Keep Calm and Mail On

After Canada Post’s statement on job action this week made headlines across Canada, we’ve had many clients contacting us with concerns and seeking advice.

It’s understandable.  After all, so many of us are either in production for important fall and holiday mailings or are just about to be.  A postal service disruption during the crucial November and December giving months could be devastating.

My advice? Take a deep breath and keep on going and be prepare to make some course corrections in the event of a strike.

Why, you ask?

First, I honestly believe both Canada Post and CUPW understand how devasting a severe and prolonged postal service disruption would be for both parties’ long-term interests.

Second, recent history points to a mild or averted disruption.  In 2016, the strike was averted and the job action in the summer of 2011 lasted just over a week.

So what does this all mean in practical terms for you and your program right now?

Let’s look at the 2011 strike situation as an guide.

Back then, I had two clients in full direct mail production as the rotating strikes started.  And a third had just mailed.

For the two clients in production we worked with vendors to quickly add an insert in one client package and a PPS to the other’s letter (according to the stage of production.)

The insert was extremely simple (think 1980s elementary school note-home-from-the-office, photocopied on canary yellow paper) that outlined the issue and gave donors options for making their gift besides using Canada Post (IE online or by phone).

The insert invited donors to call a specific person (the one signing the note; it was a very personal and informal message)) at the charity to make a gift.  One client (a community hospital) even offered to have a staff member or volunteer pick up their cheque.  Donors were also reminded they could make a secure and convenient gift online.

The message explained that their support was more important than ever because the postal disruption could mean that some people wouldn’t give so that their decision to help and give via another method was very important decision.  The PPS stated the same info in a little more concise way.

The 3rd client who had already delivered their mailing to Canada Post added messages to their website and got the word out via an email alert, social media and did a voice broadcast call.

Following our advice, one client continued to inform their donors about the impact of the strike for the balance of the year, using buckslip inserts (same format and look as the original notice) in the final 3 solicitation packs for the year (fall campaign in September, holiday in November and year-end in December)

These messages let donors know that the June campaign results were lower than goal and explained the impact of the reduced revenue on the hospital staff and patients and restated the additional giving options (phone, personal pickup and online.)

Why am I so confident about this approach?

Because it worked.

Not one of my clients had year-on-year revenue reductions in 2011.  And the client that continued the message for the balance of the calendar year?  They had a record holiday campaign (the campaign that raises 45% of their entire DM annual revenue in a program that mails seven times per year), a record that still stands.

The key is to move forward thoughtfully and purposefully and be ready to make any needed adjustments.  You’ll sleep better at night, be ready to seize opportunities to successfully engage your donors and deepen your relationship with them.


FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION, visit Canada Post’s update page.


Do you have any comments or an idea on how to survive a postal strike during the crucial holiday fundraising season?  Share them here, or you can Emailor call David (toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054). 

Sorry billionaires…we’re taking philanthropy back!

For more than six years, Fundraising Pharmacy happily dispensed advice and created donor chemistry for charities across Canada and around the world.

Then came the epiphany… the most exciting thing about our work was seeing how it empowered everyday donors to fulfill their desire to do good.

Please meet:


Empowering individual donors of modest means to experience self-fulfillment by achieving their philanthropic dreams.

Advise charities on successful strategies for annual giving and legacy marketing campaigns and programs that focus on building value through meaningful long-term relationships.

The word philanthropy belongs to everyone.


Using ordinary fundraising tools like Direct Mail, Digital Marketing, Telemarketing and Events, we’ll help you unlock the extraordinary lifetime value of your general-public donors.

Your solicitation, stewardship, monthly, mid-level and legacy marketing programs will shine and your donors will be fulfilled!

And just like Fundraising Pharmacy, you’ll be able to count on us for sharp strategies, compelling creative and dependable deliver

And that, folks, is how it’s done

Last night, I received an email from the Canadian Red Cross with the subject line:

An important update on your donation

I was dreading what I would find inside.  Not because I thought there would be some kind of awful update.  Or that I expect terribly poor communications from Red Cross.  It’s just my Pavlovian response to a lot of terrible ‘updates on my donations’ from so many charities.

Well, there was no reason for my click-cringe.

I had just received a very nice, succinct, personal and even a bit emotive email from the incredibly impressive Conrad Sauvé, President & CEO of the Canadian Red Cross.  It arrived a week after I made my donation online, which is fantastic, especially given the enormous pressure the entire Canadian Red Cross staff is under, dealing with the Fort McMurray fire and subsequent disaster response.

The beginning of the closing line was especially awesome: “From the bottom of my heart, I thank you…”

If you’re looking for a great template for an easy update for your donors after an important event, or even (knock-on-wood, it’s unnecessary) an emergency, click here to see this excellent example of donor communications.

Now, because, I’m me, I just can’t help but suggest 2 small improvements as you file it away for your template.  First, personalize the email with the donor name.  Second, offer just a little more information about the scope of Canadian support.

Of course, easy for me to comment from the comfort of my office chair, with the luxury of not having to attend to the incredible workload that the dedicated Red Cross staff and volunteers are currently faced with.

Do you have any comments or ideas on spectacular donor communications?  Share them here, or you can Email or call David (toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054)

One Person’s Junk…

Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

A few weeks back I had coffee with a former client.  She’s a great fundraiser that has a knack for connecting donors with their passions.

She’s one of my favourite people. Not the least because she always has a great story to share. This Friday morning coffee was no exception.

We only had a few minutes together before I had to head off to my next visit on my whirlwind trip through the Canadian prairies.  Once we caught each other up on some of the more mundane stuff, Cynthia* excitedly launched into a story about a donor.

