General fundraising: March 2010 Archives

March 31, 2010

How Many Donors Are You Calling to Thank?

At a panel I recently attended, the president of a Friends of the Library board explained that one of its ways of cultivating donors was to have a board or staff member personally call and thank everyone who'd made a contribution of $100 or above.

Not too surprisingly, he said that this goes over very well, even describing people as "thankful" for the call.

But this part's more surprising: He added that many of them say, "Yours is the first organization that's ever called me!"

To me, that indicates that a lot of organizations are missing the boat. Making thank-you calls to donors is easy, a perfect task for new or fundraising-averse board members, and doesn't cost much if anything to carry out.

Maybe some organizations make such calls to donors that have given amounts greater than $100 -- but why not lower the bar, especially during a recession, when even a $20 gift may be a big stretch for some? Creating this degree of personal contact with a donor may turn that person into a friend -- and contributor -- for life. 
March 8, 2010

More on Text-Message Based Fundraising

In my last post on text-message-based fundraising, I and the rest of the world were impressed by the American Red Cross having raised $9 million for Haitian relief efforts via mobile phone text messaging. That number has since gone up to $26 million -- even harder to ignore.

If there were any lingering doubts that this type of fundraising has caught the popular imagination, one need look no farther than the 2010 Oscars ceremony, at which the good folks accepting the award for best documentary, "The Cove," flashed a sign saying, "Text Dolphin to 44144." (You had to be watching closely, since the powers-that-be quickly moved the cameras in another direction -- with the predictable result that the moment is getting more media coverage and video linkings than it would have otherwise.)

But what's the bottom line -- has mobile text messaging (or "SMS") become, overnight, the hottest fundraising strategy around? The fees for nonprofit users are apparently trending downward as more providers enter the market, such as the Mobile Giving Foundation.

Nevertheless, a recent report called the "2010 Nonprofit Text Messaging Benchmarks" report concludes that, while text messaging can be an effective part of a communications mix with existing supporters that also includes email, the Web, and direct mail, it's main role for the moment will be to reinforce other messages and provide an immediate engagement opportunity in urgent situations.

In other words, if you're not responding to a widely known-about crisis like the Haiti earthquake, don't start counting your millions just yet. But start collecting your supporters' mobile phone numbers, just in case.