So recently I asked my fantastic, dedicated, smart group of people who subscribe to my enewsletter, “What do you want to know more about?”

I got SO MANY good responses that I could not stand to just let these answers be lost to email. I wanted to share them with you.

A reader from a hospital asks:

“So right this particular moment – my “I wish I knew” area is how to keep the donors I have. But that goes hand in hand with understanding the best way to analyze data so I know what I’m looking at and for.

I’m realizing that the response rate on our donor appeals is not nearly high enough. Some donors will only respond 1x a year, but if I mail them 3x a year, that will affect my response rate. How often should I mail?

I’d really love to learn more about the numbers behind the data so I can do a proper analysis and then perhaps some potential courses of action will become more clear.”

Here’s my answer:

Excellent question!

Most appeals make between 1-3%, so if you’re getting around that amount, it’s normal. And kind of awful too, but that’s direct mail.

If you want numbers, I have numbers for you!
You can compare year on year. You can also compare time of year.

For your particular cause, there are certain times of year that make more sense to send an appeal in than others.

Have you ever seen the Atlas of Giving? I wrote a blog post about it. It uses science to predict which months people are most likely to give for different causes; here it is. Click here to view a sample from the Atlas of Giving.

Here are Blackbaud’s predictions as well: This is for online giving, but I still think it’s valuable. Skip to the graph at the bottom, you might find this particularly useful. Check out Blackbaud’s predictions.

There’s also everyone else’s donors, and then there’s YOURS, so we can make predictions, but the proof will be in the doing of it.

What I like to do is send donor communications at least 5-7x before asking for another gift. So if you’re afraid about asking too much, this will help alleviate that worry. Because if you’re making them the hero in the communications you send them, and then telling them about the wonderful things you’re doing, without asking for money, you’re building the relationship.

So your communications calendar could look like this:

  1. Fall Appeal: September 10, 2013
  2. Annual Report: October, 2 2013 (highlight successes and challenges of last year)
  3. Enewsletter: November 2, 2013 (highlight a volunteer)
  4. Enewsletter: November 10, 2013 (highlight your program for eyesight)
  5. Enewsletter: November 20, 2013 (highlight your healthy aging program)
  6. E-update: Sign this petition: November 28, 2013 (we need more resources allocated to emergency medical services, convince the governor, etc)
  7. Winter Appeal: Dec 1, 2013 (thank you for helping us create the successes of the past year, including conglomerate story of patient X, we couldn’t have done it without you, please help more people just like patient X this holiday season.)

(And if it’s possible, get the section of the clinic/hospital that they interacted with, the tailor the appeal to have a story from that program.)

Is this helpful?

Do you have any more tips for this reader? Do you do healthcare fundraising? How often do you communicate with your supporters? 

Want 43+ more tips on how to write successful appeal letters? Just go here!