Don’t take your major donors out of the direct mail stream.  This is one of the worst things you can do for your organization.  Typically this happens for one of two reasons.  You’re in a board meeting or prospect management meeting and someone says, “major donors hate getting direct mail.  We shouldn’t solicit major donors by mail ever again.”  Seems logical enough, right?  After all, major donors are special, aren’t they?

The other scenario is that gift officers often will say they’re afraid that if a major donor gets a direct mail piece, she’ll give a small gift via mail then turn down a larger personal solicitation the gift officer plans to make in the future.

Both of these claims are based on personal biases and assumptions.  Not in fact or data analysis.

The reality is, your major donors (many of whom were likely acquired through direct mail in the first place) will give both through the mail and in response to a personal solicitation.  Major donors aren’t some hybrid alien-human beings.  There is no data to suggest that the mere existence of wealth creates a disdain for direct mail.  This is a myth, and a bad one.

If you take your major donors out of your mail stream, you risk losing millions of dollars in annual revenue.

As to the second concern, it is at least more believable.  However, there is no better reason to call on a major donor than to thank her for a recent gift.  So consider it a blessing if your major donor sends you $100 in the mail.  You’ve got the perfect reason to call and have a conversation with her again!  And there’s no pressure because you’re just calling to say thank you.

In my book, getting a direct mail gift from a major donor presents a huge opportunity to reinforce the donor’s commitment to your organization and strengthen the relationship.  And it gives you the chance to ask for a follow up meeting to discuss the donor’s ongoing support and how she can become even more involved in the great work you’re doing.