DM Diagnosis: What’s Not to Love?
Everyone hates premiums. Everyone thinks the only donor worth investing in is a high-value, "quality" donor who "gives because of our fine mission and who we are." And those everyones make a compelling argument. Even donor focus group participants say they don't want nonprofits to mail them premiums. But giving behavior tells us donors sure do like them.
These days I fill up a storage box with the fundraising mail I receive in about a month, depending on how many oversized and dimensional premium packages I get in addition to notepads, greeting cards, wall calendars and other up-front gifts made of paper.
Some are real standouts, like the Christmas stocking personalized with a giant "S," a personalized weekly planner that looks like a little black book and a beaded bracelet with a metal lobster clasp. From another organization, I received a CD of drum songs performed by children and, later, a handy lens cleaner tissue pack.
One of the biggest challenges with premium programs is the never-ending quest for the new-new thing to replace an offer that inevitably loses its luster over time. Think about it: How many personalized Christmas stockings can one donor possibly need or want? Also factor in how many other organizations catch on and start using your fabulous premium, too, and you've raised the bar even higher.
But never lose your sense of humor. As it turns out, a repeatedly mailed premium that does not expire like a calendar does, and one that is not personalized, might be fated to be sold on eBay. A talented young fundraiser I once worked with was addicted to eBay, and she frequently found our client's lapel pins, plush toys and whatnots up for auction, with one item even being hawked as "in the original packaging!"
The round-trip premium
So, besides cruising the local dollar store and scouring trinket and tchotchke catalogs, what can a fundraiser do for new premium ideas with potentially greater life spans? Consider the round-trip premium: a gift that's not for donors to keep.