Cover Story: Opening Their Eyes
At that point, BSA does not enter the sender into its database. However, Grossman says the nonprofit will contact the recipient, who it usually already has a relationship with, and ask if the person who sent the card is someone who might donate or become involved. If the answer is yes, BSA adds that person to its database and its mailings. The contact isn't aggressive—Grossman says BSA will only mail these people about once a year over a two year period—but it's a way to grow the donor network. "Here we have a connection already," explains Grossman, "and we can find out more information from the people who have referred these donors to us."
The Opportunity Cost
BSA doesn't hesitate to ask its donors about other people who might want to donate, or to ask if people they've recommended should be removed from the list if they haven't responded—although Grossman says that often results in the active member prodding the newer contact to answer the call-to-action. If there are questions about whether or not BSA's donors appreciate the extra networking attention, Grossman debunks them herself: She is active in other charities, and knows from her own experience that donors are willing to suggest people the charity should contact.
That hands-on, personal approach extends to managing BSA's database, as well. BSA hand-enters and dedupes all of its names. It only collects basic contact information—name, address and email address when the contact is willing to supply it, which is seldom—but it takes investigative steps to ensure the quality of that data. For example, when a donation check comes in, BSA will capture both the address on the envelope and the address on the check when they differ, so there is a back-up address to mail if the first becomes unresponsive.