Let’s get rid of our printed newsletter and just send an e-newsletter.
Our donors don’t like personal solicitations.
We are only going to send out one appeal a year because we don’t want to send too much mail to our donors.
I hear statements like this all the time. And, I wonder if we are making decisions for our donors. I know that this goes for some groups.
When I surmise this is the case, I often ask, “Have you asked your donors?” And, the response is “No, how do you ask them?”
Well, quite simply you meet with them, or you call them on the telephone, and you ask them questions. Questions like, “how much mail would you like from us?” or ” how do you prefer to be called upon to make a gift to us?” or even, “how do you prefer to get information from us?”
There are other ways to ask donors what they prefer.
Try a donor survey. You may design a questionnaire that asks things such as:
Why does he/she support the organization?”
Which programs, projects, or issues you address are the most important to him/her?
Is your organization one of his/her top philanthropic priorities?
Do he/she actively use email and do does he/she prefer to get emails from you?
Is he/she planning to remember your organization in his/her estate plans?
How old is he/she (hint ask for a birthday or date range)?
Etc., etc., etc.
Before mailing to your donors, be sure to test the survey and solicit feedback from other folks like your colleagues, friends, or family members, and include an envelope, a personalized letter, a brochure, and a self-addressed reply envelope as part of a survey package.
Then send this package out and be sure to analyze and document these returns. Don’t just let them pile up.
Then and only then will you be able to understand truly who your donors are, what motivates them to give to you, and what decisions you should make regarding your strategy, approach, and appropriate communications.
For instance, after you analyze and track the returned information, you can then segment your donors and mail materials that interest them.
But, the adage of “you don’t know until you ask” is such a critical element of driving all that you do in fund development.
We surely cannot begin to make assumptions for our donors based on our thoughts, interests, and profiling.