DONATE: How Red Cross engaged donors to pledge their ongoing support

Get it right and mid-value donors can provide generous and loyal contributions. We find out how a compelling proposition achieved success.

DONATE: How Red Cross engaged donors to pledge their ongoing supportIt’s likely your fundraising team has poured a great deal of time and effort into major gifts and regular giving. But what about the supporters in between? The ones who can give a substantial gift, and give it on an annual basis? Here, Jasmine CoronadoStrategic Advisor at Marlin Communicationsshares insights into how the agency worked with Australian Red Cross to help build its FIA award-winning mid-value program.

Mid-value magic

In 2021, Marlin began working closely with Red Cross to grow its mid-value donor program, with an ambitious target to double mid-value giving within five years.

What eventuated was a custom-made program focused on Red Cross’ existing mid-value donors, which has achieved mid-value income growth of over $1.25 million in its first nine months and is set to shave two years off its ambitious target. So, let’s look at the challenge, the solution and the tactics that got them there.

The challenge

When Red Cross approached Marlin about their mid-value donor program, they sought strategic support to:

  • Craft strong cases for support that would connect with donors’ needs, values, interests and philanthropic motivations
  • Increase response rates and average gift values
  • Encourage donors to make Tax and Festive appeals part of their annual giving tradition
  • Craft a mid-value product that invites donors to commit to a new way of sustained giving

The targets

Red Cross’ overall objective was to double its mid-value program’s total income to between $7 and 9 million by FY26/27. This translated to the following targets for mid-value donors:

2021 Tax appeal:

  • Increase response rate by 3%
  • Increase average gift by 7%

2021 Festive appeal:

  • Increase the average gift by 5% from $222 (Festive 2020) to $232
  • Grow mid-value income to $922,000 and grow their response rate from 13% (Festive 2020) to 20% with an increase to their average gift of 14% to $650

Establish a new mid-value product that would:

  • Grow mid-value income by an extra $250,000 over three years
  • Attain 50 mid-value donor pledges of $5000 pa for three years. (The acquisition journey was from February to March 2022 across direct marketing (DM) and telemarketing (TM) channels. However, pledges continued to be received throughout the 2022 Tax campaign until the end of the financial year.)

The solution

To kick off the insights-led project, Red Cross facilitated interviews with 10 loyal mid-value donors. Marlin then facilitated a workshop with key Red Cross stakeholders to uncover insights across the organisation.

Marlin then drew out the most intriguing aspects of the case studies provided by Red Cross, framing the stories specifically for mid-values and presenting them as opportunities for those donors to invest. In addition, Marlin recommended providing a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the work that Red Cross does, including budgets and information unavailable to the general public online. The team wanted the mid-value donors to feel special, as if they were getting something exclusive.

Along with the Red Cross team, Marlin delivered three distinct mid-value cases for support and helped produce a brand-new fundraising product proposition with high-value mid-donors in mind: the Red Cross 50. The program is a 12-month multi-channel journey which develops mid-value support into habitual giving, improving both retention and lifetime value.

Marlin crafted a cohesive strategy and list of recommendations for mid-value donor seasonal appeals and developed persuasive communications across multiple channels for the Red Cross 50 product. This included the design and copy for an email as well as DM acquisition and welcome packs including a personalised prospectus and information lifts. Strategies were also developed for donor contact and care outside of DM, such as phone calls and online events.

Artwork from the Red Cross 50 case for support (top) and DM pack (bottom).

The results

Since implementing the new strategy and tactics, Red Cross has:

  • Grown its mid-value income by $1.25 million YOY inclusive of the 2021 Tax and Festive appeals and the Red Cross 50 campaign delivered in February 2022
  • Secured 48 mid-value pledges in the initial acquisition journey to the Red Cross 50 giving program
  • Created a warm pipeline of another 90 donors considering or intending to make a $5000-a-year pledge for three years
  • The 2021 Tax Appeal mid-value response rate growth was marginal, but the target was achieved – between a 4% and 6% increase for the DM-only and DM+eDM segments.
  • The 2021 Festive Appeal mid-value response rate grew from 11.61% to 27.41% for the loyalty DM-only segment; and from 10.64% to 25.87% from the DM+eDM contactable segment.

The new mid-value strategy has vastly improved Red Cross’ mid-value offering, and in turn, the lifetime retention and value of its donors. By testing a new fundraising product that’s designed to meet the needs, interests, values, and self-perception of mid-value donors, Red Cross is now much more confident that it can serve its beneficiaries’ needs for today and tomorrow.

Wrapping up

“The Red Cross team set out to double mid-value income in the next 5 years,” says Lenny Elario, Senior Fundraising Lead at Australian Red Cross.

“Working with Marlin, we’re now on track to hit this milestone sooner. Marlin’s insights and strategies have allowed us to craft a proposition that’s truly donor-centric, connecting these [mid-value] supporters with our longer-term humanitarian vision. The results speak for themselves. Looking at the recent Tax campaign, we saw a 37% growth in 2022 and 33% growth in 2021, indicating that we’ve broken a multi-year trend of flat growth and have set a clear upward trajectory. Likewise, we increased Festive mid-value giving by an exponential 116% in 2021, or an extra $524,000 year-on-year.”

To get in touch with Jasmine, email [email protected]

To read more case studies and fundraising insights from Marlin Communications, click here.

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