These days, there’s so much interest in new channels and the latest next “new shiny thing,” but did you know that there’s one medium you use everyday that has evolved tremendously over the past few years?
That medium (the one that you’re holding in your hand right now or the one that’s very nearby!) is the ultimate key to retaining your donors: it’s your phone!
In a session at the 50th Annual NCDC Conference and Exposition, Juddee Millito and Erica Waasdorp discussed examples from organizations who are using the telephone most successfully in retaining donors through:
- Thank you calls
- Reactivation of lapsed donors
- Asking for monthly donors
- Asking for updated information to keep their monthly donors
- Upgrading monthly donors to higher levels
As you know, donor retention rates have been steadily going down. And while most of you may know your retention rates, some don’t.
Here’s the calculation:
Take the number of donors giving in year one plus the number of donors giving in year two, divided by the number of donors who gave in year one. What’s your percentage? That’s your donor retention rate. Currently, it’s about 45 percent (Fundraising Effectiveness Project).
Know your donor audience:
You must remember that the typical faith-based donor is typically of an older generation. They love talking on the phone. They love hearing from the organization. They love hearing your stories. And most importantly, every donor loves personally hearing your gratitude!
Specifically, thank you calls are important:
An important part of any organization’s fundraising plan should include thank you calls. They are so easy to organize and they make such a huge difference! Penelope Burk in her annual Donor Survey and her book Donor Centered Fundraising has shared these statistics:
- 95% of donors stated they’d appreciate a thank you call within a day or two of the organization receiving their donation.
- 85% said such a thank you call would influence them to give again.
- 84% said they would definitely or probably give a larger gift after a thank you call.
When donors were tracked after 14 months, the group that received a thank you calls gave 42 percent more on average compared to similar donors who did not receive a thank-you call. So, it’s fair to say that the phone keeps your donors happy and giving more than most other mediums of communication.
And practically, a thank you call is also the best way to confirm the information, ask how often the donor would like to hear from you and build that important relationship to make sure the donor stays with you. Even leaving a message makes a difference. You have to stand out from the crowd and the phone does exactly that.
Are you facing challenges in making calling donors a priority?
But, you may say, I just don’t have the staff. Or perhaps you only have the resources to thank donors who’ve made gifts at the $1,000 level.
Well, you can either train some volunteers or you can outsource your calling. Outsourcing allows you to be very flexible and do so much more at a cost that’s truly minimal. Just think about the cost to acquire a new donor: Add a few more bucks, your retention goes up, and you’ll be paid back multifold!
Juddee Millito has been managing telephone campaigns for many years. Here’s one of Juddee’s rules:
Understand that not every phone call will end in a gift, but every call will
- Foster a Relationship
- Update Information
- Educate and Inform
- Answer Questions
- Make a Friend for Your Organization
In short, you need to make calling your donors a priority.
If your organization is looking to increase your donor retention rate and be more donor-centric at the same time, the telephone should be a key part of your fundraising strategy!
Just think about it. How likely is it that you’ll keep your donors if you’re showing how grateful you are for that first, second, or next donation? I think it’s pretty likely.