I have some theories. A key one is what I call “Stop Start Syndrome” and it happens like this. The fundraiser within the charity convinces the Board and CEO to invest in acquiring new donors. The appeal goes out and two months later the CEO or Board look at the results and conclude that it was very costly and that right now they can’t afford to continue doing it. The fundraiser knows the value of acquiring donors and the following year asks for another acquisition budget. The same thing happens, a handful of new donors are acquired and the fundraiser never succeeds in rolling out a larger scale acquisition programme.
The charities that succeed with donor acquisition on a scale that makes a significant difference to income and profit are the ones that are committed to ongoing programmes to acquire new donors. The difference between going boom or bust with donor acquisition is as simple as being committed to it each year, every year and for a lifetime. It is similar to the issue to that of dieting, you either diet spontaneously or once off, or you choose to adopt better eating habits for your lifetime.
Getting a second gift from a donor and keeping donors is a major challenge for all fundraisers.
Here are some simple tips and thoughts on how to keep donors.
Focus on donor retention as much as you concentrate on donor acquisition
We spend a lot of time looking for new donors, but we don’t spend as much time trying to win and retain them. I believe that one excellent way to retain donors and obtain a second gift is to take the time to phone supporters and thank them for their first gift.
Think about the donor outside of just one campaign.
This requires a commitment to relationships and to look at your response rate over time. Gauge success by the way your supporters behave over their entire time of supporting you, not just one campaign.
Identify and invest in your most passionate supporters.
Donors who are most passionate and those that are most likely to donate a bequest, are those donors that bother to call you and tell you about their change of address or circumstances. Someone who goes to this trouble in invaluable and you should build upon that relationship rather than just thanking them for updating their details.
In recent tax and winter appeals, some of our charity clients trialled the following:
1. Including a gift/premium versus no donor gift. The results were in favour of including a gift. The test proved an increase of 2% and more in all segments and this was of greater financial value than the cost of including the gift.
2. Including an information brochure. Our client, a health not-for-profit in New Zealand, including a health related DL insert. We split test this against the normal pack format. The result was overwhelming in favour of a 2% plus response rate with the additional insert. The insert also realised an increase in the value of the average donation.
3. So if including one gift helps to increase response rate, would two increase it further? Sadly it does. What has happened to altruism?
Direct mail is an excellent medium to test within. So if you have ever wondered about the influence of premiums and informational inserts, perhaps our recent tests will give you the encouragement to try it out.