Let’s face it: sometimes nonprofits don’t want to talk about the fact that they need money to operate and carry out their missions. Asking for money from your donors can be uncomfortable or make you feel like a salesperson, but your donors’ gifts are essential to the organization’s success.
So, let’s take a step back and refocus our attention away from the donors’ wallets and to the donors themselves.
Here are five quick tips:
1. Personal Gift Acknowledgement
After a donation, send a genuine, personal acknowledgement of thanks and appreciation (without an ask!). The initial connection that you make with a donor is essential for building trust and a long-term relationship with your organization. When a donor receives a personalized note of gratitude without any call to action to give more, he or she will be more likely to give again during a fundraiser because they felt appreciated and invested in your organization from that initial communication of your thanks.
2. Ask for feedback
Another important way to serve individual donors is to ask for feedback and have a “customer service” department. Using the phrase “customer” to describe your donors can seem counterintuitive because they haven’t actually purchased any goods or services from your organization. However, using this mindset to serve your donors can be a great way of better serving them. People like knowing that their opinion is valued. If your organization has to make a radical decision, reach out to your donors and get their feedback. They will appreciate feeling included and essential to the success of the organization’s mission.
3. Be transparent
When donors give to your organization, they are trusting you with their hard-earned money and want to know that the money is being used how they thought it would. This is why transparency is essential in keeping individual donors happy. At the end of the fiscal year, release an annual report about how the money was used. Though not every donor will actively seek out this information, those who are concerned with knowing how their donations were used will be extremely grateful for the information and will be more likely to give again, knowing that they can trust your organization to use the funds responsibly.
4. Communicate well
This may seem like an obvious way to keep donors happy and engaged with your organization but stay in touch with them! Invest in a graphic designer who can help you create email newsletters, mailers, and social media graphics or videos. The more touch points that you have with your donors, the more likely they are to stay invested in your organization’s mission and donate regularly. Be consistent in your communication and have a minimum of 12 touch points throughout the year—and make sure some of those communications don’t include any request for further donations. When you think of these communications as a way to build a friendship and personal connection with your donors—rather than just a way to get more money—these donors will respond to fundraising requests when the time comes.
5. Ask them to get involved
Finally, ask your donors to engage in ways that don’t involve money. Consider a social media campaign where your audience shares their stories. Host volunteering events where your audience can donate their time rather than their money. Plan a low-cost, donor-appreciation event where donors can connect with representatives from your organization and with each other to further develop a sense of community.
The key to successful donor retention lies not in the success of campaigns and how much money is raised at any specific time, but rather in intentional relationship building with your audience. When a nonprofit focuses on creating genuine connections with its audience through consistent communication, listening to feedback, intentional gifting, and transparency, that organization’s donors will think of themselves as part of a community serving a greater purpose. Their financial gifts won’t feel like an obligation or chore; these donors will be happy to give back to support the organization and its important mission.