Time to Contact Your Donors
If you are like me, the holidays seem like a distant memory. The office, whether it is your home office or in your office building, is now cleaned and ready for the new year. You have adjusted your files and materials. A list of donors in your portfolio is in front of you. There is no more procrastinating as you need to get to work.
At this point, fear overcomes you as your mind draws a blank. You wonder how to get started as it is time to contact your donors. Thoughts of the continuing pandemic and how people are communicating or engaging is on your mind. You decide to commit to action and be proactive in your methodology.
As a starting point, follow steps endorsed by Giving USA with respect to donor engagement:
- Be consistent with communications by talking to your donors.
- Be positive by sharing positive images and messages with those anxious to listen.
- Be sensitive to personal issues by personalizing messages with emotion.
- Be aware of donors’ concerns due to economic uncertainty and priority changes.
- Be authentic in appeals for funds to serve populations in need.
- Close the loop by allowing the donor to decide when best to finish the “ask” conversation.
- Be disciplined by getting your fundraising house in order while waiting for market timing to be right.
- Be innovative, and look for new ways to provide services and use technology.
Do not forget to celebrate resiliency and generosity between people and organizations.
RAISE Hub notes that nonprofit professionals must take care of their existing donors, focus on stewardship and donor relations; connect with donors; critique and expand virtual communications and events; provide greater communication via video, Zoom and face-to-face interaction; show donors how their funds are being used; and thank twice before asking once. Use existing unspent funds as a result of program changes to test new technology. Additionally, seek to find best-of-class examples and best practices for remote fundraising and handling uncertainty.
The Nonprofit Leadership Center acknowledges the challenges and upside-down state of the world in which we live. Despite our roller coaster situation, understand that humans are still wired to give and keep inviting them to give. One question is not if they will give but how they will give. Keep inviting donors to give through a clear case for support.
The Nonprofit Leadership Center also recommends to center the call to action on the donor and their impact. Help donors solve immediate problems and needs. Make relationships a top priority, and continue donor cultivation through authenticity, empathy, optimism and confidence. Be intentional with your communications, internally and externally. Identify areas of greatest opportunity and promote your mission.
Be prepared to make a paradigm shift from face-to-face to virtual asking. Development Systems International shows how one can pivot to virtual asking using available technology. To succeed with donors using the virtual format, make sure you start with a strong relationship, make sure the donor is comfortable with the technology being used, schedule a meeting time that works for the donor and do not overwhelm the prospect.
Have a timeline in mind for the virtual visit of no longer than 40 minutes, always ask for a specific amount, be ready for questions, highlight several compelling images, make the ask and wait for a reply. Strive to use leave-behind material exactly as intended, close with authority and follow up with an email summary. Send a handwritten thank-you note to them and make the donor feel appreciated and special.
- Seek to have a personal connection with the prospect prior to soliciting a gift from them
- Remember to give major supporters individual acknowledgment and show them the impact of their investment
- Create a four-dimensional relationship with major donors that includes a strong relationship between the donor and gift officer, organizational leadership such as the CEO and board president, staff members, and other major donors.
- Ask your key donors to volunteer, so they can see your organization in operation
- Encourage them to be lifelong ambassadors.
- Use a multichannel approach that includes emails, texts, phone calls and social media with major donors. Each channel should be used in unique ways to stimulate a donor’s interest and passion about the organization.
- Evaluate and track your major donor gift metrics that you will use in future approaches.
Classy notes that five fundraising trends for 2021 and beyond are not easy to predict with the state of change being so unpredictable. It is noted that virtual events are here to stay, and you must find ways to attract donors to these events by making them relevant. Stress online giving for donors and encourage recurring giving over time. This could even increase the ongoing size of gifts over time.
Understand that nonprofit and for-profit connections will get stronger over time. Encourage your donors to be catalysts of this movement. Understand where your donors spend time online through tools, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. Meet supporters and potential supporters on their turf. Strive to be nimble by changing appeals real time to attract and retain donors.
As a refresher before you contact your donors, Keela shares the fact that getting a new donor is hard and keeping a donor can be just as difficult. You want to make your donors love you as your organization and every organization loses donors each year. Remember that four creative ways to attract donor engagement include picking up the phone and calling them, do something unexpected by sending them a gift, share your exciting organizational vision with them with updated organizational news and create reliable ongoing reports that show the organizational work being done with their money.
It is now time to contact your donors. Use individual strategies, techniques and ways to connect. You are striving to take the donor conversation and engagement to a deeper relationship over time. Treat them like an important member of your family. Be excited to engage and share information with them. Care about them as individuals, and never take any gift for granted. Make them feel special and important. As my father once said: “People respect people that respect. Understand?” Respect your donors, and they will respect you. Happy New Year and start contacting your VIDs (Very Important Donors) today!
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.