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Six ways to ensure lasting donor relationships

3rd Jun 2021
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The majority of donors do not make a repeat gift. Why?

Often, the reasons are within a nonprofit’s control. If you are not properly thanking supporters, regularly sharing what donor dollars supported or taking the time to understand individual motivations, your nonprofit will lose support. The good news is with some focused changes, you will be able to cultivate your donors to stay with you to grow and expand their support as well.

1. Be flexible

Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who is single-minded? When you only offer narrow giving opportunities, you’re not only the bad partner, but your organization is missing out on critical mission funding. What are some ways your nonprofit can expand your fundraising strategy?

Peer-to-peer fundraising has so many benefits that extend beyond actual dollars. With peer-to-peer fundraising, nonprofits engage and empower their supporters and advocates to fundraise on behalf of one common mission. These fundraisers ask their networks for support, bringing in a new donor base and organically raising awareness. Don’t limit your peer-to-peer offerings. Be aspirational in the ways you provide different avenues of potential giving to your supporters. Many nonprofits are finding success in adding peer-to-peer to galas, annual donation campaigns, and more.

There are other ways to activate growth fundraising. Consider expanding your timeline for your fundraiser from one night to four days, or host a kickoff fundraiser. That extended timeline allows you to add in and highlight revenue enhancers, such as a voting competition, text-to-donate campaign, games of chance, and more. These low barrier to entry fundraisers create new opportunities to attract new donors and build an audience for your main event.

2. Have technology that works for you

Overhead is a big concern at nonprofits. For good reason. But what do they risk if they’re dependent on outdated, slow technology?

The right fundraising management solution should support your programing and reduce inefficiencies. If you have to periodically restart your computer to reset your systems, it is time for an upgrade. If you can’t provide in-depth reporting and donor tracking that is vital to successful long-term donor engagement, it is time for an upgrade. If you find yourself saying colorful words regularly to your screen, it is past due time for an upgrade.

Consider how much money your organization wastes on staff time due to slow reporting, inaccurate data reconciliation and other system outages. Even if those dollars don’t hit your expense line, they’re still a cost in time you don’t have and should be included in your decision making on upgrading your fundraising software. If a change could save four total hours a week, that’s over a month of one full-time employee’s time.

Proactively and regularly do an audit of your technology in your local office and across your

organization. Many technology companies are moving to a SaaS model to meet the needs of their customers. Likely, you are paying for duplicate features. Put those donor dollars to better use and consolidate your technology.

3. Stop making it hard to donate

Not so long ago, we all had to take a wallet to a physical store to make a purchase. Now, we don’t complete a purchase on our phones if our payment information doesn’t autofill.

Your donation experience has to be seamless to best capture vital dollars. Of course, it needs to be mobile-friendly. But other things can interrupt a supporter. If your nonprofit’s webpage times out, or has redundant fields to fill out – you will lose donations.

Does your nonprofit have a complex fundraising campaign – with multiple ticket levels, raffles, and auction packages? Your fundraising management system should help you organize and capture payments for these items and more. Don’t forget to make the checkout process easy with contactless, one-click payment and pickup. People have come to expect a seamless experience, so make sure you deliver it.

4. Dive into your data

You do not have to be an Excel or Sheets wizard to gain powerful insights from your fundraising and event data. Taking the time to study silent auction performance, such as what got the most bids or what category outperformed the others, can help you and your team target your outreach for auction items the following year to maximize return. Those guests who placed multiple bids likely have the willingness and capacity to give in another way. Dedicating even a few hours to analysis is worth your time and your nonprofit’s bottom line.

Additionally, too many nonprofits do not spend the time on donor segmentation, resulting in additional lost revenue. Most one-time five-figure donors get noticed. But how many nonprofits can confidently say they look across fundraising campaigns and regions for repeat gifts that add up to a five-figure amount? Having a CRM that integrates with your fundraising management system automates this sometimes tedious task and makes it far easier to do regularly. Most recurring donors and even major donors' first donation was just a standard amount. Segmenting your donors, in order to properly thank and further steward them will result in long-term growth. Take the time.

5. Tailor your communication

Money tells a story. When spending on nonessentials, people are putting their values on display.

For example, a donor who gives consistently to the arts at your school would likely want updates on your arts programming. Perhaps that level of personalization is something your organization is already doing. (If you aren’t doing donor segmentation to capture this information, see Tip #4.) Depending on a supporter’s donation level, consider comping tickets to a performance or having the theatre kids record a short thank you video.

From planning your email cadences, social media shout-outs and phone call lists – the more personal you can get with communication, the more valued and connected your donors will feel. Building long- term relationships with donors is a win-win situation. To ensure this long-term relationship, remember the longer donors stay with a nonprofit, the higher the need to ensure you are engaging with them and providing new information on what their donations are funding. Help donors get excited about all you are doing and they will give more across the board.

Keep in mind as well that it is never too late to thank someone. Thanking donors can encompass social media shout-outs, handwritten thank you notes or featuring a donor thank you page on your website. With the right tools and stewardship plan, your donors will continue to support your critical mission again and again.

6. Listen to your donors

This tip is just as important as having the right software to run your giving program. Listening is a vital part of communication between you and your donors. Listening to your donors and how they want to give is key to gaining more dollars. Think about doing an annual survey to ascertain how your donor base approaches giving and gather their feedback for how you plan your campaigns. Bring your board members together and identify ways to shift old ways of giving into some new opportunities. One key item going forward is to provide your donors a contactless giving opportunity, as well as other ways to give.

Ask your donors if there are specific financial seasons that work better for their giving and segment your approach with those donors to those times.

Commenting on a recent study done of giving through the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, Jon Biedermann, chair of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, said in a statement. “It’s striking that on December 31, there was a 28 percent increase of $300 gifts, which is exactly the maximum amount a donor can take using the universal charitable deduction.This is a superb example of seasonality giving and why it’s important.

Ask your donors if they are frustrated with ways to give to your nonprofit and what they would like to see in more efficient ways to give. Listen to what they are telling you. You might be surprised how different generations can differ in giving needs.

Keeping all these tips as a focal point in your nonprofits’ future campaign plans will enable you to raise more dollars and maintain your connection to existing donors.

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