Friday, April 24, 2009

Getting the real lowdown on what makes your donors tick

I've covered this in the past, but was reminded this morning about efforts to genuinely engage when I read this post on the Agitator about online loyalty building.

The post rightly points out that when building relationships, it's simply best to ask donors which aspects of your work they want to hear most about.

I touched on this during my three past survey posting back in January.

Collection and using personal (demographic type) data is an interesting one. There isn't any real evidence to prove that it makes an ounce of difference in the short term. I.e. referencing that someone has in the past supported your work in Africa doesn't increase response to an appeal that talks about that area.

However transactional data does make a difference. Asking someone for a gift which is based on a previous giving level, repeated throughout copy, within a letter for example, does help increase the performance of the appeal.

The repetition increases the response rate. And if you base the ask amount on an amount they have previously given and increase it (say 1.5 times their highest appeal gift) this increases the average gift.

This makes perfect , logical sense.

I digress.

The use of the non-transactional, more warm and fuzzy personal information works long term. I have seen loads of examples of where clients have captured this type of data and then used it appropriately.

Over time, and by doing all the other things that they should be doing (feeding back, updating, asking appropriately, thanking), this has resulted in big increases in donors propensity to become a monthly giver, leave you a bequest an even over time begin to give you more through your appeals program.

Here are some examples of how you could use different types of personal data to get closer to your donors which makes them feel they are genuinely cared for.

- If you are a health/medical research organization, ask whether they have a personal affliction with your cause (I.e. knew and possibly lost someone to cancer).

- If you are an animal welfare organization, find out their pet names and replay this back to them from time to time.

- If you are a child sponsorship agency, nice and easy - you update them on the progress of their sponsored child.

- If you are an environmental group, find out the areas your donors love, the wildlife they adore or the projects that you are working on that they are motivated by.

- If you work in development, ask your donors which area or country are they most interested in, or the issue they feel is of most importance.

Bottom line is, there are ways to get closer to your donors. It's simply not good enough to use the fact that you are not a child sponsorship organization as an excuse for not engendering a level of commitment and closeness.


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