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Carolyn's Nonprofit Blog on NCDC's Dimensions (October/November 2015)


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I was honored to be asked by the National Catholic Development Conference to reprint one of my articles in the October/November 2015 issue of its member-only e-newsletter, "Dimensions." Here is a humble scan - admittedly not the best - but you can also read the original on Carolyn's Nonprofit Blog:

Thanks to Sr. Georgettle Lehmuth, OSF, President and CEO and her colleagues at the National Catholic Development Conference in Washington, D.C. for their interest in my work! Again, it was an honor to be included.

Yes, "God is in the details." And while I am Episcopalian - or, "CatholicLite" as ret. Bishop Carmody of Corpus Christi once told me - I have many good friends who are of Catholic faith and I have supported many of them in my work over the years.

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Carolyn's Nonprofit Blog on NCDC's Dimensions (October/November 2015)

  1. 1. NATIONAL CATHOLIC DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE 734 15th St. NW | Washington, DC 20005-1002 te| .202.637.0470 I fax.202.637.0471 | toll free 888.TRY. NCDC (879.0232) www. ncdc. org Ms. Carolyn Appleton Carolyn Appleton Inc. 3100 Esperanza Crossing Unit 6167 Austin, TX 7 8758 December 9, 2015 Dear Ms. Appleton, Thank you very much for the contribution to our membership publication Dimensions! For the October/ November months, your article is very useful for our NCDC members. Enclosed, please find one complimentary copy of the October/ November 2015 issue of Dimensions. The article, “Mailing Lists: God is in the Details” appears on page 14. Thank you again for your article. Feel free to contact me anytime! Best, Sr. Georgette Lehmuth, OSF President and CEO
  2. 2. DIMENSIONS A Publication ofthe National Catholic Development Conference I October/ November 2015 Engaging Your Missing Middle - Mid—Tier Fundraising By Maya Ma/ Janey é‘ Chris Brno/2: Engage Your “Missing” Middle Let's just say what everybody is thinking: mid—tier donors are puzzling. Not because ofany strange quirks or personalities — but because they pose a tough dilemma for many development teams: who should be assigned to working with this popu- lation, and how much time should be spent engaging these donors? While major gifts fundraising isn’t necessarily easy, this group is fairly straightforward in terms of resource devotion. Hire a major gifts officer to work one—on—one with donors, engaging them in long—term conversations and encouraging them to make deep investments in your work. Direct marketing donors are straightforward too: send an appeal, coordinate a matching gift effort, and measure your response rates, average gifts, and return on investment. Middle donors are a different story entirely. By definition, they are not giving enough to warrant a phone call from your major officers, who have too many donors and prospects in their port- folios already. Ar the same time, they are too important tn be left in the direct appal cycle with your Eve and ten dollar donors. For organizations where responsibility for mid—tier fundraising lies with the annual giving or membership team, revenue from mid—tier donors can constitute a large portion of annual budgeted revenues, yet we often neglect these supporters to focus our efforts on the larger populations of smaller donors. At Share Our Strength, and on the No Kid Hungry campaign, we were charged with finding a solution to this dilemma. We had already tried most of the direct marketing tactics for engaging donors: expensive and high-touch DM pieces, conference call invites from the CEO, even “protecting” them by sending fewer mailings and emails. What e/ re could we do that would give our donors a similar feeling of engagement and connection to the organization, short of assigning them to a major officer? Developing the Concept We wanted to create the same aiiinity a major donor might feel in their relationship with a member of the major gifts team without actually hiring additional major gifts oflicers. We knew we needed to develop the feeling of a personalized individual relationship that could cut through the mass—marketed materials and give our donors the sense that they were a crucial part of our organization. How did we do it? We started out by looking at our greatest asset: our talented colleagues. Share Our Strength has an amazing group of staffmembers who are willing and eager to try new things and learn new skills. Could we design a donor engagement program that utilized our wonderful colleagues without overburdening them in the process? At first the idea sounded ridicu- lous. Our own team doesrft have time to reach out to these important donors, so let's find other colleagues (whose workloads are similarly maxed out) to do it for us? But as we worked through the idea more, it occurred to us that this wasn’t just mrttirtued an page 8 Presidents Cartier . ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. . .2 How Data Bk Analytics Boost Donor Acquisition ~ Finding New Donors for Catholic Lust and the Capital Campaign: Has the Fire (ione()i1t? .. ... ... ... ... ... .. . .(: Tips to Use . ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... . . .lZ Mailing Lists: God is in the Details. .. . ... ... ... ... . . .l4 Is You . r lission of Catholic Philanthropy Being Invigorated?
