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Getting Started with a Legacy Gift Program

Nonprofits of all sizes, shapes, and durations should consider instituting a planned (or legacy) giving program…so donors can learn how they can make gifts through a will or trust or other method, to further the long-term purposes of a nonprofit organizations they care about.

I recommend this article published by Wiley in 2003 as a good basic document for nonprofits to read, discuss, and use to get a legacy program started.

You will find it through an online search.

0787962562). Copyright © (2003) by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. This material is used by
permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc

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Follow Up Lapsed Donors Early in 2017

The New Year will soon be upon us. Our Annual Campaign has been sent to all donors and some warm prospects. Their gifts have begun to come in. We will know soon if this campaign is a success. For the accomplished fundraiser, are we satisfied?
Maybe not quite yet.
Early January will be a good time for staff to scan the donor list for those who received the appeal but have not responded.
The task: Identify lapsed donors who did not respond to our December 2016 fall appeal. Particularly those with a history of being (to this point) steadfast donors.
Time to send a follow up appeal to lapsed contributors.
The outgoing package is a bit different from the initial appeal. You may want the ask to focus a bit differently. For example, consider re-stating the appeal in different terms. You may want the letter to come from a client who depends on you and your donors to deliver.
Make that follow-up ask.
It should bump up your appeal by about 10% net.

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Beyond the Annual Appeal: The Extra Mile Campaign

Many nonprofits are in the midst of organizing the annual holiday appeal now. Most of these direct mail (or, more inclusively, “direct response”) campaigns are run in November – December, with follow-up in January – February. Increasingly, nonprofits recruit board members to conduct a personal solicitation component of the holiday appeal to high-level and “special handling” donors. This usually adds significantly to the dollars raised. A recent client conducted an e-mail component and raised revenue 20% over the previous year.

Now is a good time to consider an Extra Contribution or “Extra Mile” campaign for early 2017. Plan to identify donors who did gave, perhaps early on in your campaign, and ask these donors to consider going the “extra mile” and adding to their gift. Nonprofit staff and volunteer leadership need to feel comfortable taking this step. It’s possible that some donors will be turned off by this approach. In my experience, there is a significant number of donors who will consider doing more for your mission if you make a good case.

Your case for an Extra Contribution should be 100% focused on the people who benefit from the services you provide.

You will have thanked your donors at least once for their recent annual appeal gift. It’s a good idea to start the extra appeal letter with another “thank you.” To clearly acknowledge that your nonprofit and your clients (I refer to them as primary customers) appreciate what your donors have done. But there are unmet needs. And you will note one or two of these: the number of clients who need to be served but aren’t because there isn’t quite enough in the cupboard to get the job done.

Give it some thought. Talk it over. Let your development committee know what you’re considering and ask for their feedback.

The potential is there to add another 10% to annual appeal revenue.

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Social Network Fundraising: The Recent Donor Perfect Webinar

I took the opportunity to tune in to the Chronicle of Philanthropy-hosted, Donor Perfect-sponsored webinar on Tuesday November 19th. I’m glad I did! Here’s a link to the slide show if you’re interested in checking it out:
Rob Strickler (Donor Perfect) introduced Clare Mitchell, operations director at Gigi’s Playhouse (Chicago) who demonstrated how she applied the tools of Donor Perfect in managing her recent event, and how it integrates with their donor database. Slick.
I am not in any way associated with Donor Perfect. I do subscribe to the Chronicle, and rely on them for good information on useful nonprofit tools.
The data Rob reports on use of Facebook and how it compares to other means of communication with donors is very interesting and worthy of note when considering how you want to fundraise over the next ten years.

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Prepare Your Board Now for Fall Annual Appeal

Summertime is the right time to get organized for your annual appeal.

Like most nonprofit organizations in this world, you will likely be sending snail mail and email to your donor list in November and December asking for donations in support of work that advances your mission.

As you look over that donor list this summer, I strongly recommend that you involve your Board of Directors in this process. You may have heard me sing this tune before. If so, that’s excellent. I consider this one of my greatest hits. And it’s on my blockbuster album so here we go again.

Get your Board involved. Have them scan your donor list for names they might recognize. They should write a personal note to your donors asking for the gift. Or call them directly, or email them, or go visit them with the return envelope. Whatever method works best for them. Have multiple approaches available, and keep track of which board member is reaching out to which donors in which method.

And follow up two weeks after the fact.

Remind your Board members that the campaign will kick off on which date, and that they should expect to receive materials to do their part a week in advance of campaign’s inception.

All clear?


You should expect AT LEAST a 10% spike in campaign results employing this method, and perhaps as much as a 30% increase in returns over the prior year if you haven’t used this approach before. Remember, too, to employ this tactic in your follow-up to non-responders.

Are we on the same page? Perfect! Let’s boost results by adding a personal touch to donors who have a connection to your Board members.

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