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Take your sustainer program to the next level with canvassing

In July’s coffee talk, Special Olympics alongside DonorVoice shared how canvassing has helped grow their sustainer program along with tips and tricks to manage a successful canvassing program. One thing to be aware of with canvassing programs is that it can take up to 2 years with a $250K investment before you will see revenue payoff. However, canvassing can be a reliable source for sustainer revenue, but you need to consider the planning resources, financial costs and tracking metrics to ensure canvassing is a worthwhile investment.

Some key items that I found helpful beyond having financial and staff support in place include:

  • Finding the right canvassing partner
    • Research and request RFPs on different vendors. Find an organization who responds to issues immediately, manages their canvassing teams effectively and integrates with your CRM and payment processor.
    • Since canvassing teams will be an extension of your fundraising team, you will need a partner that values ongoing training, regular updates and exposure to your programs when possible.
  • Creating specific donor journeys
    • For 1x gifts acquired through canvassing, create a specific donor journey to bring these donors up to speed about your programs and impact before you make the sustainer ask.
    • Create a customized journey to ensure a seamless transition from the canvassing team experience to your organization’s messaging.
  • Asking for donors’ feedback
    • Survey your donors and ask them to rate their experience with the canvasser. Sharing this immediate feedback provides opportunities for praise, to respond to any issues and motivate the canvassing teams.
    • Survey your donor’s intention to stay. This question assesses if a donor intends to continue giving and provides you with information to address who is at risk of cancelling their pledge and who will need extra messaging and follow-up.

Like with any new program, you will want to measure the results as well as identify key actionable insights. DonorVoice provided examples on how they helped Special Olympics analyze results of their canvassing program against other channels and use survey feedback to address donor acquisition and retention strategies.

Optimizing acquisition (upstream)

Using donor surveys and other key data, DonorVoice pinpointed canvasser’s acquisition and retention rates. This specific information supported motivation for canvassers, coaching and training opportunities. In addition, they were able to track key behaviors with commitment, identity and satisfaction of the donor to the organization.

Customizing follow up (downstream)

Further analytics helped identify low to high-risk donors and informed Special Olympics to test and tweak their retention tactics with their donor journeys and messaging.

Interesting in learning more? Check out The Professional Face-to-Face Fundraising Association (PPFA) or contact Monica Muten, Senior Director, Direct Response Marketing, Special Olympics, Seth Merritt, Vice President, Product Strategy, DonorVoice,

Kim Gube serves as the Monthly Giving Manager with the Southern Poverty Law Center where she leads monthly giving initiatives and supports employee giving strategies. Most recently she served as the Director of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast Region at Global Impact, partnering with global nonprofits, consulting and developing workplace giving strategies for the public and private sector. Before that, Kim coordinated volunteers, disaster response training and partnerships at the local and national levels at the American Red Cross. In her free time, Kim volunteers with KAMA DC, a platform for immigrants to share their skills and stories, and the adoptee community supporting opportunities for connection, recognition and engagement.