Sunday, 13 April 2014

Gettin' Donors Keepin' Donors

I've been making promises about putting the results of MQI's donor communications programme out in public. So here we go. This isn't going to be fancy. It will serve as a reference point for future blogs.

Gettin' donors

     I've been doing direct mail acquisition in Ireland since late 2008. Data has always been a challenge and my results have mostly varied based on the quality of data available. But I use all the same lists everyone else does. No big secrets there. Lisa Sargent began writing for us in Sept 2009. I can't begin to emphasise the importance of good creative.

     With the exception of one or two campaigns that only reached break even, most of our acquisition campaigns have an ROI of 1.2:1 to 1.8:1 (120%-180%).

     In the early years we only spent about €.69-.89 per pack, including postage. Some of our more recent packs have been €.99-1.38 including postage. 

Keepin' donors

     In late 2009 I realised we were losing donors almost as fast as we were bringing them in. We spent 2010 focusing on our internal processes. (Which was just as well, we had run out of usable ACQ lists) I hired my first staff member. We got a donor database and tightened our thank you letter process. Then Lisa Sargent overhauled our newsletter. You can read about that here.  before-and-after case study on Merchants Quay Ireland’s donor newsletter Our newsletter from Summer 2010 had a 2.2% RR before the overhaul. 

     The ROI on our newsletters over the last couple of years has averaged 7:1- 9:1 (700%-900%). We've also seen our Response Rates for Warm Appeals increase as we increased the number and quality of our newsletters.

Warm (House) Appeals
     Response Rates on our Warm Appeals vary by the time of year, naturally. But we also use one appeal a year to focus on converting cash donors to monthly donors and those RR's are a bit lower. The appeals in red are our Christmas Appeals. 

     We've seen a steady upward trend as we improved our newsletter, thank you's, increased the number of mailings and offered opportunities for donor engagement. You'll see that Christmas 2013 was down from the previous year but considering we had Typhoon Haiyan in November and the CRC scandal in Dec, I think we weathered it pretty well.

     I didn't include stats from 2008 - early 2010 because we didn't have a donor database yet. I'm just not certain of the accuracy of my records so I'd rather not put them out in public.