What makes for a good fundraising pitch?
Like other non-profits we’re always looking for ways to get across that basic, fundraising message — what we do is important; we need your money to do it. We don’t put on fancy events to do it (because then we’d need more of your money to do that), or sell artwork (we won’t go into the why, but Frank McEntire’s article in this month’s edition covers some of our reasons — see, publishing 15 Bytes really is important). And unlike the radio and tv stations we don’t have you as a captive audience. All we have are our emails, and maybe a blog post.
So we try as hard as we can to make our emails compelling and maybe even a little fun (those are the best kind of emails to open, right?). And so after every fundraising effort we try to analyze what works and what doesn’t. So, in the 8 years we’ve been around, want to know what our most successful fundraising pitch was?
That’s right, this photograph from our Spring 2007 Fund Drive. We were at the end of our fundraiser and still a couple of thousand short. But within a day of sending out this photograph we got that and more. Many people who had already donated even threw in a little extra.
What’s the lesson to be learned? You can spend hours carefully composing a well-crafted message, full of exciting bullet points as to how you benefit the community and you might get a respectable trickle of support. But send out a photograph of your Executive Director in an embarrassing situation and the floodgates will be opened.
Only problem is you can’t just keep reusing the same pitch. The joke isn’t nearly as funny the second time around. As our audience grows most won’t even recognize the guy in the photograph. And his parents have said they’ll only donate if we don’t use it.
So, what’s our pitch this year? Well, you’ve just read it.
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