Donor Relationship Stage 2: Welcome Me – ft. Lauren McDermott from Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research
Continuing with our 8-part blog series reviewing the different stages of the donor relationship, this blog delves into donor relationship stage 2: Welcome Me.
After hearing her passionately speak on the subject at one of our Donor Centricity Collective events, we asked Lauren McDermott, Fundraising Manager – Donor Development at Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research to share her thoughts and experiences on the “most exciting donor stage for all fundraisers” and an “incredible opportunity for innovation and discovery”……
As fundraisers, we often liken the ‘Welcome Me’ stage of a donor’s journey to the honeymoon stage of a romantic relationship. Whilst there are many commonalities – the setting of expectations, taking time to get to know and understand each other, the building of trust – there is a striking difference.
When giving their first gift, our donors have usually just responded to a single call to action, crafted to feel as urgent and unavoidable as we can possibly make it. We shouldn’t be too quick to assume then, that this equates to any sort of commitment or loyalty. We are not side-by-side in a getaway car trailing cans.
The donor welcome journey is a tool used to increase the likelihood of a second gift and, if done well, a third and fourth before progressing over time into our pillar programs as a monthly giver, a major donor or leaving a gift in their will.
Whilst it sounds simple enough, at the time of writing this, I find that best practice welcome journeys are not easy to come by. Perhaps that’s not surprising given the UK’s Commission on Donor Experience reports that fundraisers often only pay lip service to thanking and welcoming their donors. This is proven by the fact that more than 90% of the reviewed fundraising materials contained the same sentence – Thank you so much for your kind/generous donation of.The Commission’s report suggested four areas that charities might benefit from reviewing if they want to implement a best-practice welcome for a new supporter.
Being real and authentic
Too often, we use speed as a measure of a good welcome. But taking the time to add a personal touch is just as, if not more, important. It tells donors right from the start that they are heroes to your beneficiaries and that their donations are seen and noticed (no black hole here). It may also break down perceived barriers for future giving by showcasing your friendly supporter care.
Whilst a phone call is one way of thanking a donor, with numerous benefits to both parties, we know handwritten notes, paperclips, videos and plain text email can all convey a similar message – a machine is not thanking you today, a real human is.
Respecting a donor’s choice and privacy is key to ensuring the relationship is sustainable and long-lasting. But it’s also crucial we have the opportunity to thank people and show them the incredible impact they have had on our cause.
If supporters take the opportunity to opt-out too soon, we can’t give them the most basic psychological return on their investment. It’s a lose/lose.
Having a robust, but functional, preference centre is one step we can take to resolve this. But there is a lot more to be done to have harmonious, engaging and choice-driven communications with your supporters.
Is digital still an afterthought when it comes to welcoming new donors to your organisation? What if you can’t call them because they don’t have a phone number?
Ensuring we duplicate our offline welcome activities in the online world, in a way that is meaningful and memorable for new supporters coming on from every possible source is important. It is also a great way for us to begin measuring, testing and using data-driven insights to continuously improve the journeys we put in place.
At the Perkins, we use the term ‘automation with heart’ to remind us that tools and technology should be utilised to enhance the donor’s experience first and foremost, not to make things easier for us.
By far the most important area that needs the urgent focus of our best fundraising minds is how we measure an effective welcome.
The lack of appropriate, accurate and universally adaptable metrics is likely the reason that we underperform in this area of fundraising. From my experience, the current common measures of success are not necessarily the best ones to use for measuring the donor welcome journey:
- Speed – a quick thank you isn’t always a quality thanks.
- ROI – leads to short term thinking and a focus on cost-saving. If we don’t thank people for giving small amounts, they don’t understand the impact that giving more could have next time.
- Second gift rates – are important but not everything. Do people who are welcomed give more? What’s the difference five years on?
- Lifetime value – extremely difficult to measure for many charities, particularly smaller or less established ones, or to effectively use this to show cause and effect from a single activity.
We know the impact a word or even the font size can have when seeking donations, but when it comes to thanking or welcoming donors, there is still a lot left to be discovered. I think that’s exactly what makes the welcome me stage a very exciting area for all fundraisers with an incredible opportunity for innovation and discovery – I hope you do too.
If you’d like to learn more from Lauren and your fundraising peers, we invite you to join LemonTree’s Donor-Centricity Collective (DCC). Every quarter we host webinars and events with industry speakers, as well as commercial speakers so you learn how to bring commercial best practice into the NFP industry. Learn from your peers – and share your own insights and experiences – through our private social media groups, events and blogs…all for FREE!
It takes a tribe to raise a family and it takes a collective of passionate, like-minded peers to change an industry and help grow sustainable giving in Australia – join us today.
Thank you to Lauren McDermott for sharing her knowledge on the Welcome Me stage in the donor relationship journey.
Previously in this series:
Next up in this series:
- Teach Me
- Grow Me
- Endear Me
- Keep Me
- Renew Me
- Win Me Back