Donors are the lifeline of any non-profit and it’s not just because of the financial support they provide. Donors are champions of your cause. They volunteer their time and they stick with you, providing support that allows you to carry out your mission long term.
Developing positive and long-lasting relationships with donors is a foundational need of any non-profit. Making donors feel good about their role is critical to making sure those relationships endure. Understand that connecting with them through emails, newsletters and personal appeals is essential. Here are three examples of how – and how not to – nurture donor loyalty.
Let Donors Know They Count
Donors like to feel they are making a difference. Placing the spotlight on them instead of your organization in any communication or campaign can change the whole dynamic of your fundraising efforts. Emphasize their importance to your cause and show your gratitude to transform one-time donors into lifelong supporters.
United Way Central Maryland’s Restore Baltimore campaign was a response to the Baltimore riots that ravaged the city in 2015. The campaign exceeded its goal by raising over $570,000 within a few weeks by not only appealing to the residents’ pride in their city, but by also acknowledging their contributions.
Sponsors and donors were lauded on social media outlets like Twitter and also earned their place on the Restore Baltimore donor wall. United Way’s support was completely centered on the city and the people living in it rather than their own organization.
Demonstrate Financial Transparency
When donors give you money, they want to know exactly how that money is being spent. They want to know the progress you have made on the projects they are supporting and what kind of impact your organization is having.
In other words, they want transparency.
The call for transparency grew louder following the scandal that came to light after the Red Cross raised half a billion dollars to support the relief efforts in Haiti following a devastating earthquake there in 2010.
The Red Cross has been accused of mismanaging the money it has received – one investigation revealed that only six permanent houses had been constructed and less money reached Haiti that the Red Cross reported – and the organization is still defending itself from those accusations. The public relations crisis created an uproar among donors who demanded to know where their money had gone.
Donors support you because they believe in you. Shaking that faith is a surefire way to lose support. The mistake by the Red Cross serves as a valuable lesson in the importance of honesty and the integrity of your campaign’s status.
Financial transparency is a great way to build trust and rapport with your donors. If you shut them out after you receive their donation, you may lose that donor. Follow-up phone calls, text message updates or a real-time donation tracker on the fundraising webpage are a few great ways to keep donors informed and confident in you.
Simplify the Donation Process
If a donor has to jump through hoops to contribute to your cause online, they are simply going to find another organization supporting that same cause.
Technology makes it easier than ever to guide a person through the donation process, so take advantage. When potential donors are asked to click more than five times or are redirected to multiple landing pages, none of which offer a clearly defined method of donating, you will quickly lose their attention. And their support.
Catholic Charities New Hampshire, for example, understands the importance of a well-organized, streamlined donation process. It starts with a prominent, but not overbearing, `Donate’ button that is displayed at the top of every page and is conveniently there when potential donors are ready to convert.
After following the link to donate, donors are presented with an inspirational visual and a brief call to action. Donors are allowed to clearly and easily choose their level of commitment, in terms of money and frequency.
People want to help others, they want to support what they believe in and they want to make a difference. They can be your biggest advocates and most ardent donors.
All you have to do is let them.