When to ask for more (donations, information, etc.)

Okay, so I haven’t written a blog post in almost three years. My rants have been going unranted. Two fairly recent experiences inspired this one.

  1. I donated some money to a charity (online, of course), and within weeks received by snail mail a request for further donations.
  2. I lost my wallet and had to get new ID and health cards. When they arrived by mail, they both reminded me to inform them if I move and included forms that I could send back by mail with my new address.

You would think it would go without saying that if I donated some money to an organization, I wouldn’t immediately want to donate more. If I did, I’d have made a bigger initial donation. You would also think that if I just got a new card (and provided my current address to do so), then a week or so later I probably wouldn’t have moved. I also imagine that very few people file the form away, and remember to retrieve it when they do move, years later. If so, they’re far more organized than almost everyone else.

What to do instead

  • If your organization receives a modest financial donation from a new donor, wait at least six months before requesting another one.
  • When you request a new donation, remind them of the amount of their prior one.
  • When requesting another donation, use the same medium as the donation was made in. If I mailed in a cheque, sure, ask again by snail mail. But if I donate online, and have provided my email address, then ask me by email.
  • If your goal is to keep track of when people move, you can’t let them know that upfront, but don’t ask them for their new address immediately or bother with a form. Instead, ask, infrequently, whether they have or are about to move. No more than once a year. I’d suggest asking by email every year and by snail mail every five years or something like that. And that’s if the information can’t be determined through other means (e.g. tax filings?), and you reset the counter after every move received.
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