Section: Telephone and Direct Mail Fundraising
Do you ask people to make single (one-off) gifts, or regular gifts? What's better?
Some people like to give single gifts, others regular. Some can be solicited for a stream of single gifts, turning them into regular givers even though they have never made the intellectual decision to do so.
We get about half our value from regular committed givers (as opposed to those we persuade to give streams of single gifts), and this group make up about one quarter of all our donors. So the regular donors are our "stars" who we love and cherish as much as possible. The fact that you get a regular donor is not an excuse not to be in touch, so we thank when they give, we send them a donor newsletter, we thank them after 2 years giving, and then ask them to renew at a higher level after 3 years.
As far as soliciting people who have never been asked before is concerned, I think it depends on how you are asking. If you're on the phone then you can have a conversation about how they might give. If it's by direct mail you might want to jump in with a regular ask, and then follow up the non donors with a single gift ask. But some would argue that asking someone to make a committed gift as their first gift is raising the bar too high. Instead they would do a single gift ask first, identifying new donors in this way, and then using mail or the phone to ask them to upgrade. I think it would all depend on how engaged your alumni are with your mission, and how well they understand why you are asking.