Activist Acquisitions

People that are not members, have hit an organization’s website and have shown an activist fervor for one or more of the organization’s causes, should be excellent prospects for memberships…at least that is the conventional wisdom. Recruiting them to be financial supporters or members of the organization however is not that easy. Organizations have tried direct mail and e-mail solicitations with limited success.

To that end PIC developed a telefundraising Activist Acquisition program. The program was developed after testing a number of different variables that included list segmentation, cause analysis, and different offers. What produced the best results was a sustainer or monthly giving program, though other appeals worked.

PIC’s protocol is as follows:

1. The List
PIC analyzes the client’s list. We identify the major cause(s) in which the activists showed interest and we then rank them according to recency, frequency and completeness of the record. We further analyze the file and identify other variables that through our experience indicate the increased probability that an activist will pledge to a monthly giving program.

2.Telephone Appending
We send the identified prospects to a telephone appending service to append telephone numbers.

3.Case Statement/The Script
We work with the organization to develop a compelling case statement and script based on the activist’s interest that will induce the activist to join the organization’s sustainer program. The appeal makes two solicitations to the prospect before falling back to soliciting for a one-time gift.

4. Fulfillment Package
The activist who has either pledged or indicated that he/she will consider a pledge (Hedger) will be mailed a letter referencing the telephone conversation and the outcome of the call. The pledge amount will be recorded on their reply device. For those who have pledge and placed it on his/her credit card an E-mail acknowledgement will be sent.

5. Payment Options
Payment options can be either/or credit card, EFT or a monthly invoice.

Case study


  • One year projection
  • Sustainers fulfill seventy-five (75) percent of the time
  • One time pledges fulfill seventy (70) percent


Size of target audience (with tel. #) 20,000
Contacts 10,000
# of sustainer pledges 565
Pledge Rate 5.65%
Average Gift $10.42
Sustainer Revenue (1 Yr) $52,986
One-time pledges 490
Pledge Rate 4.9%
Average Gift $25.50
Revenue (one-time gift) $8,747
Total Revenue $61,733
Total direct project costs -$45,000
Net Income $16,733
Total Donors 1,055
Net per Donor or Member $15.86
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Special Appeals

Campaign Type:  Special Appeals

Background:  A politically-oriented nonprofit wanted to support an important bill before Congress by mobilizing its constituency quickly to help with its passage.  The campaign both solicited contribution and instructed the individuals to contact their representatives in Washington.

Since the nonprofit was already a SIGNIA client and the state registrations were current, SIGNIA was able to begin the campaign within 96 hours.  SIGNIA constructed the case statements, trained the communications and proceeded with the task at hand.  SIGNIA even transferred to calls to the individual’s representative.

The bill passed and the metrics for the program were outstanding.


Initial Pledge Amount $25-49 $50-99 $100+
Pledge % 24% 22% 20%
Avg. Pledge $39 $55 $125
% Contact 50% 55% 50%
Fulfillment 95% 95% 95%
Cost Per Contact $4.50 $4.50 $4.50

Benefits to client:  Major events can cause a sudden need for support and a direct one-on-one personal appeal conveys the urgency and is an efficient tactic to generate donations quickly.

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Monthly Giving Program

Campaign Type:  Monthly Giving Program

Background:  An environmental charity looked to expand its monthly giving program.  The charity had relied solely on mail to solicitate the donations.  The mailings were generating lower than projected pledge amounts and fulfillment rates.

SIGNIA added telefundraising to the promotional mix.  The tactic produced a higher response rate, higher pledge amounts and improved pledge fulfillment.  As a result, the charity increased its return on investment.


Initial Pledge Amount $15-24 $25-49 $50-99
Monthly Giving Pledge % 4% 4% 4%
Avg. Pledge $12 $13 $15
1X Pledge 7% 7% 7%
Ave. Pledge $20 $30 $50
% Contact 15% 15% 15%
Fulfill 95% 95% 95%
Cost per Contact $4.50 $4.50 $4.50

Benefit to client:  The 1-on-1 conversation provides the opportunity to explain the need for monthly gifts and overcome objections to making a more substantial commitment to the charity.  The results deliver high-value donors with strong connections to the organization.

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Campaign Type:  Reinstatements

Background:  A healthcare charity was seeking to grow its membership and asked SIGNIA to suggest strategies to do so.

Former members are an excellent source to rebuild an active donor file as the individual has responded to the message in the past.  Telefundraising can provide the personal touch to ask the individual to donate again.  Equally important is that once the pledge is renewed, the donor can be included in the ongoing solicitation programs and the performance will be virtually the same as active donors in future years.

For the healthcare charity, SIGNIA segmenting the files by the age of the last donation and then modeled the list further to identify those donors who would have a high likelihood of making a new donation.  Though the analysis reduced the initial file by 35%, the response rate increased by over 20% and produced a very cost-effective strategy to grow the donor base.

Donations Lapsed 19 – 36 months

Initial Pledge Amount $15-24 $25-49 $50-99 $100+
Pledge % 15% 15% 15% 15%
Avg. Pledge $20 $30 $40 $100
% Contact 12% 12% 12% 12%
Fulfillment 70% 70% 70% 70%
Cost Per Contact $4.25 $4.25 $4.25 $4.25

Donations Lapsed Greater Than 36 months

Initial Pledge Amount $25-49 $50-99 $100+
Pledge % 12% 12% 12%
Avg. Pledge $27 $37 $90
% Contact 10% 10% 10%
Fulfillment 60% 60% 60%
Cost Per Contact $4.25 $4.25 $4.25

Benefits to client:  An effective vehicle to connect with donors whose contribution has lapsed.  It is also effective to reach donors/sustainers whose credit cards used for monthly giving has expired.


