Finding the Cheerful Giver

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Summit Marketing respects the spirit at the heart of every gift. But we rely on the most bountiful and cheerful givers to help The Salvation Army fortify and expand your mission.

In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, Paul writes of those who give sparingly, versus those who give bountifully and cheerfully:

6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Summit finds those with the hearts and the resources to give more, and to give again. We help them fulfill the giving on their hearts, through The Salvation Army, so they may bless many others, and be greatly blessed in return.


Research is for insight, not just hindsight.

While some firms use analytics at the end of a campaign to find out where a program went wrong, Summit Marketing employs analysis from the beginning to get it right. Analysis provides us the insights to develop your most effective message, identify optimal channels, and invest your resources carefully, focusing on the donors whose giving can lend the greatest support to The Salvation Army.

In our groundbreaking five-year study of nonprofit donor behaviors, Summit discovered a high correlation between a donor’s first gift and their lifetime value.

Lifetime value is gross revenue, less acquisition and cultivation costs. This chart demonstrates the lifetime value of donors over their first three years:

Our research proves nonprofit organizations can reduce acquisition costs and achieve better ROI by focusing resources on first-time donors who predictably make higher value gifts and are also more likely to be retained and produce higher lifetime value.

Summit Marketing uses proprietary combinations of lists and key performance indicators to help identify the traits of our strongest donors and to predict and model the response rate of your optimal new donor mix.


Fishing for a better catch.

Summit focuses on the prospective donors who will effectively support your mission to improve initial gift, to lower acquisition costs, and to increase retention. We would all like to have vast numbers of new donors who give large donations – the whales – but experience suggests that targeting only these prospects is prohibitively expensive. On the other hand, casting for minnows, while driving a large number of small gifts, is also financially draining. Ultimately, it is a mix of small, medium and large gifts that generates the fastest path to a positive return, higher lifetime value and the net dollars to fund your programs.

Our research indicates the optimal donor mix to target in an acquisition program is: 

  • Less than 20% of new gifts under $20
  • 60% of new gifts between $20 and $99
  • 20% of new gifts over $100

While no program’s results may ever hit those target percentages precisely, they still represent a smart investment of resources for your acquisition effort, an aspirational goal for your partners, and invite a wide cross-section of prospective donors to support your organization and your mission. This donor mix is proven to recover the initial acquisition investment in 12-18 months, with retention rates that make strong, ongoing positive returns and provide funding for your programs and services. 

Retaining versus replacing donors.

Three decades of donor acquisition, loyalty and pledge programs have taught us volumes about the value of donor retention. For instance; those who donate more than $100 in their first gift are the most likely to upgrade, to give again, and to show more serious and sustained interest in supporting the mission of The Salvation Army.

Another tip? It costs roughly five times more to replace a good donor than to retain an existing one – and those new donors may not provide the same gift value for years, if ever.

It’s vital that you retain your most valuable donors, encouraging their continued support and growth by thanking them and showing them the good their gifts are doing. Summit Marketing’s Hug Your HundredsTM program helps you keep these cheerful givers engaged between appeals, and for years to come.

Recognize that your donors, old and new, are more than an income stream. See them as the indispensable friends they are, believing in you and your mission and supporting you so that you may support others. Communicate with them on a personal level as often as makes sense for the individual –  through thank-you letters, newsletters, birthday cards, and even personal phone calls. Locking in a relationship unlocks its potential, and first-time donors can become long-time supporters, volunteers, advocates and friends of The Salvation Army.

Are you missing out on the lifetime value of your different donor groups? Is there a part of your base that never upgrades? Summit Marketing can help.