Dig your fundraising well before you get thirsty
One of Jason Ledlow’s (co-founder, HGAFundraising) favorite authors is Harvey Mackay, who wrote a book called Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty. What he took away from the book in the non-profit space is that you should be nurturing donor relationships all year round so you can pull on those relationships when you need additional resources. When you neglect the relationship until it is time to ask for donations, the well is not as deep.
Cultivating relationships with donors is a long game. One of the non-profits we work with found this out recently. After five years of the Executive Director nurturing a donor relationship, the donor made a 7-figure donation. Think of how a donation of that size could advance your mission. It’s worth putting the extra effort in to ensure your donors feel connected with your non-profit and its mission.
Separate the Nurture from the Ask
It is tempting to see all contact you have with donors as an opportunity to ask for donations. However, we encourage non-profits to separate their nurture communication from their asks. Let a thank you note be just a thank you note. Update your donors with what your non-profit is doing even when you aren’t asking for more donations. This will help your donors feel more connected to your organization and its mission because they will feel like you care about them as people.
Trevor Nelson suggests thinking of relationship nurturing a little like this Taoist quote:
“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” — Zen Kōan
There are a number of ways that this quote can be interpreted, but we see it as a commentary on discipline. Doing the same thing day in and day out can feel a little bit like Groundhog Day until you think about the accumulative effect of the daily action. Pushing yourself a little each day to connect with your donors, whether that be a handwritten note, a call, or a cup of coffee, is a small investment in your well of resources.
Get Off Linkedin and Start Linking Up
LinkedIn is a great tool to share ideas and connect with people, but it is the worst place in the world to find donors. There are already plenty of people out there spamming LinkedIn inboxes with their cold pitches. It is automated, impersonal, and not at all effective. Technology is great, but there is nothing better than communicating face-to-face with someone.
Find new donors by:
It boils down to being where the people you want to connect with are. In addition to meeting people who could be donors, it will also help with your non-profit’s visibility.
Use these events as an opportunity to meet people rather than going in to pitch people. Use that time to get to know the potential donor and start building that relationship. This is a great opportunity to learn about your donor and what is going on in their life. Write that information down afterwards. This information will pay off because you connect with your donor in a personal way. They feel special because you remembered those small details about them.
Avoid the sales pitch unless they specifically ask.
If you are investing time in meeting with or calling a donor, then take the time to follow up by thanking them for meeting with you. It is a thoughtful extra touch that makes a great impression because it is not very common. There are two ways you can do this.
Don’t use the follow up as an opportunity to sales pitch. As we said earlier in the article, keep your nurturing separate from your sales pitch.
Pick Up Your Phone
Your phone is the most powerful fundraising tool at your disposal. There are 3 ways we encourage non-profits to use their phone to nurture relationships with donors:
1.Phone call – Pick up the phone to establish and nurture relationships with donors. You can have a chat or invite them out to coffee.
2.Text message – Send a short message to send a personal thank you.
3.Video message – Record a video to text for an extra personal touch. This will be more memorable for the recipient. You can use this for nurture messages or for fundraising asks.
Listen to Episode 97 of our free webinar for non-profits to hear more examples, stories, and quick tips from Jason Ledlow and Trevor Nelson about how to nurture donor relationships.
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Want to learn about more ways to raise more money for your non-profit? Learn directly from the leading fundraising experts at HGAFundraising’s 2023 Fundraising Boot Camp.
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