Among the problems a nonprofit might have, We’re getting so many donations we’re having trouble keeping up would have to be one you’d prefer over most.
That’s the problem a certain organization faced recently. They growing fast (because they had retained the services of TrueSense Marketing, thank you very much), and they were struggling to process and receipt all the donations quickly.
They wanted to know: Can you quantify the value of quick vs. slow receipting? Is sending receipts out within 24 hours better than sending it without 48 hours? Is two days better than two weeks? If it will cost us 20% more to cut the time in half, will it be worth the investment?
Interesting questions. And I don’t know the answers. I’ve never done or seen tests on the impact of receipt timing on subsequent giving. Who would run such a test?
But I do know these things:
- Sloppy organizations with slow receipting usually have very poor donor retention. (Of course, sloppy organizations usually have other problems as well, like haphazard fundraising, messy data, and a general inability to communicate clearly.)
- Recency is the most important predictor of likelihood to give. If a donor is stuck in processing mode for a month or two after giving, their most-likely-to-give period can easily pass without an opportunity to give a subsequent gift.
- One of the most common reasons donors give for stopping their support for a given charity is They didn’t need my gifts. Nothing signals Your gift doesn’t matter quite so loudly as taking a long time to acknowledge it.
None of that knowledge directly answers the question. It just tells us that quicker receipting is probably better than slower.
We kicked the question around for a while. Then one of my colleagues gave another reason for quick response to donors: Politeness.
You receipt as quickly as you possibly can for the same reason you sent Grandma thank you notes for giving you gifts: It’s the polite thing to do. That’s how you treat an important person like Grandma.
I’m sure if there were studies on such things, they’d show that kids who promptly write thank-you notes to their grandmothers do better at holidays and birthdays than the kids who don’t.
But that’s not why you do it. You do it because you love Grandma. She matters to you.
That’s also why you should acknowledge your donors as fast as you possibly can. If you’re doing some kind of math that basically asks How little can I get away with thanking my donors? then something’s wrong with your thinking. You don’t love them — and you’re probably going to make all kinds of response-crushing mistakes beyond taking forever to say thank you.
Tomorrow: Five more ways to love your donors.
So much online fundraising collapses on the landing page.
Generic, disorganized landing pages that seem engineered to turn away donors who have clicked through intending to give.
Here’s some landing page advice from the commercial world from Michael Hyatt’s blog: 7 Characteristics of Landing Pages That Get Results. Landing pages should have well-executed versions of these things:
- Sales Copy.
- Product Photos.
- An Offer.
This is a product sales landing page. But the elements you need are a lot like those on a fundraising landing page.
A columnist at Philly.com has done a couple of pieces on the huge piles of direct mail fundraising local people have been getting: Experts on nonprofits explain mailings game. The core point is this: Some people get a lot of mail from nonprofit organizations. Which leads to:
It made me want to know more about why bad things are happening to nice people.
Excuse me, but getting unwanted mail is a “bad thing”? Really now. Losing your job is a bad thing. Having your house foreclosed is a bad thing. Getting a serious disease or losing a loved one are bad things.
Junk mail? I think most people can overcome the trauma. Some sense of proportion would be nice.
Nevertheless, it is something people complain about, so those of us who create these mailings need to pay attention.
And I have a feeling that the real problem isn’t so much the quantity of mail people get. It’s the lack of relevance that’s pouring into their mailbox.
Think about it. Donors just want to help sick people, or hungry children, or animals, or veterans. And suddenly their mailboxes fill up with mail from other organizations. They didn’t sign up to be bought and sold on the list rental market.
The other thing that seems to get their goat — they start getting premiums galore. They can’t see the connection between the cause and the trinket — because for the most part there isn’t any.
Either way, it’s a dose of irrelevancy that raises the complaint. One irrelevant piece of mail is too much mail. A bushel of interesting, useful, relevant mail? That would be a bonanza.
It’s not easy to be relevant all the time to all the donors. It may even be impossible. But if you make sure everything you send has great offers that give donors exciting ways to change the world, interesting stories that touch their hearts, and a look and feel that’s aimed at them (not yourself), you’ll be in better shape.
Then tread lightly (if at all) in the list rental market, and really try to make any premiums or freemiums you’re using are evidently relevant.
Pull all that off, and I bet even the most annoyed, over-mailed donor won’t throw your stuff in the junk mail pile. And when that reporter comes around looking for a salty quote about the deluge of mail — it won’t be about your mail.
Thanks to AFP Blog: Recent News of Note for the tip.
You might be sending spam! Horrors! How do you know? Here are some hints from the Lyris HQ blog: What is spammy content and how does it hurt deliverability?
The content filters used now are generally more sophisticated than they were just a few years ago, when even “free” in a subject line could have been enough to block a message or route it to the bulk folder. However, if your message contains too many questionable words, phrases or questionable-looking punctuation or formatting, it could still get blocked or filtered.
- Anything that sounds like a “get rich quick” scheme or miracle cure
- Excessive exclamation points, question marks, asterisks or strings of unrelated punctuation marks
- Broken or nonstandard HTML code
As you can see, it’s not always obvious what’s spammy. Be sure to test your emails for spammy elements and make sure you get in those inboxes!