Busting Myths: “Multi-Channel Donors are More Valuable”

Busting Myths: “Multi-Channel Donors are More Valuable”

This is a longer one. If you don’t like details, skip to the ending. The Question For at least the last 10 years, I have heard it said often that donors who give through more than one channel are more valuable than those who give to only one channel. Let’s take a deeper look with a typical org’s data.          Where the Myth Began First up is the misleading calculation that has been used to justify that Dual-Channel donors are more valuable than Single-Channel donors – Lifetime Value of Single-Channel vs. Dual-Channel Donors: Simply comparing the LTV of Dual-Channel to Single-Channel donors paints what appears to be a clear picture: Dual-Channel donors aresignificantly more valuable.                                 While technically true from one perspective, in the actual spirit of the analysis, it is false. Dual-Channel has an inherent bias in that it requires a donor to have 2+ gifts, thus inflating their value against many single-gift, Single-Channel donors.               An Insightful Tweak                        A more rigorous look controls for the problem above by comparing the value of donors who have given 2+ gifts.                                 When you look at it this way, Dual-Channel donors ($847) are still more valuable than Direct Mail Only donors ($258), but in this case slightly less valuable than Online Only ($936). What Does This Mean? Does that mean you should stop cultivating your Online donors in the mail for fear of downgrading them? Absolutely not. Online Only donors are generally harder to retain than Direct Mail. In fact, Online donors are lot less likely to give multiple gifts in the first place. 44% gave a 2nd gift within 3 years...
Overall Performance Metrics are Rubbish

Overall Performance Metrics are Rubbish

Your ‘healthy overall retention rate’ is a lie and you should feel bad about believing it. Well, probably. Let’s start with this. Take a look at the chart below and tell me if you’d rather be Organization Blue or Organization Orange? The choice is obvious right? Orange is killing it… WRONG! So, so, so wrong. Now let’s look at projected revenue for the same orgs: What the heck. How is this even possible? It’s not only very possible, I see it all the time. In creating the scenario above, I made each performance metric for Org Blue and Org Orange exactly the same. Their retention by lifecycle – all at the same benchmark levels, their gift sizes and frequency – held constant. Everything about the two orgs is identical except for one thing: Orange is acquiring 10% fewer donors each year, while Blue is acquiring 10% more. Why does that impact retention? Since Blue is adequately growing its file, it has a higher proportion of donors each year in transitional segments (second-year/reactivated). These two lifecycles have lower retention rates than long-term loyal donors. Meanwhile, donors in the active file for Orange are  dropping like flies because the only ones it has left who are factored into overall retention rate are the increasingly lonely, but high performing multi-year donors. These remaining loyal donors are propping up the overall metrics on a crashing file. There are two lessons here… If you like your org and don’t want to have to start a new one, keep acquiring new donors. Always. That’s the lesson from this specific scenario. But what I really want...
Analysis, Plus One

Analysis, Plus One

  What does Analytical Ones mean anyway? Well, the real story is that when Bill ran his own shop in Seattle in the 90’s it was called Analytical One – singular. When the decision was made to move forward with partners in the 2011 relaunch, the company name was pluralized to represent that he was no longer going it alone. As time has moved on, this name has developed another meaning for me. One of our four company values is to Be Curious. Our value to our clients does not come from delivering automated reports like a computer. Our job as strategists and consultants is to maximize the power of your data by thinking with the lights on upstairs. Personally, my passion for this work has always come from the “a-hah!” moments – when I get to deliver that extra insight that breaks through the status quo. As Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” I believe the ideal deliverable is grounded first in fulfilling the agreed scope of work, but then delivering at least one more thing… the Plus One our client never thought of. When you think of our name Analytical Ones, think of our promise to stay curious about your data and our passion to deliver your Plus...

Tax Study Findings by Nonprofit Category

You’ll remember that we posted the findings from our Tax Study* back in March (see the findings here). The main finding from that was while less than a third of Americans itemize their deductions, as many as 75% of donors who give $1,000 or more to charity each year itemize their charitable deductions. General donors (under $1k annually) and Major donors ($10k+) are mostly immune to the changes to the tax code for 2018.  However, nine percent of Mid-level donors ($1,000 to $9,999 annual) report that they will have a significant decrease in giving next year in response to the change. A client recently asked if we expect those changes to affect any one nonprofit category more than another. The answer is – Not really. Animal Welfare and Environmental causes have a very slightly higher percentage of donors who say that they will decrease their giving, and donors to Arts organizations – for whatever reasons – have a lower percentage of donors who say that they will decrease their giving. But, overall, percentages are similar across the board. Again, the issue seems not to be with the category that the donor donates to, but with the amount of their giving. So, focusing on that $1,000-9,999 group no matter your nonprofit category is key.   *Tax Study co-sponsored by The Donlon Agency and Analytical...

Tax Reform 2018: All Eyes on Mids

Several groups have done research to address the question of how changes in the tax code for 2018 might impact charitable giving. Much of this research has focused on the fact that only 30% of Americans itemize their deductions. Some have gone further to include demographic splits by wealth or region. At Analytical Ones, we believe the most predictive measure of future donor behavior is how they have given in the past. This perspective informs all our statistical models, analytics reporting, and strategy recommendations. A national survey co-sponsored by  Donlon Agency and Analytical Ones found that in the case of 2018 tax reform, segmenting donors  by their past giving levels reveals an important piece of the story. While less than a third of Americans itemize their deductions, our most valuable charitable donors itemize at a much higher rate. As many as 75% of donors who give $1,000 or more to charity each year itemize their charitable deductions. General donors (Under $1k annual) and Major donors ($10k+) are mostly immune to the changes to the tax code for 2018.  However, nine percent of Mid-level donors ($1,000 to $9,999 annual) report that they will have a significant decrease in giving next year in response to the change. Because this group typically makes up a large portion of revenue for non-profits, it is more important than ever to have a specific strategy to cultivate and upgrade mid-level donors. See the infographic below for more...