Inspiring Donor Loyalty & Boosting Fulfillment Rates

Dear Christian Radio,

Oh, the euphoria! That moment when the fundraising goal has been met and the team can relax and celebrate. Everyone takes a few deep breaths, cuts some thank you promos and then scurries away for a long nap!

For those of us in Partner Services it is the launching pad to continued donor care. You are likely familiar with language such as “pledge” and “gift”. The challenge is converting those “pledges” into paid “gifts.”   This is where fulfillment is such an important concept.

A pledge fulfillment rate of 80 percent or higher is considered good. Most stations are happy with that ratio. We were ever grateful for our donors who helped us to achieve that level but were determined to raise the number. We did so by letting our data speak to us—I’ll expand on that shortly.

We began assessing what we could do differently before, during, and after the fundraising event to grow the fulfillment level. I’m happy to share that we now sit at a 91 percent overall fulfillment rate with a single gift fulfillment rate of 95 percent!

Perhaps you can relate to this…

Immediately following the fundraiser’s conclusion, the bank balance always looks good! Fast forward five months and that same balance now looks a bit slim. So what could we do to avoid a cash flow crunch leading into our next fundraising season? I’m delighted to share with you some of the steps we have taken:

  • Grow a monthly donor base. We have a core constituency that gives $30 per month, and some have given at that level for upwards of 15 years! The more donors you can retain at a set giving level, the more stable your fulfillment will be. We actually educate our donors about varying gift level options during our fundraiser. We are careful to communicate to our monthly donors that their gift is ongoing. If you currently hit reset every six months, I’d encourage you to rethink that strategy. The world in which we live is so busy that many donors are thrilled to not have to call and renew their pledge every fundraising event. If you are concerned that donors will feel swindled by your ongoing draft, I’d encourage you to send a pledge reminder to these donors. Doing so allows them the opportunity to cancel at any time should their circumstances change.
  • Encourage electronic giving. Our phone operators ask every caller if they would like to go ahead and place their gift on a credit card or schedule a monthly bank draft. By increasing the number of donors who pay their pledge the day they call, there will be less outstanding balances post-fundraiser. We’ve been able to grow our fulfillment rate for electronic giving from 75 percent to nearly 95 percent!
  • Let your data guide you. Your data can teach you so much! I sense your trembling and trepidation. If your team does not have a strong data-loving, banker type who loves nothing more than pouring over statistics and assessing giving trends, hire one! You need to know how many donors are lapsing after each fundraising season.For fulfillment to grow, the number of lapsing donors needs to decrease. We are able to utilize a rollover feature with our donor software. After careful research, we assessed that we would not roll over any monthly pledge that wasn’t fulfilled at a rate of 60 percent or higher.As we enter into a fundraising event, we are able to determine the percentage of goal that has already been met based on monthly donors and pre-fundraiser gifts. The challenge is then clearly presented to us: What remains to be paid in order to reach 100 percent—both in hitting our fundraiser goal and pledge fulfillment? 
  • It’s not about you. The fundraising ask needs to be about the listener. Let her share stories of why the station matters—to her, her family, and her friends. Help her to see how she is helping to solve a problem. If the ask is predicated upon her receiving a prize or being entered in a drawing, be prepared for her to give the minimum amount required and then likely cancel her support. If she believes that your station is gifting hope and encouragement, sharing the gospel, impacting the community, providing safe listening for little ears, and helping her to feel connected and grounded that is motive enough.We do not regret taking the risk. Our fulfillment grew once we stopped offering CDs, tablets, mugs, t-shirts, and the kitchen sink.
  • Send monthly donor statements to check writers and cash donors. We drop a statement in the mail on the fifth of every month. It goes to donors who are choosing to give on their own schedule or prefer not to tie their gift to an electronic payment option.This serves as a way for us to say, Thank you. It provides them with information on our Proof of Mission, and supplies them with an envelope and reply device for their next gift. Next to electronic giving, this mail piece generates the bulk of our gifts.One additional tidbit: Abandon the white reply envelope and utilize business reply mail through your post office. A brightly colored envelope will stand out and save your donor the hassle of searching for a stamp. This removes another obstacle that could prevent them from giving to your organization.
  • Manage payment information. Our software helps us track expiring credit cards and declined gifts from donors. The built in reporting feature makes it easy for us to follow up with donors regarding any payment issues. Our standard procedure used to be a letter to the donor. However, upon learning that donors thought this was a receipt and disregarded it, we switched to an attractive postcard. Since doing so, donor response rate has grown by more than 25 percent.

Dear Christian Radio…

     1) Analyze your data. Understanding donor attrition rates is a key to fulfillment.
     2) Motive Matters. Examine why you’re asking her to give. Providing value far outweighs the allure of a prize.
     3) Provide excellent donor care. Provide tools for gifting; communicate any gift issues.

In Christ,

Kayla Sanders
Director of Partner Services
Positive Alternative Radio

Kayla Sanders, invites you to share your questions and comments at [email protected].

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