Stop That Mailing! Four Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Fundraising

Date Published
Bill Blinstrub

Are you about to commit one of these four fundraising “crimes”? Take a moment to pause from that appeal you’re working on and check our handy, helpful checklist to help your campaign stay out of fundraising jail!

  1. Forgetting Your Audience

    It’s easy for professional fundraisers to sometimes overthink a campaign and get bogged down in industry speak and analysis. When this happens, remember that the donors we are communicating with are NOT professional fundraisers and that they DO NOT look at mail the same way we do.

    That great image on the OE back that the designer showed you is great and all (that’s why he/she showed you the back of the OE first), but if the donor doesn’t engage with the FRONT of the OE, he/she isn’t turning it over to see it.

    Put yourself in the donors’ shoes and experience the appeal as they will. It might just change your approach.

  2. Misunderstanding the data and not getting the FULL picture

    Data informs all of our decisions as fundraisers. But make sure you understand the full story it tells, not just the top-line numbers.

    That new test package drove great numbers for response and average gift, but before you roll-out with it, did you consider how the response rate and gift will diminish with a larger mail quantity?

    Conversely, that new test package drove great average gift and response, but the cost was astronomical. Before you scrap it, did you adjust costs to account for better pricing at roll out quantities?  

    Some other gremlins that hide in the data and can impact your understanding:

    • Large one-time gifts
    • Sub-Segments that were dropped vs the previous year due to data pull error.
    • Incorrectly labeled segments.

    Any extreme variation in results should be a warning sign to check the integrity of the data.

  3. Not Using Data to Inform Decisions

    Let the data drive campaign decisions whenever possible. Don’t add unnecessary complexity to an appeal simply because you have the technical ability to do so, or because “it feels right.”

    Take the emotion out of the decision and look at the data.

    Sure, you can personalize a letter with 7 different variables, but should you? What does the data say? Does including 7 personalized data points really increase giving more than 3?

    Sometimes the added production time and cost can negate any gain in performance. Also, with added complexity comes more QC(quality control) and an increased risk of error.

    Allowing data to guide these decisions simplifies the process and sets you up for success.

  4. Not Saying “Thank You”

    This seems like common sense, but oversights like this happen.

    Thank your donors promptly when they give a gift.

    If they give online, they should receive an immediate autoresponder “thank you.”

    If they give through the mail, make sure an acknowledgment is mailed within the next 7 to 10 days from the gift processing date. This lets donors know that you received their gift and that you appreciate it.

Keeping this check list handy will help make your fundraising campaigns successful and your donors happy.

We are always here to help. Contact us with your latest fundraising challenge.

About the Author:
Bill Blinstrub
Senior Account Executive, Agency Services

Years in the industry

6 in Fundraising, 20+ in direct mail and marketing

Role at the Company

I develop and execute client strategy, as well as provide results analysis and budget management. I am the key face-to-face client contact, advising on all fundraising activities, best practices, trends, whatever my clients need! If my client needs something, I make it happen!

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I love the people, and the culture. AFG really creates a positive, proactive environment that empowers me to fully immerse myself in serving my clients. No idea is off limits, new thinking is encouraged, and everyone works together to meet one common goal.

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

I am an avid- but not fast- runner. I enjoy competing in road races whenever possible. Its a great way to experience a new city/place, and I love running “unplugged”, no headphones. I love to hear the sounds of nature around me. Running really allows me to connect with a place and its people.

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