Washington Nonprofit Conference Roundup: Strategies to Recognize and Engage At-Risk Donors
At-risk donors … we all have them. With a new year and a new decade, it’s a good time to recognize and engage with important donors who need more attention to keep them giving.
How about those new donors we have worked so hard and spent so much to get in the door; those prelapsed donors coming up on their first-year anniversary without having renewed their support; those longer lapsed donors we have been mailing to for years without response; and/or on-the-move donors whose new home location changes their relationship to the organization?
Where do we start? For the speakers at the DMA Nonprofit Federation 2010 Washington Nonprofit Conference session, “At-Risk Donors: Ways to Recognize and Then Re-Engage Special 'At-Risk' Donors,” the strategic and creative process starts by stepping into the shoes of these donors to be sure we’re looking at the world from their point of view, not ours. This can be quite eye-opening.
Donors’ points of view versus ours:
- New donors: THEY are excited that they have just given their first gift, and WE are thinking how quickly we can get another gift.
- Prelapsed donors: THEY are not aware that a year has passed, and WE are hyperventilating that almost a year has passed.
- On-the-move donors: THEY are quite pleased to be living in a new house with the potential of new relationships, and WE take no notice and mail them the same way.
How do we tap into their view of the relationship to change our fundraising approach? Here are some examples:
For new donors, a good place to look first is the welcome package. This often is the first mail or e-mail that new donors receive from you after their initial gift. It should reinforce the excellent decision they made to give to you; it should make them feel important; and it should make them feel inspired by the power of your mission. For one client, we tested a new package with a newsletter filled with short articles to reinforce the power of their gift. This new package increased the number of gifts over the simpler control welcome kit.
For prelapsed donors, we decided to focus on the one-year anniversary. We don’t know why they gave a year ago, but we wanted to help them remember and somehow inspire them to give again. For one client, we tested a simple package that thanked the donors for their support of one year ago and asked for another gift. By reminding them that they gave one year ago, we were hoping to somehow help them recall the inspiration for their first gift. And it worked! This package increased response by 36 percent.
For on-the-move donors, do you have chapters, services or events that change the relationship when a supporter moves to a new state? If so, you might benefit from sending a quick note that welcomes them to their new home and introduces them to local events, services or offices.
In our conference presentation, we had time to cover many more audiences and examples. I hope these highlights help jump-start new ideas for you.
Robin Riggs is chief creative officer for L.W. Robbins.