There are plenty of solid fundraising and marketing strategies your nonprofit should be implementing.

But you should also know what to stay away from. Today let’s discuss “Spray and Pray,” a strategy that won’t help you build more relationships or raise more money.

It will cost you.

Lapsed To The Extreme

A colleague recently shared with me a letter that arrived at her house.

(I thought about sharing an image of it here while purposely removing the name of the nonprofit, as well as the names of the people it is addressed to. However, just by reading it you might be able to figure out which charity sent it. So I’m not posting it.)

Here’s what my colleague told me: “The packet was addressed to the couple we bought our house from 19 years ago. Both of them passed away in 2008.”

The letter itself is a lapsed donor appeal. The organization is reaching out to donors who gave in the past but not recently and trying to engage them again.

Except that these people haven’t given in at least 15 years!!!

It is important for me to note: The charity that sent this is one of the 100 largest nonprofits in the United States. Meaning, they potentially have the budget to hire a data specialist to go through their database and clean it up.

Data hygiene is critical to fundraising and marketing success!

To be fair, this could be a mistake. Maybe they DID clean their database and missed this couple. After all, they have tens of thousands of donors.

I’d love to give them the benefit of the doubt. But I’m using this as an example of what I see far too often:

Management wants direct mail appeals and emails sent to as many people as possible (basically, everyone in the database). They choose quantity over quality. The reasoning: The more people we send to, the more chances we have of getting a positive answer.

The opposite is true.

Image by sunil kargwal from Pixabay

Spray And Pray

A “Spray and Pray” strategy isn’t a strategy at all. It’s wishful thinking.

It means your data isn’t clean. It means you’re not segmenting. You’re working under the almighty pressure of “have to raise as much as we can in this campaign and everything else be damned.”

Not all donors are the same. Your monthly givers differ from your annual supporters differ from your major donors who are different than your midsize donors.

With “Spray and Pray,” you just send an appeal to anyone and everyone and hope for the best. You probably don’t bother to segment or change the language.

Think about it from the donor’s perspective: Relationship building is what this is all about. And you go about destroying that by having a donor database which isn’t updated.

Let’s use email as an example:

Some organizations take the approach offire awayas often as possible. Send as many emails as possible for each campaign and hope that subscribers open one or more emails and donate.

This of course backfires when

  • Your unsubscribe rate goes up
  • Subscribers start marking your emails as spam
  • Fewer people open the emails or engage with them
  • Fewer emails convert which means fewer donations.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

One Fundraising And Marketing Strategy To Avoid

Email providers such as Gmail act as gatekeepers. They do their best to prevent spam entering the inboxes of their users.

One of the ways they do this is by measuring how many people with Gmail addresses interact with your organization’s emails. If very few of them are opening and/or clicking, Gmail starts to wonder why. They could assume that emails coming from your nonprofit are spam.

Which means

  • Your emails get sent directly to the Spam folder
  • Your emails do not get delivered to ALL Gmail users.

Probably not helpful for your fundraising and marketing efforts!

What about direct mail? With “Spray and Pray” you’re sending as many envelopes as possible.

But does that make sense for your nonprofit with the shoestring budget? Direct mail includes costs for

  • Printing the appeal and reply card
  • Purchasing outer and inner envelopes
  • Printing on both envelopes
  • Stamps.

Mailing everyone on your list is costing your organization thousands of dollars that you don’t have. The returns of using such an approach? Needle not moved.

“Spray and Pray” is one fundraising and marketing strategy you want to avoid.

Quality over quantity. Data hygiene. Strengthen relationships with supporters.

Those are winning strategies.

If your organization wants to go from survival to thrival, then my fundraising and marketing roadmap to success is for you! Contact me today so you can experience growth.