Most fundraising professionals devise campaigns with a standard, “blanket” approach — what's the best package to mail out to the majority of my donors? However, by complementing this approach with more targeted communications designed for specific donor groups, fundraisers can optimize their donor contacts and, ultimately, generate more revenue.
In the session “Optimizing Donor Contacts: The Right Offer to the Right Audience at the Right Time” at last week's DMA Nonprofit Federation 2010 Washington Nonprofit Conference, panelists and attendees explored creating audience-to-offer promotions triggered by donor behavior.
“We're stuck in a campaign-centric view. We need to become more donor-centric,” said Steve Caldwell, strategy director at Merkle, who suggested evolving your contact strategy from that blanket approach to a more sophisticated, targeted one: What packages do I have to send, and who should receive them?
“We need to segment [donors] to effectively cultivate relationships,” Caldwell continued.
Donors can be segmented by which stage of the donor cycle they currently are in — are they prospective, new, transition or core donors? Or, are they recently or deeply lapsed donors?
For example, through years of testing, the National Wildlife Federation revamped its approach to targeting “new joins” to its organization, which — as the organization's director of member retention, David Jorgensen, noted — is a critical group of donors.
Jorgensen stated that new donors are looking for reinforcement that the commitment they just made to the organization was a good decision. Look at what drew the donor to your organization and what prompted them to make that first gift Was it a particular issue that grabbed their attention? Was it the benefits of becoming a member of your organization? Then, reinforce them with more of what they liked.
And, do it quickly, Jorgensen advised. “The sooner you get that second gift, the longer and more valuable the long-term relationship will be,” he said, noting that for the NWF, the 24-month value of a donor who makes a second gift within 30 days of the first ($51) is significantly higher than of one who makes a second gift within 90 days ($41) and 360 days ($30).