Would you treat one of your $100 donors differently if you knew he or she had given a $100,000 gift to another charity, and would you treat those donors differently if you knew there were 5,000 more just like them on your housefile?
Those were the questions that kicked off the session, "Uncovering Major Donors in Your Mass Marketing Donor Files," presented by Kim Carter, direct mail manager at American Bible Society (ABS), and Max Bunch, senior vice president of consulting and client service at Stratmark, Wednesday at the 2012 New York Nonprofit Conference. They continued: "Knowing this information, can you rapidly upgrade their giving to your cause? Can you actually turn a $100 mass-marketing donor into a potential major donor who gives $500, $50,000 or even $250,000?"
In the session, Carter and Bunch shared how American Bible Society tested to see if it could, in fact, uncover major donors on its housefile. Using its Bibles for China control acquisition package — ABS provides Bibles to 100 countries in more than 400 languages and is the largest supplier of Bibles in China — the largest annual cultivation piece for ABS, it decided to test upgrading and determining the potential for major-donor response.
The goals were to test the ability to significantly upgrade giving by donors who are currently major donors to other causes but not to ABS, as well as test the ability to significantly upgrade giving from donors on its file similar to those donors who had given major gifts to other causes but not ABS. ABS used a three-step process:
- Data enhancement and targeting
- Meaningful stretch offer development
- Innovative creative execution
Data enhancement and targeting
To understand its file even better and find potential major givers, ABS matched publicly available giving outside of its own charity to ABS donors. It found that only 10 percent of the ABS file yielded exact matches to outside giving data, so demographic, geographic, current giving data and purchased data were added to the enhancement and targeting. Then a cloning model to identify people who also have the likelihood to give significant gifts was created.
From this data and its typical segmentation, ABS created a test pool. Ultimately, more than 7,000 data enhanced modeled names were included, which were divided into four groups with two test cells in each:
- Rising donors — $1,000 to $9,999 cumulatively in one of the last three years
- Rising donor prospects — $500 to $999 cumulatively in one of the last three years
- Upper donors — one-time gift of $100 to $499 recently
- General donors — current donor but last gift less than $100
Stretch offer development
The typical Bibles for China control offer stated that every dollar given will provide the paper to print a Bible in China for someone who needs one. The ask array is based on the largest gift in recent times, starting with the last gift, then 1.5 times the last gift, two times the last gift and a write-in amount. For example, if the largest recent gift was $50, the ask string was $50, $75, $100 and a write-in amount.
To test the likelihood of major-donor potential while simultaneously attempting to upgrade donors, ABS also provided a stretch offer: A roll of paper used to print Bibles costs $600 and makes 600 Bibles. That offer included a stretch ask string of $100, $200, $300 and $600.
Since this was a significant test with major-giving potential, the package incorporated many elements:
- a 9-inch-by-12-inch carrier
- two-page personalized proposal
- personalized portfolio with die-cut panel
- contained an actual page from a Chinese Bible
- printed on the paper the donor was being asked to provide
- designed so the donor could frame or display it
Both the control and test recipients also received a pre-campaign voice broadcast if ABS had a phone number for the donor, an e-mail announcement for donors who had provided e-mail addresses, a follow-up personalized note card and a follow-up telemarketing call.
For all four segments in the test, the stretch offer provided better results than the control (see images to the right). All four groups given the stretch offer had a higher average gift, higher response rate and brought in more than twice the amount of revenue over the control group. It was a significant boost across the board.
Further, 90 donors gave gifts of $600, 45 gave $1,000, seven gave $1,200, five gave $1,500, five gave $3,000, four gave $5,000 and one gave $50,000. What ABS found was that years of sowing the seeds of donor cultivation yields significant fruit.
Clearly, the test won out and proved that there was major-giving potential already within the ABS file. However, ABS has continued to test this concept. It was unsuccessful last September with a new offer. The same process was duplicated at year end with similar results using a year-end appeal. And still testing and trying to enhance the giving potential of its donors, ABS rolled out the concept in April with continued success.
Without a doubt, there are major donors on the ABS housefile, and there are likely major donors on your file as well. It's just a matter of unearthing them.