Someone once asked this question on the social news aggregation site, Reddit: What did you find out about your deceased friend or relative while going through their stuff?”
A heartfelt comment was left behind by the user VIPERsssss, regarding the passing of his wife: My wife left incredibly loving statements about me in her diary. I still haven’t been able to get through reading the whole thing, but I did flip to the back and found where she wrote, “I knew you’d look back here. Thank you for slumming it with me all these years.”
For the record, I’ve never “slummed” a day in my life.
The passing of a loved one is one of the hardest parts of life any of us has to go through. Your life won’t feel the same after they’re gone, like something’s missing. And when it comes to celebrating their life, those who were a part of it will often come together to mourn and to celebrate the deceased. Often times you’ll learn things about a loved one you didn’t know beforehand. It can be a very enlightening experience.
When tasked with going through the belongings of a loved one, it’s inevitable that people will come across information they didn’t know exist. And if you work for a nonprofit, you’ll have the opportunity to contribute to the legacies of your donors. If one of them passes, it’s important to know. The most obvious (and self-serving) reason is because it’s a waste of time and money if you’re trying to steward a relationship of someone who has left this world. The better, and more fulfilling, reason is that identifying a deceased donor provides you with an opportunity to contact the relatives of the deceased to let them know how that person contributed to your organization. These gestures can impact them for years to come, because they’ll learn how their loved one did what they could to make a difference in the world. Create a personal letter with details on the projects and services your nonprofit provided during the time your donor helped out, which would not have been possible without people like him/her.
Suppression services compare the names and addresses of individuals in your donor database against public records of deceased individuals. Deceased dates are provided, allowing you to identify deceased constituents and marking them as such in your database. Paying for these services to identify deceased donors is worth the investment. Consider this as well: connecting with the loved ones of your donors gives you the chance to steward a relationship with like-minded people of your previous donor, who may believe in the same causes as their loved one.
I’m not advocating engaging with relatives of the deceased in order to foster new donors. If you’re working with a nonprofit, chances are you’re doing it to make a difference in the world, and this is your chance to contribute to a legacy and to make families happier. If these people become more aware of your organization, then that’s just an indirect bonus of reaching out.
Websites like Melissa’s Suppression Services are out there to provide you ways to thin out your mailing lists so that only those your desire to contact are left. We are not affiliated with this website in any way, so I would recommend doing your research to find the website that will best suit your needs.
In order to take advantage of a suppression service, first you need a reliable database that lets you effectively manage your donors. We recently released our Donor Management software, so consider getting a software that will allow you to thoroughly and successfully manage your donors.