How Fundraising Really Works: New York Fundraising Lab Recap

Fundraising Ideas

Share this article

Thanks so much to all of our clients who joined us at the New York Fundraising Lab on August 6th!

Attendees networked with other local nonprofits, enjoyed a presentation from Jason Lewis on “Does Your Organization Have a Shared Understanding of How Fundraising Really Works?,” saw how other clients are using Qgiv’s features and driving success, and learned how to write a better appeal letter.

The purpose of the Fundraising Lab is to host events that give local organizations the opportunity to connect with each other and benefit from the expertise of industry pros. The events also give nonprofits the chance to talk with staff about all things Qgiv!

Does Your Organization Have a Shared Understanding of How Fundraising Really Works?

Jason Lewis explained how there are three “lanes” that donors can be in.

Lane 1: one-time gifts, generally “trivial” gifts
Lane 2: second gifts and onward
Lane 3: larger gifts, more involvement

Lane 3 is closest to the mission and Lane 1 is the farthest.

Most fundraisers are pushed into jobs that require acquiring more and more lane 1 donors, but there’s not much emphasis on developing the other lanes. This isn’t a sustainable fundraising model; we need to focus on developing relationships with those donors to move them across the lanes and closer to the mission.

How To Build a Better Appeal

Abby Jarvis, Nonprofit Education Manager at Qgiv, went step-by-step on how to craft a better appeal letter, from what people look at first in the letter to how to catch people’s attention with the envelope!

  • How donors skim an appeal
    1. Pictures
    2. Salutation
    3. Johnson Box & Post Script
    4. Signature
    5. Body of the letter
  • Pictures
    • Choose powerful images
    • People are going to feel more connected to a picture of a person or animal looking happy and healthy than sad or sick
  • Salutation
    • Don’t “Dear Friend” your donors
    • Try to use a salutation that matches the person’s interest if you don’t have their name. For example, use something like “Dear Animal Justice Warrior.”
  • Johnson Box & Post Script
    • 79-90% of readers look here first!
    • Great place to make an ask
  • Signature
    • Use someone besides the CEO to sign, like a volunteer or board member. If it is the CEO’s signature, try to include a personal note.
    • Be creative with the signature! For example, if your appeal is for an animal shelter, have the signature be from an adoptable pet
  • Body of the Appeal
    • Make it easy to scan
    • Make sure that it’s donor-centered. It should contain more “You” language than org-centered language.
    • Read the letter out loud! This is a good way to ensure it flows and makes sense.

Want to see if a Fundraising Lab is heading to a city near you? Check out this page for more locations!

Share this

You might enjoy