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Seven cost-effective strategies to increase income from donors

Looking for ways to increase your fundraising income?  Terry Murray offers seven proven techniques to achieve your goal.
Many years ago, John Groman, a top US Direct Marketing expert visited South Africa to conduct the first ever fundraising seminar in this country.  And one of the many insights John left with us was the fact that fundraising income can only be increased in three ways:
  1. More donors
  2. More donations (from those donors)
  3. More Rands (again from existing donors)
Within those last two are a number of strategies to increase income from donors.  Here are seven that I believe are likely to provide the best ratio of results to effort.
One: Show donors what you are doing to be more efficient
If you’ve embarked on a rationalisation of resources or of service programmes – evaluate the savings and tell your donors about it.  Show them that you are making wise use of their money, send them your annual financial report and invite them around to see for themselves what you are achieving.
Accountability to donors was always important but has now taken on much greater significance whenever there is news or evidence of misuse and misappropriation of funds.
Two: Give them a challenge
Find a major donor to make a challenge gift to your organisation – a gift that you have to match with many more gifts from others.  Or raise the sights of your donors by showing them how much more could be done if they doubled their previous gift (or even increased it by 50%).
Three: Find out what lights their fires
Ask for your donors’ opinions in your newsletter or mail appeals or use a survey or group discussion to establish their particular interests.  In this way you’ll be able to offer them giving opportunities that fulfil their needs.
Recognise your donors as individuals and you’ll be able to talk to them as the friends which they are.
Four: Pay greater attention to the top 10%
Every donor file I’ve ever analysed has a group of people who give more frequently and/or in larger amounts than the average.  These are often the people who love you and what you’re doing the most.  So don’t just mail them – talk to them.  Telephone them to stress how important they are to you, invite them round to visit, give them a tea ’n tour, involve them in a special club or support circle.  Keep a file with their names, addresses, telephone and e-mail addresses and everything else you know about them – and then phone five or 10 of them every week.
You’ll be amazed at how the relationship grows.
Five: Share your dreams
If you feel passionate about an aspect of your programme or your organisation or if you know that by adding something specific you’re going to save more lives, feed more babies, educate more children, create more jobs – then tell your donors what it will take to achieve the dream and show them how they can be a part of your vision.  Your passion and your enthusiasm will help lift their support to new heights.
Six: Thank you, thank you, thank you
Reinforce each first-time donor’s decision to support you with a ‘Welcome’ package, not just an ordinary thank you note.  Include (for example) your latest newsletter, a bumper sticker or licence disc holder with your slogan or logo, some informative literature on your organisation, something describing the impact you’re having in your field of endeavour, an offer of bequest literature and a reply envelope to hold their next gift.
In this way you will make sure they remember how grateful you were for their support.  And you’ll start to grow the relationship and build their loyalty from day one.  Send your ‘thank you’ within 24 hours so that it arrives before they’ve forgotten they made a donation.
I recently saw the results of an annual mailing drop by 25% and the sad reason was traced back to a number of very generous previous donors who didn’t receive a thank you for six months after they gave!
Be innovative with your thanks – a children’s home can use a child's note of thanks or a drawing, an animal welfare charity might have a picture of a dog or cat with a pawprint – get your staff to brainstorm some new ideas and surprise your donors with something different and memorable.
Seven: Encourage the ultimate gift
Bequests in the form of cash, residuals of estates, property, antiques, paintings, investments and jewellery are sometimes called ‘the final gift from a friend’. And your friends – your donors – are often delighted to find that there is another way in which they can help you.  A way which ensures that your good work will continue beyond their lifetime.
Your donors are unlikely to think of this on their own – so talk to those who have reached the stage of life when bequests are a consideration – and offer them literature and advice on how they can make the ultimate gift to fund your work.
Reprinted from The Art of Asking: 60+ Fundraising Tips and Trends by Terry Murray.

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