Learning patterns/Developing strong relationships with donors - more than communication via banners
What problem does this solve?
Only a small part of German Wikipedia readers actually donate. That’s why it is so important to develop a long-term relationship to our existing donors. How can we convince them from another donation or even to become regular donors? Throughout the last years Wikimedia Deutschland intensified fundraising communication with exisiting donors and gathered valuable lessons learned in relationship management. This learning pattern describes the strategies of Wikimedia Deutschland in caring and deepening the relationship to its donors. In particular, this is useful for chapters which don’t conduct a banner driven fundraising campaign on Wikipedia. It’s especially them who face the challenge of intensifying the relationship of small donor bases.
What is the solution?
1. Facilitate recurrent donations
The technical implementation of recurrent donations is the basic requirement for building a real long-term relationship with donors. We provide the option of standing orders for every payment method that we offer within our donation form. This involved considerable administrative effort with some payment providers (PayPal and credit card) plus technical modifications of our fundraising database. Relating to bank transfer - which relies on the initiative of the donor - we developed a specific solution. Our online donation form provides the possibility of bank transfers in form of a promise: After entering the donation details an email is sent to the (potential) donor with all informations needed for the transaction (bank account, reason for transfer). By this, we also are able to easily collect contact adresses of bank transfer donors.
2. Communicate with donors
By well-directed postal and electronic mailing campaigns we ask our donors to donate again or to even become recurrent donor - a strategy beyond banner communication. The subsequent principles and approaches haven proven to be successful:
Convincing donors to become long-term supporters is a specific challenge. We need to point out the advantages of a recurrent donation. On the one hand we exemplify that a long-term support enables a long-term ambition in pursuing our goals. It makes our work much more reliable and sustainable. On the other hand we aim to offer our recurrent donors an additional value, for example by sending certain informations on a regular basis (e.g. annual reports, invitations to our events) or providing a newsletter for members. We’ve created a specific flyer for the purpose of convincing donors to become regular supporters which communicates all of these advantages and is inserted in our postal mailings.
Communicate appropriate to target audiences
Email campaigns feature great advantages like minimal costs and easy tracking. But more important for the decision which medium to use for the communication with donors is the question of their preferences. We can see for example higher response rates in postal mailings than in email campaigns. Hence, the communication channel must be appropriate for the relevant audience. Of course postal mailings with their higher costs face the challenge of being cost-covering or rather better. That’s why in postal mailings we adress high potential target groups (for instance donors with high donation amounts) in particular.
Communicate on multiple channels
From our experience we know that postal and electronic mailings achieve much higher response rates during the annual fundraiser. Thus, we use a multi channel approach by accompanying the banners with several mailings so that both strengthening mutually. Even if a chapter doesn’t conduct a fundraising campaign on Wikipedia on its own, it is very much worth to use this time period of - thanks to the donation banners - increased attention.
To communicate in a personalized way has proven to be quite persuasive. For example, we refer to the last donation (precisely with date and amount) of the donor in our mailing texts to increase relevance for the reader. In an A/B test we found clear evidence of the positive effect of it. At the moment we focus on adapting mailing copies more and more to specific target groups. For instance, we explicitly appreciated those who left a comment in after their donation in a mailing letter. Another current task is the implementation of an automated renewal process where donors who have not donated for a certain time ago are contacted by postal mail kindly asking for another donation.
Test your communication
To pursue an evidence-based approach is not only possible with banner campaigns. In our postal and electronic mailings we regularly conduct A/B tests. Thus, we send different versions of a mailing to randomized recipient groups and evaluate their response. Modifications of the mailing are plentiful: text, layout, materials. By this, we constantly increase our understanding of our fundraising communication and successfully improve response.
3. Offer service to donors
We think a functioning donor service is not simply a “nice-to-have” but integral for developing a good donor relationship. One can contact us via email or phone and especially during the annual fundraiser hundreds of people use this opportunity on a daily basis. First, this is important to respond to information needs and service requests of donors to their satisfaction. On the other hand, we strongly rely on the contact to our donors as a central information source about donor wishes, preferences and attitudes. As the success of our donation receipt mailings show we also benefit from fulfilling the needs and expectations of donors - most of them expect to receive a donation receipt - in terms of revenue. In donor receipt mailings we ask for memberships and in the last years these campaigns were one of our most successfull ways to gain new long-term supporters.
When to use
This learning pattern can be particularly useful for chapters which don’t conduct a banner driven fundraising campaign on Wikipedia. It’s especially them who face the challenge of intensifying the relationship of small donor bases.