The Once-A-Year Myth

May 23, 2018



Written By: Danny

By Danny Maier

There are several myths in fundraising. One of the most frustrating to me is the belief that we will somehow overwhelm and upset Ms. Donor and Mr. Donor by asking them to support our mission multiple times a year.

Well, my University seems to disagree. I saved every mailing from my alma mater just this year and am up to five mail solicitations (and it’s not even Memorial Day). I’ve also received a phone call from a very bright and engaging undergraduate named Molly. And guess what? I don’t contribute to my University directly. But they are still trying! And I’m not upset.

So what is the right number of solicitations to your donors?

My church solicits me 52 times a year. My neighbor’s daughter asks us to participate three times a year for her sports team fundraisers. The number, itself, is not so important. What’s important is that the number varies for different groups of donors.

We have to stop thinking of donors as a monolithic group, each identical to the other. Your donors, while all linked to your mission, can be motivated and excited by different elements of what you do.

For example, my wife and I volunteer at the local food bank. They rescue food from local grocery stores and restaurants and redistribute to meal programs that feed the hungry and homeless. Every other week, we volunteer in the kitchen cooking lunch. We love cutting, chopping, and seasoning…watching raw ingredients turn into plates of healthy and delicious meals. My neighbor, however, works in their warehouse sorting and organizing food boxes to distribute to families struggling to keep food on the table. Yet we get the same silly general solicitation – until recently.

Now, my solicitation is all about the kitchen program. My neighbor’s focuses on the farm and fresh produce program. And guess what? They woke up to solicit me – in person – right after I had volunteered and still had adrenaline pumping through my system!

So what are your cases? And for gosh sakes, feel free to think like a place of worship or university. There is no reason you cannot go out to your donors multiple times a year and ask for help – not to fund your case – but to fund your cases. Because in candor, if asked, I’d probably support the farm produce program, too.

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2 responses to “The Once-A-Year Myth”

  1. Danny Danny Maier says:

    PS – I just received an email this morning from my University. They are still at it – are you?

    Dear Danny,

    On Sunday, I graduated from the University of Notre Dame! These past four years have honestly been the best experience of my life.

    My parents had the vision to give me a shot at a better life through education. Notre Dame provided me the tools to create that successful life.

    Many of my classmates and I could not have reached this milestone without your support of financial aid. Your generosity literally provides the gift of Notre Dame.

    Later this summer, I’m moving to Philadelphia to start my career as an Aerospace Engineer at Lockheed Martin. I’m both nervous and excited, but overall I’m just thankful to have this incredible opportunity.

    Growing up, I never imagined this future was possible for me. Now it is my reality.

    Thank you for helping me to overcome the odds!


    ————–, Class of ’18

  2. John C Alexander says:

    Great post, Danny….persistence accompanied with the right story/ask is the correct course.