Frequent-Donor Programs

Our friends in the airline and hotel industries have been doing something for years that makes a good amount of sense to me.   They reward those customers who choose them regularly.

Frequent-flier programs and frequent-stay programs are so successful that now customers can earn free airline tickets by using their affinity credit cards at the grocery store!

Think about the basic structure of these programs.  Airlines don’t reward flyers for taking the longest flights.  Hotels don’t reward people for staying in the most upscale chains.  Instead, frequent-customer programs reward customers based on the quantity of flights (or miles) and hotel stays.  In other words, log 100 flight segments in a year and you become a United 1K member.  Stay at a Hilton property 28 times in a year and you become a Diamond VIP member.

Airlines and hotels know that they make more money from their repeat customers.

And here’s the point:  We know as development professionals that we will see increased gift amounts from repeat donors.  Lawrence Henze at Target Analytics reminds us of the research which suggests that donors who give for at least 7 years are much more likely to become your $1,000 donors.  Additionally, there is research which shows that donors who make gifts for at least 7 years are 900% more likely to make a major gift in their lifetime.  Yes, 900%!  And I’ve blogged about the strong and positive relationship between planned gifts and consistent annual gifts.

So, remind me again why almost every non-profit has giving societies based on gift amount (either annual or cumulative) and so few have giving societies based on consecutive year giving – regardless of amount?  In other words, why doesn’t every organization have “frequent-donor” programs?


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