Fundraising Campaigns of One

Campaigns of OneDo you have that guy on the board who always wants detailed statistics for ever discussion? What about the woman who insists every fundraising piece should have cute kids (even though they are just one part of the population served?) Or, maybe you have somebody who thinks social media is the universal solution to all problems?

While these people may irritate you, they are not wrong to ask for what makes them more comfortable.

Assuming you are following best practices and have 100% board participation, board members are valuable donors of time and money. And, each donor will want something specific before they commit again and again. And you want board members to continue to give long after they rotate off of the board.

Fundraising and development is about creating campaigns of one.

This is true whether you are sending an annual appeal letter to thousands or having a one-on-one meeting with a $100,000 donor.

Each person reads a letter, sees a social media post or hears a solicitor and thinks the same thing, “do I want to give to this nonprofit at this time?”  One person will want statistics to understand the full picture.  Someone else will want cute pictures. And still another person will think Facebook is the best way for her to support the nonprofit.

As fundraisers, we have to consider how to appeal to people where they are, not where the organization is. 

Campaigns of One for Thousands

Campaigns of one may seem hard when you are mailing thousands of letters. It is more work, but it’s far from impossible.  Segments lists, whenever possible. Your database probably tracks whether someone has supported teen programming or attended Sisterhood events. See how many segments you can create. Then, write a letter that can change for each segment. You can change one or two sections of the letter to focus on a new mentoring program or a new service for the elderly. Something that might not have broad appeal, but appeals to those individuals.

If you have not tracked donor priorities in the past, change your systems to be able to track moving forward. Then, ask development staff, the executive director and members of the board to look at your top 50, 100, or 200 donors any relevant information.  You will be surprised how much knowledge you have that is not being collected in any formal way.  Then, segment those letters.

Individual Solicitation Meetings

It should be obvious that these meetings should be tailored to personal interests.  If you don’t know a prospect’s interests be prepared on a variety of fronts.  And then ask them.  Most people will be happy to tell you what they are interested in. Especially if they believe you are really interested in the answer.

It is ironic that donors who want to give to others are working in their own self-interest, but that is the way of the world. Consider everyone as an individual – a campaign of one– and you will strengthen your fundraising results.

Interested in changing the way you talk to donors? Email me and we can help you create an individualized plan.