Archive for January, 2015

Long Term Results

DATE: January 7th, 2015

So here’s the thing.

About 5 years ago I was working with a firm that mailed between 60,000 and 100,000 packages monthly to Canadians. When I first looked at their data, I was a little startled, as their average gift was hovering around the $10 – $15 mark. In my experience that is pretty low. But on the up side, they were churning thousands of dollars through the cycle because their offer was low and compelling and people wanted to help. The challenge? Donors were not growing. The results of every package were more closely resembled the data of an acquisition package, not a cultivation package.

A new study by the AFP US shows the startling metrics of focusing on package results rather than cultivating long term relationships with donors.

Make no mistake. Acquiring new donors is an extremely important element of your overall strategic plan — but increased revenue is a result of donor cultivation.

One of the first questions I ask all new clients is: “What is your second gift strategy?”

I have to say, I’m pretty surprised at the number of people who do not have a strategy. The have a Direct Mail strategy. And when a new donor comes along, they are inserted into that strategy. That means: their name is entered into the data base and included in the monthly pulls. After 18 months it will be dropped because they have not given a second gift.

But why haven’t they given a second gift?

Unravel that and you will completely change your revenue generation.

As competitive environments in the non-profit segment grow tougher, brand is going to get more important. I know that the traditional direct mail people don’t believe that. But that’s because they are PACKAGE results oriented and not donor development results oriented. The smart non-profit team looks at both, establishing metrics for long-term donors that are relevant.

The client above? They are struggling today. Increased mail costs, aging donors, changes in the trends have been real challenges. But the biggest challenge? Their donors gave to a compelling ask that came their way on a regular basis. They did not give because of a loyal, long-term relationship with the organization. It’s more complex than a 250 word blog, but authentic, relevant and timely engagement with donors builds a strong and loyal donor base.