As I was preparing myself for my upcoming travel schedule- back to back trips, including speaking at the ADRP/SEDRC in Raleigh, NC; I received a great piece of mail right before I put my mail on hold for the 7 days. I am a proud supporter of my alma mater, The University of South Carolina. And every year, I make my annual gift. After I make my gift, I receive the usual receipt and acknowledgment, but I also receive something special, I am a member of the Carolina Circle, something USC reminds me of every year. I receive a postcard and the back of it is a vinyl decal, when I had a car these decals were proudly displayed on my back window along with my gamecock club membership decal, now that I take the subway, they reside on my fridge or office bulletin board, a constant reminder of their acknowledgment of my consistent giving. The Carolina Circle is for those of us who have given consistently, at any amount, for the past three years or more. This simple gesture enhances in me the feeling that USC values me and knows that my gift matters, its just good donor relations. And so that leads me to ask you, what are you doing for your consecutive donors? Do you know who the are? How many you have? What do they "look" like? If you haven't thought about these folks, I challenge you to take a new look. Every time I visit with one of my consulting clients during their donor relations audits, this is one of my consistent areas of focus.
Here are some reasons for focus you might not be aware of:
1. Consistent donors are the BEST planned giving prospects. Period.
2. Consistent donors are usually present at many of your events, and make sure to support you in their community.
3. Consistent donors make GREAT volunteers, spokespeople and helpers.
4. They are deeply committed to your cause and I would argue that telling their stories is MORE valuable than your "major donors".
5. Consistent donors make GREAT focus groups and survey folks. They have been around for a while and can tell you what has worked and where you can improve.
6. The ROI on these efforts is HUGE. Remember its 7 times cheaper to keep the donors you have happy than to go out and acquire new ones!
So now we go back to the central question, what have you done for them lately? If you hesitate or have no idea, this might be a good time to start recognizing them. You don't have to create a society or a big to do around them, but you should recognize their importance and build this group into your strategic donor relations planning.
A few simple ideas:
1. A postcard like USC's, with or without a decal or magnet.
2. A special email or video for them. A communication that let's them know they are valued and you know who they are and why they matter.
3. Invite them to the same events your major donors are invited to, remember its the thought of inclusion that matters for them.
4. Feature them and tell their stories in your publications, have one of them speak at your next event, etc. A lifetime of good will is headed your way, and other donors will identify with them more than they can the mega million trustee type donor.
5. Run a thank a thon just for them. Have staff, volunteers, students, anyone call them to thank them, and JUST thank them(lol), for their loyal support and devotion to your mission!
NOTICE: I didn't say mail them a random tchotchke or have an event just for them. That's not the idea here folks, if you need to clean out your closets, do it some other way, if you want another event to plan, find a different strategy- honest tough love. :)
Now I ask: What are you doing? What would you like to do? I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, questions!