Nonprofit fundraisers are always looking for new donors to expand their programs and move their mission forward. But, is seeking new donors really the best use of time?
Once upon a time, I was the sole development staff at a large nonprofit, a so –called “small shop.” So many balls to keep juggling in the air – writing grants, creating e-mail and newsletter content, planning events, and stewarding donors – and always trying to search for new prospective major donors. Exhausting, but very rewarding work!
One thing I learned very quickly from fundraising “elders” was to make our current, loyal donors MY TOP PRIORITY. And guess what, that meant our newsletter deadline could slip a day or two if it meant I could get a face-to-face meeting with a current major donor. That was golden, and always fruitful.
If you have a robust database of donors and their giving history, you can run reports and see emerging patterns. For example, Mrs. Smith may like to give to your children’s program, and she gives about $1,000 per year. Mr. Jones likes to give to your vocational program, and his total giving is about $2,500 per year. Don’t you think Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones deserve more of your time than the last prospect you met at a networking event?
These loyal donors WANT to hear from you. They want to know the impact of their gifts. They would be happy to hear about your expansion plans for the programs they support, knowing their gift will impact more people. They want to feel like they are making a difference.
This is why I say, “Your gold mine is already in your donor database.”
Stewarding current donors to move them up the giving pyramid to larger gifts and repeat gifts should be at the top of your task list. Period. What can you do to get their attention and ask for a meeting? What do you say at the meeting? Here’s some ideas –
1. Pick up the phone. Call them and say you’d like to meet over coffee to give them a personal “insiders update” on what is going on in their favorite program at your organization.
2. Bring with you some printed photos or your laptop or tablet – show them pictures or video of their gift in action. Share the emotional joy of what the donor’s last gift has accomplished.
3. Have a well-written and personalized “plan of execution” showing how their next gift will make a difference.
4. Ask for advice – “Mr. Smith, what are your thoughts on this plan?” Then listen carefully to what he has to say. You may be pleasantly surprised by his answers.
Think about the ROI of your time in donor stewardship. Done correctly, you really can’t go wrong. Other fundraising and marketing tasks, of course, are also important; but, don’t neglect the loyal donor who wants to hear from you and can really help move your mission forward.
As part of Bloomerang’s Content Donation Program, $100 was donated to Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless.