When you want to raise more money for your non-profit, the easiest place to start is with your donor relationships. Building strong, long-lasting relationships with your donors turns them into raving fans of your mission who will support you in any way they can.
When we have worked with non-profits who have strong relationships with their donors, their donors bring generous friends with them to fundraisers, their donors provide exclusive access that the non-profit can leverage, and their donors can be counted on to give and drive giving. Here are 3 ways you can build long-lasting relationships with your donors. Plus, read until the end for a challenge that will help you start nurturing your donor relationships.
Treat Everyone Equally
Often, we prioritize the time and effort we spend on relationships based on what the relationship brings us. In a non-profit, this is true for relationships with board members, volunteers, and donors. That creates an opportunity to differentiate yourself by treating everyone equally. Treating all your donors like you do your top donors means a lot to the donors who are overlooked.
You never know who you’re talking to and what a relationship or conversation with them will bring. A small donor may donate a unique item for the silent auction or bring you a prominent donor.
We have seen that here in our work. We had Becky, who is well-known in the non-profit world, come to us for one of the smallest value services we offer, but we treated her like she had ordered the maximum. Becky ended up referring another non-profit to us, and they were already sold on our services. They told us not to bother with the spiel because Becky had said we were the best.
While we don’t recommend looking at each relationship in terms of what it could mean for you, treating everyone equally can pay off in many unexpected ways.
Make the Relationship Non-Transactional
When was the last time you called a donor and didn’t ask them for something?
It is easy to think of your relationship as transactional because the role of donors in a non-profit is to provide the funds you need to enact your mission. However, if you only call your donors to ask them for money, you’re more like a creditor than a valuable relationship.
The good news is that you don’t need to send your donors fruit baskets or otherwise spend your funds in order to provide them with value. It can be as simple as saying thank you. When did you last express gratitude to your donors without asking them to give more? We recommend sending personalized thank you letters or emails after every fundraising event. (Not all have to be handwritten; save that for your top donors, especially for a large fundraising event.) It is a simple way to ensure that the relationship isn’t transactional.
When In Doubt, Give
When in doubt, stop focusing on what you’re receiving and focus on what you are giving. “Providing value” has become a bit of a buzzword in both the business and non-profit space, but it is rooted in psychology. Human beings feel indebted to relationships that they perceive they get a lot of value from. That is why you would gladly drive a friend who does a lot for you home from the airport while you would make excuses if asked by a friend who you aren’t as close to.
The same goes for your relationships with donors. The more they feel they get out of the relationship, the more they are willing to give. Ask yourself what your donors get from donating to your organization, and try to provide more.
For many donors, it is the feeling that they are enacting real change in a cause that is close to their heart. So how can you give them more of that?
We want to leave you with a challenge that will improve your relationships with your donors. Create a list of your top 10 donors and your bottom 10 donors. Put them all on the calendar for the next few weeks or months and call each one. You’re not going to ask any of them for money; you’re just going to express gratitude.
It can be as simple as saying, “Hey, we sent 500 kids to camp last year, and you were a part of that, so we want to thank you for your donation.”
Let us know how it goes in the comments below.
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