Habits of Nonprofits with Highly Successful Direct Response Fundraising Programs


Having a relevant mission that people want to support is the #1 prerequisite for direct response fundraising success. But it’s not the only one. In fact, it’s not even the most important one when it comes to dollars raised. So why do some nonprofits sail to success in their direct response fundraising efforts when others with equally compelling causes struggle just to leave the dock?

Simple: culture.

How a nonprofit thinks, acts and operates has everything to do with the ultimate effectiveness of its direct response fundraising efforts. What can your nonprofit do to be more effective? Consider these habits of nonprofits with highly successful direct response programs:

  1. Nonprofits with highly successful direct response programs have rapid and uncomplicated approval processes.
  2. They have experienced staff and they empower them with meaningful decision-making authority.
  3. Their leadership is accessible and supportive of their direct response program.
  4. They stay abreast of industry trends and invest in ongoing professional education for their direct response team.
  5. Their development, communications and program departments actually like one another and work well together.
  6. They keep a close rein on their budget.
  7. They test. A lot.
  8. They have strong database management and analytics capacity.
  9. They hire good consultants or in-house direct response teams and they listen to them. Most of the time.
  10. They have informed expectations for their direct response programs.
  11. They are also ambitious. They take calculated risks and they never stop challenging themselves to do better.

Comments on Habits of Nonprofits with Highly Successful Direct Response Fundraising Programs

  1. Valerie Vierengel says:

    I can tell you firsthand that this is a lot of why the direct response program at the ASPCA is so effective. #1 is the biggest pitfall I have seen with non-profits in my career and this is the first time I’ve seen an org successfully avoid it. Great post!

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