It's Not Too Early to Think About Year-End
1. Invest in building stronger donor relationships throughout the year — not so much telling your story but rather telling their stories (donors, volunteers, stories from the field) with an emphasis on listening, responsiveness and respecting donor preferences. If you ask and they tell you, aggregate the data to learn more about the differences between a donor who gives just once versus a donor who commits to monthly giving, upgrades to a higher level of giving or inquires about planned giving.
2. Consider more personal communication styles — hand-addressed fonts, ink-jet, auto pen, laser or real handwriting are a great start. At a recent Direct Marketing Association of Washington DM201 event, John Graves and Dennis Lonergan of Eidolon Communications presented “Creative Testing to Sharpen Message and Shred Costs,” in which the chart at
top right quickly summarized the comparative value of “handwritten” personalization techniques.
3. Thank donors promptly, and ask them to give again. Universally, results indicate that including a soft ask in a prompt and personalized thank-you/gift acknowledgment is a solid strategy for getting a second gift. The probability of getting the second gift decreases after three months. And the likelihood of getting a second gift is directly proportional to the amount of the initial gift — the greater the initial gift, the more likely the donor has made an emotional connection to the organization.
4. Consider a welcome package as a follow-up to the acknowledgment within a few months of the initial gift. It can be as simple as a letter with an evergreen brochure. Allow the focus to be engagement — the additional ways the donor can take action (e.g., an overview of the monthly giving program).
Another gem worth considering is the Avalon Consulting FYI Blog post on “Planning for Year-End Appeals,” by TJ Hillinger: