A diversified membership funnel
Historically, and really meaning 5 years ago, donations were not done online. Less than 25% were done online in the past, but as we see online purchases go up and up, we see donors trailing this pattern. Today, 1/3-1/2 of donations are done online for many organizations and we continue to see that number rising. Reaching broader audiences is becoming more and more important in today’s philanthropic environment and the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to reach the most people is through social media. That isn’t to say we should ignore other methods, one area that is still lagging is the value of the membership or annual gift (social generally is smaller although there are definitely exceptions).
What we’ve tried to show with the funnel above is that every path has value and while there are different returns from each there are benefits to each as well.
In-person - Typically reserved for your higher dollar targets, time and effort is spent to reach out, set appointments and then to convert them. These are worth it because they tend to be giving 10-50 times more than your donors by mail or via social. These meetings can be hard to get, require lots of planning, effort and customization.
Mail/Appeal Letters - This is probably the most common approach to large scale member/annual giving appeals. Most often this list is a mixture of self-subscribed people who are interested and purchased/traded lists. These purchased and traded lists often offer a lower return, but at $0.50-$1.00 per mailing still have a potential for a good return on investment. Most mail houses will tell you that your target is break even for your first year and then it’s up to you to renew to bring in the value. The truth is the response to this ranges pretty dramatically, if you’re a zoo or animal shelter and can mail something that has beautiful photos that can engage the heart you have a good chance at a good response, but if you have something harder to quantify or engage the heart you may not see the response, something like Civic Pride.
Social Media - This is by far the cheapest means of reaching larger audiences. That $1 per mailer can reach 100-150 people on facebook or 25-35 on linkedin. Your response rate will logically be smaller, but still targeting close to 1% to click through to your membership/annual giving page is a good goal. From there, your conversion rates should hold similar to your generalized conversion of members on your page. Meaning, if in general 2% of the time someone comes to your membership page they become members, that percentage should continue when you ramp up your traffic through social. The beauty of social media is you can use small batches to test messaging and who is getting your message to continuously improve your response rate. If done right, you will see increases consistently.
Hopefully you’re using all three of these consistently. If not, take a look at a more consistent approach to all 3.