More mail, more money

The Grizzard Blog shares one of those scary pieces of knowledge that live in the major donor world: Stop Mailing The Major Donors!

Actually, don’t stop mailing the major donors.

The post reports on a test where five hundred $500+ donors were sent a list of the 12 direct mail appeals they were scheduled to receive in the coming year. They were given the chance to opt out of as many of those 12 as they liked. If they didn’t respond, they’d get all 12.

37%, of those donors returned instructions. The highest number of appeals any of them selected was 3.

At the end of the year, they compared the group that received all 12 mailings to the group that had identified those mailings they wanted.

The result was interesting: The donors who received all 12 mailings gave 35% more than those who restricted their appeals.

This is a bit of a surprise to me. It’s normal for a group getting less mail to give less. But usually, giving donors choice — any kind of choice — results in more giving. I’d have expected the positive impact of choice to outweigh the negative impact of less contact. Silly me.

There may have been something about the nature of this choice that pointed the donors in the wrong direction. If you think about it, those donors said no over and over again. Nine times or more. That sets a pattern.

But there’s an important lesson here: Less mail, less giving. That’s true in nearly every situation. Including major donors.

Never assume donors will give more or retain longer if they get less contact. It almost never works that way.


Comments

2 responses to “More mail, more money”

  1. Michelle Gauthier Avatar
    Michelle Gauthier

    Just wondering…do you know how many of the 500 donors selected had given gifts of $10,000 or more?
    Also, are you familiar with similar studies conductd on donors in this major gift range, who normally receive regular one-on-one contact from development officers?
    Thank you for any insight you can provide…

  2. Michelle Gauthier Avatar
    Michelle Gauthier

    Just wondering…do you know how many of the 500 donors selected had given gifts of $10,000 or more?
    Also, are you familiar with similar studies conductd on donors in this major gift range, who normally receive regular one-on-one contact from development officers?
    Thank you for any insight you can provide…

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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