How Give Is Fixing Terrible Reply Devices

2015 was a fascinating year for me. I had opportunities to test a handful of fundraising theories that I thought to be sacred.

I should’ve known better. A former colleague of mine used to say, “Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.” To truly break through in fundraising (or anything else for that matter), we’ve got to ask two important questions:

  1. Why do we do it this way?
  2. Can we do it better?

About two and a half years ago, I had a client (the second largest in my roster) tell the agency that they were going to suppress all 13+month donors from direct mail, opting to treat them differently.

What happened? It revealed something about the nature of sacred cows, be it broad strategies, design, copy, or data protocols: you have to challenge the status quo, even if it hurts, to get at what’s best for donors. The client’s strategy (yes, credit where credit is due) helped skyrocket retention rates and net revenue. Mail less, raise more. Go figure. We didn’t.

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