A few months back I wrote a blog entry here called CEO Compensation - Donor Frustration. I noted in the entry that the most common donor feedback we get is that many CEO's are making too much money. Today I will review the second most common bit of feedback we get - charities are sending way too many donor appeals to people. One of our users has been sending us a running tally of the letters he gets.
He writes as follows:
"For one year ending on 11-8-08 I recorded our receipt of mail from charitable organizations. A summary is below. We contribute to most of these. The receipt of mail was not affected by our contribution or the timing of same.
This data shows an incredible waste of material and postage, even by some 4-star charities."
The letter goes on to document a long list of charities, many of whom send mail out at least monthly to this individual.
Fundraising is as much art as it is science. It takes practical judgment on the part of the staff to know the balance between enough and too much mail. If the mail this individual receives each month is a request for a donation that is excessive. Usually solicitations should occur no more than quarterly. If the mailing is to report on the agency's activities and to let the donor know what their money is being used for, it may be appropriate. However, even then an email is a much more cost effective vehicle unless the donor prefers a hard copy.
At Charity Navigator we have decided that, for now, we will only mail out two donor solicitations per year. We also plan to send out a report to our donors on a monthly basis and will ask people to let us know if they prefer email or a hard copy. There is no hard and fast standard, but if you get feedback from your donors to slow it down or cut it out, they should be listened to carefully and responded to promptly. Thankfully, we do have some good rules for donors to follow to help stop unwanted mail solicitations - click here to read it. Unfortunately, many charities do not follow these rules --at best, their donors remain loyal with a very sour taste in their mouths or, at worst, donors make a hasty retreat for the exit.