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The Development Evangelist by Jerry Grimes, CFRE

Posts Tagged 'direct mail'

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Three Big Mailing Mistakes

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I’m on everybody’s mailing list. I give token gifts and sign up online so I can read the mail you are sending out. I learn a lot, and this time of year I also weep a lot. A lot of the stories shared are just that touching. I also find three big mistakes being made in solicitation letters. Avoid these and you could dramatically increase the amount of money you raise through the mail: One: It is not all about you. A solicitation letter is about the reader, not your ministry. True, you must share your heart, vision, needs, and stories of impact but you must do it in a way that engages the recipient of the letter. The most important word in your letter needs to be “you.” Start with that and put in as many references about your reader as possible. The letter will instantly be more engaging. Two: Communicate value. Every word on the page is precious. It must communicate something of value to the reader. First, ask yourself the question, “What do my readers want to hear?” Then, decide what to write about. Ma ...

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7 Deadly Sins of Development

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Did you know that there are seven things that could really cost you dearly in terms of donations or even shutter the doors of your ministry if left unchecked?  Read on and find out if you are committing any of the "7 Deadly Sins of Development." Sin #1: Forgetting Where Your Funding Comes From God provides all of the resources for the ministry He has called us to.  It's simple, right?  But how often do we forget that and begin to think that DONORS are providing for our work?  Make no mistake, donors are the conduit through which God provides, but it is HE that is doing the providing.  Getting away from the idea that God provides for us distorts our view of God and our donors.  It can lead us to manipulation and rob us of the simple joy that's found in understanding that we are merely stewards of what God provides.  Every now and then, ask yourself and your team members where your support comes from.  When they answer "donors" or "churches," remind them that ultima ...

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Leaky Data Could Really Cost You

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None of us sit around thinking about how the plumbing in our house works...until it doesn't. In order for the plumbing to work, all the pipes have to be connected.  It's really like a network, moving water where it is used in your home and then out into the sewer system.  As you may know all too well, one leaky pipe can cost you thousands of dollars in damaged ceilings and floors.   Similarly, you might not think much about the flow of data in your ministry until something stops working.  That something could very well be the growth of your donor database.  A healthy non-profit has a continual influx of prospective donors in the form of data going into your donor software system.  From there, prospects are solicited appropriately and hopefully, a decent percentage of them become donors.  The flow continues so that through effective donor communications, donors grow in their passion for your mission and commitment to helping you achieve it.  Small gift annual fund donor ...

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The Perfect Fundraising Letter

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When it comes to fundraising letters, I'll bet you've seen it all.  There's the slick approach...A designer layout, color photos, trendy fonts and glossy paper.  They're more like brochures or magazines than letters, really. Then there are letters that look like they were done on a 1980s vintage Smith-Cornona typewriter, and even breakthrough techniques that replicate human handwriting. (Click here to see what I mean.)  But the best fundraising letter is always the one that works, and consistently test after test, from the Direct Marketing Association, show there are some best practices in letter writing and production that are proven to get results.  Based on the research I've read and my own experience, here's what we know for sure. The length seems to be important, and a longer letter is usually better than a shorter one.  There are many theories on why this is, but donors seem to think you don't have much of a case for asking them for money if you can do it on a sing ...

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Learn The 3 R's To Survive & Thrive

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Quickly answer this:  How many new donors did your ministry add last week? If you don't know the answer, or if you're not happy with the number, then your ministry could be headed in the wrong direction.  You see, the choice is really simple for today's non-profits...Grow or die.  Adding new donors starts by adding new names to your database.  So, adding new Facebook fans, Twitter followers and e-newsletter subscribers (and of course, new donors) has to become your #1 priority.  The reality is that unless you grow the relationships you need to support your mission, programs and services, you will no longer be able to afford to support them...No matter how important they are to you or anyone else.   Your ministry needs so many things to be great.  A new web site, apps for smart phones and tablets, a strategy to harness the power of social media, a new approach to direct marketing.  But where will the dollars come from to fuel these activities when, as they saying goes " ...

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The Most Important Question To Ask Yourself Before Raising Funds

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You probably ask yourself questions all the time as you go about the daily business of running your ministry.  Questions like "What do we really need to be more effective, reach more people?" or "When is the right time to start a new fundraising campaign?" even "Who can I ask to support this ministry that I haven't already asked?" But the best questions to ask yourself before attempting anything in the resource development arena don't start with "what" or "when."  They don't even begin with the classic "who."  The best questions that you should start asking before raising funds begin with "why." "Why Should Anyone Care? Many, many fundraisers have run aground in their efforts because they have failed to ask "why should anyone care about supporting our organization?" often enough.  Their anemic often incoherent case for support has robbed them of the opportunity to stir the passions of their donor base to provide the resources they so desperately need. "Why?" is a great question to a ...

