Traditionally, affinity groups are collections of people who come together to support a common goal or purpose. Examples include book clubs, fraternities, social clubs, and PTA’s. Each one is like a little community because of their personal interests and shared
connections to others in the group.
For our purposes, affinity groups are membership-based programs where member contributions are directed to support a cause or an organization. Although each member represents an individual donor, it is the process of pooling member funds together that creates meaningful impact.
Affinity programs are strategic. They target mid-level donors with member contributions that range from $1,000 to $10,000 annually. Targeted donors have a higher financial capacity than just for membership alone, but affinity programs often draw first-time donors and mid-level supporters.
The most effective programs have a communications plan, as well as stewardship and
cultivation plans. The cultivation plan serves as a guide for growing many of these mid-level donors (members) into major gift prospects. Affinity programs strengthen a donor's relationship for the organization, which often leads to additional contributions. When executed effectively, affinity programs demonstrate our ability to deliver on our commitments to the donor. Through proper stewardship, members see how their funds are used and how their personal giving impacts the organization. If donors see that they can trust us with their mid-level gift, they know that we can be trusted with more when the time comes.
Affinity programs are most successful with multi-year commitments. By requesting that members sign a letter of intent to finalize their commitment to the program, we know that all parties are on the same page. The letter of intent will include the annual contribution amount, the total pledge amount, and the date the first payment can be expected. Once the gift officer receives the signed copy, the member is added to all program communications. The communications plan is key for delivering on donor expectations. With consistent engagement, touchpoints from others in the organization, and effective storytelling about the donor impact, members are equipped to become ambassadors for the organization.
For a step-by-step guide on launching your own affinity program, visit my free resources page.