Focus On: Upgrading Donors: Be Persistent, Not Pushy
5. The annual fund renewal. Again, another opportunity to upgrade.
6. Membership renewal. When you send the new membership card, ask for a gift that’s larger than the amount the donor sent last year.
7. A monthly giving program. This is the best upgrade of them all. Monthly donors are much less apt to lapse than annual donors, for the obvious reason that they are thinking of you every month of the year and you’re communicating with them at least as often.
Of course, only a very, very small percentage of donors will become monthly donors. But that percentage is rather fixed. Statistically, those donors are out there and if you don’t enroll them into a monthly program, some other organization will.
If a donor has been sending you gifts of $20 and you enroll him in a $10-a-month giving program, then you’re going to get a lot more net income from that donor — and probably the donor will become more committed to your charity, because he or she will cut back on gifts to another charity. (That’s the way it works, folks. This is not the United Way, so there will be a winner and there will be a loser. You were hired to make your organization the winner.)
Is it worth their while?
Give your donor a specific incentive for upgrading. For example, a local museum can offer an additional benefit, such as parking or use of the lounge or … just about anything works.
Whatever your membership hierarchy, be sure to tell each level what folks in the level above them receive and “sell” the additional privileges.
What statistical data do you use to determine the upgrade amount that you’re going to put in your letter and/or reply form?
This is an assignment where you need someone good at manipulating statistics — and that’s obviously not a guy like me. Some organizations base the upgrade amount on the highest previous gift in the donor’s history. This can cause interesting problems if, say, a donor sent you a special, once-in-a-lifetime $500 gift and you keep sending letters that say, “Please send $500, $750 or $1,000.” You need to flag gifts of unusual amounts compared to the donor’s average gifts.
- Craver, Mathews, Smith & Co.
- Arlington, Va.