Once your annual appeal is well on the way to your donor’s mailbox, don’t just sit around checking the mail and counting the money! Get moving on your follow-up action plan.
This October in particular is a great time to get your act together. While the 2012 Presidential Election kicks into gear and consumes all attention, you can make headway on your next step.
Through a series of upcoming posts, we’ll get into the details of how to follow-up your mailing and evaluate its success.
Begin by answering these questions:
When is the right timing for a second contact?
Typically, you can plan on 3-4 weeks after the first letter’s drop date. Exceptions can certainly be found, however. For example, if your letter hit September 15, 2012 you should hold off until mid-November when the election mailings are out of the way. Even in a non-election year, it may be best to follow up closer to year-end.
Which donors warrant the extra effort and expense of a follow-up?
This will vary widely by organization. Until you’ve had multiple years to test and optimize this, you can start by contacting donors who:
- have not given yet in the current year (no response to first letter) AND
- gave a gift in the year immediately prior AND
- have given more than one gift to your organization ever.
These folks are typically the most likely to renew and are the ones you really want to pull out the stops to keep. Pull these donors into a mailing list and tag them in your database so that you can track their responses.
What type of contact will you make? Will you:
- send a second letter via mail?
- send an email?
- make a phone call?
Mail is the most expensive route, but if you can find the money and have the time it is probably the easiest to implement.
Email follow up is my favorite way to go because (1) it is faster and cheaper and (2) reaches out to your donor in a different way and thus may be an easier way for the donor to take action. However, if you aren’t yet familiar with your email program (if you even have one) it could add a level of complexity.
Phone calls are often also cheaper, faster, and a way to incorporate a different channel for communication. They are also fairly easy to implement.
Your budget, experience, time frame, and access to volunteers will help you determine which of these is best for your campaign.
Over the next several posts, we’ll talk specific actions, beginning with telephoning your donors.