One thing I’ve noticed now that it’s officially spring is the number of articles about spring cleaning and decluttering. For many of us, these types of projects can be overwhelming, especially if we’ve ignored that mutating pile of paperwork or our closets are overflowing with so much stuff we can barely open the door.
As much as I dislike cleaning and organizing, I’m happy once it gets done. Often getting started is the hardest part.
Your nonprofit organization should also do its own version of spring cleaning and decluttering. If you’re feeling reluctant about taking on these so-called cumbersome tasks, just think how happy you’ll be once they get done.
Let’s get started!
Clean up your mailing lists and database
Did you have an influx of address changes, returned mail, and bounced emails after you sent your year-end appeal? This is a good time to clean up and update both your direct mail and email mailing lists.
Don’t wait until right before your next mailing to clean up your donor data. Even though it’s tedious, have someone who’s familiar with your donors (your development director?) go through your mailing lists and database to see if you need to make any additions, changes, and deletions.
Be meticulous. No donor wants to see her name misspelled, be addressed as Mrs. when she prefers Ms., or receive three mailings because you have duplicate records.
Your donor database is an important tool and it needs to be up-to-date and filled with accurate information about your donors.
As you clean up your donor database, pay particular attention to your lapsed donors. It may be time to take some of them out of your active donor file. Who are these people? If they’ve donated in the past, is it likely they’ll donate again? For example, the mother of a former staff member who left five years ago is a good candidate for your inactive file.
Send one more targeted mailing to people who haven’t donated for at least four years. Let them know you miss them and want them back. If you don’t hear anything, let them go. 4 Tips: When to Remove a Lapsed Donor from Your Database
Do the same thing with your email list. It doesn’t make sense to send email to people who don’t respond to it. Give these people a chance to re-engage, and if they’re not even opening your emails, move them to an inactive file. Why Deleting People from Your Email List is a Good Thing
But wait you say, we want as many people in our database and email lists as possible, don’t we? No, you want people who are still interested your organization. Quality wins over quantity.
You can save money by not mailing to people who aren’t going to support you and aren’t paying attention to you.
Freshen up your messages
Now that you’ve pared down your mailing lists to active donors and supporters, they deserve something good the next time you communicate with them. Will they get that?
Take a good look at your appeal letters, thank you letters, and other content. Have you been using the same stale, old templates for years? Are your letters all about how great your organization is and filled with jargon? Are your newsletter articles mind-numbingly boring?
Freshen them up with some donor-centered content. Can Your Organization Pass the Donor-Centered Test?
Don’t put it off too long
Your clutter and dust at home won’t disappear on their own. The longer you ignore it, the worse it gets. The same is true for your nonprofit.
Take on your cleaning and organization projects as soon as you can. You’ll be happy once they’re done.