Overestimating what your donors know about you
A recent ad in “The Chronicle of Philanthropy” made this point very well. There is a picture of a couple with their checkbook. The text on the picture reads: “They don’t know why to choose your organization over another, how you handle your finances, if your letter is truthful.” The text ends with the question, “And you want them to donate money?”
Raise awareness of your mission. Let people know that you are good stewards of your finances. Let people know your results. Then, ask them for money.
No investment in donor research
When I was growing up, my father used to say, “Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.”
His advice applies to fundraising. Invest time and resources in donor research.
The first place to start is with your donor records. Look for the donors who have given the largest gifts. Then look for the donors who have given the largest number of gifts. Then, look for the donors who have given recently. Make a list of those donors. They are the donors most likely to give again.
Continue to build on that relationship. Learn more about these donors. Gather information to find out what they think of your organization, why they give, what they want from their philanthropy. You can use surveys, interviews, focus groups or inserts in mailings.
There are two benefits to this approach. First, you will understand your current donors better. Second, you will have credible information that can help you find new donors or bring lapsed donors back into the fold.