How the wrong high hopes shrink your fundraising revenue

publication date: Jul 18, 2012
These people have been writing cheques in response to direct mail appeals for years. Let's start treating them like major donors, figure out some way to deal with them individually and stop sending them all that nuisance junk mail!

It's a surprisingly common idea, says Jeff Brooks of Future Fundraising Now. The trouble is, usually only the easy part - dropping the high-performing donors from the direct mail program - is implemented. They're handed off to major donor officers who are already busy, and they fall between the cracks.

Attrition rate frightening

The next step in that scenario is attrition at a truly frightening rate. Instead of the normal loss of 20% annually, these now-neglected donors lapse at a rate of 90%. "And once they're lapsed," Brooks warns, "most will never come back."

It might sound like a mistake you'd never make. But Brooks says he's seen it in his own practice dozens of times. The revenue loss, depending on the size of the group, can be several hundred thousand dollars or even millions of dollars. Every year. For the next several years.

"The person who makes that decision is a mortal enemy to your fundraising revenue," Brooks concludes. "They should not be making decisions of that magnitude. Chances are, they shouldn't be making any decisions."

Unless you have a specific, individual plan for every active donor you're considering dropping from the direct mail program, leave them where they are. Your revenue will be better for it.

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