3. Reinforce the Positive
Simi's work lately has consisted of stepping up cultivation, such as calling this critical group of donors to thank those individuals for their giving, soliciting feedback on the nonprofit's work or whatever they want to talk about. She says most are just pleased to be thanked.
What are the more cutting-edge ways today to approach high-end donors? Are messages more personalized? Are packages of nicer quality? Are ancillary materials like newsletters more important?
Warwick says it's key to treat those high-end donors as special, using enhanced personalization and other techniques to reinforce their natural tendency to philanthropy.
4. Enhance the Personalization
Perhaps the top technique to use for such high-end donors is improved personalization, going well beyond the first name approach and mentioning donor history and relevant copy. Warwick gives two examples below.
Example 1: Limited personalization
Dear Ms. Sample,
I want you to know how very grateful I am for your continuing generosity. As a member of the [Hi-$ club], you are one of Our Charity's most loyal and responsive donors, and that means a lot to me and my colleagues here.
Example 2: Enhanced personalization
Dear Ms. Sample,
I want you to know how very grateful I am for your continuing generosity and for your willingness to share your personal information with me and my colleagues. Your $[X] renewal gift on [Month Day] renewed your membership in the [Hi-$ club]. You have been one of Our Charity's most loyal and responsive donors since [Year], and that means a lot to me and my colleagues here. I'm also especially pleased to know of your particular interest in our programs in [region or issue area].
"To my mind, after 30 years in direct mail fundraising, it would be difficult to imagine that the second example wouldn't elicit a stronger response than the first," states Warwick, who says that when appeals are restructured to incorporate this degree of personalization throughout a fundraising program, they routinely double or triple the annual revenue.
Simi concurs, "In our thank-you letters, we've been trying to go beyond 'you gave a gift of $X amount on Y date,' but show that we understand that they have been giving for a long time or give multiple gifts a year or whatever information we have on their behavior and preferences to make the letter more personal than a receipt."
5. Make It a Multichannel Relationship
"Contemporary experience consistently shows that donors who will engage with a cause or institution through multiple channels are far more valuable than those who communicate through one channel only," says Warwick. Although most high-end donors continue to favor the mail for their contacts with the nonprofits they support, he says they are increasingly making use of online communication tools as well—and this is a major positive, for contacts with donors through multiple channels reinforce one another.