Take a Deep Breath
A common concern I hear goes something like this: “We mail our donors far too frequently, and I get all these complaints.”
Let me challenge you to use some of your extra time this summer collecting donor complaints. Collect them for an entire month, say July or August. Then analyze those complaints and categorize them by type: remove from mailing list; concern about message content; questions or complaints about your programs, etc. Determine who’s complaining about mail volume or asking to be removed from your mailing list by looking up giving histories. In every such review I’ve been involved with, I’ve found that the complainers overwhelmingly are deep-lapsed donors or non-donors who got on the data file.
When you have a proper perspective of your work, and when you view donors as the people they really are with an abiding interest in your cause, you can begin to consider how to greatly expand your fundraising efforts. And the summer months give you a perfect opportunity.
Over the next few weeks you can fine-tune your fall campaigns. The September-to-December period is by far the best fundraising season for nearly all nonprofit organizations, for new-donor acquisition and for housefile renewal efforts.
Plan an abundant mix of communication efforts for this important period — personal visits with your most valuable donors; telephone calls to those you can’t visit (and mid-level donors); an array of appeal packages and online campaigns; targeted acquisition efforts that maximize multi-names; and
a series of reporting and affirmation touches such as personalized newsletters.
Above all, your organization’s entire communications plan for the September-to-December period should be integrated for maximum impact. Start talking to your colleagues now; in a month it’ll be too late. Make certain your fundraising, PR, marketing and major-donor efforts are speaking with one voice.
Tim Burgess is co-founder and senior strategist at Merkle|Domain. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.