easiersaidthandone: The Curse of Too Much Mail
The truth about too much mail
Here's the good news: There's no factual basis for the belief that sending a lot of mail hurts donors or damages revenue by chasing them away.
Go back and read that sentence again. Because it's the most important thing I have to tell you today.
In fact, every single test and study on this topic that I've been part of (and that's a lot) has shown the opposite to be true: Adding more impacts to your schedule increases revenue and improves donor retention. It's positive in both the short and long term. (There are two small but meaningful exceptions. See sidebar.)
Some donors experience too much mail and react negatively to it. But there are so few, they form a statistically insignificant group. For purposes of analysis and planning, they don't exist. Their complaints should have no more impact on your fundraising program than those of the alien-invasion guys.
The damage you'll do by applying the needs of a few too-much-mail folks to your entire program can be deep and wide. There's the revenue you'll lose in the short term because you asked less. Then there's the long-term damage to your donor file because of falling retention rates.
But here's what should really make your blood run cold: If you accept the premise that your fundraising is annoying, painful, stupid and unwelcome — you will make it so. It's a classic self-fulfilling prophecy, the not-so-well-kept secret of creative work: Your attitude bleeds through onto the paper.
If you believe fundraising is meaningful communication between like-minded people, a beautiful connection between souls who want to work together to change the world — you'll do better work. You'll connect more successfully with more donors. I promise.
I can't prove this, but I believe that the quantity of mail is almost never the real problem, even for those donors who say it is. The real problem isn't too much mail, but too little relevance. The wrong message sent to the wrong people at the wrong time.