Focusing on donor relations may seem counterintuitive to nonprofits, however, donor-centric fundraising proves to be one of the most fruitful ways to increase your fundraising capability.
Donor-centric fundraising is, at its core, a collaborative approach to raising money. By recognizing the donor’s experience in your communication with them you create a bridge for them to join with you in your shared goals. This leads to a deeper connection between donors and nonprofit based on trust, transparency, and your sincere gratitude for their generosity. And, the effects of donor-centric fundraising are felt long after the initial contact is made, with research finding that 67% of donors are more likely to give again, 52% would contribute a larger gift, and 67% would continue to give indefinitely. (Cygnus Applied Research)
Donor-centric fundraising strategies that look beyond the immediate goal of raising money to the importance of donors participation cultivates those deeper relationships that will keep the money flowing into your nonprofit. Here are a few key points to keep in mind when you are planning your next donor-centric fundraiser.
A Timely Response
Don’t leave your donors hanging! Put together a firm schedule for reaching out to your contributors soon after their donation is made. If it’s a one-time donation make sure they hear from you within days of receiving their contribution. If it was received during a fundraising campaign, create a “thank you” mailer to send out within the first few weeks following the event, or plan a calling event to speak with your donors directly. For monthly or annual contributors, schedule an automatic reminder on your digital calendar as a reminder to send a message of thanks on their anniversary dates.
Get to the Point
Effective communication requires the message to be clear and concise at the very first impression. Determine what is your most important piece of information and convey it in a way the donor can understand it in just one glance and keep the communication brief.
Convey gratitude or recognition of a donors’ contribution at the beginning of your message, provide an update to an initiative they’ve contributed to, and provide data in an easy to read format (bullet points, percentages, etc.) so they can understand the information quickly and easily.
Establish an emotional connection with your donor through storytelling that will allow them to experience how the work is benefiting your community.
Whether you recount an incident from a team member working in the field, or a personal story about someone you serve, describe it in a way that is inspirational, motivating, and proves that your work is making a difference. People feel good when they back a winning cause, so give them one that proves your nonprofit can achieve the goals you’ve set for your team.
Setting the Right Expectations
Transparency and accuracy is key to building the trust of your donors, but it’s not just a matter of letting them know you’re achieving what you’ve set out to do. It’s also a sign of respect. By fulfilling the promises you’ve made when they made their donation you show them you appreciate them and their role is just as important as any other in your community.
To achieve transparency in your communications make a pledge to give donors an explanation of the challenges right along with the good news you have to share. Celebrate successes, but keep in mind that most people understand the work of a nonprofit is difficult and they expect setbacks from time to time. Let them know what you’re facing and tell them how you are overcoming those hurdles. This will set the right expectations and may motivate them to increase their contributions, too!
Keep the Conversation Going
Donor-centric fundraising doesn’t end when a postman delivers your mailer or the moment you press “Send” on an email. Reach out to reconnect with your donors throughout the year to let them know how projects they’ve funded are progressing. Give them the background about why they are important, what that progress means to the overall success of the project, and a personal story that illustrates the need.