Lloid the Gyroid’s Guide to Effective Fundraising
Raising funds for your organization can be a daunting task, but it’s not impossible. In Nintendo’s 2020 release, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Lloid the Gyroid demonstrates some effective techniques to keep in mind whether you’re looking to build an incline or your endowment.
1. Be Friendly
Your donors are an important part of your organization. They care about your mission and are willing to support it in a number of ways. If you make sure they feel appreciated as a part of your organization, they will be more inclined to return and to bring others to the cause.¹
If you’ve only got so much to go around, you’re more likely to help your friends first. Because you, as a charity, are not allowed to return more than a token amount of consideration to the donor for their support; you have to be more clever. Make your donors feel good about supporting you. You want them to feel like a crucial contributor to your success! If they do, the next time they want to buy some “warm fuzzies”, your organization will be the first to come to mind.²
2. Be Clear About What the Donation is For
Part of the inherent value of philanthropy from the donor’s perspective is the sense of contributing to something specific. “This island needs a ramp to increase accessibility to the higher ground level.” A clear project with a valuable outcome will help to build people’s excitement.³ Even if it’s to keep the organization running and achieve the overall mission, it’s still important to be clear about that, because donors want to know.
3. Demonstrate a Concrete Need
It’s also an effective technique to present a project that has a finite end. As the saying goes, “Donors love a building”. If they see a number that could be reached with their support, it makes it feel like they are contributing to something that is clear, achievable, and in some cases, time sensitive.⁴ They may be inclined to give more or more frequently if they see a capacity to move the needle on a specific project. The popularity of the giant novelty thermometer was not born out of nothing.⁵ Lloid does a good job of making this need clear, while also assuring the donor that all levels of support are valuable and appreciated.
4. Make a Clear Ask
A donor is not likely to give in the first place if they are not asked, and they may not initially offer as much as they would be willing to give unless you arrive at an appropriate figure based on prior discussion as well as research about the donor’s values, giving patterns, and means.⁶ Choosing not to ask, or to ask for a lower amount than is appropriate are examples of one of the worst fundraising mistakes, Saying No on the Donor’s Behalf. Your astute donor is perfectly capable of rejecting your offer on their own, thank you very much. Not being asked, or asked again if someone has donated before, is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t make a donation.⁷ If your interactions and prep work have been executed properly, you’ll have a clear ask in mind at an appropriate figure, and you and the donor will come to an agreement that everyone is happy with.
5. Remove Barriers to Support
When you’ve found a good prospect, odds are it’s someone who cares about your organization or its mission. By this point, they want to help you, they like what you do and want to see your work continue, so another key consideration here is making it as easy as possible to donate. Remove any barriers that might exist to the best of your ability. I personally have abandoned donating to a cause I was interested in because it was too complicated to work out how to donate. The website was bad, or the process was unclear, perhaps they didn’t take the method of payment I wanted to use. (And let me tell you, the amount of damage a bad website does to an organization or brand is considerable. Donors, funders, clients — if your website doesn’t easily do what they want it to do, that’s a huge barrier for everything, and leaves a bad taste in the future. You may think you can’t afford to fix it, but you really have to consider whether you can afford not to.)
Lloid here does a good job. He makes it easy to deliver the bells, and quick to enter an amount, or to quickly donate the full amount you’re carrying or the rest of the amount to fund the project. Because of the way money is handled in the game, this was a logical option to include to make the process smooth. Nothing gets in the way, and the donor is able to fund the project effectively.
6. Thank Them for the Donation
One of the most important things you can do is to thank a donor for their donation. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated, but it has to exist. Thank early, thank often, thank every time someone makes a donation. Make it a habit. Send them a note, call them, be considerate of their preferences for contact, but demonstrate gratitude.⁸ Lloid sets a good example here, thanking the donor right away for supporting the cause. Statistically, one of the most common reasons for a donor not to return, it is because they were not properly thanked,⁹ and it’s such a simple thing to do that it is unreasonable to risk losing a donor over that sort of neglect.
