The year-end has just passed and we’re into a new year of fundraising goals and aspirations. If you are like me, you’re on everyone’s list with your Christmas and holiday cards competing for space in your mail box with numerous solicitations from worthy charities. It can all be a bit overwhelming—and actually become a turn-off.
This flood of last-minute requests for gifts is not all that unusual—or necessarily unwelcome. What is troubling, however, is that many of the organizations from which I receive end-of-the-year requests have already been soliciting me—sometimes multiple times per month—during the rest of the year. In addition, a goodly number of these well-meaning asks make very little attempt to connect with me, the donor, my interests or past history with the organization. Rather they are full of program-urgent needs. In a phrase, it’s all about them.
Principle 1 of The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising® is Donors are the Drivers™. Investors in charitable causes are the driving force in philanthropy. They make the decision as to how much, when and to whom. Yes, having a worthy purpose, meeting a critical need and showing results are all important. Ultimately however, it’s not about the organization—it’s about the donor and his or her priorities and values.
There is an organization in which I firmly subscribe to its mission. They do valuable work in the community they serve. I have ceased supporting that organization two years hence, however. The reason? I was—and am—being subjected to a barrage of direct-mail solicitations. There were 32 direct mail solicitations with letter, urgent appeal flyer, response card and envelope sent to me by this organization in 2012. That’s almost three per month. Is there a problem here?
It’s not just my experience. The donor research continues to show that the number one negative for donors is being solicited too often—especially when such asks for support are without apparent connection to each other and with the donor’s past history, values or interests.
As you put in place your fundraising plans for the coming year, before you do anything else, consider what the implications of Donors are the Drivers™ to your organization.