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6 Signs You Need Help With Fundraising

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What if you were so sick, you couldn't even get yourself to the doctor? Of course, any of us would reach out to the nearest person and ask for help, right?  But the same common sense logic doesn't always apply to ministries and fundraising.   Not all of our organizations wait to hire us when they are in a crisis mode, but I would say that the vast majority of them do.  They have watched their donor lists and dollars dwindle for years before they are willing to even listen to some ideas for making their ministry healthy again.   There are many reasons for this.  Pride is certainly one of them. No one likes to admit failure, and for some people in fundraising, hiring a consultant is admitting just that.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  We work with all types of orgnanizations large and small, literally from Maine to California. Some of them need a lot of help, and others need only a little of our expertise at a time in order to be successful.  Hiring a consultant i ...

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Why Your Mail Will Take Longer In 2012 & What To Do About It

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Big changes went into effect on January 1st that could seriously hamper your ability to raise funds through the mail in 2012.   Insufficient Postage:  What’s Up At The Post Office? The sinking ship that is our United States Postal Service is closing half of its processing centers in the U.S. and is eying more than 1,900 post offices for elimination.  This is more than belt tightening in reaction to such things as the rise of email and the recession.  These are serious, draconian cuts that will have a dramatic effect on how mail is delivered in this country once they are put into full effect.  Guaranteed Delivery:  Mailbags Full Of Frustration In order to deal with a 50% cut to its mail processing capacity, USPS will now take even longer to deliver your fundraising letters if mailed at the non-profit rate  Currently, half of all mail takes two stops to get delivered from any point in the system to the average home.  At each stop, USPS can set aside non- ...

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Your Direct Mail Check List

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Great direct mail will still get great results.  But before you bang out a letter and get the printer on the phone, consider a few essentials that could mean the difference between success and failure. Put A Stamp On It The more personalized your direct mail piece, the better. No matter what some people may have told you, most donors are turned off by a pre-printed non-profit mailing or bulk permit "indicia" in the upper right hand corner of the envelope.  It's an instant clue that the mail was mass produced and therefore probably will be of little relevance to them.  Many non-profits can't afford first class postage for everything they send, so I recommend the second best thing: The Non-Profit Live Stamp.  Ask your printer or even the local post office about these stamps that cost 5 cents each.  Most non-profits mail at a rate of 17.5 cents. You or your printer purchases the live stamps, affixes them and then when the mail project is delivered to the post office, the rate is calcul ...

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5 Keys To Developing A Winning Case For Support

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No self respecting attorney would walk into a courtroom without being well armed with a solid case representing the client's point of view.  Yet, all too often ministry leaders find themselves in front of donors without a thing to say about why their cause is worthy of support.   Sure, we know lots of general reasons why people should give, but have we taken the time to develop and internalize the kind of sound, cogent, well-reasoned case for support it will take to win over major donors?   First, let's define terminology a little. The American Fundraising Professionals' (AFP) Fundraising Dictionary defines "case" like this:   "Case, n. the reasons why an organization both needs and merits philanthropic support, usually by outlining the organization's programs, current needs, and plans." You must take the time to hone a case message that not only tells people who you are, why you exist, but also the compelling reasons why your work is essential and worthy of their support.  Start ...

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Comments
  1. Re: 7 Ways to Retain More Donors

    Great stuff! So good to see you link donors with the work. Remember how Paul linked the supporting folks...

    -- Jamie

  2. Re: Fundraising's Duh Factor: Keep more donors, raise more money

    Great read, I can appreciate the small things that keep the donor engaged.

    -- LaTanya

  3. Re: The Lapsed, Declined & The Disengaged

    Thanks Jerry. Organizations can also engage a credit card processing provider who enables donors to make...

    -- MKordic

  4. Re: Asking Naturally: Replacing Fear With Faith

    Thanks for the great post, Jerry--full of biblical truth! We join the Lord in His work through ministry...

    -- Will Stevens

The Development Evangelist
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About Jerry

I’ve been involved in the media for over 30 years with experience that spans television, radio and print. But my growing passion over the past decade has become development for non-profit organizations.

I love being a special friend and advisor to dozens of ministry leaders and radio station managers across the country. (I believe Christian radio has only just begun to reach its full potential.)Many non-profit organizations are functioning at a level far below what they could achieve if development were given its proper place in the management process.

My skill set includes development, marketing, strategic planning and leadership development as a certified Ministry Coach..

Before joining Advocace, I served as a development consultant for another firm, and as General Manager for one of the top Christian music stations in the country, and as Donor Marketing Director for WAY-FM Media Group. I also enjoyed raising funds as Director of Development for the University Of South Carolina School Of Law, as well as an active speaker, writer and facilitator.

You can find out more about how I help non-profit organizations and how to contact me here.

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog,

Jerry