Thursday, September 4, 2014

Five Tips for Building Donor Relationships

So you have a base of donors for your organization. Now the question is how you plan to sustain and build relationships over time with your donors that will continue to support your good work. Here are five tips about how to do just that:
  1. Get to know them: Do this through data - and on a personal basis. First gather as much information about them as possible and put it into your database - name, address, phone, cell phone, email, salutation, giving history, direct participation in your organization, special interests, etc. But you also need to take the time through direct personal contact to know them as people - their family, what they care about deeply, why they are interested in your cause.
  2. Stay in touch: According to Rockefeller Foundation research, 9% of donors stop giving because they had no memory of supporting that nonprofit. You need to stay in touch about their membership status and gently remind them if their membership has lapsed. You need to stay in touch with reports on your progress and successes through handwritten notes, enewsletters, personal phone calls, and one-on-one meetings. You need to stay in touch sometimes even when you don't want money, simply to maintain your connection, update them on your programs, and solicit their feedback.
  3. Communicate effectively: Here's more telling information from the Rockefeller Foundation about donors who stop giving - 5% thought the charity did not need their support, 8% felt they didn't get enough information about how their charitable dollars were being used, and 18% felt communication was poor. Donors want to know where their donations go and what impact your work is having. Be sure to emphasize impact in all of your communications, with a focus on using stories, videos, and photographs to highlight your achievements.
  4. Invite participation: Offer them tickets to upcoming events. Invite them for a tour of your facility. Ask them to visit when an exciting program is scheduled. Include them in conference calls. And consider inviting them to volunteer. According to a Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund report, 67% of volunteers make charitable gifts to the organization they volunteer with, and they give 10% more than non-volunteers.
  5. Thank them promptly: I cannot emphasize this enough - 13% of lapsed donors were never thanked for their donations. And statistics consistently show that donors who are thanked in a timely fashion give more generously over time. So get those handwritten thank-you letters out. Always express appreciation for their support when you talk to them personally. And be sure to plan an annual appreciation event that is fun, has great food, and is appropriate for your organizational culture.
Think of your relationships with donors as if they are friendships. Treat them respectfully, stay in touch regularly, and communicate honestly and authentically. In doing so, you will strengthen their loyalty to your nonprofit - and you may just find (as I did) that you have also forged true friendships.