For so many of us in the non-profit ranks – and especially the arts – the end of the year campaign is usually the most stressful time of the year with heavy performance schedules and fundraising, coupled with the personal commitments to the holidays.
Now that the holidays have passed, it’s a good time to reflect back on the efforts of the end of the fourth quarter and review how we did. January is always a good time to do a post-mortem on your fundraising effort while it is still fresh in your memory. Before you move on to the next project, take a few minutes to write some notes, and be brutally honest with yourself about your efforts. Hopefully, you will be left with some ideas to file away for the next rodeo.
After reviewing the results of the end of year projects I was involved in, here is the first set of notes from my own personal experience on what to do and what not to do for your next fundraising projects. We’ll include some other tips and hints in our next post.
1) Remember what you forgot. We’ve all been there. It’s that place halfway into a campaign where there was that one ginormous concept, you learned before – but went on to forget. Now’s the time during the recap phase to jot down those notes and put them in a file to review before you go into your next battle. It could be as easily as making sure you updated all those address corrections, or something in the process that saves you and your volunteers/staff extraordinary amount of time. Perhaps there was a concept something you learned in a blog post, webinar or training session? It’s good to have a catalog file of tips, tricks and helpful hints, but its only good if you continue to use them. Today is a great day to start that file.
2) There’s no underestimating the importance of the personal touch. If you haven’t succeeded in segmenting your list and assigning personal outreach tasks throughout the organization, now is the time to put this on the top of your to-do list to prepare for your next fundraiser. The Executive Director should have her list. The Board should have their lists. And you should have your list to cultivate to ensure the right message is getting to the right individual.
3) Watch your “ask.” Given the theme of one of the 2015 projects we worked on, “the ask” led many of the smaller level donors to opt themselves out. From the early analysis on the returns from the fundraiser, it appears as if donors misunderstood the campaign’s focus. In retrospect, it is clear the message appealed to higher-level donors, rather than encouraging participation from supporters throughout the generosity continuum.
While the personal outreach phase of the campaign emphasized a specific gift amount based on past giving history, the overall theme, context and general public outreach promoted a higher gift amount. Be aware that the initial messaging sometimes obscures the personal communication that can result in unintended consequences. A reminder that some of the results may be due to the timing of when a message is received, or what part of the message is consumed more readily.
But what is underscored is the importance of a holistic approach to every part of the message. One never knows which communication is going to influence a supporter to make her donation. So be sure your direct mail, email, website, social and personal outreach are all in sync with the goal, and make sure if there is a pathway #2 for your supporter to make the gift that is right for them.
Getting more money from less people is efficient, however it shouldn’t necessarily be a goal.
We hope these items are of some assistance in your recap and planning. If you have any thoughts, share them here – we’d love to continue the conversation.
Check out “So How’d You Do Part 2” to be posted shortly with notes on pre-campaign momentum building, social and marketing support and retention.