Want to keep your donors? Be repetitive!

Messages that work, work.

I know that’s so obvious it’s almost silly to say it out loud.

But it has a practical application that most fundraisers don’t practice or even know about. This is revealed in a helpful and surprising test described on the GroupThinkers Blog at We tested reactivating newly lapsed donors in acquisition. Here’s what happened.

Background: It’s common for large direct mail programs to include lapsed (13-24-month since last donation) in their renewal or cultivation programs. That is, they get pretty much the same treatment that non-lapsed donors get. Also common: Deeply lapsed donors are 25+ months since last donation) are included donor acquisition mailings, meaning they get pretty much what non-donors get.

The test was to send the acquisition pack to half of the 13-24 month lapsed donors. The control: The renewal mailing they would normally get.

Look at the results:

The test group (who got the acquisition pack) responded 2.75x better than the control group. And while the control group brought in slightly above break-even net revenue, the test group was 2,454% higher.

Those are significant results!

It demonstrates something that may surprise you, but is consistently true in almost all situations: If someone has responded to something before, they are highly likely to respond to it again.

Messages that work, work.

Don’t be afraid to keep sending out your most powerful messages. They work!


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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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