Activist Acquisitions

People that are not members, have hit an organization’s website and have shown an activist fervor for one or more of the organization’s causes, should be excellent prospects for memberships…at least that is the conventional wisdom. Recruiting them to be financial supporters or members of the organization however is not that easy. Organizations have tried direct mail and e-mail solicitations with limited success.

To that end PIC developed a telefundraising Activist Acquisition program. The program was developed after testing a number of different variables that included list segmentation, cause analysis, and different offers. What produced the best results was a sustainer or monthly giving program, though other appeals worked.

PIC’s protocol is as follows:

1. The List
PIC analyzes the client’s list. We identify the major cause(s) in which the activists showed interest and we then rank them according to recency, frequency and completeness of the record. We further analyze the file and identify other variables that through our experience indicate the increased probability that an activist will pledge to a monthly giving program.

2.Telephone Appending
We send the identified prospects to a telephone appending service to append telephone numbers.

3.Case Statement/The Script
We work with the organization to develop a compelling case statement and script based on the activist’s interest that will induce the activist to join the organization’s sustainer program. The appeal makes two solicitations to the prospect before falling back to soliciting for a one-time gift.

4. Fulfillment Package
The activist who has either pledged or indicated that he/she will consider a pledge (Hedger) will be mailed a letter referencing the telephone conversation and the outcome of the call. The pledge amount will be recorded on their reply device. For those who have pledge and placed it on his/her credit card an E-mail acknowledgement will be sent.

5. Payment Options
Payment options can be either/or credit card, EFT or a monthly invoice.

Case study


  • One year projection
  • Sustainers fulfill seventy-five (75) percent of the time
  • One time pledges fulfill seventy (70) percent


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A healthcare charity was seeking to grow its membership and asked PIC to evaluate its lapsed donor files.

Lapsed donors are an excellent source to rebuild an active donor file and because telefundraising is a highly personal way to ask, “why have you forsaken us”, response rates can be exceedingly high.  Equally important is that once the donor is renewed over the telephone, he/she can be returned to the solicitation programs and their performance will be virtually the same as those of the active donors in future years.

PIC performed a thorough analysis of the files and in addition to segmenting the file by recency, executed a number of data overlays to identify further the lapsed donors who would have a high likelihood of being reinstated. Though the analysis reduced the initial file by over 35 percent, it increased the response rate by over 20 percent.

Results: Reinstates 19- 36 months

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Results: Reinstates Greater than 37 months

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Monthly Giving Programs


An environmental client needed to grow it’s monthly giving program.  In the past, it had relied solely on mail to implement the campaign. But recently, while the mail campaign was initially effective, the numbers indicated that fulfillment rates and pledge amounts were lower than projected.

They asked PIC for help.  Using the telephone as part of a monthly giving program is one of the most effective uses of the medium.  PIC is especially skilled in this type of campaign. The client’s return on investment was high because of the enhanced response rate, improved pledge fulfillment and higher pledge amounts.


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Making this program especially strong is PIC ability to secure the monthly pledge on a credit card.  PIC percentage rate for Monthly Giving is 35-45.

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First-Year Renewals


A large community service charity’s was looking for a cost-effective lift in its first year renewal effort.  In the past, they conducted a seven-effort series with the first six by mail and the seventh effort by telephone. PIC suggested that they place a telephone effort after the second mail effort and to drop the sixth mail effort. The final effort would remain the telephone.

The results exceeded expectations. The overall lift was almost 20 percent.  It was cost effective and most importantly, the renewals by telephone on the third effort performed equally as well as those renewals by mail in subsequent years.


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Final Notice

When the telephone is incorporated in first time renewal’s efforts, it is usually positioned as the last effort. This is because the telephone is more expensive than mail. Even in last place position, the telephone produces very strong and cost-effective results.


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Special Appeals


A politically oriented client was supporting an important bill before Congress and needed contributions to help mobilize its constituency quickly to insure its passage.  Because it was one of PIC’s current clients, and all its state registrations were current, PIC was able to execute the telephone campaign within 96 hours.  Most special appeals lend themselves to the use of the telephone. The human contact of the telephone conveys a sense of urgency, timeliness and personalization not found in other media.  PIC constructed the case statements, trained the communicators and proceeded with the task at hand. 

The results…the bill passed!  The metrics for the program are outstanding.  This is especially true of the high percentage that pledged in each donation range and the high fulfillment rates of 95%.


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