Ah, December. If a donor has been considering giving to an organization, the tax benefits are often enough of a reason to give in December. But, the donor may have been asked – in person and via mail – by many organizations. The real question is, will you be front of mind when that impulse to give occurs.
Or, put another way, how do you make sure your letter doesn’t make it into the recycling bin within minutes? Consider the other reasons that donors give.
Your Mission: Do you appeal to the donor because of your mission? Have you clearly expressed what your mission is and what you do to achieve your goals? Does each potential donor know who benefits from your work and can you prove that you have had success on both a small and large scale?
Trust: Have you spent the previous year instilling confidence in your organization? Is there faith in the staff, the board, the volunteers? Do donors understand that their money will be invested with care and control? Is there an understanding that the future of the organization is secure and that their money is well spent?
The Ask: Is your letter well crafted? Is there an easy response mechanism? Does the ask continue the momentum of clearly expressing your mission and instilling trust?
The Law of Averages: According to the Direct Marking Association, the average response rate for letter-sized envelopes is around 3.42 percent. Email fundraising response rates were, unsurprisingly lower at .13%, but that does not include the number of people that use the email as a reminder to put their check in the mail. How many do you need to send out to get your critical mass? How can you organically increase your list? Buying a list for this purpose will not, in all likelihood, get you future major donors and all too often a $10 donor can cost you more than that in future years.
The truth is, a 3.42% return is not likely to change your bottom line but those are an ideal pool of names for you to analyze and determine whether you should get to know those donors a lot better. Turning 100% of 3.42% into major donors can alter your financial picture. Maybe even by next December.