It’s fundraising — NOT “re-education”

Don’t think that all of your donors need to support all of your campaigns.

If you attract a new donor with a particular campaign, be thankful. You now know something about them: they care about that campaign.

So what’s the next logical step?

  1. Get them to make a second gift to that or a similar campaign.
  2. Expose them to the broad range of your campaigns, and ask them to give to a different one.

I submit you’ll do better with the first choice than the second.

Remember Venn Diagrams from middle school math? Here’s how they apply to fundraising:

Venn Diagram

You and this new donor have two concerns in common: cancer and diabetes. But, you only know about her interest in cancer, because that’s the appeal to which she gave. If your second mailing talks about diabetes, you may strike a chord, and get another gift. Great. But she may already have a favorite diabetes charity. If you write about children’s health or heart disease, you’re likely to strike out.

But, if you write back quickly, telling her how you’ve used her money in cancer care, and there are more opportunities for her to further cancer research and care at your institution, you’re more likely to get a second gift.

If you send her a newsletter that talks about other aspects of healthcare in which you excel, she may see your work in diabetes and want to support it. Great. Now you know something else about her.

But it’s very hard to try to expand  your donor’s half of the Venn diagram, to include new passions that they just don’t have now, and that’s what you’re trying to do when you mail the same appeal to everyone, and pick cancer one month and heart disease the next.

What? You have to write different appeals to each donor based on how they’ve given in the past? Only if you want to increase their renewal rate, number of gifts per year, and total annual giving.

It’s not football, where you want to mix up your run plays and passing game to keep the other side guessing. It’s more like church, where people like to sit in the same pew every Sunday and sing familiar hymns.


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