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Get Personal

August 09, 2017
We’ve all received the email from a mailing list, with a come-on for a sale or other event. And we’ve all hit delete before we even know the product or service, based on a salutation like “Dear Sir or Madam.” Even in the age of programs that can merge donor names into email solicitations, there’s something about a mailing list that can feel cold.

The best way to raise money with our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages is, of course, by selling them in a room of relaxed, happy donors. But in order to fill that room, you’ve got to reach out to them – and in doing so, it’s been shown time and again that personal entreaties are the best.

One effective way of reaching out to your supporters is one of the most old-fashioned: The United States Postal Service. Yes, mass mailing isn’t always an efficient use of money, but targeting specific donors or supporter pools with a tangible invitation is still personal enough to get noticed. Better yet, turn the invites into discussion pieces; tie them to your theme, work with a graphic designer and make them sing, as if they were wedding invitations. Those are the types of postcards or mailers that get tacked to bulletin boards, affixed to refrigerators and, eventually, accepted.

Social media advertising isn’t just for work-from-home schemes. With 68 percent of American adults using Facebook and 30 percent of all American adults of incomes more than $75,000 using Twitter, according to Pew Research, there’s a good chance that your supporters – and supporters-to-be – exist somewhere in the digital space. The audience for your advertisement can be selected by age, location and interests, meaning that your post promoting your event or gala can be in front of a huge number of potential attendees, right next to status updates or tweets from their friends.

The aforementioned invitations have one common goal: To feel more personal. Whether it’s a paper invite that looks handmade or a promoted social media post designed to pop up in someone newsfeed, each try to narrow the space between the organization and the invitee. But there’s an easy, overlooked way of doing just that: Pick up the phone! For your gala, your board of directors could be doing personal phone calls to as many donors as possible, especially those with a bigger budget. If an effective invitation is one that is as personalized as possible, there’s no beating a one-on-one conversation with a board member. (It’s also a great time to listen to the donor’s thoughts, concerns and suggestions, too.)


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