Guest Post: 5 letters to help you keep your donors – WIIFM

With good reason, you probably don’t think your nonprofit organization is in any way similar to a business or in need of a sales approach. But maybe you should.

Recent statistics show that nonprofits retain only about 27% of first time donors. That means that today, nearly 3 of every 4 people who donated once to your organization never gave again. Somehow, these people found your organization and believed enough in its mission to open up their wallets and make a gift. Then: crickets.

Questions must be asked and answered. What could’ve turned them off? What can be done to increase that retention rate? How can I strengthen my organization’s relationship with this person?

If the idea of losing a donor isn’t bad enough, now consider the cost of that loss. Acquisition of a new donor typically costs nonprofits two to three times the amount of the initial donation.

A sales professional for most of my life; relationships are everything! All my professional work revolved around ways to deepen and strengthen those relationships.

There’s a term in sales that helps you get the right perspective: “WIIFM” It’s short for “What’s in it for me?” This is the question around which a sales person develops their presentation or proposal—but asked from the perspective of the client or prospect.

I’m suggesting that you imagine donors asking this question to you in response to any communication you are planning on sharing with them. Stop! Before you send that next email–read it through and imagine the recipient’s response to “what’s in itfor me?”

Now, the “What” to which I refer isn’t SWAG (although that’s often appreciated!) but it is generally an intangible. It’s a way of engagement and strengthening a relationship. Is there value in what you are sharing with them? Will they gain information about your program’s latest achievements or updates on its ability to reach goals?

Does it help them to realize a human need? Appeal to the human-ness of your donors. What do all humans seek? Check out Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You can see that once the basic (bottom level) physiological needs are met, humans tend to seek to satisfy more complex levels of needs.

Now, maybe a donor would complain about being treated like an ATM, but certainly not being treated like a human!

Amy DeVitaAmy DeVita, simultaneously, a fan of all things mobile and most things 1980’s is the Founder and CEO of Third Sector Today, a website that publishes tips and resources for nonprofit professionals. She spent two decades selling advertising for business publishers in several vertical marketplaces and has met her share of clients who had previously felt like ATMs.


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