A new year. Time to hit the reset button.
It’s a good thing to stop, think about what we’ve done, and contemplate how to do better.
So here are my suggestions for your new year.
Do make the time now to clean up your database.
Make sure your records are up to date and complete. Ensure salutations are correct.
Have you been a little sloppy recording gifts? Take the time now (while you still remember 2015) to get it right. (Annual fund? Special request? Event?)
If you haven’t had an NCOA update done recently, consider it now.
Do review what went right and what didn’t in 2015.
Here’s where data in good shape will help. What did your donors respond well to? Look at channel (email, mail), look at donors by segment (new donors, loyal donors, major donors), look at timing.
You might have a lot of data to review – but the information will be priceless going forward.
Do plan your communications for 2016.
Seat of the pants is tempting, but don’t give in.
You don’t have to have your appeals done now. But you do need to know what’s coming and when.
And if your appeals are falling flat, now is a good time to consider calling on a copywriter to help.
Planning will save you time, money and aggravation later.
Do review your budget.
Be thrifty, but not stupid.
To get good results, you need to invest. And sometimes, that investment will save you money.
Are you doing mailings in-house? If you’ve depended on staff or volunteers, look into using a mailing house.
In-house, the temptation is to send everything first-class. We know sorting for bulk is a huge time suck. That makes sense if you’re just mailing a small number of pieces.
But I found my mail house could print my mailing (saving wear on our office machines), sort it for the lowest possible postage (saving money), and get it out on time and in beautiful shape.
They also knew something I did not: a suburban post office was tight on space. So dropping a bulk mailing there meant it got out as fast as first-class. They had no room to let it sit around!
Is it really the best use of your organization’s resources to have you stuffing envelopes instead of focusing on your donors?
Do plan to try something new.
If you don’t have a monthly giving program, you should dive in. It will take time to build, but it’s important to your organization’s long-term success.
If you’re not asking for bequests, what are you waiting for?
Do you send a donor newsletter? Take some time to do it well.
Have you asked your donors what they think?
What about a loyalty program? You know those wonderful donors who are there for you, year after year? If you’re not already recognizing them, start today.
Do be sure your website supports your efforts.
Even if you mail your appeals, donors may be checking your site before they make a gift.
Don’t throw away your efforts with an impossible donation form.
Be sure your website’s message fits your fundraising message. And be sure it’s easy to use!
Do not give in to gimmicks.
Nickel packs, invoices, appeals that look like bills, receipts instead of thanks… Resist.
Borrowing good ideas is a good idea. But be sure they’re tailored to your organization’s donors.
Do not forget great thanks.
While you’re super-charging your appeals this year, be sure your thanks get equal attention.
Unless you’d like your donors to go away. Then send them one tax receipt at the end of the year and call it done.
Do not forget to take care of yourself.
I know you want to do it all – bigger and better. But if you’re run down by March, it’s not going to be a good year.
Take your days off. Make time to be a real person – because real people, not machines, form relationships. And those sustain your organization’s mission.
One last DO
Do have a happy, healthy, helpful 2016.
Thanks for reading. I surely appreciate you!