One of this year's fundraiser emails - the "I’ll keep it short" email - was sent to people who donated in the past and made specific reference to the amount that they previously donated.
However - in at least two cases that I can prove the amount named in the email is inappropriate. They're factually correct, but inappropriate. They indicate that the usage of the donor database to create mass-emails is not being done with sufficient care to thinking about the different kind of people who will receive it. I only know these two examples, but both are probably circumstances that have many thousand equivalent situations.
Example 1: "A year ago, you gave 0.00 € to keep Wikipedia online and ad-free."
This person has donated in the past, several years ago, but did not donate last year.
This text comes across as either passive-aggressive, or just plain silly. At the very least it certainly does not encourage the recipient to donate again. Presumably there are MANY people in the donor database in a similar circumstance - I wonder how many thousands of emails were sent thanking people for their donation of zero? People who have donated in the past, but stopped, are a particular sub-set of the donor database that needs to be written to with particular care (or perhaps not at all!) They should not be included in the same generic email that is sent to all current donors.
Example two: "Two years ago, you gave $5 to keep Wikipedia online for hundreds of millions of readers."
This person donated $5 two years ago, but donated more last year.
It is possible that the donor is associated with different email addresses/creditcard numbers in your database, but in that case, they should have received two emails with the same subject line - they only received this. As a result, it makes the donor feel that their larger donation in the last fundraiser was lost, or that you're trying to guilt them by reminding them of their previous less-generous donation.
In both of these cases the problem arrises from making incorrect assumptions about people's donation history over [at least] two years. Perhaps a matrix of different donor circumstances could be created, and different email texts crafted to suit each. Options could include:
- people who donated in the past, but not last year (could be many reasons for this, can't prejudge why).
- a subset of that is people who donated over several years (or had a recurring donation set up), but stopped.
- people whose donation amount grew from year to year
- the reverse, people who donated more in previous years, but less in more recent years.
Finally, if it's possible to identify all the people who received the 'zero' email, it might be worth sending an apology email. At the very least we should never be sending emails that say, in effect, "thanks for nothing".
[I should add that both recipients of these emails gave me permission to anonymise them and post them in a bug report]