Donor Retention 101: How Well Do You Really Know Your Donors?
How well do you know your donors? Really? Beyond LYBUNTS and SYBUNTS, beyond generation demographics, giving level or preferred giving channel?
I’d venture to say not well.
Yet, true donor-focused fundraising goes beyond mere transactions.
Donor-centered fundraising goes to the very heart and soul of why your donors give.
How well do you know your donors and their motivations for giving?
We’ve blogged extensively for the past several years about donor retention and the importance of basing your fundraising planning on long-term success.
But your donor thank-you letters are only the first step in your donor retention plan. If you’re looking to create sustainable funding—the kind that takes a donor from first-time, to monthly, to major, to bequest—you need to develop a plan for understanding your donors and their motivations on a deeper level.
Three ways to get to know your donors:
I’ve written about my experience in my very first fundraising position with launching a survey to 20 loyal donors. Those donors had continued to give, despite no stewardship and no communication other than a once-a-year appeal. Surveying your donors does not have to be the big deal you may think it is. In fact, I’ve tossed or discontinued numerous surveys after just so many questions—who has the time?! Keep it simple and survey regularly.
2. Personal visits
When one of my subscribers, a development director for a small hospital in a rural community, told me she was spending the day delivering home-baked banana bread to her favorite donors, I wanted to reach through the phone and hug her.
When was the last time you took a donor to coffee or lunch just to listen and catch up on her life? Think about reaching out to a loyal donor (without researching his or her giving capacity first!).
3. Phone calls
In “Keep Your Donors: The Guide to Better Communications Relationships,” by Tom Ahern and Simone P. Joyaux, No. 18 of “The Donor-Centric Pledge” is: “That asking a donor why she or he gave a first gift to us will likely lead to an amazingly revealing conversation.”
Learn more about donor calls (including viewing a sample script) by clicking here.
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.