next direct mail appeal

Bloomerang was proud to join Pursuant and The Institute for Conversational Fundraising to support The Philanthropy Centre in its landmark study on just how massively important saying thank you really is.

The report is chock-full of interesting experiments, each with tangible takeaways for all fundraisers, including a simple method that could improve the results of your next email appeal by 60%.

In this post, I’d like to share the findings of another experiment found in the study. They speak to the power of donor-centricity in communications, and to surveying your supporters!

You don’t need a donation to say thank you, or ask questions

This experiment was conducted with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and sought to find the best way to thank new supporters who have taken an action that isn’t a monetary donation — in this case, signing a petition.

Yes, “donor-centricity” is important even if supporters haven’t made a donation yet!

New supporters who were not in Brady’s donor database prior to this campaign were asked to sign showing support for a bill in Congress.

Those who signed the petition were then sent a thank you email, which detailed why it was important that they signed the petition and contained a link at the end to a survey so Brady could find out more about why that person was interested in the cause.

The test itself was the order of the three questions in the survey:

Group 1 was asked first about Brady, while Group 2 was asked first about the supporter.

The three (multiple-choice) questions were:

  1. How did signing the petition make you feel? (donor well-being)
  2. In what ways would you consider helping Brady in the future? (donor intention)
  3. Will you vote on which one of these is most important? Please choose one. (what’s important for Brady)

The two tests looked like this:

The findings

The testing revealed that when the donor well-being questions were posed first, individuals were significantly more likely to agree that they would be willing to take other actions on Brady’s behalf in the future. They also answered more positively about how they feel when asked that question first.

The sector has talked for years about how donor-centricity is a best practice, and for good reason. Now we have some concrete evidence of its effectiveness. As you can see in this experiment with Brady, the supporter liked it when they were put first!

Not only is donor-centricity key, but don’t sleep on the magical results that can stem from the combination of helping your constituent take an action like signing a petition, then shortly afterwards thanking and surveying them about any other suggestions they might have to help the cause.

Donor Surveys are just beginning to be used by the nonprofit sector, despite a lot of evidence pointing towards their effectiveness.

Please be aware that surveying donors can be quite easy and can significantly raise donor commitment levels.

Surveys also break up the cadence of just one appeal after another, and allows commitment to be reinforced by undertaking a simple, but yet defining action.

In the case of the Brady Campaign, the propensity to support in the future increased dramatically! Obviously, you will want to conduct your own testing to see if the results are that dramatic for your efforts.

Surveying supporters who have not yet donated can be a great bridge to that first ask. I am guessing that the results of your appeal will be much different for those who you’ve gotten to know!

donor surveys

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.