Focus On: Upgrading Donors: Be Persistent, Not Pushy
3. New-donor welcome letter: After the new donor has made a gift and you send out that quick thank-you letter and the response item, then send out the welcome letter, the strongest appeal you have, suggesting higher dollar amounts.
These steps are quite basic, and a lot of organizations have a variety of other techniques they use to achieve the same upgrading results with a new donor.
Other organizations are quite polite and reluctant to take any risks with new donors. Usually at a convention, you’ll find their executives sipping Bloody Marys at the bar during the 9:30 a.m. opening ceremonies.
After you set up a new-donor upgrade program, you must address the upgrading techniques for multiple donors. Give them a reason, a structure, a relationship to upgrade. Don’t just cry, “We need more money.” Here are a few upgrading motivators:
1. A special giving club. Give it a specific name and give the donor an opportunity to “belong.” Call it what you will — the President’s Club, the Committee of 1,000. It doesn’t really matter, just so the name somehow fits into your program.
2. A special project. This could be a broad initiative, such as saving America’s old trees, or it could be something more narrow in scope, like saving the grizzly bear. But it has to be bold, grand and important.
3. An emergency. Did that last typhoon blow the roof off your medical clinic? A great upgrade possibility! (Oh, relax. This is not being manipulative with your donors. This is simply responding to what fate hands you.) Show your donors how much it’s going to cost to put a new roof on the clinic, and then suggest dollar amounts higher than their previous giving level.
4. The time-honored matching gift. You know what this means. Everyone does it — simply because it works. So if your donor has been sending gifts in the range of $15, suggest a $30 gift because when it’s matched it becomes $60! (If any reader of this publication has mailed a matching gift appeal that didn’t work, e-mail me with the data and I’ll make a sizable, less-than-seven-figures contribution to your organization.)
- Craver, Mathews, Smith & Co.
- Arlington, Va.