19 Ideas to Cultivate Your Donors

I came across this article from Veritus Group and thought it worth sharing, some reasonable ideas. Is there anything you would add – or remove?

 

By Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels July 12, 2017

If there is one area of “moves management” that has never set well with me, it’s the word stewardship. Stewardship is what you are supposed to do with donors after they give you a gift. I don’t like it because it conveys a more passive approach to the relationship with your donor.

For instance, I’ve been working with an MGO who told me, “Oh, that donor is in stewardship mode right now, so I don’t have to worry about them.” Huh? Yes you do. If you’re ever going to ask for another gift, your approach with that donor needs to be strategic, focused and donor-centered.

I like to say that you are always in a cultivation mode with your donors. You’re always trying to build and deepen relationships, while providing opportunities for your donors to invest in your mission. There really is no time to be passive… especially after they have just given you a great gift.

So to give you some ideas this summer, here are 19 ways for you to cultivate your donors:

  1. Research each of your donors and find something unique about them.
  2. Update your donor data system with all of your donor communications, to allow you to know what you’ve done with each donor.
  3. Call three of your donors every day just to thank them for supporting the mission.
  4. Write five handwritten thank-you notes every day to donors on your caseload.
  5. Invite some of your donors to see your programs first-hand.
  6. Ask a donor to help you solve a problem.
  7. Know the hobbies of your donors, and use it to send the donor information about that hobby, telling them that you are thinking of them.
  8. Take your donor to a sporting or cultural event that you have tickets for.
  9. Figure out ways to get donors to see your mission, and arrange for them to have a visit.
  10. Help your donors pass on their giving legacy to their children: recommend ways to talk to their children about giving, along with a good consultant to advise the family about multi-generational giving.
  11. Ask a few of your donors to talk to your board about why they give, and why they love the organization.
  12. While they’re at it, ask your donors to give your Executive Director and board some solid critique of the organization and how it could be better.
  13. Look for connections in your donor portfolio where you could introduce donors to one another. Help your donors network with one another.
  14. Think of ways to foster business relationships between your donors, and arrange for meetings.
  15. Have the CEO or ED call each of your A-level donors at least once a year to thank them for giving.
  16. If you have a relationship with a celebrity or VIP, have that person call your top 10 donors or write a special note thanking them for being involved in your organization.
  17. Look for ways to honor your donors publicly in front of their peers (provided they will like it), and publicize it.
  18. Always acknowledge milestones in each donor’s life.
  19. Arrange for a program person to call your donor and give them a first-hand account of what an impact the donor is making on that program. Tell the donor she is a hero.

There you go – 19 ideas to proactively cultivate your donors so that you will continue to foster and deepen the relationship with them. With 150 donors on your caseload, there is no time to sit back and be passive. Hopefully, these 19 ideas will spark others as well.

Please feel free to share more cultivation ideas with the Passionate Giving community!

Jeff

P.S. – Want to go further? Check out our free white paper on “The Art of Soliciting a Donor.”

Donor Remorse

Your income isn’t where it was this time last year, you check donations, look at your donor database and see that you have a number of donors who haven’t given in the latest round of fundraising. Why?

It could be that you have several donors suffering donors remorse. Yes, this is a real thing, it’s akin to buyers remorse; something you’re probably personally aware of (did you really need that new pair of shoes, that new suit or that splurge on single malt whiskey?)

Donors give for a variety of reasons, and they stop giving for a variety of reasons; one reason some stop giving – is – donors remorse; yes it is a real thing.

Maybe you’ve experienced it on a personal level when you have given something, and almost as soon as you have dropped the donation in the bucket or envelope you have a pang of regret – remorse, and question why you did it.

There’s a few reasons for donors remorse, some people experience it after being prompted by a friend to support a cause, a relative was assisted by an organisation and asked you to make a contribution or, perhaps someone you know had a child selling something to raise funds for a school trip.

