The different stages of the donor relationship

The different stages of the donor relationship

Like any relationship in your life, professional or personal, there are different phases to a donor’s relationship with your organisation. There’s the flirtation phase, the honeymoon period, the ‘comfort zone’, the seven-year itch, the renewed passion, and so on. 

As a relationship progresses through each different stage, a subtle shift occurs in the way in which each party communicates, interacts and behaves with the other. The language we use, our tone of voice, the actions we take – or don’t take, the degree of trust we have in each other, the reliance we place on each other, the compromises we’re willing to make, the expectations we have. All of these evolve over the course of a relationship. 

As you and your organisation follow the steps required to become more donor-centric, you first need to identify and understand what stage your donor relationship is at so you can work towards connecting more meaningfully, collaborating more effectively and genuinely caring for your donors in a way that makes sense for that particular stage of your relationship. In doing so, you will create ongoing value exchange, build trust and increase loyalty with your donors.

Stage 1: Catch Me

This is the stage of courtship. You are marketing yourself amongst a sea of competition, trying to attract and woo a donor by appealing to your similar interests and beliefs.

Stage 2: Welcome Me

This is the honeymoon stage. It’s where you learn how best to communicate with each other, how to support each other, and how to value each other.

Stage 3: Teach Me

This is the engagement stage. Things are starting to get a little more serious. Curiosity is peaked. Questions are asked. Information is sought. You want to learn more about each other so you can connect on a deeper level.

Stage 4: Grow Me

This is the enrichment stage. It’s a time of excitement and opportunities. It’s time to demonstrate the value each of you brings to the relationship and highlight the impact you can have on the world if you work together.

Stage 5: Keep Me

This is something of a warning stage. It’s a reminder to never get complacent. For the relationship to work, it’s important to show respect, care and attention. Remember, trust and loyalty must always be earned so never stop striving for them.

Stage 6: Endear Me

This is the rekindling stage. Focus on reminding each other why the relationship exists, what attracted you to each other in the first place and why you still belong together. It’s an opportunity to reflect on all you have accomplished so far and ignite the passion to continue on your journey together.

Stage 7: Renew Me

This is a re-establishment stage. It’s an opportunity to breathe fresh life into the relationship in a bid to make it stronger. It may even be time to start afresh; to revisit expectations and work on understanding each other.

Stage 8: Win Me Back

This is an acknowledgement stage. It’s time to listen intently; to face up to the issues and accept the role you played in creating them. You might even need to apologise. Above all, it’s about understanding whether you’re meant to be together and then putting in the effort to make that happen.

As you embark on this journey on the journey to donor-centricity, ask yourself what stage of the donor relationship at you at with your donors? Remember, each stage comes with its own challenges and opportunities. Knowing a little bit more about each phase can help you navigate the journey. So, our next blog series will be dedicated to each stage of the donor relationship journey – stay tuned!

You might also be interested in joining LemonTree’s free Donor-Centricity Collective (DCC)? Every event we do a deep dive into one of the stages so you can learn from your peers, share your experiences, ask questions and keep up-to-date with the latest strategies to help you through that stage to become more donor-centric…AND be part of a movement to help grow sustainable giving in Australia! Simply click here to sign up for free.

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Previous posts in this series:

‘Win Me Back’ – Synergy Fundraising

‘Win Me Back’ – Synergy Fundraising

Guest blog by Adam Drinan, Director – Synergy Fundraising

The best way to win back donors is easy.   Don’t lose them in the first place.  

While it seems obvious, I’m a believer in tackling re-activation proactively but also focussing on the issues that increase donor attrition in the first place.

For that reason – here is my top five tips for winning donors back and my top 5 tips on how to avoid losing them at all!

Tips to win donors back! 

  1. Take real action

Are you watching and waiting or taking action?

We know the most important factor in whether someone will support you again is recency – so let’s say a donor who used to give every few months stops.   What will you do? Wait until they move from a 0-12 segment to a 13-24.

Then what? Wait for them to go 25+

The longer you wait the harder it will be to get a donor back in the fold.   Don’t move donors around in pots that effectively mean nothing!  

  1. Talk to me!

Surveys are magical things. Ever asked donors this question on a scale of 1-10?

“How likely will you support organisation x in the next 12 months?

Anyone that says 7 or less is flat out telling you they aren’t committed – you’ve got an opportunity to take action right there.  

Drop me a line via our website and I’ll tell you exactly what to do when donors answer 7 or less and what to do with donors that say 8, 9, 10. (Yes – even the 10 donors require some love!) 

  1. Taken the wrong road? Turn back!

Did you acquire a donor with a particular type of story, ask or case study?   I’ve seen charities acquire donors on one topic and instantly switch to other things.   It can be dangerous, try going back to what appealed to donors in the first place and see if anything changes.

