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Consultant Round Up: New Year’s Tips For Fundraisers

New Year’s Tips For Fundraisers
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Look at you, dear fundraiser! Ready to strut in 2024 like you own the place. Yay, you! That gorgeous clean slate of the year in front of you is positively sparkling.

You’ve got big plans. No doubt you are planning to raise more than before, but how will you get there?  

I’m sharing 5 New Year’s resolutions I want you to create, plus the top tips from my fundraising friends to help you make 2024 your best year ever!

1. Resolve to learn more about your donors.

Ever struggled talking to donors? I got your back! Grab this best of’ cheat sheet with 25 epic discovery questions.

2. Resolve to make your donors FEEL something.

All fundraising is at the end of the day is a quest for empathy. Emotion is your donors’ love potion so use it liberally.   

3. Resolve to dedicate 30 minutes a day to call and personally thank donors.

Set this on your calendar so you stick with it and voila, before you know it, your lower-level donors are major donors! Call when your energy is at its highest and smile while talking or leaving a message.  

4. Set a revenue goal (and a cultivation plan) for every donor in your portfolio.  

You should have up to 150 major donors in a portfolio organized month-to-month by donor with your ask amount in the month you plan to make it so you can see the big picture, plan your cultivation, tee up your ask, and know *exactly* how much you expect to raise.   

5. Love what you do!

Hey you! You’ve dedicated your professional life to making the world a better place! Not everyone is so noble. You need take care of yourself. Please do ALL the things that bring you joy – travelling, crafting, stand-up comedy, April Fool’s Jokes (my personal favorite). Whatever brings you joy!  

The truth is we never climb a fundraising mountain and get to the top and shout, “Hey everybody! I’m here! I made it!” You will wake up tomorrow with another mountain to climb and yes, more money to raise (I guarantee it).  

Take good care of yourself and know that you have rights too (the Fundraiser’s Bill of Rights to be exact).

Time to hear from our esteemed consultants: What is their #1 New Year’s tip for you?

Julie Cooper

Fundraising copywriter, strategist, coach, trainer, founder of Fundraising Writing, and member of The Case Writers

Unleash your storytelling powers in 2024! 

I want you to commit to sharing two types of stories in your donor communications: stories of need and stories of impact.

In an appeal, tell a story of need

The job of this story is to help the donor feel the problem and envision what their gift will do. The story of need is emotional, simple, urgent, and unresolved. The donor alone can help solve the problem with their gift.

In a newsletter, tell the story of impact. 

The job of this story is to show the donor the meaningful difference their gift made. You do this by first recapping the story of need. Then you conclude with the transformative outcome. This story helps the donor feel the true goodness of their giving!

Brett Cooper

Fundraising copywriter from Fundraising Writing and The Case Writers

Try to fully feel the emotions you’re looking to convey to your supporters in your donor communications.

The more you feel, the more they’ll feel!

Pay attention to what helps you return to the “heart space” in which you can re-experience “all the feels” you once felt. 

For example, if you personally helped or witnessed a beneficiary being helped by your organization, you might want to go back to the place where it happened so you can more easily feel again what you felt in the moment originally. 

Or you might simply close your eyes and replay the mental movie of that moment just before you start writing. 

Never underestimate the power of a strong emotion to inspire giving — to move hearts to action!

Christal Cherry

The Board Pro and nationally recognized nonprofit executive and founder of F3 Fabulous Female Fundraisers

Her #1 tip? INVEST IN YOU!  

These are a few of Christal’s tips from a sought-after training she does called “Common Ground: a Love Letter to Fundraisers:” 

  • Read an article every week about fundraising 
  • Listen to a fundraising podcast (Pssst? Looking for a few good podcast recommendations? One of my all-time favorites is “Nonprofit Nation” with Julia Campbell, “Nonstop Nonprofit,” and the “Fundraising Everywhere Podcast”)  
  • Know (and if you don’t, learn) how to manage up 
  • Normalize giving in your life 
  • Find your fundraising tribe  
  • Blog 
  • Network 

Rachel Clemens

Strategy and design guru, Chief Marketing Officer of Mighty Citizen, and founder of Creative Suitcase

Two words: give thanks!

Especially as you enter a new year, giving thanks is paramount to setting your organization up for success in 2024. 

You just worked incredibly hard for that first donation, monthly gift, or major match at the end of the year

Now’s the time to turn around and thank them as much as you asked them to extend their goodwill into the new year!  

John Lepp

Direct response, design and marketing expert, partner of Agents of Good, and author of “Creative Deviations”

My advice? First and foremost take comfort in simplicity.

  • We are humans having conversations with other humans. It’s emotional, vulnerable, scary, and real.
  • Donors want to feel good about their giving (and they often do, but we do a bad job at confirming or acknowledging that they are). They want to know what we did with their gift, and they want to feel appreciated for that.
  • The smallest and simplest things can make a dramatic difference in their retention and lifetime value. A simple, handwritten thank you card within a few days of getting a gift and an annual call can monumentally make a difference, but very few organizations do it.
  • Direct response, in every channel, will be more effective if it looks and sounds like it’s from one human to another (which it is). 

Sabrina Walker-Hernandez

Certified consultant, coach, facilitator, author, and founder of Supporting World Hope

Number one tip? Slow down and commit to planning!

I know, you’re focused on the day to day. There doesn’t seem to be enough time to fit planning in an already hectic schedule. 

The word planning brings up thoughts of hard work, conflicting agendas, and endless meetings.

It’s OK. I’ve been there. You know it’s important and that you must do it.

Let me just say, there is wisdom in taking the time to plan. 

The process of creating a strategic plan or a resource development plan will help your organization re-focus and create a sense of forward momentum. 

It encourages the board and staff to foresee the future they seek for their organization and develop a plan that is optimistic to help you accomplish your mission.

Julia Campbell

Global authority on digital marketing, storytelling and social media, founder Nonprofit Nation podcast, author of “Storytelling in the Digital Age,” and “How to Build and Mobilize a Social Media Community for Your Nonprofit”

My #1 tip: communicate more than you think you should! 

This means more email, more letters, more calls, and more social media posts. 

Too often fundraisers end up going dark on their donors because they think they will be “annoying.” But your donors want to hear from you! 

They want to know the impact of their gifts. If you write from the heart and share inspiring information and stories, you will be delighting and not dismaying your donors.

On behalf of all of us and your friends at Bloomerang, happy New Year! If you have a New Year’s fundraising resolution or tip you want to share, drop it in the comments!

Happy 2024!  

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  • Ilana Bernstein

    Thank you for compiling these tips. As we enter 2023, I'm mixed up with emotions. Overwhelm, enthusiasm, excitement and trepidation. I'm setting goals for the new year and making taking care of myself #1 on the list. After creating and planning goals for 2023, how do you recommend setting in place reminders to stop for analysis and reconfiguring any strategies/tactics that you think might not be working as well as you had wanted?
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