When fundraisers make (terrible) decisions for their major donors

So one of your donors who has been on your file for a few years and has given a handful of under $100 donations through direct mail out of the blue gives you $30,000.

Hooray! you say. She’s risen to a whole new level of support!

Now we can rescue her from the Slum of Direct Mail Fundraising!

Sounds like a happy scenario.

Is it?

Not according to this insightful post on the Veritus Group blog: Should Major Donors Get Fund Appeals?

When a donor becomes a major donor, you should not automatically suppress her from your direct mail.

Because direct mail works. For this donor. In fact most major donors (more than 90% of them in most donor files) start and then grow their giving relationship via low-dollar direct mail.

This reality is in direct conflict with what many organizations do, as noted in the Veritus post:

…nonprofit leaders think that once a donor has hit the major gift level of giving and has been qualified, then you should pull them out of the regular communication schedule and stop sending them appeals, e-appeals, newsletters, etc.

Sound familiar?

It happens all the time.

And it’s a clear example of not being donor focused.

You’ve created a story in your head that because a donor gives at a certain level, somehow all the “stuff” you send them is no longer good for the donor.

It’s common for us to think of direct mail as a low-end, tacky, undignified way to raise funds. And because we think of it that way, we assume donors — especially those high-end donors we really admire — also think that way. That they’ll thank us for freeing them from the distasteful burden of getting our mail in our boxes.

Thing is, it almost never works that way.

Remember, most of your major donors became major donors because direct mail works for them.

Many major donors who are getting direct relational fundraising continue to give through direct mail.

And even more major donors don’t want the in-person relationship. They want to interact via direct mail!

The only time you should not send a high-end donor direct mail when they specifically as you to do so. Or when your at a place in a personal conversation where a DM piece might be an off-target distraction.

Deciding for them that direct mail is no good for them is not only presumptuous and disrespectful, it’s expensive. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this decision lead quickly to steep drops in revenue.

Don’t do this to yourself. Or to your very best donors


Comments

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

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.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

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.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

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.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

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.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog