6 Tips for Monthly Giving and Direct Mail Programs

in Acquisition & Prospecting,Direct Mail,Monthly Giving

Last week I attended the DMANF Conference in Washington DC.  Lots of great ideas on what’s working today were shared.  Here are six tips – ideas, suggestions, practices – on monthly giving programs and direct mail programs for nonprofits.

In case you were wondering, these ideas and practices came from a session I attended on Thursday, Feb 17th.  There were five members on the panel from Easter Seals, St. Joseph’s Indian School, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, American Heart Association, and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

What’s working today . . .

1 – Call monthly donors to upgrade them (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)

> Call every 6 months
> In FY10 they upgraded 21,000 donors.  Average gift size increased $6.39/mo/donor
22% response from the calls
> They’re now testing using the phone to convert monthly donors from check to credit card

2 – Recruit monthly donors by phone (also done by St. Jude)

> Ask single gift donor to become monthly donor soon after giving first gift
> In FY10 they recruited 40,000 monthly donors this way
> 10.4% response rate by phone
> Three-year life-time-value of these donors is $339.  That’s four times higher value than those recruited by mail.

3 – Manage in-house prospecting (American Heart Association)

> Their direct response team took control of selecting in-house prospects for acquisition mailings.  This shift resulted in a 9% increase in response.

4 – Test, Test, Test (Easter Seals)

> ALWAYS be testing even when resources are scarce.
> Test low cost high impact elements (e.g., personalize back of carrier envelope with number of years donor has been giving to Easter Seals boosted response 8%).
> Test engagement techniques (array testing, backend premium, etc.)
> Test variable messaging.

5 – Use multiple acquisition packages (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center)

> They have 4 controls.
> Match packages to lists and geographic info.
> High value / high cost premium to weakest prospects.
> Light premium or no premium.  Etc.

6 – Have a thank you package/mailing (St. Joseph’s Indian School)

> 91% of the time they get the acknowledgement out within 5 days of receiving the gift.
> Their acquisition response is 3.77% with $11.23 average gift for a new donor.
> A second appeal package is sent within a month (and they’ve already received the thank you).  The response is 3.47% with $15.22 average gift size.  (Note: St. Joseph’s said thank you quickly and also quickly asked for a second gift.  And it pays off!).

There was a ton of interesting information shared during this session, including twenty more ideas.  I hope these six practices boost your nonprofit’s direct mail and/or monthly giving programs. 

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