At my talk yesterday at First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, people were really bothered by all of the non-profit solicitations they receive by mail and phone.
As a fund raiser, I know the common wisdom is that the most likely giver is one who has given recently. I also know that the major non-profits are very sophisticated about measuring the ROI (Return on Investment) for each mailing. Yet I share the feeling of those in the audience that too much money and paper is used on multiple solicitations for organizations that I will be making at most one gift to during the course of a year (Are you listening Doctors without Borders?) While it’s unlikely to stem the flow much, I do suggest writing back (even just on the “gift card”, returning it in the post-paid envelope) saying “I will give annually, making my gift in _______. Please don’t send me appeals at other times.” To be honest, only a few of the organizations with the best systems will be able to honor your request, but it doesn’t hurt to try. If they continue to send too much, you can opt-out of their mailing list. Most organizations are better about policing a full opt-out than a “just send one mailing per year.”
If you’d like to cut down on the mail you receive from organizations that you’ve never given to, and are not going to, sending back the response card with a “Please remove me from your list, and don’t share my name with other organizations.” may help. Alternatively, you can sign up with Direct Mail Action, which lets you opt-out from all of the organizations which are a member. (If you are already a donor to the organization, you will continue to receive mailings, but if you haven’t given to them before, you should not receive future mailings.)
DMA also provides pointers to other sites that let you opt out of credit card offers, and handles magazine offers as well. They say it takes 30-90 days for your signup to percolate through to the mailers. I signed up last night, we’ll see what impact it has…
Start signing up here: https://www.dmachoice.org/dma/member/regist.action
A closing tip for fund raisers:
Yes, it’s a tough world out there. Amid rising competition and easier mass-mailings, your appeal is less likely to get a response. It’s up to you to:
- Build strong relationships with your donors;
- Personalize your interactions with them as much as possible;
- Reach them when and where they want to hear from you;
- Be selective in reaching people who are most likely to be interested in your organization.
I heard a piece on NPR recently about offering donors the “Once in a lifetime gift,” which is essentially a “Remove me from your list,” but with the blow softened by a good-bye check. When the option was offered, very few people took it, and the money raised both with that mailing and the following one was higher. The ability to cut-off that mail stream is one that people value, even if they don’t use it.