Collateral is No Good on The Shelf: Here’s How to Get It in Donors’ Hands

Yes, getting attention is key to successful marketing, but what happens next? After your donors have opened an email or an envelope from you and found value with the materials inside, what do you want them to do? What’s your ROI measure?

Today we’re going to explore one of the most common measurements of success: Requesting an offer. This is often in the form of marketing collateral.

What Is Marketing Collateral?

In fundraising, collateral is commonly a brochure or a short e-book. It offers significant value: Maybe it answers burning questions, explores a topic in detail and/or has a fill-in-the-blank format. Collateral is self-contained so a donor doesn’t need the information that drove them to it. It likely has a long shelf life for you—details that don’t change, such as the basics of beneficiary designations—and for the donor, who may keep it for a while before making a decision.

Example titles in the Stelter collateral collection include: Protect Your Pets After You Are Gone, Make the Most of Your Retirement Plan Assets and Estate Planning You Can Do At Home. Each covers the topic in-depth, offering education and next steps so a donor can understand the benefits and is encouraged to act.

A note about the critical nature of digital collateral: Your donors are online. According to a study by the Blackbaud Institute, online giving increased by 20.7% in 2020 and now represents nearly 13% of total giving. It’s important to understand that this shift is leading to more self-directed donors, which I wrote about recently. It’s worth a refresher read.   

Issuing You a Challenge

Let’s shift our mindset. What if, instead of a “leave-behind,” collateral became the “lead-with.” Consider framing the content of your marketing around this offer. Stelter clients have had recent success with cover letters dedicated solely to thanking the donor and offering a helpful brochure as a way of expressing their thanks. For example:

As a thank you for envisioning a future where every hard-working student can succeed, regardless of their family’s ability to pay tuition, we’d like to give you a free tool to help you plan for your future…

The University of Denver shared this lead-with mindset. They offered donors a women and planned giving collateral series. Jon Kraus, Executive Director of Gift Planning, said that the donors loved it. You can read the full University of Denver case study of how DU was able to reach high-potential prospects.

Here are some additional ideas for leading with collateral. Instead of saving it for direct requests only, use collateral for other points of connection like:  

  1. Sending to top prospects ahead of Estate Planning Awareness week in October.
  2. Providing at the end of a one-on-one conversation with a strong planned giving prospect or one who is experiencing a life event, such as moving or having a child or grandchild.
  3. Including a sustainer mailer.
  4. Using as a conversation prompt at an in-person event.
  5. Including as a thank you in a stewardship package to a legacy member.

If you remember only one thing about your marketing collateral: Use it.

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