Direct mail for your top donors?

It’s commonly assumed that major donors are radically unlike direct mail donors and therefor sending them direct mail (or fundraising email) will be a disaster that will annoy them and drive them and their large donations away forever.

Is this true?

If it isn’t, a lot of organizations are making a grave mistake with their major donors.

Check out this important post at the Veritus Blog: Direct Response and Major Gifts — Does It Work?

The short answer: You absolutely should send your major donors direct mail and email.

First reason: The huge majority of high-end donors start as low-end direct-response donors. They are on your list because your direct mail worked for them.

Second reason: Many of these donors don’t want a personal relationship with a person at your organization. The power of that relationship is just not going to work for them.

There are only two valid reasons for not including a major donor in your direct-response fundraising:

  1. The donor specifically asks you to stop mailing or e-mailing appeals.
  2. Your relationship with the donor has developed to a place where direct-response communication has become truly redundant.

A not valid reason: We think they might be annoyed by our direct mail.

Don’t guess. Know before you change whether you mail or not.

Here’s the interesting part: The best way to cultivate major donors is to have a major gift officer connect with them personally and to send them mail and email:

When you take either out of the equation, you see a drop in revenue.

Deciding for your donors what they want can be a financially devastating mistake.


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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 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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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.

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