Nuts & Bolts - Case Study: Participatory Approach Works With Younger Donors
Challenge: Increase new donor acquisition
Solution: Integrated marketing, including rich media, e-mail blasts and retail partnerships
Results: E-mail opens totalled 40.5 percent, and the clickthrough rate was between 16.3 percent and 20.7 percent. The end result was $100,000 raised.
Working to gather new donors in support of lupus research, Joshua Estrin, CEO of the Southeast Florida division of the Lupus Foundation of America, often finds himself asking, "What does it take to ignite the philanthropic spark to ‘harvest’ new members?"
This year, he found the answer in integrated marketing and social media. Although last year the chapter was effectively targeting the majority of its potential new donors, "We needed programs that spoke to a new generation of ‘givers’ who grew up on video games, MTV, MySpace [and] Twitter. These technophiles live by their iPhones and e-mail, and we needed to speak a language donors understood, bringing the concept of what we do into a more cutting-edge, responsible and hip [brand image]," he says. The foundation also began using a business model known as "user end," designed to invigorate the consumer to help create and sell the product. "Our product is lupus and meeting the needs of those affected by it," Estrin says. "By creating design contests, blogs and engaging people via electronic mediums to become involved in our projects, the conversion process to donor is far easier."
About a year ago the foundation began using a double opt-in service for e-newsletters and e-mails, which resulted in an opt-out rate of 2.8 percent or lower, according to Estrin. "Any time we visit a health fair or event, the strategy is, ‘How many e-mail addresses can we get?’ as, with the double opt-in we know the people who respond want to hear from us," he says.
The foundation sends an e-mail blast every Friday, designed to let members (the term it uses for potential donors) and existing donors know what happened each week and "how [donor] dollars helped make it happen," Estrin says. It also added bimonthly e-mail updates because, "Donors deserve to know how we will continue to sustain and what we have planned to grow—of course, in time that growth will demand donor support, so we are setting the stage," he explains. While at some point you need to ask a donor to donate, he says a well-informed member is someone who usually already understands the needs of the organization and will eventually donate.