4 Mistakes to Avoid and 3 Ideas for Uncovering Major Donors in Your File
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At the DMA Nonprofit Federation's 2012 New York Nonprofit Conference last week, American Bible Society (ABS) and agency partner Stratmark shared how ABS was able to uncover major donors from its mass marketing files. Through testing, ABS was able to discover 90 of its own donors with major-giving potential.
At the end of their session, Kim Carter, direct mail manager at ABS, and Max Bunch, senior vice president of consulting and client service at Stratmark, shared some more insights on finding major donors already on your housefile. Here are four mistakes to avoid and three ideas to keep in mind when digging through your data to get those major gifts.
Mistakes to avoid
- Disturbing regular communication patterns beyond the high-touch campaign. It's never a good idea to suddenly ramp up your communications with donors without warning, and similarly, you do not want to lessen the load either and risk dropping off their radar. You need to continue your regular communications strategy. It was put in place for a reason. Don't try to rock the boat simply because you are looking for major-giving prospects.
- Trying to upgrade donors too quickly. All donors, even those who donate major gifts to other organizations, expect reasonable requests from the nonprofits they support. If they are $50 monthly givers and suddenly get asked for a $500 gift, it can turn them off. They can feel like their $50 isn't appreciated or that the organization is taking their giving for granted. You still need to cultivate donors in a stair-type process, moving them up the chain incrementally.
- Relying too heavily on matched donor data from outside sources. Matched names are often heavily marketed names, meaning they get hit with communications from all sides. If you rely on them too much, you may be disappointed with results. Also, just because a donor on your file is a match as a major giver to another organization does not automatically mean he or she will became a major donor to your organization.
- Spending too much money per package. You still need to keep costs in mind, even with upgrade and major-giving appeals. Go slow, and test.
Ideas you can use
- Don't forget that these donors are direct-response donors. That means you have to ask them for the gift you want. Make an appropriate, clear ask based on giving history and the research you glean from your data analysis for an upgrade.
- Major-gift potential does not necessarily mean a donor will respond to a softer, more cultivated ask. You still need to have a clear call to action. Don't make assumptions about the major-gift prospects you uncover. Use tests and hard data to determine what works and what doesn't.
- Use multichannel communications to influence donors — just don't abuse it. If you have e-mail addresses and phone numbers for these donors, by all means, send e-mail appeals and telemarketing calls. Donors don't provide that data without at least some expectation that your organization will use it. Just don't overdo it. No one likes feeling as though he or she is being spammed by nonstop e-mails, and telemarketing calls can grow tiresome if every time a donor sits down to eat dinner, the phone is ringing off the hook asking for another gift. Don't' be afraid to use e-mail and phone; just do it in moderation.