Fundraising can be a tricky business, according to Mark Schulhof. Especially for those who are just beginning to engage in the art. It doesn’t help that many myths are floating around that could have you leaving big money on the table from some of your favorite donors. Savvy non-profit leaders conduct tests, examine data, and use previous results to fuel their decision-making. You don’t want to fall for the four myths below that could cause your organization to lose out when it comes to your fundraising efforts.

Myth 1: “Rest” Your Donors After They Contribute

This may appear to be sound advice. After all, you never want the well to run dry. However, it could allow reliable donors to move on to other causes. More importantly, your donation amounts and retention rates will suffer as a result.

Instead of allowing them to rest, allow them to decline by asking them to contribute again. Here’s why that works.

Recent contributions help donors feel invested in the work they do. It triggers the “feel good” impulses in their brains to give. That is something they like quite a bit. Because these feelings are fresh in their memories, they are more likely to donate again than if you wait a while between requests.

Besides, when you are engaged in active fundraising, it is much better to get a negative response than to miss out on a donation by failing to ask for it, Mark Schulhof explains.

Myth 2: Allow New Donors a Honeymoon Period Before Making Follow-Up Requests

Many non-profits welcome new donors with radio silence. They do this out of fear that asking too soon will be rude or bothersome. The reality is this tactic may make new donors feel slightly unappreciated.

What may even be shocking to fundraisers and non-profits alike is the results from Analytical Ones that states that new donors who make a second contribution within the first three months donate nearly twice as much over a lifetime as those who do not make a second give until one year later. In fact, you have a 90-day window in which new donors are most likely to donate again. Once that 90-day window closes, follow-up gifts decline dramatically.

Myth 3: Skip the Long Letters

Conventional wisdom says long letters are rarely read, may waste donors’ time, and may turn donors away from your non-profit. Testing doesn’t support this supposition. In fact, it does the exact opposite.

Testing shows, time and time again, that long letters get better responses from donors.

A few theories are floating around as to why donations fly in the face of conventional wisdom in this instance.

   1. More information in the letter provides more opportunities to inspire readers to donate.

   2. Longer letters provide multiple entry points for readers to key in on when skipping around. This means you have more opportunities to reel them in.

   3. Informative letters carry more credibility than shorter letters with minimal information.

Ultimately, while you might prefer receiving shorter letters, donors have proven many times over that they prefer lengthier missives, explains Mark Schulhof. Give them what they want and see what a difference it makes to your numbers.

Myth 4: Pull Donors from Direct Marketing Efforts When They Upgrade

This is one myth that sounds like it might be based on fact. The idea is that you remove donors who have made larger donations from your direct marketing program. But this can go seriously wrong.

Here’s why. That direct marketing program worked. It convinced them to make the larger gift. You never want to remove donors from something that is already working, even if you do intend to kick your efforts up a notch or two in the future.

The better option would be to reach out to donors personally, thanking them for their gifts and making them feel appreciated while keeping them in your direct marketing program. This outreach will help you build a relationship that will carry further donations.

Mark Schulhof understands the challenges of fundraising and hopes that busting these myths will help you in your endeavors.

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