Create a Magical Experience To Grow Recurring Donors
I’m an avid supporter and reader of SOFII, as it has some tremendous free stuff, like fundraising examples, articles and case studies from all over the world. I especially like the articles on retention, loyalty and, of course, recurring giving. Over my almost 30 years of fundraising, I’ve always been impressed by the many studies, especially those on donor loyalty, the donor experience and donor retention, done in the U.K.
I recommend this series of articles by Roger Lawson, starting with: "Why It’s Key To Focus on Supporter Loyalty." The second article discusses how "Growing Supporter Loyalty Doesn’t Happen by Accident."
I especially like the magical approach that the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children took instead of referring to the donor newsletter. It’s funny how something as simple as this can get the creative juices flowing. You indeed can create some magical experiences for your donors.
I know you probably already know this, but it can’t hurt to repeat it. Always start with the basics. Say “thank you!” Send it by mail. Who doesn’t like to receive a thank you in the mail? Make it personal.
Yes, yes, I know, it costs time and a stamp, but isn't it about trying to build a relationship with a donor?
What you do as soon as a donor comes on board is critical. Never take a gift for granted, no matter how small the amount. Often, the donor is just testing you as the nonprofit to see what you’ll do.
Donors who are starting to like you and get to know your organization are more likely to become recurring donors. Donors who continue to like you are more likely to continue to be recurring donors and keep giving for years to come. Loyal donors will only become more loyal if you do it right.
So, take a minute and map out what you’re doing now. What happens when a donor comes on board online? What happens when a donor sends a gift by mail? What if they do so by phone?
How can you create a magical experience for your donors using the stories, the pictures, the quotes and the testimonials you have in your toolbox and your inventory?
Do you know what your donor is receiving now? Map it out.
What are the basics of cultivation, stewardship and loyalty activities in your nonprofit now?
What basics may have evaporated over time for whatever reason, especially for whatever assumption somebody made?
The one I hear most often is that of not needing to send thank-you letters or cards by mail because the donor would not want this. After all, they gave online. Right? Wrong! If that’s you, I highly recommend you revisit that assumption pronto!
Once you have your basics lined up, look at ways to expand. Repurpose what you have in place and see how you can give your donor a magical, grateful experience and you’ll build a much more loyal donor base. Supporter loyalty doesn’t just happen. It takes work, but aren’t your donor relationships worth it?
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.