As we move into spring, often the 2nd quarter for organizations, now might be a good time to do a little “spring cleaning” of your outreach strategies. You know, throw open the windows and let in some fresh air. Perhaps you’ve been organizing the same fundraising appeals across the seasons without much thought about who you’re reaching out to, what kind of “touches” you are making, and how effective these fundraising appeals are. If that describes you, perhaps a refresh of your strategy is in order!
Learning About Your Audience
First, WHO are you reaching out to? Have you divided your donors and prospects into cohorts? Can you easily separate your organization’s loyal friends from its baseline supporters or from those who have been added to your roster with no clear rationale (“I think Jane Smith would really like what you’re doing”)? What about your volunteers? How are they classified in your outreach strategies?
A good database – and someone who knows how to use it! – is an invaluable tool here. Think about creating different donor or prospect groups based on the results you want. For example, from a loyalty group list: do you want them to make an upgraded gift this spring? Or, from a new prospect: do you simply want them to engage with you (i.e., visit your organization, attend an event, respond to an invitation)? Think strategically about what kinds of groups can have the most meaningful impact.
Understanding Donor Behavior
Next, you can’t think about who your donors are and how to categorize them without considering how exactly you will reach out to them. Consider all the outreach strategies at your fingertips: social media, direct mail, emails, phone calls, in-person visits, etc. Do you utilize the resources at hand? It’s highly unlikely that a one-size-fits-all method is equally effective across every kind of donor or prospect you have in your database.
Don’t be afraid to reach out personally to a volunteer, a board member, or a long-time donor and ask them their thoughts. Does that volunteer have access to other, different community groups or have a large social media following? Work with that person to craft a strategy that is compelling to them, such as an Instagram reel highlighting your work. Is your board member willing to help you reach new, high-level prospects? Perhaps that fundraising appeal or outreach strategy involves a personal letter or email. Do you have a solid mailing (or emailing) list from a recent community event? Maybe direct mail would be effective for those folks.
Utilizing Donor Data & Trends
Hand in hand with these considerations, however, is the necessary analysis to determine what kind of outreach draws the most response from what groups. Again, data is your friend here – have you captured this information somewhere? Do you already know that direct mail doesn’t work as well as you’d like, but your social media posts are on fire? What strategies are most effective? What has let you down? It’s essential to take a moment and review the results you’ve been getting from your fundraising appeals and outreach strategies. Relying on a fallback outreach strategy of “we’ve always done it this way” isn’t often the best course of action.
Take advantage of a “spring cleaning” mindset to review who you are reaching out to, how you appeal to them, and what’s most effective. You may find that letting a little fresh air into your outreach strategies helps improve your fundraising appeals throughout the year.
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Published: April 19, 2022