Build Relationships With Your Donors by Having an Open House

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Building relationships with your donors is a year-round effort. There are many ways to build relationships. One that’s more personal is having an open house at your organization. If you can’t hold one on site, have it at a restaurant or other venue. You may be able to find someone to donate space.

Invite other supporters, too

You could just have an event for donors, but why not invite other supporters such as event attendees, email subscribers, and social media followers, as well? This could be a great way to convert these supporters into donors. Encourage your donors to bring a friend.

Coordinate it with your year-end appeal

Depending on your resources, you may only be able to hold one open house a year. If you can hold more, that’s great.

A good time to have your open house is before you launch your year-end appeal so you could hold one sometime between mid-September and early November.

Another option is spring if you have an appeal then, or you could make it a thank you event.  

Winter is tricky unless you’re fortunate to live someplace where it doesn’t snow. And summer’s not good since most people go away on vacation.

Whenever you decide to hold your open house, don’t ask for money at this event.

Keep it informal

No three-course dinners and speeches that are a cure for insomnia. Hold a gathering where your supporters can drop in after work, and serve something to eat and drink. You may be able to get food and beverages donated or find a sponsor.

Have a brief program. You could show a video and/or let a client share his/her story. Your executive director or board chair should thank your guests and share some accomplishments and plans for the future. Again, keep it brief. You don’t want anyone looking for a way to escape.

Create some photo displays and have literature available. You could also show a video on a laptop. Offer tours, if that makes sense.

Speaking of tours, you could offer them at other times, too. After I became a monthly donor, one organization invited me to arrange a tour.

How to Engage Donors with a Tour

7 Tips to Create an Amazing Donor Cultivation Tour

Get your board involved

You must have a good turnout from your board. Encourage board members to invite friends and other potential prospects.

Make everyone feel welcome

Don’t hide in the corner or spend all your time talking to your co-workers. Your staff and board need to mingle with your guests and make them feel welcome.

You may want to go over your organization’s talking points and brush up on your elevator pitches so everyone is prepared to talk about what you do and answer questions. And that doesn’t mean reciting your mission statement.

Create a Stellar Elevator Pitch for Your Nonprofit Organization

How to Get Everyone in your Organization on the Same Page

Don’t forget about the follow-up

Anyone who has taken time out of her/his busy schedule to attend your open house needs to be showered with love. Nonprofits tend to do a poor job of following up after an event and miss out on a great opportunity to build relationships.

Collect names and addresses of people who attended and send a thank you note right away. This is a good project for your board. Don’t ask for money (that comes later).

When you do send your next appeal, include a sentence that says, “It was great to see you at our open house.”

Not all your donors will attend your open house but will appreciate the invitation. Donors and other supporters who do come are showing you they’re interested in your organization. Keep them interested and keep building relationships with them! This will help ensure they’ll continue to support you.

Is Your Website in Good Shape?

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As summer winds down and you start getting ready for year-end fundraising, you need to make sure your website is in good shape. This means it’s up-to-date, easy to read and navigate, welcoming, and audience-centered.

How does your website fare?  Use the checklist below to find out.

Home page

Your home page is often the first place a newcomer will visit. Make it an entryway to the rest of your website.

  • Is it free of clutter and easy to navigate and read?
  • Does it include an engaging photo and a small amount of text, such as a tagline or position statement?
  • If you’re highlighting something such as an event, is the information up-to-date, and is it the most newsworthy item you can feature?
  • Does it include a Donate Now button that’s prominent without being tacky?
  • Does it include a newsletter sign up box and social media icons?
  • Does it include your organization’s contact information or a link to a Contact Us page?
  • Is the navigation bar easy to use?
  • Does it include a search feature?

Donation page

More people donate online now.  Make sure your donation page doesn’t make someone want to tear her hair out.

  • Is it easy to use?
  • Does it include a strong call to action with the same messages as all your other fundraising appeals?
  • Does it show how the donation will be used and what different amounts will fund?
  • Does it include an option for recurring gifts?
  • Does it have an engaging photo?
  • After someone donates, does it take the person to a thank you landing page and generate a thank you email?

The rest of your pages

Be sure to take a look at the rest of your web pages,too.

  • Are they easy to read/scan and navigate?
  • Do all your pages have a consistent look?
  • Is the content well written in a conversational style (no jargon) and free of grammatical errors and typos?
  • Are your pages audience-centered? Remember, some visitors know you well and others don’t. A person visiting your volunteer page may not know much about your organization, so you’ll need to include a compelling description of what you do.
  • Do your pages contain a clear call to action? For example, your volunteer page should entice someone to volunteer.
  • Does each page have one or two photos related to its subject matter? Going back to your volunteer page, you could include a photo of volunteers interacting with clients.
  • Is all the content up-to-date?
  • Do all your links work?
  • Do all your pages include a Donate Now button, navigation bar, social media icons, a newsletter sign up box, contact information, and a search feature, so your visitors don’t have to go back to the home page?
  • Are you using analytics to see how often people visit your pages? If you have pages that aren’t generating a lot of interest, find out why that’s happening. You may need to make the page more engaging or take it down.
  • Do you periodically survey your supporters to get feedback about your website?
  • Is your website mobile and tablet friendly?  The Essential Guide to Going Mobile for Nonprofits
  • Is there other content you should include (or take out)?

