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September 9th, 2019

It’s almost Friday the 13th, which means it’s time to lock the doors, stay inside, and not fly on an airplane for all those with paraskevidekatriaphobia (the scientific term for a fear of Friday the 13th). However, a historical analysis actually shows that this date has some of the fewest accidents than any other!

Whether it’s a black cat crossing your path (a sign of good luck in Ireland), not having a 13th floor (do you think there’s a secret floor between 12 and 14?), or that bad luck comes in threes (an example of how our brains seek patterns where there aren’t any), preconceived notions can often cloud reality.

This couldn’t be more true in the fundraising world, where we are trying to align a tangible message within the ethereal world of why someone gives. Let’s look at a “Lucky 7” set of superstitions to counteract today’s triskaidekaphobia (a fear of the number 13):

  • Fewer appeals = more money

The most common reason why donors do not make gifts is that they weren’t asked. Although very committed, higher-dollar supporters probably do not need the same number of appeals as less committed donors, remember that most supporters give to multiple causes—especially with the increased use of co-ops. If you aren’t communicating with your supporters, chances are someone else is.

  • Segmentation of one

With the ever-growing amount of available data, marketers often make the case for hyper-personalized communications. Hyper-focusing on individual supporters is both costly and often ineffective. Certainly, the right message to the right person at the right time works best, but that can be often achieved via mass marketing messages to large portions of your donor base.

  • We can’t do that—I would never respond to that!

This is a prime example of personal opinions getting in the way of reality. Although a copy platform may not appeal to you, previous results from the target audience should be the rule. Remember, communicate what works.

  • Creating the optimal donor journey

Although your organization can aspire to an optimal, step-by-step communication plan for every donor or prospect, remember that every supporter is unique. While you inevitably cannot control their experience, what you can control is the message. Ensuring a consistent message across multiple media and opportunities is the best way to build and support the bond with your constituents.

Although a copy platform may not appeal to you, previous results from the target audience should be the rule.

  • Storytelling about the problem

How often do you see communications that dwell on the problem and not the solution? Worse yet, not even explain the donor’s role in the solution? Although our missions can often seem large, complex and daunting, donors need to know “What is my gift going to do?” Focus on explaining the solution, how your organization implements that solution, and—of utmost importance—relaying the progress that is being made to earn donor trust and loyalty.

  • Mail/E-mail are dead!

While traditional universe sizes may be getting smaller, these two channels are still the primary drivers for donor communications and revenue. While new audiences and channels should be explored, don’t ignore or abandon the two key generators of giving and bonding. Balance your investments over both the short—and long-term to ensure file stabilization while pursuing new opportunities.

  • Email is free

While the incremental cost per impression is negligible, what about the staff time needed for design, segmentation, message refinement, copy writing and deployment? Remember that email opt-outs are also incredibly simple, and response rates continue to decline. A well-structured strategy that combines multiple media to nurture and cultivate donors and prospects should provide the highest revenue and ROI.

Don’t let superstitions affect your thinking. Make sure your opinions won’t stand in the way of potential new avenues of success! Who knows, you might even hit on a little bit of beginner’s luck!

Blog written by Scott Bell | Vice President of Client Services