Beyond the Event: Cultivation Strategies for your Peer to Peer Donors

Last week, Amy Braiterman brought up the topic of peer-to-peer donors and shared that it’s time we start thinking about how to thoughtfully engage and cultivate these donors.  The fundraising world is active; everyday it seems that more and more organizations are fundraising. Peer to peer donors are a good group of warm prospects, but the question remains will peer to peer donors become organizations’ donors?

It’s up to you.

Your fundraisers are fantastic champions for your organization and help bring in a literal wealth of resources for you. They are passionate and they ignite passion in the people around them to support a cause – ultimately helping your mission.

Now is the time to use that passion a.k.a “runner’s high” and build off the momentum to convert peer to peer event donors to organization donors.

Here are some ideas to think about when developing a donor cultivation plan:

Performance Enhancers are OK

Not all donors to a peer to peer event are going to give again. They may not ever give outside of an event. That’s normal. But some people do give. They may already be on your regular donor file or prospect list.

You might still be reading or hearing about the “big data” movement – both good and bad. For a nonprofit fundraiser the good of “big data” is that it is actually a lot smaller, cheaper, and more approachable than in the recent past. By leveraging additional data elements you can start to fill in the gaps in your prospect file, better target your fundraising campaigns, and increase your fundraising program’s ROI.

Data providers can now quickly append a set of attributes to your donor file to assist in fundraising campaign segmentation. Combining these attributes to create crazy smart formulas is known as “predictive analysis.” Basically, you’ll find out who will most likely give to a cause based on a set of demographic and historical elements.

Play Favorites

If you are like most fundraisers you are probably being asked to “do more with less.”  Events bring out all types of supporters and you can leverage these “warm prospects” to expand your fundraising reach.

Ask any fundraiser that knows direct response and she will say how happy she is to get a 10% response rate. She won’t say that she is happy her donors just threw away 90% of a direct mail campaign. Finding the right donor with the right message with the right medium is the holy grail of fundraising. You have a list of people you don’t know, you have a limited budget that seems to be the target of first round of “cost savings” by the board, and you need to raise more in each campaign.

So how do you find out who are the donors that are likely to respond when you really don’t know anything about them?

Let’s say you get 5,000 new donors from your race. There is no way you can mail every donor on this list. There is also no way every donor will respond even if you did mail them. By overlaying predictive analysis you can start to optimize the list to see donors who have the ability to give and, most importantly, are known givers to other organizations similar to yours.

By segmenting the file to focus on the more responsive donors, you shave off the other names who would never respond anyway, thus saving on campaign costs, and increasing your campaign ROI.

In this example if you mailed every donor you may get a 2% response rate, net a little money, all at around $0.75 cost to raise a dollar (CTRD). It’s ok but not great.

Appending predictive indicators, you can instead focus your efforts on responsive segments. This increases your response rate, decreases your costs, and could almost double the CTRD. This is gold-medal performance.

Sure this example is just a practice exercise but it is easily seen in the real race of fundraising for many organizations.

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Post Work Out

Just like in a race, timing is important when planning fundraising campaigns. Too many asks too soon will wear out a donor. Too little too late and the donor remains stationary. You want to leverage the excitement from your event but also make sure you leave some space for your event stewardship efforts. For most organizations this could be between 1 to 6 months. A good reference would be to look at your current donor file for an indication of the average timing between first gift and second gift. By planning your campaign timing you will ensure maximum performance from both your event and conversion campaign without stepping on the toes of either one.

Flex Some Muscle

There are a variety of ways you can incorporate new data elements that strengthen your fundraising campaigns. Different tools and attributes can be used together to hone in on the best prospects for an organization or even a specific campaign. Leverage the surround sound and support from your event to keep prospects excited, add on data elements to expand your gear, and then use predictive elements to sharpen your fundraising skills. All together you will soon have an Olympic-ready fundraising team!