Year End Solicitations: A Better Way
This month, I've received a small stack of requests from various charitable organizations. Perhaps you have received a few too?
Let me state for the record: I am a big supporter of community service and charitable giving. This is a core value for me and for Maple Creative. Each and every Mapleonian is personally involved in one or more community service endeavors. It's well documented, and you can read all about it on our Web site.
I have no qualm with the solicitation. It is fine to ask for a year-end donation. That's all well and good. What bugs me is the manner of the solicitation. The way it's typically done is both ineffective and improper. Allow me to explain.
You send us the letter. We have not heard from you all year. In some cases, we are completely unaware of your organization and its purpose. Perhaps you obtained our address from the chamber of commerce list; who knows? The letter is lengthy--to a fault. In it, you proceed to tell us everything you can about the background and the need--both sides, single-spaced, front and back. The problem: we're all too busy to read a lengthy letter.
You enclose the envelope. It resembles a church offering envelope. You hope that we will enclose a check and mail it back to you. The problem: we lack the background and history to be motivated. We're unable to tap into any passion, because there is no relationship with your organization. Plus, many before you have asked, and we may not be able to spare the funds to write the check. There's nothing to tip the scales in your favor.
This bulk-mail, mass mailing strategy is a hit or miss exercise. I can only imagine that the odds of success are lower than 2%.
The better way.... Touchpoints.
What if you had reached out and touched us with your strategic marketing once a quarter? Perhaps you might have sent an informative 1st Quarter letter, introducing us to your organization and its mission. Then, what if you had sent us 2 or 3 more updates (maybe postcards or email messages) throughout the year, educating us about your programs and presenting specific examples of your impact? What if you had offered to stop by and get acquainted with us ... or invited us to an open house or luncheon? None of these tactics need be lavish or expensive; they could (and should) be cost-effective or bootstrap in nature. Finally, then, you justifiably sent us the letter ... the ask ... the call to action.
What if you had done most or all of those things? How might we have responded differently to your year-end solicitation?
I don't know many non-profit or charitable organizations that can sustain their expected revenues on a 2% success rate.