In our previous article on the 6 Steps to Building a Donor Loyalty Program, we learned how to engage someone and turn their interest in a cause into a direct investment. It is therefore, above all, essential to create a sincere and trusting relationship with them while offering them positive experiences. As a non-profit organization, you must implement relevant and strategic practices in order to maintain relational links, a certain number of donations and ultimately attract new donors. Otherwise, you will not be able to achieve your financial goals.

Retaining your donors must therefore be your main mission. It costs much less to renew the contribution of a donor than to acquire a new one. Here it’s about contacting donors but not only when you need them.  You have every interest in creating and developing a relationship that considers the expectations and needs of people who donate to support your cause. And this requires recognition, consideration and awareness in order to achieve the beginnings of loyalty. That’s why we wanted to dedicate this article to the place of promotional items in this process.

Promotional items

How do you show your gratitude to donors?

There are different ways to show your gratitude to your donors. And this notably involves:

  1. Contacting them regularly: send private messages, phone calls, videoconference meetings, etc.
  2. Inviting them to your various events: online and face-to-face.
  3. Communicating with them via your social networks, your newsletters, your website, etc. 
  4. Sending them promotional items. You can find our ideas for tactics to recognize the importance of your donors, by consulting this article.

Why are promotional items used in philanthropy?

The action of sending promotional items is subtle. Indeed, it is based on the premise that some donors will support  a cause for more than purely philanthropic reasons. Therefore, sending a promotional object can create a feeling of guilt, that of not giving anything in return, and will create the need to compensate for the organization’s gesture with a contribution.

This initiative, which is not philanthropic at first glance, represents an exchange during which the donor receives an object in return for his contribution. We can also draw a parallel with the benefit event where a donor receives a meal, a show or other value in return for his contribution. The difference would be that in the first case, the donor did not ask to receive the promotional object. However, in the second case, the person chose to pay for their participation in the event.

Many questions or strongly oppose this process of sending promotional items that many organizations undertake in their donor acquisition strategy. But if they use this strategy, it is because the results surely generate, in the end, revenues higher than the investment required for its implementation. However, does this ultimately allow for the development of a real philanthropic culture among donors acquired through this strategy?

Promotional items in philanthropy

Although this raises legitimate questions, it appears that the number of people contacted with this solicitation technique respond positively. Indeed, in an article published by La Presse on February 26, the spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross using this strategy specified: “between 60% and 68% of households make a donation after having received the “premium items” from the Red Cross “. Thus, it is a donor acquisition practice that appears very profitable for the organization.

We do wish that the organizations that use them take more account of the environmental footprint of promotional items. But as long as potential donors respond favorably in large enough numbers, this practice will be here to stay. Especially since it appears that a good proportion of donors who have been acquired renew their contribution to the organization thereafter.

These promotional items can therefore be a real solicitation lever, if they are used in the right way.

What are the 9 steps that define the strategy for the use of promotional items?

You might ask yourself: is it necessary to set up and develop a strategy for your promotional items? Well, yes. They are part of the deliberate actions of an organization, as they make it possible to achieve, as you will see, a lot of objectives. Their use should therefore not be taken lightly.

In fact, to implement such a strategy you must:

  1. Expand your thinking by asking yourself if the creation of promotional items can meet specific objectives and if so, which ones.
  2. Understand the profiles of your donors to find promotional items that will match them and respond, why not, to a need: age, gender, interests, type of donation.
  3. Define the message you want to convey by sending a promotional item.
  4. Determine the budget you want to allocate.
  5. Determine your environmental impact: types of products, types of shipments, materials, etc.
  6. Identify the different types of promotional items that can meet your objectives and properly identify your organization and your cause.
  7. Segment your database to associate your promotional items with the different levels of donations and thus enhance your recognition by type of donor and be able to carry out a test with a sample of the chosen segment.
  8. Create a calendar of mailings by target: key dates in the year, types of mailings, messages to be transmitted, donation offers.
  9. Establish an analysis of KPIs, performance indices, which then make it possible to study the impact of sending promotional items.

What types of promotional items to choose?

What is extremely interesting is the eclectic and often inexpensive nature of promotional items. Indeed, you can always choose products according to your resources, your tastes, but especially your targets and the level of their gifts.

Depending on the donations, you can offer:

  • Office supplies: notebooks, pens, diaries etc.
  • High-tech items: mini speakers, headphones, etc.
  • Clothing and accessories: t-shirts, caps or even tote bags.
  • Small everyday items: cups, dishes, mugs, candles etc.

There are some for all tastes and colors but above all, for all budgets. You just have to define the profile of your targets, which will allow you to make the best choice of items. And the more important the donation category, the more the promotional items will have to match.

The objectives of setting up your promotional items

They are an extremely important point to consider since they have different advantages:

  • Depending on the type of objects and your target, they are often inexpensive, therefore affordable for the majority of organizations.
  • They make it possible to develop and sustain relationships with donors as they feel important and taken into account.
  • They are useful because, depending on the item, they can easily be integrated into people’s daily lives: external visibility for the organization.
  • They make it possible to capture the audience and to be more visible.
  • They increase the reputation of the organization via word-of-mouth: the little touches mark people, so they talk about it around them.
  • They make it possible to increase the number of donors: prospecting new members via this type of advertising.
  • They act on the vision and commitment of donors to the organization.
  • They increase people’s curiosity about you and your cause.

The relationship with your community must absolutely be nurtured by small gestures that make each person feel important. Even the smallest of actions, the smallest gesture can achieve great things for an organization; such as being sustainable, collecting donations and simply continuing to evolve.