When research suggests an average of only 2% of one-off donors become regular contributors, it’s clear that we’re missing something. With a ready-made audience who have engaged at donor level, what will it take to move the needle and realise their potential to convert into consistent supporters? We review a few small but impactful things that can help to change the trend.

  1. Acknowledge

Acknowledging every contribution (no matter how large or small) with a note of thanks is critical. This is an ideal opportunity to make your donor feel good about the action they’ve taken and make them want to repeat it. Where your communication not only thanks them but gives them further insight into your work and the value that their contribution has made, it helps to engage them in considering further or regular giving.

  1. Communicate

Another strategic piece of communication is to send a follow-up email a month later, perhaps adding an update to the story of what you’ve been able to achieve with the help of their donation. This can be an ideal opportunity to invite them to partner in doing more together potentially providing a similar storyline which they can identify with.

Providing easy access buttons on your communications to click through to add their support through; making another donation, committing to give regularly or through legacy giving can yield results.

Where communications are targeted at repeating their initial donation better results are often achieved as friction/consideration points are eliminated (given that they already made the decision to do it once, know it didn’t hurt them too much and in fact they felt good about it). Use your data to customise the email through automation stating the amount that you know they were comfortable with donating previously eg. ‘Donate another £10’ or ‘Support us with £10 per month’.

It is likely that in the wake of coronavirus, we may have to wait a while for peoples financial confidence/stability to return and along with it their willingness to commit to us, but to maintain communication on a monthly basis is likely acceptable (although you need to monitor your unsubscribes to gauge this effectively).

The other side of the proverbial coin is that those with more stable job prospects won’t have the opportunities to spend that they had before social distancing measures had to be enforced, meaning they may have more disposable income available. This being the case, you want to make your need known and make them aware that they can make a difference right now (which largely, apart from staying at home we can’t with coronavirus). Empowering people to make a difference is a powerful motivator.

  1. Engage

A one-way relationship gets tired quickly, identifying opportunities for your donor to engage with you provides ownership and a deepening of the relationship. Inviting them to events in their area, sharing campaigns and fundraising initiatives which are either local or likely to be of interest based on what you know about them can really help. Asking donors to take part in polls and surveys both reminds them about your work, how they’ve supported you in the past and demonstrates the valuing you place on the relationship.

Using a variety of communication channels can be helpful. Email campaigns are common casualties of cluttered inboxes. Where budget allows, physical postal campaigns can work well, demonstrating the connections value and motivating further engagement. Text message campaigns can work well as they go straight to a person’s device but can be expensive to run. Where a donor has downloaded your app, you have a valuable connection to maintain. Push notifications (where enabled) are a great means of prompting engagement but need to be used sparingly so as not to provoke disengagement!

Where your communications are limited to emails, try and vary the content and subject lines to pique interest. Video is a great medium for communicating relatable activity and is ranked highly by SEO. Well written case studies can be really compelling, and infographics represent facts and figures in an easier to consume format.

Do A/B test your campaigns against your data segments to work out what works for what audience and be prepared to review this often. Your Google Analytics can help to track click-throughs and reveal which content your audience are engaging with the most. This data can help to inform future campaigns and increase their value and ‘stickiness’.

  1. Make it easy

Any donation collection method should be as frictionless as possible. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your website offer both one-off and direct debit giving options?
  • If a one-off donation has already been made, how easy is it for the donor to become a regular contributor? Do they have to fill in more forms, and start the process from scratch or can you reuse the details you already have?
  • Can they engage when and where they like, are you offering the appropriate channels and methods for your audience?

As with most things, when you want someone to do something, making it as simple as possible yields the desired results!

  1. Give something back

With 1000’s of causes to choose from, how do you ensure that your charity stands out from the crowd? Increasing a sense of ownership and belonging can be a helpful approach through:

  • Sending new regular contributors a welcome pack (digital or physical) outlining the value of their gift to the work they are funding
  • Offering ‘exclusive advanced access’ to event tickets/places
  • Create communications channels exclusively for them, such as a supporters app
  • Partner with commercial organisations to provide supporters with exclusive offers.