It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: For Your Favorite Charity

The iconic Salvation Army Red Kettle embodies generosity to others during the holiday season (it also recently got some further love during a Cowboys game). In December alone, Americans donate $70 billion to charities nationwide.

kettle

Although many people take time off the week after Christmas, it’s crunch time for non-profits with 10-12% of all donations for the year coming in between 12/28 – 12/31. In addition, two-thirds of all giving during the year, comes from just 5-10% of donors.

The handful of households that make a significant difference is as true for radio as it is for non-profits along with the realities of limited time and resources.

Leading charitable organizations embrace this concentration, because it is much more efficient and effective to generate donations from a few (heavy P1 listening), rather than trying to get $1 from every household in town (cume).

Meanwhile lesser non-profits take the approach of focusing on donor acquisition, which actually comes at their own expense.

A Leaky Bucket

As reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, for every 100 new donors added, charities lose 103. That’s the definition of a leaky bucket, especially considering individual giving peaked in 2005 and still hasn’t recovered more than a decade later.

A big part of the problem is that new donors are less loyal then repeat donors. In fact, just 19% of first time donors are retained compared to 63% retention for repeat donors.

But here’s another insight that leading non-profits know … heavy donors (those who give $250+) are 150% more likely to continue giving than those who give less than $100. Not only are they worth more, but they are also more loyal.

Obviously every major donor at some point made their first gift and every current heavy P1 had an initial tune-in, but the driving force for successful charities and radio stations alike is to get more out of your current fans before recruiting new ones. In addition, there’s an opportunity to understand the characteristics of your current Super-Fans, so you can focus your recruitment efforts to get more people just like them.

Charitable organizations that regularly outperform their peers follow these donor retention strategies, which have a variety of relevant applications to radio.

1. Send donors a personalized thank you after each donation. By “personalized” it doesn’t simply mean a mail merge, but rather for example, a picture of someone who directly benefited from the gift. Sounds like a lot of work, but it’s twice as hard to replace a donor.

In radio, do we cross reference people who purchase tickets to a station event with people in the VIP email club and send these Super-Fans any acknowledgement? How about people who come to a remote at your station’s #1 advertiser? Simply look at the entry forms for the giveaway and if they’re in a Hot Zip, drop them a note.

2. Learn about your donors, including their philanthropic passions, family, and employment. For most stations, in depth listener knowledge is defined as the database records that have a name, address and email.

Are they employed? If so, what’s their regular work schedule? Do they have kids? All basic information that can be systematically gathered over time, which will allow you to better engage and monetize your audience.

3. Schedule donor-centric events such as networking opportunities or appreciation luncheons. Many stations just rolled out the red carpet for their client holiday parties. Ever done something similar for your best listeners who drive your ratings? An easy place to start would be to super serve contest winners who come to pick up their prize vs. getting them out the door as quickly as possible.

4. Be confident and ask for the next gift. Don’t just assume you’ll automatically get it. Just like charities need to consistently ask for the next donation, we need to ask for the next tune-in. The most common reason people don’t give is that they weren’t personally asked. Yet, charities believe all they do is ask people for money. What’s the disconnect? The request needs to be personal, frequent and compelling.

Same is true for listening occasions. People have a lot of choices and if they aren’t literally in front of a radio, are they going to Google your station homepage to find the stream and start listening? Cut out the middle man and make it easy on your audience with direct links to listen online.

Some underestimate non-profit organizations, because they focus on the mission and overlook the strategic component that’s essential to ongoing success. For more information on maximizing your approach to the few who matter most to your ratings and revenue, drop us a line.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and the rest of the DMR/Interactive team, thanks for reading and driving radio forward.

Happy Holidays from all of us here.

Andrew Curran, President and COO, DMR/Interactive.

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