Evaluating CDO and a Piece on Direct Mail

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    Evaluating CDO and a Direct Mail Article

    1. Evaluating The Chief Development Officer – I
    by Tony Poderis

    When it gets to be annual review time for your Chief Development Officer (CDO), no matter what his/her title might be, and you want to apply some criteria to measure her/his performance, what will drive you to say “Nice job,” or “You are not up to what we expected,” or worse – “Your services are no longer needed here?”

    “Why, of course,” you say, “it should be the amount of money raised towards the goal!!”

    Although that may sound reasonable, it’s not … nor is it realistic.

    A number of factors must be considered to be able to determine whether your chief development officer is performing well … or not. (Note: we’re talking about a Chief Development Officer (CDO) — the individual supervising/mentoring the other development staffers, the person in charge of development planning, and the coordinator of all activities by everyone involved in the development process.)

    In one regard, the role of that CDO is often more of the facilitator who provides direction, plans, and tools for the people who should, ideally, be the real fundraisers – board members and other volunteers. Now that may sound a little old-fashioned, but a development officer cannot be expected to know, and have relationships with, all of the key people who make the gifts that make the mission happen.

    Raising the needed funds must be a team effort, and the evaluation of the CDO hinges upon her/his ability to ensure that the best possible effort was exerted in the most effective manner/context. Never should the amount of money raised be the main, or sole, criterion to evaluate that professional.

    People looking to measure a development officer’s performance and effectiveness by a dollars-raised-criterion should take into account that the “success” of the development officer is going to be strongly impacted by many other factors, most out of her/his control.

    Next Wednesday, in Part Two of this series, I’ll suggest some of the
    factors that can affect the effectiveness of a development operation.
    Have a question or comment about the above posting?
    You can Ask Tony.
    There is also a lot of good fundraising information on his website:
    Have you seen
    The Fundraising Series of ebooks ??

    They’re easy to read, to the point, and inexpensive ($1.99 – $4.99)

    2. The New Donor’s Journey
    by Jonathan Howard

    Direct mail is old-fashioned. And that’s a good thing. What works by mail has been time-tested and documented in countless books and blogs over many decades.

    So how does an acquisition piece work? Remember the stages of behavior change: attention and interest, weighing pros and cons, learning how to do it, getting ready, and then (finally!) doing that new thing: sending money to strangers.

    The path from attention to action is a gauntlet of questions, starting with, “Should I even pay attention?” (This question eliminates more potential donors than any other.)

    Then more questions. What is this about? Who are these people? Are they legitimate? Have I ever heard of them? Do I care about this cause? Can they really do anything about it? What do they want from me? What’s in this for me?

    Each piece in your direct mail acquisition package helps move your readers along this long and narrow path.

    The envelope earns attention and arouses interest. You can use color and design to draw attention to the package but to create interest, you may want to use a short teaser copy on the outside of the envelope. Teasers pose interesting questions, offer benefits or begin a story to draw prospects into your letter.

    Inside, the main letter moves the reader from interest, through deliberation to decision. This is a long journey. The letter deserves enough length to connect to readers emotionally and answer all the logical questions that stand between them and a gift. Don’t shortchange your prospect with arbitrary limits on the length of your letter.

    Acquisition packages often include added print pieces. Make sure these pieces are written and designed to directly reinforce your case or add credibility (with a celebrity endorsement, for instance). Unrelated or generic materials like brochures actually hurt responses.

    When your reader finishes the main letter and supporting pieces, the only question left should be, “How do I make my donation?”

    The reply coupon guides the donor as he responds with action – choosing the right gift amount and making payment. The reply envelope receives that gift and seals it up, ready for mailing back.

    Response rates on new donor acquisition mailings are very low – less than one percent is common. (That’s still about 10 times better than email.) Results vary widely depending on the mailing list and, of course, the contents.

    Acquisition mailings may cost more than they bring in, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to skip them.

    Remember that leaky bucket? Even if it costs you money, you must bring in new donors to replace the unavoidable loss of some donors from year to year.

    You make that money back by plugging the leaks. Now your job is donor retention. That means converting one-time donations into habitual behavior – it’s the second and subsequent gifts that add up to significant donor value.

    Jon has more than 25 years in the nonprofit sector,
    helping nonprofits develop successful direct-response strategies
    and effective donor communications.
    You can contact Jon at Jonathan Howard
    Have you seen
    The Fundraising Series of ebooks ??

    They’re easy to read, to the point, and inexpensive ($1.99 – $4.99)

    If you would like to comment/expand on either-or-both of the above pieces, or would just like to offer your thoughts on the subjects of this posting, we encourage you to “Leave a Reply” at the bottom of this page.