When you invest heavily in truly inspiring donors, you are far more likely to engage people in a long-term, high value relationship with your organization. Increased ROI and sustainability is driven by concentrated investment in what we call the Trifecta of High-Value Giving: Monthly, Mid-Level and Legacy.
As acquisition costs increase and it gets harder and harder to find “your people” – the people that care about your cause and are willing to give – you need to think about your long-term goals right from the beginning of your relationship with a donor.
Are you in it for the long run?
Here are four key strategies that will help you invest in the trifecta long-term, right from the beginning:
1. Plan for success
When you set up your year, attach KPI’s to all three parts of the trifecta (monthly, mid-level and legacy marketing), and then determine how your plan is going to deliver these goals in the short and long-term.
2. Focus on lifetime value, not short term ROI
Right from the start, you should focus on lifetime value (LTV). You can do this by choosing sources, channels and tactics you know bring on more committed supporters, and crafting messages that captivate and inspire more monthly donors, mid-level donors and legacy supporters down the road. In doing so, you may be giving up some immediate gains in traditional metrics like response rate and cost to acquire, but to drive LTV, you need to focus on different metrics, like second gift and retention rates.
3. True integrated acquisition
Gone is the reliance on acquiring new donors from a one-step process. Yes, we used to be able to send one direct mail package and get a new donor, but not anymore. Now we have prospective donors walking in our institutions, seeing us in transit, engaging in a tribute campaign, checking us out on their mobile, seeing us on TV, or on Facebook – all touchpoints that can inspire that first gift. Because of all of these touchpoints, if they do get a direct mail or a targeted digital ad, they are more likely to give.
So what does this mean for us fundraisers? It means that if your digital department, legacy team, mid-level team and marketing or communications teams are not all talking to each other – they need to be. We are not silos. We can’t do all of the engagement alone. We need to share resources and strategy, use specific analysis to identify where new donors are inspired to give, and focus our collective efforts.
4. Formal onboarding
It costs a lot to inspire a new donor to give to your cause, so creating a formal program that engages new donors in a relationship is key to LTV. Use the channels at your disposal to create several touchpoints (yes, more than just the thank you / receipt package is needed now) and make sure the reason that donors were inspired to give in the first place is connected to the immediate messages that follow. Protect donors from your standard processes – especially if you have a transactional file that mails/phones/emails several times a month! Put new donors in a bubble. For how long, you may ask? Your second gift analysis needs to tell you specifically when the best time is to ask for that next gift, but our analysis shows that should happen somewhere between 2 to 4 months.
Everyone we talk to wants to move from a transactional program to a relationship-based one. The truth is, this takes more work than some are prepared to do. And we know that to fund our missions, we are reliant on immediate support from our one-time giving donors – so this transition is a tough one.
Starting with a clear focus on the trifecta, with strategies and tactics that bring people on board who will support your cause longer term, moves us in the right direction by forcing us to plan for real engagement.
As always, everything comes back to the donor. They’re telling us they want a different relationship, so let’s do what it takes to inspire them to go to the next level with us.
The answers to how we move past this, how we can invest specifically in each of the trifecta areas and how we can use data to drive the journey, are all posts for another day. Stay tuned!
Written by: Kimberley Blease