Donor Retention: Stop Talking, Start Doing
Here's a challenge for you for 2015: Put in a better system that allows you to more quickly receipt year-end gifts. I'll get back to that. But first, here's what I consider critical for a "better system."
Make receipting a priority, meaning do it quickly. I received my first two receipts on Jan. 5. Considering there were a couple of postal holidays, that means there were about eight mail-delivery days between my sending my gift and receiving a receipt for it. Well done! These efficient organizations were a national quasi-political organization and a medical center foundation.
Each letter was fairly short and used phrases that oozed gratitude. Call them clichés, but "Your generosity is bringing us closer to the goal .… " and "Your donation is helping us fulfill this great mission" told me my gift mattered. I didn't give a large sum, but what I gave was important — that's the message I received.
The next receipt arrived two days later. I also received a personal thank-you note for one of the gifts (the executive director is a friend), but haven't gotten the receipt yet.
The other four? Nothing. Three of them are very large, national organizations; you would immediately recognize them if I told you their names. They all mail vast amounts of mail and send out even more e-appeals. But saying thank you? That doesn't seem to be handled by the same mailing machine that efficiently spews out requests for my money.
And while I'm on my soapbox — I know it costs money to receipt a donation. But it costs a lot more money to acquire a donor! If saying thank you for a $25 or $50 donation isn't cost-effective, how can you justify spending $50, $75 or more to obtain that donor in the first place?