Becoming one of many

June 1, 2018

One of the recurring themes that I have written about is the notion of mining your database and focussing less on donor acquisition. I said less, not “don’t acquire donors” for you literal folks. There is so much untapped potential “in them there hills” that it is mind-boggling — trust me!

Direct Mail is the modality that sees the largest number of donors — it has more prospects than any other modality, whether it’s Special Events, Major Gifts, or Planned Giving. But your Direct Mail donors are a cohort that have some common characteristics, no matter what your charity is:

  • My friend Fraser Green, one of the authors of Iceberg Philanthropy, states that almost half of Direct Mail donors donated to between 6 and 10 charities annually. Furthermore, more than a third of respondents donated to more than 20 charities annually.
  • Anecdotally, I have also found that if a donor has left a provision for your charity in their estate plans (i.e. bequest), they are more likely than not to have left other charities in their estate plans as well. I contend that it is a much better use of time to focus on trying to become one of many charities who are left a bequest rather than convince a donor of the merit of a bequest.

In Canada, there are over 85,000 registered charities and that number is growing. (This number is a staggering 1.5 million in the USA!) So, what does this mean? It means that the competition for donor dollars is getting bigger and bigger.

As a professional fundraiser, it is incumbent on me to choose how I utilize my time. At a small shop, we are all become generalists and must use our time effectively. Mining the database is always the first step.

Until next week!