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

Younger Donors, You Need Them

As the population ages organisations need to look beyond their mainstay of donors, the Baby Boomer etc; sorry to say, but this is a dying sector of the donor base.

But, unless organisations are (or rather have) started to work toward attracting younger donors there is a serious risk that organisations will suffer to not only grow, but to continue to do the work they are there for.

Sure, younger people are getting on board and supporting organisations, I’ve seen this, you’ve seen it, but in the main I’d suggest it’s the sexy organisations, not the less attractive ones (this is a perception).

To attract younger supporters organisations need to, yes, I’m telling you what others have been for ages; get savvy with the use of social media, get used to using video, stage events to attract a younger audience (typically millennials won’t want to go to a black tie dinner).

And, change your online presence. Does the website you had built a couple of years ago need an update, come to think of it, when did you last look at how your website looks on new devices – it may look good, readable and usable on your desktop computer; but what does it look and feel like on a handheld device?

Can users quickly and easily make an online donation? If not, you’re missing opportunities; sure there are other apps people can use to make donations to your cause, but why send them to another “site” if you’ve already got them “captured” on your site?

Not sure if you’re site, communication style etc is attractive to a younger audience – that’s easy, invite them to look and give you feedback, get a group of younger people together to talk about what you need to do to attract their age group; not just your look and feel, but your overall message and mission.

You’ve nothing to lose – oh, yes you do, you run the risk of your donors dying off and no new donors to fill their shoes.

See also

Young people need to be nurtured and encouraged

Teach children the importance of giving

Corporate Giving, Makes Corporates Smell of Roses

We all like to see individuals and business get behind a community organisation, those who give do so for a variety of reasons. And, the feedback, the feeling they get for their giving is varied too.

This article on www.nzherald.co.nz is a good read, it isn’t new findings, but worth the read nonetheless.

Read the article here Successful corporate giving

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

Giving Circles

Not something I have come across in New Zealand, although perhaps Rotary Clubs, Churches could almost be seen as a form of Giving Circle.

For those unfamiliar with what a Giving Circles is, this from an artiles on Nonprofit Quarterly sums what they are quite well.

Giving circles are voluntary groups that enable individuals to pool their money (and sometimes their time as volunteers) to support organizations of mutual interest. They also provide opportunities for education and engagement among participants about philanthropy and social change, connecting them to charities, their communities, and each other.

Have a read of the full article, Could Giving Circles Rebuild Philanthropy from the Bottom Up?

I feel there’s room for organisations to look at how they could help people to understand Giving Circles and use them to help build awareness of the work done of their organisation and, yes gain support.

Do you know of any Giving Circles in your area?

Losing a Friend

You clear your post office box, and among the mail is a letter and cheque from a long standing donor, someone who has supported your work for a number of years; someone you see as a friend. The letter is a shock.

Your donor has just told you that this will be their last gift, that they have decided that they need to cut back as they are supporting other organisations and can’t support everyone.

What do you do?

File the letter and bank the cheque, make a note on your system that the donor won’t be supporting any more; then carry on with your daily work.

If this is what you are doing, you could be missing out on maintaining the relationship you have with this donor.

The first thing you should do is take a breath, then pick up the phone and call the donor.

Why? You’re losing a friend, and you should be calling to say thank you for the support they have given over their time with your organisation.

When calling ensure you’re not making the call as a plea for them to stay on as a supporter, your reason for the call is to thank them, and nothing more.

You may end the call with a big surprise; in some cases the donor makes the decision to stay with you. It won’t always happen and most often won’t happen if you go into the call begging them to stay.

The call should be about how valuable their support has been, what it has meant to have them as a supporter and what they have helped you achieve. Any decision for them to stay is theirs and theirs alone.

I’ve made a number of these calls and know how well they have gone down with the donor, you could almost hear them smile knowing they you have valued their support. And, yes, some donors have changed their mind and stayed with the organisation.

So, the next time you get a letter saying that this will be the last donation, take a breath and pick up the phone and thank the person for their support. You have nothing to lose, and plenty to gain.

Do you make these types of calls already, how do you handle them, do you find some donors stay?

What Are You Expecting?

I’ve been hearing from some organisations that they are expecting a lower level of donations from the public this year.

A scarey thought considering many organisations rely on the kindness and generosity of Mr & Mrs Public to ensure they’re able to deliver the services their organisation is established for.

Sure, organisations do have the ability to apply for funding through lottery, other charity organisations and of course their current support base. But, if there’s a downturn in support from the general public this can have a big impact on the organisations ability to carry out what it is there for.

More often than not when income falls below expectation it means cuts have to be made, sure there are overheads that could possibly be trimmed back, but when it comes to cutting back on service delivery this has a wider reaching impact.

How many organisations have a contingency plan should something go haywire with annual funding projections? I’ve worked with a number that at one point looked as though they were flying by the seat of their pants and had no contingency plans in place. They’d just do what they could with what they had, and didn’t seem at all concerned about the clients they were they for missing out. Now they know the importance of a backup plan.

When you are doing your annual planning, do you look at what you would do should you find yourself with a drop off in regular giving? Any drop in regular giving can make a huge difference, so organisations should be factorying this into their annual budget planning – do you?

Are you adapting ?

Often seeing organisations doing the same thing day in day out to gain funding can be frustrating. especially when you know they could do better and more if they adapted their fundraising activities.

For instance; if you used to only communicate with donors through mail and change to email, have you taken into consideration how you will communicate with those who do not have, or don’t want to be contacted through, email?

Will you be prepared to split your database so those without email are updated on your activities, achievements through information supplied with receipts? Or, do you, will you be like others and “forget” about this group and suffer through a drop in donations?

It used to be that organizations would only be known by those it supports and, by those who supported it. Simply due to lack of resources, skills and money; now though any organization, no matter its size can with the right skills can communicate with anyone, anywhere and virtually at anytime.

If your organization hasn’t or isn’t looking to adapt you can’t expect to keep growing. It’s that simple.

There’s more “competition” for the charity dollar than there was 10, 5, even two years ago.

No that organizations and, individuals have the ability to set up online fundraising campaigns, those not doing so need to at the very least look at how these platforms can work for them. If they don’t they will run the serious risk of being left behind.

Online fundraising will only continue to grow, either through organizations making use of the various tools, or by individuals doing it themselves.

Can your organisation afford to be left behind?

If you don’t want to be left behind, what will you do to change?

Have you changed the way you give charitable donations, are you giving more directly, or are you giving to organizations who have a higher presence in your social channels?

See also:

Online Fundraising, Impact on Traditional Fundraising

Does Profile Matter?

What’s Happening – are You Watching?

Who holds the keys to change?