trusts, including the United Kingdom and India. Charitable trusts can provide significant tax breaks for donors, but they are also good for society. Here are five ways society benefits from charitable trusts:

  1. They save lives in crisis areas of the world. It’s not much of an exaggeration to speculate that the survival of much of the human race could at some point depend upon the work of charitable trusts. The aforementioned Gates Foundation oversees a diverse range of projects in high-poverty areas of the world, helping with programs to ensure access to clean water (an issue that is predicted to reach a true global crisis point within a few decades); vaccinations against deadly diseases; and famine relief.
  2. They provide disaster and war relief. The world’s weather and other natural events seem to be getting more extreme, and whether all of that is just part of a natural cycle or is due to human factors, the fact remains that we’re seeing more catastrophic floods, fires, earthquakes and tsunamis. And then there are “wars and rumors of wars.” All of these events are devastating to many thousands of people every year, and those who don’t lose their lives often lose everything but their lives. They desperately need help, and the Red Cross can’t do everything (in fact, it depends upon help from charitable trusts as well as from other sources). Organizations such as CVS Caremark Charitable Trust are there to lend a hand.
  3. They help people help themselves. “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” The Gates Foundation and other charitable trusts help people help themselves by overseeing a range of programs from micro-financing loans that help people in impoverished areas start small businesses, to sustainable agriculture programs.
  4. They support education. Even in the less impoverished areas of the world, charitable trusts add to the quality of life for millions of people of all ages. For instance, the Pew Charitable Trusts and MacArthur Foundations, as well as numerous other charitable organizations, have been funding quality (educational) television programming on PBS in the United States for decades.
  5. They support the arts. Some contend that once the basics of survival are covered, the arts are what make life worth living. Charitable trusts such as the J. Paul Getty Trust – worth more than $10 billion – fund arts programs all over the world. The Getty Trust also funds A.’s renowned Getty Museum.

No matter where the trust is established, it must fulfill certain legal requirements in order to qualify as a charitable trust. In the United States, for instance, the settlor (the person who is establishing the trust) must have a clear intention to create this type of trust. There must be a trustee to administer the trust, and the trust must consist of some type of property, known as res. The charitable purpose must be clearly defined, the class of persons (though not the individuals) included in the beneficiaries must be expressly designated, and the beneficiaries must actually receive the benefit. Similar requirements apply in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

As may be evident, there is a lot of accountability with a charitable trust, as there should be. But if you have the assets and you want to contribute to the “greater good” in some tangible way, a charitable trust might be just the vehicle to consider. If you don’t have the assets, consider volunteering or applying for a paid position with a trust whose mission interests you.

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Written by Daphne Holmes

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Daphne is a writer from http://www.arrestrecords.com.

Connect with Daphne via:
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#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week five | guest post: five ways we increased our young alumni giving participation rate

5 ways we increased our young alumni participation rate

We did it! We finally stopped talking about young alumni and started talking to them. At The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), 30% of our alumni base are considered “young”, or graduates of the last decade. This is a large enough percent to make us blink twice and get to work.

Since we began focusing on young alumni, we have seen an increase in our young alumni giving participation rate of approximately 50% compared to this time last year. There are so many different ways you can engage this group of alumni, but here are five ways that have worked well for us so far.

  1. We established a GOLD Council (Graduates Of the Last Decade). This group serves as an advisory board for young alumni initiatives in the areas of philanthropy, programming and marketing. These volunteers are eager to help with peer to peer solicitations and educating young grads on how to get involved in the life of the university.
  1. We segmented our email appeals for young alumni. In a world of texts and tweets, most young alumni don’t take time to read an entire email. We started using shorter sentences, more photos, and began sharing our calls to action in the form of infographics.
  1. We completed “check-in calls” in our telefund/phonathon instead of soliciting them for donations over the phone. Our student callers contacted the most recent UNCG graduates who have been out of school for six months or less. We asked how they were doing, updated contact information, and connected them to our career services center if they were still looking for employment.
  1. In May 2014, we launched our very first 24-hour giving day. We knew these were all the buzz, but didn’t know if it would work for us. It was a great success and allowed us to talk about giving in a new way. Our alumni were given the chance to make a gift, wear our school colors, and tell the world why they #BelieveInTheG on social media. We are continuing the campaign this year but for 48-hours and hope to get even more donors.
  1. We beefed up our alumni club events and networking socials. By offering more opportunities for alumni to gather, we learned that we do have a lot of young alumni who want to get more involved. They just need to know how to get plugged in. Taking time to make personal connections with young alumni at these events is key in making sure they stay engaged and eventually give of their time and their treasure.