The perfect storm occurs here when charities change the messaging on donors that haven’t been onboarded well (eg if your welcome/onboarding processes suck changing the messaging too quickly can really hurt). 

  1. Use Data to make better decisions!

If you’re big or small – over time, you’ll see similarities between the donors that attrite and supporters that keep supporting you.  

You’ll see patterns emerge that can start to predict with some accuracy who’s likely to stop supporting you.

If your own data isn’t painting a picture you can get some external assistance. Much like data hygiene this can cost less than the opportunities lost by doing nothing.

Once you can spot the patterns.   You can even take action on HALF of the donors so you can have a control group to see if your actions made any noticeable difference. It’s a game of patience and small tweaks but well worth doing. 

  1. Time to say goodbye?

It may be hard to say, but there are some donors that will be resistant to even your most charming efforts to win them back.  

Peer to peer fundraising is a great example. These events can bring in A LOT of new donors, but the 2nd gift rates are low. For many it’s the thrill of the event rather than the cause that’s the driving factor.

If you can’t offer the next new, exciting thing then they’ll be off. It’s either time to innovate or cut them lose and concentrate your efforts elsewhere.

Fighting a losing battle can cost you more even donors because you’re distracted by a fight you can’t win.    

Tips to reduce attrition. 

  1. Keep your data up to date  

 While data quality might not be sexy it’s essential to minimise what I would call “voluntary attrition”.

Examples of this would be washing your data against the Postal Address File (PAF) from Australia Post.

Some of you might have something like QAS or Hopewiser as part of your CRM – if you do, well done, because you’re verifying addresses in real time when you enter new prospects or supporters to your database.   (Have you ever ordered a pizza or uber eats and entered just a few characters here and there to bring up a perfectly formatted address – it’s technology that’s available to all of us now)

If you’re smaller organisation or don’t have a CRM that’s capable of adding a real time option – don’t worry.   You CAN get someone else to do it for you.   You’ll be able to find out who’s no longer at a certain address, sometimes you’ll even be able to access the new address.   If you’re part of a collaborative like Lemontree you’ll also be able to get insights on donor addresses that are incorrect BEFORE you mail them to find out.   What you can save on printing and postage can easily cover any costs involved.

The sin here is that a lot of charities don’t take either approach, and I’ll never understand why.   Even charities that pay hundreds of to acquire a donor won’t pay a few cents to verify their details – it’s crazy!

Crazier still? Databases without a high percentage of records with an email address and contact phone numbers.  

We know that around 1 in 7 people move every year, but you’ll know yourself that while you might get a new address chances are, you’ll always keep that Gmail you set up 10 years ago and you wouldn’t change your mobile number you’ve had since a Nokia 8350 was the shit! 

  1. Stay Relevant

I’ll cover this one by giving an example of what NOT to do.  

I recently spotted a post on Facebook about an issue that shocked me! It was an animal welfare issue I wasn’t aware of – so I clicked the FB post, ended up on a nice landing page and donated within a few minutes.

That’s when the experience went from hero to zero.   I got a really generic receipt by email – it didn’t even mention the project that caught my attention in the first place.

Even as someone that’s totally aware that small gifts aren’t tagged, I’d still like my communications to talk about my first gift and that I was helping the project that inspired me to click through and donate.

Worse still, since that donation they’ve gone out of their way to talk about everything BUT the issue that encouraged me to act.

Now someone at the organisation in question is probably wondering why so many donors only given once but who’s really to blame?

  1. Get to know me and FAST!

 It’s WAY harder to say no to a friend than it is a complete stranger, right?  

If donors feel they have a genuine two-way relationship it’s much harder for them to ignore your last ask, that newsletter or let your next phone call go to voice mail.

Ask donors questions, find out about their lives, their dreams and their motivations. Most people give to express their values, find out what those values are!

Do you get donors calling you pro-actively to update details? Guess what, they are your most engaged donors because they have a golden opportunity to walk away from you, but they don’t want to.

That call is an invaluable part of donor bequest scoring too – so make sure you flag anyone that contacts you to change their details! 

  1. Don’t let your processes and assumptions dictate your messaging – it’s really dangerous!

 You see a lot of this

“We haven’t heard from you in a while”

Let’s say a donor traditionally donates at Christmas time but they miss a year – we’ll probably say that donor hasn’t given for 2 years and it lapsing or lapsed, when in reality they didn’t respond once and who knows why – they could have had an expensive car repair, a medical procedure, they may have not even been in the country (which is just one reason why respond by dates can be a problem at certain times of the year!)