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Inbound Donor Care for a Large Nonprofit Public Policy Group

Inbound Donor Care for a Large Nonprofit Public Policy Group

Background:  The client was looking to partner with an inbound donor care provider to better serve and improve relationships with its donors across the full donor lifecycle.  The client’s objective was to provide a world-class supporter experience across multiple channels of engagement.  In addition to exceeding the identified call metrics, the client was looking for the provider to implement a saves program to keep donors or manage the downgrade of the individual’s giving.

Approach to Providing Services: 

SIGNIA’s Operations and IT Teams met with the DofH staff to understand the current challenges and the objectives the departments wanted to achieve:

      • SIGNIA developed a support program where the client redirected its inbound call traffic to SIGNIA.  Scripting and messaging were developed jointly with Client.
      • The Agents’ duties included:
          • Updated donor records
          • Handled donor inquires
          • Implemented a Donor Saves program to retained donors looking to adjust their giving.
          • Escalated calls to client outside the scope of the standard responses as needed
          • Supporters will be engaged as critical members of the Client’s community and thanked for their valued support.
      • Communications with the client’s supporters took place across multiple platforms — voice, email and text

Results: All KPIs (AST, Speed to Answer, Abandon Rate) showed marked improvement. CSAT scores increased to over 95%.

Benefit to Nonprofit Partner:  SIGNIA Agents receive and respond to inquiries across multiple communication platforms – voice, email and SMS/text.  SIGNIA also executed post-call surveys to measure CSAT.  SIGNIA Agents also interact with customers to retain their service levels. 

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COVID Contact Center for two Western State Department of Health

COVID Contact Center for two Western State Department of Health

Background:  During the COVID outbreak, the respective Departments of Health (DofH) realized their internal customer support operations were not adequate to handle the increasing volume of calls.  Rather than cobble together applications to manage the rapidly increasing volume, the DofH decided to outsource the support operations to a partner that could handle the fully breath of citizen inquiries, using the latest technology to support the communication process. 

Approach to Providing Services: 

      • SIGNIA’s Operations and IT Teams met with the DofH staff to understand the current challenges and the objectives the departments wanted to achieve:
          • Citizens must be able to reach the DofH during and after normal operating hours
          • Effectively respond to requests of public health that require timely response, service and, where required, escalate to public health officials.
          • Communicate and response to citizen inquiries on multiple platforms (i.e., voice, email, etc.)
      • SIGNIA built a time of full and part time Agents, moving to a team of 40 full-time Agents during the period of peak inquiries.
      • Agents practiced in the knowledge management system practicing standard responses and data searches for possible inquiries. Both SIGNIA Supervisors and Agents became very familiar with the DofH’s applications and knowledge management system to be able to navigate both systems quickly and effectively, providing an efficient experience for citizens.
      • Once operational Citizens could call or email the DofH for information regarding the nearest location to receive a COVID vaccine or for a COVID testing center. SIGNIA Agents answered call and responded to emails, using the respective DofH database to research and gather information to respond to questions. Services SIGNIA Agents provided were to provide locations for vaccines sites and testing centers, schedule vaccine appointments and escalating citizen sessions to a DofH staffer where required.

Results: DofH goals were to handle all communications quickly and efficiently.  SIGNIA exceed the goals set:

Average wait time:  less than 1 minute
Average speed to answer:  less than 30 seconds
Average handle time:  5 minutes
CSAT score:  over 95%

Benefits to DofH Partners:  SIGNIA scaled the number of Agents needed quickly to support the project.  SIGNIA Agents accessed the DofH databases and/or applications to research citizen questions and provide the appropriate response.  SIGNIA Agents managed communications via phone and email.  

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First-Year Renewals

Campaign Type:  First Year Renewals & Final Notice

Background:  A large community service charity was looking for a cost-effective lift in its first-year donor renewal efforts.  The charity’s standard renewal campaign consisted of seven communications – six mailers and an outreach call at the end of the campaign.  SIGNIA suggested that the charity replace on mailer with a second telephone outreach.

The results exceeded expectations!  The overall lift was 20%.  It was cost effective and most importantly, the renewals by telephone on the third effort performed equally as well as those renewals by mail in subsequent years.


Initial Pledge Amount $15-24 $25-49 $50-99 $100+
Pledge % 25% 25% 25% 25%
Avg. Pledge $23 $35 $50 $125
% Contact 15% 15% 15% 15%
Fulfillment 95% 95% 95% 95%
Cost Per Contact $4.50 $4.50 $4.50 $4.50

Telephone Outreach as Final Notice

When the telephone is incorporated in first time renewal efforts, it is usually positioned as the last effort due to the expense of the tactic.  Even when following multiple mailings, the telephone outreach produces very strong and cost-effective results.


Initial Pledge Amount $25-49 $50-99 $100+
Pledge % 22% 22% 22%
Avg. Pledge $35 $50 $125
% Contact 15% 15% 15%
Fulfillment 85% 85% 90%
Cost Per Contact $4.50 $4.50 $4.50

Benefits to client:  The personal communication provides an opportunity to convey the importance of their continued support

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