Crediting the historical appeal the donor is responding to or crediting the appeal that is currently active?

Scenario – a donor sends a gift using a coupon from the 2010 Christmas Appeal. This same donor surely received the 2014 Tax Appeal in May 2014. Should your organisation credit the 2010 Christmas Appeal or the 2014 Tax Appeal?

What do you think?Donor Care

Organisations differ when faced with this question. Some staffs argue the donor meant to respond to the 2014 Tax Appeal and the donor is simply using an old response device. Others argue that the 2010 Christmas Appeal should receive the credit despite the donor having received the 2014 Tax Appeal.

I believe the appeal the donor is responding to should get the credit even if the appeal is no longer active in your CRM and even though the donor has responded to a historical appeal.


To assume the donor meant to respond to the 2014 Tax Appeal is trying to second guess the donor’s intent when, in fact, the donor intended to respond to the 2010 Christmas Appeal using the particular coupon and the donor, in fact, took that very action.

Second, you do not know the donor received the 2014 Tax Appeal. Perhaps the appeal is lost on its way to the donor or was never received by the donor at all. However, you do know the donor received the 2010 Christmas Appeal because this is the response device used to make the gift. Staff cannot get in the minds of the donor and cannot pretend to be the donor’s mind.

Why do staffs try to act on behalf of the donor? Why is this debate held at many organisations in the first place? Staff are usually concerned about results for the open or current appeal and do not care about results from appeals in the past. Given turnover in organisations, current staff may not have been employed by the organisation when the historical appeals were active. Nonetheless, it skews results to not credit the appeal the donor responded to no matter how old the response device may be.

Putting the donor’s intent first is always the best practice.