  3. 3. Mailing Lists: God is in the Details By Carolyn M. Appleton Mailboxes have NOT been put out of business quite yet. “God it in the’ demilr. ” - Mies van der Rohe, American Architect (l886- I 969) No truer words have been spoken when it comes to mailing lists. For me, mailing lists are the alpha and omega of virtually every nonprofit activity, but especially fundraising. This is true oflists one uses to send mail to constituents via the United States Postal Service, or e—mail lists. Ifyour organization is not sending properly spelled and addressed letters and printed publications to its constituents, they may not reach them. Worse yet, they may reach the intended constituent, and offend them. When I begin a new nonprofit fundraising project, one of the first things I do is ask to review the mail- ing list(s), including the e-mailing list(s). I like being “hands on. ’ This activity, which can take days to a few weeks, will tell me to a great degree — lzetterper/ yap: than a femilri/ it_y study — if an organization is ready to embark upon a fundraising campaign, regardless of size. If I discover many obvious errors in the list(s), then trouble surely lies ahead. Before any further mailings are planned, the list must be repaired, updated (and sometimes expanded) to ensure the nonprofit is covering all possible bases, and reaching all influential prospective supporters. You might also discover “hidden gems, ” people on a mailing list who may have contributed at a modest level, who are capable of giving signifiant I once uncovered a $25 annual donor who was cultivated. and who ultinntcly made a $5 million donaion a few years later. This work only lnppas when a huwhdgezble W & the time to in-iew II: L E. October/ November 2015 - NCK W Comments I have heard from potential donors about mailing lists, to underscore my point regarding 3CCLll‘flCyZ 0 “No, I will not be attending the event. For the past ten years I have called and called, asking them to remove my late husband’s name from the mailing list. They have not done so. No one is paying attention. They will not receive one dime from me. " ' “That organization can’t get it right. They misspell my name on every mailing — they don't even know who I am. I toss their mailings in the trash. ” ' “I have called repeatedly, and I am still receiving five copies of each and every mailing they send out. Please tell them to remove my name from the list entirely. ” ' “What mailing? ” People receiving mail often think they are the only person in the universe. You may have thousands of names to keep up-to—date on your mailing list(s), but regardless, that one mis— spelled name could spell doom for your nonprofits fundraising efforts. www. ncdc. org
  4. 4. Data entry, when done well, results in proper communication with constituents, and ultimately, happy donors. As an aside, this leads me to ask why data entry and maintenance personnel are generally paid at the lower end of the pay scale. The job is tremendously important; it requires a certain set of skills including great attention to detail. Better yet, an employee managing your list(s) who also has some depth of understanding about your key constituents and their preferences is even more valuable to your organization. As NTEN says, “love a ‘techie’ today! ” I would say the same of recep- tionists, having worked with one nonprofit that refused to hire a receptionist, leaving messages to one primitive answering machine tended by a group of interns over the course of each week. The interns routinely forgot to write down a few messages after listening to the recordings, and missed some unbelievably important messages from major donors, who were then insulted. We almost lost one major foundation grant that way. Ahem. ’ These positions need to be taken more seriously. Back to mailing lists One nonprofit with which I worked produced one of the most beautiful annual reports I have ever encountered. They were mailing these weighty documents to approxi- mately 2,000 constituents, many of them potential donors. But, upon reviewing the list, I discovered half of the mailing addresses were outdated. With no trained develop- www. ncdc. org ment oflicer, the staff never could “find the time” to update the mailing list. The upshot: they were sending at least 1, 000 attractive, four-color annual reports to the hack room of the loealpost oflice. One of the first things I did upon arrival was help the staff find correct and current mailing addresses, delete those on the list who were deceased, and add new names and addresses to the list that made sense for them to educate and cultivate. Then, we had a powerful, genuinely helpful mailing list to use henceforth. Sending mail via the U. S. Postal Service is still preferred over e—mail by many. Today, the U. S. Postal Service publishes online guides to proper mailing, and important to most non- profits, bulk mailing. In addition, I am a fan of profes- sional mailing services for larger mailings. Normally for a reasonable rate — less then it would cost you and your volunteers to sort through and prepare a bulk mailing — they will send your mailing list through a computer in advance to check it for errors, before you affix labels to each printed item. A professional mail house can also handle the physical aspects of bulk mailings more quickly and efficiently that the nonprofit can. The more sophisticated ones can print out your labels in attractive formats, and most have good rela— tionships with the U. S. Postal Service that help pave the way for successful bulk mailings that do not languish for days or weeks in the back room. When it comes to e-mail lists, you will discover more rapidly those addresses that are invalid by simply sending out one e-mail and watching what is kicked back. The advent of website “sign up” lists requiring visi- tors to complete their own contact information is a terrific help, as it leaves nothing up to chance. In addi- tion, e-mail lists can be very helpful to uncovering new potential donors. Remember, “God is in the details. " By carefully reviewing an organizations e—mail list, I have been able to uncover major potential donors by tracking back to the original corporate or foundation website, for instance. The constant care and ongoing review of mailing lists takes time, but I have found it is worth the extra effort. Many staff members refuse to sit still long enough to tackle a sizable mailing or e—mailing list, but nonprofits simply must put a priority on this activity to ensure their orga- nizations are not wasting time and money, and to ensure that the public impression of them is a positive one. Reprinted with permirsionfiam : Certifiezl I2-T/ VI;1', _". :! fundraising, public rehzrians . :2;. «l . -21:. ’ media communications exemti: .» -’. :<e . ’ in Austin, Tara: USA I Mission: communities and nonprofit orgm attain their fimdrairing, pulalic re. . and social media eommuniazr’ in the most filient, thozaglvgf. high quality manner possible | 1:‘; -/. ..-: .’ carol ma n il. tom October/ November 2015 - NCDC Dimensions