Practical Advice for Modern Fundraisers


Blogging during Fundraising Day New York is both as pleasure and a challenge. The depth of the information and the pace at which it is delivered makes it hard to do each session justice. But I like getting my ideas and thoughts to you as soon as possible. So we will do our best.

Thought I'll be live blogging during the day I promise to go back through the-the blogs over the weekend. At that point, I'll be able to clarify ideas and clean up any pesky typos. Typos are inevitable when live blogging so I do hope you will understand. I feel it is better to get the idea out to you while it is fresh than to worry about you grabbing your red pen.

So I am off to breakfast and then my first session -


That was a great session! And the end of a great AFP for me. I'll be spending the last session working the NYU Heyman Center booth. I teach at NYU and they were kind enough to allow me to come to today on one of their passes. I do hope you got a taste of what Fundraising Day New York has to offer. I understand that next year it will be on June 23rd. I can't wait.

Gertrude Stein was right right right.

Repeating things makes them matter more. We mail to people multiple times asking them for donations. It is considered perfectly normal to mail an appeal and then "follow-up" a few weeks later. We may even ask for second or third gifts from our donors all in the same year. We subscribe to an "Asking" repeating model. But what about thanking donors?

When it comes to thanking donors for most organization's once per gift is enough - but is once enough? We have to provide every donor with an official letter noting the date and amount of their donation. Could we be doing more? I say yes, we ought to thank, thank, thank our donors. I subscribe to a "thanking repeating" model.

How does this work? Simple, I find every opportunity I can to thank donors before they make or renew their gift. Acknowledging previous contributions in solicitation letters, in an official thank you receipt letter and once a year in a general thank you that does not have an ask are all ways to thank your donors more than once.

I have even seen people use their social media to thank donors in mass. Social media posts do not have the same effect as a personal letter, but the post will let others know that you have donors and that you appreciate them.

Though it can be time-consuming, I try and write a handwritten note to every donor over a particular giving amount each year. If you write one or two a day, it makes it less of a burden. In fact, you can even get a volunteer to write a few letters from their perspective. The important thing is to thank, thank, thank your donors. Then you thoughtfully, follow a "thanking repeating" model.

Restarting your Twitter account

Restarting your Twitter account shouldn’t be such a big hurdle, but you do need to prepare. Just as we discussed in the Facebook blog entry in February, you need to think not just about today's tweets but build a set of tweets for the next several weeks and "discover " content to retweet. Having a set of tweets ready to go really takes the pressure off.

It is important to remember that on average a tweet is only good for about 36 hours. What that means is that if your followers don't see your post in that period, they probably won’t see it. Though it wouldn't seem like it, this short viewing time is good news. It means you can recycle tweets without too many people seeing it twice or thrice.

So where to start, let’s assume you have an active Facebook Page. You can start by scaling down versions of those post to 140 characters or less and post them on Twitter. In fact, I would bet that you can get two or three tweets out of a single Facebook post. If that is the case, then you can schedule those over the course of a couple of days.

At a large organization, you can highlight a different program each week. I recommend working with program staff to create a series of tweets. You can write these a week or two ahead of time. Then schedule them to go out during the week. If something special comes up, simply do a one-off tweet. I will sometimes ask staff to email me photos during the week. I can add those to my prepared tweets or create new tweets. Remember those tweets are only active for a few hours. So reuse them.

I recommend that prewritten Tweets should redirect to pages on your organization's website. As we have discussed in a previous post, tweets ideally, should highlight information you are already promoting via your website. In this way, you get the best value out of each post or tweet. By driving traffic to your website, you are giving readers the opportunity to discover more about your organization or cause. It also puts them closer to your DONATE button. It also forces you to keep your website up to date - never a bad thing.

Another good tactic when restarting your Twitter activities is to retweet "discovered" content. Retweeting is an ideal way to increase your tweets and to share great content you didn't have to create. I try to have at least on retweet a day. I don't always make it, but I try. One way to find content to retweet is to get help from a social media aggregator like Hootsuite. I find Hootsuite to be a great way manage my social media presence and to find content. And it is very simple to use.

The most important thing is to get started- write a bunch of tweets, get your program people involved, use an aggregator, Retweet others content. Hey, it is only 140 characters or less!

AFP International Conference

Well, the AFP Conference is off to a great start. So many people from around the country and the world.  My goal is to write up blog post during the day and then post each evening.  I hope you will give me wide breadth on typos. I will go back through the post when I get back to NYC and clean them up. Ok, I am off to my first session.

BTW-  Be sure to tweet me at @thoughtfulappro if you are here. Or drop me a note at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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