Alia and I are just back from BBCON, the annual gathering of users of the many digital fundraising platforms that operate under the Blackbaud banner. That got me thinking about technology and mid-level donors.
Here’s my epiphany – the higher you go on the giving pyramid, the lower you want to go on the technology ladder. High value, low tech.
And here’s why.
First of all, if you’re not investing in mid-level donors you should be. Blackbaud has documented a steady ten-year decline in new donor acquisitions in low dollar direct marketing. The lifetime value of a typical low value direct marketing donor is around $125. And the retention, already pathetic, are dropping.
Bottom line: The financial model that makes the low dollar donor profitable is slowly but surely crumbling.
Conversely, each middle donor is worth thousands of dollars, often many thousands of dollars. Every mid-level donor matters.
So what does this have to do with technology?
Higher tech is exclusionary. Looking at our past research, Twitter for instance may reach no more than 10 or 15 percent of your donors. So if you do a Tweet Chat, you’re leaving out 85% or more of your donors. Doing something on Pinterest or Instagram would be more exclusionary still. Even webinars can be dicey in this regard.
Every mid-level donor matters.
So what are “safe and most appropriate” technologies for cultivating and stewarding mid-level donors? The phone. Postal mail. Email. Youtube. Blogs. Maybe Facebook, which is nearing ubiquity.
“Risky technologies include any social media other than Facebook. Mobile apps. Anything that requires the newest generation of computers or smart phones. Anything (think webinars) that requires you to download a supporting app. Anything that has a learning curve.
In other words, the more boring you find the technology, the more likely it is exactly the tech you should be using to talk with your mid-level folks.