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Five Ways to Boost Your Fundraising Returns

Looking for a few good ideas to maximize your fundraising results?  Try one or more of these five strategies and watch your returns head north:

1)  Target Ask Amounts to the Donor

If you have any mail pieces that are using a generic ask for everyone that receives it; change it.  And by change it, I don’t mean add a couple of ask levels.  Calculate ask amounts based on a donor’s past gift history.  You’ll get within each donor’s gift range and avoid under-asking, and also avoid asking them for gifts significantly higher than they could ever give. 

2)  Follow-up

This should be a no brainer for your major campaigns, like an Annual Fund Drive, but it also has its uses for more low-key appeals too.  Especially if you have new information to report, status updates or if you are still trying to hit your goals.  Whether via another mail piece, email or pick up the phone and call those highest of high dollar donors, following up with donors lifts response.  The trick is to not spend more following up than the additional revenue it generates.

3)  Send a Recorded Message

Similar to above, the additional “touch” of a recorded message (OVM) from a recognizable individual connected to your organization (letter signer/celebrity/etc.) helps lift direct mail response.  It’s different from a typical follow-up, in that federal law prevents you from actually mentioning a mailed appeal.  That said, timing a generic thank you OVM around a mailing works consistently to increase response.  This is one of those cheap, but way underutilized tools that should be in every fundraiser’s tool kit.  **Caution:  we’re heading into election season, so September – December would be less than ideal timing for these. 

4)  Link to (Compelling) Online Content

Linking to a simple photo slide show or couple of minutes of video on the topic of your appeal will more often than not increase response rates.  The trick is that it has to be relevant and compelling (though not necessarily “slick” or professional looking).  As more organizations move to multichannel, I expect this will become less effective.  That said, use it while you can! 

Fun fact:  we had one client test this strategy and donations went up MORE than the number of visits to the landing page!  Our only explanation is that just including the option made more people give!

5)  Pay the Return Postage

The professional fundraiser’s constant goal is to eliminate barriers to making a donation.  “I ran out of stamps” is one of those clear cases where an organization can step in and make the act of giving a gift easier.  Within your data, there are donors who it would make sense to *occasionally* pay return postage.  A live stamp is almost always better than a business reply envelope, but is more expensive and so trims the number of donors that this would make financial sense for.

While there is no silver bullet to effective fundraising, the suggestions I listed are simple to implement and work.

Katapult MarketingFive Ways to Boost Your Fundraising Returns