Here at Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey, we don’t just have one day dedicated to the Earth. For those of us who have the pleasure of working with environmental clients, April 22nd is just one of 365 days we spend thinking about our planet and how we can help save it. We’re inspired by our clients’ hard work to take care of the Earth and fight threats such as climate change, fracking, and the extinction of endangered species. And we bring the direct marketing savvy to engage new environmental donors with this important work.
So what then ARE the environmental issues to which people respond?
We’ve learned a lot about the environmental market over the years. For example, one longtime client focused on a wide range of issues—from fracking to big cats and manatees. But none of these topics led to success in the mail. The only issue to which their donors responded was endangered wolves, which comprised a very small proportion of the organization’s work as a whole. However, this client raised almost all of their money by talking about their wolf program.
Sometimes, it’s not necessarily the biggest piece of the mission that drives fundraising. In fact, oftentimes, the majority of money comes from a tiny sliver of what the organization does.
The next challenge comes from turning these enthusiastic new donors into longtime members who consistently support the organization.
How do you turn prospects into longtime donors?
It’s easy to assume that raising money for environmental organizations is simply a matter of mailing people who believe in environmental causes. But it can be a bit more complicated than that. Even among those who want to preserve our planet, there are often two types of donors and each respond to different techniques.
Because of this, we have rolled out a two-track prospecting programs for many clients in this market:
- The first track consists of more traditional prospecting techniques and utilizes issue-driven packages with strong advocacy messaging. While this package elicits a high average gift, we know it’s possible to further develop our clients’ donor base. That’s where our second track comes in.
- The second track is more technique-driven, and relies heavily on premiums. While these premium packages tend to expand an organization’s membership file, they don’t always add much in terms of long-term value and retention—so we’ve developed a messaging stream designed to get that second gift.
Once we’ve identified the broader issues that new donors will respond to, we refine the messaging in subsequent appeals – essentially converting them from donors driven by a general idea, to those committed to specific, mission-based issues. And through years of testing, we’ve found that those donors who engage on issue-driven messaging are some of our clients’ strongest supporters.
Related posts – See our partner Jim Hussey’s excellent post on acquisition premiums.