Fundamentals of Donor Retention
“This is a group we want to keep engaged and involved, and they seem responsive to mail,” Jones said. So the CARE team developed a mail program targeted at midlevel direct-mail donors called the President’s Circle.
The program objectives were to:
- Increase retention of donors giving at the $1,000-plus level.
- Increase the number of $1,000-plus donors.
- More aggressively reactivate lapsed midlevel donors.
- Provide a bridge between traditional direct response and high-level, one-to-one cultivation.
So CARE developed a two-pronged approach: a welcome package and an invitation package. The welcome package was mailed to 0- to 24-month donors who had given $1,000 or more. It acknowledged the donor as a member of the President’s Circle, introduced the benefits of membership and provided an opportunity to make a gift. The invitation package was mailed to 0- to 24-month donors who had given $500-$999 and 25- to 36-month donors who had given a single gift of $1,000-$4,999. It invited the donor to become a member of the President’s Circle — must make a single gift of $1,000-plus to join — and introduced the benefits of membership.
The launch package was versioned for each audience. One was a welcome theme, the other an invitation theme. In both instances, it was an oversized 9-inch-by-12-inch, high-end, personalized appeal that included: a letter from the president of CARE, a certificate of appreciation — which donors love, Jones said — the CARE logo and the President’s Circle logo. A follow-up was sent later, another high-end, cost-effective, automated direct mailer.
The language highlighted the benefits:
- Access to Dr. Helene Gayle, CARE’s president and CEO, and other key leaders.
- Exclusive “insider”/mission-centered information.
- Convey status as true investors in CARE’s mission.
- Deeper look at different CARE programs.
- Create a closer, more personalized connection with CARE.
“We were going for a more personal feel, not necessarily gifts,” Jones said. “We wanted to make them fee like and let them know they’re making a difference as an important part of CARE.”