After years of experience, months of package- and strategy-testing, weeks of data analyses and days of hard work developing strategic multi-channel acquisitions and appeals, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to execute a successful fundraising program. Today, I’d like to share some of our expertise in the form of Hot Topics and Trends in Fundraising—a first-hand look at simple ways you can make a positive difference by acquiring, retaining and stewarding donors for long-term success.


  • Be aggressive with your fundraising program—make solicitation and stewardship top communications priorities.
  • Design a segmentation strategy that allows you to track different cohorts in your database.
  • Understand your key performance indicators, and build your budget and strategy around retention and long-term value.
  • Find opportunities to engage your base beyond requesting a gift, e.g., sign-and-return devices.
  • Keep your direct mail fresh by using different formats, envelope colors and sizes.
  • Test different voices when developing fundraising communications. Donors respond to leadership, specialists and high-profile individuals.
  • Promote matching gift opportunities; they create urgency as well as increase both response and average gift.
  • Model softer portions of your donor base (e.g., deep lapsed, memorials, events) to find the most productive segment.
        • Shape a comprehensive digital experience that provides value to your donors: Create a program that goes far beyond solicitations.
        • Cater to the digital usage habits of your donors or be ignored: Don’t expect them—especially Millennials—to be reached on your organization’s terms. Go where they are and excel there.
        • Go heavy on compelling visuals online. From The NonProfit Times: “Web posts with visual components drive up to 180% more engagement,” and “research indicates people process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.”
        • Be sure to have a responsive website so you can adapt to the growing number of devices that donors may use to visit websites.
        • Evaluate the abandonment rates on your donation pages: Remove extraneous fields, add security signs near the donate button and eliminate links to other parts of your website.


    Say ‘THANK YOU!’ immediately and often.