Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

To Increase Donor Loyalty, Focus On Loyalty Not Dollar Amount

May 12th, 2014 by Karen Climer

I have three cards in my wallet that say “Customer since ___.”  One of them, my bank card, says “Customer since 1986.”  I’ve been a customer since I was nine years old!  Do you think I want to trade that for a card that says, “Customer since 2014”?  Of course not.  It’s almost like a badge of honor.  I haven’t even been loyal to Publix for that long! (I broke the chain for four years when I went to college in a city without a Publix.)

No, you don’t need to print wallet cards for your donors (if you already do, add the year they first joined).  But what if you reminded your donors that they have been giving for ten consecutive years?  No one wants to break the continuous chain, so they will continue to give.  Your donor may know how long she has been donating, but it’s equally important that she knows that you know.

How do you do this?  First, focus on years of consecutive giving, instead of amount.  Typically, organizations have giving clubs and honor rolls based on annual dollar amount.  You have the $1-$99 club, the $100-$249 club, all the way up to the thousands or millions.  What if you had the one to four-year club, five years to nine years, all the way up to a 100-year club(in the case of old corporate gifts, it could even be more than 100 years!)?  Do you think that Old Family Company that is in the 75-year club is going to skip a year, and revert back to one year club the next year?  I doubt it.  They might lower their gift, but they won’t drop the habit.  And yes, giving is a habit.

Second, you can use it to create your case:

“When you first started donating in 1986, gasoline was 93 cents per gallon.  Helpful Homeless Shelter had one staff person and housed five people per night.  Today, because of you, more than 150 men, women, and children call Helpful Homeless Shelter home each night…”

If I received a letter like that, I would be so impressed that the nonprofit knew how long I had been donating, and made the effort to personalize it, I’d send them a check.  (BTW, this is much easier to do than you think.  Give me a call if you need help doing it.  I’ll walk you through it over the phone.)

If you want long-term donors (and who doesn’t), focus on loyalty.  The person who donates $10 a year for 30 years is a far better prospect for their ultimate gift than the person who makes one gift of $1 million.

Posted in Recognition, Retention

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