Fundamentals of Donor Retention
“It wasn’t an all-or-nothing approach,” he said. “We tested each one every other month.”
Response form the most valuable supporters — the five-year plus group — responded much more favorably to the new, shorter series. This was counterintuitive to what Integral and its client thought — they expected the new series to resonate more with newer donors. As it turned out, new members continued to be more receptive to the traditional approach.
“Since both are viable, we still use both,” Emlet said. “New members get the traditional series, and five-year plus donors get the new one.”
Second-gift conversion series
“One of the most important things is how quickly you can get donors to give that second gift,” Jones said. “The quicker they give that second gift, the more valuable they’ll be.”
With that in mind, CARE implemented a second-gift conversion series in its donor-retention program. The objective was to solicit and receive an additional gift from a new donor as quickly as possible. The series went as follows:
- New donors receive a “special” series after they join.
- The series lasts approximately 6-8 weeks.
- The series includes an ask into the monthly donor program, Partners for Change.
- Non-monthly donors begin receiving the existing tried-and-true mailstream.
- Results yielded a lift in new donor conversion of 16 percent.
When new donors join, CARE sends an acknowledgment and welcome mailing that includes a thank-you on the outer envelope, acknowledgment letter, receipt and an immediate ask for another gift. The ask is done in a friendly way, saying if you’d like to make a second gift, that would be wonderful. “It’s a good first point to ask for the next gift,” Jones said.
A buckslip appeal is also included that informs recipients about the organization beyond feeding children. CARE created a special version of its World Report newsletter that tells new donors about other projects CARE is involved in and what they do.