Perfect Often Enemy Of Good In Fundraising

August 16, 2016       Andy Segedin      

There are two words to keep in mind when a news story relating to your organization’s mission hits, according to Whitney Broadwell, senior resource development officer, direct marketing for International Medical Corps (IMC). “Carpe momentum.”

Staff at IMC received a tutorial in the need to be prepared for unexpected news with both successes and struggles in response to the April, 2015 Nepal earthquake. Broadwell and Wendy Marinaccio Husman, account director for Mal Warwick – Donor Digital, used IMC’s experiences in responding to the earthquake to provide lessons on making the news work to the benefit of organizations during a session of the 2016 Bridge To Integrated Marketing conference in National Harbor, Md.

Speed is the critical factor, according to Broadwell, adding that perfect is often the enemy of good in fundraising and marketing following a major event. Often, organizations are competing for attention immediately after an event. Receiving pre-approval for actions and expenses cuts down response time, she said. Digital fundraising channels via email or on websites and social media channels allow for both speed and flexibility.

Marinaccio Husman said that a separate client creates new keywords and ad words following a major news story to help with search-engine optimization. Keys to being nimble following a news event, according to the duo, include:

* Have a template ready for emergency alert emails that can be cloned without a photo. Not requiring a photo is important as IMC’s messages were delayed by waiting on photos from the field. Similarly, have donation-form and ad templates prepared;
* Pre-approve media budgets for paid ads. IMC’s team receives such approval at the beginning of the fiscal year;
* Rely on Facebook. Have a social media plan in place; and,
* Don’t forget the back-end sites. IMC, for instance, reaches out to a vendor to quickly test donation pages to identify potential issues.

Once donors engage with your organization by making a donation following a major event, the next step is to convert them to regular donors. Though an individual might have given to an organization after an event, the donor might not necessarily know much about that organization. It is important to keep them informed, Broadwell said.

A quick thank you is advisable and donors should be segmented and receive updates based on the cause to which they initially donated. IMC donors received follow-ups after one, three, six and 12 months featuring in-house and external content following the Nepal earthquake.

It is appropriate to make an ask after the donor is thanked for an initial gift, according to Marinaccio Husman. Referencing the event that initially brought the donor to the organization in future correspondences is recommended.