Moving Donors Up the Giving Pyramid with Angel Aloma – February Luncheon Recap

March 2nd, 2015

by Marjorie Steele

Last week, we had the distinct pleasure of learning from Angel Aloma, Executive Director for the international Christian aid organization, Food for the Poor (FFTP).

With 96% of donations going directly to services, FFTP is both highly efficient and effective at cultivating its donor base. In his engaging, energetic manner, Aloma walked us through a complete journey of how FFTP cultivates its donors up the giving pyramid.

Read our quick recap below and download the presentation slides here.

Here are few great quotes from the presentation:

People don’t give to organizations, they give to people.

Let your copy and conversation be truly donor centric. Talk about THEM, not your organization.

You have to treat each donor as if they are million dollar givers.

See you at the next luncheon—our SEO Smackdown on March 10th. Don’t forget to register!

Moving Donors UP the Giving Pyramid: A Journey of Cultivation from Base to Peak

1. Integration across all channels

Donor communication and outreach should be in sync across all channels that are being used. That means tying direct mail campaigns into follow up phone calls, supporting website content and even personal visits.

2. Make dynamic asks

Gently stretch donors with increased asks based on their last gift. FFTP uses robust historic ask tables to track each donor’s latest and largest gifts, so they can be presented with an increased ask. Donors should always be presented with more options for giving. Make personal visits when a higher ask warrants it, presenting opportunities for higher priced projects or giving options.

3. Be donor centric

Find out what motivates your donors and speak to them on that level. For example, talk about what donors do, rather than what the organization does.

Make donors feel good. Let your copy and conversation be truly donor centric.

For example, compare: “Food for the Poor feeds hundreds of hungry, at risk children.” to “Your caring generosity has saved the lives of hundreds of hungry children by providing them with much needed food.”

Always keep in mind, silos are the enemy of donor centricity. Departments should support one another.

4. Your story is your unique selling proposition (USP)

A nonprofit organization’s story is always its most valuable asset. Don’t be afraid to elicit an emotional response; emotions are what hook donors, not facts.

Leverage your story to tap in to your donor’s motivations. People making charitable donations have an ideal moral identity they’re trying to come closer to. Anything you can do to bring the person closer to their ideal moral identity will produce an increase in giving of 20-80%. In the case of FFTP, they have found they increase engagement and giving by using words like generosity, compassion and loving—these words bring donors closer to their moral identity.

5. Cultivate donors using tiers

FFTP uses a complex web of service advisors who communicate with donors at various tiers on a regular basis. At lower donor levels, this communication is done to precede and follow up customized direct mail campaigns. Telephone has been FFTP’s most useful tool in cultivating donations; in a test with first time donors, a thank you follow up phone call increased donor renewal by 40%.

The key to successful donor cultivation is to give donors something of value with your communication. For example, FFTP offers donors the option of submitting prayer slips and follow up on donor prayer requests personally via phone. Senior campaign advisors will call donors and ask for prayer requests directly.

Consistent, personal contact is also key. As FFTP donors move up the giving tier, they transition seamlessly to higher level service advisors who take a personalized contact strategy. Cards, calls, notes, prayers and even awards are used to keep donors engaged and active.

Towards the top of the pyramid, the organization must develop meaningful, personal relationships well beyond donor or fundraiser. This might include hosting high profile galas for high profile donors. Hosting parties for highest donors, gives FFTP the opportunity to ask these donors to invite their friends, which is an excellent way to secure new high donors.

In summary: develop meaningful, personal relationships well beyond that of donor or fundraiser through calls, cards, prayers, awards, special events, personal visits, mission trips and even access to the executive director.

6. Don’t overlook the opportunity for legacy gifts

Last but not least, nonprofit organizations can’t ignore the opportunity for legacy giving. There needs to be a relationship between the major gifts and planned giving departments to address the needs of older donors. FFTP offers free charitable giving planning courses to seniors who are planning their estates as a way of engaging with donors and opening doors to major gifts.