If there’s a way to make it more personal and thoughtful, that helps. You can also do something more substantial or personal for a larger or otherwise noteworthy donation. If it’s fairly substantial, you can involve others in the thanking process. A note from the executive director is good, or from a beneficiary of the donation. For example, if you are an orchestra, a note or a visit with the music director or one of the musicians is great if you can swing it. If your organization serves children, a card or drawing from the children in the program is always a hit. An art gallery might bring a donor out for dinner with an artist before their opening, etc. You can get pretty thoughtful without having a lot of monetary value in return.
7. Remain Gracious Even Through Rejection
Sometimes circumstances are such that even a good prospect that you prepare for and ask will not be in a position to donate at that time. But, while it may go without saying, it is important to emphasize that you should still be pleasant and thankful for their time even if they don’t make a donation. If it’s positive, they’ll still have a positive association and may come back when they’re in a better position. If they’re not in a good position to donate right now, and you’re rude or the experience is otherwise negative, they definitely won’t feel any urgency to come back when they can. It’s a worthwhile effort even to maintain a positive public perception of your organization, so as Lloid is demonstrating here, be understanding, and pleasant in the process.
8. Keep Them Updated on the Progress and Outcomes
At this point, your donors are on board. They’re a part of your project and invested in its outcome, both emotionally and monetarily. As key stakeholders in your project, it’s important to keep them updated on your progress. If they see progress, they will remain confident in the project, and possibly bring others on board or donate further. You can’t sustain their interest by treating it as urgent forever, they want to know something is happening.¹⁰ It is also important to their lasting affinity for your organization to make sure they feel like a valued part of your work, and updates on the status of your efforts will help them feel a continued connection with the project they supported. “Loyalty is the by-product of trust and trust has to be earned.”¹¹
9. Remind Them of the Results of Their Donation
It’s almost time for the fun part. Lloid’s donors have come together to fund Santiana’s new incline, and the project is nearing completion. You want everybody to know now, this project is happening for sure, and it’s all thanks to the support of your fabulous donors. This marks a point in the project where you’ll update a wider circle than you have been about your progress so far. It may be time for a media release or press conference, because the project is on its way. Lloid does not do this, because Lloid is rooted to the ground and Santiana is a small enough island that you can comfortably run laps of it. No need for a press conference when every resident of the island can probably see you standing there. But when you stop by, Lloid will tell you the incline is nearing completion thanks to the donors.
10. Celebrate Your Collective Success!
It’s finished! The donors and all the other key stakeholders are in attendance for the opening of the brand new Natural Ramp. It’s a good time for speeches and more thanking, the happy moment to tell everyone their support was worthwhile.¹² It’s good to have it on the site of the ramp as well, as it lets everybody see it, and isn’t likely to feel like a big extra expense.¹³ It’s the big payoff everybody bought into, and time to share that good feeling that will keep the donors coming back again and again. As the saying goes, “Donors don’t give because your organization is great. They give because they themselves are great.”¹⁴ And it’s important to make them feel that that is the case.
And — typical — Lloid isn’t even visible — for the work of the Development Director is done, and Tom Nook, the Executive Director, is there to take credit. (Which is fine. Statistically people like that better.¹⁵)
- Mallabone, Guy. 2011. Excellence In Fundraising In Canada. Toronto: Civil Sector Press. 168.
- Burk, Penelope. 2003. Donor-Centered Fundraising. Hamilton, ON: Cygnus Applied Research. 86.
- Mallabone, Excellence In Fundraising In Canada, 173.
- Burk, Donor-Centered Fundraising, 31.
- Burk, Donor-Centered Fundraising, 146.
- Ibid, 86.
- Ibid, 121.
- Ibid, 123.
- Brooks, Jeff. 2018. The Fundraiser’s Guide To Irresistible Communications. Medfield, MA: Emerson & Church. 57.
- Burk, Donor-Centered Fundraising, 39.