Waste Not those Mail Solicitations
Every organization that sends requests for donations through the mail faces the same dilemma. The list keeps growing. The costs of printing and postage grow as well. Yet many people on the list have not given in years. What should you do? Should you continue to waste money in printing and postage on people who may not be prospects? What if they have moved? What if they are unhappy with your organization? Or can no longer afford to give every year? Even people who have given only once might need to be reminded of your worthy cause. One never knows when or why they might decide to give again.
Several years ago I made a memorial gift to an out-of-state charity. Although I have not made any follow-up gifts since, I still receive their newsletter -- very nicely done and not inexpensive to print and mail. This charity is wasting money by keeping me on its mailing list.
If you suspect that you are mailing unprofitable solicitations, consider the following steps:
1. Peruse your mailing list and highlight everyone who has not given a gift in two or more years.
2. Of that list, highlight those who live out of state and determine why they gave in the first place -- was it in memory of a friend or relative who lived in your area? Was it likely a one-time gift? Have they moved away from your service area?
3. Delete anyone from this list who has never lived in your area, made only one gift, and has not responded again.
4. Send a personal correspondence to anyone who used to give regularly and has stopped. Ask if they wish to continue receiving news of your organization. If they respond, keep them on the list. It might even convince the lapsed donor to resume giving.
5. For those who have not given in two years or more, but you want to stay "in front of", devise an inexpensive communications piece, such as a postcard, to send annually. The message could be a simple list of the numbers of people you have helped in the preceding year, or new programs you have begun in response to community need. Don’t forget to add a line about how to give!
6. If your lapsed donor was a large donor, pick up the phone and schedule an appointment. You really want to know why your more generous donors ($500 or more) have quit giving!
Evaluate the names on your mailing list regularly. It’s time well spent!
Kathryn Lima, founder of Faro Enterprises, is a consultant with over 30 years experience in marketing, public relations, and fundraising. Send your questions about fundraising to her via e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org.