But the bottom line is that we’re treating them as a lapsed donor, but they don’t see that at all – in fact, the speed in which life passes by – that donation two years ago and often feel like it was recent.

If you treat a donor like they’ve abandoned you – it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy

Be careful what you say and like life in general, thanking people for what they HAVE done will always be received better than telling people where they came up short.  

  1. Premiums

Love them or hate them, if you used them for acquisition and then you stop, expect your attrition rates to increase.  

A premium-incentivised supporter has a different relationship with your organisation than one that’s giving to express their personal values or with a strong personal connection.

If your recruit with premiums, you’ll likely always need to incentivise the relationship in some way. The idea that you can wean a donor off premiums with an amazing case study sounds great in principal, but rarely works in practice.

If you’re in this situation, the question you need to ask yourself is ‘Is this worth the cost/resource to keep going?’.

A simple look at the longer-term ROI will give you the numbers you need to decide what to do.

What stage is your organisation at in the donor centric journey?

What stage is your organisation at in the donor centric journey?

Our recent survey to the Donor Centricity Collective (DCC) community showed a common challenge amongst Fundraising Managers is ‘knowing your data’.

In our quest to help solve this common problem, we’ve taken our learnings from the commercial world and created an 8 step journey roadmap to the Donor Centric environment. We encourage you to challenge your thinking by rating your organization at each stage of the donor centricity road map (on a scale of 1 – 10).

Free resource download-DC Roadmap

  • Keep up to date with all the juicy fundraising goss, tips and education!

How to Endear your Donors: Insights from the Commercial World for the LemonTree community

How to Endear your Donors: Insights from the Commercial World for the LemonTree community

Speaking at our last Donor Centricity Collective (DCC) event, Mark Jenkins, CEO of Resurg Group asked the audience a series of thought-provoking questions designed to help them endear more donors to their cause. LemonTree asked Mark to share those questions with you here to get you thinking about endearing your donors.

 

At Resurg, we’ve managed to turn the concept of endearing customers on its head. Instead of us trying to endear them, we have created an environment where our customers actually endear themselves to our business. We’ve achieved this through a relentless focus on the client relationship journey and addressing a few key questions through that lens:

  1. What combination of events will almost guarantee endearment?

You can’t expect immediate endearment. Nor should endearment be treated as a one hit wonder. However, if you can work to successfully engage your customers – or donors – across a series of interactions it will ultimately lead to endearment.

  1. What does ‘endear your customers / donors’ mean to you?

Endearment can mean different things to different people and different organisations. For Resurg, a truly ‘endeared’ customer:

  • Owns their relationship with us
  • Feels empowered in the relationship

We know that if we can put our customers in the driving seat of their engagement with us, then we simply facilitate their endearment to the product and to Resurg.

3: How can your customers / donors ‘own’ their relationship with you?

We have worked hard to make our product all about the customer. It wasn’t always like that. For a long time, it was all about the product. Whilst the product worked, our customers weren’t fully engaged with it. They were passive participants.

We wanted our customers to be active with our products. So we found a way to make the product far more about them and their needs. We introduced benchmarking.

The benchmarking function indicated what other customers were achieving with our product and how. The customers themselves were demonstrating the potential value of the product to each other. We weren’t involved. Our product simply showed the different benchmarks for different metrics. In doing so, we created a common connection between our customers, aligning them more closely with people just like them and putting them in control of their journey with us.

 How can you make your cause more about your donors? How can you incorporate them into your cause, so they feel a greater sense of ownership in the charity from the outset? 

4: How can you empower your clients / donors in their relationship with you?

We recognised that we were pushing a lot of information out to our customers. Sometimes this was well received; other times not. We realised that if we simply allowed our customer to set their own criteria for how and when we reached out to them and with what content, they would engage with it far more readily because they had requested the information. They were in the driving seat. They were empowered.

What sort of engagement criteria can you offer your donors that could help trigger their giving?

Reflect and refine:

Reflecting on our own journey, perhaps the greatest success we’ve had when it comes to customer endearment has been facilitating the connections between our customers. We invite them to become part of a network – a performance group – where they can openly communicate with and learn from their peers, as well as share their own insights and best practices. Together, they influence and shape each others attitudes, decisions and behaviours.

Again, Resurg is not involved in these group. But simply by creating a platform for connection and facilitating these relationships, we have built an ambassador network within our customer base. A tribe of people who endear each other to the Resurg products and business.

I encourage you to consider how you can leverage the power of the peer-to-peer donor network to help influence individual donor attitudes and behaviours. For example, how can you harness the power of LemonTree’s DCC community and the collaborative insights of its members?

