Easier Said Than Done: Secrets for Maximizing Your Net Revenue
Why is it that great wisdom always seems to be wrapped in paradox? Why can't the saints and sages just give us clear, non- contradictory instructions that we can follow like a checklist? I don't know. But in a premature bid for guru-hood, I'm going to give you two secrets for improving your fundraising net revenue — and they are two opposite approaches.
Secret No. 1: Ask more
The more you ask, the more you receive. Fundraising is very nearly that simple.
"But," I can almost hear people saying, "if you ask too much, you'll annoy donors and they'll retaliate by not giving — anything you gain in the short term you'll more than lose to donor attrition."
For most donors, it doesn't work that way. With one very cool exception (that I'll show you later), I've yet to find any evidence that asking donors less makes them more responsive. In every test I've seen of contact frequency, donors on reduced-contact schedules give less often and lapse at higher rates.
Donations are not mere transactions; they are the result of a relationship between you and your donor, and relationships are complicated. A donor's decision to give might not be motivated only by the piece of mail she received today, but by a whole matrix of inter- actions. It may take two, three or more points of contact to create the tipping point that leads to a gift.
A more paranoid way to look at it: While you are letting your donors "rest," someone else is talking to them, asking for gifts — and possibly getting them!
The fundraiser/donor relationship is like any other human relationship: Communication builds it; lack of contact can strangle it.
I'm not going to suggest you create a snowstorm of direct mail. That would be financially irresponsible. And annoying. There are much more refined ways to increase meaningful contact with donors. Like these: