Building Authentic, Meaningful Donor Relationships: Make It a Seamless, Exhilarating Adventure
A stellar fundraising program continually deepens relationships with an expanding donor base through ethical, donor-focused engagement. When it comes to nonprofits, a donor’s journey should not be difficult. However, donor retention rates show that we must improve this journey.
Another term used for deepening relationships, especially major gifts, is “moves management.” This process is named for the steps, or “moves,” taken to deepen relationships. It is essential to focus on the donor and his or her needs/interests and goals. Think long-term, lifetime value and relationships.
“Look at the characteristics of your best donors and reconstruct their journey,” said Ben Stroup, president of Velocity Strategy Solutions. He stresses the importance of knowing donors individually and an analysis of common themes.
According to Stroup, lifetime donor value has two sides:
- The value of that donor to the organization
- The value of the organization to the donor
“Lifetime value changes your perspective on retention and acquisition” he added.
Plans for deepening donor relationships should be as personalized as possible, ranging from those for individual donors to donors collectively in a segment. Conduct inventories of cultivation steps.
Within your database or segmentations, begin with your top prospective donors. Gauge their capacity and past involvement. Continually gather personal and professional information.
“The donor does not see the relationship through the lens of channels,” Stroup said. “We organize around channels. Listening platforms are essential,” he said. “We have to listen, learn and adapt. The donor wants to see where they can get the highest philanthropic value.”
The donor journey begins when a prospective donor is identified. The journey includes steps to inform, engage and involve them before making a gift request, and then recognizing and informing them on the impact they have made. Donor engagement should be a never-ending cycle.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.