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The Proven Formula for Donor Newsletters

The Proven Formula for Donor Newsletters

by Tom Ahern, of Ahern Donor Communications — www.aherncomm.com

In the 1990s, a Seattle fundraising shop called the Domain Group took the garden-variety donor newsletter, stripped it down to its components, and began testing … to see if they could come up with something better. Sort of like rebuilding a hot rod.

Domain eventually developed a formula that made a donor newsletter HIGHLY worth doing: some Domain clients began raking in more gifts through their newsletters than through their direct mail appeals.
Domain had its hot rod. Think about that a moment. Read more ›

Special Interview with Lisa Sargent of Sargent Communications: Pt 2

DC: Six years ago, social media was picking up a head of steam in our culture, but non-profits were still getting on the train; SM communications were often “siloed”. You spoke about the perception among non-profit professionals of “fragile followers”. How has this changed or how is it changing? And do you have a personal feeling about the future of SM for non-profits?
LISA: Before we talk social media, if you’re interested in digital channels with fundraising clout, think email. Direct mail still trumps it, and email’s overall donation response rate is only 0.07%, on average, but according to M+R’s 2016 Benchmarks Study3, more than a third (34%) of all online revenue for the top 25 nonprofits [in its study] can be tracked directly to an email appeal. And for the remainder of its study participants, the average is 27%. List churn – or the “fragility” of followers, if you will – remains an issue, just as it does for direct mail. Attrition is a fact of life: the goal is to minimize it, across whatever channel you’re working … and that holds true for social media too: if your feed is boring or “we-focused,” you won’t have many followers for long. Silos, too, remain an issue across every channel, and are still just as damaging to overall quality and consistency of messaging, and eventually, results. As M+R’s study put it so beautifully: “Our job is not to block the exits; ours is to throw the doors open and welcome people in.” Read more ›

The Donor-Centric Pledge

We [fill in the name of your nonprofit organization here], believe…

1. That donors are essential to the success of our mission.

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2. That gifts are not “cash transactions.” Donors are not merely a bunch of interchangeable, easily replaceable credit cards, checkbooks and wallets.

3. That no one “owes” us a gift just because our mission is worthy.
4. That any person who chooses to become our donor has enormous potential to assist the mission.
5. That having a program for developing a relationship with that donor is how organizations tap that enormous potential.

Read more ›

How Donor-Centric is your Organization?

More Than a Buzzword

Welcome to another issue of Donor-Centric. We produce and send this resource out to friends in the non-profit sector with the hope that you’ll find it useful and stimulating.

cover4-16webOver time, we try to address many of the challenges you’re facing. In this issue, however, we’re talking about the subject that first gave this newsletter its name. Being “Donor-Centric” has become one of the great “buzzwords” in recent years. But that does not mean that the idea is fully understood or, more importantly, actually applied.
Clarity is the first step. Our Five Question Test and Simone Joyaux’s Donor-Centric Pledge are offered up as a yardstick for you to evaluate your own organization. As always, if we can be of further help, call us!

Segmentation – It Really Is All About Who You Know

Good journalists apply a formula to ensure that every story has all pertinent facts by always including “the five Ws and the H” – Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Notice that Who is first on the list. That’s a very important fact – Who is at the crux of the story?

Unfortunately, many fundraisers forget about “who” is at the crux of their fundraising efforts when it’s time to send out a big mailing. So much time is spent developing the offer, writing and rewriting the appeal letter; deciding on whether programs are accurately and adequately described; debating about which cuddly photos are the most compelling to use, that one vital element is forgotten…the recipient.

Read more ›