Monday, June 1, 2009

Will work for a mat.

USA Wrestling launched the Living the Dream Medal Fund over the weekend. It is an effort to raise money so that World and Olympic medallists can be rewarded for their achievements. Click on the link above for more details.

In the past two or three weeks I have read internet donation requests from the Cal State Fullerton wrestling team, Wrestling 411, and Operation Pass it On. All are worthy causes and a donation to any one of them will only improve the sport.

When it comes to wrestling – I’m just a fan. I have no special knowledge or inside connections and no experience participating in the sport. What I do know is fund raising. I’ve been a direct marketing consultant for almost 30 years and raising money for charities is a part of what I do. If you’re looking for the usual wrestling blog you can stop reading now. If you coach a wrestling team that needs a new mat, are an administrator hoping to endow the wrestling coach’s salary or a club leader in need of new equipment – read on. I’m going to share a few basic tips on the art and science of fund raising that may help you meet your goals.

Pick the right medium.

The most recent statistics show that telemarketing, direct mail and email (in that order) are the most efficient fund raising media. If you are relying too heavily on your website or on internet postings, you are missing a lot of money.

Know your donors.

Build a donor database that tracks at least the following:

Contact information (name, address, email, phone).
First donation date.
First donation amount.
Last donation date.
Last donation amount.
Total number of donations by medium (email, direct mail, website, etc.)
Total donated amount by medium.

You’ll soon learn that all donors are not created equal and you’ll want to customize your approach.

Get the second gift.

The second gift you get from a donor is the most important. A two-time donor is twice as likely to respond to a future request than is a one-time donor. Failing to ask for a second donation in a timely fashion is the single biggest mistake most charities make. However, don’t ask for the second gift with your “Thank you” note. The best pattern to follow is: 1. initial donation 2. Thank you. 3. Second gift request.

Tell the donor what his gift will accomplish.

Be specific. I recently managed a campaign where we asked for, “Enough food to feed a family of four for a week” ($100), “One week’s shelter and food for a homeless mother and her children” ($220), “A whole ton of food” ($700). You will still get a lot of $25 donations, but the number of donors who choose to give larger amounts are more likely to do so if there is a tangible result tied to the larger gift.

By the way – NEVER – let me repeat that – NEVER –say, “Every little bit helps.” No matter whatever else you have said, as soon as you use that sentence you trivialize your need.

Make it easy to give.

Offer multiple payment options – reply envelopes, credit cards, websites etc. Young charity managers often rely too heavily on internet payment. Statistically, major donors are older and more likely to respond through the mail than via the internet.

If you’re trying to raise money for a wrestling related cause and would like a little FREE advice, just send me an email at

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