Monday, June 13, 2011

How To Convert Donors

Once you’ve identified a solid pool of prospects, you’re ready to start converting.

But, how? Mail the same, tired prospect appeal you updated after Lehman Brothers collapsed?

Although probably most of the fundamental themes in that letter are still relevant, if you’re reluctant to recycle the letter by just changing to today’s date, try one of our 5 ideas…

1. Mix up the medium: if you’ve always tried converting new donors by snail-mail, try phone calls from volunteers/Trustees or email – or, try a combination of media per appeal.

2. Change the solicitor: if all your appeals come from your ED or Board Chair, try another Board member, an event/project Committee Chair, local celebrity – or a client or volunteer. Hearing about your mission from a client/recipient of your services drives home your impact.

3. Create meaningful follow-up emails: after an event, email attendees with links to photos from the event. Ask your Trustees/volunteers to forward this email to the 3 donors at their table for whom you don’t have emails. Post the photos on Facebook and your website two weeks after this email to create a sense of exclusivity.

4. Matching Gift: use a prospect appeal as an opportunity to secure a matching gift from a major donor (or group of donors). Leverage this matching gift to the prospects. Better yet, combine with #2 – by having the appeal signed by that donor.

5. Have fun: Although most of our missions deal with serious subjects, you can have fun with your appeal that’s still mission-based. For instance, NPR launched an innovative skit in one annual telethon featuring Alec Baldwin that turned the reason for giving to NPR on its head, as a way to demonstrate NPR's relevance. You know your donor audience - don't trivialize your mission, but don't feel obligated to always be so serious.

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