People and sunset

Tips for Treating Your Donors Right

Even if you are a small shop, developing relationships with the people who support your nonprofit’s work is critical for a sustainable future. 

Joan Garry has assembled the perfect ‘recipe’ to help you be successful with your year end giving campaign and it starts with knowing your donors:

  • The List – The first step is to review both your email and your snail mail lists to remove donors who require a more personal ‘ask’ then a generic one through your direct mail letter and e-newsletter.
  • The Calendar – November or December may seem quite a long way off, but have your calendar of activities set sooner rather than later.
  • The Follow Up – as you set about connecting with your donor whether it be with check in emails or donation requests, be sure to be hyper-vigilant in your timely responses.
  • The Appreciation – As donations come in, refer to your plan to delegate special thank you calls and emails in response to your appeals that were distributed in November and December.
  • The Reflection – As with any project, take some time to review your efforts to determine what worked well and what was missed. Also be sure to note your planning efforts for next year on your calendar now.

As Amy Einstein covers in her post, it isn’t just about the staff member who is responsible for fundraising to cultivate a happy relationship with a donor. It is beneficial to connect these supporters with various members of the nonprofit for a holistic connection with your organization’s mission.  You often hear of a lost donor because the relationship was solely with the development director.  By having touch points with various people, you avoid that situation.

Your executive director is the ‘go to’ person to share ideas about the future of your nonprofit while the development director’s role is to ensure that donors are connected in many ways. There are several ways to do that:

  • Keep in touch – set aside time to make phone calls, send personal notes in the mail, and personal emails to your donors.

  • Engage, engage, engage – it is said that a meaningful way to really connect your donor with your nonprofit’s work is to invite them to volunteer.  That can range from an event, to serving on a committee, to help with a special project.
  • Honor and celebrate – host an annual donor and volunteer appreciation event to share how much you appreciate their support.

  • Tap into their wisdom – since donors will engage in an assortment of professions, why not tap into their expertise for guidance on a matter you are managing?

  • Send them your well wishes – sending donors cards about unique holidays with handwritten personal messages goes a long way.

Bloomerang offers a list of opportunities to ‘show the love’ in an inexpensive but meaningful way.  Sharing your appreciation shouldn’t break the bank! Here are a few ideas from that list:

  • Create a donor stewardship plan.  Rachel Muir offers a fabulous template that highlights suggested activities and frequency. As FreeWill suggests, having such a plan increases your donor retention and builds meaningful relationships.
  • Have staff and board members record a ‘thank you for your support’ video using their smartphones that can be posted on social media or sent to specific donors using email.
  • Create a donor-specific landing page. Show your appreciation and share a hearty thank you each time someone donates using your online donation portal. Include an optional form field requesting information as to why they decided to donate to your nonprofit.

As with any new initiative, be certain to build in evaluation in order to determine if the work you have determined as goals is the work that is meeting the overall intention.  Take your lessons learned through the process of the experiment to build a solid, sustainable approach to serving your donors.  As a result, you will build a culture of connection and investment in the well-being of your organization.


Posted in Fundraising.