Here’s a question more people should ask, from the Good Agency blog: Pro bono. Where’s the bono?
… it’s not pro bono if there is no bono — no actual good. No new donors, campaigners or volunteers. No new services funded or vulnerable people reached. No research paid for or hungry mouths fed.
Ad agencies and marketing companies like to do pro-bono work for nonprofits. It’s a chance to bulk up their portfolios. (And who knows, maybe some of them just want to do good deeds.)
It turns out free work is worth about what it costs you: nothing.
If someone does a really cool project that makes you say ooh but lays an egg in the donor marketplace, you’ve taken a bigger hit than you might think…
The most common and uncounted cost is opportunity cost — hours spent managing a dealing with a pro bono project that could have been spent doing something productive.
Then there’s damage that can be done to your brand by heedless work that’s driven by creative whim.
Just take a run through this shop of horrors and you’ll see how badly things can go awry. And that free doesn’t necessarily mean good. Or even free.
Here’s what’s in my new book, The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications: Real-World, Field-Tested Strategies for Raising More Money:
- The Importance of Being Urgent The secret ingredient that so many fundraisers omit.
- Make It Easy to Read Have your readers breezing happily through your copy.
- Long Messages Work Better It’s true. And your boss is wrong.
- Grammar for Fundraisers The rules you should and shouldn’t follow.
- Persuade with Story, Not Statistics One way motivates donors, the other demotivates them.
- Keep It Simple Complexity kills fundraising.
- Make It All About the Donor It’s not about you!
- I Have Bad News and Good News Balanced fundraising that works and keeps working.
- Have a Clear Call to Action No matter how well you write and design, if you omit this, you’re sunk.
- P.S. I Love You Guess what part of your letter people are most likely to read.
- Design for Older Eyes You’re a tree falling in the forest with nobody to hear it if you don’t design for bifocals-wearing readers.
- Don’t Skimp on Emphasis It makes a difference.
- Make Images Work for You The right picture can boost results, but the wrong one can turn them away.
- Plain, Corny, and Obvious Three characteristics of successful fundraising design.
- Self-Centric Fundraising The deadliest mistake in fundraising.
- Three Things You Should Know About Donors Embrace these truths, and you’ll always do better.
- Three Deadly Fundraising Myths Everyone else is getting it wrong because they believe these things.
- Proud to Be a Fundraiser What’s really going on with donors is better news than you might have thought.
Buy it on Amazon (Don’t worry about the “Temporarily out of stock” message. It’ll be back in action soon!)
Or at Amazon.co.uk
Or from the publisher (best bet if you need multiple copies, or if you don’t want to wait for Amazon to stock it again.)
Among the problems a nonprofit might have, We’re getting so many donations we’re having trouble keeping up would have to be one you’d prefer over most.
That’s the problem a certain organization faced recently. They growing fast (because they had retained the services of TrueSense Marketing, thank you very much), and they were struggling to process and receipt all the donations quickly.
They wanted to know: Can you quantify the value of quick vs. slow receipting? Is sending receipts out within 24 hours better than sending it without 48 hours? Is two days better than two weeks? If it will cost us 20% more to cut the time in half, will it be worth the investment?
Interesting questions. And I don’t know the answers. I’ve never done or seen tests on the impact of receipt timing on subsequent giving. Who would run such a test?
But I do know these things:
- Sloppy organizations with slow receipting usually have very poor donor retention. (Of course, sloppy organizations usually have other problems as well, like haphazard fundraising, messy data, and a general inability to communicate clearly.)
- Recency is the most important predictor of likelihood to give. If a donor is stuck in processing mode for a month or two after giving, their most-likely-to-give period can easily pass without an opportunity to give a subsequent gift.
- One of the most common reasons donors give for stopping their support for a given charity is They didn’t need my gifts. Nothing signals Your gift doesn’t matter quite so loudly as taking a long time to acknowledge it.
None of that knowledge directly answers the question. It just tells us that quicker receipting is probably better than slower.
We kicked the question around for a while. Then one of my colleagues gave another reason for quick response to donors: Politeness.
You receipt as quickly as you possibly can for the same reason you sent Grandma thank you notes for giving you gifts: It’s the polite thing to do. That’s how you treat an important person like Grandma.
I’m sure if there were studies on such things, they’d show that kids who promptly write thank-you notes to their grandmothers do better at holidays and birthdays than the kids who don’t.
But that’s not why you do it. You do it because you love Grandma. She matters to you.
That’s also why you should acknowledge your donors as fast as you possibly can. If you’re doing some kind of math that basically asks How little can I get away with thanking my donors? then something’s wrong with your thinking. You don’t love them — and you’re probably going to make all kinds of response-crushing mistakes beyond taking forever to say thank you.
Tomorrow: Five more ways to love your donors.