Always Make It Personal With Your Donors
Wow. I hadn't thought of this. Well, I have. We encourage clients to go the extra mile in donor acknowledgment.
One of the shames of our field is that overall we are terrible with donor retention.
This week I was chatting with Jay Love and Steven Shattuck from Bloomerang on this topic.
Jay was mentioning the all-important second gift (after which overall donor retention rises significantly). This led to more discussion on segmenting your donors for the type of stewardship or outreach they receive. Then he mentioned some of the foundational ones—a phone call, a handwritten note.
I paused. And reflected.
These basics are a part of what we recommend to our clients and have since we were founded 15 years ago.
Then I thought of the five organizations I give most to. Four of them I serve on an affiliated board. Of these, the only organization that I received a personal thank-you from—in this case a handwritten note—was my church. And, frankly, that is very unusual (but shouldn't be) in the church world.
As a board member, I probably should have received notes and calls from each. It may be that they think—because we are encouraging them to do this with other donors—it is not needed in my case. But I have to tell you, I saved that note from my church for a long time and have even shared it with clients.
Make sure your donors feel a personal connection. That is how you get that second gift—and years and years of retention. Focus on your most important donors, but grow that circle as broad as you can using technology, staff and volunteers, board and affiliate board members to make calls and write notes. Also utilize grateful recipients of your services to write notes, even reaching out to former board members and volunteers to help you show appreciation to the donors investing in your mission.
Don't get too busy to forget the basics. Make it personal for as many donors as possible. Have a plan and implement it!
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.