5 Steps to Transform Your Direct Marketing Into Major and Planned Gifts
At the 2010 New York Nonprofit Conference held by the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation Aug. 24-25 in New York, Bruce Makous, a fundraising consultant at Barnes & Roche, and certified fundraising executive Michael Rosen, president of ML Innovations, provided five steps to turn your direct-marketing program into a major- and planned-gift program.
Here is a rundown of their presentation, ”The 5 Steps to Transforming Your Direct Marketing Program Into a Major & Planned Gift Machine.”
1. Create a powerful donor-appreciation structure
- Establish your recognition guidelines with benefits.
- Give mission-based benefits (not back-end premiums).
- Build awareness of the recognition guidelines and levels on your website, in letters and via published listings.
- Thank donors for their generous giving levels.
- Show them where they stand.
2. Incorporate upgrade strategies into direct marketing
- Base recognition on cumulative annual gifts to capture both gift amounts and gift frequency.
- Base ask amount on the next highest level of recognition with the added benefits.
- Include giving levels in thank-you letters and recognition listings.
3. Establish program-related cultivation
Makous and Rosen provided both free and low-cost ways to establish program-related cultivation.
- Recognize donors at existing events.
- Relate donor stories in newsletters and on your website.
- Reference donors in general program-related and organizational news stories in press releases, articles, on your website, etc.
- Develop donor involvement as program volunteers.
- Set up estate-planning seminars to find planned-giving prospects.
- Offer dedicated newsletters to donors.
4. Identify major- and planned-gift prospects by engagement first, then wealth
The wealthiest donors don’t necessarily make the best planned- and major-gift prospects — it depends just as much on their engagement with your organization. Some key metrics of engagement include:
- Giving history — years of giving, cumulative annual-giving level, lifetime cumulative giving, etc.
- Mission link/program interest
- Event participation
- Volunteer participation
Other factors that indicate the propensity for planned gifts include children vs. no children, age and gender. Studies show that donors with no children are more likely to provide bequests than those that have children and grandchildren. And the most common age for creating a bequest in a will is 40-50 years old, while 50-60 years old is the next most common. To add to that, studies have shown that a higher percentage of women left bequests for religious, health, human services and environmental organizations while a higher percentage of men left bequests for public-society benefit and education organizations. Art, international affairs and other nonprofits find little disparity between men and women.
5. Set up your relationship development and solicitation function
It’s all about matching dreams with the donor. The shared vision between your mission and donors’ dreams gives you common ground. When your organization uses a donor’s gifts to achieve her dreams, she becomes a prime candidate for major and planned gifts.