Don’t Forget to Reach Out to Tribute Donors’ Families

Dear Kim,

Would it be tacky to add to our mailing list names of people from whom we have received tribute donations — in particular, the families of people for whom we receive “in memoriam” donations? In my eagerness to enlarge our donor base, I’m wondering if I’m wandering into the realm of bad taste? What do you think?
—All alone with my memory gifts

Dear Alone,

It is not only NOT in bad taste—it is actually what people do, and might seem odd or even ungrateful to the donor to not add them to the mailing list. Remember, though, that the people giving in memory or in tribute to an organization are giving to an organization that their friend or relative cares about. Some of these people become regular donors because they care about the same things as the person they are honoring, and they are glad to find out about your organization. The majority are seeing this as a one-time donation. Many of us have experienced giving a gift in honor of a friend, only to stay on the mailing list of an organization for years and wind up costing the organization way more money than we ever gave. Be sure to segment those donors and pay attention to whether they renew their gift or not and take them off your mailing list if they do not renew.