Compliment Your Direct Response Results
A new year. A new decade. Out with the old. In with the new, right?
Or maybe, we take what’s old and make it new again. What if instead of viewing the telephone as an outdated direct response tool, we dust off the cobwebs, take a chance and use it to retain, renew and upgrade donors?
There is nothing more direct than connecting face-to-face, person-to-person. No better way to make real meaningful connections than speaking directly with donors and supporters. Not speaking at them, but WITH them.
The telephone is the best way to grow relationships with those who love your organization — just by talking with them. What motivates them? What inspires them? What turns them off? Listen to them, and give them what they need. If you are sincere and they trust you, you’ll get what you need.
Here’s how it usually goes: You send out your direct mail request. A gift comes in. You send a thank-you couched in a tax receipt. You ask again. Crickets. You ask again. Crickets.
This scenario is all too real. We know that the average nonprofit loses seven out of 10 donors after their first gift.
But what happens if you apply this scenario: You send out your direct mail request. A gift comes in. You send your thank-you communication to say “thank you.” You ask again. Crickets. Now you follow up the direct mail request with a call to the donor to say “thank you,” share a meaningful story and inspire them to renew their commitment to your mission.
You have not only increased the chances that this donor will renew their commitment to your organization; they may even increase their gift by as much as 20%.
It really is just that simple. And it really works. It works best for your average donors ($5 to $500) and your mid-level donors ($500 to $2,500). Yes, even your mid-level donors.
Let’s take a look at how simply using the telephone as a compliment to your existing direct response strategies can further inspire and grow mid-level donors.
Mid-level donors are often neglected supporters. But they often look at their gifts to your organization as significant and may even consider themselves “major donors.”
According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, if you can retain mid-level donors, they are likely to upgrade their giving an average of at least 20%.
And this old stand-by, the telephone, is the key to engaging mid-level donors in meaningful and effective conversations.
Our data from more than 20 years of donor conversations tells us that when we invite donors and supporters to participate in a meaningful conversation with us, the organization benefits and so does the donor.
So how can we use the telephone to effectively engage with mid-level donors?
- Call to say “thank you”. It is important that each and every donor receives a call thanking them for their generosity. Let them know that their gift was significant (because it is to them) and will make a difference.
- Ask questions. Invite them to be active participants in their donor journey. Ask for feedback. Ask why they give to the organization. Ask how they wish to be engaged with the organization. By asking these questions, you are making the donor feel that their significant investment in the organization is valued in a much larger way.
- Invite them to a special event, program, tour, etc. If the organization is hosting a special event or program, a personal phone call may be just the thing the donor needed to say “yes.” An invitation for a behind-the-scenes tour of the organization is an excellent way to make the donor feel special.
- Share impact. Tell stories. Your mid-level donors likely give because they want to make a bigger difference. So reach out to them and share stories about the impact that will resonate with them and inspire pride for the part they played in making it happen.
- Ask for a gift of support. Yes, it’s absolutely OK to ask for a gift of support over the telephone. We know that face-to-face asks have a higher response rate than just direct mail alone. So follow-up all direct mail asks with a phone call reminder.
Donors give to your organization because they want to make a difference. Help your mid-level donors make a difference. Dust off your phone . . . and just call. And yes, many donors still answer their phone! Just think of the information you can glean from these calls, relationships you will build and the money you’ll raise!
Janice Fonger, is SVP and general manager with J. Milito & Associates a direct response fundraising company. Janice has spent more than thirty years in the nonprofit sector. She has been on the front line, in the development office, in the board room and in the executive director’s chair. She knows organizational operations, board and committee oversight, marketing, finance, program delivery and fundraising in small nonprofits. She rose to the many challenges including creating new annual fundraising strategies, building an endowment during a recession, securing and maintaining needed public and private grant funding, as well as caring for and nurturing donor relationships. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards and is past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals West Michigan Chapter.