How a Birthday Call Can Make a Difference
If you’ve not yet read the book “Hooked on a Feeling” by Francesco Ambrogetti, I can highly recommend it. I started it, expecting all kinds of feelings to be described, and I was ready to read all about great storytelling, tugging at the heartstrings messaging, etc.
Instead, the book is filled with lots of great research on the impact on donors’ feelings and subsequent giving behavior through what some may think are little things.
One such little thing is the impact of the birthday call. One of my clients is a religious organization with an impressive number of monthly donors. It consistently asks its donors and monthly donors for their birth month and year.
Every monthly donor receives a birthday card if that birth date is known.
For those monthly donors with phone numbers on file, the organization also started doing a birthday call. It’s a simple message from a donor support staff or volunteer.
At a recent client visit, I had the pleasure to meet one of these volunteers focused on making the birthday calls. A lovely elderly woman who comes in a few times a week for that exact purpose. I can imagine how thrilled other donors would be to hear her special birthday message.
This organization didn’t test this, they just started doing it. There was no head-to-head test done, but it was simply the brainchild of the monthly donor manager.
So, when I read Francesco’s book, I was thrilled to see that he had actually assessed the impact of this birthday call at UNICEF Italy (on page 79).
The survival (read: retention rate) was 25% higher with a birthday call compared to no birthday call. Astounding, but perhaps not that surprising. Especially for older donors, this may very well be the only birthday message they get.
What impact do you think this simple act of kindness, a birthday call, has on the long-term value of a donor? Is this something you can try? How can you stand out from other nonprofits? How can you make the donor feel really loved and special?
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.