About the only fundraising practice I thought I disliked more than #GivingTuesday was getting messages in September, two months before the auspicious event, offering advice on how to get ready for #GivingTuesday. It’s already happening.

But then I got an ‘in your face’ reminder that there indeed was another fundraising purveyor who gives me even greater upset — the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The ‘reminder’ was getting two email pitches the same day asking me to help save the republic for as little as a $1 gift.

I was so upset I looked closer and realized that they had managed to come up with two different email addresses I use, and so I realized that I was looking down the barrel of a double-barrel shotgun that would never stop blasting away, even if the Democrats swept the elections still over a year away.

So — like any other stricken donor — I looked for the ‘Unsubscribe’ option.

Luckily I found one, or this would have turned out to be a profanity-laden post.

But not only did I find one — hang on to your seats — I find I must compliment DSCC on their approach.

True to the over-developed persistence gene embedded in DSCC’s DNA, their opt-out scheme didn’t give up on me easily.

Firstly, when I looked for the option, I was greeted by two choices: (Positioned to be noticed first: Did I want to “take a break” from DSCC emails, or (a bit further down, after a gentle reminder of how much I was needed) did I want to “stop receiving all emails” from the DSCC. Clever distinction and approach — I wonder if they tested this?

Unfortunately, when I clicked the first option — Take a Break — they promised only to remove me from the “current campaign” … a rather loose commitment. Is the “current campaign” their entire effort over the next year to elect Democrats? I doubt it.

When I instead elected the “Stop Receiving” option, I was bounced to a brief, well-crafted message imploring me to reconsider my imminent defection, with a huge bold response button proclaiming: “I Want To Stay”, followed by a much smaller, less inviting copy-link: “No, continue unsubscribing”. They’re not giving up easy!

When I elected to continue unsubscribing, I was bounced to a new message asking if instead I wanted to still support, but simply wished to receive fewer emails: “You will only receive a few emails from us each month.” WOW … only a few each month!  Again, their preferred option got far more prominent billing.

Undeterred, I continued my quest to unsubscribe. And I wondered … how many donors would have given up by now?! The Catch-22.

And finally I reached the Holy Grail … they conceded defeat. But they did ask me (on an optional basis) to tell them why. And at this point, I certainly couldn’t just say I wanted to get fewer emails!

So, I ask you … Is this too aggressive an approach to keeping donors on board? Leaving aside my diversionary experimentation with their “Take a Break” option, it still would have taken me FOUR clicks to unsubscribe.

For me personally, DSCC pushed it right to the limit. Each step (or ‘counter offer’) was well-crafted. Indeed, I thought those attempts to keep me on were, in a way, more honest than the “Take a Break” promise.

We all know donors are hard to come by. It doesn’t bother me that DSCC makes an effort to retain its prospect/donor pool. In fact, reflecting on it, I would probably be more bothered if an organization I previously responded to let me cut loose with one click … and no counter-messaging.

So there could be too much or too little effort to retain.

As I said, DSCC pushes it to the limit … I’m sure some would be unhappy with their approach.

What about you? Where are you on the ‘too much vs too little’ unsubscribe spectrum?


P.S. Oh, and with respect to #GivingTuesday, I’m saving my ammunition for a later day.


This article was posted in: Donor acquisition, Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, Online fundraising and marketing.
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