Donors remorse is a real thing, it’s something though that organisation probably don’t plan for but they should have some way to factor this into their planning. If someone gives today and later “regrets” it; the chances of them staying around and supporting in the future is very unlikely, yet they’ll still expected to by the organisation, the organisation will likely add them to the database, they’ll receive mailers etc – all at an expense to the organisation, with a very very low probability of a second or subsequent donation being made.

Quite likely the amount given initially will be less than what the organisation will expend to get subsequent donations.

Organisations spend considerable time (and money) on donor retention, but when a donor has remorse this expense is wasted. So a way has to be found to make sure the level of donor remorse is minimised.

Don’t be airy fairy in what the donors support will mean, give real examples of how it will make a difference, personalise how their giving will make a difference. If needed and you’re able to use real pictures and real names – “Lucy will have a better chance … “

When people are asked to support a real need has to be given, a picture painted; something that will stick with the donor – you want them to stick with you, so make sure the image you paint sticks with them.

All the training in the world won’t make a difference to how much you can raise – and maintain, if those making the ask are confident, competent and above all using all the tools you have given them.  Monitoring who information is used isn’t prying, it’s an investment, don’t be afraid to use “secret shoppers” – you’ll get real world feedback, not only on how your campaign is going but on how effective those making the ask are doing it and coping.

Are you going to let donor remorse hit your bottom line and impact on year on year giving?

See also Breaking the Silence Around Donor’s Remorse

Is there Competition in Sponsorships, Collaborations?

Something that I’ve been pondering (again) and something that was recently raised with me was the issue of whether you can have more than one sponsor for your organisation from the same “industry”?

I recall a few years ago when an organisation I was doing some work with had an approach from a professional service provider who wanted to get on board and help the organisation, but as there was already a sponsor from the same profession the CEO and Board were hesitant to accept the offer.

The company made several calls, sent numerous emails and eventually they were invited in for a meeting to further discuss what they wanted to offer; when it was suggested to them that their “competitor” was already a sponsor, all eyes lit up. Not the charity’s, but the reps from the business. They could see an opportunity, not selfishly, just an opportunity that could work toward something more favourable for the charity.

Eventually the company’s offer of support was accepted and they produced a great service offering to the charity and those who were benefiting from the work of the services provided by the charity – it was a win win.

A further win was when the two “competing” companies met at a black tie dinner and discussed how they could work together to further enhance the work of the charity.

They started working together to build on the work of the charity, they developed a new funding model and – they laid down a challenge to one another, an annual sports challenge between the two companies. This raised significant funds for the charity, raised morale within the two companies and created other opportunities.

So, to cut a long story short, don’t shut the door on an offer of support until you have sat and carefully looked at the offer from all angles. There’s more than likely positives to come from having “competition” in your sponsorship ranks.

More Reason for Transperancy

​Seeing the item in the NZ Herald about the Halberg Trust  just reinforces that even more transperancy is needing in the charity sector.

There’s no denying that the amount of money raised, versus amounts distrubuted, used, will be different – there will be operational costs. 

But when people see high operational costs versus distributions they will be concerned, ask questions and want answers; real answers not just some lip service.

It’s time, nah, it’s long overdue for organisations to be more open about their income v expenditures, they can’t simply leave it until people ask questions; all this does is raise more quesions, not only of the organisation concerned, but of the sector as a whole.

Donor’s Stories

I’ve often said it’s not all about you, that your donors matter, the reason they support you, what makes them tick. So, coming accross ”The best way to tell your donors stories” on www.empowernonprofits.com hit a note with me.

Click and read, you won’t regret it; who knows you may even come away with gems.

Are you telling your donor’s stories?

Not an ATM

I’ve used the phrase quite a bit … your donor is not an ATM, or similar. To receive a link to an article by Marc Pitman ”I’m not your ATM” was timely.

Have a read of what Marc says:

I’m not your ATM

As the economy continues to falter (or barely grow), we need people’s donations more than ever. But if we operate from a place of “need,” we can start sounding like we think we’re entitled to people’s money.

We never are.

So it’s more important than ever that you have your donor relations system in hand.

Here are some things to be thinking about as you review your plan.

