How to Not Reactivate a Donor
OK, so this example doesn't come from the fundraising world, but it still holds an important lesson to fundraisers who plan to send out lapsed-donor communications in order to get inactive donors to donate once again.
Last month, I received an e-mail from Jiffy Lube with a fairly intriguing offer as the subject line: "$ave with Jiffy Lube." Seeing as I was due for an oil change in the very near future, the offer resonated with me so I clicked through.
That's where things fell apart. Below the Jiffy Lube logo and an emphatic, all-caps proclamation — "WE MISS YOU!" — the greeting began, "Hello, JOE BENDER."
So, Jiffy Lube misses me so much that it can't even get my name right. Talk about a major failure. Nope, I'm not Joe Bender, so you must not be talking to me. And clearly, with the name in all-caps, this is an obvious automated message gone awry.
Still, I needed an oil change and the offer was of interest, so I kept reading despite my better judgment. I shouldn't have, because from there it only got worse:
"It is time to service your 2006 HYUNDAI ELANTRA. Your last service was performed at 78,016 miles. Protect your warranty and extend the life of your vehicle by bringing it in for regular maintenance."
I do not drive a 2006 Hyundai Elantra. In fact, I don't drive a Hyundai at all. I drive a beat-up, hand-me-down 1998 Toyota Camry, one that long ago exceeded the 78,016 miles the 2006 Hyundai Elantra that apparently belongs to someone named Joe Bender brought in at some point in the past.
To recap: I'm not Joe Bender; I don't drive a 2006 Hyundai Elantra or any Hyundai at all; and my car has had way more than 78,016 miles since I became the owner of it a few years ago. Jiffy Lube couldn't have gotten any more information wrong about me.
Talk about a major screw-up. Not only did this e-mail confuse and irritate me — it also made me get my next oil change at a Meineke because I was so turned off by Jiffy Lube's laughably pathetic attempt to get me to come back.
Maybe it was a simple clerical mistake, but it was one that no company or nonprofit can afford to make.
The lesson, of course, is to never, ever make an error like this in your fundraising reactivation appeals, especially in today's landscape in which donors expect the organizations they support to know them. If you can't even get the person's name or last gift right, how on earth do you expect a donor to believe you will use his or her donations effectively?
At the extremely bare minimum, you have to personalize communications with the recipient's name and giving history, and most likely it will take a lot more.
Don't make the same mistake Jiffy Lube did. Otherwise, donors will be so offended that they'll simply give to someone else, much like I took my business elsewhere.