Love Is In The Details

As many organizations are gearing up for their Holiday fundraising blitz, we’re reminded of the importance to personalize,

As many organizations are gearing up for their Holiday fundraising blitz, we’re reminded of the importance to personalize, to thank and recognize donors for their generosity and past gifts.

Being authentic and grateful plays a colossal role in the organization’s ability and capacity to inspire donors to renew and increase their gifts. It’s perhaps the most important element. But being authentic is not enough.

Many things can hinder or even kill any chance of having a gift renewed or increased. Let’s explore some of those things:

  • Failure to launch

Just about every communication to donors should begin with a recognition of their past giving. Doing so reminds them of their commitment to the mission and creates that warm fuzzy feeling through flattery and gratefulness.

So what will a donor feel when they receive an appeal that doesn’t recognize their past giving? Will they remember that they’d given in the past? Do they care? How does not being recognized for their past giving impact their desire to give again? If they do remember that they’d given in the past, how will they feel when they notice it hasn’t been recognized?

Easy fix: remind the donor of their past gifts and how it has impacted the life of one of your beneficiaries. Do this at the onset and a few more times throughout the letter. 

  • What’s in a name

The accuracy of how we capture donors’ information cannot be understated here. We know this but here’s a little secret. Many individuals have special accents on their names and surprisingly, some systems still can’t handle them. Your database may be able to capture them but maybe your printer’s system can’t.

For instance, my family name is Peña but when mail houses print my name and address, it often (about 95% of the time) gets printed as Pe+-a. Recognizing that some of your donors’ names may not print properly will go a long way to avoiding offending them.

Simple fixes can prevent you from losing that gift:

  1. In collaboration with your database person, find a way to properly capture the special characters
  2. Speak to your printer to address this issue 

If all else fails, make sure to communicate this with your donor. A little prevention can go a long way.

  • Putting all your eggs in one basket

Christmas affects only one portion of our donors. For the rest of your donors, they celebrate a myriad of other holidays at different times of the year. To assume that everyone celebrates Christmas is a sure fire way to alienate a proportion of your donors.

For an easy, non-offensive solution, get some demographic information about your donors and properly segment your lists accordingly. Alternatively, how about skipping the Christmas letter and opting for the New Year appeal? Focus on wishes for the new year – personally, let’s all hope 2021 is NOTHING like 2020, am I right?! 

  • Half a gift

Oftentimes the holiday appeal includes a myriad of premiums such as address stickers, cards, gift tags, etc. There’s often big debates about sending premiums – that’s not what this is about. Imagine receiving non-standard greeting cards in your holiday appeal but there are no envelopes included. It kinda feels anti-climatic, doesn’t it?

I’m not being facetious, this actually happened to me. So imagine how the thousands of donors who received the same appeal must be feeling about the organization? There is an easy fix for this – pay attention to the details! 😁

Of course it sounds cliché to say “love is in the details” but the fact of the matter is that it’s true. It’s hard to carve out time to take a big picture look at what we’re doing to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything but more times than not, doing so is what helps us see the trees from the forest and avoid many of the little mistakes listed above. Don’t our donors deserve that?

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