On a listserve in which I used to participate, someone posted the following:
<< We plan to write to donors who have not contributed in the last few years and ask if they would like to remain on our list…. >>
Those folks must have had some reason for giving to you in the first place. To ask if they want to be removed from the list serves no one’s purpose — unless it’s someone whose focus is on the list, and not on the purpose of the list.
Ask them what you need to do to get them to give again, or what you did to make them stop — I assume you can come up with better wording than this.
Give them a reason to want to write that check – motivation is about getting them to want to do what you want them to do…
Asking people if they want to remain on your list is not address the real question — if they are interested in the pursuit of your mission.
Try to find out if you’ve been communicating adequately with them – ask them what further information they’d like you to provide. Don’t just treat them as (non-productive) names on a list.
Never ask prior donors if they want to be removed from your list, some of them might say, “Yes.” Prior donors are a resource you want to conserve.
Approach the question from the perspective of “What would make those prior donors rediscover the romance?” — rather than asking if they want a “divorce.”
Be creative in giving them opportunities to show that they still support you and your mission, and forget about asking them if they want to be deleting names from your list.
In addition to the above, send your mailing with “Address Correction Requested” – that way you can remove from your list people who are actually not getting your mail or you can get the new address of a donor that may have moved.
Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating, or expanding your fundraising program?
Contact Hank Lewis. With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, he’ll be pleased to answer your questions.
From the next posting (this Thursday), until after Labor Day, the Fundraising Blog will post only once each week. We will resume the twice weekly postings in September. Enjoy your summer. ….Hank, Natalie, Jayme, Lynn, Rick & Bill