Search TXNP

< More Articles

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Share: facebooktwitterdigg

The new keys to success in fundraising today: Commitment (Part 6)
Mal Warwick

February, 2011

Last among the four principles I’ve developed is Commitment. Remember, as I wrote earlier, the level of Commitment roughly corresponds to a donor’s Long-Term Value. So it’s our job as fundraisers to find ways to deepen our supporters’ Commitment.

Naturally, a person’s Commitment to your organization can be located anywhere on a continuum, from nonexistent to total. The old way of looking at this was to divide people into Suspects, Prospects, One-Time Donors, Multi-donors or Regular Donors, Major Donors, and Legacy Donors. But the world doesn’t really work that way anymore. It’s a lot more complicated, more multi-faceted. To take that into account, and to keep things as simple as I can, I like to look at four levels of Commitment: the Tourist, the Visitor, the Resident, and the Lifer.

The four levels of donor Commitment

  • The Tourist. First, there’s the casual contact you might experience from what I call a “Tourist.” You know people like this—far too many, in fact. A Tourist is someone who lands on your Web site from a search engine and stays for a minute or two. . .or drops by your office out of sheer curiosity to bother the receptionist with naïve questions. . .or mails back the survey you sent in your donor-acquisition campaign—without a check. Chances are, Tourists are simply looking for freebies. They’re not likely to give you any money. Unless you can find some way to grab them with an irresistible story or an offer that’s impossible to turn down, you’re probably never going to see them again. But it’s a mistake to isolate yourself entirely from Tourists. Just enough of them actually do something meaningful to make their contact worthwhile for you—perhaps sending an action email or signing up for your online newsletter, so that you obtain at least their email addresses and can approach them again. My friend Marcelo Iniarra calls these people “Trysumers:” They’ll try something if it’s free.
  • The Visitor. At a higher level of Commitment is the “Visitor.” A Visitor might arrive in the same fashion as a Tourist—through a search engine or Facebook, perhaps. But the Visitor’s intent may be a tad more serious than the Tourist’s, and she becomes a little more involved—maybe subscribing to your free newsletter, attending an inexpensive or free event, or even giving a small donation.

We used to say that the most critical phase in the fundraising process was to persuade one-time donors to give a second gift, precisely because fewer than half of them do. Now, though, as so many nonprofits are acquiring far more names online than off, the game has changed. Our biggest challenge now is to get Visitors more involved—in other words, increasing their level of Commitment—and not just concentrate on the much smaller number of people who actually donate money. Because, as Visitors become more committed, more and more of them will become donors.

  • The Resident. Chances are, your organization has lots of “Residents”—and I’ll bet you didn’t even know it! These are folks who have apparently come to stay. Some have contributed to you on several occasions and maybe are even monthly donors. Others may be former or retired staff or board members who left on the best of terms. Some are the volunteers who come back again and again. To the extent that you get to know them well, you have a good chance to deepen their Commitment. As a practical matter, that means you gather pertinent personal information and integrate it into your communications with them.

Long-term volunteers can turn into annual or monthly donors, or even join your board of directors. Former board or staff members may become major donors. And any of these people can leave legacies. Regardless of whether they’re donors now, their future value is potentially enormous.

  • The Lifer. At the highest level of Commitment is the “Lifer.” This is a person who has stuck with you over the years, through your organization’s ups and downs, contributing steadily to the best of her ability. But, as with Residents, those contributions may not be financial. A Lifer might be a volunteer who has been around since the organization was founded. Or a director who’s never rotated off the board because you don’t have a rotation policy. Or a regular donor whose monthly gifts have steadily increased over the years, putting her into the ranks of major donors. Or even a loyal small donor whose modest gifts have come in every year for decades, despite the fact that nobody in the organization has ever met her!

In all these cases, Lifers may well be candidates for legacy gifts. In fact, it’s from this group that the overwhelming majority of legacies are likely to come. Longevity is the single best indicator of the likelihood of a bequest.

Once again, then, remember these four guidelines. They’re the keys to success in today’s new and fast-changing fundraising environment: Choice, Information, Engagement, Commitment.

The new keys to success in fundraising today (Part 1)-                     

The new keys to success in fundraising today: New signposts for the road (Part 2) -

The new keys to success in fundraising today: Donor choice (Part 3) -

The new keys to success in fundraising today: Information (Part 4) -

The new keys to success in fundraising today: Engagement (Part 5) -


Your TXNP Weekly E-Newsletter is made possible by the generosity of:

FROST in many Texas cities

TXNP Professional Members Are Dedicated to Texas and Texans.

Aurora Grants & Consulting |Dawson Murray Teague Communications | ELITE Research | FOR THE PHILANTHROPIST | Graystone Consulting | J A Churchill Associates | John F. Lewis PC | McConnell & Jones LLC

Sign up for your personal TXNP E-Newsletter

at-t Meadows Foundation express news HOBLITZELLE FOUNDATION v greenly zachry foundation w b h b bank of america southwest airlines Sid W. Richardson Foundation forst