AFP’s Fundraising Day was a treasure trove of information. I sat in four different tracks to glean as broad of view as I could. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Direct Mail: There was a 22% higher response rate when they bumped the letter font size to 15pt versus 12pt, (it made the letter 3-pages, but the additional cost was nominal to the increase in response). People love seeing their name. There was an increase of 15% by bolding the donor name.
  2. Planned Giving: Use “gift by will” rather than “bequest.” Create 1-page on your website in a large font for legacy giving. Remember to add a legacy giving check-off box on your response device and piggyback on your impact statement or annual report with a donor highlight story.
  3. Special Events: How to honor someone “working in the trenches”? It was suggested having a big donor or corporation sponsor the honoree. Also, cocktail events are doing as well or better than sit down dinners, and it keeps the cost down.
  4.  Sustainer Programs: Thanks to Netflix and other programs, consumer behavior around monthly giving have changed. The average monthly gift is $23. And if your donor stays past three months, they tend to stick around. The numbers show getting a 13thgift is usually a better payoff than trying to upgrade, and it’s easiest on Giving Tuesday.

There were many more insights, including a powerful keynote address from Fatima Shama, Executive Director of The Fresh Air Fund. If you have never been to Fundraising Day in NY, I highly recommend going next year (June 5, 2020).