An Alluring Proposition
Nancy Somma, associate director of development at Consumers Union, the largest independent tester of consumer products in the United States and publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, created a package that informed lapsed donors of how long it had been since their last gift. Research shows donors tend to not remember such things.
Todd Hendricks, senior director of direct response at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, starts to mail renewals 12 months after the last gift and continues through 48 months. After four years, a lapsed donor receives the acquisition package, but with a very important change: Included is copy acknowledging the donor’s past commitment along with updates on important new program initiatives.
Another thing to try is telemarketing to your older, lapsed donors who haven’t given a gift in three to six years (sometimes you can go back as far as 10 years). You might lose 50 percent or more of the names, but it’s important not to give up; since the mail hasn’t worked, why not try the phone? Just be sure to minimize waste by running these names through a phone append and calling if you find a valid phone number. This is especially important if they’ve given more than one gift or given an especially large gift. Remember, renewing an old friendship usually is easier than making new ones.
“Renewal is all about response rate; everything else is secondary,” says Larry May of Greenwich, Conn.-based May Development Services. “Approach every contact with your donors or members from a response perspective. Could the response be higher? What other goal does the communication have that’s more significant than response? Could you achieve that goal and also increase response?”
May also recommends adding a reply card to your thank-you letters with soft asks such as, “I’d like to make an additional gift … .” Or, add a reply card with name labels attached. Develop mid-level or other special-event appeals such as holiday cards with pre-mailing announcements and follow-ups. Don’t stop sending your regular monthly appeals during these campaigns. Send everything and net more.