What should you do when donors stop responding to your appeal letters the way they used to? The answers are as varied as the possible reasons why people stop responding to your requests for donations. Your mailing list may have grown tired of your appeals, may have found a new cause they like better, or their circumstances may have changed. Master fundraising copywriter Alan Sharpe explains more in this guest article below.
Donors will stop responding to your fundraising letter appeals for many reasons. Some of which you can manage, but many of which you cannot. Use these findings to retain as many of your donors as you can.
1. They forget – I suppose you could call this a case of “poor institutional memory.” Donors simply forget your institution. They read your letter, decide to give, put your letter down somewhere, and then forget to mail you their gift.
2. They get distracted – Some stop sending gifts because they get sidetracked by other priorities, such as the arrival of children, or grandchildren. Or a hurricane hits their home. Or mum gets diagnosed with breast cancer.
3. They lose interest – Perhaps through a fault of yours (you’ve strayed from your mission, perhaps), but also perhaps because their interests change, some donors stop their support because your mission no longer excites them.
4. They suffer financially – In some families, the breadwinner loses his job and the first thing to be cut is discretionary spending, such as take out food, movies and charitable gifts.
5. They die – You have no control over this one, or shouldn’t have. A percentage of your donors will pass away each year, and their gifts in the mail will cease the same day they do. That’s why you are wise to invite your older donors to include you in their wills.
6. You mail them too often – Some donors grow weary if they receive too many solicitations in any year. A letter each month might be too many for some.
One a quarter might be too many for others. Either way, they stop giving because they feel you are hounding them for their money.
7. You don’t mail often enough – Other donors fall away because you are never on their radar screen. Your letters arrive so infrequently, or so unpredictably, that you never make a lasting impression in their minds or on their wallets.
8. You don’t listen – The donor made a complaint or a suggestion, and then decided that your organization did not respond properly. So they took their gifts elsewhere.
9. You treat them like a stranger – How many times would you need to receive a letter addressing you as “Dear Friend” before concluding that the organization was interested in your money and not in you?
10. They feel unappreciated – Donors like to feel appreciated, and like to know that their donations are being used to good ends. If your thank-you letters arrive late, or never at all, some donors will start giving to other organizations that show their appreciation.
11. You make them mad – Some donors will decide they do not like your new executive director’s hairstyle. Or your new logo. There is something you can do to retain donors like this. But I don’t know what it is.
Concentrate your appeal letter efforts on the things you can fix, like improving the bond between your organization and your supporters. There are some great tips on what to do in these fundraising letter articles below.
More Advice On Appeal Letters
How to Write Fundraising Letters That Motivate Donors – Motivating strangers to give their money away is one of the hardest jobs around. It’s difficult to do face to face. And it’s even harder to do by mail.
Successful Fundraising Letters Share Eight Qualities – If you want your next fundraising letter to be successful and effective, there are certain nuances you must master to achieve the right results.
Don’t Start Your Fundraising Letters As A Stranger – One of the things you should never do with your fundraising letters is address them to Dear Friend because it can cost you literally thousands of dollars in lost donations.
Write Fundraising Letters That Donors Can’t Resist – Master copywriter Alan Sharpe offers practical advice to non-profit groups for boosting the results of your appeal letters.
How To Write A Fundraising Letter – Some profound advice on what works and what doesn’t work when writing donation request letters.
How To Write Fundraising Letters – Here are detailed instructions on how to write great fundraising letters, including a sample letter that you can copy to get you started.
Fundraising Letter Sample Template – This sample fundraising letter template offers examples of a specific method of asking for money, including providing a quick psychological justification for a positive response.
Sample Fundraising Thank You Letter – Here are some tips on how to say thanks to your donors, plus a sample fundraising thank you letter you can copy.
Where To Find Creative Ideas For Your Appeal Letters – Creativity is key for keeping your fundraising letters fresh and bringing in sufficient donations. So, where do you find creative ideas for your appeals? The answer, surprisingly, is right under your nose.