Engaging Donors

Engaging Donors

As acquisition becomes more expensive, less predictable and high volumes harder to find, we must focus more of our energy on retaining the precious donors we already have. Measuring attrition, lifetime value and upgrade rates are great indicators of loyalty. Measuring multiple relationships is a really good indicator of your success in “cross selling”, or extending, your donors. But these database measures don’t tell us the full story of how engaged our donors really are. After all, is the habitual monthly donor who has forgotten to cancel really the same as the passionate but periodic cash donor?

To see if our communications are really making a difference we need to understand and measure what constitutes being engaged. To our mind there are both behavioural and emotional indicators of engagement:

  • Advocating on behalf of the charity (proactive and defensive)
  • Participating and entering into dialogue with the charity
  • Influence exerted and introductions made: corporate, families, HINW
  • Attitude – recognition and attribution of success to the charity
  • Attendance –service usage, event attendance
  • Volunteerism – short term project roles through to long term commitment
  • Giving – recency, frequency, value, multiple channels
  • Communications consumption – ‘contactability’, uses of media (opt in, open, read, forward, respond)
  • Passion indicators – is the charity their favorite, do they associate their identity with the cause, are they proud of their association?
  • Brand appreciation – understanding and valuing the role the charity plays in changing the world

From research conducted with five leading charities in Australia we have identified some of the key traits that predict whether people will give a second gift when asked.  They key drivers were found to be about identity, passion and relative importance.

The Supporter Engagement Score

This year we are launching a study to help increase loyalty and lifetime value by measuring and improving supporter engagement.


Annual survey – conducted with a sample of your supporters (preferably 3,000)

Multi-charity – we aim to engage 7 to 10 charities so you can get a relative performance measure

Segment based – so we can identify if your regular donors are more or less engaged than your cash donors or of your new donors are different from your established support base

Tracking – over at least 3 years to see if your supporter journey communications are increasing engagement

Comparable – we will use a common suite of questions across multiple charities to measure engagement and satisfaction

Tailored – we will ask questions specific to your cause and brand to understand what differentiates you and what donors most value about your work and messaging


Ongoing tracking of supporter engagement so that you can see if improvements in your supporter journey are working

  • Identify and connect with your most engaged donors
  • Identify what messages and beliefs most impact on engagement and value so you can deliver the most compelling messages to your supporters.
  • Demonstrate the link between engagement and value
  • Understand who your supporters are, what they value in what you do and whether this is changing over time.
  • Compare your engagement score to other member charities
  • Compare the experiences of different types of supporter by longevity or channel to identify how best to improve supporter loyalty.


Collective and Tailored Questions

The survey will incorporate standard questions to allow comparison across organisations. These will cover issues such as:

€        Giving Portfolio – who else they give to?

€        Net Promoter Score – will they advocate for you?

€        Satisfaction – how well do you treat them?

€        Passion and identity – how important are you to them?

€        Future intentions – what else might they do for you?

€        Values and beliefs – how aligned are you to their core beliefs?

 In addition, we will work with you to create questions that are specific to your cause and messages, these may cover topics such as:

€        Motivations for giving

€        Knowledge of what you do

€        Importance of what you do

€        What makes you different from others

€        Brand attributes and appreciation

€        What they want to hear about

 To be part of this important, ongoing study into your supporters attitudes please contact Martin
on 0435 306 202 or martin@morestrategic.co.uk

More Strategic is a leading not for profit marketing consultancy.





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September 2014