29 Tips for Gaining and Retaining a Donor Base
Send your first renewal letter 30 to 45 days prior to the membership expiration date, a second letter during the renewal month and a third letter 30 to 45 days after the membership expires.
21. Lapsed members. Rich recommended mailing or calling lapsed members at least twice a year. Mailing lapsed members can result in a higher rate of return than for acquisition. After three years lapsed, move the name to a prospect list.
22. Dues levels. "When renewing, list the dues level for the member and levels that are higher," Rich said. "Do not list dues levels that are lower than the current one."
23. Telemarketing. This can be used for customer service (to get back to members if they have questions); thank-yous (trained volunteers can do this); to do a survey (should be professionally written and tested); to invite members to participate in an event; and for lapsed-member campaigns and renewals (if you want feedback on why someone isn't renewing).
Rich said organizations might want to have someone call new members three months after they join and then nine months after they join to check in on them.
For members who have been with you for two to three years or longer, Rich said to suggest that they upgrade their membership levels.
24. Suggest an upgrade in the P.S. of renewal letters to these donors.
25. Allow upgrades with matching gifts. Include a line on the response device about a matching gift. If someone gives a gift that is matched, Rich recommended giving that donor a membership at the matched-gift level.
26. Send an upgrade mailing to these donors once a year. Test using an incentive or premium.
27. Membership surveys. Organizations should do membership surveys every three years so they know who their members are, what they do, what they like, etc., Rich said. Some methods for doing surveys include:
- Mail — reaches all people, but whether they open it is unclear. Rich recommended putting "Survey" on the outer envelope to increase the open rate.
- Phone — engaging.
- Exit — if you have a facility or after events.
- Focus groups — these are great if you want to test things.
Membership surveys should seek to find out if members like the benefits you offer; what kinds of activities they're interested in you doing; what radio stations they listen to, TV shows they watch and magazines they read; and their demographics (age, gender, ZIP, income).