Fundraising and Donor Relationships

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Several articles have been written about donor relationships on our blog. We have written about donor stewardship, major gifts, fundraising campaign planning and implementation, and donor acquisition paired with your marketing and development efforts. Today, we will discuss how all actions your nonprofit takes are interconnected. Every decision and action taken by all segments of your organization will impact every single one of your strategies, so the key focus today is on how to plan your strategies to ensure that they enhance the efforts of the other parts. If done correctly, better contributions, support, and functionality will be achieved.

Seeking advice in this realm cannot be taken at the surface level. There is a lot of advice out there and it is easy to turn your brain off and just do what they say without really deeply considering the implications to your particular organization. Don’t mindlessly accept what you read. Asking for a major gift may impact donor relations, so be sure you are aware of the full reality of what kind of relationship the organization has established with the various departments at play. Other things may include the way in which matching gift programs may impact your website functionality. There are many aspects to consider.

One of the most significant inter-connective relationships is the one between your donor relations and fundraising campaign efforts. Relationships always build revenue, but fundraising approaches can also improve better donor relations by raising transparency. Below are some helpful tips to better strategize your efforts.

KNOW YOUR DONOR RETENTION RATE

Your donor retention rate is a barometer of your nonprofit’s relationship success. High retention rates demonstrate repeat donor behavior. Low donor retention rates are an indication that there is a problem that needs to be addressed quickly. It is critical that you develop a measurement of this kind of retention and to check it regularly in order to gauge any strategic behaviors that should be adjusted. This routine check-up should be considered mandatory hygiene for your organization’s financial health.

You should select an appropriate nonprofit CRM (customer relationship management) software which provides daily access to your donor retention rate. Some other features offered by such software includes weekly email reporting of these metrics.

A Few Suggestions for Aiding Donor Retention

  1. Provide a welcome packet that lets new donors know what to expect from your organization.
  2. Provide personalized opportunities for donors to contribute their opinions and thoughts to demonstrate your appreciation of their contributions.
  3. Offer unique giving opportunities to engage donors and to spark their curiosity.  
  4. Build relationships with all donors, but provide unique relationship opportunities for the most engaged donors.

ENGAGEMENT FACTORS

The donation amount does not designate the value of the donor. Those who donate at the exact same level may have very different values that they bring to your organization in the short and long term. The level of engagement that a donor demonstrates is more indicative of the value that donor holds to the organization’s overall goals. Don’t isolate your focus solely on their donation level.

Engagement factors to consider:

  • Event Attendance
  • Volunteer Engagement
  • Tweets or Facebook Likes
  • Email Engagement and Clicks
  • Recent Giving Behavior
  • Website Visits

Use this information to identify any disengagement red flags so that you can rectify the situation with a different approach. Your fundraising software should also take these factors into consideration. Engagement opportunities can be lost if the current engagement level isn’t monitored and nurtured.

DONOR HISTORY

Donor history involves tracking donor behavior over a period of time. By tracking individual donor history, you can better spot areas where you can engage them further or identify if their engagement has waned. Before responding, check if they have been engaging in other ways. This helps you to understand your donor in order to assist you in effectively communicating and engaging them. Never make any assumptions. This could potentially ruin the entire relationship. Always do your homework before approaching them. Your CRM should be able to assist you with reviewing their donation timeline.

PROSPECT RESEARCH

Prospect research can help you to know more about each prospect so that you be more intentional when approaching the prospect and the gift request that you ask for. It is a good idea to invest in a prospect research database. Salsa CRM has included a built-in search that is powered by Wealth Engine to help you learn more about current and prospective donors and their giving capacity. These tools will assist you in identifying where prospects have previously given and other wealth factors. This can also aide you in knowing your current donor capacity to help you to guide more thoughtful asks, preventing too large and too small an ask.

COMMUNICATION PLATFORMS

Communication has changed in recent years with regard to donation requests. A traditional donation request letter is a standard approach, which is often sent through the mail. Some utilize email to request payments be made online. Don’t dismiss the potential of inviting a mailed writer an opportunity to make a payment online. Keep your giving options open and accommodating to all types of donation styles.

EFFECTIVE LANGUAGE IN COMMUNICATIONS

All language should be clear, direct and donor-centric. Be sure to re-read anything you write before you send it out. Ensure that it speaks to the donor in a way that would be welcome and well received. Language selection matters. Donor-centric language includes using the word “you.” This word engages the donor directly, and takes the focus off of the organization, which ends up validating the donor’s desire to engage. The words “I” and “we” should be avoided as much as possible.

USE SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media can be a great platform for gift acquisition. It can also be utilized as a gift acknowledgment channel. This easily approachable medium is a friendly way to demonstrate appreciation to volunteers, donors, employees, and sponsors. It also changes the general feed readers receive, which is often full of bad news and advertising. Don’t forget to tag your supporters in posts and photos, this will expand your social media reach in a positive way.

ASK DONORS HOW THEY FEEL

Communication goes both ways. If you want to know how donors feel, ask them! Take copious notes on their suggestions and utilize what you feel is truly meaningful change offered by your donors. Donors always appreciate having their voice heard and put to good use.

Inter-connected facets in your fundraising and donor retention strategies can make a huge difference in your overall budget and outreach. Using these strategies is a great way to more effectively track your engagement and make well planned actions to further engage and inspire your donor base. Other elements to consider include event planning, gift acknowledgments, outreach strategies, and more. Always consider the larger impact that one strategy can make before implementing. If done well, one small change can have a huge positive impact on many areas of your organization’s efforts.