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I Love Donors, but Sometimes They’re Less than Honest

Forever you’ve been told to honor donor preferences. Have you ever considered the fact that the more you listen to your donors the less support you get? I’ll bet you could verify that if you took the time to research it.

Here’s what I mean. If you’ve ever given donors the option of more or less contact, I’ll bet that they have chosen “less” many “more” times.

Donors who say they prefer to be contacted once a year are the very donors most likely not to respond because you haven’t engaged them enough during the year. So does that mean you shouldn’t believe them? Yes, it does–in most cases. The caveat to this is that when a major donor or major donor prospect makes his preferences known, you should listen and act accordingly. Those cases are the exception to the rule.

Donors who ask for just one appeal a year may be more likely to respond than others to that one appeal, but you’ll never get the response rate you need with only one appeal. Why? Because you’ve taken some of your best donors and allowed them to lapse.

So, in my opinion, don’t be afraid to contact donors more often. Remember, most gifts come 1-4 months after the 1st gift. The fact is the more you connect, the more funds you’ll raise.

Will contacting donors more often lead to more complaints? Very possibly, but it will also lead to more retention and more net revenue.Less contact means less net revenue and worse retention, but better ROI because of reduced costs. But it’s pretty much guaranteed that overall your revenue will decline.

Consider the following: those who complain about too much contact are not your typical donors AND THEY’RE NOT IN THE MAJORITY.

Does this mean more direct mail? Yes, it does. Direct mail still accounts for the majority of fundraising revenue from individual donors, and it drives online giving. In fact, come to think of it, the less you contact your donors via direct mail, the more it’s going to affect your other channels.

I want to hear from you. How many of you think I’m preaching fundraising radicalism here?

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