How to increase your appeal results by up to 40 per cent

This mul­ti­ple bul­let point plan is for all fundrais­ers who want to boost earn­ings from their next appeal mail­ing or email­ing. Fol­low these sim­ple steps and you’ll find you can increase your net income sub­stan­tial­ly, for rel­a­tive­ly small effort.

Written by
Sean Triner
Added
June 02, 2013
Sean may not amount to much when it comes to assembling furniture, but he knows how to put a good fundraising appeal together.

Regardless of how the appeal is doing, follow these simple tips and experience has shown, you will add between five and 40 per cent to your income – extra money for helping beneficiaries.

There is a barrier though, and a difficult one for many fundraisers. You need to talk to some donors – I mean actually speak with them. That’s the only way you’ll really see that the telephone gives us one of the most powerful fundraising tools ever.

This plan is built on three premises:

  1. The Pareto Principle. Eighty per cent of your appeal income is likely to come from just 20 per cent of your donors. And over 50 per cent is likely to come from just five per cent of your donors.
  2. Your past donors are lovely people, who care a lot about you. They like to be thanked and appreciated.
  3. Inertia. More donors intend to give than actually give. After receiving your mailing they may become distracted or forget – they simply don't get around to it.

Here is the plan:

Part I: immediate action required

  1. Organise a team of people (if you can't get anyone else, still crack on with it yourself) and invite them for one or two evenings next week to stay late (or come in late) and join you from about 5pm to 8pm. The team does not have to just be fundraisers, get your CEO, board members, service providers, your mum and their mums.
  2. Organise pizza/curry/snacks/drinks/treats/nice things for the evenings that have been agreed.

Part II: next week – preparation

  1. Prepare a selection from your database of people that were mailed. Use these criteria:
    • Gave last appeal but not yet to this appeal.
    • You have their phone number and they’ve not forbidden you from calling.
  2. 'Rank' them by size of their gift to your last appeal.
  3. Print out the list, in order, of the top 200. Make sure you include in the printout any additional donations made by each of those donors in the past year

Part III: next week - the brief

Brief your team (or if alone, use a mirror) on the following:

  1. The three premises above (Pareto Principle, donors are nice and more intend to give than actually give).
  2. The fact that they are now going to call all the best donors that gave to your last appeal, but have not given as yet to this appeal.

In the call you need to get across these points:

  1. Thank you. You are wonderful. Your most recent gift of $X was really appreciated.
  2. A short story about someone or something that benefited from their last gift, not statistics, but an actual story and preferably in the first person. ‘I met a young man with cancer called Philippe and this is what it meant to him,’ is better than ‘Let me tell you about a young man with cancer called Philippe and...’ But the latter is better than some general statistics. If you are not a ‘people’ charity then use your imagination, but talk personally about the beneficiary of their donation.
  3. Ask them if they recall the appeal that you sent recently.
  4. Remind them about the case study in the appeal. If there wasn't a case study, there should have been, so you really need to do these calls right now. And, for the future, you should think about whether you should hire someone who can make sure your next appeal has a case study.
  5. Ask them if they read the appeal and what they thought about it.
  6. Ask them if they are going to donate (nearly all will say that they intend to) - if they say they have already given, thank them and tell them you will look out for it.
  7. If they don't say they have already donated, then thank them and tell them that you can take the donation by credit card now on the phone if convenient. Most will decline.
  8. Obviously, if they say OK, process the donation but for those who don't pay by credit card don't worry, just say you will look out for their donation.
  9. Sit back and wait for a big boost to both your response rate and your average donation, from your best donors.
  10. The best fundraisers – the long-term strategic thinkers – will then call donors again when they receive the donation, to say ‘Thank you’.

To listen to how a call can and should be done, click on these links:

Call 1: hear our fundraiser secure a generous gift.
Call 2: hear a donor make our fundraiser’s day in less than a minute.

With thanks to Amnesty International Australia for permission to use these actual phone calls.

Happy fundraising!

For more information visit Sean's blog here.

If you are able to put this advice into practice – or equally, if for any reason you are not – Sean would love to hear from you. Email him here.

About the author: Sean Triner

Sean Triner is co-founder and director of Pareto Fundraising and Pareto Phone. He is based in Australia.

Sean says:
‘There is a barrier though, and a difficult one for many fundraisers. You need to talk to some donors.’

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