Yes, we have seen growth, but we have a long way to go. We have learned that if you take time to invest in alumni while they are young, then you have a better chance of retaining them as donors in the future. How have you targeted young alumni in your annual giving strategy???

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Written by Sarah Kathryn Coley

Sarah-Kathryn-Coley-114x160Sarah Kathryn Coley is an Associate Director for Annual Giving and Alumni Engagement at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is passionate about helping young alumni understand why it is important to give back.

Connect with Sarah Kathryn via:
Twitter | Email

Guest Post: Organizations that inspire | Better Together – Insurance Industry Bands Together to Help Local Community

When gang activity started to become a major issue in Orange County, Juan’s mother knew that the way to avoid her son being recruited to join was to put him in an after school program. Although Juan was initially rebellious, continued encouragement from the program director proved successful in coaxing his participation in the programs offered. By year’s end, Juan was eagerly and proactively signing up for activities and had established many great friendships. The peace of mind brought by the after school program and the nurturing environment it provided was invaluable to Juan’s mother, relieving her of stress and everyday worry of Juan’s wellbeing.

That’s the story that Jean Sweeney, Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations at Children’s Bureau, shares as one of her most memorable moments while working for the nonprofit organization.

According to Sweeney, Children’s Bureau believes that all children deserve to grow up safe, nurtured and healthy. Through innovative and cutting-edge child welfare programs, Children’s Bureau has been saving children’s lives for 110 years. In Southern California, the organization provides support and care for over 28,000 children and parents per year. To make these life-changing programs possible, Children’s Bureau relies on the support of donors such as the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF).

IICF unites the insurance industry – a very competitive bunch – to give back and help those who need it most. Although a national organization, IICF works to make an impact at the local level, supporting nonprofits that address the needs of the local community. In the West, IICF provides grants to organizations making a difference in the areas of child abuse prevention, education, disaster preparedness, and health & human services. Children’s Bureau is a prime example of one such organization.

“With IICF’s support, we’ve served thousands of families,” Sweeney notes. “Children’s Bureau is very grateful for our partnership with IICF, and we look forward to future opportunities to work together.”

IICF engages the insurance industry to raise awareness, funds, and promote volunteerism. The Western Division’s Insuring the Children 2014 golf tournament, for example, raised over $100,000 to benefit child abuse prevention programs in Orange County. Funds raised through the event supported organizations including: Children’s Bureau; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County; Child Abuse Prevention Center of Orange County; Olive Crest; and Seneca, Orange County. These organizations – and the tournament itself – support the very programs changing the lives of thousands of kids, like Juan.

The Insuring the Children Golf Tournament raised over $100,000 to support child abuse prevention programs.

 

In addition to events, the IICF also promotes industry volunteerism through its Week of Giving. The Week of Giving program is an annual eight-day call to action that encourages insurance professionals to volunteer with local community nonprofits. The Week of Giving supports regional and national initiatives, such as “Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day,” an early literacy program developed by Sesame Workshop through a three-year, $750,000 grant from the IICF. During the 2014 Week of Giving, libraries all across the country hosted thousands of children for a day of fun, interactive reading and writing programs in the name of early literacy development.

