There are three signals that you can use, summed up by three simple words, that will help you:
- Understand email subscribers whom you can invite to become new donors or volunteers
- Understand donors whom you can invite to become recurring donors
- Understand the people in your audience to reach out to as potential major donors
Here are the 3 signals: Recency – Frequency – Money
At their heart, the point of paying attention to any signals is about training yourself to listen to your audience. This is important because if you want a relationship with your donors, you need to listen to them!
Let’s break these signals down so we can understand what these words mean and how we can apply them to be more effective in donor relationships and digital fundraising.
Definition: a person who took an action yesterday is more likely (than those who did not) to take another action today.
One of the most effective times to invite someone to take the next step with your organization is when they just took a step, whether it was their very first step or they’ve been supporting you for years.
- A visitor who just downloaded a free resource could be invited to donate to help you continue providing free resources to others people like them
- An email subscriber who opened your most recent email could be automatically sent to a new campaign to invite them to join a fundraising event.
- A social media follower who liked or commented on one of your posts could be invited to give their email address in exchange for a digital resource that they would appreciate.
- A person who gave today can be sent a text immediately to thank them, and asked if they’d like to be subscribed to text updates
Apply it now
- New subscribers: When you send a new subscriber to a thank-you page, this is the best opportunity to invite them to take a next step. They are already thinking about you and appreciative of the resource you offered to send them in exchange for their email.
- Current subscribers: Be responsive in your email marketing by setting up workflows in your marketing automation software. Workflows enable you to take actions based on what your users (subscribers) do. Here is a picture of part of a workflow that we use:
In this workflow, subscribers who open an email (the “Goal”) within a campaign are removed from that campaign and sent a unique one-time email. This means that subscribers who don’t open any emails within the campaign are not sent a special follow-up email inviting them to take the next step.
Definition: a person who has taken an action multiple times is more likely (than those who did so just once) to take the same or a similar action in the future.
One of the best signals you can use to invite people higher in their support of your organization is if you can see that they are closely following you.
- A donor who has attended your last two or three fundraising events could be invited to become a monthly supporter.
- A Board member who responds and takes action could be invited to get coaching on how to recruit new donors and supporters.
- An email subscriber who has opened the last several emails, clicked on a few, or replied to just one, could be invited to become a first-time donor or to learn how to set up a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
Apply it now
- Current donors: set up a virtual event or email series sharing stories about the impact monthly supporters have made on fulfilling your mission. Set up a trigger to invite anyone who donated online this year to be invited to the event or sent the email series.
- Current subscribers: set up a trigger for subscribers who reply to an email to be sent a survey to gather additional feedback/opinions from them, or to even set up a call so they can share even more with your development team for relationship building or for more effective fundraising. Here is a picture of what a trigger like this can look like:
This example shows a trigger based on if a subscriber replies to any email inside a specific email series titled “Expert Workshops.”
Definition: a person who supports you financially is more likely (than those who aren’t) to support you at a high level of support in the future.
- Your recurring donors could be contacted individually to consider major gifts.
- A person who raised money via a Facebook birthday fundraiser could be invited to become a recurring donor.
- A person who donated to you once could be invited to learn how to do a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
Apply it now
- Current donors: have your Development team invite donors who have given above-average gifts over two or more years to a call. On the call, thank them, and cast a vision for the value it would bring to your organization if they turned those larger-than-average one-off gifts into a smaller monthly gift.
- Facebook followers: have your Community Manager reach out to people who donated to you or ran Facebook fundraisers and invite them to become part of an insider’s team, where they can be part of sharing and promoting to their own networks on social media.
How you can use this knowledge
Here are a few ideas on how you can follow up with people after you see them take certain actions:
- To those who give at a fundraising event: call to personally thank them, share your vision, and invite them to become recurring donors.
- To those who gave a second or third gift, each larger than the previous: call to personally thank them, share your vision and budget, and invite them to make a major gift.
- To those who are new to your email list, invite them to: hear stories, get a tour (virtually, in person, etc), meet people who’ve benefited from your mission, or learn about volunteer opportunities.
- To those who are new followers of your organization on social media: send a message or create a post offering them a resource in exchange for their email address.
Note – many of these actions to invite people to greater support can be automated, as shared in some of the above examples!
If you already have thousands of people in your audience, it might not be possible to being a conversation with every single subscriber individually, so it is important to be able to be responsive at scale – using email and your CRM to automate these actions.
As you consider these 3 signals, hopefully you have some new ideas on how to listen and more effectively (and relevantly) respond to your audience, whether they are long-time supporters or first-time visitors.