Are You In A Relationship With Your Donors?

FUNDRAISING is imperative for a non-profit’s survival…but FRIEND-RAISING is critical for growth and profitability!

There are many ways to raise money, but the key is to utilize proven fundraising principles that minimize your risk of losing money, engage your donor base, and convert them into “raving fans and supporters” of your organization. Successful fundraising is not about just getting that one gift from a donor but converting the donor into an ongoing relationship with the organization.

Fundraising is similar to the fine art of dating. Yes, that’s right — dating!

A few years ago, there was a romantic comedy movie called Hitch starring Will Smith and Kevin James. Will Smith (Hitch) was a professional “date doctor” who coached men in the art of dating women with a focus on long-term relationships. With no real surprise, the main problem was men didn’t know how to effectively communicate with women, therefore, failing to get a first date.

Unfortunately, this sounds like too many fundraising campaigns!

Often fundraising campaigns fail to engage people and “woo” them to not only become a first-time donor, but a faithful donor. The sad truth is the conversion rate to a second gift for many organizations is anemic. As a result, these organizations are primarily focused on acquiring the next new donor because they can’t get a “second date”.

By simply improving how you are treating prospective or new donors, your organization would immediately reap the benefits.

Here are some simple mistakes to avoid:

1. Don’t talk about yourself too much.

No one likes to hear someone talk about themselves all the time. Your communication should be about WHAT THE DONOR is helping to accomplish, not about what the organization is doing. People love to hear how they are making a difference, so talk about the donor and repeatedly affirm their value and importance.

2. Don’t present a bad image.

If you plan to ask someone on a date, you will comb your hair, brush your teeth, and iron your clothes. In fundraising, be sure to project a good image to donors — have someone proofread your letter, design a nice letter that projects a current look (no clip art!), use quality paper stock and a good print vendor. Also, be sure your letter appears warm and personal, instead of looking like a mass form letter. Personalize the letter by using the person’s first name in the greeting, instead of “Dear Friend.” These small details matter and a bad first impression can sabotage your efforts.

3. Don’t try too hard.

Be yourself. Don’t try to use catchy phrases and mirror what another organization is saying. Be authentic and genuine. Let your own unique voice come through your communication channels.

4. Don’t forget to ask.

You have not if you ask not! It is important to clearly state what you want the donor to do — GIVE! Don’t beat around the bush or assume the donor will pick up what you want him/her to do. Be concise and clear with your ask. How many people have not gotten that first date simply because they never asked!

5. Don’t ask too soon!

Even though I wanted to ask my wife to marry me on our first date, I waited because I didn’t want to scare her off. (I waited three months, then asked, and she said yes!) Don’t be too aggressive in trying to get your donor to become a faithful supporter. Otherwise, it could backfire, and you will push the donor away. Nurture the relationship with your donor with a welcome letter series that shares your organization’s story, vision, and mission. Also, be consistent with communication to your donors by sending at least a monthly letter and/or email keeping them aware of what is happening and how they are making a difference.

6. Don’t be rude.

Say thank you – and say it often. You build relationship by telling a person how much you appreciate and value them. People love to hear how much they mean to you. This applies to a donor too. Say thank you to every gift. In your appeal letters and social media posts consistently express your genuine appreciation. When donors feel valued and loved, they will remain faithful to you and other organizations will not be able to woo them away.

7. Don’t be boring.

The beginning of any new relationship is usually exciting because you are getting to know each other, but keeping the relationship requires you to be creative. Don’t let your monthly letters to your new donors become general updates where you just report on facts. Your communication should always inspire the donor and reaffirm their reason for supporting you. Share stories and vision, not just facts and numbers.

8. Don’t get distracted

Sometimes when my wife and I go out to eat, we have noticed a couple at a table with one of them (usually the guy) fixated on his cell phone while the other person waits to be spoken to. If the couple is on a first date, I can guarantee you a second date is not likely. No one wants to go out on date and have to compete with a phone for attention. When speaking to your new donors, try to personalize the letter by inserting their first name a few times throughout the letter. It makes the donor feel you are talking directly with him/her, instead of a crowd of people. Keep building relationship though multiple communication channels.

If you avoid making these simple, yet crippling mistakes, then you will “be on” the road to seeing success in your fundraising efforts and experiencing a long-term relationship with your donor base!

Let INFINITY CONCEPTS help you get started today! Let’s talk!

Darrell Law

VP | Chief Growth Officer at Infinity Concepts
Darrell cultivates client relationships and manages internal processes.
Darrell Law

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