Finding and keeping long-term donors is akin to building an investment portfolio. Quick buys grow it, but you’re never sure when one will appear. You have to stay alert and move fast to get any benefit from them.
Long-term investments provide a stark contrast. They increase your portfolio steadily, month-after-month and year-over-year. These are your sustained givers, the people who stick with and consistently support your organization.
Finding the second type of supporters isn’t always easy. No supporter ever holds up a placard saying “quick buy” or “long-term investor.” Neither is it a herculean undertaking. With data and technologies like our giving platform, you have the tools and information needed to identify donors.
To make the task simpler, separate your standard giving initiatives into two models.
- Immediate Impact. When a donor gives, someone receives an immediate benefit. It could be school supplies for kids or food for the local women’s shelter.
- Sustainability. When a donor gives, their money goes to a variety of organizational efforts. PBS is a good example; funds given to them support various programming and events.
The two types sometimes overlap, as in the case of Girls Write Now, but potential givers will be attracted to one angle more than the other. An individual might be convinced to give because of an anecdote. Another cares more about sustainable, community-level impact. They enjoy the stories, but they’re persuaded to give because of your organization’s broader reach and influence.
Choosing a model helps cater messaging to specific audiences; however, it doesn’t categorize audience members. To prospect for those good long-term investors in your organization, look at donors’ giving data and separate the profiles into four buckets.
- Recency: gifts in the last 12 months or 45 days.
- Frequency: two or more gifts in the last 12 months or one gift in the last 45 days.
- Monetary: ranges, which will depend on your organization’s typical gifts amounts. As an example, a range could be greater than $10 but less than $500.
- New Visitors: people who haven’t made a gift yet.
Each of the categories should then be placed into different conversion/donation pathways to receive messaging targeted to both their profiles and the giving model.
Don’t be scared off by the term “donation pathway.” It’s a phrase describing how people ultimately decide to take action. It’s the rare occasion that they give after one visit to your website, but they might after three or four or after hearing a story from a friend. That’s the donation pathway: all the communication channels working together to prompt a person to give.
A conversion pathway doesn’t have to be complicated. While a couple of elements are critical, others can be added as you have budget and resources. Here are some of the critical pieces to paving a clear pathway to donate.
- Website Design: The user interface (UI) should always point people to what you want them to do. If it’s giving, make the message prominent. Use a button or pop-up. Feature it in a slideshow. Set off the word “giving” with a different font color.
- Giving Platform: Once people have gone to a giving page or logged into their account, giving should be easy to do. They should never wonder how to update their information or change their monthly giving amount. When choosing an online giving platform, make sure the user experience (UX) is intuitive, and they’ll be glad, not frustrated, to give.
- Email: Email is one of the best ways to reach audiences with targeted, timely messages. Don’t use email only during a giving initiative; send updates throughout the year. Make people look forward to receiving your email newsletters. You’ll see increased open rates, clickthroughs, and responsiveness to calls to give if you keep the communication regular.
- Social Media: Social networks augment other communications. If you’re producing content for your website, share it on social. Interact with donors. If you’re interested in them, they’ll be interested in you.
Other channels include direct mail, canvassing, phone calls, and radio or TV. They can be cost-prohibitive, so only make use of them when you have the funds and are relatively certain of the return on investment (ROI).
Identify Sustainers and Save
Finding and recruiting sustained givers is as complicated as you make it. Keep things simple. First, figure out your giving model and develop donor categories. Second, use that data to send targeted messaging to convert donors via your website, giving platform, and communications. If you do those three things, you’ll increase donor loyalty, as well as long-term donations and support.
Miss our first webinar in our Fundraising Summer Camp? Check out the replay here.