Dreaming of a Green Christmas
The next step, Lockhart says, is to get those reactivated donors back into the Army’s robust mailstream, which typically involves monthly solicitation mailings year round. The donors who came back through the telemarketing campaign will receive their next appeals at Thanksgiving and then again at Christmas.
Closing the gap
As with almost any nonprofit organization, donor attrition is a persistent concern for The Salvation Army. Lockhart says the Western Pennsylvania Division has lost a significant number of donors each year for the last three years.
“In 2005, we had 32,000 donors who didn’t support the Army with a donation,” she explains. “That’s about 39 percent of active donors that lapsed.”
The attrition numbers aren’t atypically high, but The Salvation Army knows that it’s easier and less costly to reactivate old donors than to win over new ones — hence the reactivation push.
“This was really about going back to our lapsed donors who haven’t really responded to our direct mail and pulling them back into giving back to The Salvation Army,” Brace explains. “Our hope is to pull these donors back — and to pull them back before our Christmas direct-mail pieces go out.”
In its ongoing effort to retain donors, the division is working particularly hard on communicating better with them and finding out exactly how much they want to hear from the organization. The Salvation Army mails a different direct-mail solicitation piece once a month but recently began asking donors their preference when it comes to mailing frequency. Most, Lockhart says, opt for quarterly or annual solicitations.
“We did an appeal in April called the Pledge Appeal, and we let the donors know that they could choose to limit the number of mailings that they received,” she says. “They could do quarterly, annually, semiannually, monthly. Or they could [commit to] a specific dollar amount during any of those periods.