Women for Women International (WfWI) supports women in war-torn countries by providing vocational skills training, rights education, and critical health information. WfWI also helps build women’s confidence and emotional well-being by connecting them to social networks and safety nets in their communities. Mal Warwick | Donordigital recently had the opportunity to work with WfWI to develop a new mid-level giving program to move donors up the giving ladder to deepen their commitment. The goal was to encourage donors in the $100 to $500 giving range to give an annual single gift of $1,000 or more. The offer used a combination of direct mail techniques which included a “high touch” two-part mail invitation series—the first being a monarch style four-page personalized letter, with the second using a note card style “RSVP” technique. This was the first time that WfWI had ever reached out to its donors with a branded mid-level giving program and both efforts of the invite series vastly exceeded our expectations. Over 80 donors upgraded to join the new membership program. Our team worked closely with WfWI staff to create a unique brand identity for the program, calling it the Leadership Circle, which includes a separate logo, dedicated WfWI staff liaison, and communication plan that incorporates higher-touch newsletters and solicitations. While we know donors give to feel good and not for flashy benefits, we did want to offer a few membership perks to show our gratitude to donors who became a part of this select donor group. As one example, we invited new members of the Leadership Circle to join a townhall conference call with WfWI international field staff to listen to program details firsthand, have the opportunity to ask questions, and hear from other Leadership Circle members joining the call. We also offered all new Leadership Circle members a quarterly newsletter, special recognition in annual reports, event invitations around the country, and a special gift—a lapel pin—as a token of thanks. By inviting and engaging donors to deepen their connection to WfWI through the Leadership Circle, we’re thrilled to have spear-headed a new chapter in the organization’s long-term growth. Tiffany Reed is a Senior Account Executive with Mal Warwick | Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company.
There are many differences between working at for-profit versus a nonprofit, but there are also some very significant similarities. Having spent a couple of decades selling advertising for business to business publishers there is one lesson that I always keep in mind. And I think its application is universal and can help you retain and cultivate deeper relationships with more of your donors. It’s the advice I was given when prepping for a meeting with one client, in particular. He was a Wall Street Guy—he was very important and very busy, as I was told. I was told, “Don’t ever waste his time,” which specifically meant, “don’t ever meet without bringing him useful information or you’ll never get another meeting.” Question: “Was he a jerk with a huge ego?” Actually, that’s a trick question, because the answer is “Who cares?” He provided me with the secret for a successful meeting and the best way to cultivate a long-term relationship. “Busy” and “Important” were the terms classifying this client. And the truth is: we are all busy and important. All our time is valuable. Now this is a lesson that I was taught before most people owned a cell phone (back when your company gave you a phone card so you could make phone calls from hotels or phone booths) and at a time when the Internet was so very new that companies didn’t even have websites yet, let alone a social media strategy. But it has stood the test of time and I think it is a useful way to prepare for any in-person meeting with donors. Whether your donor prefers to get together for a casual lunch, play a round of golf, attend your cocktail party, take a tour of one of your projects, or meet your Executive Director—I would make a huge wager that whatever form the meeting takes, they want to gain something of value from your time together. Knowledge is power and you are that source of power. Bring them information that only you can. Maybe you work at a nonprofit that serves inner city youth with an after-school sports program. Bring pictures or video of the last game. Provide details on current enrollment numbers or the success rate based on increased graduation from participants. Ask them to follow your program’s updates via Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn so they can see what progress is being made. They can also share this with their network raising awareness of your cause (but we’ll get into the social media benefits some other time!). Regardless of the mission, use your time together to demonstrate to your donor:
- How the program is making a difference
- How his/her contribution is facilitating the program
The Mercifully Brief, Real-World Guide to Raising $1,000 Gifts by Mail By Mal Warwick Published by Emerson & Church Publishers (2005) Can you motivate a donor to respond to your next mailing with a thousand dollar gift? Absolutely, says Mal Warwick in his book, Raising $1000 Gifts by Mail. Mal is the dean of high dollar direct mail he practically invented it. Mal points to organizations like yours that have, somewhat astoundingly, turned small givers into big ones … with just the right mailing. Here is one example. Heeding Mal’s advice, a regional activist organization sent just 889 letters to selected donors. This small mailing produced income of $59,450. That is impressive. But even better: gifts averaged $2,123! And the cost of the mailing was 14 cents per dollar raised. A second example: An anti-hunger organization sent just over 10,000 high-dollar pieces. The mailing yielded 679 gifts totaling $117,749. And the overall response was a whopping 6.4 percent! When there is gold underfoot, you can scratch the surface and content yourself with $25 and $50 nuggets. Or, using Mal’s strategies, you can drill down and mine that rich vein of $1000, $2000, even $5000 donors by mail. Available for purchase at Amazon.com and other retailers.