10 Best Practices for Netting and Keeping Donors
Attracting new donors is harder than keeping the ones you’ve got. But keeping the donors you have is easier said than done.
The session “Be Your Donors’ Favorite Charity: 10 Tips to Keep Them Giving Again and Again” presented by Heather Burton, product marketing manager at Sage Software, on Monday at the AFP 44th International Conference on Fundraising in Dallas, offered attendees these actionable tips to keep donors engaged and giving:
1. Be accountable. Accountability builds trust with donors. Be forthcoming in financial audits and make sure that you use the money you raise for the purposes you outline in your solicitations, and communicate this to your donors. “Once a donor is lost due to a lack of trust, rarely do they return,” Burton said. “Being accountable for the funds you raise will keep your organizational integrity intact and your donors contributing to your cause.”
2. Know your donors. How do your donors want to be contacted? What is a donor’s normal giving cycle? What prompted a donor to give to you the first time? “Pay attention to any communication you receive from donors — written notes with contributions, attendance at a particular event, or a sudden change in giving pattern,” said Burton. Document and save this information to build a donor profile. Respect their wishes for how they want you to communicate with them and leverage what prompted them to give to you in the first place. “Future gifts depend on how well you’ve nurtured the donor’s relationship with your organization,” she said.
3. Thank donors. How you thank donors can have either a positive or negative effect on how they view the organization. Timeliness is key. Thank donors as soon as possible after receiving their donation, either with a phone call, a card, a letter or e-mail. “The gift is fresh in their mind, and by responding quickly, it secures their faith in your organization,” Burton said. A thank you is a chance to reiterate your campaign message. Have a strategy in place for thanking donors and test different communication methods. One idea Burton recommended is sharing a success story along with a photograph. By doing this, she said, “You are supplying the donors with the immediate gratification that their dollars are making a difference and are being used for the donor’s intended purpose.”