Printers have the expertise, non-profits have the need
Many non-profit organizations are stuck in the past when it comes to their fundraising efforts. Part of the challenge is a lack of resources. Non-profits rely on volunteers to handle administrative tasks. There may also be knowledge and experience gaps which may cost fundraising groups more than they realize. Partners such as print and mail service providers can be valuable sources of information and inspiration. Working with their partners, non-profit clients can upgrade their fundraising and communication strategies through printed and electronic messaging.
“Tried and True” campaigns that have always produced satisfactory results are probably out-of-date today. Internet technology has affected everything – including the way non-profits inform donors about causes and persuade them to send money. Good news for smaller non-profits, the internet has also leveled the playing field. Now any size organization has access to the tools and techniques necessary to upgrade their approach. Non-profits must modernize their methods to take advantage of current technology and connect to today’s contributors.
Data is king in the commercial business world and non-profits are no different. Sadly, most organizations do not have the data they need. Others are unsuccessful at applying their facts and figures. Effective use of data will improve messages to members, donors, volunteers, and sponsors. Stellar fundraising requires communicating the right information at the right time to the right people. Data makes that possible. And software tools drive effective customer engagement across multi-channel communications.
Nurture Donors to Keep Contributions Flowing
The average donor retention rate for non-profit organizations is 46%. The retention rate for first time donors is even worse – 29%. This isn’t good enough. Heads would roll in a commercial enterprise if they retained less than half their customers. Research estimates new donor acquisition costs are ten times more than retaining a current one, so any investment that results in better retention will pay off quickly.
Continuous donation campaigns, where donors give a certain amount month after month, are only successful in the long term when the givers have a stake in the outcome. The more personal their connection, the longer people will continue to contribute. Acknowledging a gift with a general “thanks for the money, here’s the programs you are supporting” letter is the norm. A generic response however, fails to show donors how their contributions are making a specific and measurable difference.
If an organization can show supporters a direct connection between their gifts and identifiable results, it encourages donors to continue their financial patronage. If the non-profit has done a good job at making these connections, donors realize someone they’ve gotten to know through photos, stories, or letters will suffer if they stop giving. That is a powerful motivator made possible with variable document composition methods, good data, and detailed plans to establish and strengthen personal bonds between donors and beneficiaries.
Fortunately, modern document composition software, printing, and mailing equipment make it possible to communicate with each donor as an individual. Non-profits must no longer rely upon a single presentation or even a versioned approach. Every single message can be unique.
All Donors Are Not the Same
Variability built into donor communications makes it possible to pay tribute to long-time supporters while simultaneously educating new donors. In both printed and electronic documents, communications professionals can compose and distribute highly personalized messages with no increase in postage or material costs.
Print service providers can combine demographic and localization data along with donation history and data collected from surveys or outside sources. Information from internal and external databases provides donor communication channel preferences, specific program interests, and many other data points, creating individual donor profiles. These profiles then control message choice, wording, timing, graphics, photos, and delivery methods.
Managing the Upgrades
Internal teams at non-profits are receptive to the idea that their organizations need to be better about collecting and using data to make informed decisions. For actual change however, non-profits should appoint one or two people who will own the data enablement initiative. These individuals will work closely with print service providers to coordinate activities and shuttle information back and forth. Assigning individuals specific tasks and defined deadlines is the way to avoid falling back into old familiar and unproductive patterns. Regular status meetings between service providers and their main contacts at the non-profit organizations will keep projects on track.