This Much We Know Is True
Reminding lapsed donors of your organization's mission and the need for their contribution is the fundamental strategy of any renewal effort. Reminding lapsed donors of their history with your organization (i.e., first gift date, years of association, last gift amount) is yet another proposition.
A simple, straightforward invoice-style appeal dropped by Bread for the World in June manages to deliver this vital information back to nonresponders (605BREWOR0603).
Stephen Hitchcock, president of Mal Warwick & Associates, the agency that champions Bread for the World's direct mail, says the "join-date," for example, is added to underscore a donor's long-term affiliation with the organization.
"Many [Bread for the World contributors] belong to and donate to many organizations," Hitchcock asserts. "Here we're simply reminding them that they've been attached to this one for a while. With this renewal series, we're focusing on the habit of giving and the loyalty of membership."
Representing the fourth wave in a six-part renewal series, this piece generated a 5.8-percent response rate with a $32 average gift for Bread for the World in 2002. The first effort in this series is a #10 window envelope with a membership card and a buckslip. Typically, it gets a 20-percent to 25-percent response rate, says Hitchcock. The second effort is another #10 envelope package, but with a one-page letter and reply slip; it pulls 15 percent to 20 percent. And the third is another invoice-style package, which drives a 5-percent to 6-percent response rate.
"Bread for the World's renewal series have become simpler over the years because [simple has] proved to work well," remarks Hitchcock, who is optimistic for similar response results this year. "This invoice-style format has been both very inexpensive and highly effective at driving response."
The lapsed donor receiving this particular package first became a member of Bread for the World on March 1, 1998, and last made a donation of $100 in March of 2001. The ask-ladder begins with $50; a two-year lapse gave the folks at Mal Warwick & Associates reason to lower the bar.
"The first two or three notices, depending on what approach we're taking, usually ask people to upgrade their giving slightly," says Hitchcock. "At this point, and with this donor especially, we're just trying to get a gift."
Some may consider the presentation of detailed, donor-specific information as invasive, or a tally of one's lifetime contribution as a deterrant (since the donor may not have realized he had already given so much over the years), but according to Hitchcock, Bread for the World has only received criticism related to accuracy of data.
"When we cite this information, we commonly receive comments from donors like, 'well, that's not really when I first joined,'" says Hitchcock. Even with an apparent caveat, this renewal techniquewhich requires rigorous database workis effective for other clients as well, he says.