Adding Telefundraising to Your Mail and E-mail Mix
The costs associated with telefundraising tend to be higher on a per-unit basis than direct mail or e-mail, maintains Joe White, vice president of sales and marketing for the Share Group, a full-service nonprofit agency based in Somerville, Mass. But when it comes to acquiring and upgrading monthly sustainers, the telephone is far and away the most cost effective, he says.
White has added telefundraising to the marketing mix for myriad clients as a retention tool and has experienced varying degrees of success. “Increasingly, we have begun building phone-only files,” White says, “by calling direct mail donors who have not made a gift in two or more years. We call these people on behalf of our clients three times a year, and they receive no direct mail.”
The average response rate from phone-only donors is 42 percent, White explains, compared to a 30 percent to 35 percent response rate if Share calls current donors on a special-appeal campaign.
“These are people who had, at one point or another, responded to a direct mail appeal,” White says. “They were solicited repeatedly and, after two years, had not given a second gift. So what we ascertained as a result was that these individuals were motivated initially by a direct mail appeal but are probably not direct mail responsive. So we converted them to be phone responsive.”
Similarly, the Share Group has called people who have made contributions online or who have taken action online, i.e. sending an e-mail to an elected official on a public-policy issue. The latter individuals are considered “warm prospects” because they have demonstrated enough interest in a particular issue to go online and take a specific action.
“We call them on the phone, thank them for taking that action and solicit them to become a member or make a contribution,” White says. “We have been producing results that have at least covered our costs to acquire [a new donor]. At the very least, our costs are much less than they would be in direct mail.”