5 Ways to Get the Most From Your Multichannel Fundraising Renewal Efforts
[Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from "The Art & Science of Multichannel Fundraising," the 131-page report from DirectMarketingIQ. It includes nine chapters, from leading fundraisers, on channel selection, messaging, direct mail, e-mail, mobile, social media, multichannel renewal, multichannel testing and more. It also features eight multichannel case studies on successful campaigns.]
A fundamental or “bedrock” element of all annual giving programs — regardless of type of organization — is the annual renewal effort. In most organizations, the renewal effort accounts for as much as 80 percent of all net income. No wonder. The concept of renewal is so powerful because it focuses on the donor’s sense of responsibility and accountability. Implicit is the tacit understanding in the donor’s psyche that “I made a commitment to support this organization last year, and now it’s time to renew that commitment.”
No matter what other programs you currently have in place, if you don’t have a renewal channel — and especially a multichannel program — you’re missing the boat big time.
Tips on getting the most from multichannel renewal efforts
Let me hasten to point out there is no right or wrong way to integrate the various channels into a productive whole. However, there are some best practices that have worked for me and lots of others. In the end, it’s up to you to test, test, test and determine what mix works best for your organization’s efforts.
Tip #1: Use same message regardless of medium
The classic renewal notice often appears in the form of an invoice or billing statement. Historically, of course, that’s something that once arrived in postal mail (and mostly still does), but guess what? It works as well when delivered by e-mail.
Consider adding a booster shot to your postal mail renewal notices by creating an e-mail follow-up to add some gravitas and urgency. For example, “I’ve been looking through our list of contributors and notice that you haven’t yet renewed.” Then continue your message by restating the key points in the postal mail, and include a link to an online renewal form.
Tip #2: Make sure to feature a renewal button online and a renewal URL in your postal mail notices
These days folks pay their bills a variety of ways. Sometimes online, sometimes through the mail and often both. So, cover your collection bases and make it easy for folks to renew whether they browse through your website, read a paper renewal letter or are reminded with an e-mail follow-up. Make it as easy as possible to pay!
Put that “Renew Now” button on the homepage along with a message that “even if you’re not a member or donor, you can join now!”
Tip #3: Don’t overlook mobile
I believe it won’t be long before the smart mobile phone is the all-purpose transaction wallet in most donors’ pockets or pursues. Until that day arrives, use the power of a text message to remind the folks whose mobile numbers you have that you’ve just sent them their annual renewal notices, thank them for past support and indicate you’re counting on their continued help. Some of the pros I interviewed for this chapter indicated that this technique boosts renewal response rates by as much as 25 percent.
Tip #4: Include renewal concept and renew button in online alerts and urgent campaign
There’s no more certain way to trigger the vital sense in a donor’s mind that my organization gets results and is active than to connect an urgent or highly topical Web article or action with a request for renewal. The connection between an urgent need and what’s required to transform that need into success — support — is easily made with a “Renew Now” button.
Tip #5: Experiment with the mix and timing of channels
Some organizations have seen increases in renewal response rates by sending e-mails or SMS to donors the day the postal renewal notices are mailed urging them to look for the notices in the mail and respond quickly. Others have found greater response in using e-mail as a follow-up to the postal notice. And still others find that a before and after e-mail is just the ticket for boosting postal mail.
In virtually all cases, the use of the telephone — before or after — has worked wonders both in terms of response rates and average gifts. In fact, any renewal program that fails to include the telephone channel on key segments of its donor base is leaving very substantial money on the table and is doing less than it should to insure the retention of the very best donors. It doesn’t really matter whether you and/or you board don’t like telemarketing. The irrefutable fact is that it works!
To read the rest of this chapter and view the full report, click here.
Veteran fundraising expert Roger Craver is editor-in-chief of The Agitator and founder and CEO of DonorTrends.