Allergy Season

Oct 19, 2021

Many years ago, when my niece Katie was 9 years old, she said, Aunt Dawn, we either have to go big or go home and we’re already home!”  She was right. You have to go big! But that doesn’t mean you have to market to 10,000 donors. That’s not the right kind of big. Sure, sometimes big is quantity, but more often it’s quality. That means that your ideas can be big or the way you execute them can be over the top. According to Katie, you really don't have a choice.  After all, you’re already home.

Sounds good, but how?

I already know what you’re thinking, “How do I do that with a small team and small budget”?  Well, you do less better. You use the left brain method that tells you who your minimum viable audience is, and you combine it with right brain moxie that gets your donors to open your mail and read your stories.

Eight years ago, we took a ginormous leap to steward our minimum viable audience. Simply, that just means that we use our marketing resources—time, money, and energy—to invest in the donors that are most likely to be responsive to the needs we have to further our mission. So, yes, we have 20,000 people in our database. And, no, we don’t steward all of them. In fact, we only steward 50 at a time. Yeah, that’s right, several segments of 50 receive value-added messages with the right content at the right time. And for eight years running, we’ve exceeded our fundraising ROI using this method. Yes, this do-less-better strategy is blowing our one-man-band, flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, bulk-mail marketing madness non-strategy strategy completely out of the water.

Do Less, but Better

We know we can produce 50 of anything really, wildly well! We can select a segment of the 50 most generous people who love our mission as much as we do and use our left brain marketing methods to strategically send them the exact message that adds value to them. We know them. We love them. In fact, we define stewardship as loving our donors. And one way to love them is to send them the exact message that they need, at the exact time they need to receive it. It feels a lot like picking out the perfect birthday card for your best friend. When they read the message, they know it was meant for them.

We’re not here to waste our time or the time of our donors. We want them to open our mail and learn something. To open our mail and take action. To open our mail and know that their partnership with us is a charitable relationship. And we do that by adding in that sprinkle of right brain moxie I mentioned above.

Generosity, like our Marketing, is Fun!

We literally have the choice every time we communicate with our donors to show them how much fun generosity is. Seriously, is there anything more amazingly joyous that hanging out with people who love to abundantly give to help those in need? It’s so selfless, so authentic, so flippin’ exciting! My guess is that you love generous people as much as I do—so let’s show that through our nonprofit marketing.

For a Time Such as This

I’ve spoken to thousands of nonprofit professionals, and the idea I’m sharing today has always been uber popular! So, I thought you might like to see what’s possible when you’re customizing messages to segmented groups of 50—it’s no less than marketing magic.

This idea happens to be seasonal. I hope that you keep seasons in mind when crafting your messages. There’s a reason the Hallmark Channel is so popular, my friends. And their R & D budget is a lot bigger than ours! People love different seasons of the year and will certainly know that the message you’ve sent them was created just for them, for a time such as this.

Allergy Season

This idea is a real fan favorite. Did you know that you can send random objects in the mail? It’s true. It’s a good idea to verify your mailing with the post office first, of course—that’s exactly what we did when mailing 50 of our donors a box of travel tissues for their car. You’ve seen them, right? They’re those boxes of tissues that are in housed in a hard cardboard, cylinder-shaped box. They also happen to be the very tissues that you can place a sticker on and mail—without placing them in another box! So, we printed our return address, the donor’s address, the postage, AND the letter itself all on a sticker. Then we placed the sticker on the cylinder and mailed it! Ta-da! Left brain marketing with the perfect audience of 50 and right brain moxie with the most clever item in their mailbox that day—Amazon orders included! You better believe that they read it, loved it, acted on it, and told their friends about it. (It also had some shelf life…bonus!) All the sudden we built a deeper relationship with our donors, and they became a secondary marketing department simply by telling their friends about us. (Our marketing team just got a whole lot bigger!)

Can I Afford This?

I wondered if I could afford it, too. But what I know for sure, now, is that we can’t afford not to do it. The cost of mailing an item like this in the mail is well worth it when you know that donors will respond by donating and when you know they’re also telling their friends, family, and colleagues about you—without paying for another FTE! Besides, when you only mail 50, it’s more affordable than you think. And once your donors begin reading and responding to your communications, your end-of-year ROI (and your Board) will thank you.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, effective marketing uses both sides of your brain—and donors appreciate it. Do less better now, my friends—you can always thank me later.

All My Best,



P.S. Fundraising is hard, even though you make it look
oh-so easy! ♥

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