Are You Ready for September?

Are You Ready for September?

Thursday is September the 1st – where has the summer gone? As we cruise toward the Autumnal Equinox, here’s what I’m thinking about for September. What are YOU thinking about?


Handwritten Letters

There are serious advantages to writing letters by hand. You can read all of them using the link above, but here’s one:

  • Degree of personalization: Because each letter takes 15-20 minutes to write longhand, and you’re thinking about the recipient the whole time, you are far more likely to make subtle adjustments to language and sentence structure than you would be if you were typing the letter, or simply changing the salutation and calling it good. You are far more likely to be writing TO THE DONOR. And it’s like smiling into the telephone – the person on the other end can tell.


Getting the Most from Fundraising Events

It turns out to be quite advantageous to consider the follow-up before the event happens. Every event ends up with five different kinds of people.

  • Those who came, enjoyed themselves, and seemed genuinely interested in one of the programs or projects.
  • Those who came and just enjoyed themselves.
  • Those who said they would come and didn’t.
  • Those who responded to the invitation but couldn’t come.
  • And those who ignored the invitation altogether.

You should plan specific follow-up activities for each group. For example, you should definitely follow-up with everyone who showed interest beyond the evening. Thank them for coming and offer to facilitate a personal tour of the project or program. You could also send a “Sorry you weren’t able to come; maybe next time” message to those who declined. And so on.

For more ideas along these themes, read the full post here, and/or revisit these related posts:

Donor Event Planning
The Secret to Renewing Event Sponsors – Revealed!


Good News

From now until Christmas, everything you do with members and donors should be coordinated. And everything they see should appear coordinated as well. Start with some Good News. Have you been saving something back, waiting for the right moment to release it? Now is the time. The message for your donors – right before they are asked to give again – is “your financial contribution is making a difference.” Give them something to be proud of.


Filing/Data Entry – Soft Credits

When a donor makes a gift, they obviously get the direct credit for what they actually gave. But the Board member who wrote the nice note in the left-hand margin deserves some credit as well – the note-writer gets a “soft” credit. Most fundraising software includes a way to assign soft credits to specific individuals, and keeping track of such information can open several cultivation doors for you. Soft credits are thereby a way of tracking relationships. You can use the information to:

  • Have the same person write the thank you letter who wrote the original note;
  • Use the same note-writer several years in a row with the same donors;
  • Recognize board members and other fundraising volunteers for the money they actually raise;
  • Thank donors again for the matching gifts they leverage (the donors gets the soft credit for the company matching gift); and
  • Remind donors about their company match next year if they forget.


More on Development Planning next week!




Photo by WDnet Studio courtesy of

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There is no reason to wait until October to print those Holiday Appeal letters. Write the letter NOW. Get the database segmented and ready to go NOW. And print all the letters NOW to give yourself time to get board member notes on them.

Then seal them, stamp them, and put them in a box with the mailing date on the outside – all ready to go while you smugly listen to everyone else stress out and panic about their appeals – they obviously don’t read this blog!


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Fundraiser’s Almanac
Here’s what I’ve been thinking about for August. What are YOU thinking about?


Taking A Hike!

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. 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.


Joining Your Own Organization

With that same concept in mind, I respectfully suggest that you join the organization you support. 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.


Saturation Mail

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. 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.


Membership Drives and Recruiting “Renewals”

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.

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  • David Allen
    Posted at 09:26h, 30 August


    Thanks for the nice feedback. I’m glad you find it useful. If you ever have questions, comments, suggestions, or whatever about fundraising or donor communications please leave a comment or drop me an email. I will respond personally, but I also get great blog topics from the interchange. If you are asking, others are probably asking, too.


  • Zach Shefska
    Posted at 07:47h, 30 August

    David, I found your blog recently and have really enjoyed your posts. Thank you for all the insightful content!