Yesterday was #GivingTuesday. It's the holiday season and consumers are in a giving mood. How do fundraisers ensure that mood doesn't melt with the snow? An onboarding strategy could prove the trick.
On Monday, The Chronicle of Philanthropy predicted the social media event started in 2012 by the United Nations Foundation and New York's 92nd Street Y would raise $40 million or more for various nonprofits. Tom Held writes that #GivingTuesday works as a hangover cure, meant to "counter the commercialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday with caring and giving." (Shoppers spent tens of billions of dollars between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday.)
A major problem for fundraisers, though, is many donors only give once. Putnam Barber and Bill Levis write about this mindset in their 2013 Urban Institute research titled "Donor Retention Matters." (Opens as a PDF)
"Statistics for about 1.8 million people who donated to 2,342 nonprofit organizations in 2009 and 2010 paint a pretty discouraging picture," they write. "Only 43 percent of donors who gave to these organizations in 2009 gave again to the same organization in 2010. That doesn't mean the donors stopped giving entirely, of course. Many of them may have given equally generously, but to different recipients."
The Urban Institute research goes on to say among that 43 percent, 27 percent of those retained had been new donors that year.
Sean Chisholm of StayClassy mentions the 27 percent stat in his Sept. 25, 2014, Constant Contact blog post and provides email onboarding advice to fundraisers so they can up that number.
1. Understand First-Time Donations May Be Emotional and Impulsive, Rather Than Intellectual. They don't know the organization yet, he writes. So aim an onboarding series at one target. "The most important thing to keep in mind is that you want to educate, inspire and provide new donors with additional ways to get involved," writes Chisholm.
2. Create a Great First Impression. Chisholm says a welcome series of two or three automated email messages need to be thought out, but may flow from the following content marketing ideas:
- A video message from your executive director welcoming donors into the fold
- Inspiring testimonials from the people your organization serves
- Options to subscribe to regular newsletters or blog updates
- Links to information about volunteering opportunities and upcoming campaigns or events
In the "Stewarding 'One-Time' Donors for Lasting Support" chapter of a 2010 report from Blackbaud (opens as a PDF), the vendor suggests:
- Acknowledge new donors as soon as possible as personally as possible.
- When practical, respond to them through the same channel (social media, direct mail, phone call) they used to reach you.
- Let your stewardship materials tell the stories of those who were helped.
- Use stewardship materials to expand your message beyond the immediate crisis to a description of your larger mission.
- Engage new donors as partners in that mission.
- If you can't provide the same level of stewardship to all constituents, prioritize prospects based on gift size or criteria you establish through data mining and modeling.
- Prepare your stewardship plan before the disaster strikes.
3. Tell Them How Their Money, Given for This Particular Campaign, Will Be Used. "The information should focus on the purpose of the campaign and how it will advance your mission," he writes.
4. Keep Trying. Chisholm routes readers to a Classy.org tip sheet:
- Reach back out to non-responders when you're approaching one of your internal goals.
- Include progress updates in your follow up messages and consider including any inspiring stories or personal anecdotes you have about the cause.
- Remember to continue using social media.
How valuable is onboarding to retention efforts?
Please respond in the comments section below.