Does your charitable organisation have a focus on getting more monthly donors? Regular givers, whether they’re donating monthly or on a different schedule, are the lifeblood of many charities. That’s because it gives the charity a source of predictable, recurring revenue with which they can fund delivery of their programmes. Lead generation for regular giving programmes is an increasingly common addition to non-profits fundraising arsenal.
Face-to-face fundraising has historically been the major volume driver of regular givers for many charities and for many it continues to be an important part of the fundraising mix. Two step acquisition from lead to telemarketing conversion has been around for many years and is increasing in importance as many organisations look to diversify their fundraising acquisition portfolio.
In this article I want to cover a bit of history with non-profit lead generation, detail some of the major players and talk about how the marketplace is evolving and how non-profits are finding ever more effective ways of engaging with potential donors, changing the journey on which they take their donors and improving the quality of the conversations they are having with people.
Telemarketing has for many years been an effective way for charities to recruit regular donors. This is because it allows the person on the phone to make a connection with the potential supporter with the caller changing their response to maximise their appeal to the supporter and maximise the causes likelihood of securing a new regular giver. The calls remain scripted but are usually flexible enough to enable the caller to transition seamlessly between different topics, some callers are trained well enough that they can pivot between topics and ad-lib to a certain extent.
High quality regular giving leads
A big challenge for any telemarketing programme is how to sustain a stream of qualified leads for callers to have conversations with. That is people who actually want to have a conversation and hear more about the work that your cause is involved in.
Charity lead suppliers
Historically many charities have relied on data purchased from third parties, like Cohort, Rokt, Social Blue and many others. These providers often use incentives to encourage people to part with their personal data and some will even ask direct questions about peoples interest in supporting or donating to a cause in order to better qualify the lead.
These methods have worked for years and for many organisations they still work as a key part of their lead generation for regular giving programme. However, many organisations are finding these externally sourced leads are becoming increasingly challenging to work with for a number of reasons.
What are the pros and cons of buying lead generation data for charities?
However, there are downsides associated with buying data from third party suppliers, see below summary for advantages and disadvantages.
|De-risked - usually the data is sold on a cost per lead basis.||Incentives - the wrong type of incentive can lead to a drastically lower quality of lead. It’s not uncommon to see surveys, or post purchase questionnaires that offer some kind of incentive to lure people into parting with their data. Incentives vary from entry in a prize draw through to gift vouchers and others.|
|Volume - many players have tweaked their approach sufficiently to drive serious volumes of leads that can sustain even the hungriest of call centres.||Disconnect - because most of the set of suppliers previously mentioned generate data using their own channels the supporter has often not been engaged by the cause in question, yes, they may have seen a question that directly mentions the charity by name but often this is part of a much longer data collection journey.|
|On/off control - generally many of the suppliers will provide the data on an as needed basis, perhaps with an agreement that rolls over each month. Meaning if you need to take a break due to budgets etc. then you can.||Not unique - many of the suppliers previously mentioned are collecting data to sell on to multiple people at the same time, these could be other charities or business (think insurance providers, telecoms companies etc.) - who the data is sold to will depend on how the questions are answered.|
|Insights - usually the third party will control how and where the data is collected. Meaning the non-profit can end up with very little insight on the types of audiences being reached.|
|Control - If your supplier is suddenly saturated with requests for leads it might mean that your slice of the pie is reduced as they’ve got to spread their inventory between more customers.|
One option that an increasing number of nonprofits are exploring is that of generating leads “in-house” and supplying them to their telemarketing provider for conversion calling. It’s this area that I want to talk about in a little more detail.
Why Should I Generate Leads In House
Generating leads in-house, i.e. using your own digital assets will usually give you a better quality lead and a better end result. However, some organisations find it challenging to scale in-house campaigns effectively which can be a huge barrier to entry, after all most calling providers will need a critical mass of data to keep the calling agents busy.
The most powerful aspect of generating leads in house is that you take complete control of the proposition (what it is you’re presenting to your supporters and asking them to take action on). You also own the messaging used to promote your proposition from beginning to end. You’ll also be able to control the type of people that you reach with your messaging, that is your target audience. This increased relevance and control usually results in a higher quality lead and better performance overall.
