July is the new January

Get the most out of July plans by looking back at our thoughtful post from January.  

July tends to be like January a quiet time in most development offices. The gala is over, and you may be at the beginning of your fiscal year. So there is time to reacquaint yourself with your regular donors or meet some of your new donors. Remember donor retention is always easier (and cheaper) than acquisition. 


January Task

 What should theThoughtful Approachdevelopment office be doing in January? Besides getting the last of those acknowledgment letters out by the second week of the month, you should be thinking about two things- which of your 2013 donors did not renew in 2014. As well as which donors from 2012 did renew after taking a year off.

It might seem like an odd place to start 2015 but building these two sets of donors could easily help prepare for success in 2016 and beyond. Look at who did not renew- not just your “major” donors but contributors at every level. 


First let's only look at renewals and two- year lapsed donors. I work very hard to have a renewals rate of at least 80%. That is relatively high so for the sake of this demonstration we will assume a 60% renewal rate on 10,000  donors (or 6,000 renewals). If that rate has held up over the last few years and your total donor population has stayed constant through acquisition you probably still have 4,000 lapsed donors from 2012. These are people who gave in 2012 but did not renew in 2013 or 2014.


Second, let's look at cost. We will take a tiny Peek at those acquisitions. I will hazard to guess that if you are mailing to 100,000 people and doing it really, really well you might be getting 1,000 new donors. Those new donors cost you a pretty penny. 

Your renewals should only cost about .75¢ each which means your ROI for an average gift of $35.00 is $34.25 - not bad. Now what if you could get the 4,000 from 2012 to renew and do it at your average gift?  Here is my suggestion -

Why not make some calls or drop some notes to both of these groups? 

“Mrs. Donor, Thank you so much for renewing your donation to XXXXXX. But I am calling to learn more about your relationship with us and to invite you to …an XXXXX event. ” or “Mrs. Past Donor, I am calling to see how you are and to invite you to … “

Well, it doesn’t matter what you invite them to - just try to make a personal connection. In the course of your conversation, you will find out why they did or did not give in the past. You may also end up getting a renewal or even second gift. Most importantly, you will gain insight into who your institution's supporters are.  I would strongly recommend quantifying this information and adding it to your CRM.

What that data is will depend on your organization or agency. It most likely will include a paragraph on your conversation, what their connection is to you, which of your programs they have the greatest affinity for and why they gave in the past.

If you use July as a month to prep your fall campaigns will go much smoother. The more prep you can do before you are in the throughs of drafting letters, choosing lists and picking just the right image the more time your will have to thoughtfully plan out your fall appeal and its follow-up.

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