The Five Warning Signs of Direct-mail Fundraising Trouble
The second issue is the thank-you process. Special thank yous -- perhaps even a New Donor Welcome Kit -- can reinforce the new donor's involvement and support of your mission. And it will likely secure renewal gifts all by itself. Statistics show that donors making follow-up gifts via an acknowledgment mailing are among the easiest to subsequently renew and keep involved.
5. You follow the thinking, "Our strategy this year is what we did last year; it's what our donors want." Chances are good that if you've read this far, your numbers aren't that good right now. Or at least you have a hunch that all's not as good as you'd like.
Continuity -- in message, branding, appeal scheduling -- all can be positives. But it also can lull an audience to sleep and generate a false sense of security. Are you sure last year's acquisition program was successful? The proof lies in your renewal results since then. Did you obtain new donors who have maintained their interest and support? Or did you use a package that attracted donors that by nature wouldn't renew?
Direct-mail fundraising is a marathon, not a sprint. By all means, use every technique available to you to generate that first gift. But don't conclude success or failure on immediate returns alone. You're in it for the long haul ... your ROIs are profitable only when you're into the renewal phase. All that glitters may indeed not be gold -- at least at the outset.
Mark A. Jacobson is vice president of fundraising for Brockton, Mass.-based Direct Response Solutions, full-service direct-response fundraising and marketing firm. He can be reached by calling 508.313.1032.