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Key fundraising lessons – How to get your vision and tactics aligned and maximise donor retention


29 August 2019 at 7:30 am
Jo Scard
Fifty Acres founder and CEO Jo Scard shares her top three fundraising tips.


Jo Scard | 29 August 2019 at 7:30 am


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Key fundraising lessons – How to get your vision and tactics aligned and maximise donor retention
29 August 2019 at 7:30 am

Fifty Acres founder and CEO Jo Scard shares her top three fundraising tips.

Whether you’re raising $10,000 or $10 million, great writing, amazing design, and compelling collateral are key for successful major donor communications, and ultimately, donor retention.

Here are some key fundraising lessons that will help.

  1. Get your vision aligned before you kick off your fundraising campaigns

You have decided to kick off a fundraising campaign because you desperately need to raise some much-needed unrestricted funds. But, it’s important to have an answer to the question, “Why are we doing this now?” 

If you need funds, you will have a vision for the future of your organisation that these funds will help you bring to life. It’s around this vision that you need to make sure you have alignment with your senior staff and board members. Where are we going as an organisation that this fundraising campaign will help us fund? 

Make sure you have internal alignment around your vision first, so that it’s completely clear why now is the time to make that investment.

  1. Setting strategies to guide your fundraising tactics

When it comes to fundraising it seems like there are infinite options for communications channels you could use. 

Not for profits invariably have limited resources, which channels are worth your time? Should you use Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Facebook – and how? Is it time to phase out direct mail or do more of it? Should you invest an in-house videographer?

These are all questions that need thinking about.

  1. Impactful phone calls can increase donor retention

As we all know, fundraising is about relationships. When it comes to finding – and keeping – donors, one of the best ways not for profits can start to build those relationships is by simply saying, “Thank you.”

But when, how, and who expresses that thanks to a new donor can make a big difference in whether or not they decide to donate a second time.

There is strong evidence that receiving a thank you call from a board or staff member within 48 hours of making a gift dramatically raises the likelihood that a donor will give again when asked.

And why is that? Donors want to be thanked ASAP. Smaller donors may get an automated thank you email immediately after making their gift, while mid-level donors might receive a handwritten note or letter.

The speed of an automatic thank you email is great, but the format often lacks authenticity and leaves an insincere impression. Email overload is a real issue, making the likelihood of a generic message actually getting opened very slim. Also, there’s a significant delay between receiving a gift and the donor receiving a letter in the mail, which can negate the personal touch.

Phone calls are quick and friendly. It connects a relatable, human voice to the organisation and allows you to learn more about the donor and build a deeper relationship with them.

Getting board buy-in on making thank-you calls takes the pressure off staff members who aren’t comfortable – or confident – fundraisers yet. Calling new donors to say thank you is an easy way for board members to express thanks and increase donor retention without asking for more dollars. 

What should you say?  Once you have established which donors will get thank you calls and scheduled board members to make them, make sure they call with a script. It’s important to do a practice run to make sure board members know exactly what to say during the quick phone call.

Best of luck! 

In between time, if you want help to navigate the new political landscape, come up with a winning engagement strategy or need assistance with a strategic communications strategy, fundraising or PR outreach, get in touch with Jo Scard at Fifty Acres on 02 6281 7350


Jo Scard  |  @ProBonoNews

Jo Scard is the founder and managing director of Fifty Acres.

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