How much is too much?
5 Hard Questions
Mailing less often is hardly ever the solution to a donor relations problem.
Commercial advertising agencies have spent billions of their clients’ dollars researching and proving the “principle of multiple impressions.”
This principle dictates that a buyer doesn’t buy the first time she hears the pitch. She hears it on radio, she sees an ad on social media, she sees a commercial on TV, she hears it on the radio again, she sees a billboard, she sees a poster in a grocery store window, she hears it on the radio again — and finally she buys.
Along the way, the light only dawns slowly — because along the way, she is distracted by the many other priorities of her life.
Sure, you’re amazed to see the same television commercial aired two or three or even half a dozen times during the same football game — but the research proves unilaterally that multiple impressions far outdraw an individual impression.
The principle of multiple impressions drives us to two inevitable conclusions:
- We must communicate frequently with our donors, probably more frequently than we imagine to be necessary.
- We must communicate the same message each time we communicate — because different messages don’t add up to multiple impressions; each new message only qualifies as another initial impression!
Friends stay in touch. They communicate often. So write often to your donors.
Write as often as you have something to say. To the extent that your budget will allow, write sometimes without asking for money.
Even appeal letters or emails, if they’re well designed and well written, will generate a positive visceral response from your donors.
- These donors have, after all, invested in your ministry; they are interested in seeing the work go forward.
- They have a certain demonstrated level of interest, perhaps even commitment.
- If you’re writing as friend to friend — if you regard them as members of the ministry team, or family, and you reveal this in every communication — your donors will look forward to hearing from you.
If the leader or marketing director of your ministry lobbies for fewer mailings to donors, ask 5 hard questions:
- Are we thinking like the buyer, or like the seller?
- Do we imagine the donor’s life revolves around the mail or email she gets from us?
- Are we engaging in wishful thinking, imagining that the donor vividly remembers the details of our situation from one communication to the next?
- Are we tired of our own mailings — when the donor isn’t?
- Is gift income going down, and we’re cutting back mailing frequency because it’s easier than figuring out what’s wrong with our mailings?
Jesus modeled frequency for us. He ministered buckshot-style to the masses — but He zeroed in on those who had invested their lives in His work. His disciples and the women who supported them — these He devoted Himself to. He was in their faces again and again.
It was only after an intensive three years of communication, of relationship, that He could physically depart and leave the work in their hands.
Jesus understood the value of frequency. So should we.