“They Can’t Make Gifts If You Can’t Find Them” … And Other Reasons To Keep A Clean Database
The cost to acquire a new donor keeps increasing, making it even more critical that the donors you acquire keep contributing for many years. Donors won’t give if you aren’t asking — and you can’t ask if you don’t have their correct mailing address, email address, phone number, or other contact information.
But, the risk is even greater than that. Starting January 4, 2010, if you don’t regularly update your database with correct donor addresses, you could face heavy penalties from the United States Post Office. Thankfully, there is an easy solution that helps you avoid any fines.
When you mail, you must prove that you have updated addresses within 95 days. If you cannot, you will have to mail with first class postage. This is easily avoided if you send your donor records through “National Change of Address” (NCOA) processing and update the information in your database with the corrected addresses. Then, send a copy of the NCOA report with the data you send for any mailing.
What if you don’t keep track of the address changes from NCOA? Will the Post Office know? YES. Starting January 4, the Post Office will begin randomly sampling mailings. They will take a few hundred pieces that are to be mailed, determine if the addresses match the NCOA database and confirm that they have the correct zip code and other address line items. Up to 30% of your mail can be deemed incorrectly addressed without penalty. However, any percentage over that is subject to a $0.07 per piece fine. This verification process will be done on First and Standard Class mail.
The penalty could be steep! Let’s assume you are mailing 100,000 pieces and the Post Office determines that 40% of them are out of compliance. They will charge you additional postage for 10% of your mailing. 10% of the mailing is 10,000 pieces and at $0.07 each the penalty is $700. If you are mailing 1,000,000 pieces and are found to be out of compliance, you could pay $7,000 more in postage!
So, in order to avoid fines and ensure that you are reaching your donors, adopt a policy to run your donor records though NCOA processing once a quarter. Then, keep a copy of the report and update your database with the changes.
Make more money and avoid Post Office penalties! It’s a win-win!
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Twice Is Nice; Especially In Online Fundraising
We’ll keep this online tip short and sweet: When sending an email appeal — send it twice!
No, we don’t mean to hit the send button twice in a row, but it’s almost that simple.
48 hours after you send an email appeal, select everyone who didn’t open it or click through to the links you wanted. (While it varies for each organization, a good rule of thumb is to wait 48 hours — most donors will give that quickly.) These people may have ignored your email because they were too busy, or the subject line didn’t appeal to them.
So now what? Email them again! If nothing else, try changing the subject line. A new approach might “tease” them into reading the second email and, hopefully, making a gift to your organization. Some donors may have intended to read your first email but didn’t — and this resend will increase the urgency.
In addition to changing the subject line, try to modify the message or appearance slightly. For example, if your first email was a matching gift appeal, the second email should tell donors how close you are to your revenue goal (or how many donors have already participated since the first email was sent), and stress that there is still time to give.
Emailing a second time isn’t hard to do, it starts to build a story arc with the donors and it’s good for your bottom line.
One organization we work with always “resends” their emails to those who don’t open it the first time. Sometimes the second email is completely different; and sometimes the subject line is the only thing that changes. The results are usually very strong for the resend.
In a recent renewal email:
• Email #1: $965 from 23 gifts
• Email #2: $1,615 from 32 gifts
In a recent appeal email:
• Email #1: $4,465 from 89 gifts
• Email #2: $2,610 from 83 gifts
In both of these scenarios, a significant portion of the total revenue was a result of the resend. So, give it a try! You may be leaving money on the table by not emailing twice.
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Three Things To Do If You have Three Minutes To Spare
The clock is ticking on year-end giving. And, if you are like most fundraisers right now, you probably still have more money to raise before the end of 2009.
The good news is that it’s not too late to really make a difference. So what can you do in these final weeks? Here are our top three suggestions of things that don’t take much time, but can have a big impact:
- Call the donors you haven’t heard from. Not all of them, of course, but look at the ones who gave you gifts of $250, $500 or more in 2008. Haven’t heard from them in 2009? Give ‘em a call!
- Call donors you have heard from! Again, not all of them — only the ones who made gifts of $1,000 or more in 2009, but gave you less in 2009 than in 2008. Many high dollar donors are breaking up their giving into a few smaller gifts. You can maintain your high dollar donor value by aggressively asking for those multi gifts.
- Send an email … or 20. The competition for charitable dollars is tough and many other groups will be in your donors’ email inboxes this December. To stay top of mind, you must be there, too. Especially effective are countdown emails that come to the donor in the last few days of the year.
These are techniques that will let your donors know that you still need their support, and it’s not too late to give.
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Client Profile: Meals On Wheels Of Contra Costa, Inc.
Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa, located in Martinez, CA, provides homebound elders with nutritious meals to help them remain healthy and independent in their own homes for as long as possible.
Founded in 1990, this is a countywide partnership dedicated to providing food and friendship to homebound seniors. Their committed volunteers and staff serve 250,000 nutritious meals to over 1,200 homebound seniors each year.
Two years ago, the organization launched its first-ever Emergency Food Program. The Emergency Food packages contain high quality, nonperishable food items that provide seniors with extra food in case a natural disaster prevents Meals on Wheels from making their daily deliveries. Last year alone, over 15,000 emergency meals were served through this new program. Because isolation is as great a problem as hunger for the seniors they serve, this program provides a vital sense of security.
Lautman Maska Neill & Company has proudly partnered with MOW Contra Costa since 2006. Since then, the donor file has grown over 300% and there are now over 12,000 active donors.
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Lautman Maska Neill & Company “Runs” For A Good Cause
In support of a great cause and a great partnership, Lautman Maska Neill & Company recently participated in the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington’s annual Home Run. On October 18th, employees joined hundreds of others in Rockville, Maryland, for the race, which raised thousands of dollars for this inspiring organization. With the help of friends, family and industry partners, Lautman Maska Neill & Company made a total contribution of $1,712 to the Hebrew Home.
Thanks to all for their support!
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