In a recent Grow Report, fundraising expert Pamela Grow wrote about a time she had just started a new development job and the donors hadn’t been thanked for over eight months (yikes!). When she expressed concern about this to an outside consultant, the consultant replied, “In my experience, donors are lucky to get a postcard.”
Really? What nonprofit organizations should be saying is, “We’re lucky to have our donors.” And this includes all donors, even ones who give smaller gifts. Smaller gift donors often have the potential to give more. Also, don’t discount a loyal donor who’s given $25 a year for 10 years. Maybe she’s passionate about your cause, but that’s all she can afford. You don’t want to lose her.
Do your donors know how lucky you feel to have them support your organization? They should. Take time this month to let them know that and keep letting them know that throughout the year. St. Patrick’s Day is coming up so you could use that as a theme.
You need more than luck
Luck isn’t everything, though. You have to work at it. Donors don’t magically donate, or more important, keep donating to your organization. In fact, if you ignore them or communicate poorly, they’re unlikely to donate again.
It takes more than leprechauns granting wishes. You need good donor relations and consistent, engaging communication. Donor relations should be easier than raising money, and it can be fun, too. But not only do you have to work at it, you need to make it a priority!
If you don’t want to use St.Patrick’s Day as a theme, spring is just around the corner (yea!). Spring is a time for new beginnings. Maybe you can share a new initiative that you were able to launch with your donors’ help.
Speaking of new beginnings, think about sending something special to your first-time donors. Let them know how much you appreciate this new relationship. If you don’t, it’s likely to be a short-term relationship. Donor retention continues to be poor for first-time donors. Don’t let these donors slip away.
Reach out to your loyal donors
While engaging with first-time donors is important, you don’t want to ignore your longer-term donors. Organizations rarely acknowledge past giving. I gave an example above about a loyal donor who’s given for 10 years.
If you have donors who’ve given for more than three years, do something special for them. Let them know you’re lucky to have them in your family of donors.
Build relationships throughout the year
Building relationships is one of the most important components of fundraising. It’s something you need to do throughout the year.
Don’t just communicate with donors when you have a fundraising campaign or an event. The in-between times are just important. Let your donors know how lucky you are to have them and keep doing that again and again.
Show some donor appreciation at least once a month. A communications calendar will help you with this.
Your donors need to know how lucky you are to have them. It’s not hard to do that, but you can’t rely on just luck.
Get inspired by some of these ideas.