Let’s say you just starting looking at the results of an analytics project.  Whether or not you did an internal or externally-procured predictive analytics endeavor, the same issue comes up time and again:  How can I utilize this to upgrade donors and increase my annual giving program?  It depends on what you are analyzing of course, but I will assume you looked at predicting the likelihood of someone to give you a another gift, and approximately at what dollar level they are likely to give you that gift.  So if someone in your database looks likely to give you another gift, and you see that they have the similar data characteristics as someone giving at a higher level than their last, average, or largest gift, it may be time to start implementing the information you have gathered.  Maybe try the following:

  • If a prospect’s last gift is at the lower end of the giving range identified from the project, maybe upgrade them to the high end of the range.
  • If a prospect’s last gift is one level lower than the giving range identified, maybe upgrade them to the high end of the range.
  • If a prospect’s last gift is more than one level lower than the giving range identified, maybe ask for twice their last gift amount or use accordingly.  Some of the clients I have worked with are more aggressive and ask for the low end of the identified giving range, and some use a more conservative approach.

It helps to think about testing this upgrade project first, but consider choosing a very specific group of prospects to test your upgrade strategy with.  Maybe look at 200 or so records.  For example, you could look at upgrading 200 of your $150 donors whose analytics results put them at the $250-$500 gift level, and challenge them to upgrade to $250.

It is very important to make sure that no matter how you upgrade them (direct mail, email, or phone-a-thon), make sure that you are using language that acknowledges the upgrade, how it will help further the mission of your organization, and what their upgraded gift will specifically fund, whether it be individually, aggregately, or both.  In other words, make their gift tangible!  It is important that a prospect hear or see very clearly that an upgraded gift will have specific benefits for your organization.  These could be things such as funding a scholarship for a deserving student, administering a medical test or scan for a financially-strapped patient, providing meals for a week to a family in need, or a dog or cat can receive their necessary immunizations.

It also helps to provide a donor story from another individual who upgraded their gift to the same level as you are asking from this group of prospects.  In that story, include a statement from the donor explaining on an emotional level what giving this higher level gift meant to them and how important it is for the organization.  Using both of ideas will prove to be very powerful, because now your prospective upgrade donor can relate to your organization on both a tangible and emotional level.

I have seen clients have quite a bit of success.  Why is that?  Capacity and inclination identified them, they had the gumption to use this important information, and they made the case and identified a tangible need for their upgraded appeal.  Good luck with your annual appeals, and let me know what ideas you have for implementing annual giving analytics to upgrade your prospects.

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