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Start 2016 Strong With Effective Fundraising Resolutions

With the New Year upon us, many people take this time to think about changes they want to make in their personal and professional lives. For many fundraisers, January 1 is also the start of the new fundraising year – the proverbial fundraising thermometer is reset to $0 and we start the long trek towards our annual fundraising goal.

This new start presents the perfect time to make a few resolutions for 2016! Here are my three recommendations for resolutions you might consider.

1. If you do not already know your five-year donor retention rate, resolve to make this a priority!

On average, three out of every four new donors will not make a second gift to your organization.

What is your donor retention rate? This is critical information for your 2016 planning. In my experience, many organizations focus on acquisition (we all need to fill the funnel!) and lots of planning and dollars are devoted to this. But, I find that donor retention programs do not always get the same priority. Often times, this is because organizations simply do not know what their donor retention trends are.

How do you get this information? I cover this topic in detail in one of my previous blog titled, “Why You Should Pay Attention to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project.

A well balanced fundraising program that includes acquisition and renewal fundraising at all giving levels will position your nonprofit for success in 2016. Understanding your five-year donor retention trends will help you determine strategies and resources needed for retaining donors.

2. Resolve to pick up the phone and call two donors every day.

Excluding holidays there are 251 working days in 2016. If you called two donors each day, you would be personally connecting with 502 donors in 2016! Some of these should be renewing donors at every gift level, while others should be brand new donors.

From my experience, great things happen when we personally connect with donors. Early in my fundraising career, my VP of Advancement said to me “Ask for advice, and you get money.” This has proven to be true for me over the past 25 years.

It is amazing the insight we learn from donors when we take the time to ask for and listen to their feedback—especially once they hear that we are calling just to say thank you. While donors at the higher giving levels are more used to getting these calls, lower level donors typically do not get these calls, and this is an area where all nonprofits can improve! Remember, the lower level or new donor you call today might just be tomorrow’s major or planned gift donor.

3. Speaking of new donors, resolve to score and screen every new 2015 donor (or all of your constituents) as soon as possible.

Today’s donors are very savvy, and many donors who have significant capacity start supporting an organization through a small, test gift. According to the 2014 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, this is a growing trend. (By the way, this survey contains a lot of helpful information – you should resolve to spend some time reading it).

One of our jobs as fundraisers is to connect donors to our mission and programs. Many organizations use capacity screening (wealth ratings) as a means to identify those donors have the means to give at a leadership level. This is important – no doubt. But capacity is only one leg of a three-legged stool. We also need to understand a donor’s affinity and inclination to our organization – the other two chair legs.

Just because someone has all the money in the world does not mean they want to give it to your organization. Scoring is a tool which allows you to define the dimensions (anything you can query on in your donor database) that indicate affinity for your organization, and then score all constituents to how much affinity a constituent shows for your organization. Scoring can help you identify major and planned gift prospects, determine ask amounts for the annual fund, or identify donors who are most at risk for not making another gift – and much more! ScoreOmatic is a great tool that can help you accomplish this resolution!

What are some of your resolutions for 2016? Whatever you resolve to do, be sure to set goals and make a plan to achieve them!

Happy Fundraising!

Raiser’s Edge is a trademark of Blackbaud, Inc.

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