Drakes Bay Fundraising
A Next Generation Fundraising Company

Archive for November, 2013

Sustainer Case Studies

Posted by Christopher Dann
Tuesday November 19, 2013
Categories: Fundraising, Public Radio, Sustainers

Two clients — Colorado Public Radio and Friends of Arizona Public Radio in Phoenix — offer excellent opportunity for examining what comes of well-managed sustaining donor programs. In Phoenix, KJZZ (primarily news and information) had grown its sustainer support to 41% of the file at June 30 and K-BACH (primarily guess what?) had grown is sustainers to 32% of the file. Colorado Public Radio (three full-time formats: news/information, classical and new music) had grown its sustainers to 24% of their donor base, restricting sustainer giving to electronic funds transfer.

After the close of their fiscal years, we undertook Donor Base Trend Analyses of the three donor bases (separating the two Phoenix files) to produce the array of 6-year trend reports DBTAs provide, 11-year file census reports, and most recent year’s cross-tab reports. In all categories, wherever gift frequency is assessed, sustainers are broken out as an asset class.

Finally, for the recent year — FY2013 — cross tab reports, we also included reports quantifying ranges of cumulative giving, loyalty, and giving frequency (with sustainers broken out) by Target Analytics’ Loyalty Insights groups.

So there’s a lot of data, and there is a lot more studying to do. But we can summarize the major findings of our first analyses and enumerate the hypotheses we want to pursue with further study and time.

One hypothesis we posited decades ago when we and our colleagues at Craver, Mathews, Smith & Company first built huge sustainer programs for Southern Poverty Law Center and Greenpeace…in days long before public use of the internet and ubiquitous credit cards. That hypothesis stands as demonstrated: Sustainer programs work best and are of highest value when they are backed by a case for sustaining support. Public radio, and especially news and information public radio, makes such a case all day every day of the year.

Major Findings for the Two Clients

  • Sustaining donors are leading performers in terms of loyalty.
  • Sustainers have above average yield (current net support) but not better than multi-gift donors.
  • Their value (potential for future yield) exceeds the norm, principally through high retention but, again, not that of multi-gift/multi-year donors.
  • Sustaining donors cluster among the three most valuable Loyalty Insights groups.

This last finding stood out among the four. We have been able to demonstrate the efficacy of Target’s Loyalty Insights model across a wide variety of donor bases by looking at variances in annual cumulative giving, gift frequency and donor retention by each of the seven Loyalty Insights groups.

These were the first opportunities we had to look at model groups within substantial populations of sustaining donors.

What we found, in summary, was that 89% of Colorado Public Radio’s sustainers clustered in the four high-value Loyalty Insight groups and accounted for 95% of sustainer revenue in their fiscal 2012. For KJZZ, 79% of their sustainers were in those four groups and accounted for 90% of sustainer revenue. And for K-BACH, the four groups accounted for 76% of sustainer donors and 88% of sustainer revenue.

Hypotheses for Further Study

1.  Sustaining donors challenge the efficacy of fundraising programs/organizations they leave behind.

Corollary: They are a rich source of information on the organization and its case.

2.  Sustaining donors are not nor are they like multi-gift donors.

Corollary: they are making a single commitment, not multiple commitments.

3.  The sustainer arm’s length relationship disguises the strength and value of their engagement.

Corollary: The motive is not convenience, nor saving trees, but a way to be more generous than one could otherwise afford.

4.  Designation — even to a sector or aspect of annual operations — will enhance attraction and value development of sustainer donors.

5.  Sustainer programs can be as effectively instituted with high-dollar donors, albeit with refined cases and designations.

Corollary: They should be instituted at both base range and mid-range, preferably with different brands.

6.  Sustaining donors are more likely than average donors to commit to estate gifts.

A Most Unusual Gift

Posted by Christopher Dann
Monday November 11, 2013
Categories: Fundraising, Planned Giving

The most unusual gift I ever experienced — unusual in both curiosity and value — arrived at The Nature Conservancy the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve in 1972. It was in response to a new donor prospecting campaign. It was a diamond engagement ring, mailed in the campaign’s remittance envelope but with no identification of the donor.

While nothing like that is likely to happen, gifts of extraordinary size from new donors, in cash or securities, are likely at this time of year, more so than any other time.  At other times of year, prospecting is mostly a two-way street, with donors trying out organizations looking to enroll them.  In the fall, there are donors more ready to engage at what are for them normal levels of giving to favored organizations

Seasoned fundraisers know that there are actually three kinds of planned gifts. The oldest kind are annual gifts planned by extraordinary donors in the forth calendar quarter of the year. The next oldest kind are those planned in connection with estate planning. And the third and newest kind are those made to donor advised funds in connection with plans — often not yet made — for future distribution.

Most often those planned extraordinary annual gifts come from active donors of record. But solid, persuasive case making in prospecting mail or online can produce gifts whose donors warrant special attention.

We never learned who sent The Nature Conservancy that ring, and weren’t supposed to. We imagined, as I’m sure you would, that it came from a spurned fiancée who clearly favored the Conservancy as the means of achieving sweet revenge.  Great good was accomplished on her behalf and in her honor.

Next Generation Fundraising and Drakes Bay Fundraising merged in the fall of 2013, bringing the longstanding professional acquaintances of their four principals – Tim Oleary, Carol Leister, Cindy Germain, and Christopher Dann – into a single company and combining the special resources and experiences of each to provide clients greater breadth and depth of service.

For more information about Next Generation Fundraising, click here.