In it For the Long Haul


The Ice Bucket Challenge raised a huge amount of money for ALS, and that’s great.  But I have mixed feelings about this type of fundraising tactic.  Will these donors donate to ALS again?  Is the ALS Association doing anything to build relationships with these donors?

Think twice if you’re tempted to do something like the Ice Bucket Challenge.  Gimmicks may get people in the door, but will they stay?

Focus on the donors you already have

Raising money is hard, especially if you’re trying to find new donors. A good way to raise money is to get your current donors to donate again at a higher level.  This isn’t happening.  Donor retention rates are terrible.  One of the biggest reasons is poor communication or no communication at all.  This is something you can fix.

Make donor retention a priority.  Here are some helpful tips from Bloomerang. Your 7-Step Donor Retention Data Checklist

You won’t need to spend so much time getting new donors if you build relationships with the ones you already have.  How many donors do you have who have donated for more than two years, five years, or even ten years?  That’s significant.  I hope you’re showering them with attention and staying in touch throughout the year.

Who do you know?

Of course, you’ll need to find new donors, too.  Cultivate people you already have a relationship with such as newsletter subscribers, social media followers, event attendees, and volunteers.

Acknowledge their current relationship with you, show appreciation, and give them a reason to support you with a donation.

In addition, current donors, volunteers, board members, and staff can connect you with their community to help you find new donors.

Perhaps you have purchased or exchanged donors lists with other organizations and that was successful (or maybe not), but again you’ll have better luck with people who already know you.

Don’t let them slip away

Receiving a donation is not the end – it’s just the beginning.  Start with a great thank you letter, or even better a handwritten note or phone call.

Keep in touch with your donors at least once a month using a variety of channels – print, email, social media.  Find out which channels your donors prefer.  Don’t spend a lot of time on social media, if very few of your donors are using it.  I know print is expensive, but it’s more effective.  Think of how many pieces of mail you receive each day compared to email.  Plan to send at least three or four print updates a year.

Read on for more information on staying in touch with your donors. Don’t Let Your Donors Pack Up and Leave

In it for the long haul

Your goal should be to have long-term donors.  That won’t happen without a good donor relations plan.  As you plan your year-end fundraising, include a thank you and donor relations plan with your campaign strategy.  These are just as important, maybe even more important, and often take a back seat to fundraising.

Make sure your donors stay with you for a long time.

3 thoughts on “In it For the Long Haul

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