What happens when you don’t invest in donor acquisition?
Well, your organization will face a declining donor base with the need to raise more money from fewer donors. With about 10% of donor bases naturally declining each year, the focus either becomes on raising more money through a small number of donors or deciding to invest in donor acquisition. While we may worry about donor fatigue, a good indicator of a healthy development program is the number of gifts made per year. We do know that a loyal donor base has the potential to give more than once if given the right opportunity.
Below are some strategies that you can take to raise more money from your core supporters by presenting strategic opportunities for second gifts through a comprehensive channeled approach. These approaches will seek to encourage repeat and best-ever gifts across multiple channels.
1) Analyze the past five years of your major appeals to determine which stories and themes resonated with your donor base. Determine what have been the most compelling stories and “cases” to which donors have responded. For example, let’s say you are a Humane Shelter. You may want to focus on the need for contributed income to make adoptions possible and why.
2) Once you have identified the key themes, “cases,” and stories that resonate with your donors, it it time to work with program staff to find other similar stories that will follow the same resonating patterns and calls to action.
3) Identify your core, loyal donors.
4) Consider using a multi-prong, channeled effort to reach your most loyal donors. A good multi-channel approach is to consider direct mail, email, and telephone calls…and possibly even more.
5) Time out each channel. Here is a proposed timeline to consider:
Pre-campaign – Send a warm lead postcard that does not include an ask, response form, or reply envelope. This postcard can be tested out to a select group of donors. It should focus on thanking them for their loyal and past support. While not technically an offer for a second gift, this postcard has been shown to lift the number of repeat donors.
Phase #1 – Send a direct mail appeal and email, in tandem, that is highly personalized and segmented. Work to determine some select high-level donors and personalize handwritten notes on their mail piece.
Two weeks after the first email send out, send out a reminder email designed as if it has been personally forwarded by the Executive Director or CEO.
Phase #2 – Feature a second phase with a twist on the initial story. Again using the example of the Humane Shelter, perhaps the focus during the initial approach was on the importance of pet adoption. During this Phase, you want to consider highlighting a successful adoption story and to urge donors to help the others waiting. Consider sending out an additional email with this new “twist” on the case.
Phase #3 – To encourage second gifts, a matching gift either by an individual donor or a corporation can be used. Create some urgency by limiting the match time, say the final two weeks of the campaign.
Identify the top 500 or so donors to receive a special direct mail appeal and the top 10,000 or so digital supporters to receive an email with an offer of making an additional matched gift to the campaign.
You may also want to consider some targeted social media (Facebook) to your existing followers and supporters reinforcing the match and driving them to make an additional matching gift to the campaign.
Identify key lapsing high-level donors who have not yet contributed by campaign end date and reach out to them with personalized telephone calls.
Throughout the campaign and all of its phases consider promoting monthly recurring and bequest giving.
Post-campaign – Consider a telephone component either with staff or volunteers or a combination of both to conduct thank you calls to donors for donations up to $499. Consider more personalized thank you touches for donors who have made gifts above $500. Perhaps a personal call from the Executive Director or CEO.
Send a thank-you email at the end of the campaign.
While most of my clients worry about the number of times that they can ask their donors to contribute in one given year, strong results have demonstrated that loyal donors will choose to give again with the right “case”, call to action and opportunities for engagement. By providing a multi-channel approach, you are increasing these opportunities for engagement. Just by following the above strategies, I can attest to the fact that your loyal donors will greatly increase their second gift to your organization.
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