A Blast From the Past: The 'Up and Out' Fallacy (March 2006)
FundRaising Success published its first issue in November 2003, which makes this our 10-year anniversary year. To celebrate, we'll be taking a look back at past issues throughout the year. When Tim Burgess wrote this column in March 2006, he was co-founder and senior strategist at Merkle|Domain. Today he's a Seattle city councilman making a run to be that city's mayor.
I’ve heard the explanation so many times now that I’m sick of it. It goes something like this: “When our direct-mail donors give more than $1,000 in a single year, we move them out of the regular mail program and over to the upper-level or even the major-donor program. They deserve special treatment.”
The dollar threshold might be different from organization to organization, but the underlying thinking is the same: Once donors reach a certain giving level, he or she needs to be “protected” from the regular direct-mail appeal program.
Unfortunately, the organization soon finds that revenue from these significant donors — who are now being “protected” — plummets. Moving direct-mail donors up and out of the program that acquired and nurtured them in their giving is a serious mistake. It reduces revenue and eventually causes the donor to question whether the organization values her participation.
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