Breaking Up With a Donor on Valentine’s Day

Well, maybe not necessarily on Valentine’s Day, but we have to talk about something a little uncomfortable for organizations involved in peer-2-peer fundraising: breaking up with inactive fundraisers. Earlier this week I spoke to Liberty in North Korea about their e-mail marketing practices and something they mentioned really surprised me.

For non-transacting fundraisers, we send a cheeky email every week (sometimes two) until we finally ask them to break up with us (cancel their fundraising page) on the sixth week if they aren’t going to fundraise.

Liberty in North Korea

Wow, I thought, that is cheeky. It always seems incredibly risky to ask a fundraiser to delete their page – whether they’re committed or not – since at the very least you have them on your website. The more I thought about it, however, the more interested I became in the concept of “breaking up” as a way to keep your nonprofit organization as lean and effective as possible.

Here are a couple reasons why I think this is actually a really good and interesting experiment with potential benefits for your organization:

1. Do it for you…

Don’t feel bad about spring cleaning. It’s important to know who is or isn’t engaged with your organization and finding out why. Asking inactive fundraisers to personally make the choice to delete their pages can actually garner some incredibly value information for your organization. Why aren’t people who have initially signed up to fundraise no longer actively engaged in your organization? Are they lacking the resources to be successful fundraisers? Are they encountering challenges to communicate your cause and work to others? How can you help them be more successful fundraisers for your organization? There are a million nuggets of data and feedback to be mined from inactive fundraisers because they’ll be key to proving information that eventually improves your peer-to-peer program. Building a successful, lasting fundraising community requires feedback, agility, improvement and more feedback.

If an inactive fundraiser selects a “Delete My Page” link in your e-mail, make sure the landing page is fixed with an exit survey to collect feedback. Like any brand, customer feedback is essential to improving a product and service. Also, use this feedback to determine how to communicate with this contact in the future. Do they never want to be in touch again or might they want to reconnect in the future? Unlike a bad ex, you probably don’t want forget about an inactive fundraiser forever. After all, at some point they were compelled enough to create a fundraising page with your organizations – life circumstances just sometimes overshadow the importance of this particular relationship.

2. Do it for them…

Asking an inactive fundraiser to take the initiative and delete his or her page is not only polite because it shows you value their personal agency, but it’s also smart reverse psychology. Your e-mail may give them pause to consider why they haven’t been fundraising recently and recatalyze them to take action. Of course, unlike most real life break ups you personally initiate, you’d really like your fundraisers to stay on as engaged supporters. In your “break up appeal,” communicate why it’s important they fundraise actively, invite them to participate in your fundraising community (and recognize the efforts of the community in working towards your cause), and provide them with a resource to make them a successful fundraiser.

No one likes break ups, we all love love, but it’s important to consider why a fundraiser might no longer be committed to your organization. At the end of the day, no matter what happens, you always learn something.

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Image Credit: Katie Masters

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