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Very simply, the Bible Society is an organisation that offers the Bible to the world. Its vision is to make the Bible available, accessible, and credible.
Very simply, the Bible Society is an organisation that offers the Bible to the world. Its vision is to make the Bible available, accessible, and credible. “We do this,” explains Malcolm Fleming, “through translation, production and distribution using print, audio, braille and digital technologies – offering the Bible in a language people can understand, a format they can use and a price they can afford. And we help them engage with it through literacy and other programmes that address their deepest needs be that trauma healing, sickness or conflict for example. We are passionate advocates for the Bible and also work to ensure that it continues to inspire our culture through education, the arts, politics and the media.”
The Bible Society has a fundraising unit boasting 25 staff organised into four teams covering: churches and community; legacy giving; individual giving including direct mail; and key relationships. Fleming is Head of Key Relationships, a team of four including two major gift officers, and an administrator in addition to himself. Key Relationships manages prospects and donors contributing £1,000 or more annually. They manage case loads of prospects who are giving £5,000 annually and above.
Fleming joined the Bible Society staff in 2011 and, coming in new, quickly realised that for his programme to flourish, they were in need of identifying and driving additional, new prospects into the pipeline. “Prospecting for potential major givers was floundering,” he explains, “and one of my major concerns was we were spending too much time with people who weren’t able to give a lot. Our case loads contained a lot of low value prospects.” The Bible Society had done a wealth identification project several years before, but it had focused only on the top end prospects. Fleming believed if they were to justify doing another screening, they would have to get more value from it and fully leverage the results across the fundraising teams.
“I wanted something new, and different,” says Fleming. “I knew strategically we needed a mid-level giving programme, and while we were deciding to review the database again for major donors, it made sense to go deeper; to look at the whole constituency. I felt confident going with WealthEngine, knowing I would get more bang for my buck. We wouldn’t just be finding a few more people at the top end. We’d be getting the data we needed to start a rising donor programme, as well.”
In March 2012, the Bible Society did a full database screening with WealthEngine. They immediately put the data to use in the key relationships and legacy giving programmes, using the data to help in their segmentations and to identify and qualify prospects. “We use the online research tool every day,” notes Fleming. “It’s the first tool we turn to in order to qualify prospects.”
Their primary win, though, came from the identification of prospects for the mid-level donor programme. The Bible Society tested two approaches for mid-level giving:
One approach used successfully by many organisations to upgrade donations and increase involvement and engagement is through the establishment of giving clubs or societies. The Bible Society launched their 1804 Partnership in March 2013 after contacting 200 supporters and conducting interviews with 35. The supporter feedback informed all aspects of the programme. Ultimately, they settled on these objectives:
Prospective partners were selected by systematically analysing transaction histories, wealth screening data, major donor caseloads, and networks and relationships.
Alongside the 1804 Partnership, a separate rising donor programme was initiated and tested. This was envisioned as a hybrid programme to bridge the divide between mass market donors handled by the individual giving team, and the major donors, assigned within the key accounts team at giving levels of £5,000 and above.
The rising donor programme was conceived to answer the question, “How do we bridge the £500 to £5,000 gap between mass market and major giving?” The rising donor programme was designed to test the effectiveness of engagement and stewardship activities on giving. The Bible Society selected 2,000 of the donors falling in the £500 to £5,000 annual giving range to take part in the test. They were selected based on criteria including giving history in the form of Recency-Frequency-Monetary (RFM) scoring, and touch points such as event attendance, which provided an internal affinity rating. These affinity ratings were then cross tabulated with giving capacity ratings to identify the highest value and warmest prospects.
The 2,000 prospects selected were then divided into control and active cohorts. The control group was treated identically to the mass market - getting the same mailings, thanks and asks as those in the individual giving programme. Because of resource constraints, the active cohort was further segmented into the top 250, and the remaining 750. All 1,000 of the active group received enhanced stewardship and educational offerings, including a personal, named relationship manager, a mailing with high-quality information, handwritten or telephone thanks, and invitations to events. The top 250 also got a personal phone call during the year, in which the relationship manager would gather information to learn to know supporters better, and also initiate conversations around legacies.
The results for both mid-value donors treatments have been very encouraging. The 1804 Partnership has garnered 150 members in the first year, with nearly £200K raised. Two of these have gone on to become major donors and several new major donor prospects are now being qualified by the Key Relationship team. One of the gratifying aspects is that 85% of the donors don’t designate or restrict their donations, choosing instead to “give where the need is greatest.”
The rising donor programme achieved 10% uplift in giving from the active group as compared to the control group. In addition, over £1.1MM in legacies was identified. This does not include any future commitments for which seeds may have been planted. These outstanding results show the potential of the mid-value donors at the Bible Society.
The Bible Society plans to continue their two-pronged approach to optimising the “fat middle” represented by donors of £500 to £5,000. The Rising Donor Programme will focus on the top 150 donor prospects to receive the most personalised outreach, including a personal call from a relationship manager. They will select these based on a combination of giving history and wealth profile.
They will continue to grow the 1804 partnership with an aggressive goal of 300 members, an increase of 150 or 100%, over the next two years. WealthEngine data will continue to play a role in selecting the best opportunities.
One additional priority for the organisation relates to the donor demographics. “We are a very old, established charity,” explains Fleming. “We have an older age profile, and we’re trying to refresh that. From this perspective, WealthEngine is working very well for us.”