Pressure’s on.

Your year-end campaign could make or break not only how your organization survives 2022 but how you thrive in 2023.

The pressure isn’t just to get the right ask out there. Your boss and/or Board members are demanding you get it out there TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE.

The reasoning: The more people we reach out to, the more people will donate.

It’s a numbers game. And it’s dumb, because it doesn’t work. In fact, it can backfire.

Please tell your boss: Size doesn’t matter.

Unhealthy Data

I love Toronto. I lived there in the mid to late 80s. Attended junior high and high school there.

It’s a wonderful city. Easy to navigate. Friendly people. Plenty to do and see.

When I visit North America in the summers, TO is always on my travel itinerary to see family and friends. And to tour one of my favorite cities.

But here’s the thing: I last lived in Toronto in 1989. When I was seventeen.

And before I show you something, lemme state for the record: I am NOT a Canadian citizen.

Now have a look at this letter that arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. It was addressed to my last known Ontario residence.

A letter from Ontario Health reminding Ephraim Gopin to get a prostate check

First of all, I’m glad that Ontario Health is sending this letter to anyone who reaches the age of 50.

Side note to my bros: If you’re age 45, time to get that prostate checked! It’s not a joking matter.

But here’s the thing about the above letter: How bad and out of date are the Ontario provincial mailing lists that someone who hasn’t lived there permanently in 33 years is still being sent mail?!

A little data hygiene would be nice!

Size Doesn’t Matter

Hi nonprofit!

You’re busy preparing your year-end fundraising ask. You’ll be utilizing- I hope!- a multi-channel marketing approach to boost your fundraising: direct mail, social media, email and more.

I work with organizations on their fundraising campaigns (and marketing them) and know how much it costs to send mail. I also know that many email service providers (e.g. Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Active Campaign etc.) charge once you start emailing a certain number of subscribers.

Which leads me to ask:

How many letters are being mailed to people who haven’t given in years but you keep mailing them in the hopes that they’ll donate again?

And if you’re doing that, are you sending them the same campaign packet everyone else receives or are you at least trying something different for your lapsed donors?

If you’re sending your ask to as large a list as possible so an internal box can be checked- we’re mailing more people this year than last year!- stop it. You’re literally wasting a LOT of money!

The obsession in our sector with size and large lists hurts us. We complain all the time about financial problems and live with a poverty mindset.

But when it comes to mailings, CEO’s and the Board demand we mail as many people as possible. Because hey, ya never know!

No, we know. It doesn’t work.

You’ll end up with a low rate of return and a low ROI. And everyone will blame the campaign as not being effective. Sigh.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Clean Your Email Lists!

Right now, how many people are on your email subscriber list who haven’t interacted with your emails in the last three months? Six months? Year?

Lemme let you in on a little secret: Emailing people who never open or engage with your emails HURTS your overall email fundraising and marketing.

How’s that?

Let’s say you have 1,000 subscribers with a Gmail address. Google is constantly checking to see how many of those people open your emails. If very few of them are doing so, Google begins to ask why.

Maybe most people think your emails are spam? At some point Google may make that assumption and suddenly all 1,000 emails sent to Gmail addresses end up going directly to the Spam folder or worse yet, aren’t delivered.

Spray and pray hurts your overall email deliverability.

Which is why data hygiene is critical. I recommend a monthly clean: Go through your subscriber list and archive those who have not engaged with your emails in the last 3-6 months.

You’re not doing yourself any favors by keeping them on the list.

Yes, your list will have less names on it. And someone in the C-suite might not appreciate that.


Your CTR will go up. The people you want to reach will engage. Your overall deliverability will go up.

A win-win-win for your organization.

Just Stop It

Someone wants big numbers of letters and emails sent? Explain why that hurts the organization, not helps.

Stop with the quantity obsession. Focus on quality.

Basically, get checked for colon cancer. And clean up your lists.

Do you have 5 minutes a week? Because that’s all you need to upgrade your nonprofit’s email fundraising and marketing efforts! Subscribe FOR FREE to The Weekly SEND and learn how to create emails that engage your subscribers and mobilizes them to take action.