Your donors don’t want to be weaned off premiums

Many fundraisers think they need to “wean” donors off premiums once they’ve acquired thousands of them with premium cold mail designs. And as soon as the weaning begins, those donors financially punish you for it.

One of my clients got an 18% response rate from cold mail, using an overseas produced premium design. Then they mailed those donors a domestically produced non-premium design and got a 9% response rate.

What does that say? It says donors want premiums, they respond to them. They are not happy with just a letter, a story and a reply form.

Some people point to this kind of result and say that premiums don’t work, the donors have poor retention.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Premiums increase first gift rates, and when you continue to use them, they increase second, third and subsequent gift rates too. You just have to keep using them.

Premiums lift the response rates to house appeals in just the same way they lift the response rate to cold mail. Use them in both programs and your house appeal response rates will jump just like your cold mail does.

Then, add a gift to your thank you letters. It’ll get you a higher response to future appeals than if you mail just a letter alone. Use premiums in all communications. Add premiums to your newsletters, to your bequest communications even. The Cancer Council NSW’s bequest packs offer a scenic Harbour Cruise, for example.

Every time you contact a donor, send them some kind of gift. Reward your donors every time you talk to them, and they will pay much more attention to you over time.

Donors don’t hate premiums. When a premium doubles your response rate, that’s feedback. Really, really positive feedback. Why on earth would you take it away?