Ideas for Charity Lead Generation
When talking about in-house lead generation people will often jump to the assumption that this means generating leads using a petition. In reality a petition is just one way of capturing the data of those who might be interested in becoming financial supporters. In fact I often actively discourage people from using petitions if the sole motivation is lead generation, for a petition to be truly effective there needs to be some aspect of genuine lobbying, the results of which can be discussed during the follow up. Petitions aside, there are many other ways of generating leads from potential supporters:
- Lead magnets – offer something of value to your potential supporters. For example an animal charity might offer a “caring for your dog” download in order to appeal to animal lovers or a charity that wants to recruit new parents as regular givers might offer a download with the top 100 baby names this year. “How to” guides and “checklists” are popular types of lead magnets.
- Quizzes – people love to test their knowledge. A quiz can be an incredible tool to engage people and also start to paint a picture of the issue your cause is trying to tackle. For example a homelessness focused organisation might ask questions like “How many people in Australia are estimated to sleep rough each night?”
- Games and activity packs – often these types of incentives appeal to parents with children but there are also examples of games being used to appeal to adults.
- Physical gifts – these range from bangles to badges, usually as a show of support for the issue you’re raising funds for. Be very careful to position this type of proposition in a way that doesn’t just generate lots of interest from “freebie grabbers”.
Your intended target audience is the most important factor to consider when formulating your ideal proposition. Ideally your proposition would be very closely aligned with your cause and the calling script used on the telephone during follow-up.
Isn’t lead generating about tricking people into parting with their data?
In a word, no. If this is what you’re thinking of doing then please reconsider your approach. The last thing you want to do is to collect data from 1000s of people who are then surprised to receive a phone call or follow-up email from you. You need to be fully transparent about the reason for collecting their name, email and phone number (and any other data that you ask for), making it clear what will happen next (email/phone call to tell them more about how they can get involved and support your cause).
Do I need to call leads or can I use email only journeys?
During the last 36 months I’ve worked with a mix of organisations on lead generation campaigns. A few decided to test removing the telemarketing follow-up component and design email-only onboarding and conversion pathways, in some cases these email only journeys worked well but NEVER as well as when email/sms follow-up is used in conjunction with the telephone. There are a lot of reasons for this but the main two we come across are:
- Email open rates are rarely as good as telephone contact rates and even in cases where they are, click through and subsequent conversion rates are nearly always lower.
- Human to human works – if we opt people in in the right way and set their expectation that they’ll be getting a telephone call then it can be a really positive experience. The person on the phone can then base the conversation on the direct responses and verbal cues they’re getting from the potential supporter – something that is impossible to do effectively through a webpage alone.
Any script needs rehearsing for it to sound convincing and less like a script! For this reason we’d usually expect a telemarketing provider to specify a minimum volume of leads and be transparent about the fact that it’s likely to take their callers a week or two to build momentum with a new campaign.
If your telemarketing provider doesn’t have a minimum volume requirement then it’s worth thinking about how good the call experience will actually be – it might be that the team switch between lots of different scripts, so when the time comes to call your potential donor the call that they experience might not be as good as it would be after a calling team hit their flow after calling multiple people using the same script.
To summarise, generating leads in house will generally give you a better quality if you get the proposition and audience targeting just right.
|In-House Data Source||External Data Source|
|Volume||Tends to be lower but can be scaled with appropriate proposition/targeting||Tends to be higher and to volume faster|
|Contact to conversion rate||6-12%||2-5%|
|Cost Per Lead||Higher||Lower|
Table shows some of the key differences between data generated in-house vs data from external sources
Ultimately the beauty of lead generation for regular giving programmes is that it opens up an enormous opportunity to have a conversation with people who may or may not become financial supporters of your cause. Remembering that you will nearly always generate a much higher volume of leads from people who say “no” to making a regular donation it’s important to leave things on positive terms and open up the opportunity for them to learn more about your work and other ways of getting involved. We’ve seen people come back and sign-up as regular givers more than 2 years later!