Practical Advice for Modern Fundraisers

THOUGHT·FUL

adjective\ˈtht-fəl\

: serious and quiet because you are thinking: done or made after careful thinking   : done or made after careful thinking: showing concern for the needs or : showing concern for the needs of feelings of other people

Segmentation is all the rage!  

Segmentation. That should be your new mantra.  Many of us have long done simple segmentation things like First Time Donor, Lapsed Donor, Recent Donors.  But shouldn't we look deeper?  Recently, I used a service to model and segment our data.  The modeling is something I have always been a little circumspect about, but I knew it works for Acquisition. So we gave it a try. Segmentation. That should be your new mantra.  Many of us have long done simple segmentation things like First Time Donor, Lapsed Donor, Recent Donors.  But shouldn't we look deeper?  Recently, I used a service to model and segment our data.  The modeling is something I have always been a little circumspect about, but I knew it works for Acquisition. So we gave it a try. 


Our database had nearly 200,000 gifts (not counting event gifts) that had come in over the last ten years.  So we took that data and looked for patterns. We compared our gift data with that of tons of other non-profits. I wasn't sure what we would get but I thought it was worth the investment. It did actually cost that much considering the number of gifts involved.


We provided the data analysis company with a record id and the complete giving history for that id. What we got was very interesting.  I was about to do our next Major Donor mailing so I tried the segmentation/modeling for that mailing.  Usually, I would mail about 100 renewals in this mailing.  The modeling identified another 200 people who were good targets for major gifts.  By the way, a major gift for this mailing is $1,000.  

 

After culling out a some of the donors we mailed to about 150 donors asking them to make what they consider a "substantial gift." The reply envelope for the mailing started with $500 so that will give the donor and idea of what we are asking.

 

The piece we mailed was a traditional three sheet piece. Two-page letter and an info sheet about the programs mentioned in the letter.


So what happened?  Well, next month we will look at the results of the mailing.  Stay tuned.

Does your audience need a fancy case study? 

When you start a major campaign be it an Endowment Campaign or a Capital Campaign do you need a fancy case study and all of the surrounding materials.  Well, it depends, in my opinion.   I was working with an organization that had a very senior and very wealth board the average time on the board was 20 years.  Now, I am not saying this was the best situation, but it was what we were working with, in this case. 

When you start a major campaign be it an Endowment Campaign or a Capital Campaign do you need a fancy case study and all of the surrounding materials.  Well, it depends, in my opinion.   I was working with an organization that had a very senior and very wealth board the average time on the board was 20 years.  Now, I am not saying this was the best situation, but it was what we were working with, in this case. 
When it came time create a leadership committee for their campaign we had to decide how much material the committee needed about the organization.  Obviously, it would be insulting to lecture to a senior board member about the mission and vision of the organization or to explain why the money is needed.  But they did need something. 

So we developed a one-pager written for an insider.  We briefly reviewed the history of the organization, its significant accomplishment and the why.  We spent most of the time on the "why."  Since as board members they should clearly understand the "why" we wrote it with reinforcing language - "As you know," "Becuase of your previous efforts," and "Understanding the future needs." In this way, we could instruct without taking the chance of insulting.  

We treated this document as a supplement to our committee meetings and face-to-face meetings.  The board members appreciated having a takeaway. More importantly, we knew we had given the committee and the board the information they needed about the campaign in multiple forms. 


This document also served as the outline for a full case for support. It also allowed us to try different ideas during the quiet phase.  Since the material was not a big design piece, we could make changes on the fly.


This might not work for every organization planning a major capital or endowment campaign, but it is worth thinking about.

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