When become fundraisers for the first time, you can do them a big favor by helping "reprogram" them. Most fundraising newbies have some very common-sense opinions about their new profession. If they've thought much about it, they'll probably have a list of reforms they intend bring about. Things like:
- Get rid of direct mail. Nobody responds to it any more.
- If we contact people less, they might give more.
- Short and to-the-point messages will work better.
- We could raise a lot more money if we go to people in their 20s.
- Don't be so simple and urgent. We're putting people off.
Common-sense stuff. But wrong.
Writing at the Hilborn Blog, Jonathan Grapsas points out the problem with common sense, at Fundraising reprogramming:
Don't be one of those people who say, "I wouldn't respond to this," or "I don't like it." Listen to data, not just your instinct. Often they will be at odds, and direct response is about what the data says, not what you think it might say.
Your own sense of how things ought to be is a terrible barometer for effective fundraising. In fact, you can almost use your own taste and common sense as a counter-indicator: If you like it, if it makes sense to you -- it's probably not going to work.