Send acknowledgements quickly

Time after time, bloggers report making 10 donations at the end of the year and only getting 3 acknowledgements.

Don’t let this be you.

Best practice is to get those out within 24 to 48 hours. Some nonprofits aim for a week, allowing them to dedicate one day for receipting.

Just get them out.

Have a stewardship system decided in advance

Acknowledgements are expected. Stewardship is much more. Here are some things I help clients consider:

What level gifts get a handwritten note from the development director? The ED? The board chair?What level gifts get a phone call from the development director? The ED? The board chair?Do you have board members or staff do a thankathon?

These should all be spelled out so that, for instance, the ED can have a list of $1000 donors to call each week.

Continue reading here

New Donors Need to be Welcomed

What do you do when a new donor joins the ranks?
Nothing?

If you’re not acknowledging and welcoming new donors, you’re doing it wrong.

Donors, as I’ve said many times, are not ATMs. They deserve to be treated better than that, and the best time to start doing that is when the join the ranks.

You can’t just use a first receipt as a way to acknowledge a new donor, you should be doing a receipt then the Welcome Package.

You need to give them more information; you should be using a Welcome Pack. These are a great way to new donors feel welcome and to provide more information about the organisation, more information on ways they can be part of the donor family.

The idea behind a Welcome Pack is to begin a relationship between the donor and your organisation.

If you say you don’t then you are missing out.

You should be sending out your Welcome Package soon after the reciept for the first donation, not with the receipt.

Your Welcome Pack could contain more indepth information about your organisation, the people, the work, the beneficiaries. It and offer other ways the donor can get involved and, it should reinforce the benefits to the donor of supporting you.

Perhaps adding a couple of brochures outlining the work and benecificaries of your organisation, if you do a regular newsletter, include a couple of the most recent issues. Perhaps somethingon payroll giving or bequests could be included to.

But do make sure what you offer in the Welcome Pack doesn’t come across as though you’re trying to be pushy. These people have just joined, you don’t want to lose them.

Have a few people from your organisation sit down and work through what would be good to include in your Welcome Pack, and there’s no reason why you couldn’t ask a couple of donors to also have some input.

Lastly, do not, do not, use or see your Welcome Pack as another fundraising appeal. It is a thank you, a way for you to show your appreciation for having the donor on board and to give some added information.

What do you do when a new donor joins your family?

Donor Loyalty … You not Them

Donor loyalty is important, not the donor being loyal, but you, the organisation.

Often donors feel as they’re simply being treated as an ATM, they feel that organisations aren’t loyal to them.

This article, Keep Your Donors by Building Profitable Relationships That Last; on Nonprofit Quartely is a must read.

There’s some good pointers in it, many I’ve raised before; being donor centric, building relationships and more.

Take some time out and read this now

A Look Back

After chatting with some people over the weekend about ideas for my blog posts this week, it was suggested to do a recap a ”Look Back” at some of the posts I have shared previsously.

Sounded good to me, so here’s Look Back at some earlier posts that I’m sure you will enjoy and gain something from.

When Something Goes Wrong
Negative feedback about staff interaction with donors can impact on the reputation of your organisation, how do you deal with it?

Every now and then someone doing work for your organisation may say or do something that causes donors to be left with a sour taste in their mouth.

How this is dealt with by you is important, you need to retain supporters and the best way to do this when someone upsets them, is to let the supporter know that you hear what they are saying, that you will talk to the staff member about their actions and that you will let the supporter know what action you have taken.

It doesn’t matter how long or the value of support you receive from a supporter, they are all equal and should be treated as such, respect is universal.

Keep reading here

Reigniting the Flame in Delinquent Donors
Before you start planning how to get delinquent donors back on board, have you made the phone call to ask why people have stopped supporting you?

Without some level of research any plan to reignite the flame in donors who have stopped giving for some reason, you have no idea the why, what and how of putting something in place to win them back.

Reigniting the flame in a delinquent donor in many cases is quicker and more cost effective than gainer a new donor.

