By Megan Begley, Senior Manager of Social Impact Journeys
Planning an international adventure for your donors is not an easy feat. In addition to developing interesting and engaging programming for your donors, there are hotels and restaurants to select, transportation to arrange, sightseeing to incorporate into the itinerary, and more. Planning a donor trip is incredibly detail-oriented and time consuming. So how can you be sure that all of your efforts pay off? How can you measure the return on your investment of time and energy into planning a donor trip?
We have heard many different stories from our clients of how donor trips have impacted their work and the engagement of their donors. From joining a volunteer committee post-trip to hosting an event to making a transformative gift, donor travel leaves a lasting impression on your donors. Here are 5 ways that you can measure the return on your donor trip investment.
1. Increased Giving
The first and most obvious way to measure return on investment is through increased giving. Many of our clients report that donors who traveled to see their projects increased their giving that year and have sustained that new higher giving level. Some of the most exciting moments for our clients is when transformational gifts are made on trips.
It’s important to track the giving trajectory of your donors who have seen the work first hand to know if your trips are effective. Does their giving increase post-trip? If not, be sure you have a strategic follow up plan for your donors post-trip to encourage their giving. If you don’t, you’re letting a huge opportunity to leverage their experience pass you by.
2. Change in Status
Some donors who travel are so inspired that they go from being simply a donor to a newly engaged member in your organization. They had such a life-changing experience that they want to share your work with everyone they know and take their involvement to the next level. Perhaps they will introduce you to people in their network or host an event for you and invite their friends. Maybe they want to join a volunteer committee or become a chapter leader.
Brainstorm some ways that donors can engage ahead of the trip so you can share opportunities for your donors to channel their energy for your work once they return home.
3. Enhanced Relationships
Donor trips also give a big boost to fundraising staff on the trip. Not only will they learn more deeply about the work on the ground and how to tell your organization’s story, but they will have the opportunity to develop a meaningful and unique connection with your donors. You can truly get to know the motivations and personal reasons someone supports your mission through thoughtful debriefs on your trip.
Take time during the trip to provide opportunities for them to share about their experiences so you can more deeply understand your donors and their passions.
4. Fast-tracked Stewardship for a Major Gift
Travel expedites connections in profound ways. A seven day trip might reduce the number of steps it takes to build those relationships through email, mailings, and phone calls. In short, it can accelerate stewardship and move people up the funding pipeline faster than traditional methods of cultivation.
Be sure you leverage this unique time with your donors through strategic touch points throughout the trip that will fast-track your stewardship plan.
5. Planned Gifts and Donor Retention
An often overlooked return on investment is if a donor makes a planned gift after visiting the work in the field. While the benefits will not be immediate, a bequest or planned gift indicates a level of commitment to your organization that cannot be equaled and it will help set your organization up for future success.
The best way to make sure that you’re receiving the return on investment that you deserve is to develop a strategic post-trip follow up plan. Near the end of the trip or after the trip, you can share with your donors the various ways they can engage with your work. Then be sure to follow up! Donor trips are life-changing experiences. Ensure that all of your hard work pays off and that you are capturing the return on your donor trip investment.
Do you have any stories of donors engaging in a new or interesting way after a donor trip? We’d love to hear from you! Email your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.