She had gone to visit an elderly fella who had just moved into a long-term care facility.  He had just made a very significant gift of $50,000…in response to a direct mail letter.

He’s a loyal donor, giving for more than 10 years, but always less than $1000!  But if you can believe it, this is not my favourite part of the story.

The part that really got me sporting a wide smile happened when Cynthia went to visit the donor.

This gentleman had just gone through his over 80-years worth of accumulated possessions, leaving behind almost everything so he could squeeze into his very small long-term care quarters.

He had settled in by the time Cynthia arrived. She noticed that in the sparsely furnished and tidy small space he had brought only a few personal items.  But over in a neat stack on his little desk, was every single letter her charity had mailed him.

Of course I was happy to learn that many in that neat stack were packages my team and I had created.

But much more important is the perfect evidence about how critically meaningful good donor communications can be for those who receive it.

That put a wide goofy grin on my face for the rest of my whirlwind trip.

[*I’ve changed Cynthia’s name to respect her request for anonymity.]


Would you like to make your donors cherish every communication from your organisation?  The Common Good can help.  Email or call David (toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054) today for free, no obligation advice.

Maximizing your #GivingTuesday investment.

Victor Garcia

The 25, 30 and 50 minute plans.

Is your inbox filling up with #GivingTuesday appeals today?

Yeah, mine too.

And I have mixed feelings.

On the positive side I recognize the opportunity to engage some of the general public that hear our message and move them to support charities.  That’s a good thing, for sure.

But I also am concerned….There are two negatives from where I sit.

First, a lot of (very limited) charity resources are often bet on these campaigns, hoping for magic beans.  And as usually is the case, at best, only regular beans are harvested.

Don’t get me wrong. All new donors are good.  But, the same resources used for #GivingTuesday campaigns can often be deployed more effectively.  Imagine the impact a well planned, executed and funded donor retention strategy would make at your organization…or a strategy for identifying and acquiring a targeted group of potentially passionate supporters.

This is the biggie for me.  So often we chase the shiny new thing at the expense of investing in the fundamentals of solid donor relationships.

The other drawback I see is a lack of planning to welcome our new friends and working to ‘convert’ #GivingTuesday donors into ongoing contributors.  And to me that adds up to a missed opportunity at best and a waste of precious resources at worst.

An optimistic curmudgeon

OK, so I may be a curmudgeon, but I’m an optimistic curmudgeon.

The good news is that no matter where your #GivingTuesday campaign is sitting right now, you can take a few simple steps to maximize your return on the time, energy and money invested in these campaigns.


The 25-minute plan

While your flawlessly executed #GivingTuesday campaign is rolling forward today, take 25 minutes and sketch out a plan for the donors your acquire.  Here are a few things you can do that have almost no cost and are easy to execute:

  1. Write a fantastic thank you email.  One that is genuine, personal and emotional.
  2. Find a colleague or volunteer that will help you do some thank you calls to every newly acquired #GivingTuesday donor.
  3. Grab a stash of your organizations’ generic thank you cards from the supply closet and go ask your CEO to start hand-singing them while also handwriting a simple “Thank you for joining our donor family” one line message.  Send these to every donor that responds to your #GivingTuesday campaign.

Add 5 more minutes

If you start to see a huge spike in donations (if you’re like me you’ll be obsessively checking the results every few minutes!), take an extra 5 minutes to find a board member or senior volunteer who can help with those handwritten thank yous.

The 50-minute plan

If you can spare 20 more minutes, sketch out your new donor’s journey through the first year.  Ask things like:

  1. What’s the next message they will receive from us?  Solicitation?  Or Stewardship?
  2. Can I segment my solicitation campaigns to include variable copy for this special group?
  3. Can I feature one of these new #GivingTuesday donors in my donor newsletter?
  4. What should I say to these donors leading up to #GivingTuesday 2016?

Every minute you can invest in building your relationship with your new #GivingTuesday donors will offer a big return on donor retention and lifetime value.  And, it can be a welcome distraction while you wait on the next #GivingTuesday results update.


Would you like to make all your new donors instantly devoted to your organization?  The Common Good can help you build and execute a plan that is guaranteed to build Allegiance and loyalty.  Email or call David (toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054) today for free, no obligation advice. 

Are you treating your Monthly Donors like cherished family members?

Brandi Ibrao







Monthly donors (aka regular givers) are incredibly valuable to your charity, so it’s critical to roll out the welcome mat and make them feel like cherished members of your family.  That starts with exceptional stewardship right from the beginning of the relationship.

Stewardship starts by having a rock-solid gift-fulfillment process.  By managing this pivotal detail, you show from day one that you care about the donor’s gift and are trustworthy and well-organised.

Next you should do everything in your power to make sure the donor is thanked as soon as possible, and in the most personal way.  A thank you telephone call within 48 hours of the gift is the gold standard.  It’s also a fantastic way to verify donor details.  (But this call shouldn’t replace a written thank you…you literally cannot say thank you too much or too often).

Then, within a week, send an emotionally engaging and personal New Donor Welcome Package (NDWP) by post (even for online donors).  While you should have an NDWP for all of your new donors, make sure the package for your monthly donors is a little more special.  You can start simply by investing time in a live signature and a handwritten note.

Finally, send an email follow-up a week or so after the first gift has been processed so you can check-in with your new monthly donor.  Ask them if they’ve received the NDWP and have any questions.  You’ll reinforce that you genuinely care and it’s also a nice way to lead them into your monthly donor communications schedule for the balance of the year.

The ultimate goal for your welcome process is to make your new donor feel like they’ve made a good investment with their commitment to a monthly gift for your organisation. 

Do you want to start or grow your monthly donor program?  The Common Good can help.  Email or call David (toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054) today for free, no obligation advice.