Finding Quality Donors and Keeping Them

Photo by roboppy via Flickr

Some nonprofit organizations are very focused on raising lots of money and having as many donors as they can get. Of course, this is important.  Nonprofits generally rely on fundraising for a bulk of their revenue.  But what’s also important is the quality of your donors. You could have one donor who gives you $100 and never gives again. Likewise, you could have another donor who has given you $25 each year over the last couple of years and also gets their friends to donate. 

Many donors give once and never give again. There are several reasons for this. One might be that some donors care more about your organization than others do.  Another is that you are not building relationships with your donors.

Why do people donate to YOUR organization?
Some may be very invested in your organization’s cause. Others may donate because they are a friend or family member of a board or staff member. These donors are fine until the board or staff member leaves, and then they often stop donating.

Others may donate for reasons unrelated to your cause. Let’s say you hold an event where a well-known person speaks. You charge $50 a ticket and raise lots of money, which is great, but some of these donors never give again because they were more interested in seeing the celebrity than in your cause.

Keep that in mind when you decide how you are going to raise money. Ideally, you want to find donors who will donate more than once.

Build relationships
Just reaching out to potential donors who you know will be interested in your cause is not enough. You need to build good relationships with your donors so they will donate year after year.   

This starts with showing appreciation and communicating with your donors on a regular basis in ways in which you are not asking for money.  Send a thank you letter and welcome packet for new donors within 24-48 hours.  In the thank you letter, invite donors to subscribe to your email list and join you on social media.  

Do not add your donors to your email list without their permission.  If you do, you are spamming them. Your newsletter articles and social media posts should emphasize how your donors’ support is having a positive impact on the people you serve and in the community. 

Be known, but don’t be annoying
Send out your donor-centered newsletters once or twice a month. You can also connect by sending out advocacy alerts and brief updates. As a general rule, try not to send out email messages more than once a week. You can post to social media more often, but remember everything needs to be of interest to your donors. And as much as it may pain you to do this, let your donors unsubscribe from your list if they choose to. 
It’s easier to focus on building relationships with your current donors than trying to find new ones.  This is especially true in an uncertain economy.

Easy cultivation tools
Not everyone who is getting your newsletter or following you on social media is a donor, but if you keep sending out material focusing on how you are making a difference, you might be able to convert them into donors.

Again, you want donors who will stick with you for a while. That means not only finding people who are committed to your cause, but also building relationships that show how much you appreciate their support.

Here are some ways to keep your donors engaged all year round. 

More on donor relations

One thought on “Finding Quality Donors and Keeping Them

  1. The most effective donor development tool I've used is the hand-written note. I set a dollar threshold, with margin for judgment (relatively large first-time gifts, for example) and send “social correspondence” style notes in addition to the regular donor thanks. This has been extremely effective in growing mid-range donors ($250/ann) to significant donors ($2,500/ann and up).


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