A conversation that I had with a friend who is not a fundraising person, but knows that I am, was quite revealing last night.
He told me that when his German Shepherd, Gus, died, he sent a gift in memoriam to his local animal shelter and received what he felt was a very thoughtful acknowledgement card in return.
Three month later, he got a letter in the mail from the shelter that began, Dear Friend of Animals. He assumed that another department at the shelter had sent the letter because it suggested that he might like to have more information about their in memoriam giving program. He said he understood that it must be a chore to keep tabs on all those who sent gifts to memorialize their pets. He said he didn’t really blame them for not remembering.
But he also said, and this is what I think is important, If they had sent a letter addressed to me by name that included something along the lines of, ‘I know it’s only been a few months since Gus’s death,etc.’ I probably would have sent them a check immediately and for more than the first check I sent them.
Here’s the point: the high rate of donor attrition in direct mail can be directly attributed to a lack of meaningful information on gifts at work and generalized appeals (such as the one above that my friend received) and the lack of information on the intended use of the funds.
More than ever, donors report that what they need is relevant, not generalized or thoughtless information, on how their gifts are being used to make an impact in the world.