“You’ll never get milk from a cow by sending it a letter.”

That’s what my fundraising buddies told me 47 years ago when I left university major gift fundraising to help launch a new, direct mail-driven nonprofit called Common Cause.

Sadly, too many development directors, major gift officers and CEOs still feel the same way. It’s as though exposure to direct mail or email will somehow infect their major donors and prospects.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Organizations that hermetically seal off their major donors to prevent the ‘infection’ of direct mail and email donors are shooting themselves in the financial foot.

Why would any sane organization want to remove its best donors from the flow of appeals and other communications on the baseless grounds that they’re ‘more valuable’ or ‘make larger gifts’?

That’s why a post from two of my favorite major gifts gurus is worth reading and sharing.  Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels of the Veritus Group ask and answer what seems to be a vexing question for many in Can Direct-Response And Major Gifts Work Together?

  • “The answer is always: Absolutely.”
  • “There are only two reasons to take major gift donors out of the direct response stream: 1) the donor asked you to stop mailing or emailing appeals; or 2) your relationship with the major donor has developed to a place where you have a substitute communication and ask strategy to replace the direct response communication.”

There’s good reason for this, both in my experience with scores of organizations and in Richard and Jeff’s experience as well.

  • The combination of direct response and Gift Officer communication lifts all caseload revenue. “When you take either out of the equation you see a drop in revenue.”
  • An important caveat: relying on mail/email to carry the message should not be used as a crutch in getting to know and personally solicit donors.

Remember, a substantial number — if not the majority — of major donors in most organizations come from the original well-spring of direct response and its world of upgradable $25 and $50 gifts.

So, if there’s tension among the silos in your organization, do the numbers, don’t worry about who gets credit and work in harmony.

Why? Because that’s what is important to the donor and to your bottom line.

Is your organization suffering from Major Donor Quarantine?




This article was posted in: Direct mail, Donor Centricity, Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, Fundraising analytics / data, Fundraising philosophy/profession, Major donors, Nonprofit management.
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