29 Tips for Gaining and Retaining a Donor Base
16. Gift memberships for acquisition. Rich advised picking times for offering gift memberships that make sense for your organization. Some common times for these offers are holidays, Mother's Day/Father's Day, Valentine's Day and graduation.
The most important element to direct-mail success is your list (accounts for 60 percent of your success), i.e., sending it to the right person, Rich said. Also important is the offer (30 percent) and the creative execution (10 percent). Test it, track it and analyze it.
17. List. Will you exchange or purchase a list? Know where the names you're mailing came from, and remember to dedupe and test so you know which lists work and which don't.
18. Offer. What are the benefits you're giving to the person who joins? Rich said to test incentives and premiums to see which ones work better than others. Offer different benefits and incentives for different membership levels. Rich suggested making a grid that shows that at a membership at one level gets x and a membership at another level gets x and y. Don't forget to talk about the wonderful work the organization is doing.
19. Creative execution. The four components of direct mail are a carrier envelope, reply envelope, letter and reply device. For each element, test the format, themes and copy, and postage.
This is the most important part of the membership/donor process, Rich said. Member acquisition costs money, but renewals are where the money's at. Rich said that if an organization can increase the level of retention by 10 percent it will increase the revenue it generates by 50 percent, as the effect compounds over time.
"Small increases lead to substantially more members in the future," she noted, suggesting renewing members via the same channels through which they joined.
20. Renewal schedule. Stick to your renewal schedule, Rich said. She recommended renewing based on each person's anniversary as a member, so if someone joins in March 2009 they are renewed in March of 2010, rather than renewing every member at the same time.