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What I'm Saying.

Nonprofit Membership Renewal Fundraising Appeal?

Nonprofit Communications

As my organization gets ready to send out it’s annual membership renewal fundraising appeal (you can view it here), I have been thinking about it and I wonder; as a recipient of one of these messages, are you likely to respond to them? What do you respond to the most in these or any other message you receive throughout the year? Is it because it is forwarded by a friend/family member to you and you trust that friend/family member? Do you have a personal connection to the cause, (for me I am particularly partial to the American Cancer Society and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)? Or is it the design, imagery and the story that lays before you that prompts you to act and to act right away? Or do you disregard these messages entirely and plan to give to who you plan to give to regardless of anything that is sent to you? Further, do you have organizations that you support year after year? What prompted you to start supporting them in the first place? I ask these questions because I would like to know your thoughts on what makes you more likely to respond to an e-mail appeal or other online fundraising efforts for a better understanding of those whom my organization and myself are likely to communicate with.

Below are some of the trends for online fundraising (an industry I am a part of) for 2009 gathered and distributed by Blackbaud a company that provides software resources such as donor databases and advocacy/fundraising tools for nonprofits (get the highlights here).

From the information gleaned from this report, it appears that giving is at its peak in December (about 45% of total revenues) and May during the year. It is similar during all three years measured here. What is promising is that year-over-year the online giving trends are increasing in the number of transactions (not necessarily the amount given in each occurrence). This gives me hope that I am in a growing field of the nonprofit industry, especially as it is venturing into the sphere of mobile giving (think of the recent disaster in Haiti).

I would also like your input on this article that I read yesterday from FundRaising Success Magazine entitled, “When Goofus and Gallant Raise Funds – Two paths to fundraising failure — and one to success.” Do you respond better to the portrayal of problems, to what the organization has done in the past, what it can do in the future or what each of your dollars can do to each case that comes as a part of the problem (e.g. X dollars buys a hammer for building a house for Habitat for Humanity, etc.)? Sometimes I see e-mail messages like this one from the Humane society and it really tugs at my heartstrings and either 1) encourages me to act (e.g. sign a petition) or 2) really makes me consider making a donation. What about you? Do you get these types of e-mails from organizations you support?

Finally, do you find that nonprofits communicate what you already know? Do you find that annoying or helpful? Do you find it duplicative (like this article from the A Small Change blog discusses), finding the same information in the same places?

I really hope that this post will jump start the conversation. I would really like to hear your thoughts. Help me and others reading here to learn from your experience so that we are working smarter and not harder in working to determine what you’re thinking when we (nonprofits, NGOs and not-for-profits) are trying to communicate with you.

- Will

0 responses to “Nonprofit Membership Renewal Fundraising Appeal?”

  1. Jason says:

    Thanks for the mention! I find myself asking those same question whenever I approach donors. I think it is always valuable for us to create our appeals in the mind and eyes of the donor.

  2. Will Hull says:

    I completely agree. The question is, however, which donor? Those who are likely to give online in smaller amounts and perhaps will build to a lifetime donor or those who are already established and can give more at any one given time? I find, even though I am engaged in an online industry, there is a strong urgency to appeal to the latter in hopes of surviving now versus later. I think it is a battle many of us are dealing with who work with e-appeals.


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