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I’m deliberately posting this early in the year so you have TIME to think on these things.

And it’s deliberately called a thinklist. Not a checklist.

Because I’m urging you not to just tick them off.

These may sound basic to some of you who have been in fundraising for years. But I notice many non-profits, even the big ones with extensive direct mail programs, still don’t have these right.

And they can be deceptively difficult to get right.

  1. Do you have urgency in your appeal? If donors can’t see why they must DONATE NOW… it’s not urgent enough.

And you can’t just say “Your gift is urgently needed…” You must explain why. What will happen if they don’t DONATE NOW?

  1. Do you have a simple offer? Something that donors can’t say no to? Donors understand concrete, tangible things like food for starving children and cures for loving grandmas stricken with cancer.

Not abstract and intangible things like community support groups and “hope”.

  1. Do you have the right story? Will you feature a beneficiary who will speak to the hearts and values of your donors? Someone who is blameless and in genuine and obvious need?
  2. Have you allowed extra time for those pesky new Australia Post timeframes? No longer do they do next day delivery. (Unless you pay extra for it.)

One client of mine had mail delayed by over a week during the last tax appeal. “It was only supposed to be three days not 10!”

  1. Is direct mail the only weapon in your arsenal? Direct mail is great for many charities but it’s not the only way of raising funds.

Think multi-channel, segment strategies and other ways of getting your appeal in front of donor eyes and ears. This leads us to…

  1. Will e-appeals be properly planned in their own right? Will you put as much effort into planning, writing, designing and coding your emails as you do in planning, writing, designing and sending out your direct mail?

And don’t make the mistake of e-appeals instead of direct mail. It must be both.

  1. Will you make it easy for donors to give online? You can’t use the excuse that older donors don’t give online. Some don’t… but many do.
  2. Will you actually track ALL your results? Most organisations are pretty good at tracking direct mail… but woeful at tracking online donations. Did those gifts come from email clicks, search engine marketing, Facebook posts…
  3. Do you actually have a plan for higher level givers? This is the time of year when major donors open their wallets and their hearts. They want to give to causes they love and which are proven to have high impact.

What are you doing to appeal to their hearts – and show them just how much their gift can do?

Another thing.

Try to start early.

I got a phone call from one of my wonderful clients last week. What she said was music to my ears:

“We’re thinking we should get started on talking about the tax appeal… Last year, there were some things we talked about doing that we didn’t have time for.”

It was barely the end of January. I was stoked.

Last year, this client got a 13% improvement in their tax appeal results and broke though an income milestone they’d been struggling to reach for the previous two years.

That was when we only managed to get points 1-4 right… but had to let the others go due to lack of time and resources.

I look forward to seeing what we can do this year… because we have TIME!! And they have a new staff member covering potential high value relationships.

I’m rubbing my hands in glee. Because I know they can do even better. They have a great team. They just need to execute well. I’m excited I get to be involved!

Starting early May seem simple. But every year I get at least one phone call in early to mid-June (JUNE!!). It comes from a poor (literally) non-profit asking whether I can assist with their tax appeal.

That’s just too late.

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