Your prospecting returns are dropping … running out of gas.

What’s the problem? Here are some reasons I can think of.

If it’s been happening for awhile … a longer-term trend

1. The worst news possible … your cause/mission/strategy is simply losing relevance and importance to an otherwise well-targeted audience.

2. You’ve plumbed every depth and vein of your natural market.

3. Relevance is still there, but a competitor has come along in your category with a better way of attacking the problem and is eating your lunch. [Note that I’m not talking about better marketing tactics here; I’m talking about better strategy and results.]

4. Everybody in your category is down — blame it on …

  • The economy
  • Some need with greater perceived urgency is stealing the attention of your common audience … and might for a considerable time
  • Your audience has lost hope

These are problems without a ‘quick fix’. Your organization might be facing the need to seriously re-invent itself, or shut the doors.

If it’s been happening over a shorter-term (say, over the past 12-18 months)

1. A short-term attention span problem — e.g., presidential election, a global disaster

2. A ‘temporary’ ebb in perceived urgency about your particular cause/need (be very careful about laying the blame on this one!)

3. You’re screwing up your targeting — list selection, modeling (but how, and why now?)

4. Your overall message has gotten stale, but not fatally so

5. You’ve slacked off on testing, and have been slow to replace a weakening control

6. You’ve changed something that was working … for no empirically-justified reason (maybe you’ve been too experimental)

7. A competitor in your category is eating your lunch, using better tactics and creative

8. You’ve made other tactical blunders — e.g., ineffective landing pages, poorly considered offers, poorly designed packages

9. You’ve forgotten to talk to donors about RESULTS

10. You’re starving your prospecting program investment-wise

11. You’ve disappointed/offended your donors in some specific, known way (think Komen Foundation)

12. Your celebrity supporter was discovered to be a cheat

These are things a diligent fundraiser can fix and overcome … not necessarily easily or quickly.

Get on it!


P.S. In your experience, why else has prospecting run out of gas?


This article was posted in: Communications, Direct mail, Donor acquisition, Nonprofit management.
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