If you're the typical young fundraiser: You're not using databases properly, your approach to mailing lists is simplistic and you don't understand your own donors. Leslie Mandel, now in her 28th year as a professional fundraiser, maintains that making it in today's economic climate requires the kind of outlook that will lead to more engaging appeals.


It's Hard Times: Time for Mailers to Get Personal

By Leslie Mandel



Before I get into procedural details about fundraising, I'd like to offer some constructive criticism.

Many charities, unfortunately, see direct mail fundraising as a two-point procedure: mail out, checks in.

A good fundraiser recognizes the importance of continuity, and at the very least incorporates a third step - a thank you with a request for the names and addresses of friends who may be interested in supporting the organization and a fourth: a postcard mailing to everyone who didn't reply to the original effort. The postcard should inform the prospect that a volunteer from the charity will be calling in the near future.

Extra steps might be the first in a charity's initiation of a relationship building process, and to make it in fundraising today you have to work on relationships. You have to be a lot more personal.

Yet even in these times of recession and higher postage, when it's harder than ever to get new donors and to obtiin repeat donations, too many charities are coldly dollars-and-cents in their outlook, and too many tend to look down upon the low-dollar donors.

They'd probably scoff at the still valid philosophy practiced by a seasoned fundraising firm I once worked for: "Get someone to give even a dollar and you have him or her for life."

Charities are even deficient when it comes to technology or relationship building. So many computer overlays on directional sourced names are available, yet so few charities know the demographics of their own donors.

A good list is a list that is 100 percent mail-generated names, and includes age, gender, new move, number of children in the household, income, exact birthday, credit card, credit Iimit, religion, phone and dollar amount given. Ideally, it's overlaid with ZIP+7 and only home addresses.


The Rich List Company, a Division of Leslie Mandel Enterprises

Fax: 212 861-5384
Phone: 212 737-8917
E-Mail: RichListCo@aol.com
Address: PO Box 294
Wainscott, NY 11975


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