Growing Your Donor Base With Incentives

Posted on 02/04/2018

In addition to water, light, and warmth, a little fertilizer can go a long way in producing a plush lawn. When used properly, fertilizer can often be the difference between a good-looking lawn and a great-looking lawn. It can give your grass a little extra green!

Using special “incentives” (i.e., free token gifts like address labels, bumper stickers or socks) to entice donors to give is a lot like using fertilizer. Assuming you’re able to get through to them in the first place and that you’re making a strong case for support, incentives can make your appeals shine a little brighter and give your prospects the extra nudge they need to say yes. In their own way, they can give your campaign a little extra green.

There are many different kinds of donor incentives, and it’s important to consider which ones will resonate with which audiences. Generally speaking, incentives can motivate younger audiences and be particularly effective in inspiring new donors who may be looking for a good reason to choose your organization over another.

Incentives work for a number of reasons. For starters, everybody loves a deal. People are motivated when they know that they’re going to get a little extra value for taking action. Consumer marketers have figured this out, using coupons and sales frequently. In annual giving, premiums or token gifts can encourage donors in much the same way.

After Ole Miss’s football team upset Alabama, excited fans rushed the field and tore down the goal post. The university launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay the $74,000 they owed in fines and damages. As an incentive, the university offered rewards to donors at various levels. For example, a $5 contribution got you a personalized letter from the coach, a $25 contribution got you a commemorative computer desktop background, a $250 contribution got you a commemorative print, and a $1,000 contribution got you a six-inch piece of the actual goal post.

Although token gifts can be an effective way to entice donors in the short term, beware! They’re not necessarily a very good long-term strategy. If sustainable support is what you seek (and it should be!), there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned donor stewardship. Let your donors know that you care about them and that their gifts are making a difference. When you do, your campaigns will get greener each and every year that goes by.

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