Elyse Haines, Marketing Director  ●  8/3/2020

Semper Gumby: The New Fundraising Motto for 2020

heroic fundraising featured image gumby flexible

As a Navy brat, I heard more maxims and proverbs growing up than most kids. And while many of these mottos are worth internalizing in the pursuit of being courageous and honorable citizens, the Latin-adjacent phrase that has helped me through many difficult times is Semper Gumby, or “always flexible.”

At TrueSense, we’ve been going “over hill, over dale” with our nonprofit clients to adjust to the current landscape. No matter whether it’s balancing channels, ensuring meaningful data analysis, retaining new COVID-19 donors, or developing an offer that resonates with donors today, the constant theme across all topics has been the need for flexibility.

No one can accurately predict the outcome of this year, and the best way to ensure success of your donor marketing plans is to prepare to be flexible.


The Fourth Quarter Is Coming

30% of all annual giving occurs in December, according to NP Source. If you’re like most charities, you raise the bulk of your annual fundraising dollars between GivingTuesday (this year, December 1) and December 31.

You’re probably asking yourself, how can I prepare for the all-important fourth quarter when I don’t know what will resonate with donors 4 – 5 months from now?

Here are 5 tips to build flexibility into your fundraising plans:

  1. Create variable copy sections for your fundraising appeals that are approved and ready go. You can also create a few inserts for your direct mail pieces and choose the most appropriate at the last minute.
  2. Consider the timing of your fast and slow channels. While your direct mail campaigns need a long lead time, you will be able to pivot your messages on digital and telephone (especially telephone) quickly by comparison.
  3. Be on the lookout out for new testing opportunities. Pricing for mobile engagement and social engagement is at an all-time high, while TV costs have dropped to an all-time low. Even amidst the upheaval, your organization can expand its reach and effectiveness by finding the balance between staying the course and taking advantage of new testing opportunities.
  4. Shift your focus. When you mapped out budgets, strategies, and KPIs, COVID-19 wasn’t on the radar. Evaluate which channels and messaging are driving the best performance right now. As needed, be ready to shift your spend to those programs which will generate the greatest return.  
  5. Plan for a gut-check. Plan your direct response efforts on your accustomed schedule; however, add a go/no go date to your schedule to gut-check the plan and pivot if necessary. Make sure this date falls early enough in the schedule that you can implement the change (i.e., don't schedule your direct mail gut-check the day before the mail date — schedule it a few days before creative is due to the printer).


We hope these tips will help you remain proactively nimble in an organized way, and eliminate the feeling of being out of control or last minute on every project. From all your friends at TrueSense, we wish you fair winds and following seas through the rest of 2020 and beyond. And Semper Gumby!


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