After you’ve made all your changes, have someone who isn’t as familiar with your organization (maybe a friend or family member) look at your website to see if the content is clear and it’s easy to navigate.

Your goal is to have a website that’s welcoming and audience-centered for everyone from first-time visitors to long-time donors.

Read on for more information to help you get your website in good shape.

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Show Appreciation by Holding an Open House

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Are you thanking your donors all year round?  One special way to show appreciation is to hold an open house at your organization. If you can’t hold one on site, have it at a restaurant or other venue.  You may be able to find someone to donate space.

Invite other supporters, too

You could just have an event for donors, but why not invite other supporters such as event attendees, email subscribers and social media followers? This could be a great way to convert these supporters into donors. Also, encourage donors to bring a friend.

Coordinate it with your year-end appeal

Depending on your resources, you may only be able to hold one open house a year.  If you can hold more, that’s great.

A good time to have your open house is before you launch your year-end appeal, so you could hold one sometime between mid-September and early November.

Another option is spring, if you have an appeal then, or you could make it a thank you event.  Winter is tricky, unless you’re fortunate to live somewhere where it doesn’t snow.  July and August are also problematic since that’s vacation time.

Whenever you decide to hold your open house, don’t ask for money at this event.

Keep it informal

No three-course dinners and speeches that drone on.  Hold a gathering where your supporters can drop in after work, and serve something to eat and drink. You may be able to get food and beverages donated or find a sponsor.

Have a brief program.  You could show a video and/or let a client share his/her story. Your executive director or board chair should thank your guests and share some accomplishments and plans for the future.  Again, keep it brief. You don’t want anyone running out the door.

Create some photo displays and have literature available. You could also show a video on a laptop. Offer tours, if that makes sense.

Let your donors and other supporters see the heart and soul of your organization.

Get your board involved

You must have a good turnout from your board. Encourage board members to invite friends and other potential prospects.

Make everyone feel welcome

Don’t stand in the corner talking to your co-workers.  Your staff and board needs to mingle with your guests and make them feel welcome.

You may need to go over your organization’s talking points and brush up on your elevator pitches, so everyone is prepared to talk about what you do and answer questions.

How to Get Everyone in your Organization on the Same Page

Don’t let them get away

Anyone who has taken time out of his/her busy schedule to attend your open house needs to be showered with love.

Collect names and addresses of people who attended and send a thank you note right away. Don’t ask for money (that comes later).

When you do send your next appeal, include a sentence that says, “It was great to see you at our open house.”

Not all your donors will attend your open house,but will appreciate the invitation. Donors and other supporters who do come are showing you they’re interested in your organization.  Keep cultivating them.  This will help ensure they’ll continue to support you.

Do Something Special For Your Donors and Hold an Open House

 

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Nonprofit organizations need to find ways to thank donors all year round. One special way to show appreciation is to hold an open house at your organization. If you can’t hold one on site, have it at a restaurant or other venue.  You may be able to find someone to donate space.

Invite other supporters, too

You could just have an event for donors, but why not invite your email subscribers and your social media followers, too? This could be a great way to convert these supporters into donors. Also, encourage donors to bring a friend.

Coordinate it with your year-end appeal

Depending on your resources, you may only be able to hold one open house a year.  If you can hold more, that’s great.

A good time to have your open house is before you launch your year-end appeal, so you could hold one sometime between mid-September and early November.

Another option is the spring, if you have an appeal then, or you could make it a thank you event.  Winter is tricky, unless you are fortunate to live in a part of the country where it doesn’t snow.  July and August are also problematic since that’s vacation time.

Whenever you decide to hold your open house, don’t ask for money at this event.

Keep it informal

No three course-dinners and never-ending speeches.  Hold a gathering where your supporters can drop in after work.  Serve something to eat and drink. You may be able to get food and beverages donated or find a sponsor.

Have a brief program.  You could show a video and/or let a client share his or her story.  Your executive director or board chair should thank the attendees and share some accomplishments and plans for the future.  Again, keep it brief. You don’t want your supporters fleeing out the door.

Create some photo displays and have literature available. You could also show a video on a laptop. Offer tours, if that makes sense.

Let your donors and other supporters see the heart and soul of your organization.

Get your board involved

You want a good turnout from your board. Encourage board members to invite friends and other potential prospects.

Make everyone feel welcome

Be sure your staff and board mingle with your supporters and make them feel welcome.  You may need to go over your organization’s talking points and brush up on your elevator pitches, so everyone is prepared to talk about what you do and answer questions.

How To Get Everyone In Your Organization To Be Consistent In Messaging

Don’t let them get away

Anyone who has taken time out of his/her busy schedule to attend your open house needs to be showered with attention.

Collect names and addresses of people who attended and send a thank you note right away. Don’t ask for money (that comes later).

When you do send your next appeal, include a sentence that says  “It was great to see you at our open house.”

Not all your donors will attend your open house, but will appreciate the invitation.  Donors and other supporters who do come are showing you they are interested in your organization.  Keep cultivating them.  This will help ensure they’ll continue to support you.

 

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