05 Apr 2018
Pray, pray, pray!
Your ministries should be born in prayer and nurtured in prayer! Your marketing strategies should spring from your time with God and be steered by Him through prayer.
Furthermore, praying for your donors should be almost automatic, a “natural” outgrowth of who you are and what your ministry is.
When all the workers in a ministry are praying for the ministry (and for each other, and for the donors), the Spirit of God has the chance to speak the same message to everyone, uniting the team and unifying the effort.
Prayer, then, is the surest antidote for ministry schizophrenia (where ministry is held separately from marketing), for it allows a single Master to pull together all the specialists.
Make prayer a habit, an earmark of your life and ministry. Move it up on your priority list. Pray for direction, not just confirmation. See what God says about your ministry. He may surprise you.
22 Mar 2018
Increase the Quality of Your Donor’s Life
Is your donor’s life better because of her relationship with your ministry?
Where ministry marketing consists exclusively of appeal letters, it’s difficult to establish a feeling of “quality relationship” in the heart of a donor. The donor, after all, is being relentlessly asked for help. But there are ways to become a quality friend to your donors.
Newsletters demonstrate the dividends of the donor’s investment. Thank-you letters and thank-you calls deepen the bond of friendship. Give your donors gifts — insights, ministry products, whatever — that will improve their lives.
Become valuable to them. Then they’ll become valuable to you.
15 Mar 2018
Writing a “Readable” Direct Mail Letter
Because letter-style direct-response packages designed for development or fundraising purposes must meet response standards –– which is a fancy way of saying This Letter Must Raise Money — these standards sometimes override traditional punctuation and grammatical principles.
You must catch the reader’s attention … and carry her eye forward from phrase to phrase, from thought to thought. You’ve got to do what you can to avoid the “scan”!
You must make use of a complex science of alternative punctuation, unorthodox capitalization, and sentence fragmentation –– all of which increases response to a package, but sometimes drives secretaries and editors batty!
For example, we make significant use of ellipses (…) and dashes (––) and frequently use capital letters after these items, even though a capital is not technically called for.
This has the surprisingly strong effect of holding the reader’s eye –– and generally does not reflect too negatively on your reputation for editorial precision, since most readers don’t process their mail through a mental filter of “the rules.”
08 Mar 2018
Tell the Truth
To hold on to your donors, you must treat them like friends. How can you do this? For one thing, tell the truth! Truthfulness has a marvelous way of smoothing otherwise troubled waters.
For example: if you have to lean hard on your donors, acknowledge that you’re leaning hard: “I know I’ve asked you to help me with this just as recently as three weeks ago, but…” This is truthful. It acknowledges that you have a need, but it acknowledges how the donor might feel about being asked.
It is deadly to over-apologize — but essential to acknowledge an unusual situation. You realize that donors are friends, not matchsticks to be struck, used, and tossed smoking into the ashtray. Think about how they’ll feel when they read your letter — then accommodate those feelings as you talk to them.
Jesus did not restrict His truth-telling to the fun stuff. He expressed the hard truth along with the easy. So should we.
01 Mar 2018
Friend-raising, Not Fundraising!
The components of a successful donor relationship are very much the same as the components of a successful friendship.
You talk to your friends in a certain way. You reveal certain things to your friends. You lower your guard with your friends in ways that you don’t lower your guard with, say, the Fed Ex courier.
And fortunately, in the case of most ministry organizations, much of your relationship with your donors is conducted through the mail, which is a very private venue for communicating the private thoughts that only friends would exchange. This, then, is the heart of donor response. Look at the ways friends communicate, and you’ll find the best way to establish relationship with your donors.
22 Feb 2018
Find Common Ground
The more your communications with your donors reflect the various components of a friendship, the better able you will be to relate to your donor — the better able your donor will be to relate to you — and the greater the level of your donor’s response to your appeals for support.
One of these components is commonality. Certain things are true of everyone. All human beings — certainly most adults in our Western culture — share certain experiences.
Donor communications should refer to common, everyday occurrences. It’s only logical: the fewer everyday experiences two people share in common, the less likely they are to form a deep and abiding friendship.
The ministry principal signing the letter needs to become, in the donor’s mind, a regular, everyday person. “I was stuck in traffic the other day, and….” You share certain human interests and concerns with your donors, simply because you’re both people. Talk to your donor about your family, or your car breaking down, or your dog dying, and you’ll have the donor’s interest — because you’re on common ground with her.