The donor who has stopped supporting you did so for a reason, was the amount they were giving too high, they had a change in personal circumstances, or something else has caused them to stop giving.

Continue reading here

Business Support
It’s estimated that business donations account for six percent of the donations some non-profits receive.

If this is the case then the question must be asked “how much time and energy is being used to reach and nurture this group?”

Is the time you’re putting into gaining business support being used wisely?

If residential – general support if the main income source for non-profits, wouldn’t it pay to spend more time gaining and nurturing this sector?

Continue reading here

Pick up the Phone and Say Thank You
Don’t lose donors, respect them, acknowledge them.

An organization recently lost a major donor because they felt their support wasn’t really being appreciated.

Why, simple after sending in a substantial cheque on a regular basis all they’d hear back from the organization would be in the form a standard receipt, no acknowledgment of the impact the donation would have on the work that the organization carries out.

Result – support withdrawn. All the organization had to do was pick up the phone and call the donor, thank them and tell them how important they were to the work being carried out.

Continue reading here

As always, leave comments or suggestions on what you would like to see shared on my blog

You can email me charitymattersnz@gmail.com

The week in Review (Jan 30)

Have decided that at the end of each week I will do a review of some of the posts I written; just so as those who may have missed something get a chance to read and an opportunity for others to have a second read.

So this week I have touched on:

Are you Prepared to Collaborate?

There’s an abundance of non  profits in New Zealand, something on the lines of 26,000 registered charities, organisations could face support, funding and delivery issues unless there’s more collaboration.

Unless organisations collaborate there is a risk some organisations will cease to exist. There’s only so much people can give, both individuals, business and funding bodies; so just on a funding basis collaboration is needed.

Read more

Are You Singing from the same song sheet

The management, more than anyone in an organisation knows, or should know, what the goals, vision, mission of the organisation are; but is this being shared with all staff, particularly those on the frontline?

It seems that some organisations have a diconnect when it comes to sharing key information with staff, leaving staff to wonder what is happening, where they are in the organisation and how they can confidently do their work.

Read more

Handing over the Reins

It’s interesting to see organisations grow from being something started at a kitchen table, to something substantial.
In growing though there is always a need to bring in others with more expertise, more experience; but in doing so there is fear of the loss of control.

I recall reading about a charity, I think in the States, where the founder who took on a manger; but with the charity operating in an adjacent building to where the founder lived, he would turn up everyday and staff were unsure as to who they should be listening to the new manager or the founder.

Read more


Giving is like Sex

I guess that got your attention.

There’s been numerous studies as to why people give and the effects of giving on those who give.

A recent post I read ”Should you give?” has some great insights into what happens when people give, the effects of giving on the brain, body and soul.

Read more

Charity Events, Plan, Plan and Plan Some More

The pitfalls I hear you say. It’s true not all charity events run smoothly, there can be numerous hiccups on the way to staging an event.

Getting passed these can be a struggle, but you can get passed them.

When it comes to an event, an organisation can spend months planning what they will do, why they will do it and promote, then stage the event. It’s something that can create a lot of stress and frustration.

Read more

What Millennials Want to Know

Gaining support from millennials is important, and yes, they do want to support organisations; it’s just how you go about it that matters.

I’ve recently spent some time with a group of 17 to 26 years olds talking about charities and how people connect with them and how charities work to connect with supporters. Some great insights for me, and I’m glad I had the opportunity.

One thing that came across loud and clear, was the need for great storytelling, not meanigless information, muddled stats, but real stories about the people, the cause that the organisation is working to help.

Read more

They’re peeved off, now what

Why is it that some in the charity sector don’t know how to handle donors who maybe annoyed with you, donors who may feel you’re not deliverying on what you say you will do.

It’s not rocket science, dealing with disgruntled donors is and should be treated in the same was as businesses would deal with disgrutled customers. Simple, customer service skills are needed.

Read more

Something I would be keen to hear is – what would you like to see me blog about; what issues, challenges or general areas of discussion would you like to see me cover on www.charitymattersnz.com

You can email me with any thoughts, ideas … charitymattersnz@gmail.com