The Donor Retention Solution
Depending on the nonprofit, a donor can receive up to seven or eight mail solicitations per month. It’s no wonder that contact centers commonly receive calls from donors asking to be removed from an organization’s mailing list – especially after a large mail campaign. In these situations, how can you honor the donor’s request without losing them permanently?
Our Donor Retention solution includes a scripting strategy designed to maintain the connection with the donor while reducing the amount of mail they receive. Often, callers don’t realize that they have multiple options for staying in touch with an organization – they believe it’s all or nothing. Our solution involves making donors aware of alternatives and allowing them to choose the frequency of contact from the nonprofit – even if it’s just one mailing a year.
“A lot of people don’t think they have options,” said Amanda Albin, contact center supervisor at Merkle Response. “Naturally, they’re more likely to take an option if you offer it.”
Our Donor Retention solution includes steps to develop rapport with callers. One of the benefits of a live conversation is the chance to establish a personal connection.
“They’re often surprised to get a live voice, and they respond well to that,” said Tom Martin, donor care specialist at Merkle Response. “So that immediately gives us a real opportunity for positive conversation.”
Empathy is an important part of the solution strategy. Conversations should validate a donor’s concerns and focus on how much the organization appreciates their support. When the caller feels heard and valued, they’re more likely to be responsive to suggestions.
“I tell the donor we’d hate to lose them, and that I understand what it’s like to be inundated with mail,” said Martin. “By finding the common ground, you can more easily turn the call around.”
“I chat with them and make them feel comfortable,” added Houda Toure, quality monitor at Merkle Response. “And even if they’re angry in the beginning, they’ll often agree to receive one mailing a year.”
Merkle clients using our Donor Retention solution are 15-25 percent more successful in retaining clients than those who remove donor contacts upon request.
The Outbound Thank-You Call Solution
Previously, I’ve talked about the value of responding to donations with personal thank-you calls. Calling to express gratitude for a recent gift – without any solicitation agenda – is more likely to motivate donors to give again, and to give more.
Our Outbound Thank-You Call solution uses strategic scripting, a selective caller-assignment process, and other best practices to help clients strengthen donor relationships with outgoing calls.
Because many donors expect calls to be solicitations, calling without an “ask” is a great way to differentiate your organization and strengthen feelings of goodwill with donors.
“Take advantage of those non-transactional moments,” said Alicia Watts, contact center manager at Merkle Response. “When donors realize there’s no agenda, that’s often the most effective conversation.”
Our solution includes careful selection of donor care specialists who are best suited for this type of outreach. Personality plays a major role in that selection process –donor care specialists should be warm, patient, willing to listen, and convey genuine gratitude.
“We want our top-tier donor care specialists to handle these high-touch calls,” said Watts. “It’s that important to our clients.”
Merkle clients who’ve used our solution have seen a 53 percent increase in donor response rate to additional mailings and a 63 percent higher average gift amount in subsequent donations.
Strategic and Personalized
Our solutions offer you a systematic, yet personalized, approach to managing your donor communications.
Each service package uses a best-practice protocol, but includes flexible aspects tailored to the unique goals, business rules, and voice of each organization.
At the same time, we assign donor care specialists and adapt scripting to align with different donor profiles, expectations and personalities. Donors can vary by age, political affiliation, faith, or other traits that can shape our conversations. Some may be busy and in a hurry, while others may be inclined to chat for a while. Understanding the donor audience – and the client – is central to all Merkle Response solutions.
“We have to do our homework, because when we speak to the donor, we are the client,” said Martin. “We have to play that role. Every client and call is unique. That’s what makes it interesting, and that’s what sets us apart from other call centers.”
As we expand this group of products, we’re interested in what our clients would find most useful and beneficial. We welcome your thoughts and ideas.