Friday, December 14, 2012

last minute strategies - emails for help and hope

Like most of the annual giving and for that matter, fundraising industry, I am working on my final push for the most important weeks of the year.  For my donors, almost 40% of our dollars and close to 20% of our donors give between 12/1 and 1/15.  Most of those will be credited to the 2012 calendar year and then a series of conversations will ensue for the small number of donors who hope that a check dated and mailed in 2013 can magically fly backward through time to 2012 as a result of the wonders of the USPS.

At this point, my mail is all out, some in mailboxes, some at the mailhouse, all in sacks and ready to go.  Last night was the final night of calling in the phone program as our students all depart for their own families and homes for the holiday's.  Our electronic efforts are all written, designed and scheduled, awaiting the date they will wing around the world to our donors and alumni.

So with one week to go until Christmas and two weeks until the end of the year what can you do that will move the needle?  The traditional route is to call donors.  I am all for that with donors whom you know or who have a consistent history of giving now - that reminder makes sense and is time well spent.  I would add to that a program centered around personal emails.

That program works like this for me: I pull the list of all donors at calendar year end or in the prior calendar year and identify those who have the greatest connectedness (event attendees, donors, answered calls, open emails, etc...) and starting with those folks, send them an email one at a time from my own account.  There is lots of cutting and pasting but each email contains elements of personal messaging and that is key to making this work.  The most basic idea is to be (not look like, but actually be) an email that was sent to them on a personal basis from another person.  This is in addition to all the other efforts and is where it really makes a difference.  I sign them with my office number and ask folks to reach out to me with any questions - have gotten so few calls (but tons of emails) in the past that I am contemplating adding my cell - gives the feeling of openness that I am aiming for.

The message is one of support St. John's today by making a gift online or mailing a check to the campus. and I use that fact that I support the university as a leadership annual donor to make a simple personal ask of "Join me in providing the resources that our students need to succeed in life by giving today."