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Breaking Down Internal Silos to Build Better Donors

We all know the facts: Most major donors don’t come onto your file as major donors right away. They’re traditionally starting at the membership or low-dollar donor level, and it’s any nonprofit fundraising team’s responsibility to upgrade them appropriately to yield that eventual high-dollar gift…or gifts, if we’re all doing it right. The same is true for prospects thinking about estate or bequest planning.

In a perfect world, you’d be able to invest your team’s time in targeting only the best leads, shortening the pipeline by years as you go. Easier said than done, right?

In many organizations, digital teams traditionally sit somewhat far away in the org structure from philanthropy or planned giving teams. We’re seeing, though, that teams who are willing to break that mold, eliminate silos, and worry less about internal lines of attribution are realizing greater efficiencies in upgrading and scoring prospects for outreach.


Start First at KPIs


One of the most common things we hear (and experienced when we sat client-side) about why Planned Giving teams and Major Gift Officers aren’t using digital to reach their prospects simply comes down to time. The digital team is understandably tied up with many projects that were already on their books, and it’s difficult to make the case for prioritization of ideas from other teams when, ultimately, large gifts over a certain dollar level don’t hit their bottom-line goals. 

The data tells us that doing the internal work to address this point alone by creatively deciding how to share attribution for heftier gifts would yield strides in keeping cross-org teams focused on the prize — which should be, ultimately, to use investments in marketing and solicitation wisely. 

A few ideas for cross-team KPIs to put in place:

  • An expedited time to major giving level, with both your digital and Planned Giving/Major Gift teams working to decrease that upgrade timeline.
  • Shared attribution that credits a portion of total gifts given by a major gift prospect across teams.
  • Dedicated goals for what digital behavior from prospects tagged for higher giving potential should look like — incentivizing teams to work collaboratively to increase email open rates, ensure ad creative is engaging, and prioritize a clean on-site conversion pipeline.


Leveraging Digital to Score and Grow Your High-Dollar Donor Pipeline


The benefits to using digital to enhance upgrade potential are inherent — modeling is faster, creative optimization is more frequent, and the ability to make changes is quicker. As we often preach, though, investing in digital to achieve a faster or deeper donor conversion requires consistency in investment and a clear understanding of how integrated touchpoints come together. 

At Media Cause, we use a custom approach meant to foster the health and growth of your planned giving and major donor prospect lists. It’s a multi-step process designed to pass your best leads on to your team for efficient cultivation.

Here’s how: 

  1. Our working relationship together begins with an analysis of your existing dataset to isolate your best leads. Once determined, we set up a custom advertising system to create more of those leads at scale using modeling.
  2. With your existing lead list – and the one we’ll help you build – we utilize advertising, retargeting, and email lifecycle triggers to either drive form completions on planned giving forms (that we’ve helped you optimize for quality scoring) or encourage a gift that gets potential major donor prospects in the door for early scoring. 
  3. Here’s where attribution becomes particularly important. Advertising is not a space in which users are generally clicking and investing deeply after one interaction with your brand — making it important to establish your measurement system in a way that accounts for the full set of actions a person might take. We work to understand all the other behaviors a person is completing across their engagements with you so you’re accurately tracking how well your investment is paying itself back, and you have a sense of which digital triggers are performing best.
  4. We often see that planned giving and major gift teams struggle to get their messages to their leads when their email file is being managed from one team’s purview — and this makes sense. Email deliverability is a huge issue that any digital team must address first and foremost, and stagnant email list prospects are first to go. It’s our belief, though, that these higher-value leads tend to score low on the email engagement rate (which often leads to them being suppressed) because they need some extra TLC. With a file that’s warmed with high-touch email treatments that reach them where they are, your entire organization has gained better leads eligible to receive comms again.
  5. That same high-touch treatment can be used across the pipeline — online and offline — in influencing your strategy for using premiums, implementing telemarketing at the right lifecycle stage(s), and taking a panel approach to dropping mail or digital asks.


Choosing the Right Partner


While it’s certainly still not a perfect world, creating practical partnerships internally, coupled with the use of digital modeling, can make some of your system of upgrading easier. 

Every member of Media Cause’s fundraising team sat in-house within at least one nonprofit before joining up, which means that we’re uniquely positioned to understand what major donors need to hear, help you blend attribution lines internally, and execute using our cross-channel expertise. We’re happy to talk more – ask about our offline-to-online strategies.


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