14 Enormously Important Tips (Re)Learned at the International Fundraising Congress

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October 25, 2011; Source: Queer Ideas | Thanks to Mark Phillips of Bluefrog, who wrote in his blog “queer ideas: a bloody good fundraising blog” about five groups of things he learned at the International Fundraising Congress. We choose two of his richest groupings because they are right on the nose, and we recommend that you visit his blog for the rest.

1. There’s loads more to data than just numbers
From Chuck Longfield, Blackbaud’s chief scientist, Phillips learned the following (his bullets verbatim) . . .

  • If someone calls you to change their address they are TEN times more likely to leave you a legacy (or upgrade, or set up a regular gift or anything else you might ask them to do).
  • Donors who tend to give uncommon amounts (e.g. £32) are much easier to upgrade than those who give common amounts (e.g. £25).
  • Donors get hooked on giving amounts. After 4 years they are 80% more likely to stick to their preferred amount rather than increase their gift (rising to 90% after 5 years).
  • Calling a donor to thank them (whether you speak to them or just leave a message on the answer phone) can increase their next year’s gift value by up to 40%.
  • Misspelling someone’s last name can decrease gift size by up to 12%.

2. Old school communications are the best for building deep engagement
From AJ Leon, Chief Maker of Trouble at Misfit Inc., in New York, Phillips learned these valuable nuggets (his bullets verbatim) . . .

  • Stories have to have conflict. If Frodo had just skipped into Mordor and tossed the ring into the volcano, no one would have cared.
  • The tools of fundraising are changing, but the principles of engagement are the same.
  • People don’t automatically trust big brands any longer—including charity brands.
  • Never let your organisation get in the way of a good story.
  • When launching a campaign always ask which bloggers you can link up with.
  • Social media has made donating even more annoying.
  •  Management boards kill great ideas.
  • Things are moving so fast that spending time writing a ten year strategy is worthless.

There are some of these that we will definitely commit to memory at NPQ as we start our end of year fundraising, so we thought you could use them as well! Let us know which ones really strike your eye and what action you will take as a result. – Ruth McCambridge

  • Amy Eisenstein

    Great stats at the top. Thanks for sharing. Now the question is: what to do with the donors who call to change their address, give odd amounts, etc. Call them, of course! Meet with them. Engage them.

  • Tricia Dell

    This is indeed helpful, thank you, and I am concerned that social media makes giving more annoying. I know its true and it is so important to figure out what to do about it.

  • Karen Eber Davis

    Not only follow-up with call–when they notify you of an address change. Ask how the move went. Introduce them to some new neighbors who are also part of your community.