Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Can fiscal year end efforts be donor centric?

Anyone with more than 12 months in an annual giving career knows the pressure - the fiscal year ends in 4 weeks, 3 weeks, 2 weeks, heck 2 hours and the VP comes around asking if you have made calls, sent mail, what you are doing online etc... as though it didn't occur to you to ask folks to give. Or for that matter that you haven't spent the last 11 plus months doing exactly that.

To higher ups, fiscal year matters greatly - is about the budget process, about making sure that you have the institutional resources that you need.  Many institutions budget for the upcoming year based upon achieving goals in a way that means that if you don't reach those goals, real cuts need to be made to real programs.

So they matter to the institution.  But does that mean that they matter to your donors?  I would suggest that you have several different groups that see it radically differently.  First you have your loyal donors - these are often multiple consecutive year donors and they give because they believe in what you do/offer/are.  They need little more than a reminder that you are counting on them.  For these donors, fiscal year end is donor centric.  Ironically, the other audience that I see fiscal year end is the exact opposite - non or future donors.  They have not indicated a preference regarding what and when or why they give and as a result, a strong push to give this year and enable you to have more capability next year can actually be a highly friendly approach.

To many of your donors who are either not consistent or are lapsed, fiscal year end alone messaging is simply "all about you", and nothing about them.  They have given you clues, directions and in some cases outright messaging as to what they are interested in.  Use the fiscal year end as the opportunity to message them if it can be used to create a sense of urgency based on the existing conversation but don't try to squeeze a calendar year end donor into a fiscal year end gift because it is what you need - not only won't that work but it likely will cost you six months from now at calendar year end when that donor is looking to give because they will choose one of the countless other charities seeking the same dollars who paid attention to the donor rather than to their own needs.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mail for Millenials

I know.  You don't mail your younger donors.  There are too many, they don't give, we don't have good addresses, they don't read mail.  I hear this all the time, internally and externally.  At every gathering of marketing, fundraising and communications professionals that I have been do over the last 4 or 5 years.

Mail them.

Why you ask?  Because nobody else is.  They don't get junk mail, they don't get bills, they don't get checks in the mail.  They file taxes online and pay many of their bills digitally.  Some have never held a checkbook.  Your appeal will be one of the only things in the mail to many of them.

Be smart about it, don't send them the same appeal that you are sending your direct mail responsive 68 year old alum.  The appeals can't look, feel sound or be written for the AARP.  Go to your designer who does the enrollment materials and explain to them what you are doing.  Use what they design.  If they do it right, it will look all wrong.  Don't be afraid of words but  the messaging needs to be direct, clear, succinct and demonstrate accountability.  Tell them and show them.

Integrate with web.  Do not email it.  Recruit volunteers from their peers and ask them to post it on social media.  Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube each reach 25% or more of the population but that is really, really, really crowded space on a mobile device for eyeballs.  That mailbox looks better and better the more you learn about how many folks are trying to get a piece of their pixel life.  By using the mail to drive and support that intial inquiry you are able to create focused direction that they will verify on the web but you have them headed in your direction when they get there, not competing with the world for attention.

Remember the line about the cat and curiosity?  In this case, curiosity about what is in the envelope gets the attention and the cat makes a gift.  Better outcome for you and the cat, right?