Ripples in the pond

I’ve argued that total net donor lifetime value is the one true metric you would want to take with you to a deserted island.  It’s a measure that balances short and long-term, investment and return, invest to retain and bless and release.

Yet on yesterday’s Science of Influence webinar with Professor Dmitri Williams, I realized it was incomplete.  You can watch that here:



In a nutshell, influence ripples through populations like still ponds ripple with the dropping of a stone.  Each person is both influenced by and influences others.  That means that when someone takes an action with your organization, they make it more likely that people in their social network will do likewise, in the same way that social groups will grow to like the same music.

This has several implications for we fundraisers:

Acquisition investment: if we can quantify how much additional value a donor brings from her ripples in her social pond, we can spend more to acquire her.  Even if we have an average additional value from a donor, we can revise our break-even calculations to account for this additional revenue.

Acquisition targeting: if your parents, siblings, coworkers, and friends all donated to an organization recently, how likely are you to take the plunge?  Looking at the science of influence between people in a social network can not only tell you how much to pay to acquire someone, but whom is the most likely prospect for acquiring.

Facilitating influence: the tchotchkes that go into direct mail packages or back-end premiums often get a bad name, but they are helping your donor signal to their social network that they are a supporter.  Even as we social distance, we can still make it easier for donors to show their colors and (hopefully) influence others toward supporting you.

We highly recommend the webinar — see what things you think of to use and increase your donors’ influence!

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