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January 2, 2018

13 Fundraising Tips You Need to Know in 2018


Happy New Year! Now that the holidays are over, school is back in session, and vacations are done, it’s time to get back to work.  Is your organization ready for 2018?

To help you prioritize, we asked our fundraising professionals to share the trends and best practices they think you’ll need to know in 2018.  Use these tips to acquire even more donors and move them from a transactional to a transformational commitment to your mission.


The Top 13 Fundraising Best Practices and New Trends in 2018

  1. As email-open rates decline and email service providers (ESPs) update their algorithms that impact your message’s ability to hit the inbox, look at engaging your donors with email less as a direct-response strategy and more as a long-tail relationship-building and content strategy.  If you were the donor and engaging with your nonprofit, what would make you want to consistently open your emails?  (Hint: It’s not by asking for money in every email.)
    —Jeremy Haselwood, Senior Director of Digital Strategy
  2. Always, often, and in every channel, provide a way for donors to give a recurring gift (versus a single gift).  You can do this by making the recurring giving option the first option your donor sees when they visit your website/donation page.  Also include (and emphasize) the recurring gift option on all donor emails, direct mail, and phone solicitations.
    –Stacey Schwab, Account Director
  3. Get organized.  You can predict some of the common questions or materials donors request.  A time-saver would be to have responses, information, and other collateral ready to go.
    –Roberta Helmstadter, Account Director
  4. The fundraisers having the most success today are those who can — in the midst of many loud voices — focus on the quiet truth that donors want to experience the joy of giving.  The shorter the emotional distance from the donor’s hand to the hand in need, the greater the joy.  Use all the means you have available to make the impact feel that close!
    —Marcy Auman, Senior Vice President
  5. Video is clearly the future of content marketing — accounting for 69 percent of all consumer Internet traffic this year alone — with impressive growth predicted over the next few years.  According to Cisco, by 2019, video content will be responsible for 85 percent of all U.S. Internet traffic.  To put that in perspective, “monthly Internet traffic in North America will generate 11 billion DVDs’ worth of traffic.”  Video marketing is a way to create content that is personal with a human touch, simple to digest with a true impact on the audience, and easy to promote across multiple digital channels.
    —Natasha Cygnarowicz, Vice President of Digital Operations
  6. Remember to ask.  One of the life lessons my mom taught me was: “If you don’t ask, you won’t receive.”  Don’t be be afraid.  The answer might be “no,” but if you didn’t ask, you are possibly leaving a “Yes, I’ll support your organization” on the table.
    –Roberta Helmstadter, Account Director
  7. Set aside time to interview program staff to learn more about your organization’s programs.  A deeper knowledge of your charity’s impact can align your donor communication with the direct impact of their giving.  For example, some services might be seasonal, and fundraising appeals can be scheduled to align with the actual needs on the ground.  You can also compare your program notes against campaign reports and donor survey results to identify the best alignment with different audiences and fundraising methods.  Your time learning about and supporting your programs will also bring a greater authenticity and passion to your interactions with donors.
    —Paul Hebblethwaite, Senior Director
  8. Make messaging to your donors conversational and authentic.  Write how you speak.  Which is sometimes in short or one-word sentences.  Like this one.  See?
    —Jennifer Miller, Creative Director
  9. There is always an ongoing need to look at an organization’s data-hygiene rules.  A nonprofit should be reviewing their data business rules at least once a year, preferably twice a year or more.  They should look at their rules for No Mail, Deceased, and Inactive donors — comparing counts for each of these groups every six months.  If these numbers increase significantly from the previous six months, was there an error in a large number of donors being flagged inadvertently?  The database is the brain of direct marketing.  Your direct-marketing program will most oftentimes be successful if your data is clean and current, and your segmentation
    is accurate.
    —Kerri O’Neill, Senior Director
  10. Motion and video has been a powerful asset for several years in nonprofit online content.  Fundraisers should be more aggressively testing the role it plays in their “pushed” digital appeals, as they continue to strengthen the impact of storytelling in their campaigns.
    —John Thompson, Chief Creative Officer
  11. In everything you do, put on your “donor hat.”  Are you looking at things from your perspective as a professional fundraiser/marketer?  Or as someone who gives to your organization?  (Remember: They’re two different people!) 
    —Claire Waiksnoris, Business Development Executive
  12. Look at your internal audiences to identify potential direct mail and telephone fundraising donor-conversion test opportunities.  People who already know about and have a positive experience with your organization are prime candidates to convert into donors.  Have you kept in touch with past Angel Tree donors, event participants or bell-ringers?  Sometimes we can successfully accomplish this through regular mailing or phone calls.  At other times, additional modeling is required.  In all cases, though, once we figure out a strategy that works, the warm prospect pipeline of new donors is a valuable one.
    —Jamie Veltri, Vice President of Acquisition and Media
  13. Visibility and relationships are key!  The more donors see your organization or leaders in the community and at public events, the more they will recognize your work and have the opportunity to find out about your mission.  That small moment may have a big, lasting impact.
    –Roberta Helmstadter, Account Director


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