Have you started identifying any WEEiDs [see Part 1] in your fundraising program – things you’ve been considering best practices because everyone else is doing them? WEEiDs are dangerous because they lull us into thinking we are doing all we can and should, instead of making us relentless in questioning why are we doing what we are doing?
Perhaps one of the WEEiDs that gets more press time than others is “online vs. offline”. Do we mail or do we email? Do we print a brochure or post current information online? Do we call a donor who asks a question or make sure we have a robust FAQ page? With few exceptions, the answer is “Yes.” We need to do all these things.
Put yourself in your donor’s shoes for a minute. Did they wake up thinking about your fabulous new program? Did they tell themselves, “I need a cup of coffee, but first I’ll go online and sponsor a child.” Did they add “Make a donation to Charity X” to their to-do list?
In most cases, the answer is no. Sure, your most loyal donors may be this committed. But the vast majority isn’t on your frequency. They need to be reminded that they can make a really great difference by giving to you. Yes, they can. There is something in the world that can be changed for the better because of what they decide to do today.
So we have to be more omnipresent in our donors’ lives. They see us online. They take us out of the mailbox. They are reminded that they matter to us. No, we don’t need to stalk them to the point of freaking the person out, but should not let too much time lapse between contacts to the point of becoming a stranger.
A final WEEiD to think about is how we respond to complaints about frequency or content of communication. Too often, the policy is to overreact. You get too much mail? We’ll take you off the list! You can’t afford to give? No worries – we’ll just say goodbye. After all, why keep chasing someone who clearly isn’t interested?
But did they say they weren’t interested? No.
They want a change, but most of the time, that change isn’t the extreme opposite. Start talking to some of these donors. Probe what they really want. Use this real-world intelligence to create a range of options that may meet a donor’s needs without cutting them off completely. The person who can no longer afford to give may appreciate getting the occasional newsletter so they can see how their investment continues to live on in your work. The donor who feels you communicate too much may appreciate an annual appeal and occasional online updates. You’ll never know unless you ask.
When you see a WEEiD, look at it carefully. Question whether it’s the best practice for your organization, or simply something you do because you followed the crowd. Dare to be different when different is better – because better results outdo best practices every day.