A Multi-Level Approach to Lists
With the goal of improving response on its own housefile list, Heritage has tried a number of strategies to bump up the effectiveness of its annual campaign. Says Walter: “We’ve always come back to two primary factors as being key: 1) the size of the initial gift needs to be beyond the $20 to $25 price break; and 2) new members need be brought into annual giving through a new-member program.”
That Welcome Program includes a thank-you note, a call thanking them and then a new-member package, which includes a survey and some in-depth information on the organization.
“The reason we’ve found this step is so important is it forms a bond with the new donors whereby they are more likely to become regular annual donors. It institutionalizes them,” Walter says. As he explains it, often that first new-donor gift is for a specific reason -- perhaps in response to a particular issue or emotional cause. It becomes necessary, he adds, to tell these new donors more about the Heritage Foundation and what it stands for, “So they can support it for the long term, and that’s what this Welcome Program does and why it’s a part of the first-time donor renewal.”
Both telemarketing and e-mail play some role in Heritage Foundation’s donor cultivation efforts. “Telemarketing works,” Walter says, noting the organization uses the phone primarily for renewals but also for donor cultivation such as thank-you calls. In fact, a telemarketing thank-you program led to a dramatic 30 percent increase in first-time donors becoming repeat donors.
E-mail also is growing in use at Heritage -- especially for existing donors and as a cultivation tool. This past year, Walter says, Heritage took in $400,000 in income off one of its Web sites. Even though Heritage Foundation’s average donor is 72 years old, and has been for 17 years, Walter believes further Web potential exists.