Donor Acquisition in the ‘New Normal’ Case Study of the National Parks Conservation Association
What We’ll Cover NPCA Overview Acquisition Program Online Activist Conversion Why Multi-Channel Marketing Taking Your Program to the Next Level
Acquisition Fundraising in the “New Normal” Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that the “nation's 400 biggest charities suffered an 11-percent drop in giving last year, the worst decline in two decades…” Target Analytics Index Report (2010 Q4) reported that overall donor declines have been primarily due to a drop in new donors (in decline since 2005). New donor numbers fell a median 3.5% from 2009 to 2010, on top of a decline of 7.4% the year before, despite strong disaster-related acquisition in the first quarter of the year. Consumer Confidence Index® continues to fluctuate. There has been a downward trend over the last 6 months.
NPCA Overview Our Mission To protect and enhance America's national parks for present and future generations. What We Do Advocate for the national parks and the National Park Service. Educate decision makers & the public about the importance of preserving the parks. Help convince members of Congress to uphold the laws that protect the parks and to support new legislation to address threats to the parksand fight attempts to weaken these laws in the courts. Assess the health of the parks and park management to better inform our advocacy work.
NPCA Members Our Constituents 340,000 members, give $15+ to receive magazine 44% age 65+ 60,000 with email addresses 39,000 online donors 330,000 online subscribers/activists 38% age 65+ 114,000 have taken at least 1 action All support NPCA because they love national parks!
Income by Join Year and Fiscal Year All Income Included Members continue to give over a long period of time. As some drop off the file, the remaining members usually give more. Major gifts are included in this chart. Increased acquisition starting in FY03 has paid off.
Number of new joins has fluctuated based on the level of investment.
Web new joins are significantly smaller than DM indicating potential for growth.
Income by Channel
Direct mail remains the major income channel.
Web giving shows great potential for growth with a more structured solicitation program in place.
Subsequent Income by Channel for Web Joins
Diversifying and optimizing all available outreach channels is important—especially during challenging economic times.
Subsequent Income by Channel for DM Joins
DM joins are predominantly giving through DM – most likely because they have not been asked to give online.
FY11 Income per Member by Previous Giving Channels Members included were active within 12 months at the start of FY11, had a highest previous contribution of less than $1,000 and had given 3 or more direct marketing gifts over their entire membership lifetime.
Key Analysis Findings NPCA is holding up very well against the uncertainties of the economy, not only in new member acquisition, but in member retention. Average gifts have been increasing year over year since FY07. Online cultivation and fundraising is being coordinated with all DM and TM efforts to maximize revenue and to reach donors through multiple channels.
NPCA’s Acquisition Program NPCA mails acquisition on a monthly basis, totaling approximately 8.5 million pieces each year. In the most recent fiscal year, NPCA made 32% more acquisition contacts (across all channels) than the previous year. This year’s revenue is 4% higher than two years prior. By maintaining our investment, we’ve been able to steadily grow our file. Even with the additional names mailed, net investment is only 4% higher than two years prior.
Test Within Your Acquisition Control Packages Premium (cost savings) CONTROL: Calendar and bucket hat TEST: Calendar only WINNER: Control - Calendar bucket hat Ask String (boost avg. gift) CONTROL: $15 minimum gift to receive premium TEST: $25 upgrade ask test WINNER: There was no statistical winner in the original test, but we mailed a panel of this package every month and will evaluate back-end performance. Combine elements of co-controls CONTROL: Member card package or Survey package TEST: Member card in Survey package WINNER: Test – Member card in the Survey package. Re-test confirmed results. Combine tone of Survey and Member Card CONTROL: Member card package or Survey package TEST: Combine the urgency of the member card with the emotion of the survey letter. WINNER: There was no statistical winner. Re-testing to get significant results. Phrase-based formatting (boost response rate) CONTROL: Control acquisition package TEST: Use ReadSmart to make subtle changes in the arrangement of the text on the page WINNER: There is no statistical winner. Removal of insert (cost savings) CONTROL: Control acquisition package TEST: Remove glossy color insert WINNER: Control with the insert.
Test New Acquisition Packages Map package Included a foldout wall map and personalized teaser with a national park in the prospect’s state. The test has a 0.91% response rate – comparable to the control’s 0.92%, and a higher average gift than the control ($23.13 vs. $22.73), but the cost efficiency of the control keeps it the winner. Patriotic package Used a stirring, patriotic tone to highlight the bond Americans feel with their national parks, and included a lift note with a quote from Ken Burns. Avg. gifts are only $0.30 apart, the strong control had the higher response rate (0.99% vs. the test’s 0.83%) and revenue/M - $234 vs. the test’s $196.
Review Acquisition Results by Premium Review back-end premium costs to acquire a donor. Include front-end as well as back-end costs. The bucket hat and anorak have been mailed the most often, with the lowest quantity receiving the bison offer. The anorak, blanket and bucket hat all have comparable results in the member card package and can be mailed interchangeably, but in the survey, the blanket, tote bag and bucket hat are strongest because their costs to acquire a donor are lower.
Explore Acquisition List Testing NPCA’s mission has appeal to a broad variety of donors in various markets, which provides testing opportunities in an array of audiences. Regional and general conservation lists Broader wildlife lists (not species-specific) Magazineslists Arts and cultural lists The PBS universe has been explored (Ken Burns’ influence) Expand the social/recreation universe Tested health charity lists (one new continuation, some re-tests) Modeled lists (testing selects within models) In-house activists
Test Channels to Convert Online Activists Wave one of the Online Activist Conversion test was conducted to gauge the response of activists to email acquisition, telemarketing acquisition and direct mail acquisition contacts. We wanted to see which channels and which mix of channels was most effective in converting online activists. The online activist file was modeled and the 45,000 names most likely to respond to an acquisition ask were split into three groups of 15,000 each.
Online Activist Conversion Results The Septpre-emailwas the first contact in the series. Both Group A and Group C had a 0.05% response rate. The campaign raised $300 in gross revenue with an average gift of $23.07. The non-modeled group raised $1,780 with a $22.25 average gift. The OctDM acquisition was sent to groups A and B – group A had received the pre-email and group B did not. Group A had a 1.03% response rate and acquired 123 new donors, while group B had a 0.98% response rate and acquired 116 new donors. By comparison, the overall mailing had a 0.86% response rate. The Nov TM acquisition made 4,723 contacts and 286 members joined with an average gift of $27.83 for $7,959 in total revenue. Groups A and B had nearly identical results on the phone. The Dec post-emailwas the last contact in the series. Group B had a 0.10% response rate, while Group C had 0.08%. The modeled groups raised $720 in gross revenue with an average gift of $31.30. In addition, the non-modeled group raised $1,525 with a $26.75 average gift.
Automate an Online Welcome Series The Online Welcome Series includes the following: Week 1: Welcome Week 2: Quiz Week 3: Take Action Week 4: Acquisition (non-donors), Sustainer ask (donors) Week 8: Sustainer ask (non-donors who didn’t respond to the acquisition) Open rates average 17.56% and the series has an avg. 6.21% click through rate. New members are joining with an avg. gift of $21.41 and a response rate of 0.17%. By comparison, other acquisition efforts avg. a 0.04% response and $28.92 avg. gift.