We are reanalyzing how we communicate with workplace donors. Can I ask you to address the questions that have been posed to me below? Unless things have changed, my understanding is that if a donor gives only through workplace, then we can only thank her/him, make her/him a member, send her/him our magazine and regular mailings, but not resolicit him. If that donor gives additionally through a non-workplace venue, then we are free to communicate as we wish (taking into consideration that they are giving monthly through payroll deductions and should be treated very well).
1.) If a donor only ever gifts to us via workplace programs
a. what are we allowed to send them?
b. Invitation to membership?
c. Our quarterly magazine or newsletters?
d. Cultivation mailings? How are regular mailings that have both a program component and a fundraising component considered?
e. How frequently may we contact them?
2.) If a donor gives only via workplace programs and stops giving, may we solicit them? If so, how much time must elapse and how many times can we solicit them?
Hello, XXX -
The short answer is that you may do anything you want with the contact information, regardless of whether the donor gave to you via workplace only or workplace plus other. There is no prohibition on re-solicitation. There is no prohibition on re-contacting a lapsed workplace giver.
But what you MAY do and what you SHOULD do are, in our opinion, different. The "Best Practices" are:
1. Priority Number 1: Thank in the spring, when you get the names, as soon as you can. Do this periodically, every week or two. Don't wait until all the names are in -- that's a five or even six month process (courtesy of a bunch of United Way PCFOs who are in no hurry to forward your names and regulators who won't make them).
2. Priority Number 2: Thank these donors again with a reminder letter in late September, just as the new campaigns are kicking off. Sample letters are on your online portfolio in the donor names section.
Any contact in addition to priorities one and two is of secondary, lesser importance.
3. Keep in mind that the reason the great majority of donors do not release their names and contact information is because the don't want to be re-solicited or even contacted. Those who do release their names do so primarily because they want a confirmation that their gift has made it through the system, not because they want to enter into dialog.
4. Therefore, the approach that we recommend is to ASK the donors who release their names if they would like to receive ongoing reports on how their gifts are being used (the quarterly magazine, etc.). Note in your ask that they may receive communications from you that may also contain requests for additional contributions, but that those requests are not intended for workplace givers like them but rather for those supporters who do not have an opportunity to give at work. Workplace donors seem to appreciate your recognition that they are different (giving sequentially through payroll allotment). If given a heads up about additional solicitations, they won't react unfavorably. In fact, some will give an additional amount outside of work. But if they don't affirmatively opt in, don't reconnect with them until Fall. It is far easier to turn off a donor who has released his name than it is to capture him as a recurring giver.
5. The majority of your names, if you are typical, are now email addresses, so make sure the magazine has an e-version
So, to summarize:
When thanking: First, do not harm
And: Thanking is more important than converting (converting from a workplace giver to an outside-the-workplace giver or an in-addition-to-workplace giver).
Finally: In workplace fundraising, it is far more important to reach new givers than to retain old givers. That's why advertising is essential. Ands the best was to retain old givers is by not offending them with unwelcome additional solicitations.