How To Plan Better Regular Giving Donor Retention Calling Campaigns

Katrina –

We spoke with regular giving fundraising expert Andrew Jung from Reacq in our recent Dataro User Group to get his top practical tips for running more effective warm retention calling campaigns. 

Whether you are new to regular giving or have grown an established program, Andrew shared some less-predictable tips to help fundraisers improve the performance of their regular giving calling campaigns which can be applied to conversion, upgrades and reactivation campaigns.


Tip #1: Set your KPIs and be prepared to track them

If you are new to regular giving or just getting started with your first single to regular giving conversion campaign, your first task is to set your KPIs and create a reporting framework to track your results. 

So how do you go about setting realistic KPIs? 

Firstly, never let your agency determine your KPIs. As a fundraiser you know what you need to achieve and what is realistic. But if you are new to regular giving, Andrew recommends reaching out to your fundraising network to see what they have achieved in running successful regular giving programs over many years and using this as a basis for your KPI setting. Asking the same question in regular giving or telemarketing user groups can be a great source of information too.

Another reliable way to set KPIs is through benchmarking. Dataro’s Fundraising Intelligence is an easy to use benchmarking tool that lets you quickly analyse the performance of +100 other nonprofits to identify best-practice benchmarks.

With Fundraising Intelligence you can easily find the industry benchmarks for regular giving programs including the LTV of regular givers, upgrade rates, conversion rates and more. We recommend you use these benchmarks to set your own KPIs for your regular giving program. The benefit of using benchmark data to set your KPIs is that you know they will be realistic (because other organisations are already achieving these results).

Got your targets set? Next you need reliable reports to accurately track your KPIs 

Once you’ve set realistic targets for your regular giving campaign you need to create the reports you’ll use to track your KPIs and measure your success. But oftentimes fundraisers are too busy launching their campaigns, they forget to set up the reporting before the campaign goes live – and this can create headaches down the track.

Andrew’s top tip – get your reporting sorted before you launch your calling campaign. It’s about knowing which KPIs you want to track and why and then having a report set up to accurately track those KPIs.

Your reporting success lies in your reporting preparation and checking early on that all relevant data is being imported correctly into your CRM. Get our top tips for good fundraising analytics and reports here.

Using a business intelligence tool like Dataro’s Fundraising Intelligence can make campaign reporting a breeze. Because it integrates directly with your CRM, the reports are generated from your source of truth. Data from your CRM is imported automatically into Fundraising Intelligence every night so you know the information is faithfully reflecting the data in your CRM and your reports are always live and accurate.

When measuring the results of your calls, you don’t want to just track whether a person answered a call or not, for example. You’ll want to record the outcome of the call. But recording a ‘negative call outcome’ isn’t enough in itself, you’ll want to have a way of recording why someone said no, because this will help you refine your strategy going forward. 


Tip #2: Trust the data in front of you, not fundraising convention 

All nonprofits have a pool of lapsed donors. Reactivating these donors is far more profitable than acquiring new ones. But there’s a fundraising ‘rule of thumb’ when trying to reactivate a lapsed donor – don’t call someone until 6 to 9 months after they have churned. This is a common tactic used by charities when running reactivation campaigns. 

Some donors are ready to reactivate sooner than you think

Charities using Dataro’s machine learning software have repeatedly found that lapsed givers can be ready to reactivate much sooner than fundraising convention assumes. Read our article “Are your lapsed givers ready to reactivate?” to discover why.

In fact, by implementing Dataro’s regular giving propensity software while at Victor Chang, Andrew was able to convert up to 11% of recently churned regular givers (0 – 9 months) in their reactivation calling campaigns. 

Using the Dataro regular giving propensity scores integrated in Victor Chang’s CRM, Andrew was surprised to discover some of the most likely donors to reactivate were those who had cancelled their gifts only 2 months earlier. 

That’s why Andrew suggests fundraisers learn to trust the data or insights in front of them and don’t rely solely on long-held fundraising convention, because it could be holding your results back. 

Run experiments to test new theories & tools

If it’s hard to go against your fundraising instincts, Andrew suggests running a real-world test with a smaller segment to validate the data before rolling out a new strategy for your donor retention or reactivation calling campaign.

Being open to new fundraising technologies like machine learning and new methodologies will help you to optimise your results in your regular giving program. Discover how another charity were able to double their regular giving reactivation rate using Dataro’s machine learning software and learn how Victor Chang were also able to  stop 296 donors from churning in 3 months using Dataro’s regular giving scores and ranks.


Tip #3: Start your calls with better engagement questions

The reasons why a regular giver churns are too numerous to list, but more often than not a lapsed donor can be reactivated with a simple nudge. And nothing beats the human touch of a phone call to re-engage a donor with your cause and reignite their support.

But your ability to reactivate a lapsed regular donor through a calling campaign depends on your ability to instantly engage the donor in the conversation and keep them on the call. This will increase your chances of converting the donor into a valuable regular giver.

Andrew’s top tip for reducing the number of hang-ups is to open the call with a better engagement question. Andrew suggests the best engagement questions have an interesting hook and are tailored to the specifics of your cause or mission. 

“Was there a specific reason why you decided to support us?” 

Asking the donor why they support or supported your cause is good foundation for creating an engaging opening question. Adapted to your cause, this is a good question to ask because it: 

  1. Affirms the donor is inspired to give to your charity
  2. Provides good intel to inform the conversation
  3. Connects the donor to the topic of your call

A good engagement question should always have a strong connection to the topic of the call. This sets the stage to talk about the new initiatives or new breakthrough research which the donor could help fund through a regular gift. And just like it is important to plan a good opening question, don’t forget to plan a well-structured follow up conversation that demonstrates how the donor’s regular gift can make a difference.

According to Andrew your opening question should:

  1. Never be a general question
  2. Never be about a topic that won’t be covered later in the call

“Have you been receiving email communications from us?” is another great opening question to engage lapsed donors with a long history of giving. Andrew suggests this is a good way to introduce the topic of the conversation and re-engage the donor in funding a new area of work being done by the charity.