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Momma always said, ‘Fundraising’s like a Waldorf Salad. You gotta mix it up to get the right taste.’
He didn’t, but he could have. 🙂
A couple weeks ago, I blogged about email fundraising tips learned from my work on my upcoming class reunion.
Another thing we’ve relearned this spring is: mix it up.
All too often, people seem to approach fundraising as defined by the tool:
- direct-mail fundraising letters
- email fundraising
- social media fundraising
- face-to-face fundraising
While there is value in studying each approach, it’s important to remember to use all approaches for your campaign.
Not creating more work, just varying communication
It’s not necessarily that we need to create more material. One of the best ways to be more efficient with your communication is to “repurpose” what you write. If you send a letter, you can:
- use that wording on a web page
- post the link to that web page on Twitter, Facebook, and even on the “news section” of your official site
- follow up with a phone call that is reinforcing the letter’s message
- refer to that letter in face-to-face communication
For example, our committee has reunion information up both on the school’s official site and on a Facebook page. Not a lot of “new” content. Most of the Facebook posts are scanned images from the class yearbook. But having reunion information is incredibly important. Check out these statistics from a recent email:
- 65% open rate on email: That’s more than twice the “best” open rates in a recent report on email open rates! Clearly people are interested in the class, or at least curious enough to open the email. More people opened the email than went to either web page. So clearly, email is an important part of our class’ communication mix.
- 3 x’s as many people clicked through to the FB page vs the school’s page: Three times as many! If we’d only had information on the school’s site, we’d be sunk. People just wouldn’t go. But having a FB page is a comfortable place for people to get the information. They can’t register for reunion there, nor can they make a contribution to the class gift, so we have those links available. But by coming to the FB page and reconnecting with the class and the school, they’re that much closer to doing both.
And in our experience, phone calls are more effective for actually raising money for the class gift. But the emails, letters, and web presence helps prepare the way. And most of those contacted by phone are going online to make the gift.
Fundraising is like a Waldorf salad
Like the ingredients in a Waldorf Salad, each of the tools will be distinct and separate, but you’ve got to mix them up together to make the delicious dish.
Intellectually, we know this. But look back at your calendar. How much time in the last month did you spend on each type of fundraising? Or did you mix it up? Or did you fall into the habit of just approaching people by phone or email?
This week, I challenge you to mix it up. Choose to experiment with a fundraising ingredient you don’t use as frequently
If you look at your calendar and realize you’re not asking enough, check out Fundraising Kick. It’s a weekly email designed specifically to give you the kick you need to get out their fundraising!
Here are two reasons why I think what you’re doing is working:
1. Think about successful political campaigns – they are all about taking an idea, boiling it down to a few words and staying on that message across a huge variety of media. It seems to me that is part of what you’re getting at here. Even as a Canadian, I remember “Time for Change” from the Obama campaign and this strategy works – he had that message consistently on everything from “The View” to T-shirts.
2. I used to work on my high school yearbook and the #1 rule there was to have a photo of each person in the school at least once. Why? Because the first thing everyone unconsciously does is look for the photo of themselves – once they see it, the yearbook is sold! Your FB campaign is working on that principle too, I think, because it’s incorporating that aspect of “where am I in the picture of what’s happening with this school?” (and perhaps, though no one will admit it, to see how well their friends have aged!)
Other non-educational charities need to take the lesson from your success here that the donors need to be able to look for themselves in the picture of the work that the organization is doing. And that there needs to be a consistent message shared across media.
Thanks Christina. Another great thing about photos on Facebook is that you can tag them!
That way people are drawn to the page.
I’ve seen some groups irresponsibly tag photos just to get people to see a sale or poster. I’m not talking about that. But legitimately tagging someone in our class has been fun! 😛
I really love that you are dissecting for all of us how your reunion is going – as it is happening.
I forgot — which one was it? 😉
Marc, those “varying communication tools” work great for communicating with grant funders as well! Now, for some reason, I feel the need for a salad…
Gayle: I’m not telling. 🙂
Betsy: Glad I could whet your appetite!
I had salad for lunch – but a Waldorf Salad sounds much more yummy.
It’s tempting to segregate people based on approach – ie these are postal mail people and those are email people, but we’ve seen (especially on recent studies/tests) that people who are receiving communications in multiple formats give more. But it does go a little counter-intuitive to how we think things will work (I guess that’s why one of the most important principles in fundraising is to test).
Do you guys all find that testing is risky? Or feels risky?
I wonder if many nonprofits think of what they might not get rather than all they’ll gain by testing!
What you are talking about is often referred to as “multi-channel” fundraising. Using a similar or same message across multiple media. A local hospital in St. Paul, MN has seen a more than 40% increase in their fundraising by “mixing it up” or using multi-channels to convey their message. It’s been fun to watch how creatively they share their messages and cause me to WANT to open the mail or email even when I may have already seen it.
Marc, are you a closet foodie? I recall an appreciate piece focused on muffins.
Nice reminder that communications needs to be repeated. I believe the often quoted number in the ad business is 9 or that people need to see your ad 9 times to “see” it.
Your communication approach shows that people need to hear/see/read it multiple places.
Yeah, I just might be! 🙂