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Roy C. Jones

Fundraising Begins with “Your Preacher and Six Pallbearers”…

Roy C. Jones, CFRE
Roy C. Jones, CFRE

It begins with the data. I’m often approached by nonprofit leaders with the same question.  Leaders of both large and small nonprofit organizations have asked me the same question over and over.  The are all looking for a short cut to building their fundraising program.

They always expect that I have some secret magic black book with the names of America’s best donors who will just magically begin to write them checks. I explain to them that the secret is in their data.

Not my data, but their data.

They always look at me in amazement and ask, “But how do I begin?  Where do I find the names? How do I find donors with high-capacity?”

It begins with your own personal connections.

I explain that every person can answer this question: “If you died today who would be your preacher and who will be your  six pallbearers… who are your six best friends and the person, male or female, who would preside over the service.”  That is the beginning of your database!

Then I ask ,”who do you send an email to or a card to on their birthday?”   “Who sends you a card on your birthday or anniversary?”

And what about your Christmas card list?  Who sends you Christmas cards; and who do you send a card to each holiday season?

How big is your database now?  For most people, you’ve already exceeded 200 people.  What would happen if you got just 5 referrals from each of your friends and family?  Your database would grow to over 1,000

Guess what?  You’re all you’re now ready to begin direct response fundraising!

Make no mistake about it… direct response is the tool most large charities use to acquire new donors.  Search Engine Marketing (SEM), community events like walks and thons and good old fashioned direct mail acquisition are the primary way people find new organizations to support.  These efforts work together to drive donors to give.  The fact is that 25 to 30% of all of your new donors will go on line to process their donation today, even if you acquired them in the mail or at an event.  Regardless of whether they got a mail piece at home, attended an event or searched for the charity on line, one out of four will go on line to give.

Make sure that your website is easy to find and even easier to give on line.

Remember, too, that the larger the gift the more likely it is that the donor will send the donation into your charity in their own envelope.  In the business, we call this “white mail”.  Regardless of whether or not you sent them a pre-printed envelope or provided a link directly to your website, if they are making a donation of $100 or more the odds are they will use their own envelop or drop the donation off at your your office.  Most analysts believe this is because they want to make sure the charity’s leaders know right away… they fear by using your link or envelope that their gift is going to a processing center.

Use your personal lists.  Use direct mail.  Use events. Use the internet and social media.  Integration is the key to building your data base!  Use it all, but remember, it all begins with your preacher and six pallbearers!


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