Fund Appeals and Your Tech Tools, Part One


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Like many of you, we’re gearing up for a fund appeal right now. Pull up a chair, look over my shoulder, and see if you might like to try some tech tool ideas to help you with your fund appeal.

Of course, some things all of us should be doing year round, like keeping up with thank you notes, using Facebook to see how our financial partners are doing, etc. I’ll be focusing in this post more on the immediate things I do for a fund appeal. I’m also organizing this by category, not necessarily by the order you might do things.

Fund Appeals and Social Media

#GivingTuesday, a day to volunteer and/or donate to charitable causes, has been gaining momentum since the movement started in November 2012. Because our donors may be receiving a number of giving opportunities via snail mail and email that day, it’s my personal goal to have all my fund appeals at their destinations by the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. According to guidelines on the StaffWeb, end-of-year ask letters are mailed the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Last year, I had no other contact information for a handful of people other than LinkedIn.  I reworded our fund appeal and sent it as a message to these six old friends, challenging them to come on our MPD team. I only heard back from one, who declined, but considering I didn’t have a phone, email address, or street address, I thought this was a good communication tool. Perhaps, I should have used LinkedIn to re-connect for a year and then sent the fund appeal. These folks were all Cru alumni, so they already understood why I was contacting them.

Fund Appeals and Your Blog / Website

If you didn’t get around to this recently, take a little time and make sure your give.cru.org page is current. Here’s the how-to steps. It won’t take long. You’re going to let your financial partners know they can give online, so this page should have a recent photo and up-to-date description of your ministry.

Are your “about” page and “giving” pages up-to-date on your blog or website? If you just can’t do anything about that at this time, make a note to fix these important pages early next year.

Fund Appeals and TntMPD or MPDx

I use TntMPD. Hopefully, you can adapt these ideas to MPDx if that’s your database software. I’m sorry I don’t have time right now to look into it for you. Please comment if you have ideas to share about MPDx for our readers.

I’ve had success making specific fund appeals. We don’t send just one letter out. It’s more work, sure, but I can be more specific and effective in who we approach. In fact, everyone on our mailing list gets a letter. Here’s what I do so that everyone on our list receives something:

  • Depending on the ask, about a third to two-thirds of our friends receive an appeal.
  • Every two years, most donors are challenged to increase their giving. I alternate years. The challenge paragraph in our appeal for these people is for an increase.
  • The remaining friends receive the letter with the appeal paragraph removed. So, it’s essentially a prayer letter, but we also enclose a response slip for prayer requests and an envelope. We usually get about $1000 from these folks anyway and even received $3000 one year.

Obviously, I’m tracking their history, deciding who receives which letter when. I can also merge data into the letters, like “thank you, Donna Donor, for giving $50 per month.” If you wanted to, you could even use two different appeal paragraphs if you have two needs at one time. Don’t put the two needs in one letter, send one for a medical need, and one for a trip, to the people who would be most interested.

I know one friend who actually puts a personally worded sentence in a TntMPD User Field, merging that sentence for that donor into his fund appeal letter. Give everyone a generic personal sentence, but starting in August or September as you’re checking on your team in social media, change that sentence for people when you read about their family events and trips. That won’t take long when you do it ahead of time. You’ll have a very personal letter to send out. Think about trying this next year.

Fund Appeals and MailChimp / Emails

I’ve also sent fund appeals for people that I only have an email address for. So far, I’ve not had success with this, but now that I have tools like MailChimp and Sidekick, I might try this again, but differently. Next year, I’ll approach these people in small batches using email tracking to see if they’re opening my emails. With Sidekick, I even know when they open an email, so I can pick up the phone right then and try to talk to them in person. So, no, I’m not going to send these people an email fund appeal this year, especially at the end of the year when a lot of nonprofits might be flooding their inboxes with appeals. I’ll set these names aside to try to have eConversations and challenges throughout next year. See also: Using the Sidekick App for Scheduling MPD Emails.

Hey, this got pretty lengthy.  I’ll post my appeal tasks schedule for you tomorrow. You won’t want to miss this post. I actually have a MailChimp idea to share with you in that post, too. Part three will give you a process for choosing names.

What are you doing to make your appeal more “appealing” and personal?

NOTES:

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