What is the best approach for developing a donor communication strategy?

As with many industries, the way we communicate with our donors needs to change.  We can’t keep doing what we’ve always done and expect better or even different results.

Our approach to developing a solid communication strategy begins with a collaborative meeting between recruitment, marketing, and Incept.  What we are finding is that so much of our communication is done in silos and we need to begin to break down those barriers and integrate our communication.

There are really three sides to solving this issue.

First, we look at all the forms of messages that are going out.  Everything from billboards, TV, radio, social media, email, mailers, texts, calls, and even staff talking points.

Then we look at each donor’s response to a series of communications to ultimately determine what the custom communication pattern is that resonates most with that individual donor.

Knowing what messages resonate with a donor, what frequency the communication needs to be, and what communication methods work is critical.  We can’t ask a donor what their preferences are.  Trust me, what a donor says they prefer and what they actually respond to are very different. 

Lastly, we use attributes to determine likeliness to donate and LTV.  Things such as:

  • Current Age of Donor
  • Time Since Last Donation
  • Lifetime Donations
  • # Donations Within a Specific Timeframe
  • Seasonal Donor Only
  • Distance from Donation Center / Fixed Site

From here we’ve gathered enough data that we can create messaging based on propensity to donate, what communication method(s) that each specific donor will respond to, and we can weave in what procedure we need that donor to consider! 

Imagine you are an ideal platelet candidate.  Your blood type, your frequency, and your proximity to a fixed site make you the perfect candidate for platelet donation, yet you are a mobile donor.  You receive emails for your upcoming mobiles.  Hear radio commercials specific to “donating blood”.  Facebook shows great posts about the need for blood.  And then tele-recruitment calls and tells you they want you to try something new – a 2 ½ hour platelet procedure?!?!  What? 

If your emails and Facebook posts were custom to that donor describing what is most needed from them, and your radio commercials talked about finding out how you can best serve the patients in our community, then the donor gets a phone call that explains platelets, it all makes sense, it ties together, and legitimizes the message.  Even if the time is not right for the donor, when they go in to make a whole blood donation and the staff reinforce the message at the site, the chances of the donor converting on their next donation increases exponentially!

Look at your entire strategy, integrate all channels, use the data you have, to develop an algorithm so you are intelligently contacting donors when they are ready to donate (not just emailing and calling everyone all of the time!), and create messaging that speaks to THAT donor and watch your results increase!