Me right now!

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I’ve just finished hand signing my latest appeal and I’ve already got five cheques on my desk from letters that were sent last week! All worth it and hopefully the personal touch will continue to pay off!

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F U N D R A I S I N G

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I found this in a 1983 Hospice newsletter and thought to myself how wonderful it was! Stripping away from all of the ways we fundraise, it really gets down to the base of what we do; understanding needs, rallying support and giving thanks!

We can all get caught up in database/ social media / acquisition discussions but essentially what fundraising comes down to is identifying a need, encouraging support and reporting back to those that made something great happen!

(Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of other important things we need to focus on to be great fundraisers, but we also need to remember to take a step back and really work out what we are trying to do and ask ourselves ‘Is this fundraising?’)

 

Treat donors as people, not ATMs!

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This week, I will spend most of my time hand signing an appeal letter. This appeal is being sent to approximately 1200 people and we are asking them to fund our summer activities. This may seem like a waste of time and I am sure many other fundraisers will not agree with me that this is time well spent. However, if we are willing to ask people to part with their hard-earned cash, shouldn’t they feel like we care about them as an individual? Shouldn’t they feel like we care enough to actually write TO THEM rather than reel off a generic ask letter which has ‘Dear Friend’ at the top and is signed off with a pixelated signature that has been used and re-used for years?

I started signing ask letters last year and the return from these appeals compared with ones that were not personalised was 15% higher. There may be other factors at play; maybe it was a much more compelling ask, maybe the letters arrived at just the right time of the month where people have slightly higher amounts of expendable cash and MAYBE, people liked that their letter was personalised.

I strongly believe that donors should be treated as people, not as ATMs. So, if you wouldn’t ask a friend for cash without speaking to them personally, why would you do it to a donor?

What are your experiences with personalised ask letters? Do you see the benefit or do you think time could be better spent doing other things? Let me know your thoughts!

The Impact of Regular Gifts

As an Individual Giving officer, I am tasked with raising income through a variety of platforms; legacies, text donations, events, direct mail campaigns, the list goes on. But, one area, which I feel is constantly over looked is regular giving.

Since joining my current organisation in January 2015, I have discovered that we have less than 100 donors giving regularly via standing order or direct debit. This is a great shame and a demonstration of how neglected our donors have been! We have over 800 ‘donors’ on our system and yet the solicitation has not been sufficient to convert them into regular donors. We are a small charity and until I turned up, there was no one specifically tasked with this job. This is not the case anymore and over the 17 months I have been improving relationships with our donors. They have received event invitations, hand-written thank you letters, phone calls and updates on the projects they have helped make happen. Warmth towards our organisation is at a peak and now is the time to get to work and convert this warmth into regular and reliable income from people that care about our cause. I am starting work on converting our supporters into regular donors and am excited to see how we get on!

Like many other small charities in the UK, we aim to rely less on uncertain sources of funding, such as grants from trusts, foundations and government, which are becoming harder to obtain due to higher demand. By becoming more self-sufficient, our work will be able to continue, regardless of funding received from outside sources. Regular donations from our supporters will allow us to continue our work, safe in the knowledge that funding is secure.

If just 100 donors gave £10 per month, we would increase our annual income by £12,000. For a small charity like us, this is a significant amount! If more charities focussed their time and efforts on donor stewardship, regular donations would be easier to gain.

To demonstrate the impact of regular donations over time, I created the chart below;

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Does your organisation focus on regular gifts? What ways have you found are effective in increasing regular donations? Have you had a bad experience in trying to set up regular gifts? I’d love to hear from you so do get in touch!