When the “Every Day” program launched in 2013, IICF and Children’s Bureau partnered to host an interactive event for local kids (and adults!). The community event brought out 100 families to experience the educational website, make personalized books, and participate in literacy-themed craft projects. To this day, Children’s Bureau’s library and family enrichment programs in Los Angeles utilize the IICF and Sesame Workshop website and materials to encourage reading.

Cookie Monster was a big hit at the IICF-Sesame Workshop Early Literacy Initiative Launch.

Cookie Monster was a big hit at the IICF-Sesame Workshop Early Literacy Initiative Launch.

Organizations like Children’s Bureau are providing children like Juan a safe and nurturing environment. IICF works to rally the insurance industry to support organizations like Children’s Bureau. Working tougher, IICF, the insurance industry, and local nonprofits are helping communities and enriching lives.

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Written by Melissa-Anne Duncan

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Melissa-Anne serves as the Executive Director of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s Western Division. As Executive Director, her responsibilities include strategic planning, board development, fundraising, and division operations. Having joined IICF in 2010, Melissa-Anne previously held the position of Vice President of Development for the Western Division and continues to manage IICF’s national communications. (Click here for more.)

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week four | venting session

It’s time to air our grievances!

What are the biggest complaints about fundraising practices targeted at young people??? 

I asked people on Twitter and here are the answers I got back:

  • “I’m a small-sum monthly donor – I find big $$ asks are too much to handle in one go!”
  • “Lack of philanthropy education within the student market, impact reporting, and not customizing the ask are key to me […] Also think more needs to be done in terms of boosting online donation programs and infrastructure to support”
  • “Not saying thank you annoys us!!”
  • “They assume I’m hip and trendy. I assure you, I’m neither.”
  • “General lack of interesting, accessible gift opportunities that appeal to the change-making #millennial soul.”
  • “That I need something in return for my gift.”
  • “Anything that suggests an obligation or guilt. We need opportunities to help solve problems #inspiration”
  • “No opportunity beyond the ask for further engagement/involvement with the organization!”
  • “Bad stock photos”
  • “Giving info pages & donation forms that aren’t mobile friendly.”
  • “There’s a general lack of areas of support that pique my interest and inspire me to give.”
  • “Msgs that are too wordy, & too official/top-down sounding. Too many fields req’d to complete gift online”
  • “Emails that aren’t personalized, aren’t designed for mobile and calls when the caller has no info about me.”

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past eight years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

Customization vs. Personalization

Customizationvs.Personalization

Happy New Year, readers! I hope 2015 brings you great things!

Now, for the first post of the new year, starting with an important question:

Why do donors keep giving to a cause? Because we make them feel special! 

That’s a simple reason, but it’s true!

How do we make them feel special? I’ll tell you one way we wouldn’t make them feel special: if they gave us $1,000 and we wrote a thank you letter to them that said “Dear Friend…”. No! That was part of a long-gone era of fundraising; what Fraser Green would call the “Industrial Age of Fundraising”. We’re now in what Mr. Green would call the “Post-Industrial Age” of Fundraising. The idea of pumping out a million things that look exactly the same – case in point: thank you letters written to the same “Friend” – don’t appeal to our donors. What do we do? We customize.

So our thank you letter now – thanks to mail merge – starts with “Dear Jane…”. Satisfied? YES!

NO!!! I sat down with an acquaintance recently and he commented on a fundraising video he’d received from his alma mater. It was innovative, it was different, and it was customized! The email he’d received had a subject line with his name in it! The body of the email had his name in it! The video had his name in it! I was rejoicing! Great work, alma mater!

You know what he said? It creeped him out. Why?! I asked, full of despair! He said that all that video told him was that his alma mater paid a lot of money to a video company and that they had a database full of information about him. That’s when I realized:

It was customized, but it wasn’t personal.

We’re past the age of customization. Having the technology to insert someone’s first name into something is no longer innovative. Taking the time to write a personal note, acknowledge something specific to a donor, hand-address an envelope… that shows something. It’s not necessarily innovative, in fact it’s pretty old school, and that’s why it’ll cut through the rest.

What do you think???

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email