Recently The Agitator talked about whether or how nonprofits might observe the marketing maxim … underpromise and overdeliver.

We invited suggestions about how this might work. Especially since nonprofits are so prone to overpromising as they attempt to break through the clutter and arouse donors.

David Love and Jen Love offer this advice. David is with The Conservation Foundation of Greater Toronto and Jen is with the Huntington Society of Canada.

“Hi Tom and Roger,

… As you point out, a charity takes risks by under promising. We dont think donors will rush to charities whose vision is so impaired.

So we figure that the under promise comes from what other charities do. We know, at least in Canada, that most direct mail donors give to a number of charities. So expectations are set by how others treat donors. With this as context, we suggest the following five opportunities to over deliver.

1. The thank you letter. In her excellent book, Thanks!, Penny Burk suggests 14 things that should be in a killer thank you. And you can do all 14 in three paragraphs. Rather than get a piece of junk out in 48 hours, get a great letter out in 96 hours! Rethink your thank you strategy to include mixing things up with the phone, e-mail etc. You and your fundraising database that clunks away may treat the receipt as a transaction but your donor most certainly does not!

2. In communications with donors, stick to your core values. The values which they responded to in the first place. Echo them back at every opportunity.

3. Got an answering machine? If you cant get rid of it altogether, make sure the message left is loud, slow and clear. The callers are your grandmothers age.

4. Surprise them! Especially your best donors. A newspaper article; an invitation; if youre an environmental group a happy Earth Day card. No ask. No BRE.

5. Have an open house. Invite them to the office. And expect them to come.

We hope others responded to your challenge. In Canada, there are 82,000 charities and almost 4,000 environmental charities. Your organization needs to stand out. And by under promising and over delivering, it will.”

Good advice folks! Many thanks from The Agitator.

Roger & Tom

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