What Your Donors Never Tell You
Donors communicate with us constantly. They e-mail us, write us, call us or even stop to chat if they see us around town. We hear what they like and what they don't like, and often they have suggestions for us.
But there are some things donors (usually) don't say — at least not verbally. But "listening" to these messages can improve your fundraising results and your decision-making. Let's listen in on a few unspoken donor comments.
You mail to me just enough
"Too much mail" is the message that gets our attention. Oftentimes, that's because the messenger is our board chair or a major donor.
But the reality is only a very small percentage of donors complain about mail volume. The majority read our mail and — shocking but true — respond to it! Our challenge is to make changes for those who want less mail from us without making wholesale strategy moves that jeopardize our fundraising.
So reduce the mail volume for those who ask. But for the majority who respond by sending in donations, keep mailing to them. Don't fall victim to the unproven "fact" that for every one who complains, 100 more (or is it 1 million?) feel the same way. When donors respond with gifts, they are saying that you are doing things just right — or at least pretty well.
You are boring me
Donors often won't tell us that our communications no longer interest them. They simply stop responding. Our e-mail open rates decline, and overall response rates drop.
Sometimes it's because we forget we need to talk to the donor and not just talk about "us." Are your subject lines engaging? Do your envelopes beg to be opened? Are you connecting with them from the first paragraph or ignoring them until it's time to ask for money?
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.