How to keep them …
Many of the tried-and-true strategies for keeping donors still are elevant for keeping younger donors. Particularly:
- Acknowledge gifts quickly. This is particularly important for new donors as the acknowledgment serves as reinforcement. A new-donor acknowledgment is a wonderful opportunity to provide additional information about the organization and to begin learning more about the donor and his or her interests.
- Honor donor requests. This is particularly true for online donors, who might opt out of receiving mail pieces, further e-mails, etc., in the future. Communicate to donors the way they want to be communicated to.
- Educate. This should take place in mail pieces and on the Web. While donors might give that initial gift for a specific reason, as they learn more they might find different reasons to give.
- Involve donors. Invite them to local events, ask them to volunteer (if appropriate), or ask them to advocate for you. Provide different opportunities for support. Introduce a monthly giving program or a donor-recognition program. Involve them in a “friend-get-a-friend” program.
- Be fully accountable. Have your financial statements readily available both on- and off line. In addition, communicate to donors how their gifts have made a difference — and be honest.
- Be sensitive to underlying events. This is particularly true of emergency-generated fundraising. This group of donors requires even more education in order to engage them, and there needs to be a strategy for when and how to “back off.”
The important thing to remember is that younger donors do exist, but they need to be engaged differently and are looking for a more meaningful relationship with nonprofit organizations. They may give differently than their parents and grandparents do, but they do want to give.
Maura Szendey is a senior account director of client services at SCA Direct in Fairfax, Va.