Sustainer programs offer a win/win for both donors and nonprofits, but in order to maximize the benefits, it’s important to establish an effective processing and management system for receiving and managing sustainer gifts.
This month’s blog focuses on a survey commissioned by Merkle Response Management Group on nonprofit direct mail donation processing. Market Connections, Inc. conducted the blind online survey, asking non-profits what methods they use to manage their direct mail responses, how well they think they are addressing key areas, the importance of specific attributes when evaluating current or potential outsource service companies, and perceptions of the benefits of outsourcing. 157 non-profit organizations responded, and all use direct mail as a fundraising tool.
I’ve been with Merkle Response Management for over seven years, beginning in our Quality and Implementation departments overseeing the Quality Management System (ISO 9001:2008) and annual Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE16) certification processes as well as assisting with the on-boarding process of new clients. In 2011, I was promoted to Assistant Manager of Client Services while continuing to oversee Merkle’s Quality Management System.
In a past blog, I talked about the important role contact centers play in enhancing donor lifetime value. I outlined several best practices, including availability and responsiveness, producing a high level of service, gathering information to strengthen relationships and acknowledging donor contributions. Today, I’ll highlight some examples of how contact centers can be used to proactively reach out to donors to strengthen their relationship with your organization.
For any nonprofit organization, donor retention is the single most important indicator of performance. It’s a direct reflection of what donors feel about you. At Episcopal Relief & Development we ask ourselves, “Are we doing everything possible to ensure that our donors hold us in high regard? And will their good opinion ultimately translate into regular, generous contributions?” Our regular weekly, monthly or yearly donors believe in our mission, want to be a part of it, and are glad to tell others about it. But even with committed donors on board, it’s a never-ending job, and we must continue to steward the relationship so that these donors remain loyal.
I’ve been involved in fundraising for over 17 years, working initially in data entry and other front and back-end services. Early on in my career I wrote standard operating procedures for donation processing at the American Red Cross. From my perspective, security in donation processing is hugely important.
As the President of Merkle Response Management Group, I lead the many facets of our business – from client satisfaction, product enhancements and new services, to sales presentations, business strategy, employee engagement and process improvement. No two days are ever alike. In my free time, I like to explore my creative side. I am a frustrated artist at heart who enjoys Plein Air landscape painting, and crafting wood furniture. I also enjoy tinkering on my restored VW ’66 bug.
Recently a prospective client made a second visit to our facility in Hagerstown, Maryland, to do a deeper dive into our capabilities and how we’d handle the nonprofit organization’s direct mail responses. As part of that process we asked the Director of Development to bring samples of their primary direct mail packages to review.
One of the most important activities for a nonprofit is the handling of incoming communications from donors. Because nonprofits depend on donors to fund the programs and operations that serve the organization’s mission, using these interactions to build and maintain a strong donor base is fundamentally important. Below, I’ve outlined some best practices for using your contact center to enhance donor lifetime value.