Fundraising During a Pandemic – Tips & Considerations for Donor Selections

As we enter the third month of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have settled into a new normal and accepted the crisis as the surround sound of their missions. CCAH, in partnership with our clients, has adjusted and is continuing to readjust revenue projections and expectations. We are closely scrutinizing incoming returns from outbound solicitations.

For those organizations not directly impacted or serving beneficiaries impacted by the pandemic, there may be a temptation to scale back fundraising asks of their donors. Most organizations recognize this is not a prudent approach for the long-term viability of serving their missions, and CCAH strongly counsels against the exclusion of efforts, or cutting back too severely.

Is there a middle ground? Can organizations continue to solicit donations from their donors, while at the same time acknowledging not all donors on their file have the capacity or interest to give right now?

Yes! You can find donors who are willing and able to help you continue furthering your mission. We suggest targeting those house file donors that are the most in love with you. But how do you know who they are? 

We recommend considering some of these selection criteria to choose your donors:

Donors who have given for 5 or more years consecutively to your organization – including this year

Within this group, further identify the long-on-file (example, 10+ years), highly consistent donors (giving 75% or more of the time they have been on your file) with a lifetime revenue of perhaps $1,200+. Consider using as many channels as possible: SMS, phone, and/or email, connecting with them in much the same way you would with family and friends. Send an affirmative message showing you care such as: “these are uncertain times, we hope you’re doing okay” to solidify your donors’ relationship with your organization.

New donors acquired after March 17, 2020

Also, consider adjusting the new donor onboarding and the acknowledgement language new donors receive during this crisis. Adjust messaging to reflect the current environment (e.g. make sure it’s not just the normal welcome series, since that may not sound authentic to new donors at this time).

Lapsed Donors

Typically, reinstated lapsed donors tend to be more valuable than newly acquired donors.

As such, re-prioritize the more recently lapsed (like 13-36 months lapsed donors) and focus on those who were multi-year consecutive donors before they lapsed. Where possible, further refine by focusing on those who have been on your database for a substantial period of time (consider 7+ years), and who had given a cumulative amount of $100 or more. We recommend removing any new or reactivated donors who lapsed again.

Target these lapsed donors via SMS, ads, and email where possible. Multichannel contacts will increase the rate of conversions. 

Sustainers

Target committed donors who, after becoming a sustainer, have given additional one-time donations. Do you know who these sustainers are? If not, find them.

They are some of your best donors! Consider narrowing this selection further to the time period after March 17, 2020. 

Identify those sustainers who voluntarily upgraded their monthly committed amount, has anyone done this after March 17, 2020? Then identify monthly donors who converted to giving monthly donations after making one-time gifts for a significant period of time (like 7+ years) or maybe even those who have been on your database for 10 or more years in totality.

Other Donor Constituencies for Selection:

  • Donors who have given in the last 18 months and have returned a completed mail survey (digital survey completion as secondary)
  • Donors who volunteered their change of address (not auto-NCOA updated)
  • Multichannel donors who have given to two or more channels both this year and last year
  • Active (0-18 month) donors who are also coded as:
    • Active Advocates
    • Fundraising on the behalf of the organization
    • Current Volunteers
  • Donors donating using alternate payment methods:
    • Donor Advised Funds               
    • Family Foundations
    • Stocks

As we navigate this uncertain time, it’s important to make informed choices that best serve the overall missions of our clients. While we need to be mindful of the environment we are mailing within, we can use careful donor selection as an opportunity to keep the best donors involved and keep striving toward organizational goals.

Who are the donors you have identified as your strongest supporters, or do you need help finding them? We’re happy to help, reach out and work with us!

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