SCETV Sustainer EFT Conversion

EFT Conversion
Date Published
Debbie Merlino

Campaign yields unprecedented gains in donor retention and revenue

The Situation

The ETV Endowment supports South Carolina’s state network for public television and radio, SCETV and South Carolina Public Radio. With consistent promotion and the advent of PBS Passport, the Endowment’s file of monthly givers, called Sustaining Stars, grew by an astonishing 583% in the last five years. With this file transformation, and monthly Sustainer payments now making up nearly 90% of all donor transactions, the challenge became how to grow these donors’ annual support and proactively manage credit card expirations and declined payments. Over 80% of Sustainer payments were being made via credit card.

The Strategy

In March of 2017, the ETV Endowment mailed an EFT Conversion appeal to 6,155 Sustaining Stars. This was the first time the Endowment had made a direct ask to its Sustaining Stars to change their payment method from credit card to bank account withdrawals. Because so many Sustaining Stars were new members, it was also the first time that many were being asked for an increase to their monthly giving.

The creative focused on thanking the donors for their support and for being Sustaining Members, while reminding them how important this membership is to them. The letter outlined the benefits of switching to EFT for both the member and SCETV and emphasized that it is the easiest way to maintain their support. 

There was a soft ask for an additional gift or to upgrade their monthly gift, but the main thrust of the message was about converting to EFT payments with clear instructions on how to make the switch. The reply provides the currently monthly gift amount, with a suggested upgrade amount, and a blank for an additional gift if that is preferred. Additionally, a phone number was included on the reply, as was the website, which was set up to accept the EFT bank transfer information.

The ResultsEFT Conversion Call out

Based on past performance from other clients, the EFT conversion was expected to deliver a 4% conversion response rate. For SCETV the response was twice that, as 8% converted to EFT, or 486 of the 6,155 that were mailed. 

There were 158 upgrades, or 2.57% response, for an annual revenue increase of $8,597. Twelve Sustainers opted to give a one-time additional gift, for a total of $565 additional dollars. Overall, the annual revenue increase was $9,162. The success of this campaign is based on a growing Sustainer file, with donors who gave primarily through credit card and who had never been asked to give through EFT before. It also is based on a creative strategy that focused on the conversion along with a subtle encouragement to increase monthly support. 

The ETV Endowment was delighted with these results and has added both a fall and a spring EFT conversion appeal to its Sustaining Stars mail plan for the coming year. 

Debbie Merlino
About the Author:
Debbie Merlino
President, Agency Services

As President of Agency Services, Debbie is responsible for overall client satisfaction. She works to ensure AFG’s winning strategies are being shared throughout the organization for the benefit of all our clients. Debbie is frequently out on the road sharing insights with others and listening to your challenges so we can develop solutions.

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I get to meet the best people and hear their stories. Hardly anyone says they planned to work in development. Learning how our clients found themselves in this profession and hearing the stories of the people they serve is inspirational.

If you weren’t at AFG, what would you be doing?

Attempting the life of a freelance journalist, working in a bookstore, and/or doing a podcast for my own enjoyment.

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

Making people laugh. It’s thrilling! Especially when done purposefully and I’m on stage ; ) I also enjoy yoga and a well-crafted cocktail.

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