Monday, August 20

A "wiser strategy" would be to apologize

Tom Belford at The Agitator took Jennifer Donahue from NARAL to task because of this quote written about Jennifer in Fundraising Success Magazine:

She advised organizations follow their data and what it tells them about donors and to use that data to shepherd both donors and activists through the proper channels of giving “because you know them better than they know themselves.”
Tom was outraged. However, to be honest, after reading the entire article I am confused by what he is talking about. There is no proof that Jennifer has ever done any of the things tom thinks are bad. (who said mail 'em till they drop??)

To the best of my knowledge, I've never met Jennifer. I have no personal reason for me to defend her or even to get involved... but there actually is proof within the article that Jennifer has already done the exact suggestions Tom is making.

Tom suggests a "wiser strategy" which includes: acquiring the highest possible value donors by asking for higher denominations in appeals with revelant messages and then working your butt off to convert those donors into monthly donors and/or ask them to donate online.

This is great and it makes perfect sense... but, isn't that exactly what NARAL has already been doing successfully for several years now? Duh.

At worst, it was a mistake for Jennifer to be quoted as saying "have no mercy," but I think Tom should apologize for insinuating that NARAL needs a "wiser strategy" for fundraising.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your comments. Of course, our office and consultants work to segment, target our message, and adhere to donor's preferences where it is expressed (no mail, no phones, no emails, etc.). However, when donors say they want to hear good news, we fundraisers know better. And if they receive a fundraising solitication that uses killer fundraising techniques, they are likely to give despite themselves. So when I say, "Show no mercy," I mean to employ the most ferociously effective fundraising tacticts that make it all but impossible to leave dollars and new members on the table. By optimizing timing and by optimizing proper channels based on donor behaviors, we show no mercy in our fundraising effectiveness. Isn't that what this discipline is about?

I wish Tom had been at the DMA panel I spoke on. He seems to have left a great deal out in order to make his story fly. If he was at the panel on which I spoke, he missed a lot of what was said, and perhaps he should go back to review his fundraising bonafides. I enjoy The Agitator, but I think the limited space required in blogging has limited his ability to portray the whole story.

Jennifer Donahue

Margaret Battistelli said...

Just to clarify, the "you know [your donors] better than they know themselves" and the "no mercy" comments were direct quotes from Jennifer; the latter was part of this very concise and deliberate series of tips about integrated fundraising from NARAL:

"NARAL’s credo for integration success:
* No dollar left on the table;
* No donor left untouched;
* No cost untested to reduce expenses;
* No segment not optimized; and
* No mercy shown the donor (be vigilant and consistent in staying connected to your donor base)."

We added the clarifying statement that follows the "no mercy" tip in parenthesis.