Remember, endearment does not stem from a single occurrence. Create a journey for your donors where they own – and feel empowered in – their relationship with you, not the other way around. Focus on a combination of events and interactions, and you will be rewarded with their endearment.

As one of Australia’s finest business intelligence, performance management and analytics specialists, Resurg provides businesses with the tools for smarter decision-making by integrating their forecasting, data analysis and reporting into a single platform.

Greenpeace leverages the power of LemonTree Fundraising’s collaborative insights

Greenpeace leverages the power of LemonTree Fundraising’s collaborative insights

For the last 10 years, Greenpeace has had a strong focus on regular giving (RG) programs to help build a stable – and sustainable – funding channel for its environmental advocacy programs.

While these programs are successful at acquiring new donors, Greenpeace found that retaining these donors was causing a large financial drain, with over 25% active RG donors leaking out of their bucket every year.

Stephen Kendon, TeleFundraising from Greenpeace said:

“In the past, we have re-engaged and called our lapsed donors with limited success. It was a costly and time consuming task and results didn’t reflect the effort that had gone into the program.”

Greenpeace engaged LemonTree Fundraising to help them understand the behaviours of their donors through a much broader lens with the hope of reactivating more of their deeply lapsed donors.

By looking at the same donor behaviour across other causes, we were able to identify which of the lapsed Greenpeace donors were most likely to reactivate.

LemonTree Fundraising ran a range of collaborative insights models against the base to identify and target the highest 8% scored donors for inclusion in Greenpeace’s phone reactivation campaign. A random control selection was also included.

Key results from the top 8% were:

  • Successful contact rates benchmarking between 30.2% and 34.2% across the 5 segmented groups
  • Top segment conversion rate out-performed control by 314% (6.9% vs 2.2%)
  • Other segments with lower conversion rates will be refined in future to improve from a 3.8% performance
  • 1 year ROI ranged from 0.89 to 0.68 on the successful segments

In addition, we optimised Greenpeace’s warm cash tax mailing appeals with LemonTree Fundraising propensity scored overlays to grow lifetime value of a targeted subset of donors.

As a result, Greenpeace will now leverage the power of LemonTree Fundraising’s collaborative insights to target a broader range of donors and channels through a framework of continuous testing and learning programs.

LemonTree Q&A with Dr. Adrian Sergeant

LemonTree Q&A with Dr. Adrian Sergeant

Adrian Sargeant is Chief Executive of The Philanthropy Centre. He is passionate about achieving massive growth in philanthropy. All his work is focused on achieving that by developing the value that donors get from their giving. He specialises in the new science of philanthropic psychology, a science that is routinely doubling the income for those charities that apply it… [Source: FIA Conference].

The LemonTree team compiled a handful of burning fundraising questions for renowned Author and Fundraising Professor Dr. Adrian Sargeant, featured speaking at the upcoming FIA Conference in Melbourne, here is what he had to say:

Q – With acquisition of donors via traditional channels becoming more challenging, how should charities adapt practices to grow their donor numbers?

Couple of thoughts on this. First – recruit the right donors. Don’t be tempted to recruit poor quality donors just to push up the figures for the initial ROI. In the US in particular, fundraisers have honed their skills in recruiting low value donors who will never come back and make a second gift. And their Boards applaud. Second thought – get a proper welcome cycle in place to maximize subsequent retention and loyalty

Q – What are the biggest dangers for charities that you consider are over communicating to their donors? Do you see resting donors a viable option?

I’m not sure what ‘over-communication’ looks like. If I like you and I care about you – and I enjoy what I receive – how can you over-communicate? What you’re really saying here is that we are over-communicating with rubbish that doesn’t in any way reflect donor interests, needs or aspirations. If you’re squarely donor centric and concerned with how you make people feel, resting individuals shouldn’t be necessary.

Q – Have you seen personalising communications based on motivational scores make a difference? Or is it a progressive learning program over many years to get right?

Hmm – well I take issue with motivation, its very limiting. The next big thing in fundraising will be identity. So its not ‘why do people give’ – its what are people saying about themselves when they give. And when you orient a fundraising program around adding value for the types of people that donors are – magical things happen. People give more and they feel better about themselves when they do.

Q – What are your top 3 tips to building more sustainable long term fundraising programs?

I’ve touched on this already. Forget behavioural economics and all that 20th century rubbish. Focus on enhancing the wellbeing of supporters and construct communication that genuinely adds to that. AND think through what activities you can have folks engage with that will genuinely add to that sense of wellbeing – even if those activities raise no money. In short – stop thinking about your needs and focus on theirs. If people feel good, the money will follow.

SHOUT OUT TO: David Craig from Precision Fundraising for connecting us with Dr. Adrian Sergeant.