The Business of Fundraising
Lesson 2: Don’t short change the long-term value of your donors.
More and more we are seeing donors make small gifts — starter gifts, if you will — to test an organization before making a larger commitment. Obviously, organizations pay more attention to a $10,000 donor than a $100 donor, but think of ways you can improve communication with all of your donors.
Of all of our major donors — what we define as those who give more than $10,000 — 60 percent started out in the direct-marketing program, many with an initial gift of less than $50. The majority of our bequests are from donors who make modest gifts year after year. You have to give all of your supporters the opportunity to raise their hands and say, “Pay attention to me.” There is a lot of potential for increased giving among those who already support you.
Lesson 3: Don’t forget to thank your donors.
Believe it or not, I had a peer in another organization tell me last year that it doesn’t send thank-you letters to its supporters because it’s a waste of money. I was stunned. Don’t underestimate the power of a thank-you letter. It shows you care. And think beyond that specific gift and letter.
A thank you shouldn’t just be about the gift. It should be telling a story of success that the gift made possible. And it can take many forms, including a hand-written note from a person affected by the gift, a newsletter that doesn’t ask for a contribution or a phone-call thanking first-time givers for joining. Each of these forms of communication is a form of thank you and, if done right, will more than recoup the time and cost.
At the same time, do you ask for another gift in the thank you or in your newsletter? It can be a source of income, but how does that further your relationship with that donor if she perceives you as always having your hand out? I can’t stress enough: Thank your supporters promptly, regularly and often, and don’t always be asking for another gift.