Disrupt Your Fundraising Program by Going Back to the Basics

In a digital world fighting for our attention, the number of push notifications, pop-ups, and emails continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Both for-profit enterprises and nonprofit organizations are competing for the public’s attention and their wallets. It’s challenging to stand out digitally when the average American receives 126 emails and 46 notifications per day. This has nothing to do with how critical, memorable or meaningful your mission is. Your donors are being overloaded with a barrage of impersonal communication. Nonprofits contribute by sending on average 66 emails per donor per year, of which 25 are fundraising-related. 

We all have to ask ourselves, at what point do donors begin questioning their role as a supporter and rather a walking wallet?

A novel approach

Making a connection and building relationships should be the goal, rather than impersonal outreach and cold solicitations. Whether you connect through email, in person, or through a handwritten note, interactions should appear authentic. But how does one employ this strategy? You’re already familiar with how to genuinely connect with people; the issue at hand is finding a medium to do it at scale. 

When resources are scarce and, your mission is on the line, it is critical that your organization stands out from the crowd so that your message reaches your donors. With nonprofit email click-through rates at 2.6%, email still requires extremely large email lists to be effective. According to the USPS, on average, a person only receives five handwritten letters a year. Would you rather be lost in hundreds of emails someone receives a week or make a real connection? A pen-inked note is both an untapped medium and an effective way to connect with and make a lasting relationship with your donors. In the past, handwritten letters were impossible to scale; however, with advances in technology nonprofits can now automate handwritten direct mail campaigns for fundraising, donor stewardship, and thank you notes. While direct mail is no stranger to nonprofits, taking a fresh, new “handwritten” approach can help you stand out and connect with many more followers. Handwritten direct mail used in fundraising settings has experienced over 25% fundraising response rates for cold contact lists in comparison to the 5% average for printed direct mail. Lastly, the average donation rate for handwritten direct mail far surpasses that of printed mail, bringing in roughly 4 times the donation.

A data-driven approach

The path towards large-scale personalization sounds daunting; who has the time and people-power to connect on a deeper level with every one of your donors?  

Proactively tracking and collecting the interests, preferences, and any other notable details of your donors when you interact with them is essential to have the information required for genuine personalization. This data transforms a fundraising appeal from a basic salutation to a truly authentic and personal note that makes a real and lasting connection. 

Start by breaking down your donor segments into more granular categories that align with the interests and activities of your donors. This is a simple first step, but in the long run develop strategies for capturing this information systematically through surveys, event attendance, and analytics of internal data sources. 

It’s no wonder that Salesforce found that 84% of consumers say that being treated like a person, rather than a number is critical to winning their business. Personalization reduces client acquisition costs by as much as 50% (AdWeek) and increases the efficiency of marketing spending by as much as 30% (McKinsey & Company).

Regardless of whether your communication is digital, printed, or handwritten, making your message personal and applicable to your donors will gain their trust and attention. 

Written by Brandon Gaty, Founder of LettrLabs, a B2B marketing company that helps nonprofits and for-profit enterprises to connect with their supporters, making a lasting impact using personalized, hand-written communication. Visit LetterLabs at: https://www.lettrlabs.com/ and on LinkedIn.