July officially starts on Friday – Yikes! – Are you ready? What’s on your list for July? Annual Meetings? Summer field trips? Donor visits? Here’s what I’m thinking about… Planning My Fall Appeal – If you followed my advice back in February, you will have a draft of your Fall Appeal letter already written. The draft will use what you learned from last year’s appeal as well as your current year’s communications theme. There is no reason not to pull that letter out now, create several versions to meet the needs of your segmented donor file, and PRINT THEM ALL NOW. Print the letters with a September date, fold and stuff them, seal them and put stamps on. Then put them in a box on a shelf with the drop date written on the outside. One less chore for the fall! – which will make time for major gift prospects visits. Plan NOW to start right after Labor Day. Make appointments to go visit your biggest friends. Take a board member with you! Or better yet, assign the task to board members who are willing to go meet with donors – no ask involved! In the meetings, share the organizational vision for the next few years, listen for the points they are most interested in, and tell a story related to one of their interests. Tell them how important their on-going support is. And ask them to keep you in their philanthropic plans again this fall. The “appeal” letter is a follow-up to that visit, and asks them to carry on their support for another year with a gift of a specific amount. Getting Ready for Fall...Read More
When you plan your fund development work, you should segment your donors and plan for each segment separately. I’ve written about this before. The basic idea is that many people can fall into one of various “segments” of the total list that share one of various attributes. How many segments you have and where you draw the lines between them will be based on the level of complexity your organization can tolerate and still function. One of the lines few organizations draw is between current (and former) board members and everyone else. I believe this is a mistake – you should segment your board separately. Board members see the organization from a unique perspective. Their interest and motivation in giving may be very different than that of others in the community. And their giving can get complicated by the sense that they are obligated to give because they’re board members. Making it systematic, predictable, and regular will help everyone get past the discomfort. Another line is one many organizations draw between so-called “major donors” and everyone else. And again, I believe this is a mistake. Here’s why: Let’s start with the idea that the word “major” should modify “gift” instead of “donor.” So then the object is a “major gift” and the person is a “major gift donor” or “major gift prospect.” In this way, anyone is a major gift donor if the gift they give is a major gift – to them. For some, $500 is a major gift. For others, $5,000 is trivial. It will vary donor by donor. A donor is not a major donor simply because they gave $500, or $1,000. In my opinion, you...Read More
Last week, I received an Annual Report from a former client. The report was 12 pages, beautifully laid out, a little dense (not enough white space), but great pictures throughout – a nice communication piece for members and donors. On the inside of the front page was a letter, and it broke so many rules, I thought I’d doctor it up as a case study and share a “before” and “after” with you. The letter was co-signed by the Executive Director and the Board Chair. Neither gave me permission to republish it, so I removed the name of the land trust and any reference to geography. PART 1: This was the original letter as I received it. The Reading Level is 12.1 – way too high for an Annual Report. Dear Friends, We are thrilled to report to you that Conservancy reached two notable milestones in 2015; we began our 100th conservation project, and our total conserved habitat topped 1,000 acres. Considering that the median parcel size in all our projects is barely one acre, that second achievement is phenomenal. Although these successes were carried out by our staff, volunteers, and partners working together, none could have been accomplished without your generous support. In this Report to the Community, we want to highlight for you a few of our over 20 projects from 2015 and thank you – our amazing donors – for helping Conservancy do what we do best – protect our region’s urban natural resources. Supporting Conservancy may be the most cost-effective, impactful investments you can make. Your investment in urban land conservation reaps a benefit many times larger for your community. The financial return...Read More
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Development for Conservation helps conservation organizations raise more money from individual members and donors by improving renewal, upgrade, cultivation, and major gift development systems.