I’m a self-diagnosed perfectionist. I enjoy alphabetizing the spice cabinet and sorting wrenches in my toolbox so they’re exactly where I can find them. Naturally, then, you would think I’d be the perfect candidate to make sure the organizations with missions near and dear to me would have my latest address, current email, and Twitter handle. Unfortunately, if you asked me “when was the last time you updated your donor information for no good reason,” the answer would be “never.”

Begging dogStop begging your donors to give you their personal information out of the kindness of their heart.

Any time you ask for something, you’d better have something to give them back. For-profit entities get this. Why do you think they ask for your email address in order to get a 20% discount at checkout time? When you ask a donor to just give you an email address, all they hear is “to what email can we send you a monthly donation request?”

How about putting your money where your mouth is and show your constituents how much their updated information is worth. Think about some of the costs:

  • returned physical mail (wasted postage and package costs)
  • email bounces from bad addresses
  • unwanted email from donors not opting in causing donors to mark your messages as SPAM (which can decrease your organization’s Sender Score)
  • simply not being able to connect with your donors

What does that cost you? If you’re only getting a few bounced emails and returned envelopes, probably not much. But what if you’re bouncing a few hundred? If there are 500 people you are no longer connecting with and half of them would have made some type of donation, it would only take an average donation of $20 (which is significantly lower than the $122.55 average reported by Network for Good) to figure you’re missing out on $5,000.

So now that you know what not connecting with your donors costs, what can you do? Try being creative to show your donors how much you value their information. If you’re an education foundation, offer top-tier sponsorship recognition for one of the lucky individuals that gives you an updated email address. If you’re a chamber orchestra, instead of asking “please click here to update your email address,” “click here to win a chance to be a guest conductor at next month’s show.”

It may seem simple, but a simple exchange like this can be the difference between cultivating the relationship with your true supporters and losing them because of apathy.

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Ross Hendrickson

Ross Hendrickson

Co-Founder and CEO at Bloomerang
Ross Hendrickson is a co-founder and the CEO of Bloomerang. Prior to co-founding Bloomerang, he served as Product Manager for Bostech Corporation and later Avectra. Ross serves on the Horizon Council, the young professionals leadership council of the Indianapolis-based nonprofit Conner Prairie. He graduated with a B.S. in Economics & Engineering Science from Vanderbilt University.