What’s the ROI of #DonorLove?

I’m just back from an amazing IFC in Holland where I co-delivered a #DonorLove masterclass. We worked through the Agent of Good Donor Love Principles and showed how it oozes in to all things fundraising: DM and telephone and on-line and face-to-face and corporate and more. Attendees started constructing their new Donor Journeys.

And someone asked, “How do you measure the ROI of Donor Love?”

How do you put a value on the thank you calls and birthday cards and gratitude reports and stories and questions and feelings and…well…love?

I guess there’s 2 ways to answer the question:


1. With The Head

You measure it…and you test it.

But you do it as a whole.

Your thank you letter might not be profitable if you look at it by itself (although a good thank you letter probably will be). But the donors who receive it will give your next appeal a better response rate.

So if you need to prove the power of Donor Love to your Board, your boss or yourself then split your database in half.

Carry on ticking the boxes with one half. Send them receipts and mail merges and the same old stuff.

Then gush over the other half. Thank and report…continually. Ask them why they support you. Invite them in for a cup of tea. Check in with them by phone. Send a handwritten card. Surprise and delight them.

A year (or more later) compare the two groups…see if the time and money it costs you to make people feel special means that they stick around and step up to help you succeed. In the meantime, look at the fundraisers that have already implemented this stuff and you’ll see it’s worked.


2. With The Heart

Of course it works.

You can hear it down the phone when people smile. You can see it in the handwritten notes your supporters send you back. You can taste it in the chocolate biscuit cake that fundraiser dropped in to your office.

And you can feel it.

You can feel it because it feels good to delight people.

Fundraising is a hard job. And one of the ways it we make it less hard is by making people happy…by surprising them…by making them feel special. Because it feels good to make people feel good.

And isn’t that the purpose of your organisation?

Sure it has a specific mission…a vision…all that jazz. No matter what problem you are trying to solve – hunger, disease, injustice – making people feel better is at the heart of your organisation.

How Much Time Do You Spend Thanking?

Every once in a while a charity asks me if they should spend less time and money on their thank yous, because they see them as just more admin.

You’ve probably heard me say this before: Thank Yous are income generators.

A good thank you can get a person to give again. A good thank you will increase the likelihood of donating the next time you ask. A good thank you will get passed around to friends and families and can help recruit new supporters.

Even with no ask, Thank You letters, e-mails and phone calls are really effective fundraisers. In fact, they’re my favourite form of fundraising. And they’re probably the most undervalued form of fundraising. Remember: retention is much much cheaper than recruitment.

Almost certainly, your organisation isn’t thanking enough.

Don’t even entertain the idea of cutting back on your thank yous…instead ask yourself (or me): How can we thank more? And how can we thank better?

Today I got one of my favourite thank yous ever, from Mike Elliott in Outreach Indiana. I made a small donation after my Pokémon teammate Steven Shattuck showed me what Mike was doing…

Mike uses a tool called Vidyard to record a completely personal and completely human thank you video, while showing images and screenshots of stuff relevant to the donor.

You have to watch this thank you from Outreach Indiana…I love it.

And while you’re at it, watch one of the thank yous they sent to Steven here.

For me, they sum up what a thank you should be: genuine, human, personal, relevant…and just damn lovely. A thank you should make you feel like your donation was noticed. And like it’ll make a difference.

That’s exactly what Mike has done. And that’s why his donors will keep coming back to him.

How’s your thank you journey looking?