I've worked with many organizations whose development directors desperately wanted to move them toward a more member-supported structure, rather than relying exclusively on grants, foundations or one or two heavy-hitter donors. And one of the biggest stumbling blocks they've faced has been trying to convince reluctant board members and executives that $25 direct mail donors are worth pursuing.
It's one of the most persistent myths of direct mail: that the "small-time" donors will never amount to anything significant for the organization.
Direct Mail Donors Have Hidden Depths
Sure, they may start out giving only $25, but treat your donors right, and they may just grow with you. Many of the largest organizations' major donor lists are made up primarily of people who started out giving small amounts -- people who tested out the organization with a $25 or $50 gift, then gradually gave more as they liked what they saw.
And who hasn't heard a story about a nonprofit receiving a massive bequest from a donor who'd never given more than $30 a year while alive?
When you show your donors you know who they are, you appreciate your support, and you're using their money wisely, they reward you by continuing to give -- and perhaps even increasing their donations.
Direct Mail is a Volume Business
One $25 donor might not ever give you the same amount as one good foundation grant. But many $25 dollar donors will. And not only that, these are the people who can create a groundswell of support for your cause, who will tell their friends and family and neighbors about the good work you do, and who will -- if taken care of properly -- be your most loyal and vocal public advocates.
Of course, that means you must invest in your outreach to these "small-time" donors so you can collect and retain a large enough number of them to support your work.
Embrace Your Smaller Donors -- and Bust Those Myths!