Donors are not just cash cows, direct marketers told

Charity direct marketers are missing a trick if they ask supporters only for cash, according to a leading fundraising expert.

US-based author and consultant Mal Warwick this week told delegates at the International Fundraising Congress in Amsterdam that asking supporters for other gifts, such as time, goods, information, a campaigning voice and influence in response to DM appeals, is an equally valuable way to gain resources and can generate powerful long-term supporter relationships.

“Don’t get bogged down with the unilateral idea that a donor is just a source of money,” said Warwick at the event. “Many organisations may find that a volunteer who donates time is providing a more valuable contribution to the organisation. In fact, a volunteer may become a more valuable donor in the long term.

“When you ask a volunteer for a donation you are more likely to get a more valuable response.”

Fundraisers using direct marketing should consider asking supporters for goods, he said. “It is worth telling people about your wish list – maybe you need a new telephone system or paper for the photocopier,” he told the conference. “You might find that one of your donors operates an office supply store and this is as good as a cash donation.”

Direct marketers can also use mailings to carry out market research, ask for feedback on the state of public opinion on issues facing the charity, persuade supporters to become ambassadors for the charity or ask them to exert any influence they can, Warwick said.

“Everybody has a certain degree of influence,” he said. “Maybe they are linked to the chief executive of a powerful corporate company. It is worth bearing this in mind.”

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