Strategies for Building Donor Relationships

Customer loyalty is a given no matter what type of business you’re running and for nonprofits who need loyal donors to survive and flourish, how you nurture your donor relationships can make or break your business.

Remember donors don’t just stop giving. They just stop giving to you. More so than your typical customer, donors want to know that their business is appreciated—let’s face it they’re not buying materials from you that can be used in their day-to-day life— they’re giving away their hard-earned cash. Never assume that they will continue investing in your cause—even if it is something they deeply believe in—if they don’t feel appreciated or at minimum acknowledged. Whether you’re talking about an online donation of $30, a married couple that donates $200 or a Fortune 500 company that gives millions, it’s your responsibility to make sure they know that their donation is making a difference in your work.

Human beings are hard-wired for connecting with others. Even when we don’t try, we can’t help but to seek relationships and form bonds. Donors want to see, feel, and experience the impact their gifts have on your organization so they believe that their continued support will keep making a difference.

 

Always consider the person behind the donation and not just the donation itself. Some strategies nonprofits can use to create dynamic donor acknowledgment and retention programs are:

 

  • Inspire an emotional connection to your mission and make donors feel like  they are a part of your cause
  • Celebrate your donors as partners - Have a board member call to thank them for their initial contribution and welcome them to the cause while providing highlights of some past initiatives that were successful due to donor investments
  • Get creative with how you communicate with your donors -Use social media, personal letters, interactive emails, video story-telling, etc.
  • Give appropriate recognition and appreciation - Develop a stewardship section on your website, send a welcome package after they make their first donation, profile donors in your annual report, award plaques for large donors, send anniversary cards, etc.
  • Highlight success stories, progress, results, challenges and even failures in a quarterly donor specific newsletter that updates donors on how their contribution is impacting your cause
  • Offer some extraordinary experiences that allow the donor to get closer to the cause – Invite them to your facility for a tour or extend an invitation to one of your events
  • Remove donors from mass communications where you’re trying to solicit new donors – There is nothing worse than being a regular donor and receiving solicitation emails as if the organization has no idea who you are

To maintain an engaged donor base and a high retention rate year-over-year, focus your attention on donors over donations. The people giving to your organization are more important and when donors invest, it creates a bond between them and your nonprofit—keep building on that with a comprehensive relationship building program.