26 Jul Are You Ready for August?
Monday next week is August the 1st – where has the summer gone? As we cruise toward Labor Day, here’s what I’m thinking about for August. What are YOU thinking about?
In fundraising for land conservation, we often say that “the land sells itself.” By this we simply mean that if you can get a potential donor out on the land to see, smell, touch – feel – for themselves, often that’s all you need. This isn’t just so much theoretical hogwash. It actually works. It works because the third-person narrative they’ve been reading about or hearing about becomes a first-person experience for them. The organizational story becomes their story. And instead of just imagining what it must be like, they begin to relate to it personally. Here’s the thing, though – it works for US, too. Don’t just report what someone else has told you about how things work. Go experience it yourself. Replace your ability to narrate in the third person with an ability to testify in the first person.
With that same concept in mind, I respectfully suggest that you join the organization you support. But don’t just stop by the office and drop off a check or hand one to the Treasurer at a board meeting. Use the opportunity to test the systems out. Send a check in one of the standard mailing envelopes. Donate on-line. Try the monthly donation program with a credit card. Or send a check in a plain envelope. And then track what happens and report back to the organization what it’s like from the donor perspective. In fact, track and record everything you receive from the organization through the entire year. Record when you received each piece and save the pieces.
The essence of Saturation Mail is that the same piece is dropped in every mailbox within a defined area. It is addressed to “Postal Patron” or “Current Resident.” And the cost is about 12 cents each. The only catch is that you have to mail it at least to everyone in a carrier route – usually about 400-800 addresses. There are many inexpensive applications for saturation mail: postcards, newsprint fliers, even small printed invitations. You could advertise special events, general land trust information, the opening of a new preserve area, or just about anything else where visibility in the community might be helpful. Where we get hung up is generally in the scope of such an effort. But consider this: you do not need to saturate your entire service area at the same time.
Here’s an out-of-the-box thought: Instead of thinking about recruiting new members, let’s think about recruiting new renewals! A new renewal would be defined as a person making their second gift – their “first” renewal. I think membership recruitment lends itself to a Membership Drive strategy because of the bandwagon effect. The idea behind a Membership Drive is that people are being recruited and renewed all together, all at the same time, instead of spreading out the work through the year. But here’s the interesting part. Membership Drives boost the first year renewal rate as well.
Photo credit: Acapulco Sunset by Walt Kaesler.
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Over the next several months, I will be focusing blog content on comprehensive fundraising planning. Last week’s post launched this series, and the next four will continue the series. I am planning posts on planning for Board members, businesses and corporations, foundation strategies, and major gifts from individual prospects. If you have a particular planning-related topic you’d like to see included, please let me know at FundraisingHelp (at) SBCGlobal (dot) net.
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Here’s what I’ve been thinking about for July. What are YOU thinking about?
Planning My Fall Appeal – If you followed my advice back in February, you will have a draft of your Fall Appeal letter already written. The draft will use what you learned from last year’s appeal as well as your current year’s communications theme. There is no reason not to pull that letter out now, create several versions to meet the needs of your segmented donor file, and PRINT THEM ALL NOW. Print the letters with a September date, fold and stuff them, seal them and put stamps on. Then put them in a box on a shelf with the drop date written on the outside. One less chore for the fall! – which will make time for major gift prospects visits.
Getting Ready for Fall Foundation Deadlines – Board members can play an important role in supporting the business of writing foundation proposals. July is a great time to organize that support, and it all starts with systematically finding out who they know. Last year’s post listed the steps necessary to organize that process. It included this:
Evaluating My Fundraising Year So Far – Given what you know right now, where will you be at year’s end? Go ahead – stick your neck out and take a WAG. Will you make your fundraising goals? Here’s the question: “Given what I know right now about what foundations have committed and what grant requests are still out there, and what I know right now about membership, major gift requests, corporate fundraising, and so on, can I still project getting to my fundraising goal for the year?” July is really the first time that you have enough information to attempt this exercise. Forewarned is forearmed. If trying to forecast now means that you avoid a head-on collision in December and January, your effort will be worthwhile
Getting Ready to Talk to My Mailhouse – July is a good time to go have a meeting with your mailhouse. Take a copy of the letter you prepared earlier to show (and weigh!) and talk to them about list segmentation, timing, and copy deadlines.