- Thu, October 20 2011
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
Ah, Autumn. The crunch of falling leaves under your feet. The crisp, cool air. Football. And the start of – you guessed it - fundraising season.
This year, like every other year, I fully expect my mailbox and inbox to be chock-a-block with the kind of clichÃ©s I just used. You could call it moldering messaging.
It’s time to turn over a new leaf.
The number one clichÃ© we need to banish this Fall is the “it’s fundraising season” or “it’s that time again” appeal. I’m amazed by how many of these I get. The first paragraph is often about the weather! You can call your campaign the “fall appeal” inside your office, but don’t lead your messages with it.
The problem with this framing is that the time of year is not a reason to give, unless it’s the last week of December, in which case there is a tax year deadline relevant to donors. We may live by the campaign calendar, but our audiences do not. They don’t care if it’s time for our annual appeal. That’s why they don’t work in our development department or put our campaign dates in their Blackberries and iPhones. They have other lives.
Fortunately, it’s easy enough to fix this problem. The remedy, of course, is to stop waving the fundraising calendar and start looking into our donors’ hearts and minds. We need to explain to donors why giving now makes sense for them. Tell them what urgent, compelling, fascinating thing can they achieve with their gift. Express how their money will go further right this instant. Spin them a story that engages them on their terms.
This approach will create a sense of urgency far more burning than our budget cycle. And a sense of urgency is essential to getting people to give.