How often can you ask in a year without driving off donors? I really needed to know. Once a year? Three times a year? A dozen times a year? Twenty–one times year?
By Tom Ahern
I was at the first Nonprofit Storytelling Conference in Seattle with Jeff Brooks, a senior copywriter at one of America’s best direct mail firms. The hall held a rare concentration of top experts.
A fundraiser in the audience asked a seemingly simple question: “How often can you ask in a year without losing donors?” The answer?
I glanced at Jeff. He flashed the number 20 with his fingers. Really?
Then another fundraiser took the floor to describe a test he’d done, to see what the limit was. His charity mailed 21 solicitations in a year before gifts tapered off. These were postal mail, too, not email. Are 21 solicitations in a year really all that intrusive? It comes down to less than 2 solicitations per month. During the last US presidential campaign, more than two emailed solicitations per day hit my inbox from the candidate I favored.
Veteran Steven Screen, co–founder of Better Fundraising, shared this insight at the 2018 Nonprofit Storytelling Conference: “In 20 years, I’ve only come across one organization that was asking for donations too often. The sweet spot is thirty–six times a year.”