Future Fund Raising Now
I believe donor fatigue is a pretend thing (used by unsuccessful fundraisers to cover their … tracks). If you don’t believe me, listen to Sean. He has mathematical proof that there’s no donor fatigue.
That proof: Good old RFV (recency, frequency, value) often called RFM or (recency, frequency, monetary.) A standard and time-tested tool from commercial direct marketing. Here’s how it plays out for us:
- Recency: The more recently a donor gave the more likely she is to donate now.
- Frequency: The more times a person has donated, the more likely they are to donate again.
- Monetary: Donors tend to give around the same amount each time they give. This tells us what is the right amount to ask any given donor. Make sure it’s about what they’ve given before.
These are utterly dependable truths in fundraising. And they are exactly counter to the donor fatigue hypothesis, which says that you’ll get more if you ask less. That never happens. If you are pursuing that strategy, you are losing revenue and causing more of your donors to lapse.
Discarding the donor fatigue myth is a quick and easy change you can make to bring quick and meaningful improvements to your fundraising program.
Have you ever walked into a store and immediately backed out because the place was a random mess, blaring music that was hostile to you, and you couldn’t figure out where you should go?
A lot of nonprofit landing pages are like that.
And that’s a big problem. Because more and more donors give online — and not any other way. If your landing page isn’t welcoming, clear, and easy — you are losing more money than you can count.
The Bad Language has some help, at 15 ways to improve your home page.
Here are most of them:
- Attractive things are perceived as being easier to use.
- Consistency: do not divorce your homepage from the branding on the rest of your site.
- Less is more.
- Keep your ideas simple.
- Think twice before including an automatically launching video — there’s a high likelihood visitors will click away to stop the video.
- Have the most important information clearly visible at the top: your contact information.
- Make it obvious what you do.
- Tell them how you can help them.
- If you want visitors to scroll, let them know there is something to see.
- Load time is still critical.
- Employ responsive web-design so your site is readable no matter what device your visitor is using.
I was advising an organization on their website, and one of the things I advised was this:
Make your DONATE button a contrasting color from the rest of the page. Make it the easiest thing on the page to find.
The web designer flipped his stylish lid. “That would be a disaster, he said. “It would undermine the entire color palette!”
The conversation went downhill from there.
This often comes up in discussions with designers, brand cops, and keepers of visual identity systems. They really stand up for those color palettes. They see them as paramount to the integrity of their designs. Straying from the palette to create contrast? That would be like slapping a barcode across the face of the Mona Lisa! A disaster!
Okay, it would be a disaster indeed if the entire purpose of the website were to have a perfectly congruent color palette. But that’s not the goal of any nonprofit website I’ve ever heard of. The real goal is something a little more action-oriented. Like producing donation revenue.
Or it would be a disaster if a perfectly congruent color palette were necessary to produce donation revenue. Except it isn’t. Go ahead and test it for yourself, but calls to action in contrasting colors are clearly the way to go. If you want people to act on your calls to action.
The people who insist on perfect color palettes and other forms of brand consistency that depress fundraising results are choosing aesthetic satisfaction over funding their own mission.
Beauty matters. But I think most people would agree a well-funded organization with lots of supporters is a higher form of beauty than a nice color palette.
by guest blogger George Crankovic
When the likes of Warren Buffet or Bill Gates cuts a check to charity in the hundreds of millions of dollars, it attracts media attention and admiration all around.
High rollers like these can do lots of good in one stroke of the pen. Maybe that’s why many people assume charitable giving is largely a story of those who have done very well doing good.
But according to a new book on charities and giving by Ken Stern, With Charity for All: Why Charities Are Failing and a Better Way to Give, the people who can least afford it are the ones who give.
The top 20% of earners give about 1.3% of their income to charity. But the lowest 20% of earners give almost three times more — 3.2% of their income. That’s a huge gulf.
Working stiffs are giving till it hurts. And they’re giving even without the benefit of tax deductions because most can’t itemize.
What’s more, the rich tend to give to colleges and universities, the arts, and museums. In 2012, not one of the top 50 gifts went to social services. Ordinary folks, on the other hand, give to social service charities and churches.
But here’s the really interesting part. One study showed differences in giving even among the wealthy. Rich people living in more homogenous neighborhoods gave less than rich people living in somewhat more racially and economically diverse areas.
So what conclusions are drawn from all this — and how can we apply it to fundraising?
First, the wealthy tend to put their own interests above those of others. That’s just the way it is. So if you’re approaching a person of means in a face-to-face major gifts setting or through a communications channel, you must demonstrate what’s in it for them. Think donor benefits. That’s what you should always do in fundraising, but in the case of wealthy donors, it’s even more so.
Second, the wealthy are less exposed to poverty, economic injustices, social barriers, and other challenges, so they may be less able to empathize with these problems. That’s why, instead of dialing back the need in an appeal in the belief that it will be more palatable to wealthy donors, you should show the raw reality and do it boldly. Especially for big donors, it’s sympathy, empathy, generosity, in that order.
One way to really screw up your fundraising is to make bad assumptions about your donors. The most common way we do this is to assume donors are (or should be) exactly like us.
Another common way we make incorrect assumptions about donors is to think all of them are just like the small number of donors we interact with personally. This error is outlined at PhilanTopic, at Blinded By the ‘Sophisticated Donor’?
The donors you most likely talk with face-to-face are major donors and institutional donors. What they know, and what they want, are very different from the large mass of more typical donors:
Not everyone is a “sophisticated” donor. Not everyone is a professional fundraiser or works for a foundation or corporate giving program. In fact, very few people do. And people … seldom give to a charitable cause or organization because they’re looking to achieve impact or based on a chart of performance metrics; they give because it makes them feel good, or because it’s a worthy cause, or because, like me, they want to help a friend.
I’ve rarely seen a fundraising message that failed because it was too simple.
I’ve seen hundreds of fundraising messages that failed because they were too complicated.
We are constantly tempted to fundraising from ourselves or our friends — or those atypical donors we know and like best. Complexity and sophistication do not translate well to normal donors.