Knock knock! Who’s there? Opportunity!

Published by Reinier Spruit on

When I moved houses last year I used the postal company to forward my mail to my new address. This service also allowed me to let my utility suppliers, insurance companies and charities know that I have moved, the postal company’s online platform let me  tick the boxes of those charities that I am supporting . But there was also an option for me to request information from charities that I am not currently supporting, but am interested in.

As a fundraiser I like to test, so I ticked my boxes, and a couple more, and a few more, and some more. I ticked 33 boxes, from both charities I support and other charities I’m interested in. Now we wait and see what happens…

knockingA few days go by, a week goes by, 2 weeks go by, 4 weeks go by – I hear nothing. Sure, I know how it works. The charity needs to get the data from the postal company first and  the charity decides  how often they want to get this data exported as both data export and data import costs money. It makes sense for charities not to import small files, but wait for the file to grow and save both time and money.  You see what’s happening? We’re talking imports and exports of data. While in fact we’re talking about your most committed donors who wanted to let us  know that they’ve moved. They want to stay in touch. They reached out to us… and what do we do?

There is of course the other group – the group of potential donors who are interested and want to find out more. In times where acquisition is both expensive and difficult, how is it possible that we let Mr. and Mrs. Opportunity knock on our door and we don’t answer? Even when the numbers are not big, it should be possible to organize a tiny process to accommodate these friendly people who want to get in contact.

I bet you 100 euros that donors who are willing to take the trouble of letting you know they have moved are more loyal donors, therefore have a higher Lifetime Value… I bet you another 100 euros that people who reach out to you for a information are more likely to convert into a financial supporter than your average acquisition sign-up rate. So it might be worthwhile investing in these people…

Of the 8 charities that I donate to, only 4 got back  in touch. So half of of the organisations that I currently support never got in touch at all. 4 of the charities that I expressed an interest in started sending me information as if I were a lapsed donor and tried to include me in their standard communication.

And then there was one charity…  they thanked me for becoming a new financial supporter and then sent me an “invoice” to pay my contribution. When I didn’t answer they started sending me reminders in a tone that made me think I was getting mail from the bailiff… Awful!

Knock knock!

Who’s there?


Opportunity who?

Opportunity knocking on your door and if you don’t open fast and give me a cup of tea and be nice to me, I will never ever give you a donation again!

Reinier Spruit

Reinier Spruit

Reinier is in love with fundraising since 2001. Ever since he's trying to improve his own fundraising skills and those of others. He's one of the original founders of 101fundraising. At the moment working with amazing clients through his one-man fundraising consultancy. Loves running and baseball.


Jaap Zeekant - Vakblad Fondsenwerving · January 24, 2013 at 16:30

Years ago we published tests (twice) on charities responding to info requests (both phone and by postal mail) from ‘potential donors’, with the same disappointing outcome as above. Sadly nothing seems to change. Shame on them. Their on going concern is donor respons rates to their requests for money. The real concern should be their own response rate.

    Reinier Spruit · January 24, 2013 at 21:01

    I really like how you put it:

    “Their on going concern is donor respons rates to their requests for money. The real concern should be their own response rate.”

    Mystery shopping should be done much more.

    Thanks for your comment Jaap!

Pieter · January 25, 2013 at 07:42

Mooie blog Reinier. Heel herkenbaar wat er gebeurd.
Chiao Pieter

    Reinier Spruit

    Reinier Spruit · January 27, 2013 at 15:54

    Thanks Pieter!

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