We don’t know the outcome of the sequester, but it could be bad for both nonprofits and donors. If the economy takes a downturn, nonprofits will see more requests for services, while some donors may feel the need to cut back on their giving.
Will your organization make the cut?
Let’s say there is a donor who currently gives to five nonprofit organizations a year including yours, but is feeling a financial pinch, and is going to cut back to three.
Will she choose an organization that:
- Only communicates when they are asking for money.
- Sends a lame thank you letter, or no thank you letter.
- Sends out a newsletter that’s long, boring, and only focuses on the organization.
Or will she choose one that:
- Thanks their donors by calling them or sending handwritten notes.
- Communicates often with success stories and updates.
- Sends a newsletter and updates that are focused on how much they appreciate their donors and how they are making a difference with the donors’ support.
You can’t control your donors’ financial situation, but you can control your relationship with them. You should always have a strong donor relations program, but you need it more than ever in an uncertain economy.
Donor relations needs to be part of your fundraising plan. It’s usually easier and more cost effective than trying to find new donors, which of course should also be part of your fundraising plan.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about donor relations.
Spend as much time on your thank you letters as you do on your annual appeal letter
A great thank you letter, phone call, handwritten note, or any combination of the three is a good first step to successful donor relations. Thank donors within 48 hours and be personal and creative. Thank Your Donors All Year Round
Make all your communications donor focused
Let your donors know how their support is helping you make a difference. Give examples of how you wouldn’t be able to do your great work without their help.
Find ways to keep your donors engaged and make them feel appreciated
Find out how your donors want you to communicate with them
You may be tempted to do the bulk of your communication by email since it’s both easy and cost-effective. That’s fine if it’s what your donors want. But what if they would prefer a print newsletter?
Just because you have an email address for a donor or they are following you on social media, doesn’t mean they are always using those platforms. Ask your donors how they would like you to communicate with them. Don’t spend a lot of time on channels that they aren’t using.