Final 5 lessons from this week's fundraising training

October 4, 2013 | By Kyle Baccei

The week-long Comprehensive Fundraising Training -- a bootcamp on raising more funds for causes and campaigns -- finished yesterday with the second day of the Direct Mail School. 

You can find previous highlights from the first day, second day, and third day of the fundraising trainings this week.

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Don't use the plural. Write to one person.

Rick Hendrix, Founding Partner of ClearWord Communications Group, came back to lead the final day of the Direct Mail School and Comprehensive Fundraising Training. He taught attendees how to write effective fundraising letters to their donors.

Other key points:

--> Know your target audience. What are their backgrounds and what are their issues? Ask yourself, who are you writing to? What are you writing about?

--> The first line must grab the reader's attention. You need a strong opening.

--> In the closing, restate what you want the donor to do. Ask for the gift!

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Direct mail is like a contract. You make an offer and the donor accepts it. Treat the donation like an investmnet.

Robert Stuber, Director of Development at Americans for Prosperity, joined the attendees of the Direct Mail school to explain how to make an offer a donor can’t refuse.

Other key points:

--> Donors want value -- and credibility.

--> You want to have a life-long relationship with your donor. The goal: a donor giving you $15 should have such a lasting love of your organization that he or she includes it in their estate plans.

--> List specifics -- about your organization and your projects -- to give you credibility. List the technical specifics to show what you will use donors' money to do.

--> Be timely in your talking points. If you're not, it seems like you don't know what's going on.

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Remember that your donors are on a calendar-year schedule.

Matt Waters, President of Waters Agency, was up next. He talked to attendees about how to get a fundraising letter opened, by personalizing the piece and using the calendar.

Other key points:

--> You want your piece to be high-quality, but you don't want to make it seem like you're investing too much money in it.

--> To personalize your pieces, use multiple stamps, handwritten font, and a return address. Write in the letter.

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Be an archer. Every interaction with a donor is getting you closer to the bull's eye.

Brian David of Active Engagement spoke next. He presented on the importance of online efforts to complement a direct mail fundraising program.

Other key points:

--> Be consistent across multiple channels (e.g. mail and email), especially with your logo.

--> Know your medium. Online is great for things happening right now. Traditional mail is great for perennial issues.

--> The fundamentals of online fundraising are no different than those of direct mail.

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Read My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising (on Amazon here).

Richard Viguerie, Chairman of American Target Advertising, Inc., closed out the Direct Mail School and the week-long Comprehensive Fundraising Training. Often referred to as the "funding father" of the conservative movement, he shared his valuable personal and professional experience with attendees.

--> A donor base is critical to your direct mail efforts.

--> Understand the lifetime value of a donor. This is the key to good fundraising.

Kyle Baccei is the Communications Manager for the Leadership Institute. Follow him on Twitter (@KyleBaccei).