An Offer They Can't Refuse
As fundraising and direct-response guru Roger Craver emphasized in a recent Agitator blog post, “The Rest of the Retention Story — Part 3,” “Donors are made, not born.”
So how can organizations affect prospective donors’ attitudes from the first direct-mail communiqué so they make the commitment to donate? Creating a commitment through an irresistible proposition is a good way to start.
Having recently reviewed the Target Analytics donorCentrics 2013 Index of National Fundraising Performance second-quarter results and the industrywide focus on the importance of relationship marketing (not transactions) affecting the donor experience (not the donor’s behavior), it struck me that we have the proven tools needed; we just need to change how we use them if we are going to improve the metrics for acquiring and retaining committed donors.
Results indicate overall donor numbers continue to steadily decline across all sectors. New-donor growth continues to be an uphill climb for most organizations. Lists, offer, creative, copy, post-recession slow growth … so, where to start?
The following are a few exceptional examples of how organizations have used proven formats like certificates, surveys and acknowledgments to enhance the donor experience and, in turn, drive up continued commitment. (Although these are examples of singular efforts, the point is not lost that it’s the cumulative communication with the constituent that creates the total donor experience … or lack thereof.)
Certificate of appreciation and survey format
Certificates of appreciation as special inserts are used frequently within a wide spectrum of fundraising initiatives — special appeals, renewals, requests to upgrade and even acquisition formats. The first example demonstrates how City of Hope used a high-touch certificate and survey format as part of a cultivation strategy — acknowledging committed donors who had supported the organization for 10-plus years. The signature blue, 9-inch by 12-inch envelope; matching embossed certificate with cardboard insert; and letter recognizing the donors’ loyal support, dedication, friendship and partnership are impressive.