Cover Story: A Historic Challenge
To do that, the team will focus on relating the message that history isn’t static, and that the NCC will continue to expand.
“We want to be sure to establish a strong program base so we can say to people, ‘Maybe you came to see the center once, but there’s something new here for you to see,’” Murray says.
“We never want people to feel, ‘Oh, the Constitution Center … been there, done that,’” she adds.
NCC does two special appeals a year, around its anniversary and Thanksgiving (as opposed to the winter holidays so as to avoid religious issues and make it easier for donors to enjoy end-of-year tax benefits). The renewal program comprises five contacts.
With everything being so new, many members are still paying off their pledges, so the staff has to be careful about asking them for more gifts, Seiter explains.
And talk about counter-intuitive: Only a year after the NCC opened, development already is focusing more on renewals than acquisitions. Seiter won’t say no to a new donor, but she wants to make sure that the existing donors are getting all the TLC they want and need.
“The new memberships are definitely tapering off, and we’re concentrating very hard on renewals,” she explains. “The acquisition part is very expensive, so it’s crucial for us to remember to put the emphasis on communication with and care and feeding of our existing members.”
Seiter says she would consider 10,000 to 12,000 members a reasonable cap.
“After that, it gets too hard to take good care of them,” she says. “I’d rather do a really good job of upgrading our existing members. It’s possible to get too big and you’re sending out postcard thank-yous. This is a crucial time; we need to be keeping the people we have.”