Washington National Cathedral

New approaches based on strategic thinking, data analysis, and creative development

What We Did

Analytics & Insights, Digital Marketing, Direct Mail, Strategy & Planning

Stained Glass in Washington National Cathedral

Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., the magnificent Washington National Cathedral serves as both the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington as well as a sacred space where Americans gather during moments of national significance.


Achieved a positive coverage ratio for the first time in 5 years


Investment budget net revenue gain over prior year


Of projected revenue achieved through direct mail campaign

The Challenge

That multifaceted identity—sacred and civic life, local and national— can make it challenging to demonstrate donor impact and articulate a case for support. Like many organizations, the Cathedral’s donor attrition was not being offset by new donor acquisition – a trend that has become the new normal in the industry.

Turning to Allegiance Group + Pursuant for strategic thinking, data analysis, and creative development, the Cathedral leadership embraced the idea of donor loyalty and invested in a new approach to understanding and engaging the institution’s valuable donors, creating experiences that would feel personal and meaningful, not transactional.

The Solution

In 2017, Pursuant helped the Cathedral’s development team incorporate donor loyalty into their tactics and strategies. The two teams started by mapping out an engagement journey for their primary donor segments. The goal was to create a more meaningful donor experience by defining who would receive which communication and when.

With this plan, the Cathedral began implementing initiatives to elevate relationships in the donor file. There was investment in more personal and relevant outreach, such as:

  • A twice-yearly newsletter exclusive to donors.
  • Direct mail appeals geared at upgrading key donor segments with language and design that felt more intimate and relational.
  • A digital campaign focused on welcoming and retaining new and reactivated donors.

Additionally, donors were invited to participate in a survey, both to identify their areas of interest in the Cathedral and to let them know their voices matter. The survey did not include an ask to give. Engagement with the survey was high, with 1,588 current donors and 732 lapsed donors responding. The insights gained were incredibly valuable in helping the organization better understand what drove their donor’s loyalty and giving behavior.

The Results

Since beginning its investment in donor loyalty, the Cathedral has been able to celebrate positive growth across all KPIs:

  • The donor file has achieved a positive coverage ratio for the first time in 5 years.
  • Retention is the highest it has been since 2011.
  • Investment budget net revenue exceeded projections, achieving 108% (15% ahead of the prior year).
  • The direct mail campaign aimed at mid-major donor prospects achieved 108% of projected revenue and a 102% higher-than-projected gift average.
  • The digital campaign to welcome new donors has shortened the time between the first and second gift outside of the series and is improving retention among those who receive it.

Today, donor loyalty is no longer a new investment for the Cathedral; it is integral to the institution’s entire fundraising program. In trusting Allegiance Group + Pursuant to help them build stronger relationships with their donors, Cathedral leadership was brave, patient, and measured. As a result, a national treasure now has a stronger base of support.

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