Retaining your donors is absolutely essential for your non-profit. Having that consistent pool of donations to build upon yearly is the only way your organization will be able to financially grow. Long-term donors, in reality, are just as a part of your team as your staff. Without them, the show could not go on.
At the crux of building a strong donor relationship is keeping your donor a part of your mission. Keeping your donor apart of the team, so to speak. But it can be hard to know just how to keep your new and old donors engaged. Here are three strategies you can use to build stronger relationships with your current donors:
1.) Reach Out To Donors In A Specific Medium Consistently.
Keeping your donors engaged is about keeping your donors interested in what you are doing. Donors know what you are doing through your communication with them. Communicate with your donors in the medium that you also use to solicit. In other words, if you ask for donations through newsletters, send non-solicitation letters to your donors as well. Otherwise, your communication will only seem like sales literature, which is the farthest thing from interesting. Donors will start to disregard all your attempts to interact with them if you only ask for money when you communicate. Asking for money is not always the best way to raise your fundraising revenue. Continually asking for money may very well push away your donors, not make them more engaged.
2.) Interact with your Donors
It is not enough to speak indirectly to your donors through emails, direct mail, newsletters, events like silent auctions and other mass communications. Direct communication is what will have the most impact on your fundraising efforts.
Nothing can compare to personal interactions through face-to-face meetings and one-on-one phone calls with donors in regards to building stronger relationships and keeping your donors engaged with your non-profit. Focus your efforts, and your staff efforts, on making calls and meeting with donors. Reach out to your donors to check in, to give updates from the trenches, to ask for advice, and to connect donors with other donors who might be able to help them… to cultivate a relationship that is not one sided and is not only about asking for money.
A good basic rule of thumb is to do 3-4 cultivation interactions for every 1 ask interaction, although the ratio will vary at every non-profit. Getting everyone in your organization to make these calls and schedule these meetings will have a compounding effect. If you have your staff, board members, executive directors, program directors, etc., making 3 phone calls a day and going to one meeting a week, you will drastically shift your organization’s interaction with donors to a personal level.
3.) Ask for Advice
You have a network of smart, intelligent, hardworking citizens who are all pulling for your mission and who, inherently, have a different way of looking at things. So…Use them! Asking for donor’s advice not only gets them involved and feeling important, it also helps you get advice!
Donors like to feel like their opinions are important and valid in your organization’s decision-making process. Having their voice sought out and listened to makes donors want to be even more involved: to give more, to refer to your organization more, and to get more involved by volunteering for your fundraising efforts.
Once more, you have skilled individuals in various fields at your fingertips! It would be foolish for you not to hear their opinions. If you have a donor who works in advertising or marketing, call and ask for some tips on getting more exposure. If you have a donor who works in finances, call and ask for some ideas balancing your budget to save on superfluous costs. At the very least their thoughts will open up new ideas to you on how to improve your organization. If you make 3 calls a week, and spend 15 minutes hearing out your donors, it will be 45 minutes well spent.