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AFP eWire September 18, 2012: Print Version

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: 50th International Conference on Fundraising in San Diego!

Registration is NOW OPEN for the 50th AFP Annual International Conference on Fundraising. Act quickly (before September 28th) to take advantage of the Webinar Six (6)-pack BONUS! Register during the discount registration period, and get up to six (6) select archived webinars for FREE (a $945 VALUE). The webinars are given by top conference speakers! Again, register for the International Conference on Fundraising before September 28th to get the full Six (6)-pack BONUS! 

This year, our goal is to engage and re-energize our profession. Join us and be a part of our efforts to create balance, focus on critical priorities, and simplify complexities—we’ll explore what it means to be Doing The Right Things…Right! 

Go to for more information and register TODAY! See you in San Diego in 2013! 

Top Story

Finding the Right Date for Year-End and Holiday Appeals

An AFP member asked on the open forums about when it might be too late to send a year-end, holiday direct mail appeal, wondering specifically about sending a communications on December 14. Here are some of the responses and insights provided by members:

  • “Our best response has been if it goes out right around Thanksgiving, well in advance of the holiday.“
  • “We typically send ours before Thanksgiving. If you factor in post office delays, you could be looking at letters arriving after the New Year. It once took 3 ½ weeks for one of our mailings to reach recipients at my prior organization. I think December 15 is fine for an electronic campaign, but it seems late for a direct mail campaign. If it has to be December, I’d suggest the very first week and not mid-month." 
  • “Another vote for prior to Thanksgiving.  That way you’re not competing with Black Friday for disposable income. Our bulk mail hits within a week, so we’re OK. December 14th is too late in my book. Although an e-mail during the last week of December for online donations as a last second tax deduction would be a good follow-up.” 
  • “Research shows that a multi-touch approach works best.  I send out two letters – one in early November and another on in December.  In between we send the donor newsletter (a non-ask direct mail piece that illustrates how donations are used).  We also send out e-blasts to our email list.  Finally, we engage our stewardship committee to make calls to (1) donors who have already responded to the appeal and say “thank you” and (2) previous donors that have not yet responded and say “thank you for your past support; we hope you’ll consider supporting us this year…”  Finally, don’t forget the eblasts on December 29th and 30th saying “its not too late” and include instructions for online giving!” 
  • “We plan to institute calls from board members this year. We were thinking of doing a heads up call, having board members say the appeal is on its way and to look out for it.” 
  • “ Here are the steps [for having board members call]: #1 (and most important), have the caller introduce themselves as a volunteer. #2, have the caller announce that they are not calling to ask for money over the phone. #3 – listen for sigh of relief (ok…not a real step…but this does happen)
  • “Then, have the caller explain their volunteer connect (I am a board member, development committee member…) and their personal connection with the organization. The caller then should thank the donor for their previous support; “as a volunteer and a donor as well, I thank you for your support…” Then have the caller ask the donor to consider supporting the organization in the future (let them fill in their own words).
  • “If your volunteers have never called, they might not feel comfortable with the third bullet point.  I suggest doing a practice run in the springtime.  Always have a de-brief afterward (e.g. at the next stewardship committee meeting).”
  • “I agree with what others have said re: December 14th being too late for a direct mail campaign, and echo their suggestions.  In my experience, unless you're in the mail during the first few days in December, and it's a follow up to a [direct mail] package that was dropped 4-8 weeks previously, I'd repurpose your spend towards an online and/or phone campaign.”
  • “Last year, I did a holiday mailing which dropped in Toronto against a similar time frame - December 16th (not intentionally; the organization was going through some major changes which caused delays).  We used a first-class stamp so it hit households within a few days, but it was still too late.  (It didn't help that the artwork was a wintery/snowflake theme and there was generally no snow at that time due to an unseasonably warm December.)  The mailing barely broke even, with most gifts coming in January to March.  A year end eblast sent the last week of December would likely have lifted the response rate for the [direct mail] and secured more net revenue between both channels, but the charity opted not to do an online campaign.” 

What are your thoughts? How does your organization approach its year-end solicitations? You can keep the conversation going on the AFP open forums, use AFP2P or send your thoughts to


Special Announcement

Vote Today on AFP Bylaws Amendment and 2013 Board of Directors

All members are encouraged to vote online regarding two important items: 1) the slate of nominees for the 2013 AFP board of directors; and 2) new proposed bylaws recommended by the AFP Governance Review Task Force. The deadline for voting is Sept. 30, and members can vote here


Fundraising News and Tips

Connecting With Your Most Loyal and Senior Donors

Kimberly Mackenzie provides some terrific perspective and ideas on connecting with your most loyal donors, understanding how they want to engage and developing a planned giving program. (101Fundraising)

The Tester’s Dilemma: To Go On, or Give Up?

 Ken Burnett reminds fundraisers of the need to continue to test their fundraising ideas, and talks candidly about campaigns he wishes had been tried again. (Ken Burnett Blog)

How a $1,000 Gift Was Born

 Does your staff know what to say to strangers, should the occasion arise? Tom Ahern provides a great example. (Tom Ahern Communications)


AFP Announcements

Attention AFP Members: Canada Globe and Mail to Publish NPD Supplement on Nov. 16!

The Globe and Mail, which reaches nearly one million readers across Canada, will be publishing in partnership with AFP a special supplement about National Philanthropy Day®. The supplement will highlight donors, volunteers, corporations and foundations across Canada involved in philanthropy, and AFP members can receive special rates on advertising. To learn more, click here.

Sign Up to Serve on AFP’s Committees 

Know someone who would make a great candidate for committee service and help steer the direction of your community? Would you like to serve on one of AFP's committees? Now is your chance to do so! To sign up today, click here.

The Faces of the Next Generation of Fundraising Leaders

The AFP Next Generation Committee is requesting your help in obtaining photos to use on the Young Professionals website page. If you are a young fundraising professional (age 30 or under) or if you know people who could be the face of the new generation of AFP’s leaders, we would like to use your photo. We are looking for individual photos, group pictures and action shots that show young professionals engaged in their work and making an impact. Photos can be sent electronically in .jpg or .eps format. For more information or to submit photos, please contact Pat Bjorhovde at


AFP Member Exclusives

This Week's Free AFP Information Exchange Paper for Members:  Intellectual Capital in the Nonprofit Organization - Harvest Development Group, LLC/Sondra Lintelmann-Dellaripa

The growing power of ideas - as manifested in innovative programs, policies and processes – is the key differentiator for a successful nonprofit organization. This means that the most important resource in your nonprofit is not your donor database, or your special event - it’s the heads that walk through your door every day. These heads make up the differentiator known as Intellectual Capital.
• Read the paper! -

Lights...Camera...AFP Action University!This Week We Present an AFP Action University Book Review (Video): Managing (Right) for the First Time, by David C. Baker

Managing (Right) for the First Time is intended as a field guide for first time managers, or for managers who want to begin doing a better job. The author worked closely with 600+ companies and interviewed more than 10,000 employees, then summarized the findings in an interesting and eminently readable form. Read this book and you're likely to understand management and leadership like you never have before, but also learn very practical steps toward becoming a better manager and leader. 

• Access this week's AFP Action University Book Review development tool (video and materials) -

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