Dealing with Renewal-Appeal Traffic Jams

Dealing with Renewal-Appeal Traffic Jams


by David Allen, Development for Conservation


I received a great comment from Alexia Sabor at Wisconsin Wetlands on the post a couple of weeks ago about how many renewal letters to send. I wrote that renewals and appeals should ideally be separated by four months. She makes the point that if you take that literally, very few of the renewals would actually get an appeal – most would get eliminated from both the spring and fall appeals.

She makes some good points, and I appreciate the feedback very much. The 4-month rule was stated perhaps more strongly in the post than I intended. Here are three ideas to help alleviate the appeal/renewal traffic jam.

1) Eliminate the renewal months of January and July as options by moving your January renewals into December or February (whichever makes the most sense) and your July renewals into June or August. Trust me, your members won’t mind. For this purpose, I use the 10th of the month as the dividing line. Gifts received before the 10th I include as prior month’s renewals; gifts received after the 10th I push into the following month. (Actually, if the traffic jam is an even more serious problem, you could similarly eliminate February and August, but that probably isn’t necessary.)

2) Mail the special appeals in the first week of April and October with a follow-up letter (if you do one) about three weeks later.

3) Don’t mail the appeal on top of your renewals, but base the elimination criteria on Most Recent Gift (looking back) and Month of Renewal (looking forward). So for the April appeal, you would eliminate MRGs from Jan, Feb, and Mar and Renewals from May and June. It is therefore possible for a February renewal who responded to their first notice (in December) to still get the Spring Appeal.

Under these circumstances, you will still miss some members who will not get either appeal, but the actual number missed will be fairly small.

As always, your comments and questions are welcomed on this Blog or on email at



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