Treating On-Air Fundraising as a Campaign I

About half of my email inbox is made up of alerts and blog posts from fundraising professionals, consultants, and researchers reporting on findings from donor research and giving; there is no shortage of advice on how to use those results to better communicate with our prospects and donors.

From blogs such as Future Fundraising Now, there is a steady drumbeat about the ‘5 Things Fundraisers Constantly Do Wrong’ and ‘7 Things Fundraisers Should Stop Doing Right Now’ and one that I did not make up: “Why Simple Fundraising Always Works—and 2 Ways Everybody Screws It Up.”

What I’m getting at is that we have spent decades developing effective donor communication and practices, and CDP ‘s raison d’être is to gather, test, confirm and promote best practices to help stations grow and super-serve communities.

CDP has developed turnkey projects that help resources-strapped stations raise higher NET revenue, all of which have passed the testing phase. We know that the You Decide letter has a strong track record in acquisition, for example. We know that carefully-worded and timed thank you calls generate higher new NET revenue for stations by helping retain first-year donors who would have otherwise lapsed.

It goes without saying that rigorously tested and deployed mail, e-solicitation and digital fundraising campaigns do wonders for conversion.

How effective would it be to send a piece of renewal mail, not written by a fundraising professional, containing stream-of-consciousness thoughts and non-sequiturs? Would it be wise to send out e-solicitations written by a staff member who was given the latitude to ‘let their hair down’ and riff on an idea with only a moderate level of guidance? That’s what we do when we practice ‘riffundraising,’ an unscripted approach to one of our highest-profile marketing efforts.

Some questions:

If we value integrated cross-platform messaging based on best practices, why do we have difficulty incorporating those messages into on-air fundraising?

Why rely on non-fundraisers to devise and deploy fundraising messages?

Do we think we’ll get different results or move the needle on pledge drive length, effectiveness and conversion if we provide our on-air teams with a skeletal rather than a fleshed-out messaging system?

I have heard a lot of justification for that model over the years:

We’ve always done it that way

Our staff won’t do ‘scripted’ fundraising; they think it sounds ‘unnatural’

We have no time to write or organize scripts

We do great/make our goal without scripts so clearly we don’t need them

We have a binder full of scripts that we downloaded five years ago and nobody ever uses it

I’ll address those points in an upcoming post. In the meantime, I hope you will share some of the measures you have put into place that stations can employ, no matter the size. Alternatively, let us know what you would need to make cross-platform fundraising more feasible for your station.

Barry NelsonComment