microscope2 max blain dreamstimefree_200145Last week we discussed the huge revenue upside for charities that commit to communicating personally, quickly, and across multiple channels. Fundraising is booming. To capture your piece of the pie, take action to fix three common and costly issues that we’ve uncovered during planning sessions with many top nonprofit organizations:

1. A great number of the charities we work with allocate resources to properly steward only their top, top donors.

All too often supporters giving $5,000 and up are the only donors who receive one-to-one communication. The “everyone else” donor category is a minefield of poor personalization and underinvestment. On average, we find it takes organizations over 2 weeks simply to say “thank you.” Technology now enables fundraisers to thank, onboard, and renew every supporter with fully variable content both online and offline. The personalized approach maximizes fundraising efficiency by creating loyalty from the onset of a donor’s giving relationship. What’s the ROI? Consider that almost every major donor starts out as an “everyone else” direct mail donor. The payback is abundantly clear.

Answers: Innovairre’s Donor2 marketing automation platform is the easiest way to execute high quality communications for all donors—beginning with those who are new to your file. Donor2 consists of 9 steps in 8 weeks that are proven to increase second gift rates and long-term donor connectedness. If sending 9 distinct communications to your new donors sounds costly or complex, think again. Donor loyalty is a journey requiring authentic, relevant messaging that connects with donors in preferred channels. If revamping everything about the way your organization treats new donors sounds too radical, Donor2 can be viewed as a roadmap of best practices. Trying even one or two of the program’s retention tactics improves the payback of acquisition efforts and results in greater donor value over time.

2. Acquisition continues to receive a disproportionately large share of investment dollars and attention.

Many planning meetings place acquisition campaigns at the head of the agenda. If the meeting runs behind, it’s other action items that get squeezed until next time. Sound familiar? Why is acquisition the priority despite an industry-wide trend of diminishing returns? First, because acquisition math is scary, straightforward, and immediate. Charities that understand attrition know that donors who do not renew support must be replaced to prevent file death. Without acquisition, the typical direct response donor file would shrink to zero in just 5 years. Second, a vast lineup of products and services supports the acquisition fundraising mindset. High-volume acquisition tactics benefit the Post Office, list managers, data hygiene services, and printers. As they saying goes, “when all you wield is a hammer, everything tends to look like a nail.

Answers: Overcoming the fear of donor file death begins with recognizing that there are ways to spend much less and be far more strategic while managing attrition. Acquisition is essential, but it is problematic to dedicate all strategic planning bandwidth to the costliest activity in the fundraising toolkit. Chances are, you don’t have a package problem that requires hours of creative brainstorming. You have a data problem that can be fixed with technology and analytics. Machine Learning technology powers unprecedented success in lapsed donor profiling and acquisition modeling. Today’s massive multichannel datasets can be modeled to turn your lapsed file into a critical new asset for growing your active supporter base.

3. Being strategic takes dedicated time and analytic talent.

You can probably name a few cases where “we just do” is the raison d’etre for longstanding fundraising tactics. We get it. Most fundraisers carry responsibilities far beyond managing a database. Major donor stewardship, event coordination, annual reports, and donor service calls take tremendous effort. In a time-pressed world it is easy to confuse strategy with complexity. Getting clear insights out of large databases takes both technology and expert interpretation. Changes in campaign plans and annual market conditions frequently mask the root causes of donor file trends.

Answers: Making more strategic decisions starts with understanding how donor behavior translates into new revenue opportunities. Without hesitation, do the one thing that never fails to produce gains. Running an Innovairre Masterfile Audit produces actionable insights. Your database software has a helpful summary report? It’s not the same thing. With no long-term commitment an Innovairre strategist will analyze your donor data from the beginning of time. Raise more money, simplify planning, and bring clarity to chaos.

Adam Freedgood is a retention and sustainable marketing expert and a guest contributor to Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. To learn more about Donor2, Machine Learning technology, and Master File Audits, contact us at Answers@innovairre.comFollow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.