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More Best Practice in Annual Appeal Follow-up

I hope 2013 will get off to a good start for you and your nonprofit.

Did your holiday season annual appeal do well? Was your 2012 campaign better than 2011? It’s not to soon to start looking at the numbers, comparing your results for the past three years. Hopefully, your results are in a database and you can track particular donors, their response each year, and maybe even trends by age, sex other demographics. This is good information to have…and maybe you have someone on your staff who loves to analyze numbers who will look for trends and bring that information to the team to discuss and figure what the trend is telling you. Don’t have such a geek on your team? There are lots of capable people around who will volunteer for you, or ably consult for you.

Database or no database, it’s time to follow-up with non-responders. Count on the fact that some of your donors may have overlooked you back in November and December when they were swamped with appeals from every nonprofit in kingdom come. But please don’t be discouraged! Following up on your year-end appeal is one of the best things you can do to generate additional income.
As you prepare this appeal to donors you haven’t heard from, remember these tips:

  • Remind them about your mission, and what your nonprofit is doing right now to serve the mission
  • Thank them for their past support
  • In a short paragraph, tell your donors about a recipient, or a member, or a subscriber to put a face on the value of your service

In your follow up, please do not make your nonprofit the focus. Shine the spotlight on your clients, the people who benefit from your purpose in life. Generally speaking, donors don’t respond well to “help! we just had our worst deficit!!” nor to “we’ll have to lay off staff”. Even in bad times, donors hear this variety of message as “do I want to support a failing organization?”

So…get cracking on that follow up. Be selective on whom you’ll reach out to. And if you’re ahead of the game and your appeal is already out the door, that’s great! Please write a note below, telling us how you do your follow up and the return you get. We’d like to learn from your experience!

Thanks for your attention. If I can be of any help in advising you on your fundraising approach, I’m just an e-mail or phone call away!

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What’s My Stake in Sandy Hook?

Lots of folks have been deciding since December 14, the terrible day at Sandy Hook Elementary School, what to do in response. Say a prayer? Reach out and express support to the town? Help a particular family? Get behind an effort to control rapid-fire weapons?

Rachel Sagan of Acton-Boxborough (MA) United Way posted this, for folks wanting to make a contribution to a Sandy Hook town fund: In response to the horrific acts of violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, United Way of Western Connecticut, in partnership with Newtown Savings Bank, has established the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. Donations will be used to provide support services to the families and community affected by this tragedy. Online donations can be processed at

Chronicle of Philanthropy posted this link to an article on funds started by individuals in the Newtown CT area to help families more directly. Note: In most cases, these are not 501(c)(3) IRS-approved organizations with tax-exempt status. State of Connecticut agencies are keeping a mindful eye on these funds, watching for scams. Proceed with caution: More Than a Dozen Charities Created to Aid Conn. Shooting Victims:

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is a website you might want to visit and consider affiliating with, if you want to join an organization working to control access to weapons in the United States.

There are many ways to pitch in. Pick the approach that works best for you!

Ann Curry of NBC has beet tweeting @AnnCurry about random acts of kindness, and lots of folks have been following her fine example.

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Love Live Chats on Twitter

Really enjoyed live chat last night (December 11, 2012) #getrealchat hosted by @PamMktgNut otherwise known as Pam Moore. Topic was, ta-da, marketing! It attracted some bright and interesting folk who stimulated my thinking: How in today’s fast paced world with social media moving at the speed of light can you keep your nonprofit on pace with topnotch companies with best marketing practice? The answer for me is: If you’re not out there engaging, you’re missing the boat. Seems to me there is no one way to approach this. The volume of data and experience is way too broad for one way to work for everyone. My recommendation to nonprofit leaders I consults with is, identify young, savvy tech users (social media, Smart phones…folks who love all the bells and whistles) and bring a small (five-person) team from events you host and programs you offer to talk together about how they use their phones, Facebook, Instagram, 4-Square…all that stuff. Talk with them about what you’re trying to accomplish: Raise money, expand program service, communicate better with primary and supporting customers of all sorts. And let them puzzle it out. In a sense, this team becomes a volunteer marketing department. Assuming you can’t afford a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) or CTO (Chief Technology Officer). Engage volunteers who love your mission already, who are doing things with you and who use the tools you would like to employ. Let them have at it. I think the odds are it’ll get good results.

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