Here's an interesting view of the way someone in the commercial direct-marketing world views fundraising: CRM: Customer Relationship Marketing, We can learn from Non-Profits.
They think we're hot stuff! They say we're doing CRM! They recommend learning a thing or two from us by getting onto a few fundraising mailing lists:
It'll be a very inexpensive lesson in CRM, not to mention brilliant direct mail creative. It'll look weird at first what with fonts and layouts making everything easy to read and the copy in a perfect one-to-one personal mode.
You'll get special updates on all the good your money is doing. You'll see the kids you're helping. You'll be asked for more money but you will also feel like a valued and important member of a wonderful group. It will never occur to you that you're being CRMed.
It's easy to think CRM is some kind of quasi-magical mystery that takes a cube-farm of 200 or so statisticians to make happen. But really, it's just treating people according to what they've done. Thanking donors. Telling them what their giving did. Asking them in the context of their past giving. Asking amounts that are around the amounts they've given before.
That's what almost all smart nonprofits are doing.
And the rest of them? It's time to get on board. None of these things are difficult to do.
The magic, 200-statistician stuff? It can work. It might add a few percentage points to your results. Maybe enough to support the cost of doing it.
But the real money comes from doing real-world CRM -- treating donors like people and their giving like a relationship.