Pop Art Red mailbox e1524534577866

Great Fundraising: It’s Not Just for Big Charities — You Can Do It Too!

No Comments

You don’t have to be a huge organization to get your fundraising right.

Case in point: Two direct mail pieces that came to me in the final weeks of December.  I’ll just show you the outer envelopes of both packs, but what we see there is repeated inside.

First, this piece from Seattle Goodwill Industries:

goodwillOE 1

This is a donor acquisition piece, as I am not a donor to this organization. I think they got my name by one of three ways:

  • Renting a list of donors to other charities.
  • Renting a list of buyers or subscribers that have shown a likelihood of donating.
  • Mailing to households in a ZIP code that already contains a concentration of their donors.

So how do they address this person who has never donated to them?  By displaying what I assume is a brand positioning statement.  Thanking me for believing in something.

That’s quite an assumption.  And while Goodwill has a very strong brand and most donors are likely to have heard of them, it’s not a fundraising proposition.  It’s not putting action in my hands.

While I have no inside knowledge about how this piece has done, I’ll make a guess:  It could have done better. “Big brand” organizations like Goodwill often “get away” with fundraising that would be a disastrous failure for the rest of us. But they too do better when they speak to the donor about the donor’s chance to take action that makes the world a better place.

What donor focus looks like

By contrast, look at this envelope from The Kehillah Jewish Education Fund, a funder of a group of private schools in the Chicago area. They are also a member of The Fundraisingology Lab here at Moceanic.

I am a donor to this organization, so it is addressing people who have shown their interest before.  And it addresses me with action.

KJEFoe 1

It’s not a fancy envelope — it’s not going to win any design awards (though the yellow stock is a very smart move). The important thing it does is address the donor in two ways: Announces the chance to double their gift, and makes sure there’s an urgency.

Nothing about the brand. No assumptions about the donor, other than they like to leverage their giving, which is a very safe assumption to make about virtually all donors.

Here’s the point: You don’t have to be a top-10 nonprofit brand to do smart fundraising. You can be a small local group with a one-or-two-person fundraising team and do better than much bigger organizations.  Just remember this:

Make your fundraising message about the donor. Not about your organization.  Donors don’t give because you are a great organisation. They give because they are great people who share your values.

Anyone can work with that assumption.

It’s too bad so many fundraisers never do!

Want to know what really works in direct mail fundraising? Take our online course, 7 Steps to Creating Record-Smashing Direct Mail. It’s your hands-on workshop in what works, how to do it, and how to apply these truths to your cause! It’s available for members of The Fundraisingology Lab. Check it out.

More examples of good fundraising:


  • Jeff Brooks

    Jeff Brooks is a Fundraisingologist at Moceanic. He has more than 30 years of experience in fundraising, and has worked as a writer and creative director on behalf of top nonprofits around the world, including CARE, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Feeding America, and many others.

    View all posts
Previous Post
VIDEO: How Much Do You Cost?
Next Post
VIDEO: My Favorite Fundraising Appeal: The Power of Specificity

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.