It is widely accepted that it is more cost effective to retain an existing donor than recruit a new one. As a fundraiser my world was focused on keeping donors engaged with the charity so that they continued to donate and the charity could help more people and save more lives. My donor retention strategy was often a bit “hit and miss.” I relied on instinct rather than having a set formula in place to ensure I was consistently meeting my donors’ needs.
Since becoming a new mother my current focus is doing everything I can to make sure that my little one sleeps as much as possible so that he remains happy and I can have some time to do some chores, eat, wash or have a nap. The latest strategy that I’m trying to adopt is the “EASY” parenting routine. “EASY” in this context stands for Eat, Activity, Sleep, You (“you” being the “me time” I get whilst he sleeps). This has got me wondering whether the “EASY” routine could act as a metaphor for the perfect donor retention strategy…
- Eat = give donors the fuel they need to take part in the activity you want from them. This has to be something that fills them with motivation (a case study, a story from a beneficiary, a shocking statistic, etc) and something that they look forward to each time it comes around.
- Activity = this is the time to get your donors to take action for the charity. Be aware though that, just like children will get bored with the same toy, your donors will lose interest if they’re always asked to do the same thing. Mix in donation asks with other actions such as volunteering, campaigning or sharing content on social media.
- Sleep = let them take a rest from doing something for you. Take the time to say thank you and don’t forget to share any successes that the charity has had because of their activity. This stage may take several attempts so make sure your donor is truly rested until starting the cycle again otherwise it will all end in tears and wasted “fuel”!
- You = don’t forget to look after yourself whilst your donors are resting (and you’ve hit your targets!) Now is the time to take a rest and get your house back in order ready to “feed” your donors again soon.
It is also worth thinking about who the best person is for each job. Just as I am the best at getting my baby to eat and my husband is better at rocking him to sleep, you may find that a first-hand story from a beneficiary provides more “fuel” than it coming from a fundraiser and a thank you from your CEO works extremely well in the “sleep” stage. Where possible, always make sure you select the best person for the job.
By understanding and applying this formula we should now be able to plan and source relevant content for each stage of the routine whether this be for emails, direct mail or even face-to-face meetings with donors. We can also ensure that we don’t ask too much of our donors without giving them rest and fuel in between each ask.
Remember, the better you get to know your donors, the easier you will find it to meet their needs and if they like your routine, they’ll keep coming back for more.
This guest post was written by Mandy Johnson.
Mandy Johnson is the UK Director of Partnerships for Change.org. Mandy has a Masters in Charity Management with a specialism in Marketing and Fundraising. Prior to joining Change.org, Mandy worked for a variety of both private sector and non-profit organisations and has raised millions of pounds for the charities she’s worked for.